Tacos de Carnitas ~ Pulled Pork Tacos

Carnitas (H2)There’s nothing I love more than a summer gathering with good weather, good company, and good food. Karla, of Mexican Food Memories, is compiling a Cooking Comadres Summer Menu that includes a list of Mexican-inspired recipes for your next barbecue.

Where I come from barbecues are all about hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob and watermelon, but recently the younger generation (i.e. my brothers, cousins, and I) have been sneaking in some more ethnic, fusion-like recipes, and quite honestly I haven’t heard anyone complain. In fact, I think these carnitas are becoming a standard favorite just like those hamburgers.
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Paletas de Piña Caramelizada con Crema ~ Caramelized Pineapple and Cream Popsicles

Paletas de Piña Caramelizada con Crema (H2)Summer has always been my favorite season. It must be my Mediterranean blood because I couldn’t live without sunshine, summer breezes, fresh veggies from the garden, or warm weather. Summer also means barbecues with family and friends, long, lazy days, open windows, the sound of thunderstorms, and cool treats.

This week, Lola of Lola’s Cocina is kicking off the summer season with #PaletaWeek. Paletas are the Mexican version of popsicles, but paletas are so much more than overly sweetened frozen water. Paletas contain chunks of fresh fruit and they come in hundreds of tropical flavors.
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Piloncillo Cookies with Mexican Chocolate ~ Galletas de Piloncillo con Chocolate Mexicano

Piloncillo Cookies with Mexican Chocolate (2)When I lived in Mexico, I quickly learned that I did not have access to many of the ingredients I grew up using. I had trouble finding foods like cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, chocolate chips, and brown sugar. I wanted to be able to share many of the American foods that I knew so well, but without the right ingredients, I couldn’t make them for my Mexican friends and neighbors.
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Margarita de Vainilla y Piloncillo ~ Vanilla Bean Piloncillo Margarita

Vanilla Bean Piloncillo Margarita (H)Cinco de Mayo is coming up this week, and Kate over at ¡Hola! Jalapeño is hosting a margarita roundup to celebrate!

As a Spanish teacher, I have always had mixed feelings about this holiday because so many students think it is a celebration of Mexico’s independence. However, Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16th! Cinco de Mayo is nothing more than a battle that was fought by the Mexicans against the French in the city of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday in Mexico. In fact, it’s not really celebrated beyond the city of Puebla! So, how did this holiday become so important in the U.S.?

Well, it’s important to recognize the history behind the Battle of Puebla. It occurred on May 5, 1862. At this time, the U.S. was in the midst of its Civil War, and Mexico was defending its freedom from the French who had invaded. The French, who were led by Napoleon III, planned to occupy and control Mexico in order to offer aid to the U.S. Confederate Army. The Confederacy wanted France’s help in order to beat the Union Army. At this point in history, France had one of the strongest armies in the world.

On the morning of May 5th, the French army attacked the Mexicans at Puebla, a city located not very far from Mexico’s capital. The French expected an easy victory in hopes of reaching and controlling Mexico City quickly. The Mexican army, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, was very small and poorly equipped compared to its French counterparts. In fact, the army was mainly made up of campesinos or farmers who had nothing more than machetes as weapons. Amazingly, that small but mighty Mexican army beat the French that day at Puebla and in turn stopped the French from coming to the Confederacy’s aid. The Union was able to gain strength and eventually defeat the Confederates. Thanks to its southern neighbor, the U.S. was once again unified and free of slavery, and Mexico preserved its freedom.

Following the war, Latinos in California gave speeches every Cinco de Mayo to remind people of how the Battle of Puebla helped bring about abolition. These speeches turned into parades, and as more Mexicans migrated to the U.S., they joined in the celebrations. Over time, Cinco de Mayo became a way to recognize and honor Mexican ethnicity, and so this is why the holiday is celebrated in the U.S. more than it is in Mexico. It is very similar to how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated more by Irish living in the U.S. than those living in Ireland. Continue reading

Lime Pie with Crunchy Coconut Crust ~ Pay de Limón con Corteza Crujiente de Coco

20160417-IMG_6357I inherited my love of making pies from my mom. Over the years, I have watched her make dozens of crusts, slice hundreds of apples, and nestle buckets of freshly-picked black raspberries still warm from the summer sun into many a pie plate. My mom taught me not to be afraid of the process. Yes, it involves a few steps, but the end result is always stunning albeit tasty.
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Chile Pasilla

Chile Pasilla (H2)The other day, as I looked at the colorful dried chiles in their glass jars all lined up in a row in my cupboard, I realized that I had not posted a chile analysis in a while. As I’ve mentioned here before,  it really wasn’t until I started working with dried chiles that I truly understood the profound flavors of Mexican cuisine. Now, I feel compelled to demystify them so that others are more likely to use them.

As an artist, I appreciate the chile like paint on a palette. By itself, each chile has a unique color and flavor that is independently beautiful just like each color of the rainbow. However, when colors are combined and painted is layered, an artist has the ability to create beauty in a painting. I especially enjoy when an artist understands the use of darks and lights because such contrast brings depth and life to artwork. Chiles are the same way. When blended with other chiles, the cook can create new tastes. However, it is the great cook who understands that in addition to flavor, each chile has tone. Some chiles deliver fresh, punchy notes while others are smooth, dark, and mysterious and add background flavors.

The pasilla chile is that one that will add complexity and sophistication to your cooking. Not only is it dark in color, but it is also bewitching in tone. It has the ability to make a person stop and say, “Now what is that flavor?”

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