Tag Archives: Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style

Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style–Chilled Meals for Hot Weather

Hello again. I’m sorry for the unexpected absence, but I had a little accident and I’ve only been “allowed” to type again for a few days, and with just two fingers on my left hand.  I’ll write about that another day. Today it’s all about moving from beautiful, arid, mountainous Queretaro to beautiful, humid, sea level Merida.  

We had been planning to move because I’m a southern girl used to lots of humidity and the dry air was really wreaking havoc on my sinuses.  My husband got a job offer in Merida, so I started looking at rental houses online. We hired someone to go look at the house I found, and we were off to the races!

We used the same mover who moved us from the states to Queretaro, who I have recommended to numerous people, but this time the experience was horrible, for a hundred reasons. The biggie was that when the truck’s hitch receiver came loose and dropped the trailer in the highway, the driver was going to leave the trailer (and us!) there in the highway in rural Tobasco after dark with no lights, at the bottom of a tall bridge, no way to signal oncoming traffic to change lanes, no way to call for help. Not on the shoulder, not on the side on the road, actually IN the highway, a dead duck sitting in the traffic lane exactly where we dropped.

For the first time ever, I played the crazy gringa card and I used words that I have never used in my entire life, repeatedly, and very loudly.  And it worked. The Green Angels arranged a tow truck to pull the trailer to a hotel parking lot, costing us just shy of a month’s rent, and we waited while the driver went to get his truck repaired and we got back on the road.

I don’t tell that story to make anyone afraid of moving to Mexico. This was a super scary, but isolated experience.  We move freely in Mexico, and I have driven to the border alone multiple times and have never been afraid. The Green Angels patrol all the toll roads in Mexico and offer free roadside assistance. Every policeman who has ever stopped me has been courteous and polite, and Mexican people, in general, are kind and generous and welcoming. The guy we hired is a US citizen, a dual citizen actually. Just saying.

But that’s all behind us now! We did ultimately make it to this beautiful city of sunshine and palm trees.  We have a cute little house with a big yard, a big kitchen, and a front porch.

pic1

There’s even a pool, a fresh well water, non-filtered, non-chemical pool. Not that we were looking for a pool, and we probably won’t use it unless we have visitors.  Hint, hint to friends and family, direct flights to Merida from lots of US and Canadian cities!

We’ve had a few 104 degree days since we arrived in February, but most days only hit the mid-90s. The heat makes it uncomfortable to cook in the afternoons, and so we try to prepare foods in advance to keep in the fridge, beans for snacks and light meals, boiled eggs for tuna, deviled eggs, salads, and straight up protein snacks, toasted sesame seeds for hummus, celery sticks for PB dipping.

We are eating more tomato sandwiches, more salads, more fruit. We can get a pineapple for ten pesos and oranges grow on trees in the backyard. But I also admit that on more than one occasion, I’ve had chocolate ice cream for breakfast and beer for lunch. For the first time in my life, I’ve developed a taste for beer, and find it more refreshing than water when sweat is dripping off the end of my nose.  

One of our favorite light meals is a bean and corn salsa served with corn chips. Back in North Carolina, everyone has a favorite variation of this recipe, usually with black-eyed peas, Mitchell’s white shoepeg corn and Italian dressing. Here in Mexico, I use black beans and yellow corn, and the dressing is a simple lime vinaigrette. It’s so quick and easy to put together, delicious and healthy.

Dice two tomatoes, one onion, one half of a bell pepper, two serrano peppers, and a bunch of cilantro.  I remove the seeds from the tomatoes, but you don’t have to. I don’t remove the seeds from the chiles, but you can if you want to. I like green bell peppers in this, but you can use any color you like. I like red onions, but you can use any onion you like. I also like to throw in a few thinly sliced green onions, which you can opt to do or not do. You know my motto. Make it your own.

