Archive for the ‘Mexican food’ Category

20131023-151549.jpgSo I’m scanning yahoo the other day and came across this really easy Mexican dessert recipe.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients and saw that there was cheese involved with the dessert which sounded interesting… plus one of the comments on the bottom mentioned that the consistency/texture is similar to flan, but with nowhere near the amount of calories which really started to get my attention.
Talk about one of the more simple recipes out there!  I’ve included the info below:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces of Mexican/Latin cheese (I went with a mixture of cojita cheese and queso fresco which you can find in any latin grocery store)
 Butter to spread on the baking dish20131023-151534.jpg
I mixed the eggs, milk, sugar, and cojita cheese/queso fresco in a blender but I also added some cayenne pepper just to give it a little heat with the sweet of the sugar and the saltiness of the cheese.  I then preheated the oven to 350F andrubbed the butter along the bottom and sides/corners of a square glass pyrex dish.
Threw in the blended mixture and placed it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top was golden brown.  Let it stand to cool then I threw it in the fridge with a cover.
20131023-151525.jpgAfter a few hours, I had some for dessert that night and it really was like flan but a little bit more “chunky” because of thecojita cheese.  I thought it tasted great but I might be a little bias!  If you think you’d like a cheesy kind of flan, then give it a try.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick but I would enjoy it without the pepper as well.  I even put some in a bowl and threw on some chocolate syrup which gave it a nice chocolate flavor as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the big advantages of my job is that I get to travel. In the last few months I have been to Las Vegas, Charlotte and Austin… all for work. There will be posts about all the deliciousness I ate on those trips.

In the next couple of months I am going to Washington DC and Dallas for work and then on vacation to Hawaii.

With all this upcoming travel, I have a lot of food planning to do. This is usually J’s responsibility but he isn’t coming to DC with me, so it falls on my shoulders.

Ben's Chili Bowl

I have been to DC before and done all the sightseeing. Last time we were there  was around 3 years ago. We ate some great food on that

Capitol City Brewing Company – I don’t have any photos of the food we had here but it was good quality pub fare. Most importantly they had a large and delicious range of their own beers which were most enjoyable.trip!

Ben's Chili Dog

Ben’s Chili Bowl – From everything I hear, this is an institution in DC! We dragged our friend with the meat phobia here and even convinced   her to try one of the chili dogs. Telling her that President Obama had eaten here convinced her it would be ok. It was fantastic! It was my first chili dog and I probably will never have one anywhere near as delicious as this was. This place is an example of exactly the kind of food and place we love – simple, hole in the wall just doing what they do very well and deliciously!

The Dancing Crab – This was one of J’s discoveries when he was researching our trip. Being huge seafood lovers, it was a must and we weren’t disappointed. Giant trays of spicy crabs were brought Dancing Crabout. Dressed in our plastic bibs, tools in hand, we dug in and ate ourselves silly! Again, this is the perfect kind of place, out of the tourist areas with great service and food. This crab was unlike any I had eaten before – I might have to make a trip back to this place – if I can figure out how to get there!

Oyamel – If you have read any of our posts about Mexican food, you will be familiar with exactly what our thoughts on it are… if you haven’t read J’s entry about this topic. Oyamel is not our usual Mexican fare. It is pricey, fancy and more like a tapas restaurant then the hole in the wall, divey places we usual frequent. However, the Oyamel Tacosfood was good and it was our chance to take a friend out for their first Mexican restaurant experience in the US. We ate tacos, mole, yummy desserts and I can’t remember what else. It is a restaurant with an interesting concept combining Mexican food and tapas, with good service and food. I have to admit though that I still prefer my hole in the walls back here in Arizona.

So that was our first trip to DC! There were other places we ate, including a random Oyamel MoleBBQ place that none of us can remember the name of, but these were by far the best experiences we had.

I would like to have great food experiences on this next trip too. This is where I need your help and advice if  you know of any great places in DC. I will be staying downtown, close to the Convention Center and am limited to public transport and taxis…

Where should I eat? I can’t wait to hear your recommendations!

We are in Las Vegas this week and I thought to honor our trip I would simply revisit a few of my earlier blogs about Vegas food. This way you are all ready for the new exciting entries about Las Vegas I will have next week.

These are three of our favorite places in town and places we will always go to when we are there.

