Labor Day 2014 arrives on September 1. It came about as a federal holiday in 1894 after President Grover Cleveland wasn’t able to break up a railroad strike. It’s observed on the first Monday of every September.
During the height of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, the average non-farm worker worked 12-hour days and often seven days a week. And all that just to eke out a basic living. Even children as young as 5 or 6 worked in factories (this even despite child labor laws in some states). What’s more, these workers often toiled in very unsafe working conditions, not even having enough sanitary facilities, breaks, and access to fresh air.
Labor unions soon started organizing and held work strikes and rallies to protest these untenable working conditions. NYC workers – upwards of 10,000 – took off from work (unpaid) on September 5, 1882 to march from city hall to Union Square, thus instigating the first Labor Day parade.
The idea of a “workingman’s holiday” soon caught on for early September and was made in to law by President Cleveland 12 years after the first parade.
Today, Labor Day also has become something akin to the “unofficial” end of summer.
It’s thus a day of parades, pool parties, relaxation, trips to the beach, and lots and lots of food!
Barbecues are a popular pastime on Labor Day. With that in mind, read below for an easy barbecue Tex Mex dish: barbecue ribs (serves 4-6).
You will need:
- 2 teaspoons of dry mustard
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
- ½ brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1 cup ketchup
- About 4 pounds of pork loin back ribs
- Heat your gas grill or charcoal to medium heat.
- Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, and dry mustard in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove half of the sauce and set aside to serve with the ribs.
- Place the ribs over the medium-hot coals/on the grill.
- Cover and grill for 10 minutes.
- Baste with the sauce and continue grilling, uncovered, and turn every few minutes.
- Grill for another 20 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly.
- Serve the ribs with the set-aside sauce.
Labor Day is supposed to be a day of rest. So instead of cooking (work!), why not come to a Matitto’s near you and allow us to help you celebrate Labor Day with ease.
Image courtesy nongpimmy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you have a sweet tooth and decide to have some dessert after your meal here at Mattito’s, you’ll notice that one of our desserts (our desserts are under Postres on our menu) is flan.
Flan is a type of egg custard that came to Latin America via Spain. It usually is covered by melted caramel.
It dates back to ancient Rome, where Romans used served it on its own or flavored with honey. It gets its name from the French word flaon, which comes from the Old German flado , a “flat cake.”
Spaniards brought flan to Mexico during Spanish conquest and rule and it’s become a truly beloved dish among Mexicans
Flan often is considered a dessert, but more and more people are eating it any time of day.
Smothered in melted caramel, flan most often is eaten as a dessert or sweet treat any time of the day.
It’s popular in Mexico because it tends to be associated with home cooking or the unassuming comida corrida restaurants. What’s more, the basic recipe and components of making flan remain the same as they have for centuries:
An egg and milk custard is poured in a round mold that’s been coated with caramelized sugar. The cook then covers the mold tightly and steams it in an oven or stove. (If oven steamed, the cook places the covered flan mold in a pan of hot water that reaches halfway up the mold’s sides. This is known as baño maria (water bath).
The baker cools the flan after steaming it by placing it in a refrigerator before removing it from the mold. It should be kept chilled for at least an hour before serving.
Flan comes in different flavors, with vanilla, orange, almond, chocolate, and pistachio the most popular. Coconut, honey, cheese and coffee-flavored flan also are popular, as are flans topped with fresh fruit such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.
Americans love both hamburgers and tacos. So much do U.S. citizens love both, one could almost rephrase the old saying “American as apple pie,” to “American as hamburgers and tacos.”
The HuffingtonPost.com reported in July 2013 (from information gathered from PBS.org in 2012) that Americans eat almost 50 billion (yes, BILLION) hamburgers a year. That comes to three hamburgers for every person in the U.S. every week.
Meanwhile, according to the website NationalTacoDay.com (which happens to fall on October 4 this year), Americans ate 4.5 billion tacos in 2013. While that’s a bit less than 10 percent of the number of burgers consumed, that’s still an amazing number of tacos. In fact, NationalTacoDay.com says 4.5 billion tacos comes to about 775 million pounds, as much as the weight of two Empire State Buildings!
So while Americans eat more hamburgers, which is better for you, a hamburger or a taco?
The taco? Why? Because hamburgers undoubtedly come with mayonnaise or some sauce smeared on the bun, adding fat calories and calories over all. And, even if you use lean beef for the meat, you’re going to have a higher fat and calorie content than a taco.
