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How I Became Obsessed With Mexican Food (+ recipe)

by | Feb 21, 2017

My best childhood memories include big family BBQs at my grandparents’ house, jumping off the diving board anywhere my mom would let me, riding bikes with my brother Dana, and of course Mexico.

My grandfather’s parents were Mexican immigrants. He grew up in Texas in a bilingual home, then ultimately enlisted in the Army where he served in WWII and became a featherweight boxing champion. He was so good at boxing in fact, that he was ultimately recruited to fight with the Marine Corps as well.

After his service he met my blue-eyed, red-headed grandmother in LA. Together they were a spitting image of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo.

After getting married they opened a German sandwich shop and hofbrau in LA. Grandpa was the chef and I don’t know why he chose German food, but my guess is that he was trying desperately to assimilate into the country he loved so he and his family would not be stigmatized by his immigrant heritage. Spanish was never spoken in the home my mother grew up in.

By the time I came into the picture though we ate Mexican food a lot. Even though my mother was the one with Mexican heritage, my father was a self-proclaimed Mexiphile and it was a rare day that our home wasn’t stocked with homemade salsa and guacamole (pronounced wah-cah-moe-lay, please). Chips were optional.

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Foodist Approved: Mexican Pozole Soup Recipe

by | May 17, 2016
Pork Pozole Verde Soup

Pork Pozole Verde Soup

I asked Darya what she was craving this week and she said a Mexican-style soup. I tend to cook a lot of food that’s French and Italian, inspired by my time living abroad in Switzerland, so I was thrilled to turn-up-the-heat and experiment with creating a dish that incorporates roasted peppers, earthy cumin, and slow-cooked pork shoulder.

If you haven’t cooked much with pork, this recipe will inspire you to try something new. Pork can be a healthy and richly satisfying part of your healthstyle if you seek out a butcher selling local meat that’s been raised humanely. After a long, slow simmer (a slow-cooker works best) the pork shoulder gets so tender that you can shred it into bite-size pieces reminiscent of Southern-style pulled pork.

To save time, this dish can be made with canned diced green chiles, but prying open a can isn’t nearly as much fun as charring a whole tray of fresh peppers (just try not to set off the fire alarm!). It takes just two to three Anaheim peppers to add some nice heat to the soup, but if you’re going to go to the trouble to roast fresh peppers you might as well char a whole bunch.

You can chop and freeze the extra roasted peppers in individual portions for future soups, stews, or my personal fave—homemade fire-roasted salsa (tomato season is almost here).

Just before serving, stir in chopped purple cabbage to sneak in a cruciferous star and to add a satisfying crunch to each bowl.

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Quick Fix: Mexican-style Quinoa Salad

by | May 18, 2009
Mexican-style Quinoa Salad

Mexican-style Quinoa Salad

Cinco de Mayo is one of my absolute favorite holidays. Half my family is Mexican, so I have memories of tacos and Coronas by the pool while basking in the first hints of summer sun. Good times!

Unfortunately this year I was too busy to even go out with friends for some real Mexican food (or at least San Francisco’s version of it). Instead I made a quick, healthy quinoa salad using Mexican herbs and spices to help me feel like I didn’t completely neglect my heritage.

You can find all these ingredients at your regular grocery store. I used arugula, but you can substitute spinach if you prefer. I also recommend being creative with your spices (jalepeño or cumin come to mind). If you have fresh salsa or pico de gallo around you can stir in a spoonful or two at the end to accentuate the Mexican flavor.

I recommend making extra so you have leftovers for lunch the next day!

Mexican-style Quinoa Salad

(serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • Half bag of arugula or baby spinach
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1 spring onion or shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Lime
  • Tapatio or favorite Mexican hot sauce

Rinse and cook quinoa. Crush and mince your garlic. While your quinoa is boiling, halve your tomatoes and dice your onion and pepper. If using a spring onion, save some of the green onion slices for garnish. Remove the stems from your cilantro. Dice your avocado and sprinkle it with salt.

When your quinoa is finished cooking, heat a frying pan on medium high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add onions and red peppers and cook on medium high heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off heat and add quinoa, stirring to mix. Fold in arugula or spinach and season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Transfer quinoa mixture to a large serving bowl and add avocado, tomatoes and cilantro. Squeeze in juice of half a lime and add a few dashes of Tapatio or Tabasco to taste. Gently stir, being careful not to mash the avocado chunks.

Adjust salt and spices. Garnish with green onion slices, extra cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.

Do you try to recreate nostalgic moments with certain spices and flavors?

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