Tag Archives: Mexican

{ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette }

Cilantro Dressing on Fajita Salad

I love Southwestern-style salads, but I hate the calories that come with Chipotle Ranch salad dressing. So I set out to make a healthier alternative with fewer calories. The result?

This flavorful cilantro-lime vinaigrette made with greek yogurt. The yogurt gives the dressing a smooth creamy texture without the fat, while also sneaking in some additional protein.

I use this dressing as a veggie dip, as a sauce for chicken and beef empanadas, and of course, for salads (my favorite is over spinach in combination with with my black bean corn salad recipe).

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup 0% plain yogurt (I like Fage or Chobani)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Cilantro Lime Ingredients

{ To Make the Dressing }

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

In food processord

  1. Continue to add olive oil 1 tbsp at a time as necessary to create a smooth finish.
Finished Dressing

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{ Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde }

Turns out my spicy avocado dipping sauce was so good last night, that it was eaten at an unproportional rate with repect to my empanadas. I have left over empanadas, but no more sauce, providing me the perfect opportunity to experiement with cooking a new one. In keeping with the green theme, I decided to give roasted tomatillo salsa (aka salsa verde) a whirl tonight. I would love to say it is my own recipe, however, I stole it from Tyler Florence. And with this confession now out in the open, I say that it deserves two thumbs up and earns a respectiable place among my collection of favorite recipes.

This salsa combines the favors of roasted garlic, Spanish onions, sweet tomatillo tomatoes, spicy jalapeños, and lime juice to create a condiment suitable for topping any protein or corn product. You can put it over chicken, over pork, over seafood, over nachos, hell, you can even spread it on a piece of toast for a banging Mexican-inspired snack. It is flavorful, yet not overpowering, which makes it one of my new favorite condiments.

{ Ingredients }

  • 10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1-2 jalapeños, stemmed
  • 1 spanish onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

{ To Make the Salsa Verde } Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tomatillos in half (NOTE: you should have already removed the husks and washed them). Place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves, jalapeños, and onion to the tray and roast for 12-15 minutes.

Transfer the roasted vegetables and the juices from the pan into a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse the mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Adjust the seasonings to desired taste. I always add a couple dashes of tobasco for more spice, as well as extra lime juice.

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Las Adelitas *****

 
(+420) 222-542-031
Amerika 8, Vinohrady
Prague, Czech. Republic

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Pop on your sombrero and pump out the tequila, because this place knows how to do Mexican grub RIGHT!

When I first arrived in Prague this summer, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I figured that there was a famous bridge, an arc de triumph, and a few beautiful cathedrals (as this goes pretty much without saying in all European cities), but I certainly did not anticipate that I would find the most incredible and authentic Mexican food tucked away in landlocked, Central Europe.

And then I met Fernando.

Fernando is a food enthusiast from California, that decided to settle in Prague and open up Las Adelitas Cocina Mexicana with a few of his friends. My friends and I were lucky enough to meet this crew out at the bar on one of our first nights in Praha, and after a few good beers and some drunken Macarena dance moves, we got an invite to have dinner at the restaurant later in the week (while watching a couple of futbol games, of course!). Now I am always down for Mexican grub, but I was particularly excited for this meal, having consumed nothing but dumplings and goulash the previous five days.

The Macarena Dancing....I was not kidding!

When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a large table covered in assorted plates of food and I became truly beside myself. We were given a sampling of almost every style dish on the menu (my dream come true)!! We started with homemade tortilla chips accompanied by salsa verde and salsa Adelitas (red salsa), as well as Cilantro infused Guacamole. The chips were fresh and crunchy and the Guacamole was delicious, with large chunks of chopped tomato and onion.

Cue the first round of drinks–Margaritas!

Margaritas on the rocks and by the pitcher! Absolutely amazing with a spicy pepper rimmed glass!

