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El tango guacamole
Guacamole, an avocado-based dip that began in 
pre-Hispanic Mexico.
Mexican cuisine is primarily a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, especially Spanish, elements added after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. The basic staples are native foods, such as corn, beans and chili peppers. Europeans introduced a large number of other foods, the most important of which were meats from domesticated animals (beef, pork, chicken, goat, and sheep), dairy products (especially cheese), and various herbs and spices.
While the Spanish initially tried to impose their own diet on the country, this was not possible and eventually the foods and cooking techniques began to be mixed, especially in colonial era convents. African and Asian influences were also introduced into the mixture during this era as a result of African slavery in New Spain and the Manila-Acapulco Galleons.
Over the centuries, this resulted in regional cuisines based on local conditions, such as those in Oaxaca, Veracruz and the Yucatán Peninsula. Mexican cuisine is an important aspect of the culture, social structure and popular traditions of Mexico. The most important example of this connection is the use of mole for special occasions and holidays, particularly in the South and Center regions of the country.
Mexican cuisine is as complex as any other world cuisine, such as those of China, France, Italy and Japan. It is created mostly with ingredients native to Mexico, as well as those brought over by the Spanish conquistadors, with some new influences since then. In addition to staples, such as corn and chile peppers, native ingredients include tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla, as well as ingredients not generally used in other cuisines, such as edible flowers, vegetables like huauzontle and papaloquelite, or small criollo avocados, whose skin is edible.
European contributions include pork, chicken, beef, cheese, herbs and spices, as well as some fruits. Tropical fruits such as guava, prickly pear, sapote, mangoes, bananas, pineapple and cherimoya (custard apple) are popular, especially in the center and south of the country. It has been debated how much Mexican food is still indigenous and how much is European. However, the basis of the diet is still corn and beans, with chile pepper as a seasoning, as they are complementary foods.


Beef Fajita Burrito

Two Mexican classics combine to make this dish.

Serves 4.

1 pound Beef sirloin (steak), cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 medium Green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium Onion, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 Tablespoon Oil
Flour tortillas
Sour cream
Monterey Jack cheese

Toss the beef with the cumin and chili powder. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or wok. Add the beef, peppers, and onion and cook quickly. Add the mixture to the tortillas. Top with salsa, sour cream and cheese. Roll up the burrito. Serve immediately.

Chorizo Empanadas

These small, savory pies make great party appetizers.

Makes about 2 dozen.

4 cups Flour
2 Eggs
5 Tablespoons Vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups Milk

1 1/2 pound Chorizo sausage, ground
1 medium Onion, diced
1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Salsa

Oil for frying

Place the flour, eggs, shortening, and salt in a food processor bowl. Pulse until well mixed. Add half of the milk and pulse until blended. Add the rest of the milk and pulse until a ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Brown the chorizo in a heavy skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is just soft. Drain off any excess fat. Mix in the salsa. Set aside. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick on a floured cutting board. Cut out three-inch circles. Place 1 Tablespoon of the chorizo mix in the center of each circle. Fold into a half-circle. Crimp the outer edge with a fork to seal. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the empanadas and brown lightly on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Mexican Potato Salad

If you like a little heat in your food, add a diced jalapeno to this recipe.

Serves 4.

10 New red potatoes
1 small Green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small Red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup Onion, diced
1 Tablespoon Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1/4 cup Lime juice
3/4 teaspoon Cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until just soft. Cool and quarter. Toss in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate.

Mexican-Style Strata

Serve this do-ahead casserole at your next brunch.
Serves 6-8
1 pound Chorizo sausage (ground)

1 medium Onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon Garlic, minced

1/4 cup Mild green chiles, chopped

5 Eggs2 cups Milk

2 cups Monterey Jack, grated

1 loaf Bread, 

firmFresh cilantro, chopped

Brown the sausage. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just soft. Drain off any excess fat. Toss in the green chiles. Set aside. Lightly whip the eggs. Whisk in the milk. Set aside. Lightly oil a medium casserole dish. Layer the casserole as follows: 1/3 bread, 1/2 chorizo mix, 1/3 cheese, 1/3 bread, 1/2 chorizo mix, 1/3 cheese and 1/3 bread. Pour on the egg mix. Top with 1/3 cheese. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (overnight is best). Pre-heat the oven to 350. Place casserole on cookie sheet. Bake for one hour or until the cheese is lightly browned. Garnish with the cilantro. Serve warm.


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