Category Archives: latin america

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

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Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

We made this spicy pork tenderloin in my last class of 2016 and it could very well be my favorite dish of last year. 

There are three species of cultivated chiles in ancient America, one of which was found in Mexico, wild, in cultural deposits in the Tehuacan valley dating from 7200 to 5200 BC. The use of chiles in the New World was not confined to food. Chile smoke was used as a fumigant, as a means of chemical warfare, and the Aztecs disciplined their children with it!

Christopher Columbus introduced chiles to Europe after his first trip to the Caribbean and called them peppers because he likened them to the peppercorns he was familiar with, though they are from a different family. Shortly thereafter they were cultivated around the globe and were quickly assimilated into the foods of other cultures, including those of Asia and the Middle East.

For the pork:
1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed

For the chipotle sauce:
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup apple juice
6 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons chipotle puree, or more to taste (I prefer La Morena brand, available at Ralph’s)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in middle of the oven.

Make the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pork on all sides, about 6 minutes total, then transfer to a plate.

Sauté garlic in skillet until it starts to caramelize. Add the chipotle sauce, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Return the pork to the skillet and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145 to 150° F, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Thinly slice the pork and pour the sauce over it.

Serves 6

Champurrado

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Champurrado

Champurrado is a warm, thick Mexican drink made of chocolate and corn masa often served around the holidays. Though popular today, the drink has Mayan origins. It combines the major crops of maize and cacao, which were viewed as cosmic opposites. Maize, which needs full sun to grow and was the life source of Mesoamerica, represented life; cacao, which requires shade and was consumed only by the elite in their society, represented death. One was a basic necessity the other was synonymous with luxury and status. On a practical level, the caffeine in the cacao served as a stimulant and the maize provided calories and nutrition.

Think of this when you froth your champurrado or hot chocolate with a molinillo, a wooden whisk for the sole purpose of creating froth in hot chocolate (and my favorite kitchen gadget.) Click here for more fun facts on chocolate watch this fun video collaboration by Carin Krasner showing how to make it.

Happy Holidays!

1 ½ cups hot water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
¼ cup masa flour, masa harina brand is a good and easy to find option
3 cups milk
2 tablets chocolate, chopped
ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)

Bring the water and spices to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the spices.

Slowly whisk in the masa flour, whisking continuously until smooth and thickened.

Add the milk and chocolate to the mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir constantly, until thickened. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve with a delicious concha or the pan dulce.

Serves 4

Sweet Potato, Corn and Quinoa Salad

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Sweet Potato, Corn and Quinoa Salad

Native to the Andes, the Incas considered quinoa sacred and referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” The Spanish colonists suppressed its cultivation due to its status within indigenous religious ceremonies and forced them to grow wheat instead. Sweet potatoes have consumed in Peru since the 9th century BC.

The life force of the Americas, there is evidence that maize (corn) has been domesticated in Mexico for over 10,000 years. Green beans are also native to Mexico.

2 ½ cups cooked quinoa
2 sweet potatoes, about 1 pound
2 ears corn, husked
½ pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 scallions, minced
¼ cup minced parsley and cilantro

Cook 1 cup dry quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.

Peel the sweet potato and dice it into ½-inch pieces. Cook it in boiling salted water to cover until tender, about 15 minutes. (Make sure you salt the water generously!) Drain and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring a separate pan of salted water to a boil and blanche the corn and green beans for about 3 minutes. Drain and add to the potatoes. Mix in the quinoa.

Whisk the oil, vinegar and herbs together in a small bowl. Add to the potato mixture and toss. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve

Serves 4 to 6

Ocho Margarita

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Ocho Margarita

Many claim to have invented the margarita. One of the most prevalent stories is that around 1938, Carlos “Danny” Herrera developed it at his Tijuana restaurant, Rancho la Gloria, for one of his customers, an aspiring actress named Marjorie King who was allergic to all hard alcohol other than tequila. Rather than give her the traditional tequila shot, he turned it into a refreshing drink, therefore satisfying his picky customer.

Another person that claims the title is Dallas socialite Margarita Sames who says she whipped it up for friends — among them Tommy Hilton — at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948. Tommy loved the drink so much he added it to the bar menus at his hotel chain.

Regardless of which story is true, one thing that’s certain is that few drinks are more refreshing than a margarita. And this recipe courtesy of Ocho at the Hotel Havana is San Antonio, TX is my favorite.

Read about the history of tequila hereSalud!

¼ cup kosher salt
1 wedge lime
1 ½ ounce blanco tequila (My fave is Toro de Lidia Tequila)
½ ounce orange liqueur
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
¼ ounce agave nectar

Spread salt on a small plate. Rub lime wedge around the rim of a glass and dip into the salt and lightly coat. Set aside.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and agave nectar. Cover and shake until mixed and chilled, about 30 seconds.

Fill the prepared glass with ice cubes and strain the chilled margarita into the prepared glass.

photo credit: Ocho