Spike's & Jamie's Recipe Collection & a Whole Lot More!

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Recipes from Spike & Jamie

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How to use these pages:  Below is a list of the recipes on this page.  You can either scroll down the page and look at all of the recipes, or look at the titles.  When you find one that seems interesting, use your web browsers FIND function to take you directly to that recipe (on my IE browser it's Edit/Find (on this page)   or Ctrl - F on your keyboard).





































































Serves 4

1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked for several hours in water to cover

1 whole chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces

2 garlic cloves

1 small onion, chopped


1/2 cup uncooked white rice

1 tomato, cut into wedges

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 corn or flour tortillas per person (corn tortillas are best with chicken)

1 lime


Peel garbanzo beans, if you like, by removing light-colored skin that encases them.


Place chicken pieces, garlic cloves and chopped onion into a soup pot and cover with water. Simmer for 1 hour, seasoning with salt to taste. Skim fat from broth. Then, add rice, garbanzo beans and tomato. Cook for 30 minutes longer, or until garbanzo beans are tender, adding water as necessary. Stir chopped cilantro into soup just before serving.


Serve soup with tortillas and fresh lime wedges. The lime ``whitens'' and clouds the soup and produces a delicious, light flavor.




1 c. Maseca brand masa harina

2-2 1/4 quarts water (like a pitcher)

I cup milk

panela (grated or broken up with a knife)

canela (Mexican style cinnamon stick)

While filling the pitcher with water, add the maseca. Mix with a whisk. Pour mixture into a nonstick 8-quart pot (you'll need the high sides) and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then turn down to a simmer. Add a small piece of canela stick and allow to SLOWLY simmer for about an hour. This cooks the masa.

Every once in a while stir it with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides.

After an hour, start adding the panela to taste (about 4 oz.) and the milk.

Simmer partly covered and check on it more frequently for about a half hour.

Then turn off the heat and allow to slowly cool. If a skin has formed you may want to use a deep-fry strainer to take it out as well as the piece of canela. Serve in mugs and enjoy.

Good for a snack or for breakfast but especially with tamales.


Makes 1 dozen


3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup hot water


1 Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Either by hand or with a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening till the mixture is crumbly. If the mixture looks more floury than crumbly, be sure to add just one or two more tablespoons of shortening till it is crumbly. Add about 3/4 cup hot water to the mixture, or just enough to make the ingredients look moist.

2 With your hand or a large fork, knead the mixture making sure to rub the dough against the sides of the large mixing bowl to gather any clinging dough. If the dough still sticks to the side of the bowl, add a couple more tablespoons of flour until the dough forms a soft round shape. The dough is ready to roll out now, but it is best to let it rest. Cover it with a dish towel, and let it sit for about an hour or so.

3 Take the dough, and pull it apart into 10 to 12 balls. Lightly flour your rolling area, and roll each ball with a rolling pin to about 1/8 inch thickness.

4 Place each tortilla on a medium hot cast iron skillet. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until the tortilla does not look doughy. Makes 1 dozen




1 chocolate pound cake (15 to 16 ounces)

3 medium bananas, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1/4 cup bottled caramel topping (squeeze bottle)

1 1/2 quarts (3 pints) butter-pecan ice cream

3 chocolate-covered toffee bars (about 1.4 ounces each), coarsely chopped

Garnishes: Whipped cream, chopped toffee bars, caramel topping


Trim the ends off pound cake. Cut the cake into 12 slices, each 1/2 inch thick. Cut a pie-shaped wedge, 2 inches across the top, from each slice. Wrap the wedges in plastic wrap and reserve.


Cover the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan with the remaining cake pieces, pressing them together to make an even layer with no gaps. (You may not need all the cake.)


Scatter the bananas over the cake in the pan, then drizzle with the caramel sauce. Cover and freeze until the bananas are firm, about 11/2 hours.


Soften 11/2 pints of the ice cream and spread evenly over the bananas. Sprinkle with the chopped toffee bars, cover and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 11/2 hours. Soften the remaining ice cream and spread over the toffee layer. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour.


Arrange the reserved cake wedges, points toward the center, over the ice cream layer. Cover and freeze for at least 5 hours or up to 5 days.


To serve, remove the sides of the pan and set the cake on a serving plate. Decorate the cake with the garnishes.




1 pound skirt steak or flank steak, cut with the grain in 2 inch strips

Marinade (such as Goya Mojo Criollo)

6 white mushrooms, sliced

1 green or red pepper, cut into strips

1 medium onion, cut into strips

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning with pepper

8 (6-inch) flour tortillas


Garnishes: Black olives (sliced), salsa picante, sour cream and/or guacamole


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a non-reactive container, marinate steak. The longer it marinates the better the taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.


In a skillet on medium, heat 2 tablespoons oil and cook onion and mushroom until onions are golden.


Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Cook steak until desired doneness. Remove from skillet and allow to rest for a few minutes before cutting, against the grain, into thin slices.


Sprinkle tortillas with a few drops, wrap in foil and warm in preheated oven for 5 minutes.


On a large platter, arrange steak, onion mixture and garnishes. Keep tortillas warm in foil or napkin into center of tortilla. Add desired garnishes, and wrap.







2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 ripe (but firm) avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine

1 teaspoon chopped garlic (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

3 dashes jalapeno sauce (or to taste)

2 tablespoons prepared salsa (mild, medium or hot)

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (optional)


Put lemon juice into a large bowl. Add avocado cubes and mash lightly with fork, leaving some pieces intact. Place black beans in a shallow dish and drizzle with olive oil. Mash beans lightly with fork, leaving some intact. Add beans to bowl with avocado; add remainder of ingredients and blend well. Taste and correct seasonings. Add more salsa if mixture is too dry. Guacamole will be light brown, like bean dip. Serve with tortilla chips or use on whole-wheat bread as a delicious sandwich spread. Makes about 2 cups.




Serves 8

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice

1 16-ounce can sweet potatoes, drained

3 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups flour

2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans


Pour pineapple with juice into a non-reactive pan over medium high heat. Boil. Remove from heat and cool. Mix in food processor or blender until pureed. Reserve in large mixing bowl. Next, blend sweet potatoes until smooth. Spoon sweet potato puree into non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to boil. Add sugar and flour. Boil, continuing to stir, for approximately 1 minute. Transfer to bowl containing pineapple puree. Stir. Pour mixture into a buttered 9-by-13-inch pan. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate until chilled and hardened, about 8 hours or overnight. Roll by tablespoonful into small balls or cylinders. Roll in nuts. Wrap in wax paper, twisting ends and chill until ready to serve.



(Baked Yams)

Makes 6 servings


6 small yams

6 tablespoons butter

6 teaspoons honey

3 teaspoons white sugar


1 Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

2 Place yams in a large pot of lightly salted, boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

3 Arrange the yams in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cut a slit down the middle of each one and dab 1 tablespoon of butter in each.

4 Bake in the preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden. Spoon 1 teaspoon honey into each yam, sprinkle each with sugar and serve.



(Chocolate Atole)


Atole is a hot beverage made with ground corn, or masa. It is prepared with milk or water, sweetened with refined sugar or piloncillo (semi-processed brown sugar sold in cones) and flavored with cinnamon, fruit, almonds or chocolate. It is served with breakfast, dinner or as a snack, and is always served with the traditional King's Cake (Rosca de Reyes). Atole has the consistency of heavy cream.


6 cups whole milk

1 cup masa harina--corn flour

2 cups water

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, grated

1 cinnamon stick

Heat the milk and chocolate in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the chocolate.

