Street Food of Mexico: Cookbook Review

by Nancy Ellison
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Street food of MexicoHugo Ortega's Street Food of Mexico rocks! And if you are planning a holiday cocktail party and want a break from pigs in blankets and crab cakes, this book is all you need!

One cannot be in Houston without swooning over a Hugo Ortega restaurant. Delicious evenings can be spent at the foodie delight, Backstreet Café, or his original - Hugo’s, but my favorite is Caracol – the best Coastal Mexican restaurant in the world. (See One for the Table review in archives)

Mexican street food, in this book, is not just the simple taco that comes to mind. Ortega traveled the breadth of Mexico re-discovering the local foods of his homeland, giving us delicious and unexpected recipes. Just scanning the pages of Street Food of MEXICO is a sensual treat.

I have never seen a book with more surprises: Mitchelada con camarones (Spicy Beer Cocktail with Shrimp), Salbutes con pato en recado negro (Thick Tortillas Topped with Duck in a Black Seasoning Paste), Guajolotas (Tamal Stuffed Sandwiches from Mexico City}, Ensalada de jumiles con nopales (fresh Crawfish and Cactus Salad), Camotes Poblanos (Sweet Potato Candied Rolls)… it goes on of course!

street food of mexico inside 

I love squash blossoms! How surprised I was to find a recipe for Squash Blossom Quesadillas!

Quesadillas de Flor de Calabaza - Squash Blossom Quesadillas

(This recipe comes from Puebla – the city that has the best enchiladas.)

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
24 squash blossoms, washed and stemmed
24 epazote springs - leaves only (note: Epazote has a very “distinctive” taste, but one can substitute tarragon, Mexican oregano or cilantro)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 warm regular corn tortillas
1/2 lb quesillo AKA queso Oaxaca
1/2 cup salsa de tomatillo

Place sauté pan over medium heat, add ¼ cup olive oil and preheat 1 minute. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash blossoms, epazote leaves and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Stir gently. The squash blossoms will wilt quickly. Immediately transfer the sautéed squash blossom mix to a bowl and it will continue to cook of left in the hot pan. Set aside.

Place comal over low heat, preheat 5 minutes. Place tortillas on the hot comal or griddle. In the center of each tortilla put 8 strings of quesillo and 3 cooked squash blossoms. Close tortillas into half moon shape. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on the other side. Flip the quesadillas and allow them to crisp on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to warm plate and serve.

Nancy Ellison, award winning photojournalist and celebrity portraitist, has authored fourteen books of photographs, including "Romeo and Juliet: The Love Story in Dance" and "Starlet". Her latest book is "Wagner's Eternal Ring".

 

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