Tag Archives: Mexican Cooking

Tacos Multiculturales!

Okay. So first I have to say this…these tacos were freaking delicious (if I do say so myself). But what makes them so interesting are the ingredients; the finished recipe is like the United Nations on a plate. The main component, or at least one of the main components, is the chicken. It’s a variation of the classic Mexican dish, carnitas, which is usually made with pork. The two variations are that I used chicken thigh meat (which I suppose would make these pollitas) and rather than Mexican seasoning I used Lebanese seven-spice blend (and a teaspoon of turmeric for color). Now this in itself may have stopped you in your tracks…what, you may ask?…Lebanese tacos? Yup, it’s true, there is a specific taco in Mexico that has been influence by Lebanese immigrants there (click here or here to read about it). The other unique item is kimchi, or Korean sauerkraut. Okay, so now you’re probably saying, what?…this guy is really nuts. But I’m telling you this is a really delicious flavor combination. And besides, Korean tacos are all the rage these days (click here). In place of sour cream I used plain yogurt…much healthier for you and the sour flavor added another dimension. And for the spiciness (as this latest batch of kimchi isn’t that spicy) I used–rather than the traditional southwest or Mexican hot sauce–the delicious Thai Sriracha. There’s also diced tomato, shredded lettuce, cheddar, white and green onion, and shredded carrot. Combined, yes, this may seem really complex, but individually each component is really easy to make. These ingredients are just suggestions, of course. Like most foods, the basic recipe is just a guide…

For a (grilled) chicken shawarma recipe, click here.
For a Lebanese seven-spice recipe, click here.
For a carnitas recipe (pollitas) recipe, click here.
For kimchi and homemade yogurt recipes, click here
For a homemade tortilla recipe, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

Whole Wheat-Cheddar Tortillas with Smoked Paprika and Turmeric

Okay, so yes, these are as delicious as they look. And they are just as easy to make. You can add or subtract whatever seasoning you like, or use none at all. Use them for tacos or burritos or just simply as bread to snack on or to scoop up dip. The method is this simple…mix everything together, knead it and let it rest, roll them out and cook them on top of your stove. It couldn’t be simpler. I hope you try these, you won’t be sorry…

100% Whole Wheat-Cheddar Tortillas with Smoked Paprika and Turmeric

Makes 12 tortillas

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons turmeric

½ teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ cups warm water

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 3 or 4 ounces)

Mix the flour, baking powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, and salt together in a small bowl. Add the oil, and using your fingers, rub the ingredients together until it resembles course cornmeal. Add the water and cheddar cheese; stir to form a dough. Knead the dough by hand for a few minutes, then allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Using a small rolling pin or wooden dowel, roll the tortillas out very thin on a lightly floured surface (about 10” each). Heat a large skillet and cook the tortillas one at a time on both sides until lightly blistered and browned.

Urban Simplicity.

Crispy Spice-Fried Bean Curd with Salsa Verde

Okay. So this is as delicious as it looks. Whether you are a carnivore or a vegetarian this is really good…and really easy to make, too. I used both these recipes as ingredients for tacos tonight for dinner, but these are so versatile they could be used as of a “center-of-the-plate” type of a vegetarian meal. But the sauce itself is not necessarily segregated to meatless meals; it is delicious paired with poultry and seafood as well. Anyhow, these little nuggets are so good I ate most of them (dipped in the sauce) as I fried them and before I made the tacos.

Crispy Spice-Fried Bean Curd
Makes 2-4 servings
1 (14 ounce) package extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
canola oil for pan-frying.
Remove the tofu from it’s package and drain it. Place the tofu between a few plates (one on the bottom and two or three on top) and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes; this will press out excess moisture. Drain the tofu again and dice it, then transfer it to a bowl. Mix together the flour, chili powder, paprika, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Then sprinkle the flour-spice mixture over the diced tofu; gently toss it to coat. Transfer the spiced tofu to a plate, discarding any excess spices or flour. Allow the tofu to marinate for about ten minutes. Heat about ¼ inch canola oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot carefully add the tofu and cook on all sides for about 5 minutes, or until deep golden and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the tofu to absorbent paper. Allow to cool for a minute or two.
Salsa Verde (Cruda)
Makes about 1½ cups
1 medium green pepper, diced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic
½ small onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, thoroughly washed, stems removed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth.

