Thursday, July 12, 2012


We've kinda become obsessed with Mexican food lately. I mean, we've always loved it, but then one of my class friends invited me into her home to make Mexican food from her region of Tabasco, and that inspired me immensely. I tried cactus for the first time! I'm sure the fresh one is better than the preserved stuff in the bottle, but it was a great experience.

I let Elvira decide what we should cook, so she suggested tostadas -- thick, fried Mexican pizzas, or "panuchos" as she calls them, and  taquitos -- fried stuffed tortilla cigars. We found tortillas at La Neta, the only authentic Mexican joint here in Stockholm -- they make their own corn tortillas and press it out with a machine. And then we found cactus and masa harina at Hötorgetshallen, an indoor market, in the Latin foods area. Elivra said she would have loved to teach me mole but that the chilies are hard to find.

After we cooked for 3 hours and washed it all down with a cold Corona, I went home and made the exact same thing for my husband, because I was so excited to try it out myself. And then when our friends from Paris were coming over for dinner, we decided with a Mexican feast with homemade tortillas, queso fresco (fresh cheese), refried beans, soy stew with chipotles, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, pickled jalapenos. Yum! They were so happy to be eating all that, it was a new experience for them.

While Elivra relies on masa harina, I make my tortillas with cornmeal and all purpose flour, because that's what I have on hand. I really like the way my tortillas turn out, but if you have masa harina, use it by all means!

Another great thing Elivra introduced me to is a habanero hot sauce, so tangy and spicy, just the perfect thing on tostadas, tacos or just about anything! It comes from the region of Tabasco, and she was kind enough to give me some, since you can only buy it in Mexico.
Although I loved everything I ate at Elivra's, I know I can't fry on a regular basis, so I made tacos with the same tostada filling, and it works perfectly.

Cornmeal tortillas
Makes 8

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbs coconut oil (or butter), melted
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup water

In a microwave safe bowl, add water, coconut oil and cornmeal and heat for a minute, until the water is absorbed. Then add salt and all purpose flour and knead to form into a smooth, soft dough. Divide into 8 balls.

Heat a cast iron pan on medium-high heat. Roll each ball into 1/8 inch thick discs with the help of some flour. Cook until lightly blistered with brown spots. Keep warm in a tea towel. Repeat with the rest. (If you were making tostadas, roll the dough 1/4 inch thick and deep fry until golden.)

Serves 4

2 ripe avocados
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
habanero peppers, a quarter piece, or as much as you can handle
1 lime
cilantro, a handful

Mash the avocados in a bowl, then add onion, garlic, finely chopped habanero, half of the lime, salt and cilantro. Taste for seasoning to see if you need extra salt or lime.

Tomato salsa
Serves 4

2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 tbs chipotle in adobo
a handful of cilantro
salt to taste

Mix all and taste for seasoning.

Corn tortillas
Tomato salsa
Queso fresco or cheddar cheese
Refried beans
Shredded romaine lettuce
Pickled jalapenos
Yogurt or sour cream

To assemble: On a warm corn tortilla, spread a thick layer of refried beans, then add some cheese, tomato salsa, lettuce, guacamole, pickled jalapenos and drizzle with yogurt. Enjoy!

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