Friday, May 22, 2009

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza (Squash Blossoms)

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza Squash Blossoms Recipe

After stopping at a local Mexican drive through window to order my daughter a cheese quesadilla, I got to thinking how difficult it is to get a real quesadilla around these parts. I don’t think my local berto’s will be serving up tuetano con champiñones (marrow and mushrooms), Huitlacoche (corn smut), or Flor de Calabaza quesadillas any time soon. Since its Flor De Calabaza season the wife and I decided to make a trip to San Diegos Hillcrest Farmers Market, and pick up some fresh squash blossom flowers out of Valdivia Farms in Carlsbad.

Flor De Calabaza
flor de calabaza

I pretty much had the rest of the ingredients at home and currently grow epazote. If you do not have epazote it’s available at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, Specialty Produce, or Northgate Market.

Epazote from the garden

1 1/4 pounds Squash Flowers, cleaned and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Sea salt to taste
2 pablano chilies, charred, peeled, and cut into strips
1 tablespoon roughly chopped epazote
Oaxacan Cheese
Corn Tortillas

This is a fairly simple recipe; most of the work is in the prep. It was a fun day making these; my brother and I were prepping the flowers while the wife worked the grill and the masa. This Recipe is adapted from Diana Kennedys "From My Mexican Kitchen Techniques and Ingredients."

Rinse and briefly shake excess water off the flowers. Remove stringy green sepals around the base of each flower. If the flowers are large leave about a half inch of the stalk on. Roughly chop the flowers, calyx and stamen included.

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza Squash Blossoms Recipe

Prepare chiles by placing over open flame , turning them from time to time until skin is blistered and lightly charred. Place them inside a plastic bag and set aside to steam for 10 about minutes; this process will loosen the skin. Then remove the skin by running your hands or a spoon down the chile. Cut into vertical strips.

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza Squash Blossoms Recipe

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion garlic, and a little salt, and fry gently without browning until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the chili strips and cook stirring from time to time, for another two minutes.

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza Squash Blossoms Recipe

Add the flowers and salt to taste, cover the pan, and cook over low heat until the round calyx is tender, not soft, about 10 minutes. Add epazote after 5 minutes.

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza Squash Blossoms Recipe

The mixture should be moist not juicy.

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza Squash Blossoms Recipe

Prepare some corn tortillas on the comal with some Oaxaca cheese and flor de calabaza mixture. Enjoy!

Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza Squash Blossoms Recipe

This is enough for about 15 quesadillas (which was a bit much) I will most likely split the recipe in half next time. Its unfortunate as to what is being passed off as a quesadilla locally, flour tortilla the size of a tent with greasy flavorless yellow cheese is not a good representation.

Its flor de calabaza season give them a try I’m sure you will enjoy. If your not up to making them Aqui Es Texcoco in Chula Vista makes some very good ones.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cuban Style Lengua De Res Recipe - Receta de Lengua De Res Estilo Cubano

Picture 294

It just so happens my Mom now reads my blog, and of course the question comes up, why no Cuban food? *bows head* You see my Mom was born and raised in Cuba, my Dad is of Mexican decent so I grew up with the fine cuisines from both countries. During special occasions while I was growing up it was all about the Cuban dishes. Cuban Chicken, Fricase de pollo, Congri, Ropa Vieja, Platanos Maduros, and Lengua were the norm.

A funny thing about Lengua is for the longest time I did not know what it was. I really didn't put two and two together until I was about 8 years old. My best friend Kirk and I were rummaging through the cabinets looking for snacks as my mom was just starting the Lengua preparation. This big huge cow tongue was sitting on kitchen counter and we totally freaked out. By that time I loved the dish so much I didn't mind, but I don't think Kirk came over to eat much after that.

This past Mothers day I followed Mom around the kitchen and tried to capture the recipe for you. It was very challenging because Mom does not measure or time anything, so I did my best to capture one of my favorite traditional Cuban dishes.



3-4 lb Beef Tongue
6 Roma Tomatoes or 6-8 ounces of canned of tomato Sauce (Mom prefers the canned tomato sauce)
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1-2 Onions
1/2 Cup Olives
6 Garlic Cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons capers
1 tablespoon caper juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tablespoons Vinegar
Salt to taste

Clean the tongue thoroughly and place in pressure cooker with just enough water to cover the tongue. Add one tablespoon of salt, cover, and boil for approximately one hour.

Picture 171

Cut onions and peppers

Picture 174

When tongue is ready, pierce the thickest part with a knife, it should enter easily when the tongue has cooked and should no longer be pink. Peal skin off, trim fat, and cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Picture 188_edited-1

Saute onions and peppers in 4 tablespoons of olive oil and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Add rest of ingredients listed.

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Add tomato sauce

Picture 220

Add slices of tongue and cover on medium heat for 30-45 minutes,season to taste with salt and pepper.

Picture 234

We paired the lengua with arroz blanco (white rice) and Mojitos.


I hope you enjoy this recipe its been passed on for generations in my family.

