Mexican cuisine

Tortilla, a Spanish Word with Two Meanings

 

My Mexican friends and those from Spain may both speak Spanish, but they don’t mean the same when they say “Tortilla.” 🙂 In Spain ‘tortilla’ is a mix of beaten eggs and anyone of the following: Veggies, cold cuts, beef, chicken or even fish. You may think ‘omelet’ but Spain is very particular about Tortillas and they would rather have you not mistake them for omelets. They are delicious, by the way! On the other hand, corn and flour tortillas are at the heart of Mexican cuisine.

Here is my take on two recipes which may help explain (or so I hope.)

Spanish Tortilla (from Spain)

  • Ingredients:

1 egg per person, cooked potatoes cut in cubes, diced white onion (about 1/4), 1 diced tomato, 2 slices of ham, cubed. Salt to taste.

  • Directions

Start by adding 1 tsp of butter to a pan. Add the onions. When the onions are starting to turn clear, add the diced tomato. Cook for a minute and then add the potatoes, and the ham. Mix well and let it saute for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs. I like to experiment, so I add 1 whole egg and then I beat the other eggs before mixing them all in. 🙂

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In the end of this step, it should look like this:

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Turn when you see the eggs starting to cook completely

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Turn once again and serve! 🙂

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Spanish Tortilla or Tortilla de Patatas

My Mexican corn tortilla recipe is extremely easy to make and it is wonderful for breakfast, snack, light lunch or even dinner, accompanying a main dish. It can even be a dessert if you sprinkle the ending folded tortilla with brown sugar and cinnamon.

  • Ingredients

3 corn tortillas per person (they’ll want more…), cheese (you may use mozzarella, queso fresco, queso cotija or queso panela.) 2-4 TBSP canola oil. Salt.

  • Directions

Start by heating up the oil in a pan. Add the corn tortillas and let them stand against each other as shown in this image below. You will see them softening and at that point, you may add the cheese in the center.

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Fold them and let them continue frying.

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Turn them to make sure they’re golden brown on each side. Serve and enjoy! 🙂

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Mexican Quesadillas Fritas (made with corn tortillas)

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Chiles en Nogados, Mexican Christmas traditions.

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My Mexican friend Dionicia shared her home-made version of what she calls ‘Chiles en Nogados’ with me last week. She told me this is a popular Christmas tradition in Mexico now. My friend explained that this recipe originated back in 1821, when the victorious Mexican General Augustin de Iturbide stopped in Puebla, and a community of nuns prepared this dish to honor him on Mexican Independence Day. The nuns came up with a humble ‘Chiles’ recipe, using low-cost, simple ingredients in season.  That said, it was laborious at the time (and I think it still ‘is.’) I did not ask for the recipe, I simply enjoyed this wonderful treat as I learned about the story behind it! What else could I do? Now I know this much: 1) They’re made with Chiles Poblanos, the stuffing is made of walnuts, dried fruits, pomegranate and meat ingredients. 2) Original recipe calls for the stuffed Chile to be dipped in egg batter and then fried. Luckily my friend skipped that step.. (She knows I am always on a diet.) 3) They are extremely spicy and the cream on top helps refresh the palate while creating a heavenly balance. I ate them with rice (as Dionicia recommended.) Full of flavor in every bite, my Chiles en Nogados were a great Christmas gift! 🙂

Fresh Tortillas. A Tip from my Mexican Friend

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Norma is a good friend from Mexico. Every time I go to her house she has fresh tortillas for me. I once asked her what was her secret. She told me that if I didn’t have a “tortilleria” nearby I could always apply her tip to the regular supermarket packaged tortillas. A tortilleria is a shop typically owned by a Mexican family that produces and sells freshly made tortillas.

Here is Norma’s tip:

1. Place corn or flour tortilla on microwave safe plate.

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2. Sprinkle a few drops of water over the tortilla. Cover the tortilla with a slightly damp paper towel. Place covered tortilla in microwave for 15 seconds.

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3. Add shredded mozzarella cheese if you want to prepare a cheese quesadilla.

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4. Fold the tortilla, cover again with the slightly damp paper towel, and place in the microwave for another 15 seconds.

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These fresh warm tortillas can be enjoyed alone, in soft tacos, or by dipping them in a good Mexican salsa. In the case of this post, I applied Norma’s tip for my fresh cheese quesadillas. Follow this tip to enjoy warm and fresh tortillas at home every time!