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    Recipe: Sopa Azteca from 'El Mirador' Restaurant in San Antonio

    My family has been going to El Mirador in San Antonio, Texas every Saturday for the past 30 years for their Azteca and Xochitl soups which are made specifically for Saturday. Those in the know in San Antonio (which have included former U.S. Presidents, and other movers and shakers in the business world) come in on Saturdays to enjoy the soup and hob nob for this ‘insiders event”, the Azteca and Xochitl soups.

    In presenting a recipe, there’s no other recipe for Sopa Azteca that I wanted to write about, except for the Sopa Azteca that El Mirador has been making for decades, which comes from a family recipe originating from the Trevino family who started the restaurant back in the 60s. Here’s the Sopa Azteca recipe which I found after doing some research, in archives from a feature published in a 1986 newspaper.

    Sopa Azteca from El Mirador in San Antonio

    1½ teaspoons cooking oil
    2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
    6 medium cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
    2 pounds large red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
    1½ tablespoons oregano
    1½ tablespoons basil
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    2½ quarts of water
    2 pounds chicken pieces
    3 or 4 bay leaves
    Sprig epazote (optional – see note)
    1 6-ounce can tomato paste
    1 cup bell pepper cut in thin slices about an inch long
    1 cup celery cut diagonally in thin slices
    1½ cups diced zucchini
    1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
    salt to taste, if desired
    1 medium potato, peeled, parboiled, diced, and fried
    15 small corn tortillas, cut in strips about ¼ inch wide, deep fried and drained
    ½ pound fresh spinach, washed, stems removed, and shredded
    1 avocado, cubed
    1 pound shredded mozzarella or Monterrey Jack cheese

    1) Put oil in a large skillet. Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are translucent and soft – about 8-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, basil, cumin, and black pepper. Cook until tomatoes are soft, 10-15 minutes. Note: To prepare the tomatoes how El Mirador does, instead of cooking them - roast them on the grill until they are lightly blackened.
    2) Blend mixture in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
    3) Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add chicken, bay leaf, and epazote. Skim off fat and foam. Add puree and tomato paste, and cook until chicken is tender about 20 minutes. Remove chicken. Skin, shred, and set aside.
    4) Add bell pepper, celery, zucchini and carrot to broth and cook about 10 minutes, until crisp but tender. Remove vegetables from broth, so as not to overcook. Salt broth to taste.
    5) To Serve, place vegetables and potato in a large soup bowl. Add, in order, tortilla strips, spinach (around the top – shredded chicken, cubed avocado, and cheese. Pour hot broth into soup bowl and serve. Each bowl must be prepared as described to distribute vegetables and tortillas evenly.
    Serves 12
    *Note, additionally any Mexican white cheese (such as a crumbly Chihuahua cheese) can also be crumbled on top to add additional flavor to the soup.
    -Zee Diaz

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on January 30, 2014

    How To: Quick 15 Minute Buñuelos

    The weather is cold! I sat ‘round the fireplace all weekend! This means it’s a great time to have some Buñuelos, Mexican style. You can do them a couple ways. There’s the short way, which involves buying a premade pack of flour tortillas, or you can make the dough yourself. Either way, they’re a great crown pleaser! Here’s how to make the super quick version from tortillas:

    1 pkg of 10” burrito tortillas
    2 cups of cooking oil
    1 cup of sugar
    3 tsp cinnamon
    3 tsp Nestle’s Quick Chocolate

    Directions: Cut the tortillas as you would a pizza, into wedges. Heat oil for frying; once oil is hot, deep fry tortilla triangles until crispy and golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and coat with mixture sugar, cinnamon and chocolate.

    -By Thalia Valencia courtesy Comida Caliente

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on January 21, 2014

    Recipe: Pinto Beans (Frijoles) a la Charra

    1 (16-ounce) package dried pinto beans
    Water to cover
    2 (10-ounce) smoked ham hocks
    2 quarts water
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
    2 tablespoons of olive oil
    1 large green bell pepper, diced
    6 green onions, chopped
    4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
    3 stalks of celery (sliced)
    Cumin powder

    Take the pinto beans and cover with water. Let sit covered with water overnight in the fridge. In the morning, add 2 quarts of water (you may add chicken stock to the water to make more flavorful) to the beans. Add the ham hocks, water and salt as necessary as well.