When chocolate is completely dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside to keep warm.

Mix the masa harina with the water in another saucepan; place over low heat, add the cinnamon stick, and cook until the mixture has thickened and the masa becomes translucent. Add the chocolate milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve the champurrado hot in cups or mugs.




2 small chayotes

2 zucchini

1 large red or orange bell pepper

1 white onion

3 T. peanut oil

1-1/2 cups corn kernels, from 2 ears or corn or white frozen

Salt (opt)

1 or 2 jalapeño chilies to taste, seeded and diced

2 T. chopped cilantro

1/2 cup low fat (my version) shredded Mexican cheese

1 cup oil for deep frying (I use microwave)

12 blue corn tortillas (or regular ones)

2 cups Tomatillo Salsa & 2 cups Red Chili sauce

1/2 cup sour cream (opt)


Dice all ingredients about 1/4 inch across. Keep them separate.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet, add the onion and chayote, and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned in places, about 5 minutes more. then remove from heat and season with salt.

Let cool, then add the chilies, cilantro and cheese.


Fry and fill the tortillas. I personally wet each tortilla and microwave it for 25 seconds (to delete the fat).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spoon the sauce over the enchiladas.

Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Serve two on each plate, drizzled with sour cream, with a side of black beans and finely shredded jicama with wedge of lime.



12 ounces whole green chili peppers -- 3 (4oz) cans, drained

1 cup evaporated skim milk

4 egg whites

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese -- shredded

2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese -- sharp, shredded

8 ounces tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 1 1/2-quart casserole with

cooking spray and set aside.

Wearing disposable gloves or plastic bags over your hands, slit the chili

peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds from the peppers.

Rinse and drain the peppers on paper towels.

In a medium bowl, beat together the milk, egg whites, and flour until

smooth; set aside.

In another bowl, combine the cheeses. Set 1/2 cup of the cheese aside for

the topping.

To assemble the casserole, layer half each of the chili peppers, the cheese

mixture, and the egg mixture. Repeat the layers.

Pour the tomato sauce, then bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved

1/2 cup cheese and bake about 20 more minutes or until a knife inserted near

the center comes out clean. Yield: 6 servings.




1 whole chicken breast or 2 breast halves (skin removed)

2 dried ancho chili peppers

2 Anaheim Chiles, roasted, seeded, and cored

12 corn tortillas, (98% fat free) each cut into 6 wedges

2 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 cup Mexican Beer (dark or amber preferably)

3 eggs

1 cup fat tree sour cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2/3 cup low fat grated Mexican Cheese

Place the chicken in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. I use fat free chicken broth and a bit of vermouth instead of the water. Bone and skin the chicken, the, using your fingers or 2 forks, shred the meat. Set aside.


Slit the chilies lengthwise along one side and remove the ribs and stems. In a frying pan over low heat, toast the chilies until they deepen in color and smell quite pungent, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add lukewarm water to cover; let stand for 5 minutes, then drain. Set aside.


This is for the dried chilies.


Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. In a large pan over high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1-1/2 inches. When the oil is hot, working in batches, add the tortilla wedges and fry until slightly golden but not too crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.


I use a hotter oven at 500 degrees and bake the tortilla chips. Wet them first.


Spread the fried tortilla wedges in a 9 by 12 by 3-inch baking dish. Top evenly with the shredded chicken.


Drain the chilies well and place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender. Add the tomatoes, beer, eggs, fat free sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth.

Pour the chili mixture evenly over the tortillas and chicken. Top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6.



(Serves 6)


Vegetable cooking spray

4 flour tortillas (8-inch)

16 ounces chicken breast, cooked, shredded or cubed

1 can (15 ounces) pinto or red kidney beans (or 11/2 cups cooked dry-

packaged pinto or red kidney beans, rinsed, drained)

1 can (15 ounces) black beans (or 11/2 cups cooked dry-packaged black

beans, rinsed, drained)

1 cup cubed mango

1 medium zucchini, cut in half, sliced

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onion and tops

Honey-cumin vinaigrette (recipe follows)

6 cups torn salad greens


Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges; spray tops with cooking spray. Bake on cookie sheet at 375 degrees until browned and crisp (5 to 8 minutes); reserve.


Combined chicken, beans, mango, zucchini, bell pepper and green onions in bowl; pour honey-cumin vinaigrette over and toss.


Arrange salad greens on serving plates and spoon chicken salad over; garnish with reserved tortilla wedges.



(Stuffed Poblano Chili Peppers)

Makes 12 servings


" A savory/sweet stuffing of chicken, raisins, walnuts, sugar and spices fills these chile peppers with flavor. Topped with a creamy goat cheese sauce and garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, this dish is a treat for both eyes and palette. Muy sabroso (very flavorful)! "


12 medium (4-1/2" long) fresh poblano chile peppers - cleaned, roasted and


1 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 (4 pound) chicken, boiled

4 ounces raisins

4 ounces brown sugar

4 ounces blanched walnuts, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

8 ounces soft goat cheese

1 cup sour cream

8 ounces blanched walnuts

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon white sugar

1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped


1 Cut a slit in each chili pepper along one side, lengthwise, so that they can be reconstructed after they are stuffed.

2 Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

3 In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft, then add chicken, raisins, brown sugar, 4 ounces walnuts, pepper and bay leaves. Mix together and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, then stir in vinegar, cilantro and tomato paste; reduce heat to low and let all simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

4 Stuff each chili pepper with cooled chicken mixture and place in preheated oven to keep warm.

5 To Make Sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, 8 ounces walnuts, nutmeg and granulated sugar. Heat, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes. When blended together, pour sauce over warm chili peppers and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Makes 12 servings




Special to the Mercury News

Cinco de Mayo is a day for celebrating national pride and all things Mexican. But I think anyone who has ever felt cultural pride, national loyalty or respected the rights of others to pursue freedom and justice can share in the holiday.


Its origin dates to 1862. By then, Mexico had a rich cultural heritage dating back thousands of years, ranging from the Olmec advancements in science and sculpture to the architectural wonders of the Aztecs and the Mayas.


Imagine how Mexico's people felt upon hearing this comment from General Lorencz, who was reporting back to French leader Napoleon III: ``We are so superior to the Mexicans in race, in organization, in discipline, in morality, and in refinement of sensibilities, that as of this moment, at the head of our 6,000 valiant soldiers, I am the master of Mexico.''


Soon after, Napoleon and his cronies waged an unsuccessful plan to take over Mexico. They were thwarted during many attempts, most notably in the May 5, 1862, Battle of Puebla. There, an ill-equipped army of Mexican soldiers defeated the formidable French forces.


Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of the battle, commemorates the country's struggle to throw off the occupying army that invaded in 1861 and was withdrawn by France in 1866.


Because food and anniversary celebrations go together, it's the perfect time to sample some of Mexico's fabulous cuisine. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, here's a menu of five recipes. (which see)




Many people think that Cinco de Mayo is the commemoration of the Mexican revolution. Actually, it celebrates the 'Battalla de Puebla' or Battle of Puebla, which took place under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza on May 5, 1862. Puebla was the 'little town that could', and did, overcome the French who were planning to occupy Mexico City and stage an invasion of Mexican politics and culture. Many historians say that after Mexico triumphed in this battle, Mexican nationalism and self-esteem began to grow perceptibly for the first time in history.