Urban Simplicity.

Arroz con Frijoles y Carnitas

I made this for dinner tonight…mmm. Easy and delicious. Really delicious (if I do say so myself); I am very full as I type these words. It’s a basic brown rice pilaf recipe (use any of these recipes) with the addition of black beans and carnitas (click here for a recipe and pics).

Urban Simplicity.


In the event that you’ve never had them, choricitos are–as their name suggests–small chorizo sausages. They are pictured raw above and cooked below…my mouth waters as I type these words. They are so easy to make–mix everything together and shape them–and really versatile. Make them spicy or not, they can be eaten as an appetizer or incorporated into any number of recipes (they are delicious cooked with rice).

(Little Chorizo Sausages)
Makes about 30 choricitos
1 pound ground pork butt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Shape into small meatballs or patties and cook them in a skillet or oven.

Homemade Whole-Wheat Tortillas and Other Good Things

I didn’t intend on making homemade tortillas tonight but I did…and here’s a quick story why. Last night I made my son and I tacos for dinner (using store-bought tortillas). I filled them with homemade carnitas de pollo (click here for the recipe and pics), salsa pico de gallo (recipe below), lettuce, and cheese. They were delicious, to say the least. Anyhow, I knew I was going to be home alone tonight and that there were leftover pollo and salsa…all I needed was a few tortillas (we ate the last of them last night). I was going to the health club for a steam and swim and figured I’d pick up the tortillas on the way home. I was/am tight on cash and had just a few dollars with me; enough to purchase the tortillas. Lap swimming often makes me hungry, and all I was thinking about was these tacos when I came home (they were that delicious last night). So on my way home I stopped at a local grocer…no tortillas, he told me. Sorry, all out. Not even the white flour variety. So I went to another store, this time a chain store…the same issue. Huh? After unlocking my bike for the third time, I stood on it for a moment contemplating as to whether I should go to the supermarket (I really dislike large supermarkets). To make a long story short, as I stood there straddling my bike, I thought to myself a few things. One was that I had the few meager ingredients home to make tortillas; the second was that I knew they were easy to make because I’ve made them in the past; and three was that being a professional cook I could make these in just a few minutes. So that’s just what I did…and they were so good I wondered I was going to purchase them in the first place. Recipes are below.

Whole Wheat Tortillas
Makes 12 tortillas
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups warm water
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salttogether in a small bowl. Add the oil, and using your fingers, rubthe ingredients together until it resembles course cornmeal. Add thewater; stir to form a dough. Knead the dough by hand for a fewminutes, then allow it to rest for ten minutes. Cut the dough into 12pieces. Using a small rolling pin or wooden dowel, roll the tortillasout very thin on a lightly floured surface. Heat a large skillet andcook the tortillas one at a time on both sides until lightlyblistered and browned.
 (For a recipe for the Carnitas de Pollo pictured above, click here.)
SalsaPico de Gallo
Makesabout 2 cups
2ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
½medium onion, diced
2cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2tablespoons olive oil
1tablespoon lime juice
½teaspoon sea salt
afew leaves cilantro
Mixall ingredients together. Use straight away or refrigerate for up to3 days.

Spiced Brown Rice with Shrimp and Broccoli

This is another example of how changing a few ingredients–but using the same basic method–can create an entirely new dish (click here). I seasoned this with somewhat Mexican or South West spices, but even this could be altered…changing the spices to curry or Mediterranean herbs would create an entirely new dish. Anyhow, this is how to make it.

