The Turkey: A North American Bird

The wild turkey is native to northern Mexico and the eastern United States.  Later it was domesticated in Mexico, and was brought into Europe early in the 16th century. 

Since that time, turkeys have been extensively raised because of the excellent quality of their meat and eggs. 

Some of the common breeds of turkey in the United States are the Bronze, Narragansett, White Holland, and Bourbon Red.

The History of Tex Mex

(Wikepedia)

Tex-Mex” is a term used to describe a regional American cuisine that blends food products available in the United States and the culinary tex-mex-chili-piecreations of Mexican-Americans influenced by the cuisines of Mexico. The cuisine has spread from border states such as Texas and those in the Southwestern United States to the rest of the country. In some places, particularly outside of Texas, “Tex-Mex” is used to describe a localized version of Mexican cuisine. It is common for all of these foods to be referred to as “Mexican food” in Texas, parts of the United States, and some other countries. In other ways it is Southern cooking using the commodities from Mexican culture. In many parts of the U.S. outside Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, the term is synonymous with Southwestern cuisine

Food historians tell us Tex-Mex cuisine originated hundreds of years ago when Spanish/Mexican recipes combined with Anglo fare. “Tex-Mex” first entered the English language as a nickname for the Texas-Mexican Railway, chartered in southern Texas in 1875.[4]

In train schedules published in the newspapers of the 1800s the names of railroads were abbreviated. The Missouri Pacific was called the Mo. Pac. and the Texas-Mexican was abbreviated Tex. Mex. In the 1920s the hyphenated form was used in American newspapers in reference to the railroad and to describe people of Mexican descent who were born in Texas.[5]

In the mission era, Spanish and Mexican Indian foods were combined in Texas as in other parts of the Northern Frontier of New Spain.[6] However, the cuisine that would come to be called Tex-Mex actually originated with Tejanos (Texans of Hispanic descent) as a hybrid of Spanish and native Mexican foods when Texas was part of New Spain and later Mexico.

From the South Texas region between San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, this cuisine has had little variation and from earliest times has always been influenced by the cooking in the neighboring northern states of Mexico. The ranching culture of South Texas and northern Mexico straddles both sides of the border. A taste for cabrito (kid goat), barbacoa de cabeza (barbecued cow heads), carne seca (dried beef), and other products of cattle culture is common on both sides of the Rio Grande. In the 20th century Tex-Mex took on such Americanized elements as yellow cheese as goods from the United States became cheap and readily available.

for more info visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tex-Mex

Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe

mexican hot chocMexican chocolate, which is available in solid blocks or bars, is laced with sugar and cinnamon. Panocha, AKA panela or piloncillo, is pure cane sugar, in a solid form. Panocha is sometimes referred to as Mexican brown sugar, and can be found in bags of small, hard blocks.

Ingredients for Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
  • 1 tablet Mexican sweet chocolate – 3 ounces
  • 1 teaspoon panocha

Directions for Mexican Hot Chocolate

  1. Add the milk to a small sauce pan which is placed over medium low heat.
  2. Whisk in the cinnamon and vanilla.
  3. Use a mortar and pestle to break down the block of panocha, until it is a fine powder. Measure out 1 teaspoon of the panocha powder, and whisk it into the milk mixture. Save the remaining piloncillo for another time.
  4. Clean out the mortar and pestle, and place the block of Mexican chocolate in the mortar. Use the pestle to pound the chocolate into a powder, which will look a bit like cocoa powder. Whisk all of the chocolate into the milk mixture.
  5. Continue whisking the hot chocolate mixture until all the chocolate has melted, and the milk is warmed to the appropriate temperature.
  6. Pour the hot chocolate into two coffee mugs, or other heat proof glasses.

Molcajete y Tejolote

A traditional Mexican mortar and pestle, typically made out of basalt, which is a type of coarse volcanic rock. The molcajete y tejolote is used to pound ingredients, such as blocks of pure cane sugar, AKA panocha, and Mexican chocolate into a fine powder. Molcajetes are also used to make sauces and salsas and to grind dried chili peppers, herbs and spices.

Molinillo

A hollow wooden stirrer which is used for making authentic Mexican hot chocolate. A molinillo is similar to a whisk. The molinillo is placed at the bottom of the container that is being used to make the hot chocolate. The molinillo is rotated between the palms of the hands until the hot chocolate turns frothy and foamy.

Recipe Tips and Suggestions

1. 1 teaspoon regular vanilla extract can be used in placed of the Mexican vanilla.

2. 1 teaspoon of brown sugar or granulated sugar can be substituted for the panocha.

Read more: http://herbsspices.suite101.com/article.cfm/authentic_mexican_hot_chocolate#ixzz0Tgct8sQ6

Cafe Review: House of Brews -San Fernando,CA

by Crystal A. Johnson

house of brews muralOn a day when my wireless connection simply would not work, a friend of mine suggests that I go down to House of Brews.  As a new resident of  the northern part of the San Fernando Valley, I do not know of the place.  I listen to the directions and make my way there.  San Fernando has it own charm with 1800’s Spanish architecture meets 1950’s.  Little did I know the cafe has been around for eight years.  Many locals are aware of this spot. When I walk into the shop, I am pleasantly surprised.  The colors are vibrant and the menu board is fun.  The drink choices are playful creations mixed with classics.   I knew quickly this would become a repetitive stomping ground for me.  The ambiance is filled with eclectic artwork, culturally inspired murals, and boutique items. 

The customer base is diverse ranging from academics to white collar professionals.  Blanca Diaz, the owner shares with me details of how the demographic changes throughout the day.  With the courthouse nearby, many people lounge at the cafe.  The free Wifi with menu purchase attracts the laptop crowd.  Diaz adds that after 5PM the area locals which are primarily Latino frequent the place. 

