25 February, 2014

Cooking Classes and Fun with Chef Boris Olvera

Did you know that we have cooking classes?!?!  Well we do and they are becoming quite popular thanks to a review from a famous San Miguel Blogger.  

We know that when people visit San Miguel they want to experience the real Mexico, and what better way to dive into the Mexican culture than to TASTE IT?!  We now offer TWO types of cooking classes.  One is the planned class that Don Day describes in his blog.  Offering a menu of Raw Salsa and Chips, a Fresh Salad with Homemade Dressing, a Traditional Mexican Dish (real home food) with its accompaniments and then a Traditional Mexican Dessert for just $350 pesos per person.  

Option two is catered completely to your desires.  Want to learn how to make Chiles Rellenos? Flan? Truss a bird like Julia Child?  Whatever your flavor we bring everything to you! Cost is $300 pesos per person plus cost of supplies.  You can invite a few friends, select a menu and get to work on your favorite dishes that you have always wanted to learn how to make.

We have so many fun and exciting events coming up:  Cooking Classes, Private Dinners, Wine Trips and Tours around Central Mexico!  Do not get left behind! Follow us on Facebook or shoot me an email to be added to the mailing list!

15 February, 2014

Tastes like ... Cuitlacoche

Also spelled as Huitlacoche; we are talking about the prized black rot that grows on infected corn.  A prized possession in the Mexican market and priced accordingly.  I HATE that it has been translated to be called Corn Smut!  Smut sounds to me like something you should be scraping off of your shoe not a delicacy defended even by the government.  That`s right my friends GMO corn is banned in Mexico because GMO corn does not produce this staple ingredient in the Mexicans World Heritage Cuisine.  I prefer to call it Corn Truffles.  If the French can wax elegantly about rot rooted from the ground by trained swine why should I not be able to call it Corn Truffles?

Cuitlacoche (weet/lah/KOH/tcheh)  is a fungus that grows only on select ears of corn.  You will only find it in the markets during the summer season (June through September).  I recommend purchasing it still attached to the husk.  It is much better to risk getting your fingers smudged black then to have mushy Cuitlacoche. You do not know until you open it up what you have.  Which is why it is so rare and sought after.  You cannot force it to grow and it will only grow on heirloom varietals of corn.  Monsanto eat your heart out!  Cuitlacoche is LOADED with protein and many Native American tribes considered it a source of meat.  The kernels of infected corn grow much larger than the size of a regular kernel and is a dark grey to almost black color.  It looks like a mushroom growing inside of an ear of corn.  The flavor is earthy similar to a mushroom but also sweet like fresh corn.  Many people complain that it is mushy, but just like every ingredient in the kitchen if it is not cooked properly or fresh it can have adverse affects.  I have eaten Cuitlacoche many times and discovered that it is not in fact mushy at all unless it has been over cooked or was not fresh.  You can purchase CANNED Cuitlacoche around the world, from what I can see on the web,  I would not recommend it!

Cuitlacoche is most often served as a guisado.  Meaning it is prepared as a basic dish and then can be added to your plate of choice, tacos, quesadillas, relleno filling...  It also makes a delicious soup, although many are afraid to try because the color can be off-putting.  It is popularly paired with Flor de Calabaza or Squash Blossoms as they both are delicacies that come into season at the same time.

08 January, 2014

Dieting in Mexico

Resolution time again!  And just like every year people are planning to loose weight, get healthier, eat more fruits and veggies.  I challenge you to for-go your diet and eat more Mexican food.  But REAL Mexican food, burritos and nachos do not count.  I`m talkin Momma`s Home Cookin Mexican food, the stuff that is just as flavorful as it is healthy, the stuff you can`t find at a restaurant.  If you eat that, I can guarantee that you will feel and look better!

Since moving to Mexico the pounds have just been melting off.  I don`t feel like we really do anything different... if anything we exercise LESS and eat out MORE.  But we both keep loosing weight.  The secret didn`t really click in my brain until someone on Facebook posted, "This year I plan to eat more Amaranth because it is a super food".  I cracked up!  Not to be mean but Amaranth is a sweet treat that you can buy in many forms all over Mexico and for really cheap.  Kids and adults go crazy for them. They are called Alegrias, literal translation: Joys.  It is puffed Amaranth and honey or agave nectar.  Sometimes nuts and dried fruits are added too.  They are a lightly sweet and crunchy snack that is both filling and full of fiber.

So I started looking into other everyday snacks that we have in Mexico that would be considered "health food" but here is just a treat.  Green Juice anyone?  You can buy any type of juice morning and afternoon at the juice and smoothy shop: Jugueria.  Kids in Mexico LOVE Green Juice. How much do you have to pay, beg and barter with your kids for them to slurp down half a glass?

Need more veggies in your diet?  Jicama sticks with lime and chile will set you back less than a buck on just about any street corner.  Habas, Garbazo beans, steamed corn... Mexicans love their veggies when school lets out.

Not getting enough fruit?  Stop in at any plaza for a wide array of sliced fruit.  Pineapple, mango, papaya, watermelon... throw in some jicama for a nice crunch.

