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TIP OF THE DAY: Tricolor (Multicolor) Tortilla Chips

Today’s tip is to make Cinco de Mayo (and any celebration) more colorful with tri-color taco chips.

Some brands sell them in mixed-color bags. Or you can buy your favorite brand in different colors and mix them yourself.

Tortilla chips, such a popular snack food and dip holder, is a relatively new Tex-Mex food, created in 1940s Los Angeles.

THE HISTORY OF TORTILLA CHIPS

Rebecca Webb Carranza, a Mexican delicatessen owner born in Durango, Mexico, owned a deli serving Mexican customers in Los Angeles.

The deli sold fresh tortillas daily. On visits the El Zarape Tortilla Factory in Long Beach, which she also owned, she observed the daily waste of misshapen tortillas and leftover dough that were discarded.

She set out to do something with the discarded tortillas.

According to the Boston Globe, for a family party in the late 1940s, Ms. Carranza cut some of the discarded tortillas into triangles and fried them into a delicious, crunchy snack.

A hit with the relatives, she soon was selling them for a dime a bag at her delicatessen, and at the factory that made them for her in southwest Los Angeles.

From Handmade To Conveyor Belt

Tortillas met the machine age in the late 1940s. The El Zarape Tortilla Factory was among the first to automate the production of tortillas, acquiring a tortilla-making machine in 1947.

Tortillas poured off the conveyor belt more than 12 times faster than they could be made by hand.

At first many, came out bent or misshapen, recalled decades later, and were thrown away. So we can thank tortilla machinery for the existence of taco chips.

The chips Ms. Carranza created were initially called tostadas, from the Spanish word for toasted.

Tortilla chips became a wild success among her customers. In addition to snacking from the bag, they were used with Mexican dips such as guacamole and salsa, and even with refried beans.

By the 1960s, the snack chips, packaged as Tortills Chips, were distributed up and down the West Coast by El Zarape, and had evolved into El Zarape’s primary business.

Competition Arrives

The product came to the notice of Frito-Lay, which began making their a mass-market version of the crunchy triangles. Soon, other manufacturers got into the act.

She turned her tortilla chip business over to her husband when they divorced in 1951. But by 1967, El Zarape was forced out of business by competition the superior marketing clout of Doritos and Fritos.

Ms. Carranza was among the 20 Tex-Mex industry innovators honored with the Golden Tortilla Award, which was given in 1994 and 1995 by Azteca Milling of Irving, Texas.

Ms. Carranza lived to the old age of 98 in Phoenix, where she had moved after retirement to be near her sons, 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 2 two great-great-grandchildren.

The friends of all her descendants can be happy that their abuela invented tortilla chips.

It’s a nice story to share with a glass of beer and tortilla chips.

   

Pumpkin Salsa Tricolor Tortilla Chips

Tricolor Tortilla Chips With Dips

Tricolor Tortilla Chips Bag

Multicolor Tortilla Chips

[1] Tricolor chips with pumpkin salsa from The Veg Life. [2] Tricolor chips with dips (crema, guacamole, salsa) from Tastespotting. [3] A bag of mixed chips from Abuelita’s [4] We mix and match our own colors with one of our favorite brands of tortilla chips, Food Should Taste Good. Beyond the mixed colors and shapes, there are eight different flavors, from traditional to jalapeño, kimchi and olive.

 

Tex Mex Scrambled Eggs

Nacho Hot Dogs

Use leftover chips in [5] Tex-Mex scrambled eggs, [6] nacho hot dogs, and more everyday foods.

 

MORE USES FOR TORTILLA CHIPS

Whole chips, broken chips and the crumbs at the bottom of the bag, can all be repurposed to add crunch and flavor to everyday recipes. Some ideas:

Burger crunch: taco-rubbed burgers with avocado and tortilla chips. Use this recipe from Kraft to season the burger meat; then add layers of avocado and broken taco chips.

Casserole toppings: broken and crushed tortilla chip pieces are a great casserole topper. Here’s a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Casserole from Kristin’s Kitchen.

Cheesy casseroles, like this Ranch Black Bean and Veggie Tortilla Casserole recipe from Mom Foodie.

Chili Topping: Use the chips or crumbs for a chili topping, like this Salsa Verde White Chicken Chili recipe from The Comfort Of Cooking.

Crusted Chicken, Fish & Seafood, like this Taco-Crusted Scallops recipe from The Woks Of Life.

Egg Scrambles
, like this Mexican Egg and Sweet Potato Breakfast Scramble recipe from Taste And Tell Blog.

Hot Dog Topping, like this Nacho Hot Dogs recipe from A Spicy Perspective.

Salad topping, from green salad and potato salad to Tex-Mex salads like this Chopped Taco Salad recipe from Cinnamon Spice And Everything Nice.

