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Posts from the ‘Mexico’ Category

Empanaditas de Calabaza

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

Croque Señorita

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

Catching Up in May

I wasn’t really excited about summer (too hot, too soon) until I finished my run this weekend and stopped by the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket on my way home. Seeing some chives in full bloom, I asked the vendor how they could be used. Holding on to the stem, he gently twisted off the light purple puff at the top and presented me with a handful of blossoms – suddenly I could see weeks mint tea, ripe berries, fat peaches and green tomatoes spreading out before me and couldn’t wait to get started. But, before I get lost in the corn fields, I wanted to catch-up on some articles that popped up in May. Read more

Hungry in Mexico, Part 1

I had planned on a seamless travelogue describing my recent trip to Mexico City – from pre-boarding expectations to new discoveries and life changing insights. But if time stops while you’re on vacation, it goes into fast forward as soon as you get back, so it’s only now that I’ve had a chance to really get back to posting. Visiting for the first time, I wanted to be like Cantinflas‘ Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days – taking in the countryside as it gracefully glides past, dancing on tabletops, and jumping in bullrings – but more often I was Niven’s Phileas Fogg, nose buried in my moleskin diary planning the next step. I was shaken out of this by the actual Cantinflas in the form of an enormous bronze statue of the actor Jose Moreno in the Zona Rosa. I was fidgeting with my camera and almost missed it altogether. When I finally looked up, he’d turned his back to me – I was disappointing both of us. Thinking too much of what I might be missing, I wasn’t seeing what I had right in front of me. I put the camera down and looked around. Read more

Chiles Rellenos con Camarones al Chipotle

The weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter are defined by what you can’t do (or can’t do just yet) – light jackets but schizophrenic weather, longer days but dark morning commutes – a period of austerity before it’s all bunnies, baskets and tulips. While I’m far from orthodox, I do try to follow the no-meat on Friday rule during lent (though full confession I only seem to remember halfway through a turkey sandwich or mid-Korean barbecue).  With friends coming over, the timing was right for seafood. Read more

Catching Up in March

March has been such a whirl that I made it all the way to April before I could stop and catch my breath. It started well with my first contribution to the Cooking Channel’s Devour the Blog  and it was great to see so many of you making the jump. A new post on stocking my Latin pantry went up yesterday with more to follow. I laid my cupboard bare (well I straightened it up first) so I hope you’ll visit the site again and let us know what’s in yours.  I also wrote a piece about Latin American staples – Running with the Grains –  for Marcus Samuelsson‘s Food Republic that combines two favorite obsessions – seeking out new ingredients and running till I just can’t anymore.  A new site covering everyone from Junot Diaz to Michelle Bernstein (who also helps spices up school lunches here), I was thrilled to be a part of their launch this week. Read more

Como Arroz Para Leche

I was pretty immune to the award season fever that just passed, rooting for my favorites from the safe distance of the next day’s photo galleries and winner wrap ups on the Huffington Post.  I did watch the Oscar’s though (I may be disaffected but I’m not made of wood).  I know I’m probably alone in missing the endless montages in this year’s ceremonies but it was this one of great food movies posted by the Amateur Gourmet awhile back that had me thinking of Like Water for Chocolate. Read more

Tropical Floats

I generally stay away from soda.  A former diet Coke addict, I’d long sworn off high-fructose pop for San Pellegrino and prissy bottles of French lemonade.  Still, I made the exceptions for the Mexican sodas sold in bodegas and taquerias.  Coming in flavors like tamarindo, guayaba, and jamaica and made with real sugar, I was mostly attracted to the unreal colors that radiated out of the coolers and glass cases.  I hadn’t done product reviews until now but when Jarritos offered to send me samples, I thought it would be a fun way to experiment with the flavors I hadn’t tried.  Having spent the summer indulging in egg creams and milkshakes , I decided to make ice cream floats for my friends and find out what they thought.  My sister Carmen had an interesting perspective that she offered to write up and post, pointing out more than pretty colors. Read more

Champurrado

After last November, I promised myself that I would build my own altar for el Dia de los Muertos.  Though widely observed in Mexico, I only discovered the holiday a couple of years ago.  According to tradition, I should prepare some of the favorite foods of my dearly departed, lay them out in their honor, and wait for their promised return.  The problem is that while I do have family living in Mexico that I adore, they are in fact living.  I may dedicate an altar to welcome my Cuban grandmother’s spirit, but if she returned to find herself on top of a Mexican altar, I would have a lot of explaining to do.  Wondering what I could possibly make to welcome her, I thought of hot chocolate. Read more

Fairy Tale Soup

It was supposed to be a fairy tale.  I found a recipe for pumpkin and crab soup that I couldn’t wait to try, a Cinderella pumpkin I couldn’t wait to photograph, and pound of fresh lump crab meat I couldn’t help but splurge on.  Using a recipe that seemed pretty straight forward if a little vague, I roasted the pumpkin and scooped out a few cups – careful to leave the shell in tact so it could it be used as a tureen – then pureed it with scallions and coriander.  Combining the puree with broth, I added way too much curry (the wooden spoon I used still looks gold plated).  I made some adjustments but it only got the soup madder.  I was moments away from throwing good crab meat into bad recipe when I decided to give up on it altogether. Read more