6 Jul
2016

It is claimed that Mexico has the most vast and varied cuisine in the world, after Chinese, which might be something of a shock to Mexican fast food fiends who thought that burritos and tacos were the only kinds of food Mexicans eat. Every area of Mexico has its own recipes and the Yucatan fare is especially flavorsome, with its Caribbean, Mexican, Mayan and Lebanese recipe influences.

Not all Mexican foods are spicy but some are and chili peppers are widely used in Mexican dishes. There are many kinds of chili peppers including jalapeo, pasilla, habanero, poblano, serrano and more. Mexicans eat a varied diet of fresh fish, meat, seafood, poultry, grains, fruit, and vegetables. Sauces, stews, and soups are common fare and Mexican cooking methods include slow roasting, deep-frying, and baking.

Most of the produce consumed is fresh and never more than two days old. Herbicide and pesticide are not used much, because of the cost, and fruit and vegetables are picked ripe. Mexicans prefer seasonal produce to imported fruit and vegetables and nearly everything grown is eaten locally, except in Mexico City where the goods which are unlikely to sell locally are exported.

Favorite Mexican Dishes

Tortillas are so much a Mexican food staple that the price in controlled by the government and kept at five pesos a kilo! A tortilla is a ball of masa, or corn dough, which is flattened into a thin disc. They are traditionally made of corn and supermarkets make them fresh all day. Tortillas are used to make traditional Mexican tacos. Authentic tacos are soft, not like the rigid U-shaped Taco Bell variety.

Corn is used to make tacos and tamales, as well as tortillas. Beans are included in many stews and soup and include fava beans, lentils, and kidney beans. Tomatoes are used in a lot of Mexican sauce recipes and they feature in salsa Mexicana.

Fruit is popular in Mexico and is eaten fresh or used in desserts and sauces. Papaya, coconut, mango, and pineapple are all favorites. Nopales, which are prickly pear cactus paddles, are sauted and eaten like a vegetable. You can also get them sweetened and used in Mexican dessert recipes.

Condiments and Salsas

A lot of people enhance their Mexican dishes with salsa, lime, or sour cream. In an authentic Mexican restaurant you will be served little bowls containing fresh cilantro, chopped onion, salsa Mexicana, lime, a hot chili salsa and a mild chili salsa. Salsa Mexicana contains onion, fresh tomatoes, cilantro and habanero chili. Guacamole, an avocado and lime dip, is a popular condiment. You might also get charred green onions mixed with limejuice and Worcestershire sauce.

Mexican food is rich in color and flavor and fresh produce is very important. There are probably more myths about Mexican food than any other cuisine, with people confusing Tex Mex and Mexican style fast food for the real thing but real Mexican cuisine is a real joy.

4 Jul
2016

rav1I made these raviolis in March 2015 for my coworker and roommate. They have some more expensive ingredients in them, but are awesome for when you want to go decadent!

I topped them with a homemade pesto (that was fortified with cream).

What do you need to make these beauties?

  • mascarpone
  • goat’s milk Gouda
  • Parmesan Reggiano (not the powdered crap)
  • fresh basil (dried will NOT work the same)
  • mushrooms
  • shallots
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • white wine (feel free to indulge while creating)
  • dry mustard
  • pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices prosciutto

Listed above is just for the filling – if you want to make the pasta dough from scratch (which I recommend) please see my Pasta Dough page.
mush1

When needed, I will give you exact measurements. Baking is an exact science – requiring specific amounts of certain ingredients to ensure that the chemical balance is correct to achieve what you want. Cooking is FUN. Oops, you added too much of one ingredient? See how it goes!

1. Slice mushrooms, chop shallots, grate various cheeses (NOT THE MASCARPONE…it’s too soft for that). Have these beauts ready to rock soon.

2. Use a spoon and take a nice big blob (true cooking measurement) of mascarpone and put it in a bowl.

3. Pour a teaspoon or so of olive oil into a frying pan on low/medium heat.

4. Put mushrooms and shallots into frying pan (with the olive oil, don’t go chucking that stuff away). Saute on a lower heat, you don’t want the mushrooms to get crunchy or to burn the shallots. Wait for them to get a bit soft and add a little butter (NOTE: if you want to add garlic to this recipe, you definitely can and I would do it at this point. I didn’t for mine because I put a large amount of it in the pesto). Turn up the heat a bit and move the melting butter around so that all the mushrooms and shallots can absorb some of it.

