Tag Archives: Mexican Food

Méx-O-Logy – Margarita, Señorita

We are very excited to launch our new column, Mex-O-Logy, a space dedicated to sharing recipes and tips so that you can mix your own Mexican-inspired libations.

¡Salud!

Margarita, Señorita

Mexican transplant Myrna Rodríguez, conjures up Mexican-influenced libations.
Mexican transplant Myrna Rodríguez, brings and exciting twist to traditional drinks.

By Myrna Rodríguez

Definitely a drink that makes us think of summer, and actually, one of my favorite cocktails, this Mexican classic is a crowd pleaser. Way before I knew tequila was made of agave, I already thought this cactus was fun: I remember traveling with my family to Guadalajara as a child, and being marveled at the endless fields of agave I could see in the distance.

Margaritas are perfect for your summer cookouts, and very easy to put together. Here is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz tequila

1 oz orange liquor

1 lime juice (freshly squeezed)

¾ oz agave syrup*

* Equal parts agave syrup/boiling water. Let it rest until cold, then use.

I usually shake the margaritas with big ice cubes so that they cool faster. Strain the mix into a rock glass then fill up the glass with fresh ice. Add a wedge of lime to garnish and enjoy!

Photo credit: Myrna Rodríguez
Photo credit: Myrna Rodríguez

A business woman by profession, and a mixologist by passion, Myrna Rodríguez holds a masters degree in business and is a certified mixologist. Inquisitive and creative, she keeps up with new techniques, while drawing inspiration from her two grandmothers (one Mexican and one Honduran). Raised and educated in Monterrey, Mexico, Myrna infuses her recipes with Latin American flavors and ingredients, and brings an exciting twist to traditional drinks.

Find Myrna sampling food around Chicago, or delighting her lucky friends and acquaintances with Mexican-influenced beverages.

My Search for the Holy Grail – The Best Taco al Pastor in Chicago

A few weeks ago, I set out to find the best taco al pastor (‘shepherd-style’ taco) in Chicago. This down-to-earth, charismatic delicacy is a dietary staple of  defeños*, and despite the fact that in Mexico City taco stands abound, any local will tell you that not all tacos al pastor are made equal.  Finding the perfect taquería is almost a rite of passage, one that speaks to the way we connect with our city and beyond- a Mexican’s relationship with their pastor is emotional… personal, mystical.

The Genesis

Finding good tacos (let alone authentic ones) north-of-the-border is not so easy. Our taco al pastor story in April made me aware of the fact that I am not alone in this realization. I asked La Vitamina T readers and friends to submit their favorite al pastor destinations in Chicago. A few Facebook posts and tweets later, I had a list of 18 different establishments  endorsed by locals, among them, several Mexican transplants. Similar to how my friend Dave from New Jersey can recognize a good Philly cheesesteak, I figured recommendations from Mexicans added instant credibility to the suggestions.

This is how my search began.

Below is the final list of nominees. I visited every  establishment on this list without letting the owners or staff know my intention, as I  thought this might  influence the quality of the service:

  1. Atotonilco (I tried the tacos in both locations, Joliet and Chicago)
  2. Big Star
  3. De Cero
  4. El Pastor
  5. El Tío Luis
  6. El Solazo
  7. Indio
  8. La Ciudad
  9. Lagartija
  10. Los Comales
  11. Los Gallos
  12. L´Patrón
  13. Mercadito (tacos al pastor are only a seasonal item, so we did not get to try them)
  14. Rubi’s Market on Maxwell
  15. Taco joint
  16. Taquería Juanito
  17. Tierra Caliente
  18. Zacatacos  (Berwyn location)

Several Pepto Bismol doses and 3 extra pounds later, my wandering through the streets of Chicago and its suburbs came to an end. Dozens of tacos have been sampled and scorecards have been tallied!

 Each taco has been carefully evaluated based on criteria that we believe brings to life un taco al pastor “hecho como Dios manda.” (according to God’s orders)**

 I am now ready to “go tell it on the mountain”!

* Defeño is a Citizen of Mexico City (D.F.)

** Mexicans say something is made como Dios manda (according to God’s orders) when something is accurately accomplished.

The Exodus

If you, like me, have lived in Mexico for the great majority of your life, you will be perplexed to hear what has been smuggled into menus, and sold and passed up across the country for the real deal: some of the most popular and readily available counterfeit versions are stuffed with ground beef and covered with cheese or something resembling cheese; others are called tacos al pastor, and are served with sliced lettuce and tomatoes. Heresy!  In certain places, you might be given a choice of hardshell or softshell taco. During my search I found that even some of the taquerías in predominantly Mexican neighborhoods have lost their way- in their attempt to  to cater to a non Mexican palate, they have begun serving some of these apocryphal versions.

This leads me to provide the following word of caution: If you are visiting Mexico and you are looking for a hardshell taco, you will give yourself away as a tourist. We simply don’t have them. We have tostadas, which have a crunchy surface similar to a totopo, which is considered a completely different plate.

In the northern part of the country, flour tortillas were made popular by the Jewish settlers in the area. Still, you will find that most tacos in Mexico are made with corn tortillas.

Leviticus 

Treating oneself to tacos al pastor is an experience that entails a known ritual. Taquerías usually go from the very informal ´hole-in-the-wall’ joint, to fancier establishments featuring a more elaborate set up. The dynamics are the same across the board, and patrons know what to expect:  quick service, dinner and a show. Taqueros (half cooks, half ninjas) conjure up juicy tacos with meat and pineapple they shave off from a giant spinning skewer, to then catch the pieces in a tortilla with quick, precise movements. They do this gracefully, while keeping tallies, processing new orders, and sometimes, giving change and even interacting with the crowd.