    In a separate frying pan heat olive oil, add green bell pepper, onions, garlic, celery, and cumin powder. Saute until onions are clear.

    Add vegetables to the stock, ham hocks, and beans. Bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for at least 3-4 hours, or until tender. Add a few stalks of cilantro as well for flavor.   To serve, slice jalapenos on top as desired.

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on December 02, 2013

    Beverage Brian on 'What's in My Beer'!

    Like a lot of folks, we drink beer here at But how much do we really know about beer? Well not much, so we learned after speaking with Beverage Brian.

    Here’s Brian’s 101 on 'What's in My Beer':
    Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from water, malted grains (typically barley), hops and yeast. Its alcoholic content comes from the process of fermentation, which converts the simple sugars (carbohydrates) in the grains, into alcohol. The four main ingredients in beer are:

    1) WATER
    More than 90% of beer is Water. A good water supply is essential. Some breweries have their own wells. A brewer used 5-7 liters of water to produce 1 liter of beer. Some of the water is used for heating and cooling and also for cleaning.

    2) GRAINS
    Barley is the most commonly used. Barley has an advantage in that it can be preserved for a long time after harvest.

    Barley must be malted first. It is the malted barley, which gives beer its particular colors and taste. The malting process starts to release the sugars essential for the fermentation. Un-malted Barley, gives a rich, smooth, grainy flavor to beer. It contributes foam retention (head) to the finish beer. Clarity problems make un-malted barley inappropriate for light beers. It is essential for dry Stout.

    Corn products have traditionally been the adjunct (flavoring additives) of choice among brewers. They are consistent in quality, composition and availability. Corn has a sweet, smooth flavor that is compatible with most beer styles. It is popular in American breweries and also lowers the protein and polyphenols content of beers, thereby lightening body and reducing beer ‘haze’.
    Oats are high in fat, protein and oil, not good components for beer production. However, oats are sometimes used and they work well for Oatmeal Stout.
    Rice is the second most widely used adjunct material in the U.S. in the production of light colored lager beer. It promotes dry, crisp and snappy flavors.
    Wheat malt is used not only for wheat beers but also 3-5% is used in a malt- based beer. Its protein gives a fuller mouth feel and enhanced beer head stability. The downside; it contains 13-18% more protein than barley malt and consists primarily of gluten that can result in beer haze.

    3) HOPS
    Hops or “Green Gold” comes from a climbing plant with male and female flowers; only the female flowers are used.

    There are more than 45 varieties varying from bitter to aromatic. The hops are the flowering cones of a perennial vining plant HUMULUS LUPULUS (HOPS) and a cousin of the cannabis variety (sorry no THC in this stuff) that thrives in climates similar to the ones that grapes do. The female cones only are used. Hops have been used for ages as seasonings, preventing spoilage from bacteria and clarifying (act as a natural filter) the beer. Hops help with head retention and please the palate. Hops put the Bitter in beer.

    4) YEASTS
    Yeast is a microscopic member of the fungus family and is a living organism. Yeast converts the sugars obtained from the malt into alcohol- a process called-FERMENTATION. The Latin name for brewing yeast is Saccharomyces cervisiae. Different yeast strains give different flavors to the beer; therefore the brewer takes special care in selecting the yeast strain.

    -Brian has decades of experience in running bars. He’s a former bartender at the Ritz Carlton, and currently runs the beverage program for a country club in North Carolina. 

