Sure, Chayote is an unual-looking fruit (it's wrinkled and furrowed and is often covered with tiny spines that feel like fine hairs!), but its mild flavor makes it a bit of a culinary blank slate; the Mexican fruit can be thinly sliced and put into salads raw, or cut into sections or cubes to be puréed, sautéed, boiled, steamed or baked.
Poblanopeppers are a Mexican native of the Capsicum annuum species, and are one of the milder peppers commonly used in Latin American recipes. The poblano itself is named after its city of origin - Puebla - the fourth largest city in Mexico. A fully ripe poblano pepper should be a glossy red color and possess a firm, smooth skin. Avoid poblanos that exhibit wrinkling, soft spots or bruises.
Delicious sheep’s milk Spanish Manchego tastes wonderful all on its own but is equally heavenly when paired with Serrano ham or used to makehuarache. But with an eight-ounce block of Manchego costing well over $8 these days, a frustrated foodie living on a tight budget would be forgiven for wondering “Could I make this at home for less?"
For foodies who live in apartments or homes with little yard space, a lush garden seems like an impossible dream. While defiantly setting up a series of raised beds in your one bedroom apartment isn’t advisable, growing a variety of herbs on a windowsill, shelf, or countertop which receives direct sunlight is an easy DIY project you can get a lot of culinary mileage out of. And you won’t get evicted.
While the classic Thanksgiving dinner is appealing to many who rely on the comfort of tradition, others may find themselves feeling less than thrilled at the thought of an old fashioned menu and fall table settings. Although Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Spain or in Latin American countries, people of Spanish or Latin American ancestry often celebrate the holiday, incorporating foods and ingredients from their heritage into a unique twist on the holiday dinner.
Soft, chewy coconut cocadas are a Latin American relative of the classic macaroon cookie. Much like their European counterpart, cocadas consist mainly of shredded coconut, eggs and condensed milk. The origin of the cocada continues to be a subject of debate: some food historians claim Colima, Mexico as the point of origin, while others point out the mention of cocadas in 19th century literature regarding Peruvian culture.
If you’re a lover of caramel who’s open to different interpretations of a beloved favorite, prepare to be introduced to a highly addictive variation. Cajeta (kah-HEH-tah) is a richly flavored, vanilla and spice soaked caramel made from goat’s milk, cooked down and simmered into a thick, luscious syrup that’s hard to stop eating.
The deep red-orange, slightly nutty-tasting cooking oil known as annatto oil (or achiote oil) is a common ingredient in Latin American cooking. Whether you use it to infuse your Mexican rice with color and flavor, or to marinate chicken or pork for a sumptuous entree, annatto oil imparts a unique warming quality to Latin American dishes that simply can’t be substituted with anything else.
Prickly pears, also known as “nopales,” are the edible fruits of the Indian Fig Opuntia, a spiny cactus with multiple flat pad-like outgrowths. While the pads of the cactus may be flat, the unusual looking fruits which grow from them are rounded and oblong, and like the rest of the plant are covered with tiny spines.
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