Yvette

Guacamole de Molcajete

My grandmother owned a large metate (mealing stone) to grind fresh corn to make dough for tortillas or tamales. A molcajete is very similar looking but smaller. It’s a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle to crush and grind spices, and prepare salsas and guacamole. A molcajete might be intimidating at first because it needs to be “broken in”. A tradional way to season one is to grind white rice in the molcajete, a handful at a time. When the crushed rice flour has no visible grains of basalt in it, the molcajete is ready to use.

An easy and quick method to season a molcajete is to spray it down with a power washer making it grit free and ready to use.Guacamole-avocado

I love avocados and although there are many ways of preparing them my favorite is a pure and simple guacamole. Stay away from powders or imitation anything on this recipe and the end result will be a delicious combination of seven simple ingredients. Chunks of avocado, onions, and tomatoes make a beautiful, delicious presentation, so be careful not to over mash.

 

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced white onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

 

If you own a molcajete (lava-stone mortar), using the tejolote (lava-stone pestle) grind the garlic, onion, jalapeño, and salt until all the ingredients are well ground. Dice the avocados and gently fold into the garlic-onion-chile paste, keeping the avocados fairly intact. Add tomatoes and squeeze the lime juice over the avocado and gently stir until the mixture is chunky. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Serve immediately, directly from the molcajete (or bowl), with tortilla chips.

Using a Tortilla Press

My mother recently made a video making homemade flour tortillas and it made me think about a tortilla press. Flour tortilla dough is too stretchy and elastic to be pressed out in a tortilla press. Flour tortillas must be rolled out with a palote (rolling pin). We do not use a tortilla press to make flour tortillas, but we do use a tortilla press to make delicious homemade corn tortillas and lots of other great recipes.

Many of the common tortilla presses I have encountered use cheap finishes and hardware that wears out quickly and rusts. Personally, I really like the IMUSA cast iron tortilla huaraches-torilla-press-smallpress. The plates are heavy, which means you don’t need to physically apply as much force to the handle to get a good even press. The cast iron has a non-stick finish, and the pivot pin is aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about rust.

With a tortilla press you can make huaraches — A huarache is flat bread made with masa. It looks slightly like a thin sandal sole, hence the name huarache. Molotes (Oaxacan Masa Empanadas) can also be made using a tortilla press. Molotes are made with a disk of fresh masa then usually filled with a chorizo and potato filling, fried, then topped with salsa, crema, queso fresco, and garnished with sliced radishes. Sopes can also be made in a tortilla press. They are small, round, tartlet-like cakes made with masa.

If you need other ideas on what to make with a tortilla press please be sure to check out this great video by Zarela Martinez: Corn Tortillas, Picadas, Sopes and Tlacoyos Demonstration.

Tortillas!

tortilla-warmerFlour tortillas are so yummy, especially homemade! If you are trying to watch calories or are on a gluten free diet then you might to switch to corn tortillas, which I also love.

When I was a little girl I would run to my grandma’s house after school knowing that she would be rolling and cooking tortillas. She would give me a small ball of dough and I’d roll out my own tortilla. Mine was always shaped like an oval, never perfectly round like grandmas.

My grandma didn’t have a tortilla warmer – she would keep her warm tortillas under a clean limpiador (dish towel). I remember always sneaking a tortilla when she wasn’t watching. When I received this tortilla warmer I couldn’t help but smile and remember being mesmerized as my grandma would knead the dough, form perfect little balls, roll them out with her small wooden rolling pin, and then cook the tortillas on a comal. I’d sit and wait patiently and loved watching a tall pile of fresh tortillas accumulate. One of my favorite parts was when the tortilla would rise and she would press down on the trapped air inside it, creating a hissing sound. I can still see her doing this with a rolled up limpiador in her hand. I always looked forward to eating the first warm tortilla spread with butter or fresh salsa.

Celebrating the Holidays and Muy Bueno Accomplishments

The holidays are around the corner and my kiddos are very excited. They have their costumes and they are ready to trick or treat. We have also set up our home altar and look forward to celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and honor our dearly departed. And before we know it we’ll be on a road trip to El Paso for Thanksgiving to visit my side of the family and on a flight to Boise for Christmas to visit my hubby’s family. The calendar for the rest of this year is filling up quickly.