Mexican Mole Magic

The city of Puebla, about two hours south of Mexico City, is not only where the French were kicked out - it's a place where some fantastic flavors and dishes have kicked in! This town is home to the original Cinco de Mayo AND to the first mole sauce. A mole is a sauce which includes ground chilies, seeds, and sometimes nuts. Moles are quite unique: They are of differing consistencies; some are sweet, some are not; and they use a variety of chili peppers. The variety of possibilities offered by this delicious dish has to do with color, spices and seasoning and how they are combined and prepared.


As the legend goes, an order of nuns was asked to prepare a special dish for a visiting dignitary. Since they were unsure as to what kind of dish would be worthy of their guest, the nuns literally emptied out their pantry and filled a pot with a combination of herbs, spices and chocolate - over 30 ingredients in all! Left to simmer for several days, the resulting thick, sweet 'mole' sauce was served over turkey at the royal feast. Today, mole is most commonly served over chicken. Some say that the nuns are the best cooks in Mexico, and anyone who has ever tasted a good mole sauce would have to agree. So let your mouth do a dance along with your hands and feet at this year's Cinco de Maya fiesta. Make a quick Chicken Mole, then dance the 'delicioso' night away!


Puebla Party

Another satisfying, sweet and savory treat that comes from Puebla is Chilies en Nogada (Stuffed Poblano Chili Peppers). These roasted chili peppers come with a stuffing and sauce as delectable and sweet as the taste of victory was to the city of Puebla on Cinco de Mayo, 1862! Coffee is also grown in Puebla, and makes a great after dinner accompaniment to the area's many unique desserts, especially Camotes, a sweet potato confection. A Puebla party is nothing without pastries like Empanadas and desserts; pastry shops are as common in Puebla as churches, no small feat since there are said to be over 300 churches in the city center alone! Your meal is also likely to be more attractively presented in Puebla than anywhere else in Mexico, since this area is known for its 'azulejos' or glazed blue and white pottery and tiles.


If you're going to have a feast or a fiesta to commemorate this feisty town, you'll want to complete your mole magic, chili charm and camote caresses with THE Mexican edible accessory, Authentic Mexican Tortillas.




If you're throwing a fiesta for Cinco de Mayo, try this recipe from Nestle:


Combine 4 ounces each of cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese and diced green chilies with 3 sliced green onions and a 21/4-ounce can chopped ripe olives. Divide mixture into four parts and spread each part over an 8-inch soft taco-size flour tortilla. Roll up each tortilla in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Remove wrap and slice each roll into six 3/4-inch pieces. Serve with your favorite salsa.




Zest of 2 oranges, finely chopped

2 cups water

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

8 eggs

2 quarts vegetable oil

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Pastry creams (recipes follow)


For dough: Combine orange zest, water, butter, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar in a saucepan. Heat to a rolling boil. Quickly stir in flour all at once. Stir briskly over heat until all ingredients are well-incorporated and dough is silky and pulls easily away from sides and bottom of the saucepan.


Place dough in a mixer and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time as dough cools, then beat for 5 minutes.


Place dough in pastry bag with a large star tip. Pipe dough onto a prepared sheet pan in tube shapes 3 inches long and 1 inch thick. Freeze piped dough until firm so it can be more easily handled.


Heat oil to 375 degrees and deep-fry churros until golden brown. Flip to complete browning. Remove with slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Let cool.


To assemble churros: Push a tunnel through both ends of churros with handle of a wooden spoon. Fill a small pastry bag with flavored pastry cream (see below) and pipe into churros. Repeat with each flavor. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.


In a bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Toss churros in cinnamon sugar. Each plate should get three churros, one of each flavor.




2 (6 inch) corn tortillas

1 1/2 cups green chili peppers

1/4 cup margarine

2 cups chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 potatoes

1/3 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese


1 Cut the tortillas into 1/4 inch-wide strips and leave them uncovered at room temperature until they are dry and crisp, about 24 hours (OR: Heat in iron skillet until dry and hot).

2 In a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, melt the butter or margarine. Add the onions, garlic, oregano, and bay leaves and cook, covered, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, green chilies, potatoes, salt, cumin and black pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring once or twice, for about 25 minutes (or until the potatoes are very tender).

3 Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning if necessary. (The soup can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Cool it completely and refrigerate, covered. Reheat it over low heat, stirring often, until steaming.)

4 Ladle the soup into wide bowls, sprinkle the cheese over the soup, and scatter the tortilla strips over the cheese. Serve immediately.




Makes 1 10 inch round


3/4 cup white sugar

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

5 eggs

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2 In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, cook sugar, stirring, until golden. Pour into a 10 inch round baking dish, tilting to coat bottom and sides. Set aside.

3 In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Beat in condensed and evaporated milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour into caramel coated pan. Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place baking dish on towel, inside roasting pan, and place roasting pan on oven rack. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

4 Bake in preheated oven 50 to 60 minutes, until center is just set. Cool one hour on wire rack, then chill in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight. To unmold, run a knife around edges of pan and invert on a rimmed serving platter.




3 large bananas

5 tbs butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy sweet cream

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 tsp vanilla


Sliced peeled bananas lengthwise. Sauté in butter until light brown (they will smell wonderful). Drain and set in shallow cake pan. Spread a thin layer of sugar (not all!) evenly over bananas. Whip cream together with remaining ingredients. Spread cream on bananas. Chill at least one hour.

Serve cold.





Makes 10 empanadas


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup shortening

6 tablespoons water

2 1/2 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 yellow onion

1 green bell pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces tomato paste

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 pound lean steak, cut into 1 inch cubes


1 To make dough: In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening till pieces are the size of small peas. Add a small amount of water to slightly moisten. Form dough into a ball. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut into 4-inch circles. Lightly flour both sides of circles.

2 To make fruit filling: In a saucepan combine fruit, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Heat over medium heat until hot, thoroughly mixing.

3 To make meat filling: In a medium skillet saute the onion and green pepper in olive oil. Add tomato paste, water, and vinegar, and cook for 20 minutes. Add meat and coat thoroughly with the sauce.

4 Place a large spoonful of one of the above mixtures to the center of a dough circle. Place another circle on top. Fasten the two circles together by pressing the edges with a fork. These may then be baked in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until golden brown.




Did You Know?


Epazote should not be used during pregnancy since it is potentially toxic.

Chenopodium ambrosioides


Did You Know?


Epazote crushed and spread on doorframes and outside corners may keep wasps from nesting there?

Also know as "Mexican Tea," Epazote is a native herb which grows 1 to 3 feet tall before the jagged leaves are harvested for use.


This powerful herb should be used sparingly- but often. There is very little that cannot be livened up with a few pungent leaves of epazote.


Did You Know?


Early spoutings of Epazote may be mistaken for knotweed. Look for the distinctive leaf edges!

Most people have never cooked with, or even heard of epazote. However, you have probably tasted it and wondered exactly what it was at one time or another.


Epazote is the leaf in black beans, the lemony after-taste in an authentic salsa. Often, the first time a person tastes epazote, they feel an instant dislike - almost a gag reflex for some. Given time, it grows on most people. A sprig of epazote becomes an essential ingredient in dishes such as salsa, beans and soups.


Did You Know?


Some people use Epazote in animal feed to reduce worms?


Did You Know?


A dash of lemon or lime can intensify epazote?

Try adding epazote to:


Cream Sauces



Did You Know?


Chenopodium means "goose foot"? The herb was named for its unusual shaped leaves.

Did you know?

Epazote helps reduce the gas in beans?



