Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Potato Latkes

Fried Potato Pancakes, called Latkes in Yiddish and Levivot in Hebrew are traditionally eaten on Hanukkah in commemoration of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days when the Maccabees purified and rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem.

• 1 lb potatoes
• 1/2 cp finely chopped onion
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 3/4 cp olive oil
• Sourcream or Applesauce


Preheat oven to 250ºF
Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.

Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.

Serve with sourcream or applesauce.

Latkes may be made up to 8 hours ahead. Reheat on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 350°F oven, about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mijo's Lengua

So, right now you are either smiling or gagging. For people who are not familiar the culture, it's almost like a dirty secret when you admit to eating and enjoying menudo (cow stomach and pig's feet), chicharrones (pork skins), sesos (brains) and a number of other interesting parts of an animal's body. Kinda gross, right? Actually they're all quite tasty when cooked and spiced just right.

Beef Tongue is a very soft beef that can be used in many dishes. This is my mother's recipe for the Lengua dinner she prepares for my brother's birthday every year. She told me this off the top of her head so feel free to play with the measurements of the ingredients, as I guessed what they might be as best I could.

  • 1 2-3 Lb Beef Tongue
  • 1 Large Onion (half chopped)
  • 1/4 cp Cilantro
  • 1 cp Sliced Mushrooms
  • 2 Tbls Chopped Garlic
  • 1 14oz can Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 14oz. can Tomato Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Red Wine (optional)

Wash fresh tongue and place in 6 quart pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 onion, salt and pepper. Place on simmer and add more water as it evaporates, keeping the tongue covered until no longer pink, about 45 minutes per pound of tongue. It will be done when it can be easily pierced with a fork.

Remove from water and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel the skin off the tongue, trim the fat, and cut into 1/2 slices.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute chopped onions, garlic, mushrooms and cilantro. Add stewed tomatoes and oregano with a little flour to thicken. Add 1/2 cup or more of tomato sauce to make enough to serve over meat. Add 1/3 cup red wine to sauce if desired. Simmer for 5-8 minutes.

Places slices on plate with rice, beans and serve with salad.

!Buen Provecho!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chipotle Tacos

    2 ½ pounds bone-in pork butt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 large onions, chopped
    1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
    3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies
    12 small corn tortillas
    2 15 oz. ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 1/2 cups chopped green onions
    2 avocados, pitted, peeled, diced
    Lime wedges
    Salsa of your choosing

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pork on baking sheet, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast pork until brown and very tender, about two hours.* Once out of the oven, set the pork aside and allow to cool, and then shred. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender. Add shredded pork, cilantro, and chopped chipotle chilies with their sauce to the skillet and stir until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and heat in oven for ten minutes. Meanwhile, stir beans in saucepan over medium-low heat until heated, then mash the beans so that they are still chunky but also creamy. Remove from heat.

    To assemble tacos, first spread the mashed beans on each tortilla, top with the pork mixture, then sprinkle with green onions and avocados. Serve with salsa and a lime wedge. *Make sure meat is fully cooked before shredding.

    Alma-Rita Cocktail

    Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off with ALMA awards airing this Friday hosted by Eva Longoria Parker and George Lopez, honorees Salma Hayek and Oscar De La Hoya, as well as a bevy of popular Latino artists including Rita Moreno who will award Ricardo Montalban a posthumous Lifetime Achievement award.This refreshing cocktail is perfect additon to your night of glamour during the Alma Awards.

    1 oz. Tequila*
    1 oz. Orange Liqueur*
    3 oz. Tropicana Pure Valencia with Mango Juice
    Fresh mango slices

    Rim your margarita glass with sugar. Add some ice to the glass, and shake the tequila, orange liqueur, and Tropicana Pure Valencia Juice in a martini shaker. Pour drink over the ice, and garnish with a slice of mango. Alternatively, you can blend the ice and drink mixture together for a frozen ALMArita!

    *Liquor is optional. Simply replace the tequila and orange liqueur with a sparkling citrus beverage, such as Sierra Mist, then mix and enjoy!

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Aviation Cocktail

    Once you pick up a rare bottle of the Crème de Violette liqueur you'll want to try the Aviation Cocktail as well which became all the rage when man first started to fly at the turn of the century.

