In honor of National Donut Day (June 4, which is just around the corner), here are two simple and delicious recipes for buñuelos, a kind of donut popular in Mexico and many other Latin countries. A buñuelo is actually a fried dough ball or fritter. It is usually made with a filling or topping. Mexicans traditionally serve it with syrup made with anise seeds that give the pastry a licorice taste.
For this recipe, you will need:
- Four eggs
- One-quarter cup of white sugar
- One teaspoon of vegetable oil
- Two cups of all-purpose flour
- One teaspoon of baking powder
- One teaspoon of salt
- One cup of white vinegar
- One teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- One cup of vegetable oil for frying
- Combine the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl. Beat the ingredients until they are thickened. Add the oil. In another bowl, combine the one and one-half cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the egg mixture little by little and beat all the ingredients well.
- Pull the dough mixture out onto a board that has been coated with the remaining one-half cup of flour. Then knead the dough until it is smooth.
- Make the dough into about 15 balls, and then roll each one into a flat circle about five inches in diameter. Let them stand for about 10 minutes.
- Next, heat the oil in a deep fry pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the dough circles until they are golden brown on the outside, turning them once. Drain them using a paper towel. Sprinkle them with the cinnamon and sugar.
The recipe above came from AllRecipes.com.
Here’s a recipe for spiced brown sugar syrup to put over your buñuelos if you like, courtesy of NoshOn.It
You will need:
- One cup of packed dark brown sugar
- Two cups of water
- One cinnamon stick
- One-half teaspoon of anise seeds
- The peel of one-quarter of an orange
- Bring one cup of water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for two to three minutes. Little by little, add the remaining water, cinnamon stick, anise seeds and orange peel. Bring the mixture back to a boil, and then reduce the heat again, letting it simmer for about 10 minutes until it has thickened a little.
- Then take it from the heat and run the syrup through a strainer to remove the solid ingredients.
By Mtam (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Summer is just around the corner, and nothing goes better with summertime cookouts and barbecues than Tex-Mex food. It’s perfect for weekend or holiday gatherings. With a few substitutions, you can make something good and good for you. And, what’s best, these dishes are quick and easy to make.
Summer is a time for walks on the beach…and Tex-Mex food!
Here are a few healthy summertime Tex Mex ideas from Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe. You can find the recipes for each of these dishes at feedmephoebe.com.
- Ceviche fish tacos with avocado and lime
The fish is not battered and fried, but instead cooked in a marinade of lime juice. In fact, it’s not really cooked at all. The fish is marinated in a mixture of tomatoes, citrus juices and chilies. The marinade turns the fish white, cooking it without using any heat.
- Chipotle mango salsa
This dish uses fresh mango, diced with chipotle, which gives it a sweet and savory flavor. You can use it as a topping for food or a dip for your tortillas.
- Big apple guacamole
This has a lot of your traditional guacamole ingredients, but, as the name indicates, it also has apples.
- Broccoli cheddar quesadillas
These are your traditional cheese quesadillas, but also loaded with healthy broccoli.
- Mushroom tacos with Mexican brown rice
Here’s a strictly vegetarian dish that’s light and tasty. It’s made with corn tortillas and one pound of wild mushrooms. It also includes poblano and jalapeno peppers.
- Sweet and savory baked tortilla chips
Instead of those store-bought, heavily processed tortilla chips, try these instead. They are made with healthy olive oil, and a mixture of tasty spices, including cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
- Green chile enchiladas
When you think of enchiladas, light summer fare is not the first thing that springs to mind. They are a heavier dish, full of cheese. But by making a few substitutions, these green chile enchiladas are perfect for summer.
Instead of the usual sauce, this recipe uses Greek yogurt and green chile salsa for the enchilada sauce. And, in addition to cheese, they are filled with spinach, squash, and cherry tomatoes.
The steak fajita. You can probably taste it already, the sizzling meat and vegetables piled on a tender flour tortilla with guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream. The question now is: how do you make this culinary creation? Well, here’s how.
- The steak.