Now that the setting has been described lets move on the beverages.  On my first day which was a hot Sunday, my choice is La Siesta iced tea.  Translation for people in certain parts of the country is half and half.  The beverage is half tea and half lemonade. 

 On my next visit, I go with the Mexican Hot Chocolate.  Diaz boasts assuredly that House of Brews offers the best Mexican Hot Chocolate in town.  She says the Ibarra chocolate is ground everyday.  As I order, I just happen to be on the phone with my friend Eduardo.  Overhearing my order, he inquires if I am at House of Brews.  I confirm then he tells me that he is a regular.  Eduardo mentions that everything he has tried is good including breakfast items.  The presentation of the Mexican hot chocolate is very attractive with whip cream and squiggly designs on top.   Chocolate lovers this is a rich and tasty drink.

On another visit I go with the  Green tea Matte Latte.  The matte does rhyme with the latte and it is good.  Again the presentation makes the drink look quite appetizing.  It does not disappoint. 

A suggested beverage by the owner is the Earl Grey Latte.  I am sure the sounds of this for Earl Grey tea lovers has them at hello.  I will revise the article when I can share an update on the Earl Grey Latte.    Right now, the batting average for the beverages at House of Brews is looking good.  Visit their website at : http://www.house-of-brews.com/

If you would hear some yelps about the location from locals visit: http://www.yelp.com/biz/house-of-brews-san-fernando

History of Chocolate

beans of chocEarly History Timeline:

2000 BC, Amazon: Cocoa, from which chocolate is created, is said to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.

Sixth Century AD: Chocolate, derived from the seed of the cocoa tree, was used by the Maya Culture, as early as the Sixth Century AD. Maya called the cocoa tree cacahuaquchtl… “tree,” and the word chocolate comes from the Maya word xocoatl which means bitter water.

300 AD, Maya Culture: To the Mayas, cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility… nothing could be more important! Stones from their palaces and temples revealed many carved pictures of cocoa pods.

600 AD, Maya Culture:Moving from Central America to the northern portions of South America, the Mayan territory stretched from the Yucatán Peninsula to the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. In the Yucatán, the Mayas cultivated the earliest known cocoa plantations. The cocoa pod was often represented in religious rituals, and the texts their literature refer to cocoa as the god’s food

1200 AD-Aztec Culture

Cocoa beans were used by the Aztec civilisation to make a frothy, hot drink and chocolate itself was revered for its special vitality and wisdom giving properties. As such it was only given to the nobility, priests and warriors. As a fermented drink (probably quite bitter and nothing like our modern day, sweet tasting chocolate), the Aztecs used chocolate in religious ceremonies and the Emperor Montezuma is believed to have drunk it in large quantities every day.

It was Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez who is credited with recording the enjoyment of chocolate in Emperor Montezuma’s court.

It’s generally believed that chocolate as a drink was introduced to Europe in the 16th century by explorers returning from their travels and the first official cocoa bean shipments into Europe took place in Seville in 1585 from Mexico.

For history of chocolate visit: http://www.ice-cream-recipes.com/chocolate.htm and http://www.chocolatemonthclub.com/chocolatehistory.htm

Flan Recipe

 It is an ultimate comfort dessert in multiple Latin cultures.  This goes out to all the flan lovers out there.   

 Prep Time: :20flan2inch

Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup and 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 13 oz cans evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. You will need 6 ramekins or other specialty flan cook ware and a large baking pan to put them in.Pour 1 cup sugar in warm pan over medium heat. Constantly stir sugar until is browns and becomes caramel. Quickly pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of caramel in each ramekin, tilting it to swirl the caramel around the sides. Reheat caramel if it starts to harden.

In a mixer or with a whisk, blend the eggs together. Mix in the milks then slowly mix in the 1/2 cup of sugar, then the vanilla. Blend smooth after each ingredient is added.

Pour custard into caramel lined ramekins. Place ramekins in a large glass or ceramic baking dish and fill with about 1-2 inches of hot water. Bake for 45 minutes in the water bath and check with a knife just to the side of the center. If knife comes out clean, it’s ready.

Remove and let cool. Let each ramekin cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Invert each ramekin onto a small plate, the caramel sauce will flow over the custard.

For More Flan recipes visit about.com:

Source: http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/sweetsanddesserts/r/easyflan.htm

 

Restaurant Owner Realizes the American Dream

Photo Credit: vrdcimage.restaurant.com

As an entrepeneur, I love this story.  This is much more than a review.  When a person goes from dish washer to owner of two successful Mexican restaurants, it should make us all say, “Si se Puede!”  Find out the story behind Tequila’s restaurants in Van Nuys, CA and Burbank.- Crysal A. Johnson, MCCN Editor

Two of the more popular choices for Mexican food in Los Angeles tends to be El Torito and Acapulco’s; however, Tequila’s owner, Tony Castillo takes a page from these restaurants and opening Tequila’s restaurant in Van Nuys in 2000.  Tequila’s became such as success that he opened another location on Magnolia Blvd in Burbank.  Castillo began as a disher washer working in the Mexican restaurant industry then worked his way up ownership  of two restaurants.  Isn’t that the American dream? Castillo is passionate and proud of the food served in his restaurant.  You may even see the owner serving if he is short staffed.  That seemed to be case when, I went.  The staff is friendly but the service extremely slow.

Read link below for more:

http://www.examiner.com/x-9408-LA-Comfort–Soul-Food-Restaurant-Examiner~y2009m6d28-Tequilas-Restaurant-There-are-More-Reasons-to-Visit-than-Tequila