Category Archives: La Gringa Cooks

La Gringa Weekly Meal Plan

La Gringa Meal Plan

Here are some of the fruits and vegetables that I bought at the Sunday Market this week. I paid 400 pesos ($22 US). I know it looks like a huge amount of produce but El Gringo and I will eat all of it.

Possible side dishes and lunches this week.
Fruit salads, caprese salad, cut carrot sticks, BBQ spicy green beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, red pepper strips.

Recipe Links:
Mushroom Tamales
Caesar Salad with Red snapper


Roasted Tomato Basil Pasta
Slice Roma tomatoes in half length wise. Spritz with olive oil, top with fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs and sea salt. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until charred and partially dry. I added a head of garlic to the roasting pan. Cook any pasta as directed and save some of the cooking liquid. Toss chopped tomatoes, a handful of sliced basil, 1/4 cup olive oil or to taste, mashed roasted garlic and pasta water to lightly moisten the pasta. Toss with 1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and serve with salad and fresh fruit.

Swiss Chard Wrapped Vegetarian Mushroom Tamales, La Gringa Original Recipe

You know how we foodies stumble around the Internet looking at recipes and Googling ingredients and we are struck by a lightening bolt of inspiration? No? Maybe that’s just me but stay with me because I have created a major Baja inspired vegetarian tamale that even a seasoned Mexicana abuela might love. I saw a post that used chard as a wrap for masa dough instead of corn husks and nothing else. “Why bother,” I thought “That’s too boring.” Then I thought mushrooms are a good meat substitute, so I stumbled around looking at mushroom fillings for ravioli because who doesn’t love mushroom ravioli? Right? And then…… I know it’s a long story.

I made vegan masa dough with olive oil, made mushroom/ Parmesan cheese filling and wrapped it in Swiss chard leaves instead of dusty corn hulks. (Corn husks here always look dusty to me, probably because they are.) A recipe was born and the results were devoured. I’m hoping mi amigas at Fiesta Friday enjoy tamales.

RECIPE
Servings: 12 tamales
Difficulty: Easy but time consuming.

Ingredients:

12 leaves of fresh Swiss chard

Mushroom Filling

1 pound mushrooms, I used cremimi
1/2 yellow onion
2 gloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Masa dough

2 cups Masa flour, not corn meal. You can buy masa dough but it is usually made with lard.
1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups vegetable broth

Preparation:
Finely chop onion and garlic. Sauté in olive oil until translucent. Finely chop mushrooms, I used a food processor. Add mushrooms, herbs, dash of salt, black pepper and wine. Sauté on medium heat until most of the water evaporates. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Process mushroom mixture in the food processor until paste like.

Mix masa ingredients with a spoon or by hand, adding water 1/2 cup at a time until dough is soft like thick frosting.

Pat dry the chard leaves. Remove stalk and cut 3 inches of tough stem from the remaining leaves. Place 2 tablespoons of masa dough on the top 1/3 of the chard leaf and pat down with your hand. Top with 2 tablespoons of mushroom mixture. Roll chard leave over masa and mushrooms, pulling in the sides and securing with a toothpick, making a envelope.

Steam in a steamer basket (I used a roasting pan with a rack.) for 60 minutes. Check your water level every 10 minutes. When cooked the masa will be firm and moist.

A Blue Day On The Baja

 

 

A blue, pink and yellow day on the Baja.

I’m a little blue today despite the sunshine. What’s la Gringa to do when she’s got the Baja Blues? Put on some music and dye eggs with colorful vegetables from the food bin, of course.

We have been in Mexico away from our family since early November 2016. I have celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day and now Easter away from Nevada. I didn’t expect to care so much about holidays when I moved to Mexico but I think it’s a reality of expat life. Holidays have always been family celebrations and I’m missing my family a lot today. It’s true that the kids are too busy adulting to miss us and they don’t actually care where we live but when a holiday is on the horizon they act as though they miss us too. My grandson was going to see the Easter Bunny, my sister will be hunting eggs with her grand children and attending mass, my sons and their mates might cook a ham or drop in at the in laws house. They are celebrating with comforting family traditions.