Tacos al pastor must meet the following criteria:

1. Must be roasted vertically in a spit called trompo (top), which is clearly visible.

2. Should be made with pork meat, seasoned with a variety of chilis and achiote, which gives them their color.

3. These tacos are served in small tortillas (about 4 1/2 inches in diameter).

4. Tacos al pastor must include a chunk of grilled pineapple, chopped cilantro, raw onion and limes.

5. Salsas are very important in taquerías, and often times they become and element of differentiation.

6. Lime should be abundant and readily available.

Methodology

Each taco was evaluated using a scale of 1- 5 points for a total of 30 points in six different categories:

  • Meat quality
  • Meat flavor
  • Tortilla size and quality
  • Portion size
  • Accuracy/freshness of ingredients
  • Quality of salsa

Points were assigned using the following scale to score each taco:

1= Disappointing

2= Meh…

3= Ok

4= Really good, but not extraordinary or the real deal

5= Perfect. ¡Órale! Am I in Mexico?

Revelation

I have eaten the fruits of ¨the promised land” and I cannot honestly say that my search led me to tacos al pastor exactly like the ones I would find in Mexico City, but I uncovered some really good ones that will definitely hit the spot.  Overall, I was surprised to find that the meat in the eateries we visited was generally saucier than it is in Mexico. Also, portions are usually much more generous and, for some reason, when it comes to tacos al pastor, those with pineapple are very hard to find.
Many taquerías only take cash, so make sure you stop at an ATM ahead of your visit!

And the Winner is..!

 

De Cero – 28/30 Points

De Cero (The Loop)

Taco al pastor at De Cero,   814 West randolph St., Chicago
Find juicy, spicy tacos al pastor at De Cero, 814 West Randolph St., Chicago

Meat Quality: 5  Meat was absolutely fantastic.  We did not see the trompo, but we asked and confirmed it is indeed there.

Meat Flavor: 4    Flavor is really nice, but the meat has a bit of a kick to it.

Tortilla Size and Quality: 5  Tortillas were fantastic. Perfect size!

Portion Size: 5   Perfect ratio. This bundle of joy offers the perfect burst of flavors in each bite.

Accuracy/Freshness of the Ingredients 5 Really fresh ingredients, a check for cilantro, onion, pineapple (although cubed) and lime! The ratios were so good in each bite, I did not let the cubes deter me.

Salsas 4:  I got red salsa with my order which was really, really  good. 

Note: We attempted to get tacos al pastor at De Cero in three different instances. We were persistent and were able to understand why these tacos fly away. Every bite is perfect. The tacos are a bit spicy (and pricey), so make sure you order an horchata to wash them down and know that the meal will be well worth your money. Luckily, this taquería accepts credit cards, so the amount of cash you brought with you won’t  limit the amount of tacos you enjoy.  I am really intrigued by their tamales verdes. I can´t wait to go back!

First Runner Up

Big Star – 27/30 Points

Big Star (Wicker Park)

Taco al pastor at Big Star, 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago
Tacos al pastor at Big Star, 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago

 

Meat Quality: 4  Really good and not too fatty.  Meat was a bit chunky, which is why we did not rate it a 5.

Meat Flavor: 4    Flavor was really nice, maybe a bit sweet, but really good. Saucy, not dry as it should be.

Tortilla Size and Quality: 5 Perfect size. Tortillas were great.

Portion Size: 5 Perfect portion

Accuracy/Freshness of the Ingredients 5 Really fresh ingredients. I loved to see pineapple on them, which is not easy to find, so I did not allow the cubes to worry me.

Salsas 4 Salsa is good and they have chiles toreados (grilled jalapeños), as well as pickled peppers and carrots. But, you will have to order them separately, as they do not come with your order.

Note:

We waited for about 3 hours to get a table at this famous eatery, which was even more difficult considering the aroma around the restaurant teases you with a preview of what is to come. There is a walk-up window with considerably faster service.  The bar is quite a bit noisy, so if this is where you want to hang out, you will have to be prepared to forego conversation and focus on your food, which is well worth it.  Bring cash with you.  They only take cash! Service from the greeters might be a bit rough, but will improve once you sit down.

Second Runner Up 25/30 Points  (Tie)

Taquería San Juanito (Albany Park)

Taco al pastor at Taquería San Juanito 4714 N Kedzie Ave,  Chicago
Taco al pastor at Taquería San Juanito 4714 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago

San Juanito was the only place where the meat was not saucy. I found their meat flavorful, but the taco had no pineapple, which lowered-down their score. Green salsa was particularly memorable.

Zacatacos (Berwyn)

Taco al pastor at Zacataco in Berwyn.
Taco al pastor at Zacatacos 6224 Cermak Rd., Berwyn

Zacatacos in Berwyn features the most tender meat you can possibly imagine. The tacos are a bit bulky and a come in a bigger tortilla, but are still really good. Salsas are amazing.

Of Note:

Bien Trucha (Geneva)

I really liked the concept of Bien Trucha, a modern-looking Mexican restaurant that reminded me of the vibe of restaurants in Mexico City. Food, not kitsch is the focus here, and the execution of the tacos spoke to quality. Also, Bien Trucha was the only establishment that got the pineapple right, as they had just a chunk of it  vs. the cubes I found in other restaurants.  I don’t remember getting any salsa with my tacos and had to ask for lime, but if you have had enough of taco talk, try their guacamole of the day or their Pulparindo cocktail! The photo below is not the best because I did not have very good lighting inside the restaurant.

