Casa de Colores School of Traditional Mexican Cooking

A Unique Culinary Adventure in Cabo

Archive for September, 2017


Say Cheese¡Saludos desde la Ciudad de Mexico!

Manuel and I just got back from a quick trip to our neighboring state of Hidalgo.  I was born and raised in and around mountain mining towns, and always feel most at home in one of these historical gems, a shining example being Mineral del Monte, Hidalgo (also known as Real del Monte, but that’s another story).

What sets Hidalgo’s mining towns apart from any others is the large and indelible footprint left by Welsh miners who showed up in the 1800s, showering the locals with incredible culinary and cultural riches including but not limited to soccer and… PASTES!  Pastes are everywhere in Hidalgo, but that’s another story.

I am actually going to whip a recipe on you all.  I really should do this more often!  It is cold in the mountains of Hidalgo at around 8000 ft., and I was particularly comforted and warmed by this fine example of Huasteca cuisine.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

SOPA DE REQUESON (Mexican Ricotta Soup)

Small package goat cheese

1 cup good quality sour cream or creme fraiche

8-10 oz. Mexican requeson or ricotta

2 c. milk

Whiz the above in a blender jar.

1 small white onion or two green onions, chopped

6 sprigs of fresh epazote, if you can get it (if not, leave it out)

1-3 serrano chiles, added bit by bit to taste

Add the above to the blender jar and give it another whirl.

Melt 3 T. unsalted butter in a soup pot until bubbly.  Pour in the blender contents and simmer to meld flavors.  This should take under five minutes–never let the soup boil.

Whisk in about 3 c. homemade chicken stock (no celery in Mexican chicken stock, please!).  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

If you are feeling frisky, make a bean flautita (roll refried beans in a flour tortilla), fry til crisp in a little fresh oil and serve with the soup.

Garnish the soup with a dollop of cream and a couple of epazote leaves which you may fry in the same oil, if you can get ’em.

Yes, really simple, and infinitely comforting.




SHOPPING IN MEXICOCactus HeavenCactus Heaven…

¡Muchos saludos desde Cabo San Lucas!

I just got home from a serious chile buying expedition to South Central Mexico… sadly my little corner of the Mexican Republic is not blessed with traditional markets, but a short plane ride takes me straight into the heart of it all. These days we have domestic air carriers like Interjet and Volaris that make it easy and affordable to hop on over to Mexico City, Guadalajara and lots of other great destinations that DO shop the way they’ve done for over a thousand years!

La Merced is the largest retail market in Mexico City, which I would imagine puts it at the top of the heap nationally. It’s only about 13 blocks east of the Zocalo, the amazing public square in the Historical Center that is the cultural heart of the country. It’s named after its neighborhood, as well as the ancient monastery which previously occupied the sprawling space it inhabits. It is filled with life and color and smells and sights and sounds like no place else on the planet, well worth a visit if you are an adventurous traveler!

There are two metro stops for La Merced, including one that puts you right inside, immediately surrounding you with STUFF in surreal quantities, and the people hawking it are no less colorful.  Anything you can imagine, and lots of things you never even thought of are sold at this great- great- great-grandaddy of Mexican markets, including a mind-boggling array of ladies young and old selling their own personal wares in this place where prostitution is the norm, serving local working class men including the many many truck drivers who have spare time between loads.

I was on the hunt for dried chiles, and was not disappointed. After passing through nopal cactus heaven where the air is overwhelmingly fresh, corn heaven where corn on and off the cob surrounds you on all sides, leaf heaven with dried and fresh corn husks for tamales and mixiotes, GIGANTIC sweet-smelling banana leaves in huge neat bundles for tamales, pibil and other good things… finally we came upon the chiles.

And what chiles! After passing a few initial stalls with puny, dried up specimens we came upon rows and rows of stalls displaying soft, flexible, shiny, overwhelmingly fragrant chiles in all shapes and sizes.  I’m coming to the end of my season, so I only scored a couple of pounds of each (in their dried form, a pound is a bunch of chiles)–beautiful burgundy red anchos redolent of sun dried raisins for stuffing with cheese, meat mixtures, chorizo, potato and onion hash, or for making moles… shiny jewel red guajillos for salsas and soups, and even some long, midnight black Mexican pasillas with their rich, complex flavor, so fresh they brought tears to my eyes thinking of the pleasure of stuffing them with Menonite-made Chihuahua cheddar cheese and frying them golden in a tender egg batter….

Take a camera!

Take a camera!

So much to buy and so little space in the bags. Still, we had to get out of La Merced which meant passing through more indescribable quantities of STUFF, which of course had to include kitchen equipment… The first stall in the kitchen equipment area obviously had everything you could ever want or need to set up a commercial kitchen. I asked the friendly proprietor if she had molds for conchas, the Mexican sweet rolls with the seashell pattern cut into the streusel they’re topped with. Of course! Would you like that in stainless or tin? There’s a $10 peso difference in price–I went for the gusto, paying about $4.50 US for a beautiful stainless cutter with two patterns–cannot wait to bake! I have looked high and low for a concha cutter for years–naturally it’s the first thing you stumble over in La Merced.Conchas

And so much more… stainless steel pots and pans and skillets in every size and shape imaginable, commercial kitchen gear, utensils and lo! a fantastically beautiful array of COPPER comales! I had to have one! I suspect it will be wonderful for making tortillas, and sure looks good in the kitchen!

And of course, portable electric stone mills for grinding nixtamal for homemade, whole grain, stone ground corn tortillas. How ever will I get it back to Cabo? Stay tuned.

Don’t miss La Merced!

Muchos saludos y buen provecho,