I’m celebrating by avoiding town. Our rural seaside village becomes a madhouse with Semanta Santa (Holy Week) revelry. It seems all of Mexico is on vacation this week.

Expat Blues?
I think the real answer for the Baja Blues is to make new traditions and stay in touch with everyone you love regardless of where you drop your flip flops.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate and Hoppy Easter to those who don’t.

I was inspired by this post at My Recipes.

Meal Plan April 10-16

Writing a meal plan for the week will help you eat healthier foods, save money by eating at home and use the fresh foods that you bought before everything goes to waste (you know you do this, right?) Besides who doesn’t love to be organized even on the laid back Baja?

Some days I can’t even find two flip flops that match, much less think up a fast nutritious meal. Believe me, at 4 pm, I need a plan.

La Gringa Cooks

Snacks and sides:
Roasted beets
Beet greens and Swiss chard
Deviled Easter eggs
Mesclun salad and goat cheese
Almonds
Apple and peanut butter

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa and Pico de Gallo recipes @Salsa Sunday

Recipes coming soon to Whatsfordinnerdoc.com
Loaded cauliflower bake
Taco zucchini boats
Roasted tomatoes, basil pasta
Vegan mushroom tostadas
Seared Yellow tail with mango and ginger

Make a plan to eat real food for your health and happiness.
If you must eat out here are some tips for staying healthy and maintaining your nutrition goals when aren’t at home. Healthy Eating.

Salsa Sunday in La Gringa’s Kitchen

Welcome to Salsa Sunday

Sunday is my market and prep day. Even beach girls need some organization in their foodie lives. I have the same problem as many of you do at 4 pm when I’ve been writing all day and I’m hungry, “What’s for dinner?”

If I have a plan and some veggies and fruits prepped in advance then I am much less likely to reach for the tortilla chips or a quick quesadilla. I don’t have the American luxury of buying pre-washed bags of salad or veggies, which is really a great fall back plan for busy cooks who want nutritious food on the table quickly. So I wash and cut up jicama, cucumbers, carrots, melon, pineapple and lettuce. Here’s a post about eating real food at home in a hurry.

Today I made four salsas for quick additions to tacos, grilled fish or meats, or for veggie dips. Once I started roasting and chopping I couldn’t help myself.

I’m taking my salsas to Fiesta Friday where you too can find delicious recipes for your weekend fiestas.

Simple Salsa Recipes:

Pico de Gallo

Chop 2 ripe tomatoes, 1/2 red onion, 1/2 to 1 Serrano chili to taste, and a generous hand full cilantro. Mix with a squeeze of 1/2 key lime or 1/4 Persian lime and a dash of salt. This salsa will keep in the refrigerator for at least 7 days. If you’re feeling creative try a different pepper like jalapeno or red bell pepper, or add chopped cucumber or jicama. Pico de gallo is always in my refrigerator.

Pineapple Salsa

Make pico de gallo and substitute chopped ripe pineapple for the tomatoes and add chopped orange, yellow or red bell pepper.

Mango Ginger Salsa

Make the pineapple salsa and substitute ripe mango for the pineapple. Then add 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger root.

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

Cut 2 large red bell pepper into quarters, remove seeds and stem. Quarter a large yellow or white onion. Coat vegetables with olive oil and a dash of salt. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees or on the BBQ using indirect high heat, for 20-30 minutes until the peppers and onions are soft and charred. Cool and whirl in a food processor with 1 glove of garlic. Adjust salt to taste.

Pickled Red Onions with Serrano

Slice 1 red onion. Optional add 1/2 Serrano chili sliced into rings, depending on your heat tolerance. Add 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder or paprika. Let marinate at least two hours or overnight.

Buena salud, disfrute de su comida. Good health, enjoy your meal.

Chorizo and Mushroom Tapas, La Gringa Steals a Recipe

Chorizo and Mushroom Tapas

We have a new upscale Mediterranean restaurant in my village, Gastroteca Azul. The chef, Mario Lopez is using local ingredients, inventive preparations and engaging flavors to create a gourmet experience in Loreto Bay, Mexico. I have to say that the best meals I’ve eaten have come from either La Gringa’s kitchen or Azul. I’m picky. Don’t bury my food in melted cheese, rich cream sauce or overwhelming salsa. Give me fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and/or seafood and don’t skimp on the flavor.