Cuban Style Lengua de Res Recipe Cuban Style Lengua de Res Recipe Masa Aassassin

Friday, May 15, 2009

Torta Hunting In Tijuana - Carne Asada Tortas at Wash Mobile Tortas

Tortas Hunting

Ive been craving a torta (Mexican Sandwich) since Kirks (mmm-yoso) post on San Diegos Torta factory, I have not made it out to The Torta Factory yet but, I recently decided to do some torta hunting in Tijuana.

I had a few places on my Tijuana Torta hit list. Wash Mobile Tortas, Tortas Javier, Tortas Cubanas, and Tortas Ranchito. I had been to Wash Mobile Tortas, Tortas Ranchito, and Torta Cubanas many times in the past, but its been quite some time. Tortas Javier was a place my wife remembered as a child so we decided to check that out as well.

After eating a torta at all of the spots we both agreed the best of the day was Wash Mobile Tortas. Many years ago a car wash co-existed alongside Wash Mobile Tortas, the car wash is long gone but the tortas are still rocking after 45 years!

Was Mobile Tortas

First off the staff is very friendly, they kept us entertained while we sank our teeth into the messy goodness. The tortas start with some marinated pecho de res (beef brisket). The beef cuts are grilled over glowing hot mesquite coals adding a nice rich, smoky flavor.

Wash Mobile Tortas

The secret behind a good torta is the bread and Wash Mobiles is perfect. The bread is toasted a la plancha, on the griddle, alongside the carne asada. Nice and hot, toasted and crusty on the outside, and soft and doughy on the inside

Wash Mobile Tortas

Wash Mobile Tortas

The beef is then finely chopped and ready to be placed in the sandwich. Their spicy citrus marinade is quite unique and I could not detect all the ingredients. I tried but failed to get the secret.

Wash Mobile Tortas

Wash Mobile Tortas

Mayo is spread on the fresh toasted bread and the carne asada, tomatoes, crushed avocado, red onions, and salsa roja are added. You can dress the torta yourself or order it con-todo.

Wash Mobile Tortas

The final product was very good all the different flavors and textures balanced out perfectly. Part of a my enjoyment eating here is was mingling with the taqueros and locals, Wash Mobile totally represents the Tijuana Experience.If you want more detail on Wash Mobile Tortas I found a cool write-up here.


Wash Mobile is located on Calle Jalisco just west of boulevard Agua Caliente. The hours are from 830pm until they run out of bread (which is usually around 300pm). They serve only Carne Asada Tortas.

For late night Tortas I would recommend Tortas Ranchito. Tortas Ranchito was one of my regular late night spots years ago. Whats funny is this torta spot is also connected to a car wash.

Ranchito Tortas

I always get the Torta de Lomo (loin) at Ranchito. The execution of the torta at Ranchitos is very simple. Juicy lomo, soft warm bread, avocado, tomato, and a awesome house made chipotle.

Torta Lomo

Torta Ranchito is open 24hrs and is located off Calle Salinas right next to Pemex. Its a straight shot from the Grand Hotel de Tijuana. We also hit a Torta Cubana truck and a location on Calle Segunda I will post about in the future. Im sure thier are many great torta spots in the city, if you known of any drop me a line. Tortas Ahogadas, Pambazo,Cemitas. Etc.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Changes at Restaurante Del Parque - Ensenada

Restaurante Del Parque Outside

On Sunday Chef/Owner Jair Tellez of Laja dropped me a line informing me that as of last week he and his partners are no longer operating Restaurante Del Parque in Ensenada. Jair and his crew are concentrating their efforts on Laja. Speaking of Laja I’m due for trip soon, I still think of the wonderful pancita risotto I had last time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

UNO Restaurant Tijuana - Cutting Edge Culinary Arts

Rib Eye Tartare

It's funny how sometimes you have a great restaurant right under your nose and you don't even know it. Yesterday the wife and I were driving around Tijuana down the street from some property her family has owned for over 30 years when we past a new restaurant that brought me to a screeching halt. The sign that caught my eye "UNO cocina artesanal de vanguardia". I had remembered Chef Benito Molina recommended this place to me a few months ago but we never ironed out the details.

UNO Restuarant Tijuana

It was very unfortunate that at the time we stopped, we were already stuffed with some tacos from down the street, but that didn't stop us from wanting to try some of Unos fine offerings. Entering the restaurant you are embraced by its casual elegance. Wines showcasing the best of Baja are proudly displayed.

UNO Restuarant Tijuana

Things started perfect with a nice house red wine, housemade bread and butter, and Rib-eye amuse bouche. For the first course I ordered the queso. The sweetness of the honey blended perfectly with this fine artesanal cheese, I would have been satisfied with just the cheese but we pressed on.

Quesitos con miel de abeja en panal
UNO Restuarant Tijuana

For course two, we decided to go with the duck stuffed ravioli. 3 ravioli stuffed with duck topped with bacon and pinenuts. At this time I was pretty full but the juicy duck was so good no morsels were spared.

Ravioli de pato en tres
UNO Restuarant Tijuana

Course three hmmmm???? Well I was going to throw in the towel at this time but some of the menu items sounded so interesting I could not resist. I decided to order a very interesting Rib eye Tartare, this was definitely the highlight of my visit. The presentation on this dish was so nice I just stared at it for a few minutes.