Add two cups of drained firm beans and two cups of corn. You can use black beans, black-eyed peas, red beans, or any other firm bean for this dish. You can use canned white or yellow corn, frozen corn, or fresh cooked corn when in season. Add more or less of whatever you like. Make it your own.
pic2In measuring cup, add the juice of two limes, a quarter cup of oil, a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper. You can use olive oil or whatever vegetable oil you like. A lot of recipes call for more oil, and you can certainly increase it if you like, but in small amounts at a time.

pic3

Whisk the dressing together, pour over the veggies, and toss. Chill for at least an hour, overnight if you can.  Toss again before serving, and if you want to add avocado, do that at this point. Serve with corn chips or toasted pita chips.

pic4

This is a super healthy, high protein, filling, delicious dish to serve on hot days! Enjoy!

*************

Like what you see?  Check out more from Geneva at Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style!

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/NickAndNinaSpecialtyServices/

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style

Southern Comfort Food, Mexican Style –Creamy Bread Pudding

Southern Comfort Food, Mexican Style –Creamy Bread Pudding

By Neva Gurrusquieta

I’m a Carolina girl accustomed to having beaches within driving range and the lack of humidity in Queretaro is wreaking havoc with my sinuses.  We’ve been planning to move to Merida, Yucatan for over a year. This is a thousand mile move, never easy no matter where you live, but everything just kind of fell into place for us over the last thirty days, a job for hubby, a project contract for me, the house, the mover, everything.  

I thought moving across Mexico would be complicated, but things have gone really smoothly – so far. We used Yucatan Transition Services for practically everything.  Casey was searching for houses for us, and I was searching as well.  When there was a listing worth looking at, she was my eyes and ears.  We finally found what we thought would be impossible to find, and in spite of other interested parties, she was able to secure the house for us!  So, I’ve been packing boxes like crazy so that we can leave next week! I’ve been so focused in fact that I forgot about writing my blog post!

But good news!  I can magically turn this post about moving into a blog about Southern food!

One of the happiest outcomes of cleaning out the fridge and freezer is using up all the old bread to make this delicious, creamy smooth bread pudding, baked in a cast iron skillet if you have one. My mother taught me this recipe, and I recall her mother making this same sweetness. The only difference is that mama used vanilla, and grandma used almond flavoring. They are both delicious.

When I pulled out all my leftover bread that I had stashed in the freezer for a month or so, I had bolillos, waffles, pancakes, sliced bread, and pan de muerto.  You’ll need about five or six cups of bread crumbs (not cubes) and ¾ cup your favorite kind of sugar or equivalent, a little more if you like it pretty sweet, one can of evaporated milk and an equal amount of water, three eggs, and flavoring of your choice.  You can use whole milk, almond milk, or any other milk substitute you like as long as you don’t use sweetened condensed milk. No leavening agents, oils, or salt are needed.

The first step is making bread crumbs out of all leftover, dried out bread.  Do this by hand or use a food processor or blender if you like, or even buy them already made.  Just be sure there are no added herbs or spices or salt.  Put the crumbs into a large stainless steel or glass bowl.

pic1

Next, pour the milk and water into a large measuring cup and stir in the sugar until completely dissolved.  Pour the mix over the crumbs and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The longer the mixture soaks, the smoother and creamier it will be.  With just a 30 minute soak, you will have a coarser texture, still delightful, so if you’re short of time or fridge space, just do a short soak on the counter.

After your crumbs have soaked up all the lovely milk and sugar, remove the bowl from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  If the mixture seems stiff, add more milk, ¼ cup at a time until you reach the consistency of a thick porridge.

pic2

Meanwhile, prepare your pans.  One 10” cast iron skillet is sufficient for this recipe, or a dark, heavy bundt pan if you don’t have cast iron. Darker, heavier pans will give you a crispier crust than glass, which contrasts beautifully with the creamy interior. Lather up your pan with your ointment of choice; I used manteca (lard)this time, another small step in cleaning out the pantry.

Preheat your oven to 425F/220C. While waiting, add ½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract to the crumb mixture and stir well.  Taste to check for sweetness and flavoring. If more flavoring is needed, add only one or two drops at a time until your desired intensity, if more sweetness, add by the tablespoon. Whip the eggs until they are a pale yellow and thoroughly incorporate into the crumb mixture until no streaks remain.  