5. WINE TIME! Now, whether you’ve already cracked it open and have already drank a little more than you intended to or are stone cold sober, pour wine into a DIFFERENT cup. Doesn’t have to even be a cup, just don’t pour it straight from the bottle. You want to put a smallish amount in (more for drinking) so that the mushrooms and shallots absorb it and the alcohol cooks out. You don’t want to drown them in wine, since you are about to add the mushrooms and shallots to the mascarpone and you don’t want your filling to be all runny.

6. Add mushrooms and shallots to mascarpone (bet you didn’t see that coming…) and mix well. Add a bit of pepper and dry mustard at this point. Your preference to the amounts.

7. Wash the fresh basil and grab about 12 clean leaves. Blend them with ONE egg and mix that into the mascarpone mixture.

8. Crisp the prosciutto in the frying pan. Prosciutto is very thin and can burn really easily so do this quickly and monitor it. When that’s done, crumble it into bits and mix into the mascarpone mixture.

9. Add the grated cheeses until the mixture is “clumpy”.

10. Lay out fresh pasta dough (or store-bought, I will only judge slightly) and lay out small mounds (size of a teaspoon). Make sure there is enough room that when you put the other layer of pasta dough on top that the mounds have space to go (as they will get slightly shmushed) and that there is enough space between mounds  for your ravioli cutter/cup .

11. Crack the other egg in a small bowl and beat it. Using your fingers (if clean) or a brush, paint a small circle with egg around each mound.

12. Put the other layer of pasta on top and seal in place around each mound. Be sure eliminate as much air as possible from the mounds when sealing. It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t, but your raviolis will look a little deflated if there is a lot of space.

13. Put raviolis into boiling water (I actually use the pan from the mushroom/shallot/prosciutto escapades – you will have boiling water faster and the raviolis are so flat that they don’t need a large pot). They only need to be in there for a couple minutes, as you will see them float up. Remove with slotted spoon, dump water from pan, throw in your sauce and place raviolis back in pan and coat them. They are a bit delicate so be gentle.
mush2

14. EAT THEM. Or be a nice person like me and test a couple and then feed them to your roommate and coworker.

3 Jul
2016

Forget fast-paced days. Instead, opt for a laid back, impromptu picnic. Pick wild flowers, skip through the countryside and sing the hills are alive with music. After you’ve tired yourself out from those crazy activities, find a sunny spot, lay out the spread and chow down on the yummy portable grub that you made.

 

Spicy Black Bean & Barley Salad
Pack that in your basket:
A red-checkered tablecloth.
A small garbage bag.
Napkins, utensils and wet paper towels.
Insect repellent. Remember to keep the buggers away from you and your food (shoo-fly).
Frisbee (or other toy).

Even though they’re transportable feasts, don’t bring too much. It is supposed to be fun, not back breaking and formal.

 

This salad is made up of hearty barley, spicy cilantro and crunchy bell pepper. The result is a nutritious, slightly chewy and yummy salad. This dish is perfect for picnic fare – it can be served cold or at room temperature.

2/3 cups barley (look for it in the ‘rice & grain’ aisle)

3 ½ cups water

1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup red onion, chopped

¼ cup white-wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 cayenne pepper

  1. Boil water. Once water boils, add barley and stir. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 40 – 45 minutes, or until barley is tender. Remove from heat. Place in colander and rinse in cold water. Leave in colander to drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine black beans, corn, red pepper, onion, vinegar, olive oil, cilantro, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Once barley is cooked and cooled, add to the vegetable mixture. Stir together. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

 

Shero Wraps Wickedly-Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hero hoagies step aside for their stylish sister sandwich, the shero wrap.   Wraps are your own masterpiece – throw in a little of this and a lot of that. I’ve put together a veggie wrap, but feel free to throw in some real or faux sliced turkey, chicken, roast beef or any other lunch-meat-longing. Wrap it up, and take it!