Make a sort of sofrito by sauteing onion, green pepper, lots of garlic, and spices in olive oil  (I used crushed hot pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, and turmeric). Them mix in brown rice and coat it with the oil and spices. Add simmering chicken broth (3 cups broth for every cup of brown rice) and season it with kosher or sea salt. Cover the pot and simmer the rice for about 30 minutes. Then lay shrimp (or other protein, such as fish or chicken) on top of the rice, and broccoli florets on top of this (continued below).

Cover the pot again and cook the rice/shrimp for another 5 or 10 minutes. Then check the rice and shrimp to make sure that it is cooked. Remove the pot for the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. This is easy to prepare and super delicious and nutritious. In the picture below you can see that I also loaded my plate with Sriracha hot sauce (mmm…). Click any photo for a large view.

Urban Simplicity.

Isaac’s Mexican Shrimp Recipe

My teenage son came to me and asked how to make a Mexican shrimp recipe the other day. I was a bit surprised…he was, after all, not simply asking what there is to eat (or why there’s “nothing” in the fridge) or what time dinner is ready. I’m joking, of course, I feel blessed to have him as my son and to be his father. But he did ask me how to make Mexican shrimp. The reason he asked this was he has to make a Spanish recipe for his high school Spanish class. He has to prepare it in front of the class so we kept it flavorful but simple; he also had to translate it into Spanish (thus, the bilingual recipe below). He did all the chopping and cooking; I just talked him through it. He has a great sense of humor…it stands out in step 8 of the instructions. Anyhow, I thought I’d post the recipe not only because I am proud of him, but also because it is simple to make and really delicious. We ate it over brown rice that I cooked in chicken broth with garlic. The recipe will serve 4 people.

Isaac’s Camarones Mexicano
1cebolla pequeña
1 pimiento verde pequeño
2 dientes de ajo
1cucharadita de chile en polvo
1 cucharadita de chile ancho enpolvo
1 cucharadita de pimentón
1 cucharadita de cominomolido
1 cucharadita de sal kosher
1 libra de camarones
1lata (14 onzas) de tomates cortados en cubitos
El jugo de 1limón
1 manojo de cilantro
1 small onion
1 small green pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chilipowder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound shrimp
1 can (14 ounces) dicedtomatoes
The juice of 1 lime
1 bunch cilantro
1.Cortar las verduras
2. Poner el aceite en la sartén
3. Pongala cebolla, el pimiento verde y el ajo en la sartén
4. Póngalelas especias y la sal en el pan
5. Mezcla durante 2 minutos
6.Ponga los camarones y el tomate en la sartén y dejar cocinar por 5 a10 minutos
7. Agregue jugo de limón y el cilantro y disfruta!
8.Recuerde: Comer las verduras

1.Slice vegetables
2. Put oil in the pan
3. Put onion, greenpepper, and garlic in the pan
4. Put spices and salt in the pan
5.Mix for 2 minutes
6. Put shrimp and tomato in pan and let cook for5 to 10 minutes
7. Add lime juice and cilantro and enjoy!
8.Remember: Eat your vegetables

Urban Simplicity.

Tacos con Carnitas de Pollo…and a few comments on Ezekiel Bread

Pictured above is one of the tacos I made for my son and I for dinner tonight, before it was rolled up of course. Buried under the vegetables and sour cream are the carnitas…delicious. But more on that in a minute. First I have a couple unrelated comments.

Between urbansimplicity.com and urbansimplicty.wordpress.com there are nearly 100 followers (both blogs have the same content; while urbansimplicity.com is my main blog I mirror it’s content at urbansimplicty.wordpress.com). It’s a small amount but I am thankful for those that do read, comment, and email…it makes me remember that I’m not just clicking away aimlessly into the blogesphere. But what is interesting, I think, is how the majority people–first time visitors, I suppose–find there way here. According to stats there are anywhere from 300-to-400 visitors a day. Some blogs get this many visits in an hour (or less) but for me–and my idiosyncratic little blog–this is totally adequate. Anyhow, more than 90% of first-time visitors find there way here by Googling the phrase, Ezekiel Bread Recipe; this site is the second to come up. Go figure.