Vegetable tots, like potato or this recipe for Tortilla-Chip Crusted Cauliflower Tots from Mom What’s For Dinner Blog.

 

  

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RECIPE: Baked Churros

You don’t have to wait until Cinco de Mayo to make a batch of churros.

But this lesser-guilt recipe for baked churros (instead of fried), from The Baker Chick, is reason enough to serve them anytime.

The recipe is below, but first:

THE HISTORY OF CHURROS

According to Fox News Latino, churros evolved from a Chinese cruller* (youtiao). Portuguese sailors discovered them them on their Far East voyages, which reached China in the early 16th century.

They brought the recipe home with them. The recipe spread to Spain, and the Spanish improved on the concept by passing the dough through a star-shaped tip prior to frying.

In addition to the eye appeal, the signature ridges created by the tip turned out to be superior for holding dipping sauces: an improvement over the original.

The name may have derived from the Spanish word for coarse or rough, churro. Certainly, these fried, ridged pastries were rougher than the finer works of pastry chefs.

The churros were dusted in cinnamon and sugar, and dipped in chocolate sauce, and enjoyed at breakfast with café con leche or hot chocolate, the latter also developed in Spain in the 16th century.

Churros arrived in what is now Mexico in the 16th century, via the Spanish conquistadors.

While traveling from country to country, the churro was enhanced, from guava-filled churros in Cuba, the dulce de leche-filled churros in Mexico and cheese-filled churros in Uruguay.

Dulce de leche, a popular sauce for churros, was invented in Argentina in the 19th century. The first historical reference to the Argentinian dessert comes from a peace meeting between military leaders in 1829.

According to legend, dulce de leche was produced by accident when the maid was cooking some milk and sugar and was unexpectedly called away. Upon her return, the mixture had transformed into a thick, brown consistency (not very different from caramel sauce, which is made with sugar, cream and butter).

The “new dessert” was called dulce de leche, a milk sweet [confection]. Today it is usually made with sweetened condensed milk (which did not exist at the time).

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*The Chinese cruller, youtiao, also popular in, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

†There is also a story about nomadic Spanish shepherds developing churros while tending their flocks in the mountains. There are breeds of Spanish sheep called the navajo-churro and the churra, the horns of which are said to look similar to the fried pastry. If the shepherds did mak4e churros, it was more likely after they spread through Spain.
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RECIPE: BAKED CHURROS

Ingredients For 18-20 Churros

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs‡
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup cinnamon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (or cooking spray)
  • Optional dipping sauce(s): chocolate sauce or fondue, dulce de leche, caramel sauce
  •  
    Plus

  • Piping bag with large star tip
  •    

    Churros With Chocolate Fondue

    Churros In Doily

    Churros In Basket

    [1] Churros, shown here with fruit dippers and spicy chocolate fondue (here’s the recipe from McCormick).[2] Two ways to serve churros: nicely arranged in a doily at Soccarat Paella Bar in New York City, and [3] in a basket, at King Arthur Flour.

     

    ________________

    ‡If you don’t have large eggs, use what you have but aim for 2/3 cup of egg. A larger amount could yield more watery dough.

     

    Baked Churros Recipe

    Baked Churros Recipe

    [4] and [5] Churros made with this recipe from The Baker Chick.

       
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

    2. REMOVE from the heat add the flour; stir to combine. The mixture will thicken and start to resemble the texture of mashed potatoes.

    3. LEAVE the dough in the saucepan, but beat it on low with a hand mixer, adding one egg at a time and mixing well before adding another. After adding each egg, the mixture will become wet and glossy, but after mixing on high for a few seconds it will thicken again. When all the eggs are are combined…

    4. ADD the vanilla. The dough will be thick and starchy, still with a similar texture to mashed potatoes. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Lightly spray a cookie sheet and pipe 6-inch rows of the dough with at least 1 inch between each churro.

    5. BAKE in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, brush the warm churros with melted butter or spray lightly, and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and shake the dish to make sure they are well-coated.

    Churros are best enjoyed warm. If they cool to room temperature, give them 30 seconds in the microwave.
     
     
    MORE CHURROS RECIPES

  • Chocolate Churros REcipe
  • Churros With Three Chiles Fondue (Spicy Fondue)
  •  

      

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    RECIPE: Homemade Tortillas

    Want to make homemade tortillas for Cinco de Mayo?

    Practice this weekend with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. They’re so much more authentic than the flat-pressed commercial versions.

    Although traditionally made with lard, these tortillas are equally delicious using butter, shortening or vegetable oil as the fat.

    This is also a flour tortilla version. The originals were made with corn flour, until wheat flour arrived with the Spanish in the 16th century. If you prefer a corn flour version, here’s a recipe and video from Mexican food specialist chef Rick Bayless, plus more about corn tortilla.