Tacos al pastor at Bien Trucha 410 W State St, Geneva
Tacos al pastor at Bien Trucha 410 W State St, Geneva

Del Seoul (Lincoln Park)

This was not a taco al pastor and definitely not on the list, but in all fairness, some of the ones I tried were not really tacos al pastor either. This grilled  pork taco, a gift from the streets of LA (where fusion happens everyday) was so incredibly delicious, I thought it deserved to be added. The name of this Lincoln Park gem is code for those who know how to read it: Spanish speakers, will  phonetically  understand “Del Seoul” as “del sol”, or “of the sun”.  Mexican cuisine allegorically represents the sun in a meal with a tortilla.
Brilliant branding, brilliant food!
FInd this taco with tangy grilled pork, onion, cilantro, slaw and sesame seeds at Del Seoul  2568 North Clark Street Chicago
Find this taco with tangy grilled pork, onion, cilantro, slaw and sesame seeds at Del Seoul 2568 North Clark Street
Chicago
De Cero is our reigning champion, but if you think there is a 30/30 taco out there, let us know. In the mean time,  ¡a taquear!

 

Pastel de Nata con Mousse de Chocolate

Foto: Victoria del Ángel
Foto: Victoria del Ángel
La deliciosa nata, típica de la gastronomía mexicana, es esencialmente la crema que se retira de la leche para después enfriarse. Hace años que no me como un pan con nata, y cuando vi este pastel, pensé que el compartirlo era algo imperativo. Esta receta es cortesía de la chef Victoria del Ángel.
PASTEL DE NATA CON MOUSSE DE CHOCOLATE Y RELLENO DE JALEA DE  MANDARINA
Pan:
  • 215  gr de nata
  • 400 gr de azúcar
  • 200 gr  huevo
  • 240 ml leche
  • 15 ml extracto de vainilla
  • 280 gr harina
  • 15 gr polvo para hornear (esta receta es para una altitud como la de México, ajusta este ingrediente como sea necesario)
  • 1 pizca de sal
Procedimiento:
  1. Acrema la nata con el azúcar e incorpora los huevos poco a poco.
  2. Agrega la leche y el extracto de vainilla, añade la la harina y el polvo para hornear cernidos.
  3. Vacía la mezcla en un molde y hornear a 180°C
Mousse de chocolate de leche:
  • 200 gr cobertura de leche
  • 250 ml crema para batir
  • 9 gr grenetina
  • 400 ml de crema semi batida
 Procedimiento:
  1. Calienta la crema y agrega la grenetina ya hidratada.
  2. Vacía sobre el chocolate de leche para fundirlo.
  3. Deja enfriar sin que se cuaje y mezcla con la crema semi batida.
Jalea de mandarina:
  • 500 ml jugo de mandarina
  • 15gr de grenetina
 Procedimiento:
  1. Calienta el jugo de mandarina y agrega la grenetina ya hidratada.
  2. Vacía en un molde del tamaño del que se usó para el pan de nata.
  3. Rebana el pan por la mitad y agrega un poco de mousse de chocolate de leche, coloca la jalea de mandarina y vuelve  a agregar mousse, coloca la otra capa de pan y cubre el pastel con el resto del mousse.
  4. Refrigera y sirve.

La chef Victoria del Ángel  descubrió su pasión por la cocina desde los tres años. Fascinada por la repostería y gastronomía mexicanas, decidió perseguir la licenciatura en gastronomía en la Escuela Superior de Gastronomía, y más tarde un postgrado en repostería en la Universidad de Artes culinarias y Tendencias Europeas, otorgado por el Culinary Institute Switzerland de Suiza. Victoria es dueña de la chocolatería Xocolat del Ángel en Jilotepec, México.

Seeking El Mejor Taco al Pastor in Chicago. The Nominees Are…!

Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico
Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico

Our story on tacos al pastor was very well received, thank you for reading and for all of your comments!  Messages poured in asking for recommendations in Chicago. Since we don’t have a favorite taco al pastor purveyor in the city yet, we decided to go in search of the best taco al pastor! We have asked our friends to submit their favorites. We will evaluate the tacos for the next few weeks considering a variety of criteria- from meat quality to freshness of the tortillas and salsa, we will share it with you all! Our readers submitted the eateries below. Stay tuned for our verdict.

  1. Atotonilco
  2. Big Star
  3. De Cero
  4. El Pastor
  5. El Tío Luis
  6. El Solazo
  7. Indio
  8. La Ciudad
  9. Lagartija
  10. Los Comales
  11. Los Gallos
  12. L´Patrón
  13. Mercadito
  14. Rubi’s Market on Maxwell
  15. Taco joint
  16. Taquería Juanito
  17. Tierra Caliente
  18. Zacataco

Gefiltefish Goes Technicolor with Spanish Subtitles

Photo: Brenda Storch

The timing of this post is partly accidental, and partly intentional. I thought at first it might make sense to talk about the Lenten dishes that in an overwhelmingly Catholic Mexico, frame a series of events that culminate in Semana Santa or “Holy Week”: from the visits to the seven churches and the burning of big cardboard structures representing evil, called “Judas” (tradition which has permeated the culture to the point that the name Judas is synonymous with “traitor” when used as colloquial expression), to the reenactments of the crucifixion in the town of Iztapalapa.  What I remember the most about this season, aside from its coinciding with a nice break from school, is that somehow, every aspect of the celebration ended at the table of the family matriarch…

Matriarch!

My great-grandma, Rachel “Rae” Storch would have turned 102 this month. She died 13 years ago, a few days after my birthday, as if she were holding on just long enough to avoid it. I think of her often and I miss her dearly.

Grandma Rae was Jewish, and whether we visited during Easter or Christmas, she would always make us feel at home. I remember that one Easter Sunday she cooked picadillo-stuffed peppers for us because, she assessed, the dish showcased a bit of Latin American flair. She also had a Christmas tree if we were around during the Christmas holidays, despite the fact that this triggered a few neighbors in her all-Jewish building to knock on her door to make sure she had taken her pills.

