Tag Archives: recipes

Dinner with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at Casa Azul

Guadalupe Rivera Marin remembers the elaborate meals served at Casa Azul, home of her father Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  Lupe lived with them for a few years and claims to have taught Frida how to cook. Evidently, Frida loved to entertain but didn’t take much to the preparation. I wouldn’t either if it required grinding the masa by hand on a metate to make tortillas over a smokey charcoal fire! The lore around Diego and Frida continues.

Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Art History Tour                     July 2014

In this Washington Post interview about Diego Rivera’s favorite foods, Lupe recalls tables set with flair, abundant meals featuring Oaxaca’s mole negro, and table conversation with famous guests. DSC_8739 Now age 90, Lupe Rivera authored a 1994 cookbook Frida’s Fiestas that replicates many of the recipes served at the Casa Azul dinner table.  Lupe learned these recipes from her mother Guadalupe Marin, Rivera’s second wife and a subject of both Rivera’s and Kahlo’s paintings. EatMexico72013-41 During our art history tour, we visit Casa Azul where these foods were prepared and served, eat some of these favorites at some great restaurants, and explore the paintings of both Rivera and Kahlo with in-depth narrative by a Mexico City art historian who speaks fluent English.

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We invite you to join us!

Special thanks to Bruce K. Anderson for sharing the Washington Post article with us!

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Christmas Collage: Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

Martha, Marianne, and Judy arrive from the city for dinner on December 23 and then we gather at the house of the eighth posada.  Earlier, I go to the local morning market and find a fish vendor from the coast.  We eat organic and fresh talapia, squash, potatoes, carrots, onions seasoned with kumquats, candied ginger, carrots, prunes, dates, and raisins all cooked together in the tagine.  Later, I use the head and bones for stock.

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The posadas continue through December 24, when baby Jesus appears on Christmas Eve at La Ultima Posada, the last posada, which is the grandest and most magnificent of all.

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On the street we meet a young woman and her mother who are originally from Teotitlan del Valle, and now live in Chicago.  She tells us she and her family put their name on the list to host La Ultima Posada ten years ago.  They will welcome baby Jesus in 2014.  The cost to host is about $50,000 USD, which includes a magnificent array of food for three days — enough to serve hundreds, two bands, drinks and refreshments, candles, lanterns, decorations.  She explains to us that it is an honor and a commitment to community and God to be able to do this. They meet with the church committee twice during the year to review details that will ensure a traditional celebration.  Service and community cohesiveness is essential for Zapotec life.  They have lived in this valley for 8,000 years.

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On December 24, I make a last minute run to the village market once more to discover it packed with shoppers and sellers at eight-thirty in the morning.  This is likely the biggest market of the year! Every one presses up to buy fresh moss and flowers from the Sierra Norte to make the creche that will bring baby Jesus to their home, too.

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There is fresh pineapple, bananas, papaya, mandarin oranges, apples, and spiced guayaba (guava). Lilies, roses, and flowering cactus lay on tables ready for plucking. Live chickens and turkeys, feet secure to keep them from flying away, lay subdued, waiting.

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Children hide under their mother’s aprons or eat fresh morning bread or sip a horchata. Who can resist the blue corn tortillas?  Not me.

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Piñatas are an integral part of the baby Jesus birthday celebration.  The market is filled with them on December 24.  Children adore the rain of candy.  Me, I adore the perfectly ripe avocados, organic lettuces and eggs.

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I bump into Janet and Jan, expats from France and Holland who winter here. They eat breakfast at the stand set up in the middle of the market, quesdadillas fresh off the griddle.

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Later, I join my family for the traditional dinner at eight.  Elsa brings homemade bacalhau, there is organic salad, roasted pork leg infused with bacon, garlic and prunes, pinto beans, with plenty of beer, mezcal and wine.  Dessert?  Why tiramisu cake from Quemen bakery, of course!

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Omar entertains Christian.  Lupita entertains Christian.  The children kick the soccer ball and jump on the piles of wool waiting for the loom.  We sip spiced ponche (hot fruit punch) made with guayaba fruit sweetened with sugar cane.  Some will go to the church for midnight mass.  Others will go on to aanother supper at midnight.

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Christmas day presents another dinner feast on Roberta’s terrace, this time a potluck with organic lettuces, Annie’s garden arugula, enchiladas with green salsa, roasted chicken, red wine, fruit salad and Susanna Trilling‘s Mexican Chocolate Bread Pudding that Jan prepares.  The patio is filled with flowering cactus and the sunset can’t be better.

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All is well with our world.  I hope your holiday season is spectacular, too.  Feliz Navidad! Gracias a todos.

XmasCollage-37              Our next photography workshop is this summer 2014 for Dance of the Feather.  Find out more!

 

Mexican Flag Nopal Cactus Salad or Nopal Ceviche Recipe

Here in southern Mexico nopal cactus is part of the landscape.  It is good to eat, too.  Very nutritious, high in vitamin C, experts say it has other health benefits like reducing cholesterol, controlling diabetes, and preventing hangovers.