Fajitas have traditionally been made with skirt steaks. But as more and more restaurants got into the act, different cuts were used – hanger, sirloin flap and flank steak. While any of these cuts work, some chefs prefer the skirt, hanger and flap because they have the kind of texture that is good for soaking up marinade. Of all the cuts, though, skirt is probably the best because it’s the tastiest. It is important, however, that you don’t trim off too much of the fat.
You want to slice the steak into five or six-inch pieces, so they are easier to work with when grilling.
- The marinade.
There are a number of spices you can use in a fajita marinade, such as chilies, cumin, black pepper, and garlic.
But, according to fajita aficionados, there are three key ingredients to any good marinade – oil, acid and salt. Oil is important for several reasons. First, it makes the marinade thicker and stickier so that it attaches better to the meet. Second, other ingredients in the marinade such as garlic and spices dissolve in the oil, making the flavor more evenly distributed. Third, oil helps the meat cook better.
Acid, provided in the form of lime juice, for example, makes the meat more flavorful. The salt ingredient, which could be added in several forms, such as soy sauce, helps to break down the muscle fiber, which enables the meat to better keep in moisture. Soy sauce itself also has several other advantages. It contains glutamates, which help to enhance the flavor. And it has proteases, which help to break down and tenderize the meat.
The ideal amount of time for letting the meat soak in the marinade is between three and 10hours. If you do it any less than three hours, the marinade does not stick to the meat as well. Any more, and the meat gets a little too soggy. A good way to marinate the meat is in a Ziplock®-type plastic bag. Try to squeeze out as much air as possible, so you get the maximum surface of meat in contact with the marinade.
There is an art to grilling skirt steaks because of their texture. You want to cook them on the grill in a very high heat so you can get the outside charred before you overcook the inside. Make them medium rare at a minimum. Pull them off the grill when the interior temperature gets to about 120 degrees F.
Carve the meat at an angle to the grain for greater tenderness – either at a 90 degree or 45 degree angle.
- The veggies.
The most popular veggies used for fajitas are onions and peppers. Save a little of the marinade to mix with them before you cook them. A quick way to cook the veggies is right on the grill. After you have finished with the meat, put a skillet with the veggies over the coals on the grill and give them a quick sear. You can also pour the drippings from the meat into the skillet as well.
May 13 is National Apple Day. It’s a day to celebrate one of the most popular fruits. And with good reason – in addition to their delicious taste, apples have nutrients that help you regulate your blood sugar, help lower fats in the blood, and are good for heart health, as well.
So, in honor of National Apple Day, here are three recipes for an apple Tex-Mex burrito from Cooks.com.
You Will Need:
- One and one-half sticks of butter
- Two cups of sugar
- One teaspoon of cinnamon
- One-half teaspoon of nutmeg
- Two cups of hot water
- One can of apple pie filling
- Nine or ten flour tortillas
- Mix together the butter, sugar and spices.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then set it aside.
- Dip each tortilla in water, one at a time.
- Put the pie filling in the center of each tortilla.
- Roll them up and put them in a greased baking dish, seam side down.
- Pour the butter-sugar-spice liquid on top.
- Bake the burritos at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Here’s another apple burrito recipe.
You Will Need:
- 12 flour tortillas
- One can of country apple pie filling
- One and one-half cups of water
- One and one-half cups of sugar
- Two sticks of butter
- One teaspoon of cinnamon
- One-half teaspoon of nutmeg
- Spoon a little of the pie filling onto each of the tortillas.
- Roll them up and put them in a 9” x 13” baking pan.
- Heat the water, sugar and butter.
- After heating, add the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Pour the mixture over the burritos (you can add chopped pecans also if you like).
- Bake them at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Here’s a third apple burrito recipe
You Will Need:
- 7 Pippin or Granny Smith apples
- One cup of water
- One cup of sugar
- One half teaspoon of cinnamon
- One cup of grated cheese
- 12 large flour tortillas
- Peel and core the apples and then slice them.
- Bring the water, sugar and cinnamon to a boil in a medium size pot and add the apples.
- Simmer the mixture until the apples are tender, but not mushy.
- Drain off the juice from the mixture and save it.
- Place equal portions of apple and cheese on each of the tortillas.
- Drizzle two to three teaspoons of the sugar-cinnamon mixture over each tortilla.