(Serves 4)

1 lb. Honeysuckle White ground turkey

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt


8 taco shells

1/2 cup tomato, diced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup lettuce, shredded

1/2 small avocado, sliced

2 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped


Saute onion, ground turkey and garlic over medium high heat, cooking until turkey is not pink, approximately 10 minutes. Drain. Add cumin, chili powder to turkey and mix well. Heat taco shells according to package. Place a spoonful of turkey into each tortilla, along with a little tomato, olives, green onions, cheddar cheese, lettuce, avocado and cilantro. Serve with low fat sour cream and salsa.



For Churros and other purposes


Pastry cream:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

3 eggs

2 tablespoons butter


Chocolate flavoring:

2 tablespoons chopped bittersweet chocolate

1 1/2 tablespoons butter


Almond flavoring:

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted almonds


Espresso flavoring:

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar


For pastry cream: Mix flour and sugar together. Heat milk and vanilla bean to scalding in a heavy saucepan. Add 1/2 cup hot milk to flour and sugar. Beat until smooth and return to saucepan. Beat the eggs lightly and temper by adding 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the eggs, then beat well.


Return the tempered eggs to the remaining milk mixture and cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches the consistency of thickened pudding. Remove from heat, add butter.



Serves 4 to 6

Peanut oil for deep-frying

2 cups dry masa harina

1 1/4 cups water



Heat oil in deep fryer or large pot to 375 degrees. Stir masa and water together. Form into balls and flatten using tortilla press or place between two sheets of wax paper and roll until about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into bite-sized strips. Fry until lightly browned and crisp, or for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper. Sprinkle with salt.



2-4 tablespoons honey or other sweetener to taste

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red curry paste, or more to taste

1 cup natural peanut butter

1/2-1 1/2 cups boiling water


Combine honey, garlic and curry paste in a mixing bowl. Stir in peanut butter until well combined. Gradually add boiling water, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding more until desired consistency is reached. Serve warm over chilled steamed vegetables. Thicker sauce can be used as a dip for apple slices or crudités.



(Makes about 2/3 cup)


1/2 cup orange juice

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

2 to 3 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


Mix all ingredients.




Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 red snapper filets

Flour for dredging

Salt and pepper

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced

2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and sliced into rings

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced green olives

2/3 cup minced fresh cilantro


Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium high heat. Dredge filets in flour. Season with salt and pepper. Saute both sides until golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer to a warm plate. In same pan, saute onion, yellow pepper and jalapeños until tender. Add garlic. Saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and olives. Heat until tomato liquid comes to boil. Spoon sauce over fish. Top with minced cilantro.



(Red Snapper With Almonds)

Makes 4 servings- This quick, simple recipe works with any mild, firm-fleshed fish.

2 small whole red snappers, scaled and cleaned

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped (see note)

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

Juice of 2 limes (about1/4cup)

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Score fish by making diagonal cuts along the sides with a sharp knife. Place fish in baking pan that will hold them in a single layer. Sprinkle cilantro and toasted almonds over fish.


Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; add lime juice and salt. Pour over the fish.


Cover pan with foil and bake until just tender (25 to 30 minutes). Baking time will depend on the thickness of the fish, 10 minutes per inch of thickness. When done, it will flake easily with a fork.

Note: To toast almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in a preheated 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that nuts brown evenly.



(6 servings)


1 lb Huitlacoche

3 tb Peanut oil

1/4 Onion, med; finely chopped

1 Garlic clove; peeled & finely chopped

2 Chiles poblanos, small

1 Epazote sprig; large (Mexican wormseed)

1/4 ts Salt


Roast and peel the chiles poblanos, then devein and cut into strips. Cut the fungus from the corn cobs and chop it roughly. Set aside. Heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic, without browning, until they are soft. Add the chile strips, huitlacoche, epazote, and salt and cook over a medium flame until the mixture is soft and the liquid from the fungus has evaporated--about 15 minutes.

Makes enough filling for 12 quesadillas.




2 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup frozen corn

1 16-oz. drained and rinsed can red beans

1 chopped tomato

1 chopped bunch green onions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp. ground cumin

Tabasco sauce to taste


Combine all ingredients. Chill up to 8 hours and serve




4 oz. silver tequila

2 oz. orange flavored liqueur

1 cup mango, ripe, peeled and diced

1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed)

1 key lime, juice only

2 cups crushed ice

4 key limes, sliced in thin rounds for garnish

For frozen margaritas, blend all ingredients into slush.

For rocks, blend all ingredients except crushed ice and pour over ice cubes.

Add key lime slices as garnish.




As aficionados have brought these precious gems into the limelight, chili peppers have grown both in availability and popularity, because they can add tremendous excitement and dimension to a dish. Chilies of one kind or another have long been used in the cuisines of just about every country in the world. Beyond canned green chilies and pickled jalapenos, there's a whole rainbow of variety out there to be discovered. Your local grocery store probably has a decent selection, and you can find lots you've probably never even heard of before at farmers' markets. In fact, there are over 200 varieties of chili peppers to be had. However, you don't have to be an aficionado to know a good thing or two about chili peppers.


Hot! (Or Not)

Chilis come in so many varieties, offering a wide array of colors, heat and flavor for your food. The color of chilies can be anywhere from light green to dark green, red to purple to dark brown, orange to yellow, and their heat ranges from refreshingly mild to mind-alteringly hot. They can be as long as 12 inches or as short as 1/4 inch. In general, the smaller a pepper is, the hotter it is, so watch out for them little buggers! Still, chilies of the same variety, even harvested from the same plant, can vary in heat, so if you're sensitive to spicy foods, taste a tiny sliver of each chilie before you go adding them to the soup pot with reckless abandon. The majority of a chilie's heat is contained in its seeds and in the white membranes (called "ribs") inside, so you can do a lot to control the heat of a dish by removing or adding these seeds and membranes. Just remember to wear rubber gloves when handling these hot peppers, and don't touch your eyes!


Pick a Pepper

Besides the many different varieties of chili out there, most of them come in numerous forms. There's fresh, pickled, smoked, dried, roasted and ground. Fresh ones will add just that-a fresh taste and a nice crunch to any dish. The bigger fresh chilies such as Anaheims and poblanos are great for stuffing, not only because of their large size, but also because they are relatively mild and can be eaten in larger quantities without making people cry. Pickled peppers are great on sandwiches and in salsa for that little extra zip and tang you're looking for. Smoked chilies come in cans, and are wonderfully convenient for adding depth to stews and sauces. Dried chilies can give dishes a complex, earthy flavor, and roasted chilies contribute an incomparable smoky richness. And good ol' ground chili is great for adding just a little extra bite to your food without going to any extra work.


Some fairly mild chili peppers are the:

Anaheim chili

poblano chili

Hungarian wax chili

ancho chili

Some moderately hot chili peppers are the:

Cascabel chili

chilaca chili

pasilla chili

chipotle chili

jalapeño chili


Some really hot chili peppers are the:

cayenne chili

Serrano chili

Thai chili

Pequín chili


Extremely Hot or "Call the Fire Department"

The habanero and Scotch Bonnet are extremely hot, offering the strongest heat of all chili pepper varieties!



From Chez Jose


1 31/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into pieces

1 cup diced onion

1/3 cup white wine

2/3 cup chicken broth

21/2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 teaspoons white pepper

2 teaspoons dried oregano

21/2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)

Juice of 21/2 limes (divided)

1 16-ounce container sour cream

1/2 cup half-and-half

Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

Grated peel of 1 lime (green part only)

Vegetable oil for softening tortillas

8 corn tortillas

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Combine in a medium stock pot the chicken, onion, white wine, chicken broth, garlic, white pepper, oregano, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, juice of 11/2 limes and enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is tender and comes off the bone easily, about 45 minutes.

Cool chicken 15 minutes and remove from broth. Strain broth and refrigerate or freeze for another use. Remove skin and bone from chicken and dice chicken meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.


In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream, half-and-half, remaining1/2teaspoon salt, cayenne, the remaining juice of 1 lime and the grated lime peel. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.


Over medium-high heat, heat about 1/8 inch vegetable oil in a large skillet. Soften each tortilla in the hot oil, turning once. This should only take a few seconds on each side. Add more oil to the skillet if necessary. Pat the excess oil from each tortilla with a paper towel.


Fill each softened tortilla with1/2cup chicken. Roll tortilla into an enchilada and place into the prepared pan. Top with the lime/sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately. Tom Midrano, Chez Jose



(Spinach and Pasta Soup)


2 cups elbow macaroni

1 tsp minced onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup pureed tomato

2 quarts chicken stock

1/2 cup chopped spinach

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded white cheddar


Add macaroni to boiling water. Boil 5 minutes. Drain. Sautee onion and garlic in oil. Add tomato to saute. Cook 3 minutes. Add stock, boil 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except cheese), boil 10 minutes. Top each serving with cheese.




1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced medium

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced medium

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced medium

1 cup cantaloupe, diced medium

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely minced

1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely minced


In a medium bowl place all of the ingredients and toss them together.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salsa for 1 hour before serving it.




1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced medium

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced medium

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced medium

1 cup cantaloupe, diced medium

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely minced

1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely minced


In a medium bowl place all of the ingredients and toss them together.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salsa for 1 hour before serving it.




1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon whole aniseed

1 tablespoon brandy

1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat butter with sugar until soft and fluffy. Add egg, aniseed and brandy and beat until incorporated. Fold in dry ingredients until just blended to a dough. Chill for 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 baking sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to about 1/8 inch thick. With floured cutter or knife, cut out cookies into squares. Place on prepared baking sheets and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.


Bake for about 10 minutes until just barely golden.


Cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be kept in airtight container for up to 1 week.








Makes 6 servings


1 1/2 pounds cod

1 cup salsa

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup coarsely crushed corn chips

1 avocado - peeled, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup sour cream


1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Lightly grease one 8x12 inch baking dish.

2 Rinse fish fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Lay fillets side-by-side in the prepared baking dish. Pour the salsa over the top and sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheese. Top with the crushed corn chips.

3 Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork. Serve topped with sliced avocado and sour cream.



Salsa. Go all-out for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta and make your own salsa. It's not difficult to do, and once you taste homemade salsa, you may never want store-bought again! Your basic fresh salsa has tomatoes, chiles, onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice or vinegar, and salt. You can save time by chopping the tomatoes in the food processor. Core them and cut them into quarters, and then pulse them in the food processor just until they've reached the consistency you want for the base of your salsa.

* Use Roma tomatoes for a drier, chunkier salsa and round tomatoes for a juicier salsa.

* Use white onions; they taste better than yellow ones for eating raw.

* Try some variations: replace the tomatoes with diced mangoes, cucumbers or tomatillos.

* Try adding fresh, raw corn or a can of drained and rinsed black beans to your salsa.

* Adjust the heat in your salsa by switching the kind of peppers you use. Anaheims are mild; poblanos are a bit hotter, jalapenos a bit hotter still; serranos are even hotter, and habaneros will set your mouth on fire!

* Margaritas. Give that syrupy-sweet bottled margarita mix a rest and make your margaritas from scratch. There is no single definitive recipe for the perfect margarita, but most connoisseurs agree that there are three main components that belong in every frosty salt-rimmed glass: tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice. First, the tequila: choose a moderately-priced bottle. There's no need to buy premium brands; the superior flavor will be covered up by other ingredients. Next comes the orange liqueur. There are several different kinds you can use, from the more straightforward sweetness of triple sec or curacao to the rich complexity of Cointreau or Grand Marnier. The orange liqueur is what gives a margarita its sweetness. Then, of course, there's the lime juice. At least once, you should try squeezing your own limes and taste the difference! To save some time and mess at your fiesta, mix up your tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice in a big pitcher beforehand. When you're ready to make a batch of margaritas, just pour some of your magical mix over ice and blend or shake!

* Fajitas. Just like thousands of people who will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo, fajitas have a mixed Mexican-American heritage. They were first made by Mexican and Texan cowboys, who developed this signature method for grilling the rations of skirt steak they received for the trail, although nowadays it's just as common to make fajitas with chicken, seafood or even tofu. There are two factors that give fajitas their distinctive flavor: the marinade and the cooking method. Fajita marinade always contains lime juice and garlic, and often onion, cilantro, oregano cumin, chiles and sometimes tequila. When it comes to cooking fajita meat, there's just no substitute for grilling. If you are using skirt steak, pound it thin, cook it no more than medium-rare and slice it across the grain for maximum tenderness. And don't forget -- no fajita feast is complete without sauteed onions and green peppers, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream and a big pile of soft, warm flour tortillas!

* Flan. This traditional Mexican dessert of creamy custard crowned with rich, toasty caramel looks complicated but is really very easy to make. Many recipes call for individual custard cups, but if you don't have any you can just as easily use a pie pan and slice the flan into wedges for serving. Customize your flan recipe by replacing 1/4 cup of the milk with rum or your favorite liqueur, or try mixing in orange zest or shredded coconut. To provide gentle, even heat, flan recipes will ask you to bake the custard in a water bath -- a roasting pan full of water, in which you set the flan dishes. Bring the water to a boil before you pour it into the pan or it will take a very long time for the oven to heat it up. When it's done, the flan will be firm around the edges, but it will still be wobbly in the middle; the texture will even out as it cools.




1 T. light olive oil

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 jalapeño chili, seeded and thinly sliced

1 Anaheim chili, seeded, roasted and thinly sliced WEAR GLOVES

Red Pepper Flakes

1 or 2 soft corn tortillas, cut into small wedges (98% fat free)

Salt and Cayenne Pepper

1 scallion, both white and green parts, thinly sliced on a diagonal

6 eggs, beaten (we use egg beaters)

1 ounce or 2 or smoked gouda, about 1/2 cup

2 t. chopped cilantro

Roast and peel the Anaheim chili. (add this last to the eggs) just to heat through.


Heat oil or use spray in medium-size skillet and add the peppers, jalapeño, 1/4 t. salt, and a few pinches of cayenne; sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the tortilla pieces and the scallions and sauté for 1 minute.


Season the eggs with 1/8 t. salt and a few pinches of cayenne; pour them into the pan. Scramble the eggs over medium heat, stirring as needed to keep the eggs from sticking. Add the cheese and cilantro for the last moments of cooking and season with salt if necessary.


Serves two to three.


If it's a special occasion, bloody marys are a great accompaniment.



(to serve along side of the scrambled eggs).


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 scallion, white and green parts only, coarsely chopped

1 small garlic clove, chopped

1 packed cup parsley sprigs

1 packed cup watercress sprigs

1/2 t. salt

2 to 3 pinches of pepper

1/2 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. Champagne vinegar

1/2 t/ drained capers, rinsed

Place the oil in a blender; add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve this sauce freshly made.. Makes 1 cup.



Green Mole


Mole Verde, or just "Verde" for short, is the lightest and freshest-tasting of Oaxaca's "seven moles." Fresh herbs (rather than spice accents) are what distinguish mole verde -- a puree of green herbs has to be added at the last minute.


8 whole cloves, or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 jalapeño chilies

6 large tomatillos, husks removed

1 small onion, cut into chunks

5 garlic cloves

2 fresh thyme sprigs

2 fresh marjoram sprigs

6 cups chicken or pork stock

1 cup (8 ounces) fresh masa, or 6 tablespoons masa harina mixed to a smooth paste with 1 cup water

1 medium-size bunch flat-leaf parsley

Eight 6-inch sprigs of fresh epazote or 1/4 cup crumbled dried epazote

3 large or 5 medium fresh hoja santa leaves, or 5 dried leaves

1. In an electric coffee grinder or spice mill, or in a mortar, grind the whole cloves and cumin together. In a blender combine the ground spices with the chilies, tomatillos, onion, garlic, thyme, marjoram, and 1/2 cup of the stock. Blend on high until smooth, about 2 minutes.


2. Put the remaining stock in a large saucepan and bring to a boil; adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add the puréed mixture to the hot stock and cook for 3 minutes.


3. Thin the masa by mixing it with 1 cup water. Whisk the thinned masa into the sauce and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. If lumps form, strain the sauce through a medium-mesh sieve, pushing with a spoon to force the lumpy bits through. The sauce should thicken to the consistency of whipping cream; if necessary, raise the heat slightly to reduce and thicken it.


4. Put the parsley, epazote and hoja santa in a blender or food processor; if using a blender, add a few tablespoons of water to facilitate blending. Process until smooth. Add the puree to the sauce and bring back to a simmer. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.




BY JOHN G. WATSON Special to the Mercury News


Deep in the back of Mi Pueblo supermarket on Story Road in San Jose is a little bit of home for customers from Mexico and Central America: the fragrant bakery, a pastry haven known in Spanish as the panader(acu)a (pronounced pah-nah-deh-REE-a).


The baked goods found here and at countless panader(acu)as throughout the Bay Area evoke images of long weekend mornings lingering over strong coffee and of family visitors bearing culinary gifts, perhaps pig-shaped puerquitos, sugar-dusted polvorones or smiley-faced las caritas cookies.


By tradition, each pastry sells for a mere 33 to 50 cents. At those prices, these Latin American delicacies are certainly among the sweetest deals in town.


Panader(acu)as use a modified form of self-service. Grab a pair of tongs and a tray and step up to the cases. Choose your pan dulce, picking them up with the tongs and setting them on the tray. Take the tray to the counter, where the clerk will wrap and tally your purchases.


Leonardo Mora, head baker at this Mi Pueblo (there are four local stores in the privately owned mini-chain) and son of a panader(acu)a owner in Guadalajara, Mexico, pointed out the most popular pan dulce (pahn DOOL-say), or sweet breads.


At the top of the list is the conchita (cone-CHEE-ta), also known as the concha, a seashell-shaped confection popular throughout Mexico. Cake-like conchitas are easy to spot with their rounded tops featuring graceful, curved lines.


Also popular throughout Mexico are enredos (en-RAY-dose), which are shaped like pretzels and have a crisp texture resembling French puff pastry.


The cuerno (KWEAR-noh), or horn, is another pastry showing a French influence. It's shaped like a croissant, but the similarities stop there. It's a pleasantly sweet faux croissant with a cake-like texture.


Comfort foods


At least two popular types of pan dulce evoke American comfort foods with their creamy vanilla custard centers. Light, delectable empanadas de leche (em-pah-NAH-thahz de LEH-che), little turnovers hiding sweet custard fillings, are reminiscent in flavor of Boston cream pie, without the chocolate.


And round, flat chamucos (cha-MOO-kohs) are shaped like cheese Danish but feature a vanilla filling.


Familiar to all are jelly rolls, which go by the amusing name of niño envuelto, roughly translating to ``wrapped-up baby.''


Each panader(acu)a typically sells a smattering of pastries that are popular in the specific regions of Latin America from which much of their clientele originates. Thus, Mora's store offers the sema, a large, round, sugar-dusted cookie native to the state of Michoacán in west-central Mexico.


Mora has started a bit of a trend by creating round flores, a flat pastry with a pineapple center, instead of the traditional square version. Looking in other local panader(acu)as, you may find round flores as other bakers pick up on Mora's Mi Pueblo innovation.


Then there is the pan dulce traditionally intended for children, with puerquitos (pwhere -KEE-tohss), or puercos, at the top of the list. These delightful dark brown cookies are shaped just like little pigs as seen from the side. They figure in the memories of many a Latin American adult.


``Grandpa encouraged us not to eat the ears and snout right away, so we carefully started with the rump each time,'' says Al Amador III, now a manager of intranet content at RHI in Pleasanton, recalling visits 35 years ago from his late maternal grandfather, Jesus Valdez, who was born in Mazatlán.


``Now my father, Al Amador Jr., buys puerquitos at a little panader(acu)a in Concord for my kids, 6-year-old Michael and 3-year-old Sophia. They look forward to them, just like my brother, sister and I used to years ago.''


Also popular with the small fry are polvorones, round cookies named for the Spanish word for dust or powder. The basic recipe is a simple mixture of flour, shortening, sugar, egg and leavening, but there are endless variations, including mini-chocolate chips in the dough or ice cream-style sprinkles on top.


Variable styles


Every panader(acu)a will have a slightly different selection from the next. San Jose's El Rico Pan, where Mora once worked while honing his baking skills, offers the humorously titled borrachos (borr-AH-chohs). That's a word rarely used in high society roughly translating to falling-down drunks, an appropriate enough title for this (non-alcoholic) rum-flavored concoction of bread dough deliciously flavored with cinnamon and raisins, drenched in caramel syrup.


El Rico Pan co-owner Antonio Fernandez lived until age 7 in the little village of Tangancuaro in Michoacán, a village too small to have its own panader(acu)a. Residents depended for their pastry fix on a man who owned a truck and regularly drove in with cuernos, conchas and polvorones from a nearby town.


To be sure, the pan dulce to be found in the Bay Area are different than those with which Fernandez grew up. Some changes come about because ingredients may be unavailable or different here, but there are other reasons as well. As succeeding generations become further removed from the motherland, palates change, local bakers adapt to those changing tastes, and eventually the end product takes on its own personality.


San Diego-based Billy Cross, a Sacramento native who leads culinary tours throughout Mexico, explains, ``You could call pan dulce baking in the U.S. `the culture and cooking of displacements.' Immigrant communities bring certain things together that float between their homeland and their adopted country, picking what is good and what they like from both cultures.


``Food is a growing, evolving thing,'' he adds. ``There is no good or bad to it.''


What Cross does lament is a growing trend both here and in Latin America away from expensive ingredients such as butter and pure, fresh lard -- both commonly used in pan dulce baking until 40 or 50 years ago -- in favor of super-whipped shortening.


Panader(acu)as making pan dulce the old-fashioned way are few and far between, but Cross has identified a handful. ``The more expensive places with more expensive ingredients exist in beautiful little pastry shops in Mexico City and Guadalajara. And in Oaxaca, there's a chain called Rome Pasteleria, run by chemists who left Mexico City 20 years ago to start their own pastry shop. Their pan dulce is the best I've ever found in Mexico.''


Though Rome Pasteleria might be a good excuse to plan a trip to Oaxaca, you don't need to travel thousands of miles to gain at least a basic understanding of pan dulce. The first step toward starting your education is no further than your closest panader(acu)a.



If you're so inclined, you can zip up

this hearty stew with hot sauce or peppers.

4 cups water

1 cup dried pinto beans, washed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh epazote, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups cooked white rice


In a large pot, bring water, beans garlic, and onion to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until beans are soft. Add chili powder, cumin, parsley, epazote, tomatoes, and salt, and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in rice and serve. Makes 4 servings.




4 medium Red potatoes

2 Poblano peppers

1 medium Onion -- chopped

1 teaspoon Epazote leaves -- crushed

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper -- to taste

Mozzarella cheese -- shredded - optional


Roast and peel the poblanos. Cut them in 1/2" pieces.


Cook the potatoes in a steamer, microwave or in boiling water. Cut them in 4 pieces.


Fry the onions in vegetable oil. When transparent, add the peppers, potatoes, epazote, salt and pepper. Add the cheese and serve.



(Chicken With Almonds)


3/4 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted (see note)

Vegetable oil, for browning

3 pounds chicken pieces (cut-up whole chicken or chicken breasts)

1/2 cup crushed pineapple (fresh or canned)

1 cup seedless grapes

1 cup orange juice

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons honey

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Slivers of orange peel, for garnish


Cool and grind 1/2 cup of the toasted almonds in a blender until fine. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup.


Heat oil to 370 degrees F in a large skillet. Brown chicken pieces, 10 minutes on each side. Place chicken in a single layer in a shallow glass baking pan.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


In a medium bowl, combine pineapple, grapes, orange juice, wine, honey, cinnamon, cloves, thyme and all of the almonds; pour over chicken. Bake for 40 minutes, basting several times with pan juices. Increase oven to 350 degrees; bake 10 minutes longer.

Garnish with orange peel and serve.


Note: To blanch almonds, put them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, let sit 5 minutes, then drain and pull skins off.


To toast almonds, arrange dry nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in a 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that the nuts brown evenly.



Makes 4 servings


" This is a microwave version of Mole Poblano, which consists of chicken in a dark, spicy chocolatey sauce full of nuts and sesame seeds. Most traditional mole recipes require several hours of preparation and cooking time; this version is for those of us who have limited time for cooking! Muy bien! "


2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

6 black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup chicken broth base

1/4 teaspoon anise seed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon white sugar

3 tablespoons dried red chile pepper

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 cup almonds

1 slice white bread, torn into pieces

1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate, grated

1 (4 pound) whole chicken



1 Place butter, onion and garlic in a 3 quart microwaveable casserole. Cover and microwave on low for 2 to 3 minutes, or until butter is melted and onion is starting to soften.

2 Mix in the bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, tomato sauce, chicken broth, anise seeds, cinnamon, sugar, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, almonds and bread. Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

3 Stir in chocolate until it is melted, then add chicken pieces, coating each piece with mole sauce. Cover and microwave on high for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear (meat will be starting to fall away from the bone). Note: While cooking chicken, rearrange pieces after 10 and 20 minutes to ensure even cooking. Makes 4 servings




8 poblano chiles--cut into strips

2 sliced onions

1 cup cream

1/2 tsp salt

2 leaves epazote

1/2 tsp pepper


Saute all ingredients except cream in a small amount of oil until onion is translucent Remove from heat, stir in cream




Serves 6


2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest

1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest


1 head green romaine

2 heads red romaine or 1 additional head green romaine

1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

1 ripe mango

1 avocado

Freshly ground pepper


Place lime juice, orange juice, salt, ginger and olive oil in blender and blend until emulsified. Whisk in lime and orange zests. Wash romaine leaves, discarding bruised outer leaves. Cut or tear large leaves in halves or quarters, leaving smaller leaves whole. Spin dry, place in large bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts. Immediately before serving, peel mango and avocado, slice 1/4-inch thick on slight diagonal, set aside. Pour vinaigrette over romaine and toss. Add avocado and mango and toss very gently just to distribute fruit and coat with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.






If you want to keep this cocktail authentic you'll need to rustle up a 32-ounce jar. Bartenders at the Roadhouse Grill mix this delicious, yet potent libation in a large mason jar normally used for canning. You say you don't have one of those laying around? You have yet to enter the canning phase of your life? Not to worry. Just wash out a hefty mayonnaise jar -- the large size. Those big mayo jars weigh in at exactly 32-ounces and provide you an excuse for finally ditching the yellow gunk that's been fermenting in the back of the fridge for the last two years. For non-purists, any 32-ounce drinking glass or mug will do. Just be sure to fill your glass nearly to the top with ice before you mix. The salt on the rim is optional, but aspirin after a couple of these babies could prove to be essential. Happy Cinco de Mayo!


From Top Secret Recipes:


3 ounces Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila (2 shots)

1 1/2 ounces Triple Sec (1 shot)

3/4 cup sweet and sour mix

3/4 cup orange juice

1 1/2 ounces Bud Light (1 shot)

wedge of lime


margarita salt (for rim of glass)


One large mayonnaise jar for mixing --

one giant drink for mankind


1. If you want salt on the rim of your glass, moisten the rim of a 32-ounce mason jar (a cup or glass is fine) and dip it in margarita salt. To make the drink, fill the jar with ice.

2. Add a couple shots of tequila, a shot of Triple Sec, then some sweet and sour mix and orange juice (in equal amounts) to within a half-inch of the top of the glass. Stir.

3. Splash a shot of beer over the top of the drink.

4. Add a wedge of lime and serve with a straw. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com)

Makes 1 serving.



Serves up to 10

6 ounces smoked bacon, finely diced

1 cup diced yellow onion

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 cachucha chilies (or other mild chilies), finely chopped

2 jalapeño chilies, finely chopped

8 ounces chorizo, diced

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup American-style yellow mustard

1 teaspoon Coleman's mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup dark rum

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup light molasses

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained



In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook bacon for 7-8 minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until bacon is brown and crispy. Add onion, garlic, cachucha chilies and jalapeños. Lower heat and continue to cook for 5 minutes, until onions become translucent. Add chorizo, ketchup, mustard, mustard powder, ginger, rum, brown sugar, molasses, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.


Drain beans, rinse gently under cold running water, drain again, add them to sauce and stir well. Continue to simmer for about 1 hour. Season with salt. Turn off heat and let beans cool. Reheat again when you are ready to serve.



(Makes 4 servings)


1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2/3 cup beer (such as Corona Extra)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 green onions, white with some green, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 small fresh hot chili pepper, sliced with seeds

10 bamboo skewers (10-inch long), soaked in cold water for 1 hour


Accompaniments: Corn tortillas (warmed), shredded lettuce, guacamole and/or salsa


Rinse shrimp under cold water; drain and pat dry.


Combine beer, oil, lime juice, garlic, green onion, cilantro and chili pepper in large bowl; stir to mix. Add shrimp and stir to coat evenly. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.


Preheat outdoor grill, indoor broiler, or heat large grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly grease grill grate, broiler rack, or grill pan. Remove shrimp from marinade and thread lengthwise on soaked skewers to catch both ends, threading about 4 shrimp for each skewer.


Grill or broil skewered shrimp, turning with tongs, until browned and firm, 1 to 2 minutes each side.


Transfer skewers to serving platter. To assemble, place shrimp in center of warm tortilla. Top with lettuce, guacamole and/or salsa; fold and serve.