Not only will I be celebrating the upcoming holidays, but I’ll also be celebrating some exciting events to promote the Muy Bueno cookbook. It was first published one year ago in paperback and now by popular demand it has been reprinted in a beautiful hardcover. My mom and I will be signing books in Colorado November 9 and then again one week before Thanksgiving in El Paso.juicer

This morning I was reflecting on one year of accomplishments and the exciting places I’ve been. I traveled to New York twice, had the opportunity to meet up with my sister in Cancun, Mexico for the annual wine & food festival. Visited San Antonio during fiesta season, and I went to California to learn all about strawberries. I also traveled to Florida and cooked alongside my mom on a nationally syndicated TV show. Not to mention my mom, sister, and I have signed thousands of cookbooks along the way in various cites. And with my sister living in Germany she has even signed Muy Bueno cookbooks in Europe.

I sit here in my kitchen sipping on a freshly squeezed glass of grapefruit juice, gazing out my kitchen window, and thanking God for all the wonderful travel opportunities. I’m also reflecting on all the astonishing press on TV, radio, publications, as well as all the honors and awards, but most importantly I am thankful for all the new amigos we’ve made along the way.

It’s been a wonderful year and I look forward to seeing what the future brings. Writing a cookbook was and has been a very challenging journey, but one I will never regret.

Wishing you and your loved ones happiness and prosperity this holiday season and in the coming New Year. Salud!

By |Bio, Yvette|Comments Off on Celebrating the Holidays and Muy Bueno Accomplishments

Arepas. It’s What’s For Dinner

Saturday night I invited friends over for dinner. It was a very casual dinner, but I wanted to have them over before everyone gets too hectic with the upcoming holidays. We munched on chips and salsa and just talked as our kiddos played outside.

imusa-arepa-2Then it was time for dinner – We don’t have a formal dining room, just one table in our kitchen, so the kiddos squished in with us at the same table. I made open face arepas and topped them with slow-cooked brisket, pico de gallo, avocado and tomatillo salsa, and queso fresco. I also made refried beans and red quinoa salad with roasted corn and avocado as side dishes.

The conversation first turned to the arepas – What is an arepa? Arepas look very similar to English muffins or gorditas and can be eaten warm with butter as a snack, or split open like a pita pocket and filled with cheese, meats, or other fillings. If you don’t have an arepa maker you can still make this recipe and cook them on a skillet with a little oil on medium heat until they are browned and sound hollow when thumped.

I gave my arepas a Mexican twist by using masa harina (corn flour) instead of the traditional Venezuelan and Colombian cornmeal. I also added some cream cheese and shredded cheese to the dough to give it a creamy and rich flavor. Everyone loved them!

After dinner the kids went off to play and us grownups stayed at the table and just talked. We talked about our homes, kiddos, and just life in general. It was a very nice casual night in.imusa-arepa-3

After everyone left my hubby and I were cleaning up the kitchen and I was starting to miss date nights and dinners out at fancy restaurants. I soon realized that’s just not my life anymore. I am married with children, and our friends are married with children. And after thinking about it, I’d much rather wear comfy clothes, drink a glass of wine at home, and have friends over for a quiet homemade dinner, even if our kids are joining us.

I have lots of memories of family dinners and that’s what we did – we all squished in at the same table and heard the grownups talk and once we were finished eating we would go off and play and the grownups stayed at the dinner table and talk the night away.

I can only hope that my children will remember the days that we had many home cooked meals and opened our home to friends and family rather that hiring a babysitter so that we can escape our real life.

 

Arepas

Ingredients:imusa-arepa-1

  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup masa harina flour (recommend Maseca Corn Flour Masa)
  • ¼ cup Monterrey Jack cheese (shredded)

Directions:

  • Turn on the arepa maker.
  • Add milk, salt, and cream cheese to a mixing bowl and whisk until creamy.
  • Add sugar, flour, and cheese. Hand mix well until the flour absorbs most of the liquid.
  • Divide the dough into four balls. Using slightly moistened hands flatten the dough with your hands and soften the edges so you don’t have any cracks on the edges.
  • Spray the arepa maker lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Add the arepas to the hot arepa maker, close the cover, and allow the arepas to cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Using a wooden spoon, remove the arepas from the hot plate and while still warm, split the arepas in half.
  • Top each arepa with your choice of toppings.

 

 

By |Bio, Yvette|Comments Off on Arepas. It’s What’s For Dinner