Tag Archives: mexico

Fried Quesadillas

20 Sep

I get these cravings sometimes… it could be anything, but lately it’s been of Mexican food. And not always I can get to Los Pioneros to get a fix of Tacos de Nopales. So I have to make do at home…

The easiest fix is to make quesadillas. A tortilla and cheese glorified into something special… When I visited Guadalajara and when I once traveled to NYC with my friend Guillén, I learned the best quesadillas need to be fried.

But I am trying to watch what I eat, because even when you’re vegetarian, I can add up some unwanted pounds. So I devised a way to get the feel and taste of the fried quesadilla without using lots and lots of oil.

Here’s how I make them…

FRIED QUESADILLAS

4 white corn tortillas, organic preferable
8-12 thin slices of pepper jack cheese
Olive Oil
  1. Brush tortillas with a little olive oil… as little as possible. I stack the tortillas and lightly oil the first one on top on one side, flip it and oil on the other side. This will slightly oil the second tortilla… then flip the second tortilla and so on until all tortillas are slightly oiled on both sides.

2.  Warm a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. You can do this with a small skillet, but it’s easier to make these quesadillas 2 at a time if you have the larger skillet. Place 2 tortillas side by side. They will overlap slightly… but don’t worry about that. Warm them on both sides for them to become pliable and somewhat charred on both sides. They will shrink a little…

3.   When tortillas have been warmed up on both sides, place 2- 3 cheese slices on one half of tortilla and fold over the side without cheese to create a half circle/half moon. Flatten the top of the tortilla with a spatula a bit to allow the top side of the tortilla to fuse to the cheese inside. Flip once or twice until both sides are toasted/charred a bit and the cheese has melted completely.

4.  Set aside on a plate to allow to cool a bit before serving. Repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese.

These are quesadillas to eat with your hands… not with a fork and knife. The corn tortilla is heartier and it will make it challenging to cut them up. So bite into them and enjoy.

Serve them with a side salad of tomato and avocado, guacamole or a fresh tomato salsa.

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Chopped Avocado Salad Dressing

20 Aug

My grandpa instilled in us a love for avocados… to him, a salad with dinner would mean slicing a few “rajas” of avocado on the side. His favorite was rice and corn with ketchup and avocado. I know it sounds “kookie”, but you need to try it.

But the love for avocados comes from both sides of the family because once, while visiting my aunt and uncle in Miami, I had to buy a new suitcase to be able to travel with the 5 huge avocados my uncle bought for me to bring back home.

And as much as we love avocados, we don’t have a lot of family recipes using avocados. We just love them so; we do not see them as an ingredient in a recipe. They’re the exclamation point to any dish they’re added to!!! A few slices or wedges of avocado on the side of anything make the meal better. A soup??? Drop a few pieces of avocado inside to make it sing… A sandwich?? Slice a few avocados to make it creamier…

Lately I am training for a ½ marathon and I am trying to eat better and leaner. I am eating more salads, which I like, but I am particularly lazy to make them at home often. I’ve found the best way to fall in love with a salad is to make a killer dressing. Fall in love with a dressing and you’ll fall in love with the salad underneath.

And because I want you to love avocados as much as I do… I want to present to you a very easy avocado based dressing that’s much a dressing as a salsa to brighten other dishes too.

CHOPPED AVOCADO SALAD DRESSING

½ large avocado, cut into little pieces
1 small tomato, diced finely
½ small white onion, diced finely
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tbs Rice Vinegar
The juice of 1 small lime
½ tbs kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and allow the mixture to meld and combine a few minutes before serving over your favorite salad.

Because the dressing includes avocados, tomatoes and onions, it’s great for a simple lettuce-only salad. You don’t need anything else IMHO. But this dressing also works as a topping for tacos, for burritos, for enchiladas… or as a sauce in sandwiches.

If you want more recipes using Avocados from Mexico, visit this link here. And if you live in the US, check out the coupons for Avocados clicking  right here.

Mexico – Beautiful and Delicious – Part 3

17 Sep

This is part 3 on a series on the delicious Mexican cuisine I had while traveling in Guadalajara.  You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Now, after having my friends Ana and Salvador guide me through the culinary delicacies of Guadalajara, I felt confident enough to break out on my own.  I mean, I speak the language indeed, but there are many things to learn about the Mexican ingredients I am totally new to…

When you think about concession stands at a trade show, you really do not think about great tasty food.  Well, not at ConfitExpo.  One of the things I learned about was nopales.  I had seen them in Mexican restaurant menus, but really never tried them. 

One of the lunches I had while at the trade show was a Taquiza of Rajitas de Nopales y Maiz Tierno.  Basically, 4 tacos with a concoction of nopales strips with sweet corn and pieces of cheese.  The nopales/corn stew was a bit spicy, but nothing I could not handle.  I am sure there were some jalapeños cooked in there too.  You get these 4 tacos on a plate and then you direct yourself to the fixins bar to dress them with your choice of lettuce, tomato, onions, parsley, shredded cheese, lime wedges, salsas and cream.  The Mexican cream is not as sour as our sour cream… very tasty and delicious. 

