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Mexican Cooking Tips (5 of 6)

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Category: Mexican, Cheese

 Ingredients List

  • Dictionary of MEXICAN Cookin
  • (This is part 5 of 6)


PHEASANT: This game bird fares equally well when cooked with a bravely
seasoned sauce or a mild creamy one. Serve it with a grain side dish; see
PILONCILLO: This unrefined sugar is purchased in hard cones. Like other
"raw" sugars, piloncillo is beige to brown; the deeper the color, the more
pronounced the molasses flavor.
PINE NUTS (PINIONS, PIGNOLIS): Pine nuts are the seeds of the Pinion
pine. They are delicious raw or toasted. Store them tightly covered and
either refrigerated or frozen, depending on how quickly they are to be
used. See NUTS for toasting and grinding.
PLANTAIN: This relative of the banana boasts a thick skin and large size.
The fruit itself tends to be a deeper yellow than that of the banana.
Cooked unripe plantain is eaten as one would a potato.
Plantains are sweetest when ripe, which isn't until their skins are an
alarming through black. Like bananas, plantains will ripen after they have
been harvested.
POSOLE: Sometimes hominy is called "posole," but the word authentically
refers to a dish made with hominy as an ingredient. See Hominy PRICKLY
PEAR: This is the diminutive (egg size) fruit of the cactus of the same
name. It is nearly impossible to avoid the prickles when peeling to reveal
the garnet-colored flesh. Prickly pears are sometimes sold with the
prickles removed.
PUMPKIN SEED: With the shells or husks removed, pumpkin seeds are known
as PEPITAS. Store them in a cool, dry place. To toast pumpkin seeds,
spread them in a single layer in an ungreased pan. Bake at 350 degrees F.
for 13 to 15 minutes, stirring and checking for doneness frequently.
QUAIL: These little birds weigh in at about 1/4 pound. They have richly
flavored meat, what there is of it. Quail are most commonly available
frozen. See GAME.
QUESO: Spanish for "cheese." QUESO ANEJO: The name means "aged cheese" in
Spanish. See CHEESE.
QUESO FRESCO: The name means "fresh cheese" in Spanish. See CHEESE.
RABBIT: Rabbits are raised commercially. As with many uncommon meats, it
is said of rabbit, that it "tastes like chicken." It doesn't; it tastes
like rabbit. Large rabbits aren't as tender as the little ones; it is well
to marinate or stew older ones, or make rabbit sausage. See GAME.
RED PEPPER: See Ground Red Pepper.
RED PEPPER SAUCE: This commercially bottled condiment is made from
vinegar, spices and hot chilies. It adds heat but little in the way of
RICE: Mexican cooking calls for long grain or medium-grain white rice.
The occasional southwestern dish uses wild rice, which really isn't rice.
It is the fruit of an aquatic grass once harvested only by Native Americans
who lived by the Great Lakes.
SQUASH BLOSSOMS: Contrary to poplar belief, the blossoms used in
southwest cooking are those of winter squashes such as pumpkin, not
zucchini. They are a perishable item and are best used the day they are
TAMARIND: This is an intensely pungent, tart pod about four inches long.
Tamarind is usually bought packaged in a tightly compressed, sticky
plastic-wrapped lump. The flesh is riddled with fibers and seedsnot what
you want in your foodand must be soaked before using. Separate the
tamarind pods, pulling away and discarding as much of the pod as you
reasonably can. Cover with water and let the pulp soak for at least an
hour (overnight, if time permits). Then squeeze the pulp well to extract
the juice or rub as much pulp as you can through a fine mesh sieve.
TEQUILA: A pale, sharp-tasting liquor distilled from the agave plant,
which thrives in an arid, hot climate. The stem of the agave, known also as
the "century plant," is used in making both PULQUE and tequila.

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