Hot Tamales!

Insects are no longer just street food in Mexico. They were eaten in pre-Hispanic times because meat wasn’t available and, later, became sustenance for the poor. However, they’re now seen as top end and are present on menus at some of the country’s top restaurants. Click here for the full story and checkout the video below that asks whether eating insects can save the world!

Still with us? Click here for some recipes.

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Hot Tamales!

Summer’s officially over now and the nights are beginning to draw in. It’s a season for traditional shepherd’s pie. Our friends at MexGrocer, whom we profiled back in June, suggest that the dish can autumn-proof you even more if you make it the Mexican way! A little chilli and a few peppers will take the chill off, especially in those wide, windy spaces north of the Borders! You can find MexGrocer’s version below:

Mexican Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained
1 (11-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh coriander, minced
1 (8.5 oz) package cornbread/muffin mix
2 eggs
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
sour cream, for garnish

Method

In a large flat pan, brown the ground beef mince. Add cumin, salt, chili powder and pepper.

Transfer to a casserole pot and top with beans, tomatoes, corn, enchilada sauce, onions and coriander. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. In a small bowl, combine muffin mix with eggs. Spoon over the meat mixture. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

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Hot Tamales!

It wasn’t that long ago that outside Mexico mole and chipotle were strange foreign words. Who knew they were edible? Now there’s Chamoy, the next mystery salsa on everyone’s lips. If chipotle – made from smoked jalapeño peppers – was the spicy, hot Latin you had a fling with in Acapulco, then Chamoy is the sweet, sometimes sour, lover you had to invite home. Chamoy sauce is made from fruit pulp, usually apricot, mixed with lime, spices, and chiles. It is usually in the form of a paste, less often as a liquid. A big favourite in Mexico and, increasingly, north of the border are apples covered with Chamoy. But don’t stop there. Chamoy tastes great with chips, or corn and, even better, Rick Bayliss’s version paired with a tuna ceviche. Bayliss, in case you don’t follow the foodies, is an American chef who specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine. Here’s his recipe to try at home.

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Hot Tamales!

Whether you’re a serious foodie or just love Mexican cooking, here’s a culinary adventure you won’t want to miss. In a country where the food is so varied that it can claim 50 different regional cuisines, it’s no surprise that guided tours have cropped up featuring Mexican nosh. Mexico: Soul and Essence is one. Led by Ruth Alegría – founder of the Princeton Cooking School and former owner of the New York Times-recognized Mexican Village Restaurants – the “non-tour” tour explores Mexico City’s restaurants, markets, specialty shops and street food hangouts, offering a glimpse of the capital that few but native dwellers get to see or taste. As one TripAdvisor review raved: “Ruth was able to get us into some of the most sought after restaurants and we were able to get a glimpse into some of the working kitchens…. We toured the markets and had some amazing street food including the best tamales.” There are other tours as well: the vanilla route in Veracruz, the Cacao-chocolate route in Oaxaca and coffee plantations in Coatepec and Teocelo – and any made-to-order culinary adventures you can think up.

You can track down Mexico: Soul and Essence here. Unfortunately, there’s no video highlighting the tour, but here’s a taster (no pun intended) on Mexico City’s street food:

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Hot Tamales!

Yorkshire and Mexican cooking are rarely heard in the same sentence. But Emma Woodward, the impresario behind Chinampas, is determined to change that. For past two years, the Sheffield street vendor has worked hard to convince her fellow Yorkies that Aguas Frescas are the perfect substitute for sugar-laden fizzy drinks and a tasty option at alcohol-free festivals. In Mexico, Agua Fresca is a national drink with origins dating back to the Aztecs. From Chiuahua in the north to Chiapas in the south, Aguas Frescas can be found on the bustling streets and in the food markets all year long. Ice cold and colourful, they’re a perfect complement to the rich, spicy and complex flavours found in Mexican cuisine. The drink is made with fruit, but it is much different from juice. Fruit juice is typically made by squeezing the liquid from the fruit. Agua Fresca starts with fresh water, and the fruit is blended or squeezed into it, resulting in a much lighter and more refreshing drink.

All of Chinampas’ drinks are made to traditional recipes, most of which Woodward collected from vendors in her travels through Mexico. Scribbled on napkins and torn envelopes, once home, she tweaked the recipes to meet British tastes (toning down the sugar content, for one) and hit the road selling her homemade concoctions. Her drinks are produced in small batches, using as many seasonal ingredients as possible. “We keep it simple and don’t add anything that doesn’t need to be there, which means all our drinks are free of artificial flavours, colours and preservatives,” the website notes.

From the website, here are a few of Chinampas’ latest flavours:

  • Horchata: Smooth, refreshing rice milk sweetened with almonds, cinnamon and vanilla.
  • Sandía: A refreshing summer favourite made with delicious, juicy, Spanish watermelons.
  • Piña: Sweet and juicy pineapples whizzed up with fiery Jalapeños and fresh lime.
  • Pepino: Yorkshire’s finest cucumbers brought alive with a zesty kick of Mexican lime.

See for yourself!

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Hot Tamales!

In our countdown of Mexico’s finest eateries, Biko stands among the very best. Honoured again this year in the San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna World’s Best Restaurant list at number 59, Biko is located in the swish Polanco district of Mexico City, where eating out is a local obsession. Co-chefs, Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso, are former sous-chefs from the three-star restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, and offer diners an innovative fusion of Basque and Mexican cooking. Unlike Mexico City’s celebrity chef Enrique Olvera, whose restaurant Pujol we’ve previously written about, Alonso and Oteiza are less concerned with mining Mexican cuisines for their historic treasures than in flights of fancy using strictly Mexican ingredients. Such as?: Fried green plantain stuffed with onion mousse and topped with caviar, Cornish game hen coated with crushed popcorn (popcorn is often credited to the Aztecs of pre-Hispanic Mexico) and salmon-infused pork cheeks covered with horchata, a cinnamon and vanilla-infused traditional Mexican rice milk. Getting hungry? Check out this video of dishes coming out of Biko’s kitchen:

And a behind the scenes view of Biko’s kitchen:

Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurant List is here.

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Hot Tamales!

Tequila has the headlines, but its traditionally down-market cousin, mezcal, is rapidly moving up the social scale. From being disdained by most – except for novelist Malcolm Lowry in his masterpiece Under the Volcano – as a low-grade firewater with a worm in its bottle, consumption at bars has almost doubled in the past four years, while exports have tripled. Mexico produces just 2 million litres of the spirit made from the heart of the cactus-like agave plant, or about 1% of the volume of tequila it makes. But aficionados say the subtle flavours of mescal, partly a result of the varied soil qualities in which the agave plant grows, give it a far greater range and personality. We’re a big fan. For a good summary of the beauties of quality mezcal, check out the link here.

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