    The resting period improves the texture of the dough by giving the flour time to absorb the water. It also gives the gluten time to relax, making the tortillas easier to roll out.

    You may extend the resting, or skip it altogether if you don’t have the time—the recipe is pretty forgiving. The tortillas will roll out and stay thinner if you include the rest, though.

    If there are leftovers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in an ungreased skillet, or for a few seconds in the microwave.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 15 to 25 minutes.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TORTILLAS

    Ingredients For 8 Eight-Inch Tortillas

  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional as needed
  • 1/4 cup lard (traditional); or butter, shortening, or vegetable oil
  • 7/8 to 1 cup hot tap water (about 110°F to 120°F)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
    Add the lard (or butter, or shortening; if you’re using vegetable oil, add it in step 3). Use your fingers or a pastry blender to work the fat into the flour until it disappears. Coating most of the flour with fat inhibits gluten formation, making the tortillas easier to roll out.

    2. POUR in the lesser amount of hot water (plus the oil, if you’re using it), and stir briskly with a fork or whisk to bring the dough together into a shaggy mass. Stir in additional water as needed to bring the dough together.

    3. TURN the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead briefly, just until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is very sticky, gradually add a bit more flour.

    4. DIVIDE the dough into 8 pieces. Round the pieces into balls, flatten slightly and allow them to rest, covered, for about 30 minutes. If you wish, coat each ball lightly in oil before covering to ensure that the dough doesn’t dry out. While the dough rests…

    5. PREHEAT an ungreased cast iron griddle or skillet over medium high heat, about 400°F. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a round about 8″ in diameter. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Fry the tortilla in the ungreased pan for about 30 seconds on each side.

    6. WRAP the tortillas in a clean cloth when they come off the griddle, to keep them pliable. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

    TORTILLA HISTORY

    The mainstay of the Mexican diet was, and still is, the corn* tortilla, made with indigenous corn from prehistoric times. Excavations in the valley of Valle de Tehuac, in Sierra Mountains in the state of Puebla, date their use to more than seven thousand years [source].

     

    Homemade Tortillas Recipe

    King Arthur Flour

    Woman Grinding Maize by Diego Rivera

    'Tortilla Maker' by Diego Rivera

    [1] and [2] Mmm…homemade tortillas. They’re so much more flavorful than most store-bought varieties (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] “Women Grinding Maize” by Diego Rivera. [4] “Tortilla-Maker” by Diego Rivera (photos of paintings courtesy Diego Rivera Foundation).

     

    The corn used was a very small wild cob (that was bred, by 3000 B.C.E., into the large ears we know today), ground corn foods, along with roots and fruits plus hunting, comprised the diet.

    The cooking process is little changed today. Corn kernels are cooked with lime to remove the husk (known as nixtamalization), then ground on a stone slab with a grinding stone (photo #3). The dough is formed into small round balls that make the individual tortillas, and patted out by hand into thin round cakes (photo #4) and cooked over a fire (today, homemade versions use a skillet on a stove top).

    For tamales, the cake is placed in an unbaked tortilla, filled and wrapped in a corn husk for cooking.

    When Hernan Cortez and his conquistadors arrived in the New World in 1519, they discovered that flat corn breads were a staple Aztec food. In the Aztec’s Nahuatl language, the word for them was tlaxcalli (pronounced tih-lax-CAH-leee. The Spanish gave them the name tortilla.

    Technology arrived centuries later, in the 1940s, when the use of small gas engines and electric motors became widespread to power grinders for making masa (the ground corn). A hand press became used to form the masa into tortillas.
     
    By the 1960s, small-scale tortilla-making machines could churn out hot, steaming tortillas every two seconds—quote a change from the hours they took to make before modern times.
    ________________

    *Wheat flour only arrived in the 16th century, with the Conquistadors, and became popular in Mexican/U.S. border cooking. By the time Spaniards reached the shores of what is now Mexico in the 1400s, indigenous Mesoamericans had a sophisticated and flavorful cuisine based on native fruits, game, cultivated beans and corn and domesticated turkeys.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Salad Bouquet

    This spring salad (photo #1), from the New York City outpost of Catch seafood restaurant (with a roof deck for alfresco dining), looks so festive we had to make it for ourselves.

    The ingredients:

  • Beets: red, orange and yellow (choose two; substitute chioggia beets, photo #3)
  • Baby greens
  • Capberberrieshttp://blog.thenibble.com/2014/09/26/tip-ways-to-add-more-flavor-to-food/
  • Chives
  • Croutons: pumpernickel (for color contrast and flavor)
  • Radish (look for specialty radishes, e.g. breakfash radish, watermelon radish)
  • Smoked salmon (substitute prosciutto or serrano ham)
  •  
    It’s topped with zigzags of ranch dressing.