- Fold each tortilla and put them into a buttered dish seam side down.
- Drizzle the remaining syrup over the top of each tortilla.
- Bake the tortillas at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Actually, the four things really great Tex-Mex cooks do are things all great cooks do to make sure their food tastes delicious – using fresh ingredients, using spices with care, choosing their cookbooks carefully, and avoiding canned ingredients. Here is a little more information on each of the four.
- They use fresh ingredients.
Fresh is important because it gives food zest and flavor. You want to be sure to use fresh corn, tomatoes, chilies and peppers, cilantro, fruit, beans and meat in your Tex-Mex dishes.
Good cooks know that fresh ingredients are just healthier. They don’t have any chemicals and have not been processed. They are pure and more nutritious. And, as mentioned, food cooked with fresh ingredients just tastes better.
- They use spices with care.
Spices are an integral part of any tasty dish. But you have to know how to use them to add flavor. And that’s what spices should be used for – to enhance the flavor of a dish, not cover it up. So, you don’t want to use too many at any one time.
For some herbs and spices, such as oregano, thyme and basil, you want to crush it in your hand before you add it to help bring out the flavor. To produce a more distinctive flavor, add your herbs near the end of the cooking process; to produce a more blended flavor, add the herbs near the beginning of cooking.
Spices add flavor almost immediately after being added to a dish, so for dishes that take longer to cook, you want to add them near the end of the cooking process so they are still potent when you eat them.
When you use spices in meals that are not cooked, experts recommend adding them several hours before eating so that the flavors can blend in with the food flavors.
There isn’t any general rule for how much spice to add. Much depends on individual taste, and so to a great degree, experienced chefs have learned how much to use through trial and error.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is the potency of red pepper. The flavor of this spice actually becomes stronger as it is cooked, so you want to be careful how much you use, and start with only small increments.
- They use good cookbooks.
Good chefs know who the other good chefs are, and choose their cookbooks with care. They look for cookbooks that have new dishes, that are thoughtfully put together and well designed, and that are focused only on Tex-Mex cooking.
- They never use canned beans.
Again, the watchword here is freshness. And beans are one of the most important ingredients in Tex-Mex cooking, so you never want to use canned.
Tex Mex dishes are fairly easy to make, yet even the easiest of recipes can be improved upon.
Take a look below for three ways we know to make sure the Tex Mex food you prepare at home is as tasty as it can be.
- Always use the freshest of vegetables.
This holds true for any dish with veggies, of course. But because Tex Mex’s vegetables are so colorful (lettuce; red, yellow and green bell peppers; tomatoes, etc.) it’s even more important that you seek out the freshest produce you can find when you head out to your local grocery store or farmer’s market.
Fajitas just aren’t fajitas without fresh red, yellow and green bell peppers.
Green bell peppers can stay fresh (so long as they are refrigerated) for two-three weeks after the day you buy them; red and yellow bell peppers are considered fresh for one-two weeks after purchase. Tomatoes stay fresh for one week if stored on a counter and two weeks if kept in your refrigerator. A head of iceburg or romaine lettuce will stay fresh in the fridge for a week to 10 days.
- Don’t forget your spices.
It’s a myth that the more spices added to a Tex Mex recipe, the tastier the dish. Instead, the amount of spices added always should be done to your preference, not a recipe’s.
That said, spices do bring out the flavor in a Tex Mex meal. Take a look below at typical spices often used in Tex Mex dishes:
- Red onion: often used as you cook beef and chicken.
- Cilantro: absolutely necessary for homemade salsa.
- Chili peppers: habanero and jalapeño are the ones used most often.
- Lime juice: while not a spice, fresh lime juice is used in most Tex Mex marinades and adds a ton of flavor when squeezed over tacos and carnitas.
- Always aim to serve your Tex Mex meat meals sizzling hot!
This is particularly true of fajita dishes – the skirt steak should be spewing tiny liquid drops as you serve it to your guests – but it also hold true of any Tex Mex meat meal (beef, chicken, fish) because meat’s flavor just spills out onto your taste buds when it’s hot.
Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Everybody is more health conscious these days, and more aware of living in harmony with our environment. Earth Day, April 22, is one manifestation of that attitude. Another example of this concern is the trend toward eating organic – food that has not been treated with any type of chemical, which many contend are not good for our environment.
So, in recognition of Earth Day, Mattito’s is going to give a few tips on how to find the best organic foods for your Tex Mex dishes.
If you shop at your local supermarket, finding organic food is as easy as going to the organic section of the market and looking for food that is specifically labeled as organic. If, however, you are trying for something that is fresher and more local, you will probably be going to your friendly neighborhood farmer’s market, and the challenge to eat organic may be a little more difficult.
- Certified organic.
Under federal guidelines, people who sell something as organic have to be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they have to keep records of how they grow their food. So if someone is claiming that their food is organic, there is an easy way to find out – ask to see their certification.
- Not certified.
You may, however, come across someone selling his or her produce as organic but without certification. Or it may be the case that the person raises and sells his produce as more of a hobby, earning less than $5,000 a year doing it, in which case he is not required to get certification.
In situations like these, you need to question the grower about his practices to determine if the food is indeed organic.
The first thing to ask is why they are not certified, which should in itself raise a red flag. Then you should ask how the food was grown and how the grower controls weeds and pests. He may claim that he uses a “no spray” technique, but this can be misleading. No spray is generally assumed to mean that no chemical pesticides were used. But the fact is that organic farmers also spray their crops using organic products, using things like seaweed or plant-based sprays or other organic pesticides.
Other growers may misleadingly advertise no spray because they do actually spray chemical pesticides – it’s just that they do it before they plant their crops, so they don’t spray the produce directly. Again, it is important to ask questions.
Tex Mex food is full of fresh vegetables and meats. Visit a Mattito’s location nearest you soon to enjoy a healthy and delicious meal.
Image by Elina Mark – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Next Tuesday, April 12, honors one of the all-time great culinary staples – the grilled cheese sandwich. Cheese on bread has been around since the Romans ruled the world, but it didn’t take its present form until about the 1920s, when cheese and bread became relatively abundant in America. Since then, the grilled cheese sandwich has become popular around the world.
So to honor the grilled cheese sandwich, our recipe this time will be for the cheese quesadilla, courtesy of Chef Patience from Food.com.
You will need:
- One tablespoon of butter
- Two flour tortillas. You choose the size
- One cup of shredded cheddar cheese, more for larger tortillas
- Sour cream for topping
- Melt about half the butter in a skillet large enough to hold a tortilla.
- Fry one side of a tortilla, then take it from the pan. Add the remaining butter and the other tortilla. Sprinkle the cheese over the tortilla in the pan, and then put the other tortilla over the cheese, browned side up. Press the two tortillas together with a spatula or some similar implement and fry the quesadilla until the cheese is melted.
- Take it from the pan, cut into wedges, top with the sour cream and/or salsa, and enjoy!
Here’s another cheese quesadilla recipe with a few more ingredients from Taste of Home.com.
You will need:
- Four flour tortillas
- One tablespoon of butter
- Two ounces of cream cheese, softened
- One-quarter cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- One-quarter cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Two tablespoons of thinly sliced green onion
- One tablespoon of minced fresh cilantro
- Two teaspoons of chopped ripe olives
- One-quarter cup of salsa
- Spread the butter on one side of each of the tortillas.
- Take one of the tortillas and spread cream cheese over the side that’s not buttered.
- Then sprinkle the cheeses, olives, onion, and cilantro over the cream cheese. Put the other tortilla on top with the buttered side up.
- Cook the quesadilla in a griddle on medium heat for about one to two minutes on each side or until the cheese is melted. Cut it into wedges and serve with the salsa.
Visit Mattito’s in the days before and after Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day to enjoy our quesadillas as appetizers or even as your main meal (we offer quesadillas stuffed with spinach, brisket or with beef or chicken fajita). Visit the location nearest you. And say cheese!
By Tomwsulcer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Let’s say you rarely visit a Tex Mex restaurant (we hope you’ll soon change your mind and visit Mattito’s more often!). So you may not know a lot about Tex Mex cuisine, how it differs (or doesn’t) from Mexican food.