In the mood for something crunchy? Nuts and seeds are not only easier to find than chips but they are more popular too!  Have them roasted, salted, boiled, spicy, sweet, steamed, raw... just about any way you can think of.

I don`t know if its the snacks, the leaner meats or the wide variety of inexpensive produce.  But it seems to be a lot easier to eat healthy when you eat Mexican food.  Home cooked meals are super healthy without even trying!  I want to share a recipe with you that I think will help you on your way to healthy eating, and I promise it is delicious!  Serve with beans and corn tortillas for a well rounded meal.  Green Juice optional ;)

Pork and Kale / Cerdo con Verdolagas
2 pounds of lean Pork (Cubes or chops, your choice)
2 Handfuls of Kale
1 Chile Guajillo
1 Chile Ancho
1 clove Garlic

Reconstitute the chiles by boiling a cup of water.  Take off of the heat, add the dried chiles and place a plate or something to weigh them down so they stay in the water.  
Let rest about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile salt and pepper your pork and pan roast the pieces.  Remember, color is flavor!  Get a nice brown on them.

When the pork is just about done add the Kale and saute.

In the blender; add the reconstituted chiles, a clove of garlic and just enough of the chile water to get things moving (about half).  Pour the salsa into the pan with the pork and kale, let simmer until the salsa has reduced and the kale is tender.  

*** Ancho and Guajillo are not very spicy chiles, but if you can`t find them or just don`t want chile substitute for half an onion and a few tomatoes.  Puree and then cook down with the pork and kale.

Serve and enjoy!

06 January, 2014

Dia de los Reyes / Three Kings Day

Rosca de Reyes /Round Bread for the Day of the Kings
This crown-shaped pastry is served on January 6, the Day of the Kings, or Twelfth Night.  A small doll representing the baby Jesus is randomly inserted when the bread is almost finished baking.  whoever gets the slice with the doll must then hold a party on February 2, the Feast of Candelaria where tamales are traditionally served.

Ingredients for the Pastry:
2 packages (¼ oz or 7 grams each) Dry Yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
4 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Eggs
3 Egg Yolks
⅓ Cup Sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbsp Orange Blossom Water or Milk
¾ Cup Butter, Softened.

Ingredients for Pastry Decoration:
6 Tbsp Butter
½ Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
¾ Cup All Purpose Flour
3 oz (90 grams) Citron, cut into strips
3 Candied Figs, cut into strips
1 Egg, lightly beaten
Sugar for Sprinkling
1-2 small plastic or ceramic dolls

Sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water, add 2 Tbsp of the flour and let stand for 20 minutes in a war place.
Place the remaining flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center and place the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt, orange zest, orange blossom water, butter and dissolved yeast in the well.  Mix the ingredients together with your fingertips, then knead on a floured board until the dough is smooth.  When small bubbles start to form, in about 15 minutes, shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume.
Meanwhile, to prepare the decoration, cream the butter in a small bowl, then beat in the sugar, egg yolks and flour.  Set aside.
Knead the break dough one more time and shape into a large ring loaf.  Transfer to a greased baking sheet and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475ºF (250ºC).  Decorate the ring with strips of the powdered sugar mixture and strips of the candied fruit, pressing them into the dough.  Glaze the ring with egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10 minutes.  lower the temperature to 400ºF (200ºC), remove the ring from the oven and press 1 or 2 little dolls into the underside.  Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.

27 December, 2013

New Years Eves Superstitions and Traditions in Mexico

Wither you believe in this stuff or not it certainly makes for a fun New Years Eve.  It makes for the busiest minute of my life and is much more entertaining than watching a ball drop and kissing a stranger.  There are MANY different things that you can do to bring good luck in the coming year and the superstitions vary around the World and from family to family.  These are some of the fun things that we do in our household come New Years Eve. 

The most important is to gather the family.  Then a good deep clean of the house is in order, making sure to open doors and windows to allow the bad energy to leave and make room for the New Years good energy.  Be sure to sweep out the front door and all the way to the street.  Some bathing rituals are involved as well.  Once you and the house are shinny clean it is time to put on your new under things.  Red for love and passion, yellow for happiness and wealth.

Midnight can be very busy so it is good to have a few things prepared in advance. Items needed: broom, three coins, shinny red apple, white candle sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar and a drop of perfume, suitcase, a stuffed lamb that has been gifted to you, 12 grapes per person, your wish list for the new year.

As the clock begins to toll at midnight each person grabs their wish list and 12 grapes.  With each toll you eat a grape and make a wish.  One grape, one wish, one month.  Keep the list with you all year to remind yourself of what you are working towards.

Sweep out the front door to usher the bad energy out from last year and welcome in the new good energy for the new year.

Want to travel in the coming year?  Grab your luggage and take it for a walk around the block.  The longer the walk the further your travels will take you.  Do not forget to grab your partner,  you wouldn't want to leave them behind!

Now for your coins.  Hang them above the door in the shape of a triangle.  This way fortune will walk through your door in the coming year.  Traditionally the coins were hung on the front of the door and if anyone stole your coins they would be cursed financially for life... no one stole the coins ever!