    2 ounces gin
    ½ ounce lemon juice
    ⅓ ounce Maraschino liqueur
    ⅙ ounce Crème de Violette

    Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to chill well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Drizzle the Crème de Violette into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

    Blue Moon Cocktail

    Forty years ago today on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon and let's not forget to give kudos to fellow astronaut Michael Collins who was the command module pilot for Apollo 11.

    I started thinking about our fascination with the moon and every moon-related product there is. On this occasion you can relive the moment with the many specials on TV tonight or watch a space related movie such as Apollo 13 with a moon pie in one hand and a Blue Moon Cocktail in the other.

    Crème de Violette is an elusive lavender-hued liqueur, with the fleeting taste and aroma of spring violets, from which it's made or so I'm told? This liqueur is so difficult to find I have yet to taste this elixir. If you venture to make this drink let me know how it tastes.

    2 ounces gin
    1/2 ounce Crème de Violette
    1/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice, strainedcocktails out of this little bottle

    Shake or stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass;
    Garnish with a twist of lemon.

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Tortillas de Harina

    This recipe for Tortillas comes from Texas Rolling Pins. It looks like how we make them at home, but of course we don't go by a recipe, so I'm "borrowing" this one to share with you. Check out their website at www.TexasRollingPins.com where you can purchase everything you need to make homemade tortillas.

    3 cups unbleached flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp.  salt
    4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard
    about 1 1/4 cups warm water

    Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add vegetable shortening or lard. Or use a combination of half lard, half shortening. 
    Use a fork or a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening or just do it the old fashioned
    way and use your hands.

    Next add warm water a little at a time until your dough is soft and not sticky. You do not need very hot water. Knead the dough for a few minutes.

    Now you will pull off pieces of dough to form about 12 small dough balls. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes, longer if you like.

    This is a good time to heat up the comal.You will want to set it at medium to high heat. If it is too hot the tortillas will cook too fast.

    Now you can roll out the dough with your tortilla rolling pin or palote. It is a good idea to dust each ball with a little flour just before you roll them out. Lay the palote in the center of the dough ball and roll up, center and roll down. It is good to lift the dough and turn it.  Again, rolling pin in the center and roll. Roll them out fairly thin.

    Lay your tortilla on the hot comal. It takes just a few seconds to cook. Flip to the other side. When they are done it should have lots of nice brown speckles. Place them in a towel. If you would like you can use a tortilla warmer to keep them warm longer. They are ready to be served!

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    Grilled Shrimp Piri Piri

    The recipes I have included are from Ana Patuleia Ortins' Portuguese Homestyle Cooking which she has collected over the years from relatives and friends.

    1/2 cup hot pepper paste
    6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 tsp finely chopped cilantro
    1/4 cup white wine, lemon juice or wine vinegar
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 pound extra large shrimp, unpeeled, deveined
    Wooden skewers presoaked in water 1/2 hour

    Mix the first five ingredients in a bowl. Toss in the shrimp and give them a turn. Let stand ½ hour. Thread on the soaked skewers.

    Place the skewered shrimp over medium coals and grill 1 ½ minutes. Turn over and grill the other side for 1 ½ minutes more, until the shrimp are lightly pink and start to curl.
    Serve with tomato rice (see Portuguese Homestyle Cooking) on the side garnished with black Portuguese olives.

    Ana's Tip: For this dish, you can sometimes get shrimp that has been deveined but the shells are left intact and are easy to peel. Keeping the shells on during grilling protects the shrimp from drying out.

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    Michelada Beer Cocktail

    This drink, similar to a Bloody Mary, dates back to the 1940s, when mixing beer with hot sauce became popular in Mexico. The name for this cocktail comes from the slang term for an iced beer, "chela helada". This morphed word - Michelada roughly translates to "my cold beer".


    12 oz Mexican Beer (Tecate, Dos Equis or Negro Modelo)
    6 oz Clamato® or Tomato Juice
    1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    2 dashes Worcestershire® sauce
    2 dashes Tabasco® sauce
    dash of black coarse pepper
    dash of sea salt


    Mix all ingredients ingredients except beer together. Pour clamato mixture in a salt-rimmed margarita or rocks glass with lots of ice, then add beer and top with a lime wedge.