So to help you enjoy your next visit to a Tex Mex restaurant even more – and to impress your waiter – we’ve put together a short primer on Tex Mex cuisine. Take a look below.
Impress your server with your knowledge of Tex Mex cuisine.
- Tex Mex did – really and truly – start in Texas.
Tex Mex cuisine is a melding of Mexican Indian and Spanish foods brought up by folks who lived in Northern Mexico and then migrated into Texas. (These immigrants were known as Tejanos.) Tex Mex cuisine “started” long before Texas was a state of U.S, as far back as when the Lone Star State was part of New Spain and then Mexico.
The term Tex Mex got its own start as a reference to the Texas-Mexican railway and later became a way to identify native Texans whose family origins come from Mexico.
- Tex Mex reliance on meat in its dishes does not come from Mexico.
Foods in Mexico traditionally rely on rice and beans, with meat as the side dish or as an “accent” to the mostly grain/vegetable meal. The fact that Tex Mex tacos, burritos, chimichangas, etc. are meat-centric is due to the influence of beef on Texas residents. Beef was – and still is – beloved in Texas due to the many cattle ranches that are a part of its cultural history. Hence, it made perfect sense to add lots of beef to dishes enjoyed by Texans of Mexican descent.
- The fajita is not an original Tex Mex dish: it was created to satisfy an American palate.
Americans from all over also love their beef. The fajita and the chimichanga are totally Tex Mex in origin (while the burrito, enchilada and even taco have their “forebears” directly from Mexico). Nachos, smothered in cheese also are a Tex Mex creation.
- Tex Mex and Mexican desserts aren’t as sweet as those in the U.S.
Traditional Mexican desserts relied on fruit as a sweetening agent. Sugar cane – sugar – came to Mexico via the Spaniards but its use was still somewhat limited for centuries until Mexicans started moving to the U.S.
Desserts in Mexico still tend to use less sugar than desserts in the U.S. and Tex Mex desserts also still retain a less-sweet flavor. That is changing, of course, as the whole world goes sugar-mad. Still, you’ll no doubt notice that your dish of flan for dessert at your favorite Tex Mex restaurant is not nearly as sweet as American custards or puddings.
Visit Mattito’s the next time you want to learn more about Tex Mex dishes: our waiters are happy to tell you all you’d like to know about their ingredients and how we make them. Visit the Mattito’s location closest to you.
Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Many people love to dip tortilla chips in salsa dip. But Tex Mex aficionados love their queso, a creamy, smooth sauce made from a blend of melted cheese (Velveeta is a popular ingredient, as is cream cheese, Monterey Jack, or another type of processed cheese). The dip also is often called chili con queso because many recipes add chili pepper and even canned or fresh tomatoes to it.
Queso comes to us from Chihuahua, a northern state in Mexico as a Tex Mex version of queso flameado (“flamed cheese”/melted cheese) and queso chihuahua.
Queso is easy to make at home, so we’ve brought you a simple queso recipe, courtesy of AllRecipes.com. This recipe is for white queso (made from white American cheese, rather than from Velveeta or another yellow processed cheese).
You will need:
- One pound (cubed) of white American cheese
- One-half cup of milk (or as needed)
- One tablespoon of butter or margarine
- Two four-ounce cans of green chilies (chopped)
- Two teaspoons of cumin
- Two teaspoons of garlic powder
- Two teaspoons of onion powder
- Cayenne pepper (to taste)
- Take the cheese, butter and milk and cook in a medium saucepan over low heat.
- Stir frequently and cook until the cheese has melted.
- Then stir in the cumin, green chilies, the onion and garlic powder, and the cayenne pepper to taste).
- If the dip is too thick, add milk.
- Heat through and serve with chips or other dipping foods immediately.
It should take you about five minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook. (How long it takes you and your friends/family to finish it off could almost be as quick; thankfully, it will take you just another 15 minutes to make some more.)
Note: This recipe results in eight servings at 233 calories per serving.
Whether you want queso, salsa or guacamole as the dip to go along with your tortilla chips, just let your Mattito’s server know and we’ll be happy to bring one – or all! – to your table. Visit the Mattito’s location nearest you soon to indulge your need for cheese!
Image By Wackyrussell at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons