Category Archives: Mexican

Mexiloaf

Since I had the Mexican Catsup I decided with inspiration over at Tasty Eats, to make a meatloaf with Mexican flavours. I wanted a different texture, more grainy and I wanted much more chili heat. I got both and overall this a a good meatloaf but with some improvements for next round.

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Turkey Layer

  • 1 lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 C Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 C Roasted Green Chili, chopped
  • 1/4 C Jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/4 C Cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 T Garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 T Almond Meal
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 t Ancho Chili powder
  • 1 t Salt

Beef Layer

  • Same as Turkey Layer only with beef

Other

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Prepare

For each layer mix all ingredients together in separate large bowls, cover with plastic wrap and  refrigerate for one hour.

With the beef layer, make four patties place an egg in the middle of each patty then roll into four meatballs keeping the egg in the middle, set aside.

With the turkey layer, form a long flat oval over wax paper; the wax paper will help with the folding. Place the meatballs down the center of the turkey layer. Lift the wax paper up on both side and use it help close the layer into a tube. Now use your hands to make sure the turkey layer seals in the meatballs. Cover the top and sides of the loaf with Mexican Catsup. Pop in a 375 degree oven for  70 minutes.

When you take the loaf out of the oven let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Mexiloaf-12I liked the moist but more grainy texture of this meatloaf which departs significantly from my mom’s smooth and firm version. Its easy to achieve by subbing almond meal for breadcrumbs.

The flavours are the highlight; chili and cilantro dominate, even to the point that the garlic is eclipsed.

One research assistant commented that is might be better to use beef as the outermost layer rather than turkey since it has more fat. That is a good point but since the outermost layer is slathered in Mexican Catsup, I wonder if it would matter too much. Definitely a good reason to make it again – evidence.

For aesthetics I would change a few things. Its hard to distinguish the beef from the turkey layer, however the massive scotch egg appearance was liked by all. To remedy I’m thinking for the beef layer I would darken it up a bit by adding some pureed chipotle in adobo sauce.

 

Mexican Catsup

I was disappointed to learn agave is worse for me than high fructose corn syrup and white sugar. I’m not one of the current wave of fructose alarmists running amok deleting all fruit and most vegetables from their diet because they heard from a friend of a friend’s yoga partner’ s daughter’s kindergarten teacher that fructose is bad. Rather, my blood sugar is wacky and doctor bluntly informed me that my total fructose intake should be below a certain level. When I did the math that certain level turned out to be something on the order of less than 20 bananas a day.

Yeah, maybe I’ll cut back; sarcasm intended.

Still, I started looking at fructose in foods. Catsup, which I love, has too much, so I made my own removing the white sugar entirely. Unfortunately I subbed in agave which actually has more fructose than white sugar — so worse. Coconut sugar has a little less fructose plus there is some evidence that it is absorbed more slowly due to inulins. So I went with that to create a new catsup with a Mexican spin.

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  • Chopped Tomatoes (3, 14.5 ounce tins)
  • Rotel (1, 7.5 ounce tin)
  • Chipotle in Adobo (1, 7.5 ounce tin)
  • 1/2 C Coconut Sugar
  • 1/2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 C Onion, chopped
  • 2 T Garlic, chopped
  • 1 T Agave
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • 2 t Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1/2 C Cilantro, torn

Put everything into an uncovered slow cooker on high. The goal here is to reduce the liquid by almost half. Your mileage may vary but it took me almost 12 hours. Stir about once an hour. About 10 minutes before you’re done, stir in the cilantro. Cool, run through a food processor for several minutes to smooth out the texture.

THIS is amazing! I made a Smoked Paprika Catsup a while back which I liked but this kicks it out of the running completely. A fellow blogger inspired me to make a meatloaf which will make use this catsup. Up next.

Fusion Taco

IMG_3231_FotorTaco wars are constant and usually heated in Houston. Some Houstonians are purists wanting their tacos with specific ingredients and from specific family-owned venues located in Hispanic communities. Others are more adventurous, leaning toward the fusion fare originating in the food truck arena now infiltrating every neighbourhood. Some people may still be surprised to find tacos with a Korean bent, filled with bulgogi, kimchi, cilantro, queso fresco and gochujang, but locally these have been around for decades and there are dozens of vendors dishing them up daily.

I stumbled across a new fusion bent on tacos at a venue near downtown’s Market Square, aptly named, Fusion Taco. I was surprised by the combinations; mostly Indian, Japanese and Lebanese. However, I was not surprised they started out as a food truck not too long ago.

Atmosphere
Casual, open, lively. The floor-to-ceiling glass front facing Market Square makes for good people watching. Weekdays the crowd tend to be suits from the oil biz, weekends it tends towards those gathering for events at Toyota Center, Minute Maid or the Theatre District.

Food

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Mostly wins. The Chicken Tikka Masala taco, which is an open face naan ‘taco’ topped with a dollop of spicy, creamy tikka masala sauce and ridiculously tender chicken, was a win. The Chicken Tikka taco is a ‘special’ taco which are larger and quite filling. For vegetarians, there is also a Tofu Tikka Masala taco.

The Agedashi Tofu taco was also a win, several panko-fried tofu cubes topped with a cabbage mixture tossed in a sweet soy, ginger and garlic sauce. A good texture play – soft tortillas, crunchy cabbage, toothy tofu.

The short-rib taco, not so good. The meat was stringy, overcooked and lacked flavour.

Service
Counter-order, table delivery. I’ve been three times, mostly for lunch rush, order to delivery times are 10-15 minutes. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. The only downside is at lunch rush you might have to bus an empty table yourself, since the patron turnover is quick and their staff sometimes cannot keep up.

Price
Regular tacos are $2-3. ‘Specials’, $5. At lunch they have a special meal deal – 2 tacos, one side, one drink, $11.

Lunch: March 2015

Fusion Taco | 801 Congress | HTX 77002

 

Chili Verde

Next up from the chili experiments – Chili Verde.

This recipe came from a friend in San Diego when I advertised I was looking for a chili without beans. I laughed to myself when she said ‘Chili Verde’, since the only other reference to Chili Verde I’ve heard was the mythical setting for Divine’s uber campy drag-Western, Lust In The Dust.

I don’t know the ethnic origins of this chili but whenever tomatillos are involved I say its from Mexico. Luckily, here in Texas, influence from Mexico is strong and there are plenty of tomatillo based salsas and sauces available in every grocery. I chose a locally-produced tomatillo salsa under the brand name ‘Arriba’ for this recipe. After the fact, I noticed the Arriba salsa had a kick, I should have noticed beforehand jalapenos were the second ingredient on the list.

  • 2 lb Pork Shoulder, cubed 1″
  • 16 oz Tomatillo Salsa
  • 4 Poblano Chilies, roasted, sliced
  • 4 C Chicken Stock
  • 1 C Cilantro, hand torn
  • 1 Purple Onion, diced
  • 4 T Olive oil, divided
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, diced
  • 1 T Cumin Seeds
  • 1 T Flour
  • 1 t Salt, divided
  • 1 t Ground Black Pepper, divided
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In large pan over high heat, add half the oil. Add pork cubes and start browning. A few minutes in, add the cumin seeds and half of the salt and pepper. When the pork is browned, 7-10 minutes, remove to a plate.

In the same pan, reduce heat to medium, add the remaining oil. Saute the onion until they start to caramelize, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and stir for a minute. Add flour and stir constantly for a few minutes. Add poblanos and stir constantly for a minute. Add stock, tomatillo sauce and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir the lot until the flour is incorporated. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Add pork, cover and cook for 30-40 minutes. Uncover, add cilantro and continue to cook for 10 minutes or until its the consistency you want.

You’re good to go!

Notes
There’s nothing to modify, this is outstanding. The flavours from the tomatillo salsa are dominant, so its important to pick one you like.

For all-y’all Texans, this will not be the consistency of Texas chili, which is thick enough to do masonry work; it will be more like a slightly thickened soup.

I tried the thickened yogurt version of sour cream here, while visually appealing, the flavours did not play well with others. Cubed avocado, on the other hand, did pair nicely with the tomatillo and cilantro in the mix.

The taste testers liked a little bit of Pepper Jack cheese over the top and tortilla chips/lime wedges on the side.

Oddly enough, a Belgian Beer, Chimay, was the beverage voted most ‘pairable’

Radical Eats

Friends with opposite eating habits agreed Radical Eats was a keeper. When militant vegetarians and junk-food addicts can agree on anything its cause to investigate. Glad about that.

Montrose area Radical Eats bills itself as a localvore restaurant, as much as it can be, which is totally reasonable since some things just don’t grow well here in the land of eternal summer and obscene humidity. Its also mostly vegetarian but there are a few carnivore options. It leans mostly to the Mexican side for its offerings but not exclusively.

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Atmosphere
Its a decent sized inside space, rustic and casual – definitely a place to come as-is and don’t expect a scene or anything close. If its a nice day take advantage of the outdoor patio facing lower Westheimer. The space was set far enough back from the street to minimize the noise but close enough to form a connection with the 24 hour energy of the neighborhood. The patio was vine covered for shade and the occasional whiffs of rosemary and oregano growing about the perimeter mixed well with the smells of homemade mole sauce from the kitchen.

Food
All wins with a small exception.

Obligatory and complimentary chips arrive with two sauces – one a mild manner red salsa, which became a mere wallflower to a raucous green sauce made from Habanero. If you like heat you’re going to burn through the green sauce, so start out asking for a second.

With a number of interesting Mex-Mex dishes I tried the Chicken Mole Enchiladas. The mole sauce was excellent; savoy and rich with subtle cinnamon and cocoa flavours. The chicken was moist and tender, however they had chopped it up finely and there was nothing to keep it together so after the first cut the enchiladas disintegrated making a mole stew. Still good however not visually appealing. Accompanying beans and rice were also good, albeit innocuous in comparison to the highly-spiced mole. I liked that the lot was served in its own cast iron skillet.

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One of our work lunch crew noticed the description of Diet Coke on the menu, it made me laugh. Not just Diet Coke, Horrible Awful Diet Coke, which you should not order. It goes on to talk about the evil ingredients in Diet Coke. Of course, they offer Mexican Coke, which you probably know already is made from actual sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup like most US Coke. I’m not sure Mexican Coke is really better considering the amount of sugar; the artificial colourings are the same in either version. At Radical you’re probably better off ordering an Agua Fresca – juice with sparkling water.

Service
Good. Friendly but not intrusive, order to delivery was 15 minutes.

Price
A little on the high side but me thinks you are paying for the ‘local flavour’ thing here. In any case, I would not hesitate to pay another $16 for the Chicken Mole Enchiladas.

Lunch: October 2014

Radical Eats | 507 Westheimer | HTX 77006

Tampico

Two co-workers quit last week but they didn’t give any notice so I couldn’t leverage their exit for a work-lunch outing. Luckily someone let it slip that two other co-workers had birthdays, so I leveraged that to try another from my growing list of recommended restaurants.

Over the past year more of my younger friends in Houston have moved to the EaDo and Greater Heights neighbourhoods. Greater Heights has always been primarily a well-established Hispanic community but now the subway extension has afforded direct access to downtown combined with still reasonable real estate costs; its demographics are changing quickly. It’s probably why I’ve noticed more and more Instagram photos from this place, Tampico.

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Its Mexican but not Tex Mex. Its also a seafood market. When you take into account both, you  can expect seafood dishes with a Mexican flair. Its developed a solid reputation for its Red Snapper, cooked whole with options of sauce.

Atmosphere
IMG_2007From the outside Tampico definitely stands out with its eye-popping yellow coat of paint. You’ll definitely need the yellow color as a beacon to guide you through maze of road construction. The inside is small, lined with booths and community tables and a small but well-appointed seafood counter, in case you want to pick your own Red Snapper. Its not fancy, its not a scene, its not on anyone’s buzz-list and its definitely geared for large families out for a casual, relaxing time and great food.

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Food
You can get items other than seafood but in a restaurant with a fresh seafood counter why would you?

Shrimp Cocktail. Definitely get the small order if you are planning to order other items. A dozen or so medium sized gulf shrimp suspended in a tomato-based sauce laced with chipotle and lime; avocado slices are along for the ride. Refreshing, spicy and definitely on my short list for a return visit.

Red Snapper Mojo. It was hard to decide which sauce but the garlic-butter Mojo sauce seemed a good first dip. The whole snapper almost refused to be contained on their large serving platter. Garlic, onions, bell pepper and butter with just a hint of chili definitely enhanced the sweet and slightly nutty flavors of the fresh snapper without overwhelming. Our snapper was  over 2.5 pounds, so I would suggest +1 to share or be really hungry.

Service
It was slow but likely an artifact of being at capacity with several large groups and their kitchen looked painfully small. In any case, friendly, helpful and they enthusiastically answered all of our questions about sourcing and preparation.

Price
Reasonable. Small Shrimp Cocktail (which would be large elsewhere) $9. Red Snapper Mojo (enough for two) $29

Lunch: May 2014

Tampico | 2115 Airline | HTX 77009

 

Hugo’s

Weekend nights this place is packed with patio crowds bordering on fire hazard. Such is the curse of being a Westheimer anchor establishment with actual Mexican food rather than Tex Mex and from what I understand, the best Margaritas in town.

With yet another co-worker leaving I wanted to find a place close to work, friendly to vegetarians and one we had not visited before  – Hugo’s came to mind.

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Atmosphere
Casual, upbeat chic. A definite bipolar disorder; weekend nights are packed and chaotic but weekday lunches are sparse and calm. Big comfortable chairs, plenty of table space per person, all glass front affords continuous views of Westheimer eye candy.

Food
Mex-Mex as opposed to Tex Mex; flavourful without gratuitous heat. Good presentation focusing on simplicity. The advantage of going out in a large group is that there are more opportunities to try everyone else’s dishes. And I did.

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Chipotle Seafood Soup
Seafood stock combined with a decent amount of chipotle and just a squeeze of lime hosted a wide variety of seafood: scallops, shrimp, octopus, salmon and tuna. The balance of hot, salty and sour were perfect, allowing the flavours of the seafood choices to shine. The texture play was also good; toothy octopus and shrimp balanced the melt-in-your mouth salmon and tuna.

Carnitas
Roasted pork is tricky, often its too dry or lacks taste, sometimes both. Not the case here. Deconstructed in presentation, served with hand-thrown tortillas, it was simple to create your own taste experience with the side salsa, hot sauce, grilled onion, cilantro and lime. There was waay too much pork but somehow I managed to finish it all.

Vegetarian Chile Rellenos
One of the quintessential Mexican dishes originating just a bit southeast of Mexico City is IMG_1836recreated at Hugo’s with care. I was curious about the veg version and post-bite, I’m likely pass on the meat and cheese rendition in the future. Large, sturdy poblanos stuffed with flavourful rice and grilled veggies, masa-coated and fried then topped with a Oaxaca cheese sauce. Compelling!

Service
Very professional and knowledgeable, they all but operate invisibly after the questions subside. For our 10-head lunch, orders were taken and up in 30 minutes.

Price
Price is high, quality is comparably high. Chipotle Seafood Soup, Carnitas and 1/9th of going-away girl’s lunch was $28 – tax, title and license.

Lunch: 5 March 2014

Hugo’s | 1600 Westheimer | HTX 77006