 

Four 8-inch spinach tortillas*

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ pound Muenster cheese or favorite soy cheese, thinly sliced

4 red leaf lettuce leaves, cleaned

1 ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced

8 thin tomato slices

8 thin red onion slices

1 cup alfalfa sprouts

salt and pepper

  1. Lay tortillas shells on counter. Divide ingredients into fourths.
  2. Spread the center of tortillas with mayonnaise and Dijon, leaving the outer inch of the tortilla plain. Evenly place Muenster cheese, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, onions and alfalfa sprouts on tortillas.
  3. Season wraps with salt and pepper.
  4. Wrap ‘em up. Gently but firmly roll up tortilla to form cylinder.
  5. Wrap each shero with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until chow time.

* There are so many yummy flavored tortillas out there. They all work well with this recipe. Try:

Jalapeno & cilantro

Pesto & garlic

Sun-dried tomato & basil

Mild chili & peppers

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 tortillas. May want to make 2 wraps per picnicker

Sweet, salty, buttery, chocolaty… No, you didn’t die and go to heaven (but close)!

1 ¼ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips

1 cup Heath or Scorn bars, chopped (look for milk chocolate toffee bits in the baking aisle)

¼ cup pecans, chopped (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper*.
  2. Sift (or stir) together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream butter for one minute, until light and fluffy.
  4. Add brown sugar and mix until combined. Add egg and vanilla; mix until well combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces (and pecans, if using).
  7. Drop rounded Tablespoons of dough on baking sheet. Space two inches apart.
  8. Bake for 10 – 11 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom of the cookie.

*   I bake one batch/baking sheet at a time – it ensures that they bake and brown evenly, and have consistent results. The recipe yields two batches.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 10 minutes (per batch)

Serves: 19 cookies

Can be made up to three days ahead. These freeze well.

1 Jul
2016

More than 130 years ago, people thought of food in much more different way. But, as we can see, basic facts about food have not changed too much. In a food list below, we listed most important food and what people were thinking of  it. For example ,these days people often ask themselves, is honey good for you and is it healthy? There are opposite opinions, because it is pure sugar, fast and highly concentrated.But many people think that it is very healthy and that improves immune system and protects from infection.

As old cooking book says: Cook must know which food and in what amount affects health of her loved ones. If we eat mixed food, meet and vegetables, we will satisfy the needs of our body. If we do not eat meet at all, or very little, we should know what food can replace meat in adequate way.

        meat      

Meat, especially the red meat(beef,veal) have all materials of which consists our own body, there fore it is very strong food. Individuals that eat a lot of meat provoke their temper and arouse their blood, so the meat is a good food for the people who work very hard.Not all the meat are the same. For example venison is much stronger then other meat.It is provoking and easy to digest. Gelatin is main material of the meat from young animals, their legs, heads, bowels and tendons. It boosts white blood cells in our blood and it is a good food for people with sharp personalities. It cools us down in warm weather and is harmful for the people that are lazy and slow. If muscle fibers are tough they will loosen up if we hit the meat with hammer. On the contrary, if we boil it too much, it will become dry and hard to digest. In meat sauce there are plenty of proteins and we can find it in brains, liver and blood.                                    

Milk is a liquid meat. It is good for recovering patients and people that suffers from anemia. When it is nicely digested it will keep us peaceful. So it is good for the people with lively temperament and bad for slow and lazy. Very fat milk is hard for digesting, so it is good to add some water to it  if you are giving it to a baby. Yogurt is extremely good food for violent persons because it is very relaxing.

Eggs have a  lot of albumen in it, and a lot of fat in the yolk. It is makes them a perfect meal, taken with  bread. Stomach easily digests boiled eggs and scrambled eggs. So, it is a good food for sick people,old and very young. Also, for hard working men.

Starch is substance easily found in corn and potatoes. It makes us fat and interferes with production of the blood in our body.It makes us full, but not so much as the meat.

 

Honey-1 Animal and vegetable fat  produces a lot of energy and generates temperature, but it can not be eaten alone, only in addition to other food in a process of cooking.

Sugar helps digestion and evaporation from the surface of our skin. So it is good for kids and sick people. Honey is sugar made from flower juice and it helps process of healing.

 Fruits and Vegetables are very important because they have a lot of minerals essential  for our body.Also a lot of salt, iron and phosphorus.Food rich in iron is good for people that suffers from anemia. Potato is used as addition to main meal.Beans has three times more energy then potato and a lot of proteins. Mushrooms are rich in proteins but hard to digest.Fruit is especially good, only if it is ripe.