It is not until now, that I am much older, that I realize how lucky I am to have such a diverse family; and I am incredibly grateful that grandma Rae was so embracing and open-minded. She did not speak Spanish, and I did not speak much English at the time, but we managed, and we definitely bonded over food. She loved to take us to her favorite place, “La Paloma”.

Grandma Rae in her home in Miami in 1996

The more I talk about food, the more I find it a particularly powerful element of national and religious identity. During the holidays, among many cultures, dishes often have ritualistic qualities and are charged with plenty of symbolisms. At the same time, dishes provide us with a common ground: we eat, therefore we exist.

This season, and to celebrate La Vitamin T’s first birthday, I wanted to remember one of my favorite family matriarchs with a dish from her table. But, where to start? I do not have any of my grandma’s recipes. Luckily for me, Celia, mom of one of my dearest and closest friends, makes a delicious Veracruzan gefiltefish.  Thank you, Celia for generously sharing it with me!

The concept “Veracruzan style” when referring to food,  evokes images of a fusion cuisine that blends tropical and Mediterranean flavors and ingredients.  Usually, tomatoes, olives and chili peppers are part of the meal. Putting Veracruz in this dish made me think of gefiltefish in Technicholor with Spanish subtitles!

The recipe called for carp, and I had no idea that getting it in a Chicago suburb would be so difficult, which explains the accidental part of timing of this recipe, as I was hoping to post before Passover. We also took a few creative liberties. Enjoy!

Gefiltefish a la Veracruzana (Veracruzan-Style Gefiltefish)

Inspired in a recipe generously shared by Celia Presburger –  Querétaro, México

Serves 6

Broth:

  • 12 cups of chicken stock (this helps soften the fish flavor)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 carrot
  • Head and fish bones (to provide consistency and flavor)

Patties:

  • 1/3 lb of filleted carp
  • 1/3 lb of filleted sea bass
  • 1/3 lb of filleted red snapper
  • 2 bolillos (or 4 slices of bread) soaked in milk
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of matzo meal

Note: If you don’t find the three types of fish, use two, but make sure the carp is part of it.

Sauce:

  • 1/4 onion
  • 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of capers
  • 1/4 cup of olives
  • 1 dried chile güero pod (available in your ethnic food aisle)

Directions:

Broth:

  1. Put the fish bones, carrot, onion and chicken stock in a pot. Bring to boil and simmer.

Patties:

  1. Cut the fish into cubes. Put in the food processor until finely ground. Put in a bowl and set aside. 
  2. Grind the onion and the carrot in the food processor. Fold into the fish along with the matzo meal, salt, sugar, pepper, bread and eggs until you achieve a pasty consistency that will allow you to make patties.
  3. Drop the patties delicately into the boiling broth, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook in boiling water alone.

Sauce:

  1. Sautée the onion, add the tomatoes and spice to taste. Incorporate the olives, the capers and the chile.

Once the patties are cooked, transfer them into the sauce along with some broth. Simmer.  Let cool and served chilled. I did not wait to eat it cold, I hope my grandma forgives me!

*We did not use ingredients considered  kosher for Passover to make this recipe.

A Sip of Heaven: Chocolate Champurrado

Champurrado de chocolate. Foto: Brenda Storch
Chocolate champurrado. Photo: Brenda Storch

“Es tan santo el chocolate, que de rodillas se muele, juntas las manos se bate y viendo al cielo se bebe.”

  -Refrán popular mexicano

“Chocolate is so holy that you must kneel down to grind it; put your hands together to churn it, and look to the Heavens to drink it “.

-Mexican folk saying

Chocolate, or Xocoóatl, in Náhuatl, was an important ceremonial drink in pre-Columbian cultures. Its importance was such, that seeds of the cacao tree were not only offered to gods, they were also used as currency. Considered nutritious and even medicinal, chocolate made its way to Europe via Mexico.

Serves 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 sprig of cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp of brown sugar or a small piece of piloncillo of around 2.5 oz
  • 5 tbsp of tortilla masa
  • 1.5 oz of handmade chocolate. I got the chocolate for my champurrado as a gift during my last trip to Mexico! You may replace it with a piece of chocolate for atole (in the U.S., you may find it in your ethnic food aisle under brands such as Abuelita or Ybarra). Using the latter might make the champurrado a bit sweeter, so reduce sugar.
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Dilute the masa in 2 cups of cold water until there are no clumps.
  2. Boil the remaining water with the sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Incorporate the corn masa while mixing constantly on low heat.
  4. Add the vanilla and the chocolate.
  5. Continue to mix constantly for about 15 minutes or until the mix reaches the desired thickness.
  6. This time, I added a pod of cascabel pepper for flavor! You can add a piece of dry pepper without its seeds if you want. We chose a sweeter pepper.
  7. Champurrado is a very thick drink. If you like it a bit lighter, you might reduce the amount of masa you add.

Enjoy!

Nuestra Mesa – Pescado a la Veracruzana

Foto: Manuel Rivera
Foto: Manuel Rivera

Para esta temporada de cuaresma, el chef Aldo nos trae a Nuestra Mesa, una receta directa del sureste: pescado a la veracruzana.

Rinde: 5 personas

Ingredientes:

• 1/2 kilo de jitomate
• 5 chiles güeros en escabeche
• 1 cebolla blanca mediana
• 2 dientes de ajo
• 4 cucharadas soperas de aceite de oliva
• 15-20 aceitunas verdes
• 2 cucharadas soperas de alcaparras
• 1 cucharadita de orégano seco
• 1 hoja de laurel
• Sal
• 5 filetes de pescado blanco (tilapia, robalo, cazón, mero, lenguado, etc.)

