A few months ago a friend recommended Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo. Written by her step-daughter Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle, it’s part cookbook and part food memoir. Organized by month, each chapter centers on the holidays and seasons as they were celebrated in the Blue House in Coyoacán. Describing a trip with Frida to the pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacán, the author writes:
After offering us the traditional refreshment of agua de chía, doña Rosa invited us to eat. She had prepared a number of Lenten dishes typically served throughout the central Mexican plain, where the gods that Frida invoked in her paintings had once upon a time resided. As it turned out, doña Rosa and don Tomas extended their hospitality to us for three more days, days in which reality was inseparable from magic. Read more
I bought the malanga by mistake. I’d considered adding it to my garbanzos last week but left it out at the last minute. Not wanting to let it go to waste, I decided to try making fritters instead. I’d stopped by a friends house unexpectedly when he was finishing a batch for salt cod fritters, and it looked so easy and simple that I wanted to try this variation. They’re the kind of last minute side dish that could be whipped up in a few minutes. I looked through a few different recipes that were very similar – malanga, eggs, a little garlic, maybe parsley. Reading A Taste of Old Cuba, I was reminded that frying 0f any kind was always left for last so that the fritters, plantains or croquetas could be served hot and crisp, never greasy . I hadn’t thought about it before but realized that I do associate the crackle and sizzle of frying with a great meal about to be had – a little music drawing everyone to the table. Read more
I’ve been wanting to try this second causa recipe, stuffed with chicken for awhile. I was finally got my hands on bottled ají amarillo, the Peruvian peppers that are key to so many recipes but are difficult to find in New York. Though usually served cold, roast chicken wrapped in yellow potatoes then slathered with cheese and lightly browned, seemed like the perfect early fall comfort food. I’m always a little skeptical that it’s going to work, but the pureed potatoes combined with oil and peppers become a perfect kind of molding clay so the only difficult part is stopping yourself from playing with it incessantly so it has time to chill.
During my last Sunset Park crawl, I couldn’t resist buying some of the Mexican chorizo that’s sold in all the grocery stores and bodegas. Mixed into omelettes or covered in cheese, all the recipes I found for using it were pretty heavy. That’s when I came across this version using chayotes in Marilyn Tausend’s Cocina de la Familia, a collection of recipes she collected while traveling through the United States and Mexico. This one come from Miami by way of Mexico City. Light, fresh and slightly sweet, the chayotes were the perfect balance for the heavily spiced chorizo. Originally from Mexico but popular throughout Latin America, Tausend compares chayotes to the ideal 19th century woman, “somewhat exotic, always modest, very versatile, and capable of assuming any role necessary.” I didn’t know I was looking for a Victorian solution but I found one. Read more
Reading Melissa Clark column in this week’s New York Times Dining & Wine section, “It’s Autumn’s Hearth”, reminded me that I had just a couple of more weeks to take advantage of the few tomatoes and late summer vegetables left. I started looking at recipes for pisto manchego, a Spanish version of ratatouille. Just onions, tomatoes, and green peppers, sauteed in olive oil then cooked slowly till soft, it’s maybe served with a fried egg, maybe over bread, maybe both. I was tempted to play with the dozen variations I found online but contented myself to throw in zucchini but leave the eggplant, chorizo and ham for another day. So simple, it was exactly what I wanted.
I know it will still be warm in September, but with August almost gone, summer is definitely slipping away. I wanted to include one more gazpacho recipe before it was over, using the few tomatoes that had made it to market despite the late blight. I checked Saveur for recipes and found this post featured on their best of the web section, which led me to delicious days. A wonderful site maintained by Nicky and Oliver, a couple based out of Munich, the recipe itself comes from their friend Carlos fittingly named Gazpacho con Tropezones or stumbling stones. Once I’d finally jumped to the right page, I found it as easy and straightforward as the recipe promised, and just in time.
I’ve had waxy brown yucas on my counter for a couple of weeks. There were so many things that I wanted to make with them – salads, empanadas, croquetas – that I ended up doing nothing at all. My absolute favorite way of eating yuca is on Christmas day, standing around my aunt’s kitchen while she fries up perfectly golden batches of fries using the boiled yuca left over from Noche Buena. Dipped in garlic aioli, it’s impossible to let it cool long enough before diving in, but worth the burn. With Christmas months away, I flipped through a few books to see how I wanted to use the increasingly reproachful yuca I’d been putting off. That’s when I found Alex Garcia’s recipe for yucassoise from In a Cuban Kitchen. There is nothing suave about barklike, starchy yuca so I loved the idea of transforming it into a smooth, cold soup. Read more
While I always feel a little sad to see the weekend slip away, I like the hard reset of Mondays. With new resolutions in place and wanting to have more vegetables, I tried chayotes for the first time. A cross between a squash, cucumber and melon that are available year round, I’d see them in the grocery store but never thought to try them. Consulting Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking, I julienned and sauteed them with Serrano peppers in safflower oil and cooked them covered till they were al dente, then added a little cilantro and sea alt to taste. An easy preparation for a fresh start.
I was curious when I read Katie Workman’s post in The Daily Beast about the rivalry between Peru and Chile over the potato’s origin. I asked my aunt, who has lived in Lima enough decades to put down her own roots, if it was true. When I received an all caps email from my usually soft spoken aunt, I knew not only was it true, it was serious. I could see why countries would fight over it. Comforting and generous, potatoes lend themselves to almost everything. Regardless of its origin, I was curious to know what Peruvians did with them. She directed me to a friend’s website, Yanuq, an extensive source for traditional and contemporary Peruvian recipes and ingredients. I started looking at recipes for causas, mashed yellow potatoes seasoned with aji amarillo, lime juice, and oil and then stuffed with anything from octopus in olive sauce to chicken and beets. Deciding to start picnic simple, I chose the causa de atún, a jelly roll or brazo gitano style loaf filled with tuna, tomatoes, and avocados. Despite a wide market search, I wasn’t able to find the Peruvian aji amarillo but followed a suggestion on eGullet to use habaneros soaked in milk as a substitute. Still, my market search did bear fruit since I found fresh chirimoyas instead with the sticker declaring them the product of Chile. I wonder what Peru thinks of that? Read more
If I seem preoccupied with eating flowers lately, it’s because the farmer’s markets are only just getting into their too beautiful weeks now. This Sunday I found the zucchini blossoms I’d been waiting for since April to try this recipe for Zucchini-Blossom Quesadillas again.
I’d made them for the first time last year with store bought tortillas. I loved the filling but wanted to make them with the uncooked dough called for in the recipe. I made this batch with masa harina, fresh masa that has been dried so that you only add water to form the tortillas. I used this tutorial by Chef Iliana de la Vega who explains Read more