Anyhow, for the first time visitor…I hope you click around a bit and find other things interesting, and maybe even stop back. But to simplify your search, here’s a couple links within this blog. For an Ezekiel Bread Recipe that contains a portion of white flour (one of my earlier recipes), click here. For a recipe that contains all whole wheat flour–and my thoughts and philosophy behind this recipe–click here. And for a revised Whole Wheat Ezekiel Bread recipe, click here.

My apologies to regular visitors who are getting tired of me carrying on about this bread (it is my favorite…but you know that)…on to the carnitas.

This is really a play on the classic recipe for Mexican carnitas, which is traditionally made with pork. This would be more of a carnitas de pollo, or chicken carnitas. The word, carnitas, incidentally translates as “little meats,” making reference to the little pieces of the resulting dish.

Traditional carnitas–made with pork–requires hours of long and slow braising, but making it with chicken is relatively quick and simple. I use boneless legs because they have enough fat on them, whereas the breast would be too lean and dry. The premise of the recipe is this:

Simmer the chicken in water (with a splash of olive oil and salt) until the water evaporates and the chicken begins to fry in it’s (and the olive oil’s) fat. Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook it until the chicken begins to brown and the onions are translucent. Then, if you like, you can add herbs and/or spices (I added chili powder, cumin, and oregano). Add more water to the pan and scrape anything loose that has stuck to the bottom…this is pure flavor.

Simmer the chicken until the water evaporates again, only this time–as the water simmers and evaporates–break or pull the chicken apart. This should be easy enough to do with a spoon and fork. When the water is evaporated you’ll here the chicken begin to sizzle (remember that you cook with all five senses). Taste the chicken to see if it is seasoned to your liking, and allow it to crisp up a bit by cooking in the fat again. Tip the pan to allow the fat to run to the other side before removing the chicken. This is a quick and easy recipe to do, and one that is so delicious it makes my mouth water just typing these words…and your guests will think you ordered dinner from a fine Mexican restaurant. Anyhow, here it is in pictures.

Urban Simplicity.

Employee Meal 11.16.10

This is basically a variation on the classic recipe for Arroz con Carne de Puerco (Rice with Pork)…I decided to make it for an employee meal after I came upon some pork belly in the freezer that was left over from a party this past summer (and just a hint to the cook if you make this dish…while pork belly is delicious it is also very fatty, for that reason you cook it slowly at first to render much of the fat).

I seasoned the dish with turmeric, smoked paprika, and homemade chili powder. I ate it with a sweet orange, homemade pickled turnip and beets, and a green salad. It was delicious (leftovers for tomorrow).

Easy (and Delicious) Homemade Carnitas

Carnitas are a type of slow cooked meat, which is usually made with pork but can also be made with beef. It can be cooked either by roasting it slowly and pulling the meat (like you would with a BBQ), or by simmering it and shredding the meat as the liquid evaporates. I chose the latter method; I find it less trouble. Which ever way it’s cooked, carnita meat is delicious, tender and succulent. Here’s how I made it in pictures:

Put a couple boneless pork chops in a small pot along with onion, garlic, chilies, a little salt, peppercorns, and spices (chili powder, cumin, oregano, and a pinch of cinnamon). Then cover everything with cold water.

When it comes to a simmer there will be a lot of foam, this is natural. Simply skim it off with either a ladle or spoon.

Slowly simmer the meat for about an hour. After a while the meat will begin to fall apart. Further assist this by mashing it with a wooden spoon.

When all of the liquid evaporates it will begin to sizzle and fry in it’s own fat (if the meat was too lean you may need to add a little olive oil). Stir and cook the meat until it browns a little; this will offer layers of both flavor and texture.

Now here’s the best part (well, not really, because the best part was eating it). Heat a whole grain tortilla and melt cheese on it, and the rest is up to you. I stuffed it with the meat (of course), but also avocado, salsa, onion, and mesclun lettuce. Then, after rolling it, it was topped with sour cream, a little more salsa, and a drizzle of hot sauce…the final photo is enough to make my mouth water.