How to Throw a Baja Fish Taco Party

A Chicago Backyard and Many Happy People

24th Jun 2011

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Mexican food is made for parties. The construction of tortillas, fillings, salsas, and toppings; the spicy, rich flavors; and above all, the fact that it tastes so darn good. This was our guiding principle on a recent Saturday when, with the help of a handful of talented friends, we threw a Baja Fish Taco party under warm string lights in a Chicago backyard.

We were celebrating one of the e...

The Trick to Better Refried Black Beans

Some pasilla chiles and avocado leaves make all the difference.

26th Jan 2011

If you happened to stumble across the recipe for “Seasoned Black Beans” in Diana Kennedy’s Oaxaca al Gusto there wouldn’t be much to immediately keep you from turning the page. Dont get me wrong, it is housed in a beautiful book, it is just that besides the boring name and lack of picture, this is all Kennedy says in the headnote: “This fried bean paste is used for filling tamales, for t...

Beyond the Tortilla Chip: Three Mexican Snacks that Aren''t Deep Fried

Plus a recipe for Oaxacan-Style Peanuts with Chile and Garlic

16th Sep 2010

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Forget the chips.

You know the drill. You walk into a Mexican restaurant anywhere in the country. You sit down. Within moments -often before drink orders are taken- a bowl of tortilla chips and salsa are rushed out to the table. You immediately dig in. Time disappears. Before you order, before you even think about ordering, salsa stains the tablecloth and all the chips are mysteriously gone....

The Five Dishes that Surprised Me In Mexico

2 weeks in Oaxaca

1st Sep 2010

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The Al Pastor was way better...

We travel to be surprised, right? While picking my favorite five dishes took some deliberation, coming up with five different foods or dishes that surprised me on a trip to Mexico should have taken me all of five minutes. But for some reason I wasn't expecting this. I have a vertiable library of Mexican cuisine in my condo courtesy of Rick Bayless, Diana K...

The Five Best Things I Ate in Oaxaca, Mexico

These are the five things I can't stop thinking about

25th Aug 2010

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I went to Mexico to eat, and I handpicked the region of Oaxaca specifically because I figured I could eat there best. It’s a place where chiles, chocolate, and tomatoes have been growing for thousands of years, and where the holy trinity of corn, beans, and squash make up the local diet. Forget Italy, France, or Spain. Oaxaca is where my favorite food in the world comes from.

I spent two we...

Griddled Carne Asada Tacos

Or, the best carne asada tacos we've ever had

9th Jul 2010

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As far as I know there are only two kinds of ways to make carne asada. The first method is to take thinly sliced flank or skirt steak, sear it over mad charcoal fire, chop it up, and then stuff it into warm corn tortillas. It's almost always great. The second method is the kind that most taquerias use, which is to scoop some bits of raw steak, plop it on a grill, and sauté until it is cooked....

Authentic Caesar Salad From a Windowsill Garden

Urban gardening in Chicago

25th Jun 2010

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I've started an experiment this year: how easy is it, really, to grow vegetables and herbs in a windowsill?

When I moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan three years ago, I was rather taken with the idea of urban agriculture, romanticizing the rustic life of the small producer who grows his own vegetables, raises his own livestock, and scavenges the seas for the rest. (This fantasy was fueled rat...

The Maxwell Street Market, Chicago

We take a walk around the legendary market.

22nd Sep 2009

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Nick and I arrived at the Maxwell Street Market to a line of colorful tents stretching out into the distance along Desplaines Street longer than we could see: men playing blues on the sidewalk, piles of tchotkes and used power tools, used DVDs, discount bras and panties, and endless stands full of tube socks. In fact, it wasn't immediately clear what we were doing there. If it weren't for th...

Chiles Rellenos

This Mexican classic deserves a little love.

31st Aug 2009

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Around hour five, I became terribly exhausted from what felt like continuous marathon of chopping, sautéing, blending, grinding, broiling, stuffing, whisking, dipping, and frying. It was the most complex and curious chile relleno I'd ever laid eyes on and the flavor nearly bawled me over. Every bite revealed layers of flavor, from the salsa, pork stuffing, to the batter. Nothing was an aft...

A Weekend of Beans and Brats

Insight into perfecting 90 minute, no-soak beans and homemade bratwursts.

24th Jun 2009

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It's been a delicious week.  I've been doling out my homemade bratwurst to close friends and making batches of 90 Minute, No-Soak beans just because I can.  I know some people had some questions about both of these posts, and this week has given me a few more insights to both processes which hopefully will answer some of them.  Also, Michael Ruhlman wanted to see my amateurish sp...

90 Minute, No-Soak Beans

How to make great beans in less time.

9th Jun 2009

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It seems that in the past few years there have been a few monumental revelations of the "everything you thought you knew about cooking was wrong" variety.
- Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy", Executive Director, eGullet Society

When the timer sounded, I was caught off guard.  I reached for a kitchen towel, carefully folded it around the hot handles of my dutch oven, and transfered the...

Authentic Carnitas and Three Pounds of Lard

Lard is the secret to this Mexican classic.

5th Jan 2009

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By the time I fished the three pounds of pork hunks from the lard and stacked them on the cutting board,far more guests had arrived than I had originally planned.  It was a New Year's Eve party, but I thought dinner would just be an intimate gathering of 5 or so, and then we'd meet up with more friends later in the night.  But apparently my calls for meeting up later meant that they should c...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 3, Carnitas on the Run

Killer tacos and no-corn-syrup Mexican Coke

17th Nov 2007

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With the time change and a long flight ahead of us, we have to leave by 4pm just to arrive home in New York at midnight (Correction: arrive in Newark.  I'm never doing that again).  With a morning left and having had scarce time to explore Olympia itself, we asked Scott exactly what to do with the remaining hours.  “Well, there’s this Mexican taco truck,” he said casually.  And it wa...

Eating Tacos All Over San Antonio

If that means eating 5 lunches in one day, so be it.

11th Dec 2006

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Honestly, there's a real need for these signs.  When we were venturing around the mercado square in San Antonio, a land of slightly schlocky and catchpenny Mexican crafts, every third vendor warned against this practice, where gringo , giggling tourists pretended to experience Mexican culture by putting on outrageous hats and saying " Arriba, Arriba " like Speedy Gonzalez. How to a...

Baja Fish Tacos

The best fried fish tacos we've ever had.

9th Jun 2006

Our own version culled from a few different recipes, an emulation of the classic recipe of homemade tortillas, lightly fried tempura-style fish, a dairy-based white sauce, and fresh, crunchy, gently spicy cabbage.

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Real Baja fish tacos are nothing like what you're used to eating when it comes to Mexican food.  In fact, true Mexican cuisine might be our biggest missed chance.  Satisfied...