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on November 21, 2013

    How To: Mole Verde con Pollo- Mexican Green Pumpkin Seed Mole with Chicken (PHOTOS)

    -by Nathan Gutierrez

    Mole pronounced “mol-ay” is a term in Mexican Cuisine that can mean sauce, or refer to a variety of complex sauces that combine nuts, seeds, chilies, and sometimes even chocolate. Today I present “Mole Verde” literally translates to “Green Mole” it is made from a combination of green leafy vegetables, green tomatillos, garlic, onions, and often times the addition of pumpkin seeds.

    There are many variations of Mole Verde. My version of Mole Verde combines elements of my grandmother’s recipe (I use her idea of using Scallion greens and blending the greens raw for convenience) and my mother’s friends Carmen’s recipe which uses the herb “Epazote” a pungent, earthy, meaty tasting herb. In addition I love combine the sauce with some toasted sesame seeds, and sweet, smokey and peppery spices commonly used in other types of mole’s such as allspice, cloves, cumin and cinnamon. However they must be used in balance to make sure they marry harmoniously with everything else.

    Ingredients to make stock and cook chicken:

    -1 whole chicken bone-in 3- 4 lbs or chicken leg quarters
    -1/2 onion
    -4 cloves garlic
    -a small bunch of fresh mint leaves (about fistful)
    -2 bay leaves
    -1/2 teaspoon oregano
    -1/2 teaspoon thyme
    -2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
    -salt to taste

    Ingredients for sauce:
    -4 large romaine lettuce leaves
    -1 small bunch of radish leaves (buy radishes at the grocery store with green tops and remove to use for this recipe, gives the sauce a peppery flavor)
    -1 small bunch of spinach leaves (gives the sauce a very vibrant green color)
    -1 medium bunch of fresh cilantro
    -1 small bunch of fresh Epazote (I know this ingredient can be hard to obtain please if you cannot obtain it simply omit it, you will still get a delicious sauce, however Epazote herb adds a wonderful pungent earthy taste that compliments the other greens)
    -4 whole scallions (remove bottom brown parts)
    -8 medium fresh tomatillos
    -1 fresh Chile Poblano
    -1-2 Chile Serrano(more or less depending on how spicy you want it, add at least one for flavor)
    -1/2 onion
    -4 cloves of garlic
    -1/4 cup sesame seeds
    -1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds
    -2 cinnamon stick (can use 1 tsp or so ground cinnamon)
    -8-10 allspice berries (can use ½ tsp. ground allspice)
    -1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (may use ground in place of whole spice)
    -2 cloves (the spice)

    Clean chicken really well by running under running water,, my mother rinse it with some vinegar, and salt then drains that water. Remove skin if desired as well.
    (2) Set chicken in a large pot, cover with water, add all the ingredients listed under “stock ingredients” (the onion, garlic, mint leaves, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, bouillon powder, and salt). Bring to a boil and simmer 45 minutes covered. Then turn- off, set aside.

     greenmole2(3) Meanwhile prepare all your other ingredients, chop into large pieces all the greens which are the romaine lettuce leaves, radish leaves, spinach leaves, cilantro, epazote, scallions, fresh tomatillos, chile Poblano, and leave the Serrano peppers whole.. Fill your sink (assuming it’s clean) with water, and add the greens to give them a good wash, swoosh them around and then drain the water. Repeat this process at least 3 times to make sure they are clean. Set them aside.
    (4) Now in a small pan over medium low heat, toast your pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and allspice berries until sesame seeds and a golden color and make a popping sound. Set aside. At this point you can choose to blend the spices and seeds in a spice grinder, or blend them with everything else in a blender if you know your blender is strong enough along with other stuff in the following directions.greenmole4
    By now your chicken should be cooked, and stock made (while it was simmering you were preparing everything else for this dish). Now using the stock from the chicken, blend all ingredients in batches until smooth, and set them aside. (Be careful the stock is hot, and the contents in the blender can jump out from the heat and pressure, so be cautious, cover it tightly with a towel, etc.

    (6) When all sauce ingredients are blended smooth, heat a large deep-pot with a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil or lard (I like to use these feel free to use a different oil if you do not have these) when oil is hot, quickly add all blended ingredients for the sauce, bring to a boil, and simmer atleast 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.greenmole6

    Add chicken pieces and cook in sauce for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Enjoy with warm corn tortillas, or a side of rice, beans, your favorite salsa, etc.