Tacos El Gordo – J’s first ever blog, a “serious” look at our search for “real” tacos! Read blog

Bachi Burger  – read one of my very first blogs and also where that great burger photo I use comes from… Read blog

Rise & Shine, a Steak & Egg Place – a breakfast place that I would go back to time and time again… but only when I am really hungry! Read blog

As always we have a list of places we are going to visit this time around including, Hot N Juicy Crawfish. This place is one of our favorites!

I will fill you in about this and all the other places we went when we get back next week but check out these older blogs, especially J’s it’s really funny.

Now it’s time to gamble – wish me luck!

Yesterday’s post about ten things I miss about home may have led some of you to believe I didn’t like Arizona. That is not the case at all. I am having a great time here and love so many things about the Valley of the Sun! So in honor of my new home I thought today’s post should be about 10 things I love about Arizona. Obviously J. is the number 1 thing but I thought I would keep this food related!

1. Mexican Food

Do I really need to say anything here!? The authentic, delicious, unlimited supply of great Mexican food is probably one of the best selling points about Phoenix. They should use it in their tourism advertising… Grand Canyon, meh… Tacos, burritos and tortas… oh yeah!

2. Sunshine

363 days of sunshine a year! Well that is what they say. Whether this is true or not, I’m not sure, but I do know that the winters here are spectacular. Blue sky, warm days and chilly nights makes it perfect for eating healthy and indulging all at the same time. Healthy lunches and then rich soups, curries and stews for dinner… not to mention a hot chocolate curled up on the couch before bed. The next morning we then get to wake up to another day of warm sunshine.

3. Hamburgers

The choices for burgers here seems endless. I know this isn’t specific to Arizona, it is more a general American thing but I feel as though J. and I could eat at a different burger place every night for a year and not double up. There are so many choices of size, flavor, toppings and style. Of course there are the traditional fast food places like Wendy’s, Burger King and McDonald’s. Then you add in Carl’s Junior (new to me anyway) and In & Out and you have more fast food places. I have then got to cover the gourmet places like Zin Burger, Smash Burger, The Grind and Delux Burger. This is just a few that I just thought of… so many more possibilities we have yet to try. I am not going to get into which is my favorite, I don’t want to start a burger war!

4. Cooking for two

The last few years have been a whirlwind of travel back and forth to the US, around Australia and Asia for me. This has been amazing fun but has meant J. and I had little time in the one place at the same time and meant a lot of eating on the run for me. As you all know I love to cook but hate to cook for one so the thing I am enjoying most is being able to cook for 2 of us. I like spending the time thinking of something both J. and I will enjoy, testing and pushing our food boundaries. Cooking for 2 is much easier since I am no good at making small portions of things. Plus there is nothing like spoiling J. with good food!

5. Discovering new places

I have picked up and moved cities, states and countries a few times in my “young” life so moving to Arizona wasn’t too terrifying. One of the reasons that I love to live in new places is so I get to explore and discover so many things that I would never have if I had stayed where I was. J. and I are having so much fun discovering new places together, specifically restaurants. Places like the Gilbert Farmers Market, Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara, Beaver Choice and George’s Famous Gyros are just a few of our latest discoveries. We have a list of 20 other places we need to try… what great adventures we have ahead.

6. Cheap beer & wine

Yesterday I said I missed Australian beer and wine, and I do but the beer and wine here is sooo cheap I can easily drown my sorrows about the wine I’m drinking being from Oregon rather than Margaret River. Though I must say I have found some delicious Californian and Oregon wines, plus they have Sol (Mexican Beer) here and that is my favorite… it tastes like sunshine! (No, I haven’t been drinking)

7. Cost of living

Everything is cheaper here from clothing and gas to food and wine! A trip to the grocery store costs me half what it would cost me back in Melbourne. This makes cooking lots of different food and baking delicious treats much more cost effective. Eating out is generally cheaper here too even with a tip on top. It also helps that J. and I like the little cheap hole in the wall places like Lee’s and Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara.

8. 5 million tv channels

Cable/Satellite tv isn’t the norm back in Australia like it is here so the majority of Australians have had 5 channels up until the last year or two when with the new HD channels we have around 12. TV here is a completely different thing! I actually haven’t counted the channels we have but it feels like thousands. Sports, movies, comedy, travel and of course cooking shows. So many inspirations from Anthony Bourdain to Paula Deen to Bitchin’ Kitchen… lots of shows to give me ideas for cooking and eating. We will often watch a food show just before a meal to make sure we are super hungry!