Rajitas de Nopalitos

Salad Bar 2Salad Bar 1

   Taquiza 1        Taquiza - Closeup

         Recibo Taquiza

These tacos were awesome!!!  Creamy, a bit spicy, some sweetness from the corn…  really nice.  I wish my stomach was larger so I could have eaten some more.  My only problem… it showed I was a tourist because the sauce from the tacos kept spilling out and I made a mess…  the waiter helping in my section told me that I needed to visit Mexico more often to get a better hang of how to eat a taco properly.  I was so embarrassed by the mess I made in my table!!!  I used up almost all the napkins on the holder in front of me…  I am sure I was a spectacle.  But the tacos were so good, I did not care in the end. 

I had to drink an agua fresca… they were made of lime/limón, Jamaica or rice horchata.  I had tasted lime/limón before, but the Jamaica was new to me. It’s what’s called hibiscus flower.  I had seen the flowers at a stand that morning and they look like dried, wilted rose petals for potpourri.  I wished I had known I would like it so much, I would have photographed them.  Well, for next time.  Super refreshing –  perfect to offset the slight spiciness of the tacos.

Aguas Frescas

Another afternoon I dared to venture by myself to the Mercado de San Juan de Dios to see if I could find some silver jewelry.  But I can’t shop properly on an empty stomach, so I decided to go to the kioskos to eat something… here I visited the stand of this nice lady, Marisol, who prepared me another Chile Poblano Relleno de Queso.  This time was another cheese I forgot to write down and this time I ate with a tomato sauce with nopales strips cooked in the sauce.  She assured me the sauce did not have any chicken or beef broth and that she cleaned the poblanos very well so they were not spicy until you get close to the stem part.  Of course, she mace the tortillas on the spot, to order.  She was super interested in me being vegetarian, so she sat next to me and talk while we both ate her delicious food.  I drank an horchata made with rice and cinnamon.  All this cost me about $3USD – Amazing food, extremely delicious and dirt cheap.

Fonda MArisol

 Chiles Rellenos 2        Salsa Tomate con NOpales

Chile Relleno con Nopales 

Horchata ArrozTortillas - Just Made                

 

 

When I got back from my trip I was still craving Mexican food, but I do not dare try the food here in PR, because I know I will be disappointed if I eat it right away.  It’ll never be as authentic as the food I had in Guadalajara.  I can’t wait until my next trip there… if our business is successful, I may have to return in the near future.  I am very much looking forward to tasting more and more authentic Mexican, and still vegetarian, fare…  ¡¡DELICIOSO – VIVA MEXICO!!

Mexico – Beautiful and Delicious – Part 2

10 Sep

More on my series of installments on the cuisine of Mexico, more specifically to Guadalajara, where I got to spend a few days now in August.  You can read my first post here.

I was in Guadalajara on business and my friend and colleague Salvador López Solerssi was not only my trade show and store-check guide, but in many ways my culinary guide as well.  I promised him I would include his full name so it would be easy for him to Google himself and find this post without the link…

Salvador was very taken with the fact I write this blog and was super eager to show me all the culinary delicacies Guadalajara has to offer…

We first went to lunch after having walked the trade show a few times over… I was starving!!!!  Look at what we had for lunch:  Queso Fundido, Guacamole and Chips, Fried Quesadillas and for dessert, Crepas with Cajeta.  Everything was excellent, but this was the first time I’ve had Fried Quesadillas or Quesadillas Fritas, as stated in the menu…  I had a sampler of these with one filled with strips of jalapeño peppers and cheese, another one with mushrooms and cheese and the last one filled with zucchini blossoms and cheese.  Superb!!!!  These come like little “pastelillos” of fried, but never greasy, tortilla and the cheese just oozes out of them when you cut them open.  My mouth waters just writing about them.

Guacamole     

Guacamole 

Queso Fundido

    Queso Fundido

  

 

Quedadillas Fritas

Quesadillas Fritas

  

Flor de Calabaza/Zucchini blossoms    

  Quesadillas - Flor Calabaza  

 

Rajitas Jalapeños

Quesadilla Frita - Jalapenos

 

Crepas de Cajeta

         Crepas con Cajeta - MX

I don’t have to tell that after that lunch, dinner was pretty much out of the question…  I had to take a nap, just like the ones you take after Thanksgiving lunch/dinner.  I was full, but happy as a toad.

Another Guadalajaran delicacy is a Torta Ahogada– a sandwich made with shredded pork or beef and dunked in a spicy tomato sauce.  I guess this would be considered the Mexican version of a Reuben.   The thing… we needed to find a place where we could order a vegetarian version because no one in the street would dare make me a vegetarian torta ahogada.  So Salvador took me to a tourist trap… but a super fun one at that, with mariachis and everything.  The only place in all Guadalajara I was received with hand sanitizer… typical, to please tourists’ panics. 

We ordered a Torta Ahogada with panela cheese and sautéed mushrooms.  Salvador prepared the sauce for me… it was tomato based, a bit of the spicy version and lime juice.  You then take your sandwich, made in a special salty crusty bread, and you dunk it in the sauce and eat away.  I really, really liked it. Maybe because I am a sandwich girl… but the stuff was very, very tasty.  Not the stuff you want to order on a date… just so you gals know.

