BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘Mexican

Portobello Burgers, Tabbouleh and Mexican-Style Grilled Corn

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The "burgers" and corn.

The "burgers" and corn.

I’m like a child learning to cook for the first time, running into the arms of fresh ingredients after a month away from the kitchen. Time to fire up the grill. Luckily, my father-in-law could help us with that task tonight. I’m a grilling amateur but plan to buy a charcoal chimney starter as soon as I get home and still make use of that $5 used Weber Grill. Lighter fluid scares me.

But on to the meal. A recipe from the NYC-based foodie site Serious Eats inspired the main course. And no, the portobellos and avocado sauce weren’t local. But the bright-red Hanover tomatoes (that meant local tomato growing up) were.

The new Edible Blue Ridge publication caught my eye this week in Charlottesville. It’s Mexican-Style Grilled Corn recipe provided the perfect way to prepare fresh from the farmers’ market silver sweet corn. If you don’t have queso blanco, just use parmesan.

Chances are you’ve run across one of these colorful Edible Communities  magazines, featuring delicious photos, earnest features and recipes that promote local farms and foods. In this network are now more than 30 “Edible” publications in cities and regions across the country. Anyone can start up a publication as a franchise, if you pay them for the name and some editorial support. Edible Cheseapeake emerged during my time in Baltimore. And Edible Portland cheerily covers Oregon’s expansive food scene.

Then tabbouleh provided the perfect side dish to round out the meal. It’s a salad that’s hard to screw up. We threw together soaked bulgur wheat, chopped tomatoes and cukes, chopped parsley and mint from the garden, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Simple. Yet what could be better?

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The summery tabbouleh.

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Written by baltimoregon

August 6, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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Corvallis Mexican folklore 4-H club kids doing a dance from Veracruz

Corvallis Mexican folklore 4-H club kids doing a dance from Veracruz

We had to grab a quick dinner tonight. So why not head to La Rockita, the local chain of affordable, authentic Oaxacan-style Mexican restaurants, especially since it was Cinco de Mayo? I’m always craving their tacos de lengua (braised beef tongue).

Little did we know we were in for a special treat. Traditional Veracruz and Jalisco Mexican folklore dances by colorfully costumed kids from a local 4-H club. It was pretty precious. But I should have stuck with the tongue tacos. The camarones de crema was too fishy and rich. Consistency. Keep it simple. I’ve found a simple dish that can’t be improved upon. Succulent meat, its grease undercut by crisp radishes, diced onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Enfolded in a warm corn tortilla shell. Why should I order anything else?

Le le le lengua

Le le le lengua

Skip the camarones de crema

Skip the camarones de crema

Written by baltimoregon

May 6, 2009 at 12:58 am

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Tamales for the First Time

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dsc02656Texcoco native and veteran tamales maker Maria Ortiz demonstrates how to knead the masa dough.

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Then we soaked dried corn husks for five minutes before spread their surface with the risen masa dough. Be sure to get extra wide, unbroken husks, simply wrapped in cellophane in a stack of five dozen, from your local Mexican store.

The grocery store ones are often cracked and too small to properly wrap. You can also substitute banana leaves, parchment paper or even aluminum foil for the husks. Then you just spread the dough across the top half of the husk and put a tablespoon or so of your filling in its middle. We used shredded chicken and pork with the two salsa and made a third Rajas-style one (my new favorite!) with sliced poblano pepper strips and fresh tomatoes, chopped onions, jack cheese and a sprinkle of the aromatic herb, epazote (found in Mexican stores, it cancels out the gas-creating properties of cooked beans). I want to grow the stuff in our garden (hey, Michael Pollan does). Mexican food goddess Diana Kennedy has a “Tamales Con Rajas Y Queso” recipe I’d like to try.

dsc02647The hour and a half the tamales had to steam went by faster than we expected. We actually all had time to try some before the four hours were up. Everyone went home with a bag of tamales to share, and we still managed to raise money for the new free community dinners planned for low-income residents in South Corvallis. Using a church kitchen meant we couldn’t serve alcohol, so I made the traditional beverages of tart Jamaica (hibiscus) tea and limonada instead. Now I just need to practice making tamales again at home. But the process was definitely demystified. You just need a posse of folks to help you fill and wrap. (See Maria Ortiz’s tamale recipe below):

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Written by baltimoregon

April 28, 2009 at 1:06 am

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Loving that Lengua

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Let’s just say simple, unadored lengua (braised beef tongue tacos) topped with cilantro, onion and lime on fresh corn tortillas are my new favorite Mexican dish. We finally made it to Corvallis’s best authentic (and cheap) Mexican restaurant: La Roca, run by the extended Nunez family from Oaxaca that runs other La Rocas and La Rockitas in nearby Philomath and on the coast in Newport and Lincoln City. Apparently the Nunez family are renown boxers in this area too.

