Thursday, June 30, 2011

Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 12 oz. sweet corn
1 15.5 oz. can black beans
1 10 oz. can Ro-Tel tomatoes
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 bulb garlic, roasted and squeezed like a savory toothpaste
2 cups chopped cilantro
3 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed
juice of 2 limes


Open the corn and black beans and empty into a collander. Rinse with cold water until the water runs clear and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, lime juice, chopped onion, garlic paste, cilantro, and chiles. Mix well. Taste. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and additional cilantro, chili, lime, salt, pepper, etc. to taste.

Served chilled.


If you look down on canned produce, you can substitute any of the canned vegetables for their fresh counterparts.  Additionally, you can roast the corn and tomatoes to give them more flavor.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

The use of a red chile in this recipe helps give the finished salsa a pleasing appearance through the introduction of a contrasting color.

2 lbs. avocados, pitted, peeled, and chopped roughly
2 white onions peeled and sliced lengthways
2 lbs. tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and sliced in half crossways
2 jalapenos, cut lengthwise
1 fresh cayenne pepper, chopped
1 bulb garlic, top sliced off
1 tbsp. oil/fat
1/2 c. cilantro
juice of 2 limes
water or stock

Place the onion, tomatillo, garlic, jalapeno, and cayenne in a roasting pan or cookie sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, toss, and roast in a 450 degree oven until tender and a bit of color starts to develop.  Transfer roasted garlic to a cutting board. Remove the remainder of the roasted vegetables to a suitable blending vessel, add the avocado, cilantro, and lime juice.  Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the garlic bulb and transfer the paste to the blending vessel.  Blend thoroughly, adjusting consistency with water or stock if necessary.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, additional lime or cilantro if necessary.

Served chilled.  Makes about 2 quarts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tortas la Vista!

So, today I visited Tortas la Vista for the third time.  This is a new torta place that opened up in the old location of the now-defunct Tortas las Llardas.  Llardas was never very well received.

Tortas La Vista is very well received indeed!

Today I had four chicken tacos rolled in hand made corn tortillas.  They were dressed as one might expect, with fresh cilantro and onions, but also came with a side of grilled onions and a grilled red jalapen, along with limes.  Two salsas accompanied the tacos, a wonderful avocado based green salsa and a murderously powerful red sauce that the waitress warned me was "picante."  I didn't believe her and pretty much drenched my first taco in it, and almost died for my troubles.  I very seldomly encounter a salsa that causes me pain, but I was sure feeling the pain today.


I discovered the secret was to either skip the red sauce entirely, or to moderate its fiery rampage by combining it with some of the lovely green sauce.  Not wanting to admit total defeat, I went with option two.

I think Tortas la Vista is a pretty good deal for lunch if you're in the area.  The four tacos above cost me a grand total of five dollars and wound up being exactly enough food for lunch, not too much, not too little.

Now of course Tortas la Vista sells tortas too, and I've actually eaten one and seen family members eat a few others, and all were well received.  The varieties that I've tried or seen eaten are the Michoacana, with carnita meat, avocado, tomatoes, onion, sour cream, and lettuce, the Al Pastor, with marinated pork leg, pineapple, and onions, and the Janitzio, with grilled chicken, ham, and cheese.  Tortas normally run $5.85, but during lunch you can get a torta, chips, and a drink for just $5.95.  Personally, I find tacos more satisfying and filling, so I think the taco deal is a somewhat better bargain, but all in all Tortas la Vista has been quite a pleasant find in my neighborhood.  It doesn't help that they awesome tres leches cakes in both regular and chocolate flavors available for dessert.

Tortas la Vista
2021 Mangum Rd.
Houston, TX 77092

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Monday, March 21, 2011


Over the weekend, I had a chance to eat at a restaurant I'd driven by many times in the past while on the way to other restaurants.  Teotihuacan, on Airline near the Canino Farmer's Market, is serving up some pretty good food.  Let's start with their salsas: 


The standard salsa service includes a smoky red sauce and a creamy green sauce, both were excellent.  The red sauce clearly had chipotle peppers, the smoky taste was unmistakable.

For entrees, I had the "house specialty" carnitas, for $9.99 and they were ok, not great, but ok.  The carnitas, three sliced of pork loin, came served on one of those fajita sizzler plates with avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream, rice, beans, tomatillo sauce, grilled onions, and tortillas.  The problem was that they were rather dry, I think they had been broiled or grilled with a little too much enthusiasm.  They weren't so bad that I sent them back or didn't enjoy them, but they certainly needed a generous helping of the tomatillo sauce that accompanied them in order to add some moistness.  I think this dish would be better if the pork was simmered in the tomatillo sauce and served in a little crockery.  

2011-03-19_13-03-51_576 This dish reinforces my already very-high-opinion of my own carnitas recipe, which yields meat that is both juicy and crispy, the very definition of carnita excellence!

So far as restaurant carnitas, I have to say that I still suggest Spanish Flowers, also on Airline, if you're in the area and looking for carnitas.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I've decided that I'm not a huge fan of Teotihuacan's beans.  Again, they weren't terrible or inedible or even bad, they just weren't my favorite.  The beans were very tomato-ey, so that it was more like eating tomato soup with beans rather than eating beans with some tomato in them.

Overall this was a large and satisfying dish.  I was only able to eat about half my pork, so I was able to take the rest of it home along with some beans and onions to make little sandwiches out of bollilos for dinner.  These were delicious.

My dining companions (my parents!) both got shrimp dishes for $12.99, and they looked basically the same so I only took a picture of one of them.  The dishes were so similar in fact that my folks actually got their orders mixed up, with Dad getting Mom's order of Caliente Shrimp (that's what they call it on the menu).  I am still a little foggy on what the differences were supposed to be between the two shrimp dishes that we ordered.  I think it comes down to one of them having bacon-wrapped shrimp and the other having cheese.  Both dishes came with rice, beans, pico, guacamole, and tortillas.