    Baja Citris Marinade

    Baja Citrus Marinade
    The beer based citrus marinade works well with Beef, Pork and Lamb.

    2 - 12 oz. Mexican Beers
    1/3 cp fresh Orange Juice
    1 tsp grated Orange Zest
    2 tbls Red Wine Vinegar
    2 tbls Soy Sauce
    1/4 cp Canola Oil
    1/2 cp Minced Onion
    2 tbls Minced Garlic
    2 tsp Salt
    1 tsp Cayenne Pepper to taste

    Mix all ingredients together in a blender, pureeing until onions and garlic are liquified. Reserve one cup for basting, and use remainder as a marinade for beef, pork or lamb. Use a shoulder or leg cut. Marinate meat for at least two hours for best flavor.

    Darlene's Tips;
    If you like it sweet add 1/2 cup brown sugar or honey.

    To make it spicy add 2 chopped chipotle peppers OR 2 chopped red chili peppers.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Ecuadorian Stuffed Avocados

    Avocados, native to the Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central America, are extremely nutritious albeit fattening. But, its good fat and full of nearly 20 vitamins and minerals making it a great food choice.


    3 large, ripe avocados
    3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
    1 cup chopped ham or other meat such as chicken crab, tuna or shrimp.
    1 cup mayonaise or to taste
    salt & pepper to taste
    Lettuce leafs for garnish


    Combine the chopped meat and hard-boiled eggs with enough mayonnaise to bind ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Just before serving cut avocado in half and remove pit and peel. Add filling to avocado and place on top of lettuce on plate. Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice for flavor and to prevent discoloration.

    Darlene's Tips:

    • Fill with corn, carrots, raisins and shredded jicama for a veggie style.
    • Cut the calories by substituting a vinaigrette for mayonnaise.
    • Add 2 chopped chipotle chilies to your mayo for some extra spice.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Tortilla Española

    When I lived in Madrid my roommate Encarni taught me how to make a Tortilla Española or Tortilla de Potata which is a common dish found in every bar, restaurant and home in Spain. It's nothing like the flour or corn version from Mexico that I learned how to make growing up but it's now a favorite at our home.


    4-5 White Medium Potatoes, peeled
    5 Eggs
    1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped (optional)
    1/2 cup Olive Oil, divided
    Salt & Pepper, to taste


    Slice potatoes into scallop size pieces and set aside. Place a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to pan. When the oil is hot (not smoking, but very hot), add potatoes, onions, salt and pepper. Cook potatoes (and onions if used) for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are very soft and can cut in half easily with a spatula. Set potatoes aside. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs. Mix together cooked and drained potatoes to egg mixture and add more salt and pepper.

    Clean non-stick skillet thoroughly and add remaining olive oil and heat. Pour the egg/potato mixture in the hot pan to cook like an open omelet. Reduce the heat slightly after a minute or so to allow the eggs to set in the middle, but not burn on the bottom. Use a spatula to run around the sides and bottom of the omelet to make sure it's not sticking.

    When the majority of the egg mixture has cooked on the bottom, get ready to do the "flip". Using potholders to protect both hands place a dinner plate over the tortilla and get a firm grip on the handle of the pan. In one quick move flip the pan over so that the tortilla is released onto the plate. Place the pan back on the heat and quickly slide the flipped tortilla back in the hot pan to cook on the bottom. The tortilla is done when the egg is not runny inside when poked and slightly browned like the picture above.

    Cut in thick pie shaped pieces when serving a portion for dinner or in cubes with toothpicks as an appetizer.
    Can be served warm or at room tempurature.

    ¡Buen Provecho!

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Presidential Brunch

    For most of Americans the festivities will take place in the morning. Pick and choose from this list of suggested menu items to place on a buffet or pass around. Almost all the items can be placed in individual cups, bowls or glasses.

    Fresh Fruit Salad
    Breakfast Fries & Pineapple Sausages in a cup
    French Toast Sticks w/Maple Syrup
    Ham & Cheese Quiche
    Spinach & Mushroom Quiche
    Muffins, Rolls & Pastries
    Strawberry & Blueberry Yogurt Parfait
    Breakfast Parfait Bar
    Plain Yogurt
    Brown Sugar


    Orange Juice
    Bloody Mary
    Champagne (for Mimosas or toast)