Pour into your prepared pan and place in your preheated oven, uncovered, on a middle or upper rack. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until a butter knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean.

What helps to make this dish so creamy is the steam that is generated during the baking process.  This also means you need to have a cooling rack and silicone spatula at the ready when you take it out of the oven.  When you bake a cake, you allow it to sit in the pan for a few minutes before turning it out onto your cooling rack. Don’t do that with this dish or you’ll wind up with a soggy crust.

A lot of steam builds up in this custardy dish. Immediately after you remove the pan from the oven, make a slit in the center with a butter knife, and gently push it open to allow steam to escape from the bottom. Then quickly run a silicone spatula around the sides, place a cooling rack over the pan, and flip to turn it out. This treat is delicious hot from the oven, but I also love it at room temperature the next morning with my coffee. Enjoy!  

**My apologies for not having pictures of the final product. Moving brain, I guess.

Next post from my new kitchen in our new home in Merida! Sneak peak:

pic3

**********************

https://www.facebook.com/NickAndNinaSpecialtyServices/ 

Leave a comment

Filed under Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style

Southern Comfort Food, Mexican Style – Chocolate Covered Orange Peels

By Neva Gurrusquieta

Like every country, Mexico has its own unique Christmas traditions, many closely tied to the Catholic church. For the month of December, we get Christmas church bells and fireworks, along with Christmas parties, festive food, and drink.  And Las Posadas, nine days of neighborhood reenactments of Joseph and Mary arriving at the inn in Bethlehem, along with other local traditions.  With schools, government offices, and many manufacturing plants closed, families are in the streets until quite late enjoying live music, festive lighting and delicious foods found only this time of year. And…hundreds of Volkswagen beetles lit up like Christmas trees!

The Christmas season is particularly welcome this year, a needed respite from the stress and worry so many are going through.  I hope that we all will be more kind and loving and gentle in this season. I hope we can all treat each other with grace and mercy. As I write this, my sister is being released from the hospital after a scary month-long stay with so many complications, and a dear uncle was released from the hospital because there are no other viable medical options. I have friends battling cancer, friends whose children are doing the same.  I think of friends and family who are going through really tough times, financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and most likely, if you are not experiencing such times personally, you are sure to know someone who is.  I pray that the hope, joy, peace, and warmth of this season will linger far beyond this winter.  I pray for healing, reconciliation, and restoration.

My husband and I are celebrating a simple, quiet holiday this year. We are foregoing the street parties, the mass decorating and the compulsory gift-giving in favor of more peaceful, more introspective Christmas. However, Christmas food is irresistible, not just because of all the sugar and spice, but because I love to cook, my husband loves to eat, and food brings families together around the table to laugh and to cry and love on each other and to remember all the goodness and blessings we share!

It’s been surprisingly cold here in central Mexico, hitting the low thirties every night for the last couple of weeks, even dipping down into the twenties a few times. Most homes here don’t have heat, so once the temperatures dip below freezing a few times, the chill settles into the bones of the concrete houses and their occupants. On the other hand, most people cook all their meals from scratch, so hanging out in the kitchen is a good way to stay warm. One of the best ways to throw off that winter chill is to cook up a big pot of beans or a hearty stew, or throw yourself into baking or whipping up a hot Christmas punch, and enjoy the company of friends.

Depending from whence you hail, a Christmas punch could mean the spiced and spiked apple cider known as wassail in the UK  or Jamaican sorrel punch spiked with rum, or Ponche Navideño found here in Mexico.  When I lived in Jamaica, I fell in love with sorrel Christmas punch, a red hibiscus based drink served everywhere during the Christmas season, even hair salons, which is where my friend Cilda first introduced me to this lovely libation. Traditionally made with fresh sorrel flowers in Jamaica,  flor de Jamaica (the flower of Jamaica)  is very popular in Mexico and it is very easy to find the dried flowers.