Preparación:

1. Pela los tomates y córtalos en trozos de 2 ó 3 centímetros.
2. Pica la cebolla y los dientes de ajo.
3. En una sartén calienta 2 cucharadas de aceite, fríe la cebolla y el ajo a fuego mediano hasta que la cebolla se ablande y se vuelva transparente, teniendo cuidado de que que no se dore.
4. Agrega el jitomate, el chile, las aceitunas, las alcaparras, el orégano, la hoja de laurel y la sal. Fríelo, moviéndolo frecuentemente, durante unos 30 minutos, hasta que esté cocido.
5. Rectifica la sazón.
6. En otra sartén, calienta las dos cucharadas restantes de aceite y coloca los filetes en el centro de la sartén en una sola capa. Fríe los filetes durantes unos minutos hasta que estén cocidos y empiecen a dorarse, volteándolos una vez. El tiempo necesario variará de 3 a 6 minutos, según el grosor de los filetes. Al voltearlos, utiliza una espátula o una pala de madera con bastante cuidado para que no se rompan.
7. Cuando está cocido el pescado, viértele encima la salsa. Permita que se cueza durante un par de minutos, luego apaga el fuego.
8. Para servirlo, coloca un filete y una parte de la salsa en cada plato.
9. Acompáñalo con arroz blanco.

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México.

Guacamole Nacionalista con Requesón y Granada

Guacamole Nacionalista Foto cortesía de Dulce Patria
Guacamole Nacionalista Foto: Proporcionada y reproducida con el permiso de “Dulce Patria”

 

Según la receta de la chef ejecutiva y propietaria de Dulce Patria, Martha Ortiz

Rendimiento: 2 porciones

Ingredientes:

60       g          cebolla blanca picada

160     ml       jugo de limón

280     g          pulpa de aguacate

40       g          cilantro picado

30       g          chiles serranos despepitados y picados, o al gusto

10       g          granos de granada roja

20       g          requesón

Tortillas de maíz fritas cortadas en triángulos, para acompañar

Pan árabe dorado cortado en triángulos, para acompañar

Sal y pimienta, al gusto

Procedimiento:

Desfleme la cebolla en el jugo de limón durante media hora. Escurra y reserve. Machaque cuidadosamente el aguacate en un tazón o molcajete; incorpore el cilantro, la cebolla desflemada y el chile serrano. Sazone con sal y pimienta. Ofrezca el guacamole en un plato vistoso, decorado con la granada roja y el requesón, así como los totopos de maíz y pan árabe.

 
Encuentra un artículo sobre mi visita a este magnífico establecimiento haciendo click aquí.

 

Chef Martha Ortiz Chapa

Texto proporcionado por y reproducido con el permiso de Dulce Patria:

“En la obra de Martha Ortiz Chapa confluyen la sensibilidad y el talento. Martha posee una visión sensible de la vida, a partir de la cual inventa nuevos universos. Investigadora y conocedora de la realidad social (materia que estudió de manera profesional), posee un profundo amor a nuestro país y su cultura. En su quehacer cotidiano, ha sabido combinar ambas vertientes, la de la creación, la imaginación, el descubrimiento de novedades bellas, por un lado, y la de los sabores y las costumbres inscritas en las raíces mexicanas. Así, tiene en su haber varios libros de cocina, a la vez que una importante participación en festivales y congresos internacionales.

La trayectoria de Martha Ortiz Chapa brilla con luz propia en un campo esencial de esa historia pasada y siempre presente del país, que es su gastronomía. Pero en su caso no se trata de una obra ni de una cocina convencionales. Ella habita el mundo de la cocina mexicana para disfrutar todos los placeres imaginables que ésta supone, y no sólo en el terreno inagotable de los sentidos sino también en el de su desarrollo y su significado. A la cocinera le encanta platicar historias con sus recetas y adora visitar mercados, así como admirar las colecciones de alta costura más importantes en el mundo. Pasea por museos y disfruta leer, ya muy tarde por la noche, para tener presente lo pictórico en la cocina y los sabores en la palabra, lo cual se refleja en los títulos de sus platillos-cuentos, la gran puesta en escena. De esta manera es a la vez experta en el arte gastronómico e intérprete, informada e imaginativa, de nuestros sabores y tradiciones. Pruebas de tal riqueza son el recinto del restaurante Dulce Patria —iluminado con sabor, sazón y aroma— que Martha Ortiz Chapa dirige exitosamente en la ciudad de México, además de diversos premios y reconocimientos.”

Once Upon a Plate in Mexico: Fairytale Fare at Dulce Patria

Fish Pozole at Dulce Patria, Mexico City, Mexico Photo: Brenda Storch
Fish pozole at “Dulce Patria”, Mexico City, Mexico –  Photo credit: Brenda Storch

RUTA MEXICANA

Whenever I visit home in Mexico City, I wish I could bring it back in a suitcase. Perhaps this is why Dulce Patria resonated so strongly with me. I had limited time at home and many new options available to explore. After much research and careful evaluation, I decided to celebrate my birthday at this restaurant. Two main elements influenced my decision,  the fact that Dulce Patria is highly acclaimed chef Martha Ortiz Chapa’s latest creation; and the establishment´s name, which by itself is captivating. “Patria” in Spanish is what “patriotic” in English would be if it were a noun. How perfectly fitting. Dulce Patria spoke to the sweet home country I was physically returning to (I often wander it in my dreams), even if briefly.

Every detail at Dulce Patria has been carefully curated to create an extraordinary experience. Right in the heart of Mexico City’s financial district, an inside patio reminiscent of a hacienda, along with cacti-shaped sculptures, create a new  world. Thoughtful touches like starfruit slices in your water, edible flowers and dishes carefully plated on whimsical handcrafts, add to an environment created to make guests feel they have stepped into a different dimension.  I was moved to realize that somebody shared my sentiment: Dulce Patria is like a little piece of Mexico that has been taken for safekeeping: chef Martha Ortiz Chapa keeps Mexico in her heart.

