From Queens to Mexico City, and pretty much nothing in between.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Whenever my sister sees ChocoMilk, she texts me about how much the little boy looks like my husband. And while the dark hair, brown eyes, round head, and goofy smile are a dead-on cartoon match, what's inside is even more enjoyable.

Basically Mexican Nesquik, ChocoMilk (pronounced choco-mil) is the favorite brand of powdered chocolate mix south of the border. While chocolate milk is delicious anyway you mix it, here, it's almost always done smoothie style, with ice and in a blender, which makes for an extra frothy, cold and refreshing drink.

Though awesome just plain, I've been told bananas and nutella are also popular mix-ins.

2 heaping Tbsp. ChocoMilk (or any powdered chocolate drink)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 ice cubes
1/2 Tbsp. sugar


1 - Put milk, ice, ChocoMilk, and sugar into the blender.

2 - Blend on high speed about 2 minutes, until you no longer hear ice chunking in the blades.

3 - Serve immediately.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pay de Queso

At first, I was curious about how a country so painfully lacking in bagels could be so in love with cream cheese, but queso crema (or queso philadelphia, as it's frequently referred to since it's the only brand they use down here - hey, they know what's up) is very popular.

Cream cheese can be blended with very hot salsas to cool them down and make them creamy, but more importantly and most common  is its use in pay de queso (or cheese pie), the Mexican equivalent of cheesecake. Pay de queso is similar to traditional cheesecakes that are full of cheese flavor and have a dense-ish texture. So, you get that great flavor, but don't have to worry about the annoying water baths or cracking on top that comes with making a traditional cheesecake.

1 packet (340 g) Maria cookies
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 14 oz. can Lechera (sweetened condensed milk)
1 12 oz. can Carnation Clavel (evaporated milk)
6 eggs
2 8 oz. packages Philadelphia cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
pinch of salt

*makes 2 pays*


1 - Crush the Maria cookies (with a rolling pin or in a blender) and mix the crumbs with the sugar and melted butter. Press the mixture evenly into 8-inch pie plates.

2 - Blend the lechera, carnation, eggs, cream cheese, vanilla, lime juice and salt together until creamy.

3 - Pour the cream cheese mixture into the pie crusts.

4 - Bake for 40 to 50 minutes at 350*.

5 - Enjoy! (Yes, that's all; it's that easy.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ribs in Chile Seco

Memorial Day, 4th of July, summer is in full swing, and so is barbecue season. Burgers, steaks, ribs...well, here in Mexico, I might pass on the burgers and steaks, but I'll take some pork ribs in chile seco.

As I reviewed my blog history, I noticed that I had no pork, which is not an accurate reflection of Mexican cuisine, where pork head in pozole, pork cheek on tacos, and pork loin at Christmas are all so beloved, just to name a few. But, this dish is actually all about the sauce - a homemade, smoky sauce made from chiles secos (chipotles). Here, I cooked ribs in the sauce, but usually in my or my in-laws' house, it just gets stirred up with some mayonnaise and eaten with eggs, rice, sandwiches, etc.

15 chiles secos (dry chipotles)
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 onion
3 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying

1 kg. (2 lbs.) pork ribs
salt and pepper
oil for frying


1 - Heat about three tablespoons of oil in a saute pan over a low flame and fry the chiles secos for about 3 minutes.

2 - Remove the chiles secos and put them in a bowl with the chicken stock for about 10 minutes (to soften them up).

3 - Put the chiles secos and chicken stock, onion, garlic, pepper and salt in a blender and blend until only slightly chunky. Set aside.

4 - Salt and pepper the ribs.

5 - Heat some oil in a saute pan again over a medium flame and fry the ribs, about 3 minutes on each side.

6 - Add the chile seco salsa, and turn down the heat. Simmer until the salsa's liquids evaporate and the salsa takes on a bit of a pasty texture.

7 - Serve with spaghetti (boiled with quartered onions and fried in's how they do it down here, it's authentic!) or rice.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Simple Salsa Verde

I don't know if living in a place with incredible heat increases your resistance to food with incredible heat, but this spicy salsa is practically standard on every Veracruz table (that I've been to) for every meal. (I have never seen it in Mexico City, where I guess cooler heads and more cautious stomachs prevail in this temperate mountain region.) Ultimately, this simple salsa verde is a chile serrano puree. And it's delicious.
And spicy, spicy, spicy.  Ooh, boy. In my past 5 years as an honorary Mexican, my chile tolerance has steadily improved, but I wouldn't dare use more than a few drops of this salsa...and still usually make a scene (to the amusement of my in-laws). However, if you de-seed and vein, though still very spicy, this salsa verde will be perfectly delicious for a more sensitive stomach.

200 g chile serrano (like 20 chiles), de-seeded and veined
6 large garlic cloves
2 tsp. salt
2 cups water
oil for frying


1 - In a non-stick pan (with maybe just a spritz of pam) over low heat, par-cook the chiles, about 10 minutes.

