Back when I used to live in San Antonio (yes, in Texas), the small Mexican restaurants in town would serve homemade menudo during brunch hours on the weekends. Once my family discovered this soup, it quickly became a weekend favorite. After all, what is not to love about a rich, spicy, warming soup of hominy and beef tripe? At the time, though, I had no idea that menudo is supposedly a great cure for hangovers … which begs the question: did my parents sneak out to some fun parties while my younger self was sleeping soundly??

Although I do have a soft spot for menudo, I’m also not prepared to mess with cooking tripe at home, so I’ve been searching for alternatives. Then one day, at a little Yucatecan restaurant, I discovered pozole, a hearty, warming, green soup full of hominy and chicken. A while later, Nathan and I randomly stopped into a different little Mexican restaurant for lunch and there was pozole on the menu there too! But theirs was a different version, a rich, spicy, red soup full of hominy and pork (menudo-esque, if you will), and that’s the one we’ve been obsessing over ever since.

After some research, we learned that there are many different regional versions of pozole, roughly categorized into the three colors of the Mexican flag: green (verde), red (rojo), and white (blanco). For our beloved rojo, we eventually dug up two different recipes: one from Señor Bayless himself and one posted on Chowhound. Being the most indecisive people in the world, we couldn’t choose so ended up using parts of both of them. In a moment of insanity, we also decided to double the recipe and ended up with way more pozole than we could handle or even store. But then, that’s when you can count on your sister, friends (like Ben and Erin), and neighbors for backup, right?

You know, with Thanksgiving only days away, you might actually hear your leftover turkey bones and meat whispering ‘pozole’ to you on Friday morning (but not in a creepy way). I know if I do, you just might find me back at the stove again working on another giant cauldron of pozole, a green turkey one this time.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Pork and Leek Dumplings

It’s been a while since I’ve waxed poetic (at least here) about how much I love dumplings. When I really get going, I have been known to declare that dumplings are the snacks of the gods, are so awesome that nearly every culture has developed some version of them and quite possibly, the food item that will eventually bring about world peace. But I will spare you.

Finding that suddenly I have much more free time than I have in the past months, I decided it was time to stock up the freezer with a menagerie of dumplings again. This time, I restricted myself to only two varieties: a trusty pork and ginger filling from Ming Tsai and a new-to-me pork and leek filling from a recent cookbook acquisition, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s gorgeous Beyond the Great Wall. I ended up modifying their dumpling recipe slightly by adding an egg to the filling to help it bind better and by scaling up, since I always make dumplings in big batches for freezing.

Now that I own two of their books, I can officially say that I love this couple of cookbook authors. Their books are more like travel diaries interspersed with recipes and with plenty of beautiful photography, which happen to be three things I love…well, in addition to dumplings, of course.


Cochinita Pibil

Shame on me… waiting until the last possible day to make sure December 2008 is not entirely void of entries! But wait, don’t get mad — I have a gift for you! Yes! Think of it as a holiday treat! Made just for you! …Are you ready for it?

*Drum roll*

I present to you, hot off the press, the shiny and new Index of Recipes page!

Ok ok, so I lied a bit about making it just for you, because really, I also wrote it for me. I was getting mighty tired of flipping back through the archives, page by page, to find some recipe I remember posting a while ago. But that’s because this blog has been around for over a year (!!) now – can you believe it??

Anyway, I hope your holiday treat was not a severe disappointment. If it makes you feel better, I’d send each of you a little stack of these ginger cookies I made for Christmas if I knew all your addresses (more about these cookies in a future post). But a brand new index page is almost as good, no?

For Christmas this year, Nathan and I went down to Santa Cruz and cooked up a Mexican feast for his family, who were kind enough to let us try out some new recipes on them. Check out this spread:

Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Navidad!

Not bad, right? We made some nopales (cactus) salad, fresh guacamole, mashed black beans, red chile rice, wilted greens with chipotle salsa, shredded chicken in red mole, and homemade tortillas. But the star of the whole dinner was the Cochinita Pibil, a Yucatecan slow-roasted pork shoulder wrapped in banana leaves. It was such a hit and so yummy that we proceeded to make it again for our friends Ben, Erin, and Greg a mere 3 days later. As you can imagine, a slow-roasted pork takes a bit of time to make but honestly, other than time, there’s very little effort involved. So there’s no need to be jealous of my very porky Christmas – because a very porky New Year’s is now within your reach.



One of my presents from this past Christmas was a Macy’s gift card (thanks, John and Pam!). Although I had every intention of going into the store and buying some much-needed new jeans, I “accidentally” strolled into the kitchen section. There, sitting on a shelf with a big “50% off” tag on it, was a shiny red enameled cast-iron pot! No, it wasn’t a Le Creuset. It was a “Martha Stewart Collection” but when one is a grad student, one cannot be too picky.

So it was that we came home with Nathan lugging “Martha” up the stairs. A few days later, Martha ventured out of her box and onto our stove, where she helped us prepare a deliciously huge pot of chile verde. We even bought masa and made fresh corn tortillas to celebrate her maiden voyage. *Sniff* She made us so proud.

And honestly, who needs jeans when one has chile verde??