Mercado a Cocina, in Mexico City

Recipes by Chef Ruth Alegria

Cucumber Lemonade with Chia Seeds (Agua de Pepino con Chia)

Cucumber Drink

Fills one pitcher

Ingredients:

2 frozen cucumbers, peeled and cored, no seeds 

Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste

5 cups of water

Sugar to taste

5 teaspoons chia seeds

 

Add cucumber and water to a blender and puree. Strain into a pitcher. Add lime juice to taste, and sugar. Sprinkle in chia seeds. This recipe can be made with any type of fruit from pineapple, melon, watermelon or strawberry.

 

Grilled Cactus Salad

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Serves 6 as a side dish

In Mexico City, vendors sell cactus paddles already cleaned, meaning the spines have been removed. They sell various sizes, but the smallest are the most tender and flavorful. This dish is very easy to prepare and can be done in a skillet, comal or over a grill.

 

Ingredients:

12 tender young cactus paddles, spines removed, and washed

12 spring onions or large-bulb scallions, washed

1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

Small amount of olive or vegetable oil

Salt and white pepper

Leaving the root end intact, score each cactus paddle with a sharp knife. Heat dry skillet, comal or griddle over high heat. Brush paddles with oil and grill until tender, and paddles have changed from a bright to dull green color. Add bell pepper, onion, and spring onions and cook until charred.

Season cactus and onions with salt and white pepper. Remove to serving platter. Try using a simple vinaigrette using a fine herb vinegar (we used a lovely tarragon vinaigrette).

 

Molé de Olla (Meat and Vegetable Stew)

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Serves 6

Ancho and pasilla chiles give this stew its deep color and rich flavor. It can be made with pork neck bones or boiling beef (brisket/shoulder/short ribs). Use bones for a deeper flavor in the broth.

Ingredients:

For the meat:

2 quarts water

3 pounds stewing beef or pork, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 onion, quartered

1 tsp of pimienta gorda (whole black pepper; pimienta gorda is specific to Mexico, but whole black pepper could be substituted)

 

Chiles for seasoning the Molé

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4 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded (for a milder flavor, or leave them in for more heat)

4 guajillo or pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded (for a milder flavor, or leave them in for more heat)

1 pound tomatillos, husked

1 “sour tuna” xoconostle cut in quarters (here’s a link to dried xonocostle from an online Mexican specialty shop)

1 medium onion, chopped

½ head of garlic, roughly chopped

Pinch of whole cumin seeds, freshly ground

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Vegetables, cleaned and trimmed

4 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks

½ pound green beans (preferably French), cut in half

8 oz potatoes peeled and quartered

2 chayotes, peeled and cut into quarters, seeds removed  

2 ears of corn, each cut into quarters

2 carrots, roughly chopped into 1 inch chunks

3 sprigs epazote (Mexican herb also known as stinkweed – foragers you can likely find this in a nearby city park)

 

Cover the meat, onion, and pimienta gorda with water and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer covered until the beef is tender, about 1 hour. When the beef is cooked, strain the broth, reserving the broth and the beef.

On the comal or a dry skillet, “roast the chiles.” Place the dried chiles on each side until they puff up from the heat and air, which only takes a few moments. Once they’ve been “roasted,” add them to a large bowl of water.  Roast the xoconostle, tomatillos, garlic, and onion on the comal, until slightly charred. Add to water with chiles. Let soak for 20 minutes.

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Place this mixture in a blender and puree until smooth. Heat the oil in a large pot like a Dutch oven, and add the puree into the hot oil and cook over medium low heat, stirring for about 5 to 10 minutes to desired consistency. 

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Add the meat and its broth. Cook for about 30-45 minutes, until meat is fork tender.

Add the vegetables when the meat is fork tender and cook for another 30 minutes.

Add the epazote (if available) LAST – about 5 minutes before the mole is ready to serve.  

Serve with hot tortillas, lime wedges, and finely chopped white onion.

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Paris!

Le chat est noir! The cat is black. 

La chienne mange un bonbon! The dog eats candy.

Le garcon est riche! The boy is rich. 

J’aime vin rouge! I like red wine.

These are the type of nonsense sentences I’ve been spouting off for about a month before my trip to Paris. With my duo lingo app handy on the subway, I surely was learning all of the essential phrases in French. (Forgive me, I was too lazy to insert accents.) I was well equipped with restaurant recommendations, neighborhood walks, and most thankfully, a friend who lived in Paris. I remembered to say, “Je suis desole, anglais?” (I’m sorry, English?) with a big smile and most people were helpful and friendly enough. My Parisian friend Eddy taught me to elongate my “Merciiiiiiiiiiii” and I was rewarded with excellent service and courtesy.

Below are some photos from my trip to Paris. The only and last time I had been was ten years ago when I visited with my family when I was studying abroad in England. This trip I was fully able to meet my travel objectives. Eating my way through Paris, and people watching in different neighborhoods. I also went on some memorable runs along the Seine, watching people drink vin and eat fromage, and even grill already!! There was also a capoeira event. 🙂 I’ll try and post some more pictures soon.

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Above you can see Jardin de Luxembourg, where Parisians were clearly soaking in the sun and enjoying themselves.

 

 

Yup, that's ramen. We finally found "authentic Japanese cuisine" to my dear French friend's delight.
Yup, that’s ramen. We finally found “authentic Japanese cuisine” to my dear French friend’s delight.
Soufflé at La Régalade Saint-Honoré after a delicious black squid ink risotto with calamari and braised beef cheek.
Soufflé at La Régalade Saint-Honoré
after a delicious black squid ink risotto with calamari and braised beef cheek.
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My dear friend Kim urged me to go to Marché des Enfants Rouges in Le Marais to meet this amazing sandwich man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wished for duck...and I got it. :) This meal also came with aubergine caviar, fromage de chevre, sea bass, pommes frites, and the list goes on...
I wished for duck…and I got it. 🙂 This meal also came with aubergine caviar, fromage de chevre, sea bass, pommes frites, and the list goes on…
Incredible fallafel at L'as du Fallafel in Le Marais. Matzah bread because it was Passover.
Incredible fallafel at L’as du Fallafel in Le Marais. Matzah bread because it was Passover.