Teotihuacan's guacamole is sort of odd.  It seems to consist of only avocado, cilantro, and lime juice.  I am more accustomed to eating guacamole with all of that in addition to a little tomato, onion, and jalapeno.  I'm not sure if this method of preparation is a regional Mexican thing or just "the way they do things at Teotihuacan."  It was good, but different.

Mom said that what this dish really needed was a piece of crusty bread with which to sop up all the ranchero sauce; she made due with a spoon.  She said it was delicious, so take note that you may want to stop at the panaderia a few blocks up the street and pick up some bolillos before stopping by Teotihuacan.

So, let's summarize.  Teotihuacan serves an excellent selection of salsas.  They make their tortillas, both corn and flour, in-house.  They have large portion sized and their food is well presented.  Their carnitas are not the best, but they are servicable and they bring you plenty of them for ten dollars.  Their beans and guacamole are notably different from any that I'd eaten before and while not necessarily a personal favorite, were certainly well executed.  Service was prompt and friendly.  The dining room was very similar to any of a number of other dining rooms I'd seen in moderately priced Mexican restaurants.  I really got a Taqueria la Tapatia vibe from the place, if that gives you an idea of what to expect.

Despite giving them a ding for the dry carnitas, and the odd bean and guacamole preparations, I liked this placed and hope to try a few more of their dishes out in the future.

Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe
HOUSTON, TX, 77009

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Miller's Cafe! Other Burger News! (MAYBE!)

People have been telling me to go to Miller's Cafe for about two or three years now, and yesterday I finally visited.  I hadn't eaten in about 24 hours, so I ordered the bacon double cheese burger with jalapenos with an order of fries on the side.  About ten minutes later, this arrived:

The picture doesn't really do this burger justice.  It was enormous.  Miller's hamburger patties are the thin, fast-food style that I prefer.  It was dressed as one might expect with torn leaf lettuce, white onion, pickle, and tomato.  The cheese was perfectly melted.

This was the juciest burger I've can ever remember eating, and it was wonderful.  Happily, the poppy-seed bun as up to the task and held together admirably until the burger was completely consumed. 

I was really struck by the copious amount of crispy bacon that came on this burger.  It was almost too much, I might say, if there was any such thing as too much bacon.  I appreciated that the bacon was cooked crispy; I think the crunchy texture really contributes to the burger experience.  Limp bacon doesn't belong anywhere near a burger.

The fries weren't anything to write home about.  They seemed to me to be frozen, skin-on potatoes, nothing special, and they got soggy pretty quickly.  Their sweet potato fries are something else entirely.  I'm not a huge fan, but my dining companions ordered them and they seemed to be fresh-cut and very thin, like a shoestring cut.

This was overall the best burger I've eaten that I didn't make myself in as long as I can remember.  But!  In Other Burger News (Maybe!) it looks like the much-ballyhooed Hubcap Grill might be expanding into my neighborhood.  Victor's Cafe on West 18th. has closed, but while driving by the location the other day, I saw that the Hubcap Grill truck was parked outside, and there seem to be a great number of hubcaps festooned across the front of the building. If it's true, it will be nice to see another locally owned restraurant of quality open in the area.

Edit:  Confirmed, a new location for the Hubcap grill is coming soon!

Miller's Cafe
3830 N. Shepherd
Houston, TX 77018

Mon - Fri 11AM to 9PM
Sat 11AM to 5PM
Closed Sunday

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Corn Cracker!

OK, time to start blogging again!

This is a recipe for a crispy corn cracker.

Corn Cracker
2 parts flour
1 part corn meal
1/2 part buter, cut small dice
1 tbsp. cumin powder
1 tbsp. salt
~1 cup cold water (as needed)

Salt and cumin amounts are given for 4 cups flour.

Combine flour, corn meal, and butter in a mixing bowl and mix on slow setting until butter is fully broken up and incorporated. Slowly add water while mixing until dough forms. Roll out on hard smooth surface, dusting with flour as necessary. Cut cracker into your desired shape. I suggest long triangles, say 16 inches long by 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide at the base.

Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until just crisp. They should not get too dark, if they darken you have overcooked them.

When cut into points as described above and accompanied with sweet potato rolls, corn muffins, and white bread, these can add a dramatic element to your bread basket as they tower over the table.

Serve with a dip; they're good with hummus. I'll post my black-eyed pea and peanut butter hummus recipe after I make it for New Year's!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Back during the brief time I actually cooked for a living, my main duties were making breads and desserts. Here are two recipes that I prepared every day in order to fill the restaurant's complimentary bread baskets. Both would make an excellent addition to your holiday meals, in my humble opinion.

Sweet Potato Rolls
5 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
8 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup Oil
25 oz. Sweet potatoes, mashed
1 Egg
2 c. Buttermilk
  1. Combine ingredients and mix well, until a smooth batter forms.
  2. Transfer to greased muffin tins and bake at 375° until a thermometer or toothpick inserted into a muffin in the center of the pan comes out clean. Muffins should have a golden brown exterior and moist consistency.
Sweet Corn Muffins
1.5 cups Oil
1.5 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
3 cups Flour
1.5 cups Cornmeal
2 pinches Salt
4.5 tsp. Baking powder
2 pinches Nutmeg
1.5 cups Milk
  1. Combine ingredients and mix well, until a smooth batter forms.
  2. Transfer to greased muffin tins and bake pan at 350° until golden brown and a thermometer or toothpick inserted into a muffin in the middle of the pan comes out clean. Muffins should develop a somewhat crusty exterior.