I have openly stolen and re-created Chef Mario’s Chorizo y Champiñones appetizer. Never fear, I always tell him when I’m stealing his ideas. The Chef uses portobello mushrooms and a dash of sherry. I added scallions and cilantro for a fresh green flavor. Adjust the herbs to your taste.

You can make this simple filling tapas recipe from readily available spicy meat. For example: Spanish or Mexican chorizo, any flavor of spicy sausage or soy chorizo for vegetarians. I think the mushrooms are critical for texture and taste. I have used this topping as a taco filling, with tortilla chips and on sliced baguette.
I’m sharing my tapas at Fiesta Friday.


Chorizo and Mushroom Tapas

Ingredients:
4 ounces chorizo, either ground texture or firm Spanish style chopped.
1 pound of mushrooms, any variety
1/4 cup sliced scallions, green only
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Sliced baguette

Preparation:
Brown chorizo and drain any oil. Add rough chopped mushrooms and simmer on medium heat until the mushrooms are soft and have released their water. Stir in scallions and cilantro just before serving. Serve on bread slices with a Mexican vino tinto (red wine) or a Spanish red wine.

Piña Colada No Churn Ice Cream, A Baja Flop

I can’t seem to find ice cream (helado, en español) that I like at any of our local grocery stores. I don’t eat ice cream very often but when I do it has to be delicious. My choices in town either have artificial sweeteners snuck in or high fructose corn syrup, ugh. I don’t eat either of those sweeteners. Frankly the HFCC surprised me because you don’t see it in many Mexican foods, unlike the U.S. I find sucralose in many of the Mexican processed foods like sodas and bakery junk food. You have to read the label because it’s hidden there without any mention about reduced sugar anywhere in the title.

La gringa’s struggle is real: I can’t find ice cream and I don’t have an ice cream churner/freezer. In true Baja kitchen hacks form, an Internet search ensued and a recipe was created.

I tried a simple vanilla recipe that uses whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. It was like eating frozen whipping cream which should have been delicious but frankly it’s so rich and fatty as to be unpleasant. In my experiments I found that the Mexican brand of whipping cream aka crema de batir doesn’t whip into firm peaks which it turns out doesn’t really matter much.

Back to the drawing room where I searched my cupboards and found coconut cream purchased at the liquor store, limes and pineapple juice and the  piña colada, no churn ice cream was born.
The taste was very good and reminescent of a piña colada and the lime cut through the richness of the creams but the sweetened coconut cream and pineapple juice have more water content so my ice cream was too solid and wouldn’t scoop. The experiment wasn’t a complete disaster because mi gringo cut it into squares and never complained once.
I’m taking my square ice cream to Fiesta Friday with co-hosts Mollie https://frugalhausfrau.com/ and Ginger http://www.gingerandbread.com/

Piña Colada No Churn Ice Cream

Ingredients:
2 cups whipping cream (crema para batir)
1 cup sweetened coconut cream (crema de coco)
1/2 cup pineapple juice (jugo de piña)
2 tablespoons key lime juice (jugo de limon)

Recipe:
Chill all ingredients. Whip cream into firm peaks. Whip coconut cream until soft peaks form. Stir pineapple and lime juices into coconut and then fold whipping cream into the coconut cream mixture. Spoon into a shallow glass dish and cover. Freezer until semi-solid or longer. Cut into squares to serve or leave out of the freezer until soft enough to scoop.

I’m tempted to blend a square with some rum for a tasty adult beverage.

Enjoy. I’m taking my ice cream flop to Fiesta Friday.

Whipping the cream. After 20 minutes, I gave up on trying to whip it into peaks. It might have been too warm in the house or the preservatives interfered. I have given up trying to understand kitchen flops in Mexico.

Surprise, the chilled coconut cream whipped better than the whipping cream.

Frozen piña colada squares!