    (0 votes)
    Posted by on November 13, 2013

    Carne Guisada Recipe by 'Comida Caliente' Ladies

    Hi guys, have you been watching the Comida Caliente ladies' webisodes?  WE HAVE!  The latest recipe is for a delicious carne guisada recipe.  Carne guisada is my favorite type of taco, so this recipe is going to help me make it at home.  It's hard to find good carne guisada.  If you make it, send a picture to Instagram: @comidacaliente or FB (/comidacaliente) using the hashtag: #CalienteCarneGuisada  And here's the link to the latest webisode, which is webisode 2.

    Carne Guisada
    (Stewed Beef)
    3 lbs beef, cut into half-inch cubes
    2 Tbsp flour
    1 onion, chopped
    1 tomato, seeded and chopped
    1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    1 cup tomato sauce
    2 ½ cups water
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    1 ½ tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp oregano
    2 tbsp oil
    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add meat and brown. Drain all but 1 tsp of oil, add spices, tomatoes and onions; sauté until vegetables are tender, about another 10 minutes.
    Pushing the meat over to one side of the pan, add flour and stir until flour is incorporated with liquid (forms a roux). Add water and tomato sauce, salt to taste. Bring to boil, reduce to medium low, cover and simmer until tender, at least 35 minutes more.
    Serves 6.

    -Zee Diaz
    Zee is a writer for

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on October 21, 2013

    Secrets to Picking a Sweet Pineapple in the Fruit Aisle

    My goal was a juicy, ripe pineapple. I was in the fruit aisle, and dreaming of eating future sweet pineapple slices. However, between me and this vision of freshly cut pineapple was the daunting task of picking- not just any pineapple, but a good pineapple. And that my friends, is hard work.

    Too many times I’ve ended up at home like a lot of us, cutting through that prickly pineapple skin in hopes of finding sweet fresh fruit, and ended up sorely disappointed with bland pineapple so tasteless. Yes, I eventually end up throwing those insipid pineapple out completely.

    Can I say disappointing? So back to the fruit aisle. I decided to give a pineapple purchase another go. And this was thebestpineapple…EVER.

    How’d I do it? Here’s what I did:
    I picked up the pineapples and leaned towards pineapples that were heavier than others of the same size. Also, in comparing the fruits, some were more yellow/orange under their skin than others which had a green/grey tinge to their pineapple exterior. And then? The most scientific secret of all – that quite frankly, was pretty embarrassing and at the time I certainly wasn’t sure it was going to work. I smelled them! The pineapple that smelled most like sweet fresh pineapple was the winner. I got a few strange looks, but it was so worth it when I got home and cut the pineapple open. One note, there were a few that smelled sweet – but looking at the bottom, some of them were quite easy to push at the bottom –which to my mind indicates a too ripe fruit.  So be careful it's not too "squishy" to the touch at the bottom.

    Here’s to wishing you luck with your next pineapple selection!

    -Zee Diaz
    Zee is a writer for

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on October 01, 2013

    El Salvadoran Quesadilla vs Tex-Mex Quesadilla: What's the Difference?

    Growing up in San Antonio, Texas well our staple food there is Tex-Mex. So I’d say while living in S.A., 2 out of 3 meals a day were Tex-Mex. Yes, delicious. And quesadillas were always something we’d eat on Thursdays at a restaurant called Las Palapas. My entire family would head out to the restaurant and we would look forward all week to “Quesadilla Thursday”.

    To me, I always knew quesadillas as a salty main course or potentially even an appetizer. The Tex-Mex quesadilla consists of a white cheese like Monterrey jack or cheddar sandwiched between two grilled tortillas with any number of fillings: steak, chicken, vegetable etc. And my favorite part was and still is the pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream that accompany Tex-Mex quesadillas.

    (0 votes)
    Posted by on September 27, 2013
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