While it may look healthy, if it comes smothered in mayonnaise or some other sauce, the hamburger isn’t as good for you as a taco.
Meanwhile the taco with lean meat will have fewer fat calories (unless you pour on melted cheese).
With its chopped lettuce and tomato, perhaps with a bit of pico de gallo (also known as salsa fresca) comprised of chopped tomato, white onion, lime juice, chopped cucumbers, radish and even mango, a taco makes for a truly healthy meal. Wrap it in a soft tortilla (which has a lot less trans fat than a hard taco, which is deep fried in hot oil) and enjoy a truly healthy meal!
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Fajitas probably are the healthiest of Tex-Mex dishes: there are no hard or soft shells (no starch and trans fat) and there is no cheese. (Fat! And calories!). You can use lean beef to stay away from fatty meats. And you can include as many healthy vegetables as your plate will hold.
There’s just nothing not to love about a fajita and plenty to adore.
Read below to learn how to make the perfect fajita.
- Start with lean skirt steaks. They’ll be rolled up fresh from the butcher, so get out a good cutting knife and roll them out for trimming.
- Place the trimmed meat into a bag with the marinade of your choice. Don’t seal the bag completely; leave a small hole for air at the side of seal and press the air out through the hole. Once the air is out of the bag, finish sealing.
- Squeeze the bag to make sure the meat is completely covered with the marinade.
- Lay the bag flat in your refrigerator for three to 10 hours, turning it over occasionally.
- Cut up the vegetables of your choice, mix them together in a large bowl and add some of the marinade.
A hot, sizzling fajita with lean steak and hot vegetables is a very delicious and healthy meal.
- On the two-sided grill you’ve set up, lay a cast iron skillet on the hot side of the grill and let it heat up for five minutes.
- Move the skillet over to the cool side of the grill and then place your meat on the hot side (over the coals) for grilling.
- Flip the steaks every minute or so as they char.
- Place a thermometer in the meat and remove them from the grill when they hit 125 to 130 degrees F.
- Cook the vegetables in the skillet.
- Slice the steaks into smaller pieces. Slice against the grain.
- Place the veggies on the meat and eat!
Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tex Mex food generally is very easy to make. At perhaps its simplest, put some ground beef, chopped lettuce and cut up tomatoes in a hard or soft tortilla and you have a great hard or soft taco!
If you want something different, it won’t take all that much more effort to make another tpe of Tex Mex dish.
We do recommend that you invest in some chile powder spices, as well as cumin, paprika and cinnamon.
You’ll also need dried or canned beans and these should include black, pinto and kidney beans.
- A super-easy dish to make is carnitas (pulled pork). Sear some pork butt and then let the meat simmer in the oven in a spicy stock of your choice for about four hours. Then add it your tacos, quesadillas, burritos, whatever you choose!
- Chile con carne is just a mix of kidney beans, spices, tomatoes, and ground beef. Cook in one pot. That’s it: done!
- No Tex Mex dish is worthy of the name without a condiment known as pico de gallo. This zesty addition to your Tex Mex meals is just tomatoes that have been marinated in garlic, jalapenos and lime juice. Add pico de gallo to your tacos, fajitas, just about Tex Mex meal for some real added zest.
Pico de gallo is a great condiment or even chip dip. Marinate cut up tomatoes in lime juice, jalapenos and garlic and you’re done!
- For a basic – but absolutely delicious – burrito, mix some spicy black beans, that just-created pico de gallo, and some guacamole in a soft taco. Your friends and family will think you went to a Tex Mex cooking school!
- The recipe above is great for vegetarians and so is the following: mash up some black beans with your favorite salsa and then spread the mixture on a soft tortilla, place some cut up vegetables on the top of the spread, roll it up and enjoy!
If you’d rather have delicious Tex Mex dishes made for you (no clean up required!), visit one of our Mattito’s locations. We look forward to serving you!
Mexican food has a reputation of adding to weight gain.
That reputation is correct, if you pile on the fatty meats, cheeses, sauces, and eat lots of chips and guacamole.
But Mexican food can actually help you lose weight.
Read below for tips on how to lose weight by eating Mexican food.
- As hinted at above, watch the amount of melted cheese drizzled on your dishes, go easy on the sauces and don’t eat chips and guacamole (well, eat a little: no one should have to give up chips and guacamole completely).
- Salsa actually is OK; regular salsa is pretty much tomatoes and spices and tomatoes have very few calories.