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Plus, it’s that stunning visual treat of Green, White and Red, symbolic of Mexico and her flag.

Since I live in the campo, nopal cactus is abundant.  A friend brings me a small package of baby-size paddles periodically and I also buy them in the village market.  I just planted some Opuntia ficus-indica next to the casita.  You stick the mature paddle about 2″ into the earth and it becomes a fence or sustenance.

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I sometimes add Julienne or diced nopal to a vegetable soup stock for flavor and thickening.  It has a consistency like okra.  The process I use below gets rid of the slime.

I call this Nopal Ceviche because the cactus is “cooked” in salt and lime juice. No heat necessary.  In fact, this way, the nopal retains its crunchiness and healthfulness.  Believe me, you will love it.  The trick is to find small nopal paddles in the U.S.  I’m lucky.  I get mine already de-spined and cleaned.

Mexican Flag Nopal Cactus Salad or Nopal Ceviche

  • 15-20 small cactus paddles, about 4″ long and 2″ wide
  • 3 large plum tomatoes
  • 4-6 young onions, small
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 T. sea salt
  • juice of one large lime
  • 1/4 c. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • optional:  3 T. diced cilantro and the flesh of 1 small avocado, diced

Nopal cactus paddles:  First slice the paddles lengthwise into approx. 1/2″ cuts. Then, cut crosswise into 3/8″ to 1/2″ dices.  You should have about 1-1/2 C. of diced nopal. Put into bowl.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

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Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic:  Wash and clean the tomatoes.  (Here in Oaxaca, I clean tomatoes, and all vegetables, by immersing them in a bowl of purified water into which I have added three sprays of biodegradable anti-bacterial disinfectant.) Dice tomatoes using a serrated knife into 3/8 to 1/2″ pieces.  Add to a second bowl. Keep the juice.  Dice onions to same size. Add to tomatoes.  Gently smash the garlic cloves with side of a chef’s knife or Chinese cleaver.  Peel skin.  Dice into 1/8″ cuts. Add to this tomato/onion mixture.  Set aside.

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Rinsing the Nopal:  Here in Oaxaca, in fact all of Mexico, we use purified bottled water.  I use this to rinse the nopal after it has “cooked” in the salt.  You won’t have to do this in the U.S.  I add water to the nopal, stir, and pour the water out through a colander.  I do this 4 times until the thick, mucous-like water begins to run clear and thin.  Shake the colander to release all the liquid.  If you wish, pat the nopal dry with a paper towel.

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Combining Ingredients:  In a large bowl, combine the rinsed nopal with the tomatoes, onions, and garlic.  Toss.  Add the fresh squeezed lime juice.  If you want it less tart, reduce the amount of juice.  Taste.  Add more salt if needed.  Add olive oil, and stir.  Now, you can add the cilantro and avocado, if you like.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Will hold for 24 hours covered in the refrigerator.

Serve with fresh tortillas or crispy tortilla chips.

Serves 6.

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Crunchy, No-Cook Nopal Cactus Salad with Fruit and Sprouts: Healthy, Fresh, Fast, Easy

My sister Barbara and I were in Puebla, Mexico recently and during our three-day stay we ate at El Mural de los Poblanos Restaurant three times.  We can’t get enough of Chef Lizette Galicia’s good food.  We each have a favorite salad there.  Barbara loves the fresh nopal cactus tossed with tomato, onion, cilantro, queso fresco, radishes and little slices of fresh serrano chiles. I love the sunflower sprout salad tossed with toasted pecans, sunflower seeds, radishes and a light olive oil and lime dressing.  Everything goes crunch.   Be patient.  There is a recipe and photos below!

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This week I bought three nopal cactus paddles at my organic market, spines and all.  I buy them in the Teotitlan del Valle market already trimmed, diced and waiting to be cooking.  Those spines pricked me in the market and the check-out clerk had to cover her hand in a plastic baggie.  Today, I put on my thick rubber dishwashing gloves to handle them.  It was much easier than I thought.  With paring knife in hand, I scraped off the spines and trimmed the edges.  Facile.

Based on the ingredients in my kitchen and Chef Lizette’s method for preparing perfectly crunchy, delicious nopal, here is my recipe I know you will find tasty.  It is a merging of these two salads we love, a blend of nopal and sunflower sprouts.