16 ounces spiral shaped pasta

1 pound ground beef

3/4 cup water

1 envelope taco seasoning mix

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 large green pepper -- chopped

1 medium onion -- chopped

1 medium tomato -- chopped

5 1/2 ounces ripe olives -- drained

16 ounces Catalina dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook

beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add water and taco

seasoning mix; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Rinse pasta in cold water and drain; place in a large bowl. Add beef

mixture, cheese, green pepper, onion, tomato, and olives; mix well. Add the

dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 10 servings.




1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

8 ounces Italian-style salad dressing

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt


1 In a medium mixing bowl, combine black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, onion, green bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, Italian-style salad dressing and garlic salt; mix well. Cover and refrigerate approximately 8 hours, or overnight, before serving. Makes 4 cups




3 limes, juiced

2 green onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed - optional


1 In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice, green onions, garlic, cilantro, oil, red pepper, coriander and anise, if desired. Whisk all the ingredients together.

2 Coat mixture over your favorite meat, cover, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.






2 medium onions, minced 2 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound ground ham

1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped fine


Veloute sauce:


2 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoon flour

2 cups rich chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup half-and-half

Salt and pepper to taste




Pie pastry dough, enough for two 8-inch double crust pies


4 large half chicken breasts, skinless, boneless

2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water


For the stuffing: Saute onions in butter for 5 minutes. Add ham and cook a few minutes longer. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Drain and set aside.


For sauce: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour, cook for 3 minutes. Add stock and wine, whisking constantly, and continue to whisk until sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer about 45 minutes to reduce sauce to 1/3 its original volume. Stir in half-and-half and salt and pepper and heat through. Keep warm until ready to use.


Roll out pie dough and cut out 8 ovals, each 61/2 by 31/2 inches. (Make a paper pattern for this step and trace around it with a pastry wheel to cut the dough.)


Flatten chicken breasts and place 1/4 of the stuffing mix on each breast and fold over. Place stuffed chicken breasts on each of the 4 pastry ovals. Lightly salt top of chicken breast. Place a piece of butter on top of each chicken breast. Top with remaining four pastry ovals. Tuck down around the chicken breasts.


Brush a little egg wash on the edge of the bottom ovals and fold up around the chicken breasts and top crusts, folding and crimping to seal firmly. Brush the top with egg wash. With a sharp knife, make some shallow cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape.


Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until browned.


Place some of the veloute sauce on each plate and put the chicken breast on top. Pass additional sauce at the table.



Makes 12 to 16 servings


3 tablespoons olive oil

3 onions, chopped

10 cloves garlic, chopped

2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes

2 tablespoons packed fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons oregano

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

4 quarts water

2 (2 to 3 pound) whole chickens, cut into pieces

5 bay leaves

2 sprigs epazote

16 ounces tomato paste

1 red bell peppers, julienned

1 cup green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 carrots, sliced thin

2 cups thinly sliced celery

3 cups zucchini, diced

3 potatoes

1 pound spinach, rinsed and chopped

2 avocados - peeled, pitted and diced

1 1/2 pounds shredded Monterey Jack cheese

3 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips

salt to taste


1 Heat olive oil in large skillet and saute onions and garlic over low heat until they are translucent and soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, cumin, and black pepper, and cook over low heat, partially covered, another 10-12 minutes. Let cool, then blend in a processor until smooth. Set aside.

2 Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add chicken, bay leaves, and epazote. Water should cover chicken by an inch or so. Skim off foam and fat that surface in first 5 minutes. Add reserved puree and tomato paste and cook; partially covered, with liquid at rolling simmer, for another 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones, then shred.

3 Add peppers, carrots, and celery to broth and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from broth with slotted spoon. Salt broth to taste.

4 Peel and parboil potatoes. Then dice and saute in a little olive oil until brown.

5 Place a scoop of vegetables and a heaping tablespoon of potatoes in a large soup bowl. Next, add tortilla strips, spinach, shredded chicken, avocado, and cheese. Pour piping-hot broth over everything and serve immediately.




1 1/3 cup flour

pinch cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ginger

pinch cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cup milk

1 beaten agg

1 1/2 cup cooked, chopped shrimp


Sift all dry ingredients. Mix milk and eggs. Slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture. Fold in shrimp. Drop batter by rounded tablespoon into hot oil or fat. Fry 2-5 minutes or until golden brown. Drain well before serving. Serve warm.





10 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares

6 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 to 3 jalapeños, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon fresh epazote, chopped, (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1/2 cup water

3 ounces cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded


1. Preheat oven to 350° and lightly pan spray a baking sheet. Spread tortilla squares over prepared sheet and toast for 20 minutes, or until no longer pliable.


2. In a large skillet, cook onions and jalapeños in 2 tablespoons water for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add tomatoes, epazote, and remaining water, and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to break down. Cover with tortilla squares, sprinkle with cheese, reduce high to low, and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. makes 6 servings



Almost-As-Hot-As-Paul Seasoning Mix (combine and set aside):

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves

2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes

OR 2 tablespoons cajun spice if your strapped for time

Veggie Mix (combine and set aside):

1 cup chopped celery

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (omit bell pepper if you plan on


3 tablespoons margarine

1/2 pound or about 1 1/2 cups polska kielbasa sausage, cut into half-inch rounds

3/4 pound or about 1 1/2 cups bnless, sknless chicken breast cut into bite-size chunks

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 cups Newman's Own Sockarooni Spaghetti Sauce

1-2 15 ounce can(s) chicken broth or homemade stock

1 29-ounce can white hominy, drained (look for "Mexican Style" or "Para Posole")

1 15-ounce can pinto, red or black beans, drained

Combine seasoning mix and set aside. In a 2-quart saucepan or Dutch oven,

melt butter on high heat. Add kielbasa, saute till pieces begin to brown, about three minutes. Add chicken and saute 5 minutes. Add about half the veggie mix, the seasoning mix and the garlic. Reduce heat to medium, saute until veggies start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients - remaining veggies, spaghetti sauce, chicken stock, hominy and black beans - cover, simmer over low heat, stirring

occasionally for 20 minutes.

Note: Use one can of chicken stock but add more as needed.

To serve, remove bag leaves, pour into large bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese and serve with warm flour tortillas. Serve this hearty, spicy soup with a tamale, chilled calabacitas or rice.


(Serves 6-8)


1 1/2 lb. Honeysuckle White turkey strips

2 cubes chicken bouillon

1 cup salsa

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

4 quarts water

16 tortillas

1 can enchilada sauce

1 1/2 c. sour cream

1 1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 tsp. garlic salt


Slowly cook turkey, chicken bouillon, salsa, cilantro, salt and pepper in water on low for 45 minutes. When turkey is cooked thoroughly, put 1/4 of turkey and 2-3 cups of broth in a blender. Flash blend for 2-3 seconds. You must have plenty of broth so that the turkey will shred. Drain the broth from the turkey and continue this process until you have all of the turkey shredded.

Spread 3 tablespoons of enchilada sauce thinly over bottom of 9" x 13" casserole dish. Heat tortillas in a cast iron skillet for 30 seconds on each side, or microwave 4 at a time for 20 seconds to soften. Place 1/2 can of enchilada sauce on a plate and dip both sides of each tortilla in sauce. Once tortillas are dipped, place about 2 tablespoons of shredded turkey on one side of tortilla and roll tightly. Place enchilada in baking dish and continue rolling enchilada until meat is gone. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the tops of the enchiladas.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.


In a medium glass bowl, combine sour cream, cheese and garlic salt. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir mixture thoroughly and pour over tops of enchiladas. Bake for another 7-8 minutes. Serve with refried beans and rice.



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