2 - Put the water, chiles, garlic and salt in a blender. Puree on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes.

3 - While the chiles are blending, heat some oil in a pan over medium heat.

4 - When the chile puree is ready and the oil is nice and hot, pour in the chile puree (carefully; it will splatter). Turn the heat down. Fry the salsa on low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes.

5 - Enjoy on quesadillas, tostadas or empanadas (the most traditional uses, but go ahead and try it on anything).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Cheesy Review - Fritas, Quesadillas and Sincronizadas

 Fritas is short for tortillas fritas, or fried tortillas, and that's exactly what they are (fried corn tortillas, that is). Eaten mostly for dinner (remember in Mexico that lunch is the big meal and dinners are smaller), some slightly stale tortillas are commonly filled with cheese or mashed potatoes and are then lightly fried and simply served with salsa.

 Sincronizadas are made from flour tortillas specifically and are truly a handheld snack - since they require no frying and get no salsa or any of the traditional garnishes. Just heated through on a comal, the most popular option (and even available in some stateside delis in the right neighborhoods) is ham and cheese.
Quesadillas are not made from tortillas here in Mexico; they are made from corn masa (the same kind from which you would also make tortillas) and are enjoyed as a meal, whether in the home or on the street. They are stuffed with cheese and meat or vegetables and can then be topped with salsa, more cheese, lettuce, cream, etc... (that's what makes them meals).

Any questions?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Authentic Mexican quesadillas - not what you were expecting, are they? Unlike what we generally refer to as quesadillas in the US, these are exactly the type of quesadillas that you find handmade from masa and sold by street vendors in Mexico City. (Well, not exactly, I'm still a novice quesadilla maker, so the ones you buy from professionals will be rounder, more uniform, and quite a bit prettier.)

Of the cheesy antojitos I've posted about over the past month, quesadillas are the only ones really considered a meal. The dough is thicker and must be made from the more substantial yellow masa. In addition to cheese, other fillings like longaniza (my personal favorite), mushrooms like huitlacoche (Mexico City's personal favorite), and picadillo can be stuffed into the folded dough, among other things. Fill the remaining space inside with the usual garnish suspects of lettuce, crema, queso fresco and of course salsa, and just two will leave you completely stuffed (although, you will still try to force the third one down, just because it's so delicious).

1 kilo yellow masa
1 Tbsp. salt
2 cups queso de hebra, shredded (or any good Mexican melting cheese, grated)
1/2 pound (200 g) longaniza, cooked and crumbled
oil for frying
salsa verde
shredded lettuce
media crema (or sour cream)
queso fresco, crumbled


1 - Add the salt to the masa and knead well, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and workable.

2 - Divide the masa into clumps slightly smaller than tennis balls. Roll them into smooth balls with no cracks (like if you were building a snowman with play-doh).

3 - Put the dough in between 2 sheets of plastic (we cut circles out of a ziploc bag, and it works very well for us). Begin to flatten the dough ball and stretch it into a large, flat circle. If you are good, use the palm of your hand; if you want to be faster, just use a rolling pin. In the end, you should have a very large disc of masa that is about the thickness of a quarter.

4 - Heat the masa disc on a comal (or griddle) over low heat for about 2 minutes on each side. You want it to cook, but not get crispy or take on color because it still needs to pliable enough to fold without breaking.

5 - Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet over low heat.

6 - Once the oil is hot, add the masa. Cook for about 30 seconds on one side, and then flip it over. Add some cheese, longaniza, and some more cheese onto one half of the masa disk and fold the other side over the filling.

7 - Fry over low heat for about 2 - 3 minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the masa begins to take on color.

8 - Drain on a paper towel.

9 - Repeat Steps 3 to 8 until you have no more masa.

9 - Stuff the inside with the salsa verde, lettuce, crema, and queso fresco.

10 - Enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


 In a lot of delis at Queens, you can get freshly sliced meats and cheeses, sandwiches, and the Mexican snack of sincronizadas, of course. (It is Queens, after all.) A sincronizada is just like a warm Mexican ham and cheese sandwich, and I've been fortunate to enjoy them in Queens, and I continue to snack on them in Mexico, at home and on the street.

A sincronizada, at its most basic, is a flour tortilla with cheese, usually queso de hebra. (I think that most people in the US would consider this a quesadilla - not here though...To be continued.) Ham is usually added, and the whole thing is thrown on the comal to heat up the tortilla and melt the cheese. These are meant to be handheld snacks, so salsa and garnishes do not generally accompany them. Great, great, great for kids for lunch (and even easier to make than a ham sandwich).

flour tortillas
sliced ham
queso de hebra (or any cheese you like), shredded or grated


1 - Heat a comal (griddle or frying pan) over low heat.

2 - Place the tortilla on the comal for 10 seconds. Flip it over.

3 - Cover one half entirely with cheese, put some ham on top, and then sprinkle on some more cheese over the ham.

4 - Cook until both sides have the slightest bit of browning and the cheese is melted.

5 - Enjoy!