9. Making new friends

Of course I miss my friends from home but I am pretty good at making friends so I have been hard at work trying to find friends. I think I will join a book club or something to help this along… not that I am worried because I have hijacked a few of J’s friends and they are going to be coming over for dinner really soon. So I will get my first Arizona dinner party. Well not really a dinner party but I get to cook food for a bunch of boys, it’s a start!

10. Workout buddy

J. and I being in the same place means we have a workout buddy! This is a very good thing – have you seen what I have been cooking!? We have both found it to be great fun heading to the gym or the track together and when one of us doesn’t feel like going the other tends to kick them up the butt!

I sat here thinking about these dogs and looking at the photo and didn’t know where to start. I thought I would go with a little history. Sonoran Dogs originated in Hermosillo, Mexico which is the capital of Sonora. They have since wandered over the border into Phoenix and Tucson, yet have strayed no further. So they can only be found here in Arizona or over the border in Sonora.

J. and I had never tried one, and after years of J. living in Arizona that is an unusual thing. We spent some time researching where to get them here in Chandler. We wanted to try one that came highly recommended and with great reviews to ensure our first experience was as good as possible.

The place we chose was, Moreno’s Mexican Grill, a neighborhood restaurant that we had driven by so many times, but never been in. When we would drive by, there was always a stream of smoke coming from the outside hot dog grill. So we rocked up one night, around 8pm, it was still busy with lots of people coming in and out but unfortunately the outside grill wasn’t in use since it was still over 100F degrees outside at the time. Luckily they were cooking the hot dogs inside still so we didn’t miss out.

We ordered a Sonoran dog each and a bunch of tacos to share. The tacos were really good but it is the Sonoran Dog I really wanted to try.

So let me describe this dog… it was a hot dog wrapped in mesquite-smoked bacon and then grilled until the bacon was crispy. This was topped with pico de gallo, this is finely chopped tomatoes and onions mixed together. Then on top of that was cheese, traditionally they use cotijo cheese, but I am not sure if that is what they used at Moreno’s of not. At this stage the dog is already large but there was still more to come.

On top of the pico de gallo, the cheese and the dog, they then added some pinto beans and spicy green salsa (most likely a tomatillo salsa). This was all the toppings but we now have to start on the condiments! The condiments were mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. All of this served on beautifully fresh bread with a huge fresh-roasted chilli on the side!

This was seriously the largest hot dog I have ever seen! The real challenge was working out how to eat it without getting it all over us. We weren’t successful in that but who cares.

You would imagine that with all those toppings and condiments it would be overwhelming, that you wouldn’t be able to even taste the dog at the bottom. This was not the case. The dog was delicious and smokey wrapped in the crispy bacon and all the toppings just seemed to add to it. The fresh pico de gallo added some crunch and the salsa had just the right amount of spice so as not to overtake everything else.

I have to admit that this was the first time I have had a hot dog with mayonnaise on it, yet this also seemed to work. I don’t know how to describe it but it was an amazing, amazing hot dog. Delicious, messy, juicy and spicy all in one. I really loved this but it is certainly not an everyday experience… more like once or twice a year only. We will be counting down the days until it is ok to have this treat again!

This is J’s first blog he has written ever. He decided to do a guest blog about one of the places we went to on a trip to Vegas back in August. I think it’s pretty good, but then I am biased! – C

For all of you that think Taco Bell is good Mexican food return to your regularly scheduled programming of gorditas and nachos el grande… or doritos los tacos. For those of you who have basked in the glory of real, authentic, straight off the streets of Tijuana, Mexican food then we have found the answer to your most feverent question, “What is the Matrix?” I kid, I kid.

In all seriousness, if you are seeking true taqueria/street food in Las Vegas take a trip out to Tacos El Gordo near Downtown. Come with phrasebook in hand if you don’t speak Spanish. Lucky for us, I studied it for 9 years and am able to bust out the Espanol when we are in the mood for cabeza, lengua, al pastor and even the ominous buche.

“What is “real”? How do you define “real”?” I’m going to take you to class for a little bit. Those who think that realTh tacos come in hard tortilla shells out of a box, filled with ground beef need to open your minds and your mouths to what a Mexican grandma would call a proper taco. As Morpheus said to Neo “I’m trying to free your mind.”