    We preferred tossing it with a sprightly vinaigrette (two recipes below)

    More To Add To Your Spring Salad Bouquet

  • Asparagus
  • Citrus zest
  • Fiddlehead ferns (photo #2, blanched)
  • Garlic scapes
  • Kumquats, halved
  • Orange segments
  • Spring peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  •  
    SPRING SALAD VINAIGRETTE RECIPES

    RECIPE #1: BASIL VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 9 tablespoons basil olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

    Spring Salad

    Fiddlehead Ferns

    Chioggia Beets

    [1] A festive spring salad at Catch NYC. [2] Fiddlehead ferns (photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE). [3] Chioggia beets (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen).

     
    Combine all ingredients. To emulsify so they don’t separate, use a blender or an Aerolatte Milk Frother.
     
    RECIPE #2: BLOOD ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar (substitute sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 9 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Combine all ingredients. To emulsify so they don’t separate, use a blender or an Aerolatte Milk Frother.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Chilaquiles

    Instead of Huevos Rancheros on Cinco de Mayo, how about chilaquiles (chee-la-KEE-lace)?

    While there are numerous regional variations of this traditional Mexican breakfast or brunch dish, the basic recipe tops quartered, fried corn tortillas with salsa or mole sauce, and crowned with fried eggs.

    Pulled chicken can be added; the dish is topped with shredded queso fresco and/or crema, Mexican sour cream. Sliced raw onion, avocado or other garnish can be added. A side of refried beans typically completes the dish, which you can see in this recipe.

    Chef Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar in Miami sent us her own twist on the recipe. Forget the pulled chicken: She uses beef short ribs.

    We’ve broken her recipe into three separate ones, since you can use each in combination with other ingredients and dishes.

    RECIPE #1: SHORT RIB CHILAQUILES

    With Queso Fundido & Pickled Red Onion

    Prep time is 10 minutes; bake time is 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef short ribs
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325F. In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the agave, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in another small bowl. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the salt mixture, then place on lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

    3. BAKE the ribs for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Pull out and brush both sides with some of the agave glaze and bake for an additional hour. Remove the foil, brush with remaining agave glaze, and bake another 20 minutes.
     
    RECIPE #2: GREEN CHILE QUESO FUNDIDO*

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon yellow onion, chopped and roasted
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup oaxaca* or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup corn tortillas, quartered and freshly fried†
  • ________________

    *Oaxaca cheese, pronounced wah-HOCK-a, is called the Mexican mozzarella.” It can be purchased in a ball or a braid. Fundido, the Spanish word for molten, refers to melted cheese.

    †The quick substitution here are tortilla chips or strips. It’s not authentic, but it works.
    ________________
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Combine the jalapeño, onion, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt, honey, and oil in a blender and set aside.

    2. BAKE the cheese in a small ovenproof dish for 15 minutes or until bubbling.
     
    RECIPE #3: PICKLED RED ONION

    You may want to make quadruple the recipe: These pickled onions are a delicious garnish for just about anything.

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Short Rib Chilaquiles

    Raw Short Ribs

    Oaxaca Cheese

    Chilaquiles

    Pickled Red Onions

    [1] Short rib chilaquiles (photo courtesy Chef Adrianne Calvo). [2] Raw short ribs (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Oaxaca cheese (photo courtesy Cheese.com). [4] Traditional chilaquiles (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). [5] Pickled red onion (photo courtesy Inspired Taste).

     
    1. BRING the ingredients to a boil in a small pot, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes.

    2. ASSEMBLE: Place the tortilla on a clean work surface. Layer with short rib, queso fundido and the green chile. Top with pickled onion and fresh cilantro.
     

    CHILAQUILES HISTORY

    The name derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word chilaquilitl, meaning herbs (or greens) in chili broth.

    A traditional Mexican peasant dish, it provided a way to use stale corn tortillas, a staple food of Central America which are fried as the base of the dish. Chiles, too, were native to the area and readily available.

    The simplest form of chilaquiles simply topped them with a salsa to soften them somewhat prior to eating: an easy way to fill the stomach. Their cultural significance is as a versatile staple for peasants [source].

    As the dish evolved, it incorporated inexpensive ingredients, including leftovers, to make it a main dish: bits of meat, cheese, or eggs.

    As with most dishes there are regional versions: in sauce (green, red, white sauce), in protein (cheese, chicken, pork, shrimp), garnishes (avocado, beans, cheese, onion, radishes), seasonings and spiciness (epazote, hot chiles), consistency and so on.

    Mexico City is known for using a spicy tomato sauce and always tops each serving with an ample sprig of .

    While the dish may be centuries old in Mexico, the first published recipes found in the U.S. are from a cookbook dating to 1898: El Cocinero Español (The Spanish Cook), by Encarnación Pinedo [source].

      

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