- But, seriously, go easy on the chips. They are made of corn and are thus very starchy (full of carbs) and are also fried, adding a lot of bad fat to your meal.
- Skip the refried beans. They taste great for a reason: they’re cooked with lard or bacon grease and they’re sometimes smothered in cheese. Opt for black beans instead; these are very healthy and tasty – and come packed with far fewer calories as well as fat and carb grams.
- Skip – or limit – any and all dips made of any sauce other than regular salsa. This includes guacamole and dips made of cheese.
As much as we love guacamole, guacamole doesn’t love our waist line. Skip the dip and keep calories low.
- If you get tacos, opt for hard shells so that you can just dip a fork or spoon into the shell and eat the meat, lettuce and tomatoes. The crisp taco shell is made of corn and fried so leave it be. If you absolutely must eat a tortilla with your taco, ask that the taco come in a soft one.
- Ask for a to-go box as soon as you receive your food and place half of it immediately in the box for eating later. Eat just half of your (more than likely) over-sized meal.
- Instead of beans and rice as sides, depending on the restaurant, ask to substitute steamed vegetables, a salad or the aforementioned black beans.
- If you just can’t bear to eat a taco, enchilada or burrito without a tortilla, opt for a fajita – no tortillas are served, fried or soft. Save yourself from the temptation.
- Skip the margaritas and beer. Stick with iced tea (unsweetened) or good old water.
Mexican food, with its focus on lots of lettuce, black beans and vegetables can be very healthy and low in calories, so long as you pay attention to what your order. Visit a Matitto’s near you to enjoy our delicious – and not fattening, when served correctly – Tex Mex meals!
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Making a taco is easy, you just put in ground or shredded beef, top it with some shredded lettuce in a hard corn tortilla, add some cut up tomatoes and perhaps some salsa and you’re done!
Wait a minute!
Tacos can be as simple or as creative as the cooks who make them.
Read below for some of our four different ways to make a taco.
- Make the traditional taco as described above. Try using two tortillas per taco (helps keep the taco’s contents from spilling should the shell break) and add an onion relish with cilantro and lime juice. You also could try a pico de gallo salsa. As for your meat, you can choose from grilled beef, carnitas (pork), fish, or shrimp. If you want a real Mexican taco, you can add meat cuts such as tongue, brains, cheeks, or lips.
Traditional tacos can include grilled beef, fish or chicken, as pictured above.
- Make a carne asada taco. Marinate the flank or skirt steak in a sealable plastic bag in the juice of your choice then grill the steak to your desired state of rareness (medium rare, well-done, etc.). Dice up the meat and add it to your tacos.
- Make adobo. You’ll first lightly toast three ounces of dried chiles over medium heat in a saucepan. Once toasted, soak them in enough boiling water so that they are covered completely and then make the adobo sauce of your choosing (take a look at this recipe). Roughly dice the meat of your choice and brown it in a skillet (traditional adobo is made of pork shoulder, but you can use chicken or beef chuck). Add the meat to the adobo sauce and then add the meat to your tacos shells.
- Make carnitas. Cut up 3.5 pounds of pork shoulder roast (also known as pork butt roast). Carnitas use the fattiest part of the pig, but you can cut out/trim some of the fattest parts, if you like. Place the roast in a large casserole dish with wet spice mix of your choice. Add enough liquid (water, vegetable oil, orange juice or – if you’re going for the full, Mexican style carnitas – rendered lard) to just cover the carnitas. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and cook the carnitas for about three hours. Remove them from the casserole and break them up a bit when they have cooled. Heat your broiler and place the shredded carnitas on a baking tray for several minutes until they become crispy. Stir with a fork and brown them again. Add them to your tacos.
No matter what type of taco you prefer, any of our Matitto’s locations can put together one that will have you salivating for more. Come have lunch or dinner at one of our restaurants today!
The fourth of July celebrates the day 56 men – who would have been hung as traitors if the Revolutionary War had ended differently; signing took incredible bravery! – placed their signatures on the Declaration of Independence.
So why not celebrate the United States’ Independence Day with food typically served at a party that celebrates another day of independence: September 16, the day that celebrates the start of the 10-year Mexican War of Independence and Mexico’s own eventual freedom from the rule of Spain. (September 16 is celebrated in Mexico as Mexican Independence Day).
So instead of red, white and blue, consider bringing out the red, white and green.
Whether you enjoy the Fourth of July eating hot dogs and hamburgers, or eating Mexican food, we hope this day of celebration is a great one.
