Tag Archives: mexican

Spice up your Cinco: Two twists on classic tipples to celebrate the 5th of May

Spice up your Cinco: Two twists on classic tipples to celebrate the 5th of May

Ginger Beergarita 1_logo

Due to the simple fact that we Americans have to make just about every holiday an excuse to drink, I’m sure that most of you are well aware that Cinco de Mayo is this weekend. That means parties, sombreros, and tequila drinks galore. And no, for the last time, it does not mark Mexico’s Independence Day (that’s September 16th); it’s a celebration and remembrance of Mexican fighters taking down the French forces at The Battle of Puebla in 1862. Use that one to impress friends and potential one-night-stands on Sunday.

I digress. On to the drinks!

Tired of celebrating with the standard margarita, I decided to concoct a new tequila-based libation. I borrowed the idea of the “Beergarita” — a mixture of Mexican lager beer, limeade or sour mix, and tequila — and gave it a sweet and spicy twist by replacing the lager with ginger beer, and adding fresh ginger and jalapeno. Ginger and reposado (slightly aged, amber-colored) tequila are a great flavor pairing in this Ginger Beergarita and the addition of the jalapeno enhances the spiciness of the ginger — which can easily be omitted from the recipe if you’re not a fan of heat.

Not that this would be the first thing on your mind when mixing a drink on Cinco, but the Ginger Beergarita also has some great health benefits. Ginger has natural immune system-boosting properties and helps to fight of certain types of cancer cells with its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects. Bonus: ginger has been a natural remedy for migraines and nausea, so this drink may actually reduce your hangover on May 6th.

So while celebrating the rich culture and heritage of Mexico (and the time they kicked some French ass) by guzzling far too much cerveza and tequila, try out the following exotic tipples this weekend.
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East Meets West: Enjoy a twist on a classic with these Indian-inspired enchiladas

East Meets West: Enjoy a twist on a classic with these Indian-inspired enchiladas

Not the prettiest enchiladas, but the bold flavors make up for its looks.

Experimenting with food and flavors is a passion of mine and I love to “explore” the globe through its cultures and their cuisines. Sometimes, I like to be region-specific with my cooking, and other times I, in the immortal lyrics of Fleetwood Mac, like to “go (my) own way” by using a basic flavor profile and letting the creativity flow.

This past week, my culinary journey was at a fork in the road. You see, I had a craving for cheesy Mexican enchiladas with tomato sauce, but also had the itch to experiment with some Indian flavors and wanted make the dish a little healthier. Thus, these vegetarian, gluten-free Indian enchiladas were born. I used a few basic spices that can be easily found in the spice aisle at most grocery stores — save for the Indian chili powder that can be found at an Indian grocer or easily substituted with regular chili powder — and some easy-to-find ingredients commonly found in most Indian cuisines, like butternut squash, chickpeas and tomatoes.

Paneer cheese, a fresh farmer-style cheese that doesn’t melt, is a star ingredient in the filling. It holds up to high heat cooking and adds both bulk and protein to the filling. Paneer can be found at specialty and Indian grocery stores, but can be easily substituted with firm tofu (this would then make the dish vegan as well).

Even if you’ve never cooked Indian food before, this recipe is very approachable and can be adjusted to your taste and spice level: leave out the spicy chilies for a milder sauce or add more if you’re a heat-seeker, substitute the kale with spinach, and you can even use different types of winter or summer squash in the filling if you please.
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Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Not to be confused with carna asada (which is marinated flank or skirt steak) carne guisada (CAR-nay gee-SA-da) is a Mexican-style beef stew that’s braised low and slow with chilies, onions, tomatoes, spices and, in this case, beer for hours until it creates its own “gravy” sauce. While fantastic on its own, carne guisada makes an amazing filling for tacos and one great cure-all for anything that ails you — from a cold to a hangover to a bad mood.

It’s often found in Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries in the Southwestern states, and is also offered as a filling at roadside taco stands and food trucks. Besides making a perfect comfort food (and even better leftovers), carne guisada is inexpensive — cheap stew meat is the most expensive component — and easy to prepare. It’s one of those unfussy, “set it and forget it” type dishes.

The ingredients and methods of preparation vary from cook to cook — some use only dried chili powders, while others swear by fresh green chilies; some add an array of veggies, and others simply simmer the beef in chilies and water. It’s all a matter of personal taste, but no matter the differences in ingredients, I bet you’ll never come across a bad version. (Unless, of course, it’s a burnt batch.)

To pay homage to this Tex-Mex staple, I opted for a true Texas beer, Shiner Bock, as braising liquid in place of water or broth. For preparing it in taco form, as I’ve done below, it’s best to keep the toppings simple as to not lose the flavors of the stew: cilantro, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salty cotija cheese.

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Macaroni and cheese rice cooker recipe (video tutorial)

Macaroni and cheese rice cooker recipe (video tutorial)

Your Creative Loafing food contributors, GNATV and Katie Machol, joined forces to bring you this entertaining video tutorial on how to prepare “Fiesta Mac n’ Cheese” in a rice cooker. This easy recipe can be prepared in a jiffy just using a rice cooker. A little late for Cinco de Mayo, but a fun and tasty dish for any time of the year!

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Budget-friendly Mexican Pizza recipe

Budget-friendly Mexican Pizza recipe

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Money seems to get tighter and tighter these days, so why spend 15 bucks on delivery pizza? One of my favorite pre-made products in the grocery store is Pillsbury’s refrigerated pizza dough. For around $2.50, you can pick up a tube of it and get creative by adding your favorite toppings. You can even find one-serving size cans of pizza sauce in the pasta aisle, so it saves you from having to buy a huge jar of sauce. Why not skip the marinara sauce altogether and do a white pizza or use up that barbecue sauce in your fridge place of it? The Mexican pizza I made (recipe below) cost about $9 to make (not including things I already had on hand, i.e.: olive oil, herbs, etc.) and could serve four people, so this is definitely a recession-friendly meal. Read the rest of this entry

Restaurant trend alert: Tableside Guacamole (plus recipe)

Restaurant trend alert: Tableside Guacamole (plus recipe)

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Forget tableside Caesar salad (so ’80s), it seems the hot new trend is tableside guacamole. Right in front of your eyes, your server will whip up a batch of fresh guacamole with your choice of mix-ins: onions, peppers, jalapenos, tropical fruit, cilantro, etc.

I’ve seen this trend at higher-end Mexican and Latin restaurants lately, like the renowned Boudro’s Texas Bistro in San Antonio, TX (read about my culinary adventure), and Cantina Laredo in Wesley Chapel, FL. But be prepared to shell out around 10 bucks for it, which seems to be the average. It’s all for the novelty and the show, I suppose. Read the rest of this entry

Culinary Adventure: San Antonio, Texas

Culinary Adventure: San Antonio, Texas

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Last weekend I was able to fulfill a long-standing dream of mine: visiting San Antonio, Texas. Why San Antonio, you ask? Well, there’s the historic Alamo, the touristy River Walk, and many other cultural and historic sights. But this city has also been the mecca of Tex-Mex food in my eyes (and also a stop on my “BBQ of the U.S.” tour) for longer than I can remember.

I had been planning this culinary pilgrimage for almost two months, as soon as I found out I was going (courtesy of wonderful boyfriend and free airline tickets), and did extensive research on just about every Tex-Mex/barbecue/Mexican restaurant in town. My main goal was to stay away from eating on the River Walk as much as possible, since it contained mostly overpriced tourist traps with bland interpretations of the authentic Tex-Mex food I sought. This weekend getaway made me feel like Giada on one of her “Weekend Getaways” (minus the camera in my face). Read the rest of this entry