Oyster mushroom chileatole: Chileatole de setas

Mushrooms proliferate in the mist-covered hills of north central Veracruz, the only place I have ever seen chileatole made with them, in this case with setas or oyster mushrooms. It would probably work with other fresh, wild mushrooms, but for me, the meaty texture of oyster mushrooms is perfect for this soup, which manages to be rustic and elegant […]

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Beef short ribs with pumpkin: Costilla de res con calabaza

The combination of meat and squash is typically West African, combined here with tomatoes, an indigenous Mexican ingredient, and spices introduced by the Spaniards. The original recipe, as presented by Raquel Torres and Dora Elena Carriaga in Recetario Afromestizo de Veracruz leaves out the tomatoes and spices, but nowadays most jarocha cooks use them.   2 tablespoons vegetable oil […]

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Veracruz-style stuffed chiles: Cuaresmeños jarochos

Some of our favorite ways to eat seafood in Veracruz are the cold salads and cocktails featuring shrimp, crab and other local seafood. This recipe for cuaresmeños – large jalapeños – stuffed with crab meat can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator, then served either cold or at room temperature as hors d’ouevres, appetizers or […]

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Chicken in sesame seed, pumpkin seed and chile sauce: Tlatonile de pollo

This sauce originated in Huatusco, in north central Veracruz. Comapeños are very small, dried red chiles abundant in this region. You can substitute chiles de arbol for the comapeños, but I recommend using less, since I find the arbol chiles to be hotter. If you do any traveling around Mexico, look for comapeño chiles in the markets of Orizaba and Cordoba, Veracruz. This recipe is […]

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Mashed plantains with pork rinds: Machuca de platano con chicharrones

This variation on traditional machuca uses crispy chicharrones (pork cracklings), which give a good texture to the dish and impart the taste of pork without having to use the traditional lard. A cousin of the West African fufu, machuca is best made with barely ripe plantains, those that are still mostly yellow. (They can have some black spots but not have […]

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Mexican plantain empanadas with picadillo: Empanadas de platano

This recipe is adapted from Alquímias y Atmósferas del Sabor, by Doña Carmen Titita Ramírez, proprietress of Mexico City’s famed El Bajío restaurant. The plantains should be cooked a day in advance, to give them time to “set” and make the mashed plantains easier to roll, since they are the only ingredient in the empanada “dough.” Mexican […]

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Yam and pineapple dessert: Dulce de camote con piña

This delicious dessert is a perfect example of the Afro-Cuban influence on Gulf coast cooking, combining pineapple, a plantation crop, with yams or sweet potatoes, a West African staple. Ingredients: 2 pounds orange yams, washed, peeled and finely chopped 1 1/2 cups sugar 4 slices fresh pineapple (about 1 1/2″ thick apiece), cored and finely […]

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Vanilla: a Mexican native regains its reputation

Mention vanilla, and people are apt to think of the ice-cream flavor they select when confronted with a mind-boggling choice involving everything from chirimoya to cheesecake: “just plain vanilla.” What started out as one of the most exotic flavors to be introduced to the European palate has come to be equated with blandness. Even more […]

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