Torta Ahogada Veggie      Salsa - Torta Ahogada     

Dunking - Torta Ahogada 2   

We also ordered Breaded Panela Cheese in a Green Sauce.  It was presented in a molcajete, a stone version of a pilón or mortar and pestle.  It was delicious too… imagine offering fried breaded cheese to me, the cheese lover.  The sauce was a cilantro and tomatillo based broth.  You cut a piece and eat it inside a tortilla.  How else??

Panela Empanado

Then, one our way to do more store-checks, Salvador wanted to show me the typical breakfast of Guadalajara – Tacos al Vapor or Steamed Tacos.  I saw that the hotel breakfast offered tortillas, refried beans and the like for breakfast…  but, I stuck with the fresh fruits, cottage cheese and whole grain toasts, craving the more typical fare from home.  But Salvador insisted I needed to try the local version of these tacos filled with mashed potato.  They are sold in these street carts and you order as many tacos as you want… you then dress them with a tomato/onion salsa, some “pique” and eat away.  They’re light and delicious.  Not heavy at all.  I ordered only one at first, but had to have another one, because they were so tasty.  With a side of freshly squeezed orange juice – I wished the hotel breakfast was this tasty every morning…

Taco al Vapor

Carrito - Tacos Vapor

That’s Salvador, right there next to the tacos al vapor cart… enjoying his tacos.  I want to thank him soooooooo much for embracing my search for great vegetarian Mexican food in Guadalajara.  I am certain, than when I return, we will be enjoying more and more delicious food all over town…  ¡¡BUEN PROVECHO!!

MEXICO – Beautiful and Delicious – Part 1

8 Sep

A few weeks ago I had to visit Guadalajara on business.  It had been over 15 years since I had last set foot on Mexico.  Having said that, I was not yet a vegetarian at the time, so I was a bit preoccupied with my meal choices once I would arrive…

Guadalajara 1

I ate sooooooo wonderfully and deliciously there… I am telling you I was left wanting more.   Many of the typical dishes in Mexico are very vegetable-centric, but in their typical preparation, they use lard and stuff that we need to be aware and try to avoid as much as we can.  And, in the event that we place something in our mouths that have been ages since we last tasted it… don’t fret about it.  Just try to get it out of your mouth or swallow it…. What the heck!!!  That’s what fasting and detoxifying diets are here for. 

Let’s start by my afternoon in Tlaquepaque, a section of Guadalajara dedicated to crafts from the region…  I met in a tour bus my friend Ana, from Puebla.  She was spending a few days in Guadalajara with her friends too.  Because she’s a local, when we got hungry, she directed me to the “kioskos” in the Tlaquepaque Plaza de Mercado.  There, you can find many stands serving very typical food, as eaten by the locals.  This is as far of a tourist-trap as you can get…

Ana and me - mexico

We ate at El Almuerzo Feliz and ordered the Chiles Rellenos with Cotija Cheese.  It comes with a sauce that had chicken broth, so I ordered it dry.  I ate it with a tomato salad and freshly made tortillas. The woman there was making tortillas right on front of us.  She never stopped, while we were there, making tortillas not even for a second.   She was amazing.   I asked, and the tortillas were made with vegetable shortening…  They sure did not taste like lard, or what I remember lard used to taste like.  The chile poblano was delicious…  and not spicy at all.  This is when I started learning that my heat/spiciness threshold is much wider than before.

Kiosko     Masa Tortillas     Tortillera    Tortillera 2      Chile Relleno 1

After wards, we took a stroll thru the plaza.  It was so colorful… the red tomatoes, the beautiful tomatillos, the pitahayas…  and the “tunas” .  This is the fruit of the cactus plant.  Certainly a fruit I have heard of, but never ever tasted before.  It is super sweet with kind of big seeds inside, similar to a guava.  Just ignore the seeds, chew the fruit a bit and swallow.  They’re eaten best super cold from the fridge, I was told…  these are sold all over town in fruit stands by the road side.  I was lucky enough to buy them a few times to enjoy.

Jitomates    Betabel

 Tunas     Tuna 2

Then we were on to the Mexican candy store… funny that I was visiting Guadalajara for a confectioners’ trade show, yet I was buying typical candy at a store outside.   I got to try a few local delicacies, as recommended by my new friend Ana: 

Tienda Dulces 2   Tienda Dulces 1

  • Arrayán– very similar to the tamarind balls I have mentioned to you before, but the seed inside is very little.

Arrayan

  • Amaranto – this is very similar to sesame seed candy, but lighter.  They say it has many health benefits. I must check them out.

Amaranto

  • Guava Paste – it looks like regular guava paste… but this is Mexican guava paste, so it’s not sweet as it is spicy.  Not a lot, but it gets you in the back of the throat when you take that first bite and expect super sweetness and can’t get it immediately.
  • Glorias – a goat’s milk candy… really good.

 Glorias y Pasta de Guayaba

This is It for now… I’ll keep you posted on my Mexican eating adventures soon enough…

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