Tartare de Rib eye con emulsion de aceite de oliva
UNO Restuarant Tijuana

I really wanted to try one of the main courses but It was just not possible after the days events. I skipped the main course and ordered some dessert to share with the family and it was on par with the rest of my meal, divine.

Opera Deco
UNO Restuarant Tijuana

The service here was outstanding, when we were finished with our meal the chefs were kind enough to come out and chat with us. It turns out Chefs Ricardo Hiroshi Uno and Diego Hernandez Velasco worked with Chef Benito Molina for years at the old Manzanilla Resturant in Ensenada. They were kind enough to take me on a tour and I was excited to see they have a custom underground pit in the back for traditional Barbacoa De Borrego, slow-cooked lamb over an open fire. The mesquite grill was also very cool to see.

I'm definitely coming back soon to get beyond the appetizers and desserts, I'm particularly interested in the lamb. UNO is located very close to Agua Caliente Racetrack about a 15 min ride from the border.

Av. de Las Ferias #5202, Col. del Bosque C.P. 22o34 Tijuana, B.C Mexico.
Reservations (664) 681.3203

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana - Camarones Enchilado (Spicy Shrimp Tacos)

In March the Committee of Tijuana Tourism published a list of 120 things to do in Tijuana and I realized their was one place on the list of suggested eateries I had yet to try...... "Tacos El Mazateno"

Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana - Camarones Enchilado (Spicy Shrimp Tacos)

Tacos El Mazateno is located close to the Otay Area of Tijuana and is about a 25 minute taxi ride from the Border. I paid 8 bucks for the ride from a Taxi Economico and it was well worth the trip. Stepping out of the taxi and into Mazateno I felt like I was transported to Mazatlan. The place reminded me so much of the open air restaurants in Sinaloa minus the ocean air.

Mazateno is always live and bustling, on any given day its not uncommon to see hundreds of local diners in the place. You have a choice to eat at the stand on the corner or sit down at one of the many tables. As you are seated you are brought a bag of some tostaditas, salsa fresca, limes, cabbage, and consommé.

Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana

Tacos El Mazateno specializes in Mariscos and they are best known for their spicy shrimp taco (Camaron Enchilado). Generous amounts of succulent, plump, spicy shrimp placed on top melted cheese folded in two crisp light tortillas. This honestly is one of my favorite tacos and it will blow your mind.

Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana - Camarones Enchilado (Spicy Shrimp Tacos)

The shrimp ceviche is also a hit, and I'm sure anything you try here is going to be amazing.

Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana,Ceviche Camarone,

Ive met some friendly locals here enjoying these treasures in the masses, many of them also recommend the soups from the menu, but usually I'm so full from the Camarones Enchilado tacos I have no room to spare, perhaps next time. These tacos are some of the best Mariscos tacos I have had and I highly recommend this place.

El Mazateno is opened 7am to 7pm seven days a week and is located at Calzada Tecnologico (Corner of Technologico and Popotla) NO.473 Tomas Aquino Tijuana, B.C. Mexico. Most taxi drivers can guide you here.

Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pastel Tres Leches - Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Pastel Tres Leches (Three-Milk Cake) is a wonderful dense, moist cake topped with vanilla whipped cream. What makes it unique is that after baked, it is perforated and soaked in a mixture of three different milk products. The three milks, when combined, create a distinct texture. I personally like it with an orange flavor to it, the tang of the orange cuts some of the sweetness providing the perfect balance.

Pastel Tres Leches - Tres Leches Cake

Although very popular in Mexico this dessert is enjoyed throughout Latin American. You will find variances in recipes from Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Panama, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. Tres leches cakes come in a wide array of presentations and flavor profiles. Here is our version we have enjoyed over the years, taking some traditional ingredients and adding some new.

5 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of grated orange peel
2 Tbsp of Grand Marnier Liqueur

2 cups whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated fat free milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.
Cream butter and 1 cup sugar together until fluffy.
Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended. Grease and flour baking pan, pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Pastel Tres Leches - Tres Leches Cake

Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Add a dash of cinnamon, dash of grated orange peel, and 2 tbps of Grand Marnier Liqueur.
Pierce entire cake with toothpicks.
Pour over the top of the cooled cake.
Let cake absorb all the liquid.
Note: We actually refrigerate overnight and let cake absorb leches.

Pastel Tres Leches -Tres Leches Cake

Whip the heavy whipping cream until it beads and add 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake.
Be sure and keep cake refrigerated and serve it well-chilled. Garnish with strawberries and mint. Provecho!

Tres Leches Cake - Pastel Tres Leches

No "The Masa Assassin" isn't going Martha Stewart on you, I just wanted to share a traditional dessert that we are accustom to making in my household. I'm still tweaking my Tijuana Taco Diaries and its back to the Masa soon. We have been working in the kitchen making a variety of quesadillas including Flor De Calabaza (Squash Blossom) with epazote.

flor de calabaza

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Pastel Tres Leches Masa Assassin Pastel Tres Leches Masa Assassin Masa Aassassin