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Mexican Cooking Tips (1 of 6)

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Category: Mexican, Cheese

 Ingredients List

  • Dictionary of MEXICAN Cookin
  • (This is part 1 of 6)


The dried reddish seeds of the annatto tree give food a bright
orange-yellow tint when they are cooked first in hot fat; then, the seeds
themselves are discarded. Sometimes they are ground to a powder and
stirred into such foods as butter for color. They impart a flavor that is
gentle and hard to describe; like that of saffron, it has an earthy
ADOBO: A piquant sauce of tomato, vinegar and spices.
ANISE SEED: This small, elongated seed tastes sharply of licorice.
ATOLE BLUE CORNMEAL: This is blue corn that has been dried, roasted, and
ground specifically to be used in make ATOLE, a cornmeal gruel.
Blue corn, unlike ordinary field corn, is always dried and ground before
use. Cornmeal, blue, yellow, or white, can be used as a thickener.
AVOCADO: This fruit is ripe when the flesh under the leathery skin yields
to light pressure. A hard avocado will ripen if left at room temperature
for two or three days. The Haas or California type is smaller and darker
green than the emerald type grown in Florida, and some say it is more
flavorful as well. Keep avocado flesh from discoloring by brushing it with
lemon juice as it is peeled.
BEANS: It takes time to prepare dried beans, but the result is a tender
bean that is still firm. Canned beans are sometimes mushy, but they are
convenient to keep on hand and are packed in liquid that adds flavor to
many recipes. Dried beans keep almost indefinitely.
Before cooking dried beans, rinse them well and pick them over for stones
or inferior beans.
BLACK BEANS: (frijoles negros, turtle beans) though small, have a
hearty flavor. South American cooking makes great use of them.
With their dramatic dark purple-blue color, they lend themselves
nicely to garnishes.
BLACK-EYED PEAS: (cowpeas) are the seeds of the cowpea, an annual
vine. They are tan with a blackish stain, hence "black-eyed".
GARBANZO BEANS: (chickpeas) are Spanish in origin. These rounded
beige beans have a nutty flavor.
NORTHERN BEANS: are white, relatively large and mild.
PINTO BEANS: (frijoles) are charmingly speckled with brown on a
pale or pinkish background.
RED BEANS: are favorites in the southern states. Pinto beans may
be substituted.
BUFFALO: This commercially raised red meat is lower in cholesterol and
fat than beef. Unlike beef, it isn't marbled with fat.
Accustomed as we are today to tender cuts of meat, buffalo is best enjoyed
ground rather than steaks.
CAPERS: These are the pickled, green buds from the prickly caper bush.
They are somewhat smaller than raisins and are bottled in brine.
CAYENNE: See Chile.
CHAYOTE: (christophine, mirliton, vegetable pear): Related to gourds,
chayote squash have none of their brilliant decoration.
Light green skin encases firm flesh of an even paler green. Chayote may be
baked, steamed, stuffed and sauteed. A 1 lb Chayote makes a nice serving
for two or three people.
CHEESE: Traditional Mexican cheeses were mad with goat's or sheep's milk.
The following cheeses are used in this style of cooking: TYPES OF CHEESE:
CHEDDAR: is a mild firm cheese of English origin that becomes more
sharp with age. It melts beautifully.
CHIHUAHUA: (Asadero Or Oaxaca) is white, creamy and tangy.
Sometimes it is sold braided. Mozzarella or Monterey Jack may be
CO-JACK: is an American invention. Block cheese marbled with
Colby and Monterey Jack.
COLBY: is a slightly sharp cheese with a flavor similar to that of
Cheddar. This American cheese has a rather soft open texture.
MONTERY JACK: is a mild cheese usually sold in blocks. It
softens at room temperature.
QUESO ANEJO: is an aged, hard grating cheese. It ranges from pale
cream to white in color and is quite salty. Romano or Parmesan
may be substituted.
QUESO FRESCO: (Ranchero seco) can be compared to a very salty
farmer's cheese. A reasonable substitute for this crumbly cheese
is Feta Cheese.
SIERRA: is another rather dry sharp cheese that grates easily.
Romano or Parmesan may be substituted.

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