Popular variations of Mexican Christmas punch use either apple or sorrel as a base, and everyone has a traditional family recipe.  One of my favorite websites for authentic Mexican recipes is La Cocina de Leslie,  and she has several really great recipes for Ponche Navideño, as well as Mexican hot chocolate. For my Christmas punch, I usually start with sorrel, citrus fruits, spices, and add a nice red wine instead of rum. In past years, I’ve added pineapple, pomegranate, cranberries, grapes, persimmons, figs, and pears, amongst many others. The alcohol you use, if you use it, should be something that complements your other ingredients. But you know my philosophy:  Make it yours! It’s about using the flavors you love to create a cozy inviting drink to warm up your family and friends!

Beyond the usual cookie baking, ponche making, and general meal prepping, this time of year I like to make another family favorite, candied orange peels dipped in chocolate.  So simple and easy, and because oranges are plentiful and inexpensive this time of year, it’s natural for someone like me. And they are delicious!

It usually takes a couple of days for us to eat enough oranges for a batch of candy, so I save the rinds in the fridge in a mason jar filled with purified water.  If we’re not eating the oranges quickly enough, I slice a few extras and use the pulp to make a glaze for a spice cake.

When the jar is nice and full, pour the contents into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, adding a little more water if needed, but just barely to cover. Bring to a low, slow boil over medium heat and cook for an hour or so to soften the rinds.  Scoop out the rinds from the pan, retaining two cups of the water.  Using a knife with a flexible blade, remove the pith, leaving only the rind. This is easiest to do while they are warm by laying them flat and sliding the blade along the rind.

Return the rinds to the water, and add a cup of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil again, and cook until the syrup has thickened and the texture of the rind is kind of like a gummy bear. I test them every five to ten minutes after the syrup starts to thicken. Go ahead, take a bite!

When they are ready, scoop them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and separate them so they don’t stick together while cooling.  

Meanwhile, melt a cup of chocolate chips. American style chocolate chips are sometimes hard to find in Mexico unless you have access to Sam’s Club or Costco. I buy dark chocolate melting chispas at the bakery supply store here and add a tablespoon of coconut oil, but if you can’t find those either, you can substitute Hershey’s kisses or chocolate bars, but skip the oil.  

IMG_2243

I usually melt the chocolate in 15-second increments in the microwave, stirring in between. And I use a coffee mug because I find the dipping process works well for me in a mug.  Dip each of the cooled rind strips into the warm chocolate, shake it a bit to remove the excess (if you think there is such a thing), and lay on waxed paper or parchment paper until set.  Delicious, inexpensive, and wonderful for a Christmas treat!

*************************

https://www.facebook.com/NickAndNinaSpecialtyServices/

3 Comments

Filed under Guest Blogger Adventures, Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style

Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style – Chicken & Dumplings

IMG_4110

Whether we hail from the great frozen north or were raised in the Deep South, we all have warm feelings for chicken and dumplings. People disagree about the dumplings, but it’s just ‘cause each one of us loves our mama and we think her chicken and dumplings are the best. It’s ok; we’re allowed to like it all, but for this blog post, let’s just say that pastry is flat and dumplings are fat. If you add peas and carrots to chicken and dumplings, you are straying into pot pie territory, but that’s just me.

But it’s all good. Your mama’s can be the best and you can still enjoy all your friends’ mamas’ recipes too.

Here in Mexico, the ingredients for chicken and dumplings are readily available. Traditional Mexican dishes feature corn flour rather than wheat flour, so this was hubby’s first taste of chicken and dumplings. (To my Southern sisters, yes I know, smh.) He did what a lot of us do after eating chicken and dumplings on a Sunday afternoon. He had a good long nap. He says he understands now why we call it comfort food.

If you’re a non-Southerner looking to sample some Southern dishes, websites like Southern Living magazine, have wonderful recipes ranging from simple to gourmet. There are lots of Southern cookbooks available online from shopping sites like Amazon. And although a lot of born and bred Southerners don’t consider Florida “Southern”, which is a topic for a different day, if you‘re looking for Floridian recipes, try here

If you grew up in the rural south like I did, your knowledge of southern country cooking came from the women around you, the great cooks in your family, in your church, in your community, and you learned by doing because most of that knowledge was not written down anywhere. I remember Ms. Louise, a beloved family matriarch in my mama’s church who made Sunday dinner for her family every week until the last days of her life. And if you were within hollerin’ distance, you got invited to come along as a guest and be treated to real country cooking. My favorite was her chicken and pastry. I don’t know if anyone in her family has her recipe, or even if she used a recipe, but I’m sure it won’t be half as good if you don’t sing “Love Lifted Me” while you’re cooking it like she did. [This sounds more like home to me when I play it at 3/4 speed!]