Tacos El Gordo has double corn tortillas with your choice of meats to fill them with, cilantro and onions, spicy guacamole, or tomatillo salsa (estilo Tijuana) with lime wedges on the side. Simple… classic… no f’ing around. Not a speck of ground beef to be seen, though a wedding reception in the parking lot was there… or maybe the aftermath of a quinceanera party. Head meat (cabeza), cow tongue (lengua), spicy pork (al pastor), esophagus (buche) were our selections. Though to be completely honest C. chose the buche without actually knowing what she was ordering.

For the less adventurous, stick with the carne asada (marinated grilled steak) or branch out to the al pastor. Pero si estas comiendo la cabeza, lengua, o el buche, eres mi amigo! (If you eat the head, tongue or esophagus you’re my friend!). Cabeza and lengua meat will have an excellent strong beef flavor, while the buche contains a unique texture leaving you wanting more. C. however wasn’t the biggest fan of the buche, and after finding out what it really was, she vowed never to have it again.

Prices can’t be beat at this place, unless you have a G6 waiting for you on the tarmac to take you to Mexico City or Tijuana at your beck and call. Fast service from the open kitchen that will prepare your tacos right in front of you, even slicing the al pastor for each order from the grill spit. Do these guys a favor though, drop them a tip for some good karma.

Don’t deny yourself these authentic pleasures. As Morpheus said, “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”

We are huge fans of Mexico and Mexican food and when I say Mexican food, I mean “real” Mexican food unlike anything I was ever able to get in Australia. Whenever we are in Mexico we survive on Limonadas to drink on the beach, in the restaurants and even in the bars between margharitas and bottles of Sol. With the endless heat of the Phoenix summer stretching on into September I decided I need to make our own refreshing Limonada Mineral to cool us down for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

I did a bunch of research looking for what I thought would be a common recipe. Every recipe I found was different, including one that actually said to puree the entire lime and not just the lime juice. I chose to forego this option since I didn’t want to break our blender. Every other recipe had different ratios for sugar to lime juice to sparkling water. So the following is my own recipe which was worked out by taste.

Combine 1/2 a cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of lime juice (this was 8 medium limes for me – though mine were very juicy). Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add 4 cups of sparkling water, taste and continue adding extra sugar to own taste. I only added a spoonful extra to take a little more of the zing out of the limes. Then just pour over ice and garnish with a slice of lime.

We were really happy with this though not quite like the ones we drank on the beach on Isla Mujeres but that may have something to do with our surroundings. We are going to keep playing with the ratios to get it just right but either way it is refreshing on a 100+ degree day!

After reading outstanding reviews we decided it was time for our first visit to Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara. Saturday lunchtime we arrived at a small shopping mall in downtown Chandler and the heart of little Mexico. The only restaurant in the very small complex this place  is the definition of a hole in the wall and just what we are always looking for.

Even though this place is known for their Guadalajaran style torta (sandwich) I decided to go with something a little simpler, yet hopefully just as delicious, the Torta Al Pastor. J. decided to order their specialty, Torta Ahogada and the server, to his delight, asked how hot he wanted and as always the spiciest possible was requested. We love places where we can specify the spiciness of  our food, especially since we think the spicier the better.

Our tortas came out and they were huge! My Torta Al Pastor was avacado, al pastor (marinated pork), tomato, lettuce, jalapenos and a little mayonaise. All  of this served on a crispy roll. This was seriously the best sandwich I have ever eaten. The pork was melt in your mouth delicious and everything was incredibly fresh. It was so juicy I just wanted to keep eating but I only managed to eat half of it since it was so large.

 J’s Guadalajara torta was a sight to behold and I was glad we had grabbed a huge handful of napkins before sitting down. There is just something about Mexican bread that can hold up to swimming in that sauce. This wasn’t soggy at all! The spiciness was legitimate with decent heat yet didn’t overbear the flavor of a smokey, chilli, rich sauce. Slow cooked carnitas (small bits of pork) were the perfect filling. We helped ourselves to 3 different types of salsa, pickled jalapenos/radishes/onion and guacamole at the self-serve salsa bar. This is the sandwich of all Mexican sandwiches!

This is a great place for a weekend lunch, especially since they are only opened from 8am-8pm. Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara  is going to be one of our favourites and definitely a place we will take the Australian visitors when they descend on us. Next time though I am going to take a handful of wet wipes to clean up afterwards.