Hang from the back of the door your gifted lamb.  This also helps in the financial department.

Light your candle that has been sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar and a drop of perfume.  Let it burn until the end.  It will absorb all of the bad energy from the past year and sweeten the year to come bringing you health, love and wealth.  The candle will burn as long as it needs to to absorb the bad vibes.  I have seen candles burn quickly and others take days, even though they were the same size!

Place a new red apple in a location of the house where it will not be disturbed.  Leave it there all year!  Yep you heard me right!  ALL YEAR!  It will continuously absorb the negative energy in your home.  The faster it rots the worse your energy.  You should attend to that!

Be sure to hug your family members, wish them a happy new year and best of luck in the coming year.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and wish you all the best in the coming year.  PLEASE share with us some of YOUR families traditions or ones that you would like to try.

As we say in Mexico we wish you health, wealth and love and most of all the time to enjoy them all!

Happy New Years!!!

24 December, 2013

Mexican Christmas Traditions

Cheesy family pictures in front of the Christmas tree are a must!
We were so excited to be closing up the shop for the week to head to Mexico City to spend the holidays with our family there.  One of our regular customers commented "I want to spend the holidays with YOUR family because I want to see what you DO."  It hadn't really occurred to me that Mexican traditions were so different.  I figured those were just the traditions of Boris family being different from my family.  So I did a little bit of research for ya'll and thought that I would talk about some of the traditions celebrated here in Mexico for Christmas.

Most important to know is that Mexicans celebrate Christmas EVE and then Christmas DAY is a time to spend alone in the house with the "nuclear family."  Also, Santa Clause is not the guys the kids write for their presents.  Santa is more of a "Hallmark" icon and not really something that you can use to black mail your kids into eating their veggies with.  In modern days Santa has gotten a little more attention, but not like in the States.  We saw a Santa at the mall in San Miguel snoring like a lumberjack while his "tiny helpers" fiddled with their cell phones like a couple of zombies.  The kids in Mexico write to the Three Kings for their presents, and those come on January 6th.... but that is another blog post!

Smashing the Piñata for the Posadas
December unfolds like this in Mexico...  Posadas run from December 16 to 23.  (I am not going to write about those here, there are hundreds of posts and Youtube videos about them.  They are mostly a Catholic tradition.)  

Gathering ingredients for Christmas Dinner

Christmas Eve is a full day of cooking, cleaning and preparing for family to come over.  Houses are decorated, Christmas trees, lights, nativity scenes.  One thing that I find different about the decorations is that moss, succulents and flowers are used to decorate the nativity and around the tree.  It adds a very beautiful and natural look among the false bulbs and lights. 

Natural elements add something spectacular to the nativity scene

The table is set

Christmas dinner is served VERY late.  Example, this year we are eating an "early" dinner at 10pm!  The traditional meal consists of Romeritos* and Bacalao*.  Then of course Ponche which we have talked about in previous posts.  

Gathering ingredients for the Ponche

Chopping Fruit to make the Ponche

Ponche simmering away

It tastes as good as it smells!

Romeritos are a pre-Hispanic wild herb that is served in mole and usually with shrimp.  The shrimp can be dried, made into cakes or whole...depending on the family recipe.  

Romeritos are a wild herb native to Mexcio,
 they are trimmed from the hefty stalks and then boiled to prepare them for the mole

Romeritos blanched and ready for the next step

My sister in law preparing the mole, peeling the new potatoes
and creating the dried shrimp cakes known as tortas
Adding the Tortas de Camaron, Shrimp cakes, to the Mole and Romeritos

Romeritos ready for Christmas dinner

Bacalao is a salted fish (similar to Cod, many recipes use Cod as an alternative ingredient because it is a lot cheaper) that comes from Spain.  All of the ingredients in the recipe are originally from Spain.  It has things like Spanish Olive Oil, Marcona Almonds, Olives, Tomatoes and a yellow chile that they call Chile Guerro... among many other ingredients that again vary depending on the family recipe,

Sauteing the tomatoes, onions and garlic in Spanish Olive Oil

The base is nearly ready with all the savory ingredients

Now to add the de-salted Bacalao (a three day process)

***I have attached a couple of links if you want to see an example of the recipes.  As with many traditions recipes vary from household to household and generation to generation.  It would be impossible to show you just one recipe and say that is what represented these dishes.

Then at midnight, in Catholic families, a lullaby is sung while rocking the baby Jesus from the nativity scene.  Watch video above to hear the song. This is why the dinner is served so late.  Some time during the night gifts are exchanged among family members (remember no Santa).  Games are played, year in review gossip is exchanged and the general company of your loved ones is enjoyed.

Merry Christmas from the Olvera Family

Christmas day is a time to rest and enjoy your family.  A late Brunch of Tortas de Bacalao is always a good idea!  Tamales and Atole are also a nice tradition.

In the next couple of days I will add a post for some of the fun superstitions that we do in our family on New Years Eve to insure a year filled with good fortune, health and love.  It is a lot of fun!

Christmas traditions around the world – HHH challenge