Next we shared an order of Chicken Nachos with shredded tinge chicken, melted cheese, jalapeños, salsa verde, black beans, and sour cream. Finally, a nacho platter done right: no pump cheese in sight, a proper serving of chicken, and an even distribution of toppings. Nothing artificial on the plate. Ohh, and the homemade salsas, take this classic dish over the top!

Cue next round of drinks–Tequila shots!

Las Adelitas has a ridiculous selection of imported tequilas that will have you singing La Vida Loca as you stumble on out the door.

The next thing we ate were the Flautas–3 crispy corn tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken stew “Tinga,” topped with melted cheese, sour cream, pickled red onion, and fresh lettuce. The chicken was very tender and the juices in the stew helped to keep the meat moist, compared to regular shredded chicken. I had never had meat “Tinga-style” before Las Adelitas, but I quickly fell in love with the spicy and smokey chipotle flavors. This spice was subdued and nicely contrasted by the sour cream and cheese garnish!

After the flautas were polished off, we began noshing on an assortment of Quesadillas; (1) Quesadillas de Tinga with stewed shredded chicken, onion, and tomato, (2) Quesadillas de Cochinita with achiote marinated pork meat, and (3) Quesadillas Vegetarianas with season mushrooms. All of the quesadillas were made with homemade corn tortillas, topped with sour cream and cheese, and served with refried beans and rice!  I’d have to say that my favorite quesadilla was the pork-filled one, which was followed by the vegetarian option, as the mushrooms were a nice change-up of flavor.

The homemade tortillas were really what made this dish special though. It seems that the quality of Mexican food (especially in America) is going to shit anymore; pump cheese is taking over, meat quality is deteriorating so burritos can be made larger and for cheaper, salsas are jarred, and chips and tortillas are no longer a made on site. Las Adelitas has preserved the art of homemade corn tortillas, delivering a truly authentic cuisine to their diners.

Cue next round of Margaritas (and one foot on the floor at bedtime!)

Next we sampled some Crispy Corn Tostadas, one of which was topped with stewed chicken Tinga and the other which was topped with Achiote marinated pork meat. They were both garnished with pickled red onion, and accompanied by a serving of seasoned rice and refried beans. I am a sucker for all things pork, so I gravitated towards that one in terms of preference, but both were phenomenal. The meat was very, very tender and well-seasoned.

All in all, we had an incredible meal and an unforgettable night! If you are lucky enough to be in Prague, definitely go check out Las Adelitas (they even deliver!).

I would not hesitate to make the statement that Las Adelitas is hands down the BEST Mexican grub I have ever had the privilege of eating. Worth another trip to Prague!

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San Telmo’s Burrito Boy *****

Near the corner of Defensa and Chile
San Telmo, Argenetina
Sundays Only!!

It’s Sunday morning and although I haven’t set an alarm, my phone is ringing. The message reads:

“Yo kids,  u know i b in SanT every sunday afternoon with burrito boy. Come hang!” – M. Koo

My head is pounding, but I am salivating at the thought of a warm, flour wrapped, beef burrito. I want it almost as bad as a glass of ice cold water and advil. I look at the time and it is 3 O’Clock, which means I have approximately two hours to get my ass to San Telmo before burrito boy leaves the market. I grab 10 pesos off my nightstand, wake up the girls, and head out (still wearing remnants of last night’s 80’s Halloween costume, might I add!).

We plow through the sea of vendors and tourists that crowd the narrow streets, until we reach him–Burrito Boy. Since my entire Sunday revolves around this burrito, he is my idol. We kiss on the cheek, and he places in my hand that shiny, foil-wrapped, piece of heaven. Cue eating frenzy.