Asphalt jungle outside, beautiful patio inside. Photo credit:  Brenda Storch
Asphalt jungle outside, beautiful patio inside. Photo credit: Brenda Storch

And from her heart she speaks and cooks: Ortiz Chapa draws inspiration from Mexican artisans, poetry and art, all ingredients of the edible stories she creatively and passionately tells through her food.  Her characters are popular dishes that can be either found in the streets of Mexico, or more elegantly presented at fancier tables. Says Ortiz Chapa about her protagonists, “estos platos son los héroes que nos dieron patria” (these plates are the heroes that have given us our homeland).

Photo: Brenda Storch
Bucket of pepitorias with chamoy salsa.  Photo: Brenda Storch
A twist on mole con pollo, mole con pato.  Photo credit: Brenda Storch
A twist on chicken with mole sauce: duck with mole sauce. Photo credit: Brenda Storch
Mexican folk candy on a whimsical handcraft. Photo credit: Brenda Storch
Mexican folk candy on a whimsical handcraft. Photo credit: Brenda Storch

Mentioning that  food at Dulce Patria is absolutely extraordinary feels like stating the obvious. Suffice it to say, that at some point during my meal, the gastronomic narrative of chef Ortiz Chapa began feeling less like fantastic prose and more like pure poetry.

Restaurante Dulce Patria

Anatole France 100

Col. Polanco

Delegación Miguel Hidalgo

11560 México, D.F.

Teléfono: 3300-3999

Fax: 3300-3955

Horarios: lunes a sábado, de 1:30 pm 11:30 pm.

Domingos: de 1:30 a 5:30 pm.

Atole de Guayaba

Atole de guayaba en La Dulce Vida Foto: Brenda Storch
Atole de guayaba en La Dulce Vida Foto: Brenda Storch

Jorge Galván, uno de los dueños de La Dulce Vida Nevería, nos compartió esta receta para hacer atole de guayaba, uno de los favoritos de los clientes de este establecimiento. Jorge dice que además de los ingredientes, esta receta necesita paciencia, ya que hay que mover constantemente para que el atole no se corte.

Rinde aproximadamente 2 litros

Ingredientes:

  • 1 vara de canela
  • 2 cucharadas de piloncillo
  • 200 gramos de guayaba
  • 1/2 taza de azúcar refinada
  • 5 tazas de leche
  • 2  1/2 tazas de agua
  • 2  1/2  cucharadas de masa preparada (Maseca)
  • Paciencia y determinación para mover constantemente el atole hasta que espese

Procedimiento:

  1. Pon el agua a hervir. Una vez que esté hirviendo, incorpora la canela y el piloncillo.
  2. Echa las guayabas en el agua hirviendo. Ya que abran, sácalas del agua junto con la canela.
  3. Incorpora la leche y déjala hervir.
  4. Agrega la masa a la leche hirviendo
  5. Muele las guayabas y agrégalas junto el azúcar moviendo constantemente durante 30 minutos a fuego lento hasta que espese

La Dulce Vida Nevería

2015 W. Rice St.

Melrose Park, IL 60160

La Dulce Vida: En La Esquina de México y Chicago

Barra de jugos y licuados en La Dulce Vida Nevería en Melrose ParkFoto: Brenda Storch
Barra de jugos y licuados en La Dulce Vida Nevería en Melrose Park
Foto: Brenda Storch

Find a related article in English here.

“Los clientes que nos visitan generalmente salen con más de una compra” nos dice Gregorio Hernández, uno de los dos jóvenes emprendedores detrás de La Dulce Vida en Melrose Park. Basta echarle una vista al menú para entender por qué. El concepto parte de la idea de una nevería, e incorpora en un acogedor espacio, algo para todos los gustos: desde los chicharrones y otros antojitos típicos de los carritos ambulantes (mismos que son parte de la infancia y según yo, del sistema inmunológico de todo mexicano), hasta nieves caseras, jugos naturales, licuados, atole e incluso tamales oaxaqueños (hechos por cierto con la receta de doña Clemencia). Con esta gama de opciones, es común que el que visita La Dulce Vida, venga con el propósito de procurarse un antojo y salga con otros cuantos.

Además de los sabores típicos del terruño, como  las paletas de tamarindo que tanto extraño, o el atole de galleta hecho con galletas ¨María¨, La Dulce Vida ofrece divertidas e innovadoras interpretaciones de las golosinas que hacen que mi corazón lata en español. Jorge Galván, otro de los dueños, nos explicó: “Nos dedicamos constantemente a generar nuevas ideas”. Empresario de día y artesano de noche, las ideas de Jorge no únicamente son geniales, sino también deliciosas cuando cobran vida. Una probadita del singular helado de ¨Gansito” fue suficiente para decidir llevarme al México de mi niñez a casa en un bote de a litro.

¿No te puedes decidir si quieres un pastelito o un helado? No te preocupes, el helado de "Gansito" es la respuesta. Foto: Brenda Storch
¿Pastelito o helado?  No te preocupes, el helado de “Gansito” es la respuesta.  Foto: Brenda Storch
Tamales oaxaqueños Foto: Brenda Storch
Tamales oaxaqueños en La Dulce Vida Nevería
Foto: Brenda Storch

Fui a la Dulce Vida a comprar mis tamales para el Día de la Candelaria, pero como Gregorio lo predijo, además de salir con mi dotación, también regresé a casa con paletas, chicharrones y otras delicias, incluyendo esta receta para hacer atole de guayaba. El servicio es excelente y los dueños, que son una institución en Melrose Park,  se mantienen conectados con su clientela a través de sus cuentas de Facebook y Twitter. Durante mi estancia, me sorprendió ver que Gregorio y Jorge saludaron a muchos de sus clientes por su nombre.

