The recent signs of spring are so small that, if I wasn’t desperate, I might not have noticed them at all. A little more light, a little later in the day, and I’m a completely different person. Once a layer comes off, I find it impossible to put it back on. Even with the frequent temperature drops, I stubbornly leave my gloves at home and my puffy coat is not coming out again until next year. All of which leaves me cold but determined. I’m also taking advantage of the break in the weather to enjoy my neighborhood in a way that I haven’t for a very, very long time. I reference Brooklyn in my posts often but the changes in the last few years can sometimes feel like a cautionary tale about getting everything you wish for.
Posts from the ‘Mexico’ Category
I must really look overwhelmed because my sister Carmen offered to post to my site. I know she doesn’t usually follow recipes but I’ve wanted to have something from Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales since she reviewed it for The Latin Kitchen. I offered to take the pictures if she would do the heavy lifting, and I got to try really great tacos I didn’t make myself. Enjoy!
When I was little, I loved the first day of school. It wasn’t that I was popular or liked homework. I loved the idea that I would know things at the end of the year that I didn’t at the beginning of it. Every new book, new teacher, new class was filled with opportunities to know more. But, I savored the idea of it more than it’s actuality. Very much like cooking with a recipe.
With Ana deeply buried in recipe testing and research for her upcoming book, she asked if I would post for her again. “Sure,” I replied breezily. I figured I would make my grilled skirt steak with coarse salt and pepper over high heat. I even ventured that I could add sliced avocado and maybe some oil and vinegar. Ana was not impressed and asked me to make something out of Roberto Santibanez’s Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales instead. Read more
Since I started researching my cookbook, I’ve been almost entirely dependent on the kindness and generosity of friends of friends and near strangers. Whether it’s recipes, or advice, or just a great story, I’m amazed at what people are willing to share when their sharing food. I think it was wanting to bring some of that back into my site that sent me looking for empadinhas at my friend Claudia’s and prompted me to hit up my family for a recipe for capirotada, a Mexican lenten bread pudding. Read more
Trying to cover a lot of ground on my site, I regret that I don’t get to spend too much time in any one place – picking up terms and techniques without becoming fluent in any one country’s cuisine. But lately my Cuban cookbook research has kept me at home, literally and figuratively, so I was due for a side trip. Read more
A few weeks ago, I interviewed Fany Gerson for The Latin Kitchen about La Newyorkina on New York’s High Line which has become my favorite stand at one of my favorite city spots over two seasons. I love the way the park cuts into the sky line, but I hadn’t appreciated what the expanding line-up of food stands brings to the space until Fany described seeing her incandescent pops walking along the railway paths. Read more
It was about a year ago today that I started a major kitchen re-haul (really a few hours) before throwing a surprise party in my apartment. I say started because, while everything was put back into some kind of order, I don’t think it was really finished until this week. Faced with the potential embarrassment of friends seeing my apartment in shambles, I made miracles happen and then took some time off (about 12 months to be exact). Most of the elements were in place but crowded, and I hadn’t gotten around to tying it all together. Read more
I’ve always been a little afraid of cactus plants. Though inclined to like any vegetation that looks like an alien life form, the very idea of a cactus sends tiny invisible splinters to my fingers. In reality, it’s the cactus that should fear me, since I managed to kill one in college with the reasoning that if it could just survive in the dessert, it would flourish with regular watering. It did not. Read more
I haven’t brought myself to take down the tree just yet. It was love at first sight when I spotted it early December – shivering and cold on the corner of my block. A little plumper then the elegant, well-shaped trees on either side, I realized something about myself that morning, namely that I like a fat tree. Since I was staying home this year, I gave myself the luxury of a full-sized tree knowing I wouldn’t have to go away for the holidays and come back to find it dry and sinking on the stand. For once, I was able to use all of my ornaments big and small and it couldn’t get enough. No matter how many decorations I put on the tree, the branches just seemed to swallow them whole until we had to literally trim them down. If they made spanx for trees, I would have used them. On Christmas Eve, my favorite gift was a vintage Angel topper my sister hunted down for me so the tree was finally complete. In some countries, the night of January 5 that precedes it, also known as twelfth night or the 12th day of Christmas, is considered the end of the season when decorations should be taken down (don’t worry about looking it up – it’s 12 drummers drumming). I wanted to keep it up at least until Three Kings Day or Epiphany. Sadly, the time has come. Read more
I only really became aware of el Dia de los Muertos a couple of years ago but then it was love at first sight – the papel picado, the calacas that would be frightening if they weren’t so eerily famliar, the food welcoming spirits home as though no time has passed. There’s an easy tension to the way it’s celebrated – a balance between the pre-Columbian and post-Discovery, the corporeal and the spiritual, the seen and unseen – that’s lovely to live in for a couple of days. In the past, I’ve made pan de muerto but this year wanted to try empanaditas de calabaza. Families may start their vigil with the ofrenda, but they see the spirits back to the cemetery. Whatever I made, I wanted it to be filled with fall spices, comforting, and most importantly, portable. Read more
The thing about vacation is that eventually you have to come home. Always wanting to make it last a little longer, I hold on by bringing back ingredients, recreating recipes, or incorporating holiday habits to my everyday. In the past year, I’ve visited Paris and Mexico City, which is why I have tins of fois gras and impressionist teas on my shelves, half empty jars of caramel beurre au salé and cajeta in the cupboard, and stacks of corn tortillas in the freezer. This is also why I flounce around Brooklyn markets on the weekend with an enormous Provence basket and can’t stop making batches of salsa verde. Read more