As for dishes to serve, you could start with a soup of hominy and pork known as pozole. Consider serving any guests with drinks the red, white and green, the colors of the Mexican or – of course! – red, white and blue. Serve the adults margaritas in these colors.
No Mexican fiesta is complete without guacamole and chips. Add some Oaxaca-style black bean soup and another dish with plenty of mole sauce. Include tacos, taquitos, burritos, quesadillas, or fajitas as the main entrée and don’t forget dessert: sugared churros or dulce de leche, a thick, caramel-like sauce that’s poured or spread on everything from ice cream, to coffee to even toast.
And, should you really be in the mood to celebrate anyone’s day of independence, don’t forget to recite the Grito de Dolores (the Shout of Dolores) which often is spoken by Mexico’s President every year in commemoration of Mexico’s independence.
All Mattito’s locations will be open on the Fourth of July. Come celebrate U.S. independence with a great meal with us after a day of funs at the pool or park.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tex Mex and Mexican food didn’t just appear. Each has a history. Each has a story.
Each has facts.
Read below for some of our favorite fun facts about Mexican food.
- Some traditional Mexican food recipes call for ingredients such as iguana and rattlesnake!
- Mexican food today actually has a rich history – many of Mexico’s more traditional recipes hail from the Aztecs and Mayans.
- You can thank Spaniards somewhat for the Mexican food we know today; the traditional Indian foods (inherited from the aforementioned Mayan and Aztec recipes) were changed as the Spanish colonized Mexico, bringing their own cooking ideas, methods and ingredients.
- Authentic Mexican food is actually quite healthy: it’s high in vitamins and minerals and low in fat. Many people consider it the perfect blend of the important food groups: meat, dairy, grains, and vegetables.
- Traditional Mexican food includes all parts of the cow’s meat: the udder, stomach, tongue, even the uterus and testicles.
- TacoTimeCanada.com reports that tortillas once came in cans, and were popular in this form of packaging from the 1940s to about the 1980s.
- Every region within Mexico has its own type of Mexican food. Northern Mexican likes its dishes with meat, while Mexico’s southern states prefer chicken and vegetables as the main ingredients. Both regions, however, tend to use the meat as a relish, instead of the main ingredient.
- However, the number one ingredient in traditional Mexican food isn’t meat, veggies or chicken: it’s chili.
The Chili Pepper is the most-used ingredient in traditional Mexican food.
- Even traditional Mexican desserts have chili within them. The chili helps create a nice melding of hot and sweet.
- One family in Mexico can consume up to two pounds of tortillas a day.
Image courtesy of cjansuebsri/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Living in Texas changes you. If you come from another state, you’ll soon enough wonder why you ever thought paying a state income tax was no big deal (there’s no state income tax in Texas).
Read below for a few more things Texans know that residents of other states don’t.
- Texas is not all desert and chaparral. The Big Thicket National Preserve, as just one example, is located in Southwest Texas and is one of the most bio-diverse areas on the entire planet, except for the tropics. In fact, so diverse is the Big Thicket that it was named a national preserve in 1974 to protect the many animals and plants within it. Sometimes called the “American Ark,” the Big Thicket holds more than 100 species of trees and shrubs. According to the U.S. National Park Service, the area is home to more than 1,000 species of ferns and flowering plants.
- You know that everyone in the U.S. and even the world absolutely knows where Texas is. They may not be able to pick out Michigan from Minnesota, but even blindfolded everyone knows exactly where Texas is!
No matter where you live on Earth – England, Taiwan, Ethiopia, Kenya – you know what this is.
- You also know that everyone hates Texas (it’s too big, it’s too hot, it gets too many hurricanes, people talk funny and wear funny looking hats), but you don’t care.
- You used to think a cowboy hat looked silly with a business suit, but now you’ve rethought your position.
- Mr. Pibb can never be a substitute for Dr Pepper. You know better than to even try to go there.
- In fact, if you want a soda, you know you need to say you want a coke. You won’t get a Coca-Cola, necessarily, but you don’t call soda, soda. It’s coke. Even if it’s Pepsi or Sprite. Unless it’s Dr Pepper. Then you simply say, “I want a Dr Pepper.” (And no, that’s not a typo: there is no period after the Dr in Dr Pepper, you non-Texan, you.)
- It’s not the distance (as in miles) it’s the time. So it’s not “about 162 miles” from Houston to Austin, it’s three hours. (Unless you stop for a bit. Then it takes longer.)
- Finally: Blue Bell Ice Cream.
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