I think it is a fair statement to say that I am a burrito connoisseur, given my love for Mexican food and my weekly burrito consumption. As such a qualified connoisseur, I assert that Burrito Boy has by far the best burrito in all of Argentina. It is a bold statement, I know. But here is why I arrived at this conclusion:

  1. The burrito only costs 10 pesos 
  2. The wraps are all homemade and hand rolled by Burrito Boy
  3. The burrito is actually hot, in fact steaming hot, when you get it
  4. Burrito Boy’s wrapping technique is fail proof, it never falls apart
  5. Burrito Boy serves his Mexican masterpiece with an incredible spicy sauce that will keep you at his stand for the duration of you burrito eating experience, God forbid you should have a bite without the sauce
  6. Burrito Boy has personality–he will talk to you the entire time you are eating (without passing judgement as you double fist with your burrito in your one hand and the bottle of hot sauce in your other)
  7. Lastly, Burrito Boy has an entire roll of paper towels, which he will give out freely to anyone with a face covered in hot sauce (which is everyone by the time they are done)
Now, I cannot take the credit for discovering Burrito Boy (although I wish I had). Instead, I got the tip from another fellow foodie, Mr. M. Koo, who sent the text message above, and can in fact be found posted up at Burrito Boy’s stand every Sunday afternoon (with me now, of course!). If you care to come join us–I encourage that you do–you can find Burrito Boy located on Defensa near the corner of Chile.
I didn’t even bother to describe the burrito in this post, because some things are just too delicious for words–this being one of them. But I will give you the heads up that there are just two kinds of burritos: vegetarian (with sauteed spinach) and carne (with barbacoa). I am normally a meat person, but happen to think that the vegetarian burrito is better because it isn’t as dry. Then again, you should be slathering every bite in Burrito Boy’s hot sauce, so pick which ever one tickles your fancy!

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Magdalena’s Party **

Thames 1795
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
11.4833.9127

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Brunch, in the United States, is defined as a weekend ritual for twenty-something year olds (typically New Yorkers), who gather to share their first meal of the day after a long night of drinking and debauchery. The meal occurs any time after noon and before 5 pm on a Saturday and/or Sunday, where the participants recap the events of the previous night over several rounds of moderately priced Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Brunch is not just a meal; it is an urban cultural affair. In fact, people are so devoted to this culinary phenomenon, that there are entire websites dedicated to finding the best brunch spots in most major US cities—who can make the best eggs Benedict, the biggest blueberry pancakes, the most delicious omelette, and the perfect Bloody Mary. And don’t even get a New Yorker started on the best bagels and egg sandwiches!! Oy Vey!

I consider myself a fairly loyal “brunchee” at home, and after having a rather long and drunken night last night, I decided that the best way to embark on a new day was by starting it off with a proper brunch. Luckily, the brunch concept is catching on here in Buenos Aires and a ton of search results came back, much to my surprise. I was looking at the list of restaurants, when I spotted the words “breakfast buritto” nestled into the description of a place called Magdalena’s Party. My heart jumped and the decision was made, we were going to Magdelena’s!

We got a table right away, and began drooling over the very Americanized breakfast menu, which included items such as “American Diner Special,” belgian waffles, and bagels with lox. My pupils were dialating by the second. We started off with a couple of Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, which I thought were all very good. The mimosas here are made with fresh squeezed orange juice–a classy step up from Tropicana back home! And the Bloody Mary was very tasty, especially taking into account that Argentines are typically very shy with the pepper shaker and this drink had whole peppercorns at the bottom! Like little nuggets of gold!

Next we placed our food order, which entailed two orders of the Cali Coast Omelettea delicate crepe stuffed with eggs, black beans, bacon and cheese, and topped with pico de gallo, avocado and sour cream, served with a side of home fries–(45 pesos) and one order of Blueberry Pancakes (30 pesos). Then after placing our order, we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

We continued waiting for a total of one and a half hours before the first dish was brought to the table. And that was just the first dish. The second one didn’t come out until 15 minutes later, and then the third one about 5 minutes after that. Therefore, we all ate at seperate times and without an appology from the server, who acted as if this kind of service was normal and acceptable.