If you’ve been scared to try tongue tacos, dig in. It’s really one of our most luscious cuts of meat but I guess the tastebuds (see below) are disconcerting to people. I guess we prefer concealed organ meats. But why is tongue so fatty if it’s a muscle? I guess that’s why it tastes so good.

I love that tongue is a delicacy in both Mexican and Jewish food cultures, or rather a celebrated peasant food that gained prominence out of the need to not waste any part of the beef. Funny that tongue is kosher though, no? I remember being grossed out the few times Nonny and Poppy had a whole tongue boiling in a pot at their house. Where did they get tongue in Richmond? They had nice whole tongue for sale in the esteemed butcher section of Richey’s Market today, probably to cater to their Mexican clientel. The 1950s-style grocery, featuring some good local produce and great deals, is our favorite place to shop outside of the far pricier food co-op and farmer’s market. Richey’s brings you back down to earth.

But Tacos Uurapan, while delicious, can no longer lay claim to the best Mexican comida in town. La Roca is where it’s at. Can’t wait to return for their weekday specials: Mole Oaxaqueno on Wednesdays and Enchiladas Verde on Thursday nights. Just as long as I can have them with lengua.

Beef Tongues/Flickr Creative Commons/By Nick Bair

Beef Tongues/Flickr Creative Commons/By Nick Bair

Written by baltimoregon

March 29, 2009 at 2:05 am

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The Best Mexican Comida in Corvallis

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Carnitas and Lenga Tacos at Tacos Uruapan

Carnitas and Lenga Tacos at Tacos Uruapan

 

It’s not hard to exhaust the dining options in small-town Corvallis. And unfortunately many of the restaurants here are expensive (perhaps to make up for inconsistent traffic). Corvallis cuisine could also stand to gain more ethnic diversity.

So Tacos Uruapan, an inconspicuous joint on 3rd St. on the industrial outskirts of Southtown Corvallis, is a rare gem. We devoured two steaming dinner platters, of carnitas (roast pork) and lengua (beef tongue) tacos and chile relenos, plus a Pepsi, for $16.50. The pork and especially the tongue were succulent with just enough grease, cut with squeezes of salsa verde and fresh lime. I love the bare-bones simplicity of authentic Mexican tacos in soft corn tortillas: chunks of braised meat, onion or radish and cilantro, with no distracting tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream or cheese. Think outside the border, indeed.

A cute indigenous Mexican couple from Oaxaca spoke little English but said they had run the restaurant for two years. Many of the Mexicans here hail from the culinary-rich state of Oaxaca, the one place in Mexico we’ve been. The owners of Tacos Uruapan reminded us of the Indo-Trinidadian couple who ran perhaps our favorite takeout spot in Baltimore: the Trinidad Gourmet. Wife in the kitchen, husband taking the orders at the counter. But thankfully the food comes out much more quickly at Tacos Uruapan.

Written by baltimoregon

December 14, 2008 at 1:52 am

You say chorizo, I say linguica

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Don't use Mexican chorizo (save it for eggs). Use Spanish chorizo or Portuguese linguica instead.

Use Portuguese linguica or Spanish chorizo instead.

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup
Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup (Gourmet Jan. 1990).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soup is what I like to make for Sunday dinners come fall. It’s a hearty start to the week and economical, leaving you with several lunch-size portions for the days to come.

I stumbled upon this recipe for Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup, a variation of that country’s national soup, known as caldo verde. I couldn’t find dry cured Spanish chorizo so I substituted Portuguese linguica sausage instead, which of course is how it would be made in Portugal. Mexican chorizo would probably taste fine too, it just wouldn’t retain its shape when removed from the casing and crumbled to sautee.

I also threw in diced turnips with the potatoes, as this recipe for Spanish Galician soup also inspired me. You could also add tomatoes, beans or whatever other veggies you have lying around. I topped the soup with grated parmesan to serve.

Vegetarians could substitute soy chorizo for the pork sausage or try just a simple Potato-Kale Soup without meat. The kale gives it a tangy kick that more demure potato-leek soup (though still a personal favorite) lacks.

Written by baltimoregon

November 2, 2008 at 11:15 pm

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