flower

Today I continue yesterday’s madness — and I don’t know if I pointed this out, but I’m including all the recipes so you can print them out. So instead of just giving someone a bag of dried chiles, you’re saying, “here cook something.” Which might be worse. Hopefully you know if your friend is into that. We spent the last two Christmas seasons in Mexico and while most places have a ton of Mexico ingredients (when I was in Houston, they had a larger selection of Mexican spices than my local Mexican grocer did) there are some staples I think…

thai

If I ever change careers, I will definitely go into the Kaffir Lime Leave business. I feel like everyone’s lives would be so much better if we just all had access to all Thai ingredients from fresh lemongrass to galangal (similar to ginger but different) to those amazing little leaves that grow on lime trees in Thailand. Can you tell I’m missing Thailand this year? It’s been too long. We spent Christmas there in 2010 and 2011 but haven’t been back since 2012. So I put together this gift list, which I realized after the fact, is completely insane, it’s…

romanianbread-22

I made this bread while in Romania, doing absolutely everything wrong, and it still came out great. I used this recipe, which has great photos and instructions. My version is little more simple, and it demonstrates that you don’t really need fancy things like measuring cups or even all the ingredients to make a great cozonac. First, you make the nut filling. The instructions recommended making this the night before and putting it in the fridge, which I did, but then you have to take it out the next day or it’s too cold to spread. I didn’t do that.…

tortillaespanola-7

Tortilla Española is one of Spain’s national dishes. It’s everywhere. It’s in the tapas bar, it’s sliced and put into sandwiches, it’s a course in your menu del dia. This is a great recipe for it, and I was glad to know you can actually reuse the oil again several times, otherwise this is an insane way to cook (you’ll see in a moment). The really cool part of learning how to cook this from a Barcelona-trained chef (I took a cooking class) was that he whipped up some Pan Con Tomate, the tomato bread that comes from Catalunya. Since…

strawberrygazpacho-13

Before I left Barcelona, I took a cooking class at Barcelona Cooking, this newish cooking school on La Rambla that’s two stories above the street in this charming open loft-style place with it’s Spanish-born and Barcelona-trained head chef Candido Cid. They teach the classics but they are really dedicated to local, fresh produce and using what’s in season. That’s why we had strawberry gazpacho instead of the tomato-only gazpacho most people are familiar with, because strawberries happened to be in season. Turns out, I like it better than the original. The great thing about this recipe is two-fold: it requires…

rabbit-3

The first thing you need to know is that you can get an entire rabbit, skinned, with all its parts, at the local market, here in Spain. The second thing is that yes, it is a little horrifying. The thing is, rabbit is delicious. I made rabbit stew in Mexico a few times, but it was always from frozen conejos and they were much smaller. This bunny was huge. Cole was quite impressed. I feel like if you’re going to eat meat you might as well own the reality of where it comes from, and if you can, buy whole…

friedbuttermilkchicken-5

We’re staying with our friend Kayt in Houston, Texas and she’s been spoiling us all week with her favorite dishes… from Japanese curry to carnitas to spicy chicken and shrimp gumbo. I had to get her buttermilk friend chicken recipe, even before I tasted it because it sounded so good. You marinate the chicken overnight in buttermilk and spices, toss in flour and fry. Well first, you pour yourself a glass of wine. The great touch is that she uses zip lock bags to marinate the chicken in buttermilk, then tosses the chicken in a seasoned flour mixture just before…

mexicocityfood-9

I’ve lived in Mexico for the past 14 months and tasted almost all of the street food in Puerto Vallarta (I’ve also taken two street food tours with Vallarta Eats — I paid for those, not comped — and they are well worth it). There’s a lot of cross-pollination in Puerto Vallarta, I suspect because there are so many seasonal workers that come from other parts of Mexico to work the tourism high season, but it was nothing like I experienced in Mexico City. We’d been eating our way across Mexico from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara to Guanajuato and all…

pujol-16

There were two restaurants in Mexico listed on the world’s 50 Best Restaurants. Pujol was one, Biko was the other. They are both in Mexico City. I’ve always wanted to eat at a place like this, with the tasting menu and deconstructed cuisine, but it’s hard to justify the $400 price tag that usually comes with such a meal. Pujol. $79 USD for their 11 course tasting menu. Done. The interior is painted black. Everything is about the food. The first course comes, a shaved ice with chile and lime. Oh that’s nice, I think. Then out comes a large…

tacos-2

We have perfected it. It has taken a year of trial and error, tasting countless tacos around our home on the west coast of Mexico, but finally, it’s here. The perfect chorizo taco. (By the way, this perfect taco is according to the standards in our part of Mexico. If you go other places, they probably do it differently, but as the abuelita who makes her tacos on a food cart by the beach would tell you, they are wrong. This is the correct way to make a taco.) There is a science. 1 You have to use corn tortillas.…