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Topic: mexican? central american?  (Read 3562 times)
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lupinbunny
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« on: May 11, 2006 02:08:24 AM »

all the talk in the 'explain american food to an aussie' thread has got me craving/ wondering about mexican/ central american foods.
which seem pretty familiar to lots of people here.

now, aside from tacos and chilli con carne, i have never eaten mexican/ central american food. there are two mexican restaurants in my city of 1.2 million people. it's just not a very common cuisine here.
i have no idea what is involved with 'refried beans'.

so, teach me! share your favourite mexican/ central american recipes. an emphasis on cheap ingredients would be nice (I'm a student); and please don't assume can i lay my hands on ready-made sauces, etc. i need recipes from scratch (well, maybe i can find tortillas in the bread section of the supermarket. are you supposed to heat them? or just eat them like pita bread? See how clueless i am!)
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TheBon
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2006 06:39:59 PM »

Chili is actually Texan. I do have a recipe for it posted over in the what to do with ground beef thread. Mine is without beans, the traditional way, because I don't like them.

Refried beans are traditionally cooked until they're mush and then they're fried.

My boy grew up in a town with a large Mexican population and used to eat from the lunch trucks. Most of the real mexican food looks a lot like brown mush. Tasty brown mush though.
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low_budget_diva
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2006 06:55:37 PM »

There are a lot of interpretations of "mexican" cuisine in the u.s. For example, in California, burritos and tacos are seen as the pinnacle of mexican food, but from what i understand burritos (at least the way we make them) are not too common in mexico. Burritos are usually made with flour tortillas and are filled with rice, beans (usually pinto, black, or refried), and a variety of meats--carne asada (roasted meat), chicken, beef, or carnitas (a yummy pork concoction), and sometimes shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, or mozzarella work well), sour cream, and guacamole (mashed avocadoes with lime juice, hot peppers, garlic, onion, and sometimes tomato). Tacos are usually made with smaller corn tortillas (and yes, you should heat them up so they get soft enough to bend without cracking), and feature many of the above fillings minus the rice and beans, which tend to be on the side.
A fabulous book on the diverse cuisines of mexico is diana kennedy's cuisines of mexico. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060915617/sr=8-5/qid=1147398146/ref=pd_bbs_5/103-1740631-3961412?%5Fencoding=UTF8.   Kennedy's book shows that the different regions of mexico have wildly diverse flavors.
Some ingredients that you will likely need to cook mexican food: cilantro, avocado, limes, garlic, onions, beans, corn, hot peppers (such as jalapenos, habaneros and chipotles), hominy, various meats, for coastal cuisine you will likely need fish, scallops, or shrimp.
Sorry I don't have recipes exactly, but i hope this gets your imagination going at least!
Oh, and refried beans are traditionally cooked with lard.
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TheBon
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2006 06:59:14 PM »

Ah yes, lard. Because everybody loves lard Smiley

I think most mexican food in america has been at least a little bit adapted to the American taste. Less spicy often. I have to say that you can avoid avacado/guacamole if you don't like it [I have a total aversion to avacadoes] so I always just leave that out of anything that I make. Flour tortillas can be eaten straight from the package, but I like mine warm. They can also be pan fried or deep fried [but can't everything these days?]
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lupinbunny
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2006 04:54:31 PM »

yah. i avoids the avacado. icky stuff.
so.. um.. i guess the crispy pre-made taco shells i buy are *cough* less authentic.
i guess i go try find some of the beans, too. round here you get european/ middle eastern beans (lentils, cannelini, kidney, chick peas). ain't never seen (to my knowledge) no pinto beans.

i just remembered that one of the cooking magazines my mum subscribes to did a big spread on 'mod-mexican'. maybe i should go dig that out. i remember it had a caramelly dessert; and this cool bi-coloured soup made from different coloured beans (hey, i said 'mod', right?).

anyone have a recipe for refried beans?
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typicalblonde
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2006 06:29:48 AM »

I found this thread which shows how to make guacamole, refried beans ^^, cheese dip AND the poster's own recipe for layered enchiladas. Hope it helps!  Smiley

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=8020.0
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pixiewhip
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2006 05:26:49 PM »

One of the best things in the world is home made tortillas- i just learned how to make them last week.

Put masa harina (corn flour-not corn starch or grits) in a bowl and add enough water that the mixture becomes a dough. Knead it a bit, then take a walnut sized blob and put it between two pieces of wax paper and flatten it with a skillet.  Heat oil in pan-cook for about 40 seconds on each side.
Serve with salsa and refried beans or just eat them plain out of the skillet with butter.  Anybody who likes Mexican food should try this.
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lupinbunny
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2006 04:41:22 AM »

corn flour... um.... like, not polenta and not corn starch? that's a pickle.
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low_budget_diva
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2006 09:11:06 AM »

I think she means (correct me if I'm wrong) corn meal, which is what is used to make corn bread, polenta, etc.
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TheBon
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2006 10:16:07 AM »

Masa harina is not corn meal. Masa harina is made from maize, which is an entirely different type of corn than cornmeal. At least, that's what Alton Brown told me last week.
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