Now I have worked in restaurants all of my life, and I understand that sometimes there are just “off days” and the server can’t do anything to icnrease the producitivty of the kitchen. However, I also believe that a server acts as the face of the restaurant and needs to honestly and appologically inform customers of problems that occur. It is amazing what a smile (and free round of mimosas) can do to alleiviate the agony of a long wait for food.

This being said, I am torn with my review of Magdalena’s Party becasue the food was not bad, but the service was abomidable. My Cali Coast Omelette was actually pretty good. I thought it could have used a little bit more egg inside of the crepe, but the general flavor was tasty and the home fries were done perfectly. In fact, the home fries were really, really good now that I think back.

The pancakes were also nice, although the server forgot to mention that they were out of blueberries that day and just shrugged her shoulders and walked away when asked about it. And getting syrup was like pulling teeth…quite a painstaking task.

Overall, I probably won’t go back to Magdalena’s becasue I had such a bad service experience and often the service is what you remember the most when the food is just average. But again, I understand that restaurants have bad days, and had the wait not been so long and the service not so bad, I would have enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere. Try Magdeaena’s Party if you have a lot of free time to kill, becasue your Brunch might turn into a Drunch if you have the same waiting experience that I did.

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Fabrica del Tacos *

 
Gorriti 5062
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 4833.3534

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The other night Ariana and I were having a serious dicussion as to how long we each planned to stay in Argentina. When I asked for her thoughts on the matter, she replied, “I guess I’ll stay until I miss Chipotle too much…” I burst out laughing, and then realized that there was some level of truth to this statement….yes, that is just how seriously we take our Mexican food.

In fact, I have concluded after all of my travels this summer, that I cannot permanently reside anywhere that does not have good Mexican grub near by. I crave the spice, the tender shredded beef, the cheesy goodness, and last but not least, the guac!! I am struggling here in Argentina to find such flavors, because they don’t really like spicy foods or beans. Your hard pressed to find a bottle of tobasco (I now carry my own in my hand bag…BYOT style) in a country where pepper shakers don’t even make an appearance on the table. This was my defining moment of culture shock. I had never been to a country that seemed to be void of black pepper. To see salt without the pepper was like bread without butter, coffee without the cream, fountain soda without the ice!!! It was all wrong. Some things in the world just go together; salt and pepper are one of them.

Anyways, I had one of my Mexican cravings the other night and I was on the hunt for something gut-dropping and heart-stopping. Ariana had heard something about a little taco stand in Palermo and thats exactly where we headed. It seemed authentic enough from the outside–flashing red christmas lights, reggaeton music, brightly colored walls, ect… But as I have learned, you can never judge a restaurant by its appearance. The food was far from authentic, and far from delicious.

Let me expand upon my grievances with this Mexican restaurant. To start, I ordered the guacamole and chips. The guac was not terrible (in fact, I dare to say it was the best item served that night), but it was rather difficult to enjoy on the stale nacho chips, which were like razor blades in my mouth.

In an attempt to wash it down, I ordered a margarita on the rocks and there was no surprise at all when a frozen margarita slushy arrived at the table–“on the rocks” always gets lost in translation for some reason. The mix was bad, and the price was expensive for the size of the glass–dissappointment numero dos.

The third and final strike though, was my entree, the Tacos Carnitas. Carnitas are one of those things that I order whenever I am unsure about the quality of a restaurant. The meat is so fatty and delicious that it is difficult to make poorly, but fabrica del tacos managed to make them disgusting. In fact, they weren’t even really carnitas, they were shaved gyro meat from the spinning pork cooker (like the ones at kebab places). And this was terrible quality gyro meat at that. I pushed my food around and stole bites of Ariana’s Chicken Flautas whenever I could. The flautas were decent, but I think that might just have been the case because anything would have been an improvement compared to my appalling meal.

Overall, I left the meal feeling cheated out of my 60 pesos (the equivalent of 2 locros and an empanada from La Cocina…sad face). I hate paying for bad food, so I don’t think I will be returning to Fabrica del Tacos anytime in the near future.