La Dulce Vida es un rinconcito en la esquina entre México y Chicago, y como toda buena idea, es universal. La tienda abre de lunes a domingo desde las 6:00 de la mañana.

Gregorio Hernández, Alejandra Rueda y Jorge Galván de La Dulce Vida Nevería
Gregorio Hernández, Alejandra Rueda y Jorge Galván de La Dulce Vida Nevería Foto: Brenda Storch

La Dulce Vida Nevería

2015 W. Rice St.

Melrose Park, IL 60160

La Dulce Vida Neveria on Urbanspoon

A Cup of Magic with a Hint of Baroque

Churros and chocolate at El Moro - Mexico, CityPhoto: Brenda Storch
Churros and chocolate at Churrería El Moro – Mexico, City, Mexico
Photo: Brenda Storch

     

RUTA MEXICANA

It was not by coincidence or like we say in Mexico, “de puro churro” * that Churrería El Moro was on my agenda as a place I had to check out this time.  I usually visit my family in Mexico City during the holiday season, which makes it almost impossible to make a stop at all the places I either want to go back to, or experience for the first time. This time around, I made sure to move this famous establishment to the top of my list.

I visited El Moro, like locals call it, on New Year’s Day, and I was particularly impressed to find quite a large group of people lined up outside. A look at the menu makes it clear- El Moro masters the alchemy of  churros con chocolate, and its simple menu has delighted guests for nearly a century.  Here you can find four types of chocolate differentiated primarily by thickness and degree of sweetness. These deliciously baroque concoctions have been simmering to perfection since this legendary café opened in 1935.

Churrería El Moro - Mexico City, Mexico Photo by: Brenda Storch
Churrería El Moro – Mexico City, Mexico
Photo by: Brenda Storch

The line moved quickly, and after a short wait, we were warmly greeted and escorted to a table by someone so cheerful to see me on a holiday, I almost felt like family.  I was delighted to have a front row seat to a performance, as churros were being charmed into delicate wheels of fried dough destined to vanish in a matter of seconds.

The city’s hustle and bustle are part of the décor and the overall experience of this urban, simple and non-pretentious locale: El Moro welcomes locals and tourists from all walks of life.

Growing up in a place like Mexico City, where you can find  a cathedral built on top of an Aztec building ( originally built on a lake that is no longer there), I anticipate magic whenever I visit. I have never been disappointed, and this time around, I drank magic in a cup.

*Literally translated as “by virtue of a churro” which means, “accidentally.”

El Moro, Mexico City- Mexico Photo by: Brenda Storch
El Moro, Mexico City- Mexico
Photo by: Brenda Storch
If you visit: 
Don’t be deterred by long lines if you encounter them, they move quickly. The area is busy, but generally safe. Exercise precautions you would observe in any major city. Consider getting your churros to go, as this is also an option.

Churrería El Moro

Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42

Centro Histórico

México, D.F.

Tel. 55 12 0896

Nuestra Mesa: Para ¨Curarnos¨ la Fiesta, Birria

 

¡Feliz año nuevo! Entre los platillos indispensables para recuperarse de la fiesta está la birria. Esta semana, y para estar a tono con las festividades, el chef Aldo trae a nuestra mesa, esta receta típica del estado de Jalisco.

Foto: Lissette Storch - Ciudad de México, México
Foto: Lissette Storch – Ciudad de México, México

 

Según la receta de la señora Teresita de Jesús Guerrero Villaseñor, Guadalajara, Jalisco.

INGREDIENTES (rinde para 6 personas):

Para la carne:

  • 1 kilo de de costilla de chivo, chamorro de res o costilla de cerdo
  • 15 piezas de pimienta negra
  • 3 piezas de clavos de olor
  • 3 dientes de ajo
  • 1 cucharadita de comino
  • 1 cucharadita de canela molida
  • Sal
  • 1 taza de vinagre de piña
  • 4 piezas de chile guajillo
  • Hojas de plátano y/o de maguey para tapar la carne
  • Platos de barro (recomendables, pero no indispensables)

Para la salsa:

  • 1 kilo de jitomate
  • 1 diente de ajo
  • 1 pizca de mejorana
  • 50 gramos de ajonjolí
  • 5 piezas de chile morita
  • 1 ½ cebollas picadas

PREPARACIÓN

Carne:

1. Remoja los chiles en el vinagre durante 30 minutos y muélelos con las especias y la sal

2. Usa esta mezcla como adobo para a la carne.

3. Cubre el fondo de una vaporera con las hojas de plátano, coloca la carne en platos de barro y ponlos dentro de la vaporera, si no tienes platos de barro rociar las hojas del fondo con vinagre para evitar que se pegue la carne. Coloca más hojas encima para evitar que se fugue el vapor. Puedes rodear la tapa de la vaporera con masa para que la olla retenga más el calor.

4. Pon a cocer a fuego medio-alto durante una hora o hasta que la carne este suave.

5. Saca la carne y extrae los jugos restantes de la olla, cuélalos

Salsa:

  1. Mientras se cocina la carne puedes empezar a preparar la salsa.
  2. Pon los jitomate a cocer, pélalos.
  3. Licúalos  con un poco de su agua de cocción, las hierbas de olor y el ajonjolí.
  4. Hierve la mezcla con los jugos de cocción de la carne.
  5. Agrega la cebolla y la mejorana, déjala hervir durante 10 minutos más.
  6. Rectifica la  sazón.
  7. Sirve la carne en platos, báñala con la salsa. Acompaña con salsa de chile de árbol* y tortillas calientes.