Norma’s No-Cook Nopal Cactus Salad with Fruit, Sprouts, Seeds

Ingredients (Norma’s Innovation)

  • 3 cactus paddles, cleaned and diced
  • 2 cups fresh sunflower sprouts, washed, dried
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1 small romaine or bibb lettuce, washed, dried, torn into 1-2″ pieces
  • 8 strawberries (mine are organic, small, flavorful), whole
  • 1 medium mandarin orange, peeled, segmented
  • 1 mango, ripe, seeded, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 T. coarse sea salt
  • 2 T. vinaigrette salad dress (scratch or bottled Cesaer)

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Method (attributed to Chef Lizette Galicia, El Mural de los Poblanos)

  1. Clean the cactus paddles.  Here is a link to how to do it.
  2. Put the diced cactus in a small bowl.  You should have about 3/4 to 1 cup.  Add coarse sea salt.  Stir.  Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the diced red onion to the cactus.  Stir.  Let mixture sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Wash and dry lettuce and sprouts.  Put into mixing bowl.
  5. Soak berries in water for 2 minutes with 1 T. of white vinegar to clean. Drain. Dry. De-stem.  Add to salad.
  6. Add mandarin segments to salad.
  7. Prepare mango by cutting it in half along the seed plane.  Score each half as if it was a tic-tac-toe board in 1″ cubes.  Fold the skin under and peel flesh from skin with paring knife.  Add to salad.
  8. Go back to nopal cactus and onion mixture.  Turn out into a mesh strainer.  The mix will be slimy like okra.  Run under cold water for 5 minutes or until the water is clear.  Taste for saltiness.  If too salty, continue to rinse.
  9. Drain cactus and onion well over a bowl.  Put bowl in refrigerator for 10 minutes until mix is cold.  Add to salad.
  10. Toss salad well with sunflower seeds.  Dress and serve.
  11. Serves 4.
  12. Enjoy!

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The health attributes of nopal cactus is legendary. Years ago, Andrew Weill, M.D., exclaimed that by eating nopal cactus you would get more vitamin C, reduce cholesterol and add fiber to your diet.  Health experts say it also reduces blood sugar to help keep diabetes under control and is great for weight loss.  Lore has it that it can prevent a hangover and control hypertension, too.  Let’s eat more nopal!   Just be careful not to prick yourself :)  

I am planning to make this again next weekend for the TMM-Day of the Dead Photography Workshop 2012 Reunion.  I’ll be writing more about that. Suffice it to say, seven women in the workshop last fall connected and wanted to get together again.  They are coming to North Carolina from all over the U.S.

 

Recipe: Venison Meatballs and Deer Hunting

What does this have to do with Oaxaca? Read on.  You’ll find out!  Those of us who live at Blue Heron Farm in Pittsboro, NC, have been plagued by an overpopulation of deer.  This fall, our community association invited our local Backyard Bow Pros to come in and thin the herd using the old-fashioned way of deer hunting.  One-third of the cull goes to feed the hungry in our community. I think the ancient Zapotecs would have been proud of us.

According to Wikipedia, “by 2000 BCE, agriculture had been established in the Central Valleys region of the state [of Oaxaca], with sedentary villages.[14] The diet developed around this time would remain until the Spanish Conquest, consisting primarily of harvested corn, beans, chocolate, tomatoes, chili peppers, squash and gourds. Meat was generally hunted and included tepescuintle, turkey, deer, peccaryarmadillo and iguana.[15]

Backyard Bow Pros deliver the deer to a local processor who grinds the meat.  We now have pounds of it in our freezer and I needed to dream up a recipe that tasted good. (This was my first experience eating venison.) I tried it, I liked it and it was so good that Stephen repeated the recipe and prepared 246 meatballs to take as hors d’oeuvres for Thanksgiving dinner.  It makes great meatloaf and burgers, too.

Norma’s Ground Venison Meatloaf

  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, fine
  • 4-6 prunes, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped almonds or walnuts or pecans
  • 1/4 c. dried peppers (mix of bell, ancho, poblano), crumbled
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced into 1/4″ cuts
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 T. sea salt
  • Optional:  1 T. hot red pepper flakes

Put the ground meat in a large mixing bowl.  Add one whole egg and bread crumbs.  Mix well with your hands.  (Do not use a food processor.  This will break down the meat fibers.)

Sprinkle a little flour over the prunes, and chop them with a Chinese cleaver or 8″ chef’s knife until they are about 1/4″ pieces.   Add prunes, raisins, parsley and onion to the meat along with the dried pepper that you have coarsely crumbled. (You can substitute fresh peppers, just double the amount.)

Put the nuts into a plastic baggie.  With the flat end of a mallet crush the whole nut meats until coarse (you can also do this in the food processor).   Or, buy them chopped if you prefer!  Add to the meat.

Mix all together with your hands until everything is completely incorporated into the meat and evenly distributed.  Add salt and mix with hands again.

Meatloaf:  Put into a greased loaf pan and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until browned on top and sides pull away from the pan.  Test for doneness with a meat thermometer.  Internal temperature should reach 160 degrees.

Meatballs:  Roll meat into 1″ balls.  Place on moderately greased cookie sheet.  Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Quarter-pounders with cheese, anyone?

For 246 meatballs, we used three pounds of meat and tripled the recipe!  We baked two cookie sheets at a time in our convection oven.

P.S. Once, a long time ago, I owned a gourmet cookware shop and cooking school, where I organized and taught classes.  Today, I just can’t help myself!  Years and years ago, I watched my mother in the kitchen prepare hamburgers, mixing in an egg, bread crumbs and ketchup to stretch the meat to feed our family of five.  An inspiration for this recipe, remembering that the egg and bread crumbs help bind the meat.