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{ Chicken and Lime Tortilla Soup }

As I walked downstairs to get breakfast this morning, my olfactory was assaulted by the pungent aroma of vinegar. I can’t say that I altogether hated it, because I love vinegar…but why did my home suddenly smell like a bag of Herr’s salt & vinegar chips? I headed towards the kitchen and as I rounded the corner, I was greeted by both of my parents who were standing at the center island, casually canning tomatoes and pickling cucumbers… at 8 am in the morning! And let me tell you, this was no little home-ec “project”—this was a miniature factory. There were at least 75 ripened tomatoes on the windowsill, along with dozens of cucumbers and jalapenos peppers, not to mention the several cases of Mason jars that were being sterilized in cauldron-like pots on the stove. I felt like I had stepped into one of Professor Snape’s potion classes from Harry Potter.

By 10 O’Clock they had canned about 15 jars of tomatoes, pickled 9 jars of cucumbers, and made 10 or so jars of fresh salsa. Needless to say, if you’re coming to our house this month, you’re leaving with a Mason jar in hand…but don’t even think about keeping it and using it as a vase if you want salsa next summer! Anyways, when all was said and done, there were still a decent number of tomatoes and hot peppers left and I decided to look for a recipe that would put them to good use. I took out the Soup for Supper cookbook by William Sonoma and resolved to make this spicy chicken and lime tortilla soup, which turned out fabulous!

I like this recipe because the tortilla strips are used as a garnish rather than an ingredient cooked in with the broth, which keeps the soup a lot lighter and healthier. I absolutely hate when I get tortilla soup at a restaurant, and the consistency is so thickened that it resembles porridge more than broth. I also like that the chicken is cooked in advance and separate from the stock because it keeps the broth clear without all of the necessary straining (for those of you who make homemade chicken noodle soup and stock, you know what I am talking about!). Overall, there are very few ingredients required to make this soup and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to cook—so it’s cheap and fast!

It provides the comfort of traditional chicken noodle soup, but the jalapeno pepper adds a nice unique twist. If you don’t feel like making the homemade tortilla strips (which are a little messy with the frying oil), then serve this soup over rice…or do both, as I did! When serving, I like to garnish my soup with the tortilla crisps, cubed avocado, and chopped cilantro.

Ingredients }

  • 9 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large spanish onion., chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2-3 jalapenos, sliced (remove and discard the seeds to make soup less spicy)
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded and diced tomatoes (I use fresh, you can use canned)
  • 6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (do according to taste though, because amount varies if you use low-sodium chicken broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 very thin slices of lime, cut into quarters
**If you are making the tortilla crisps then you will also need vegetable oil for frying and 3 corn tortillas cut into 2″ strips!

 

Directions for Soup } In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a low simmer. Add the chicken breast and allow to cook through (about 8 minutes), doing so in batches if needed. Note: I like to add a little salt and pepper to my chicken for additional flavor (see photo), but the recipe does not call for this and you don’t have to.

Once the chicken has cooked through, transfer to a cutting board and once cool enough to handle, cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces (I cube my chicken, but you can also shred it!). Set aside and discard the stock.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes to soften. Add the chicken stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once the stock boils, reduce the heat and add the chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve in warmed bowls with garnishes.

To Make the Tortilla Strips } Cut the flour tortillas into 2″ strips, using a pizza cutter. Heat vegetable oil (2″ deep) in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, until it reaches about 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, then test the oil by throwing bread crumbs into the oil….if it doesn’t begin to fry immediately, then the oil isn’t yet hot enough!Once the oil is hot and ready, add the tortilla strips, working in small batches. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow them to dry on paper towels to absorb the oil!

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Flip the tortilla strips with slotted spoon, if they begin to cook too much on one side

Let the paper towel absorb the grease, and sprinkle with Kosher salt

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