*Para hacer salsa de chile de árbol, hierve chile de árbol al gusto y licúalos con todo y semillas en su agua de cocción.  Agrega un chorrito de vinagre blanco, sal y una pizca de comino.

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México.

¿Dónde encuentras birria? Si estás en la Ciudad de México, no te pierdas el Restaurante La Polar (aquí sacamos la foto para esta historia ). Este lugar promete Birria hecha con la receta de doña Trini de Ocotlán, Jalisco.

Nuestra Mesa: Pan de Camarón

Foto: Manuel Rivera - Ciudad de México, México
Foto: Manuel Rivera – Ciudad de México, México
Cocinar para Navidad a menudo significa prepararse para cocinar durante una semana.  Para que no te falten ideas, aquí incluímos esta receta como parte  de la serie de platillos navideños que el Chef Aldo Saavedra trae a Nuestra Mesa en La Vitamina T para esta temporada. ¡Que la disfruten!
Pan de Camarón 
Según la receta de la señora Andrea Delgado,  Alvarado, Veracruz
Ingredientes (para 10 personas)
Relleno
  • 1 kilo de camarón pacotilla fresco
  • 4 cebollas picada en media luna
  • 4 kilos de jitomate
  • 1 lata de rajas de chile jalapeño picado de 120 gr cada una
  • 1 frasco de alcaparras de 100 gr
  • 1 lata de aceitunas sin hueso de 350 gr
  • 4 cubos de consomé de pollo
  • Aceite al gusto
  • Laurel, tomillo, orégano al gusto
  • 1 pincel o brocha para barnizar
Masa
  • 1 kilo de harina
  • 1/2  kilo de manteca
  • Azúcar
  • Sal
  • 1/2 litro de agua caliente
  • 1 huevo
Procedimiento
Relleno
  1. Pon a acitronar la cebolla con las hierbas de olor.
  2. Lava el jitomate, pícalo en trozos grandes y licúalo con un poco de agua hasta que quede martajado
  3. Agrega el jitomate a la cebolla, los cubos de pollo, las alcaparras enjuagadas, el chile cuaresmeño con un poco de su vinagre, las aceitunas escurridas y deja hervir por una hora, hasta que se evaporen los líquidos.
  4. Añade el camarón partido a la mitad. Déjalo hervir durante 1 minuto. Rectifica sazón y retira del fuego. Déjalo enfriar perfectamente.
  5. El relleno es todavía mejor si se prepara un día antes.
Masa
  1. Derrite la manteca.
  2. Haz un volcán con la harina y  agrega una pizca de sal y 4 de azúcar. Incorporar y forma un volcán.
  3. Añade un poco del agua al centro, bate con las manos solo la parte del centro y pónla afuera del volcán.
  4. Añadir un poco de la manteca bate con las manos sólo la parte del centro, coloca la mezcla afuera del volcán.
  5. Repite  los pasos 3 y 4  hasta terminar de mezclar toda el harina.
  6. Amasa toda la mezcla hasta integrarla perfectamente.
  7. Divide la masa en dos partes.
Armado
  1. Estira una de las porciones de masa teniendo cuidado de no romperla y colócala sobre una charola.
  2. Pon el relleno dejando un márgen de unos 2 cm.
  3. Estira el resto de la masa y cubre el relleno  con ella.  Dobla las orillas, pegando ambas partes del pan.
  4. Pica la superficie con un tenedor y barnízala con el huevo.
  5. Pón el pan a hornear a 350 grados durante 45 minutos o hasta que dore.
*Nota: Puedes sustituir el camarón por cazón, jaiba o incluso pollo.

Encuentra más recetas navideñas haciendo click aquí.

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México.

Nuestra Mesa – Recetas Típicas Navideñas: Pierna Navideña

 

Foto: Manuel Rivera – Ciudad de México, México

Esta es la segunda receta de nuestra deliciosa serie. La preparación de este platillo requiere dos días.

PIERNA NAVIDEÑA 

Según la receta de la señora Lilia Gómez Rojas, Ciudad de México, México

(20 Personas)

Ingredientes

  • 1 Pierna de cerdo de 5 kg
  • 300 ml de vino blanco
  • 6 dientes de ajo
  • Sal y pimienta al gusto
  • 250 gr de chile ancho
  • 1 cebolla
  • 1 bolillo
  • 5 tortillas
  • 1 rajita de canela
  • 2 zanahorias
  • 8 hojas espinaca
  • 15 ciruelas pasas
  • 20 nueces
  • 20 almendras
  • 200 gr de jamón en trozos grandes
  • 1 lt de refresco de cola

Preparación

Un día antes:

1. Inyecta la pierna con el vino blanco, por distintas zonas.

2. Mecha la pierna haciendo incisiones con un cuchillo,e introduce el tocino, la zanahoria, la almendra, la nuez, el jamón, la ciruela pasa y la espinaca.

3. Muele  el ajo, mézclalo con sal y pimienta y unta la pierna con esta mezcla.

4. Deja reposar toda la noche .

Para el adobo

1. Desvena y asa el chile ancho. Pónlo a remojar en agua hirviendo por 10 minutos

2. Mientras, pon a freír la canela. Muélela con el chile y su agua de remojo, las tortillas, la cebolla, sal y pimienta.

3. Unta la pierna con la mitad del adobo y báñala con 250 ml de refresco de cola

4. Mete la pierna al horno precalentado a 200° (hornea 1 hora por cada kilo)

5. Baña la pierna cada 45 minutos con el adobo y el refresco restantes.

6. Cuando ya esté cocinada déjala reposar antes de partirla para que no pierda sus jugos

Encuentra más recetas navideñas haciendo click aquí

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México.