But, like I said in the beginning, everybody’s mama’s recipe is the best, and while I loved Ms. Louise’s chicken and pastry, my mama made fluffy biscuit-like dumplings, and that’s my favorite, and that’s what I’m doing today. It’s not her recipe per se, just her way of doing it, mostly. We didn’t really use recipes.

***This dish must be served IMMEDIATELY!! If you want the dumplings to stay fluffy, wait until time to serve before making them. Leftovers taste great, but the dumplings will be firm, not fluffy.

You can use rotisserie chicken if you like, canned broth, caldo de pollo (bouillon), canned biscuits, Bisquick, more or less onion and garlic, other veggies, whole milk, evaporated milk and water or broth. whatever. Make it yours. If you’re doing Paleo or Keto or Atkins or South Beach or any other carb restrictive eating plan, I’m so sorry you can’t partake in this carb-fest, but you might try alternate flours for the dumplings or pastry like nut flours or breadfruit flour. I love breadfruit, but I can’t get breadfruit flour here.

Prep time: 20 minutes (or an hour if you have to remove a lot of pinfeathers like I did!)

Cooking time: three hours or longer

Serves six large portions

INGREDIENTS:

  • One whole chicken or your favorite parts (~2 pounds)
  • One large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6-8 large cloves of garlic, or more if you like
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4-6 quarts of water

 

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup lard, shortening, or butter
  • 3/4 to one cup whole milk

DIRECTIONS:

 

You can buy a whole chicken and cut it up like I did, or just breasts for a white meat dish, or legs and thighs for a less expensive but incredibly flavorful dish. If you don’t know how to cut up a chicken, here’s a video from Gordon Ramsey.

He can cut up a chicken in less than two minutes. Thanks for teaching me how to do this, Mama! It usually takes me about five minutes, but this time I was working with a freshly butchered hen from our local meat shop, so I spent a good thirty minutes cleaning pinfeathers.  

I saved the thighs and legs for another meal because there are only two of us, and put everything else in a large stockpot with the onion and garlic. You can add chunks of celery and carrot to the stock for extra flavor if you like. Add enough water so that the level is twice as deep as your chicken and veggies. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook at a steady, gentle boil until the chicken is falling off the bone, about two hours. Some recipes use only the breast and call for adding canned broth. If you include the giblets, the back, and the neck, you don’t need it.

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, strain the broth and return to the stockpot. You can cook down the broth to intensify the flavors if you like, but I chose to set aside two quarts of broth in mason jars to use later in the week. If you added carrots and celery, you can set those aside to add back later or toss them in the compost pail.

Remove the meat from the carcass and set aside. Now comes another personal choice.  Take the garlic and onion pieces, the giblets, skin, and cartilage (gasp! but only if you want to), and blend together with two cups of broth until completely smooth. Pour this mixture back into the remaining broth, return to a full rolling boil, add back the chicken, and reduce the heat. The idea is to have the heat just below the boiling point so that you have the hottest temp for cooking the dumplings and a gentle, barely there boil so that the dumplings aren’t destroyed.  

IMG_4089.jpg

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. I use my fingers for the next part, but you can use a fork or spoon or spatula if you want. Cut in the shortening, butter, or lard, whichever suits your budget and taste. Make a mountain, and then make a well and pour in about a third of the milk. Gently and gradually, sweep the dry ingredients into the liquid, adding more liquid as needed, until you have incorporated all the flour into a dough stiff enough not to fall off an upside down spoon.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls into the simmering broth, waiting a few seconds in between so they don’t stick together. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately!

 

***********************

 

https://www.facebook.com/NickAndNinaSpecialtyServices/

 

1 Comment

Filed under Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style