Having just returned from Merida, Mexico and holiday memories are still fresh in our minds, we wanted to share a few of the city’s highlights.
Merida is the cultural heart and soul of the Yucatan with multiple museums, art galleries, restaurants, theaters and stores. Brion and I have made a point of staying in hotels which are a close walk to Paseo de Montejo. This main avenue of the city was named after the founder of Merida, Francisco de Montejo. Built at the end of the 19th century and inspired by the boulevards of France, Paseo de Montejo used to be the site of mega mansions belonging to the well-to-do families in the city. While many of them now are the headquarters of national and international banks and companies, they still retain the heritage of the city.
Music and dancing play an important role in the day to day life of Merida’s residents. Outdoor, live performances can be seen frequently around the city. Cultural activities are plentiful on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The main road is closed off to traffic on Sundays for ‘Family Bike Day’, a day when families are encouraged to get out and ride their bikes along Montejo avenue. This historic city offers a wonderful insight into its rich culture, incredible cuisine and friendly people.
If you care to read about some of the tours we took last year while we were in Merida, check out my blog articles on this site from February 2019.
Today’s blog recipe is called Mexican ‘lasagna’ due to the layering of tortillas in place of lasagna pasta noodles.
In a large saucepan, scramble-fry ground beef with celery, onion & green pepper. Add tomatoes, enchilada sauce, olives salt & pepper; simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes.
Heat oil in skillet. Cut 2 tortillas into quarters; cook remaining 6 tortillas & the quarters in oil till crisp & golden. Drain on paper towels. Set aside quartered tortillas & break up remaining six. In a bowl, combine cheddar, cottage cheese & slightly beaten egg.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a 9 X 9-inch baking dish, spread 1/3 of meat mixture. Top with 1/2 of the cheese mixture then 1/2 of the BROKEN tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with meat mixture. Top with quartered tortillas.
Bake for 30 minutes then allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.
Today, March 21st, our family is honoring the memory of our wonderful father’s birth date. Although it has been 14 years since his passing, he lives on in our hearts. It never ceases to amaze me how many things your parents do that are imprinted on you at childhood. As I grow older, I see and hear my Dad living on through me.
It seems, we never fully appreciate our parents until they are gone. I’m told, ‘its a kid thing’, which doesn’t really seem to make it any better. I think my Dad would have enjoyed this meal I’m preparing today. It has an earthiness about it.
Root Vegetables, the unsung heroes of winter, sometimes have a reputation for being boring but they are anything but that. The perfect combination of hearty, satisfying and comforting, when roasted, the flavors become more complex.
Stuffing for some of us is the main event. I love to stuff anything –meat, vegetables, desserts, breads etc., etc. My goal is to push the boundaries on what filling consists of, so it changes it enough to be unique, but still reminds you of the original.
This roasted root vegetable stuffing is everything you love about stuffing with the added bonus of sweet roasted vegetables. The cracked mustard sauce drizzled over the stuffed pork tenderloin brings it all together.
Roasted Root Vegetable Stuffed Tenderloin
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a bowl combine onion, potato & carrots with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt & a dash of pepper. Toss to coat well & place on baking pan. Roast for about 35 minutes or until tender & golden. Remove from oven; set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in the parsley, onion powder, garlic powder & 1/4 tsp pepper. Add bread crumbs, Romano cheese & chicken broth. Gently stir in roasted vegetables.
To butterfly pork tenderloin, trim any fat & the 'silverskin' from meat. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise cut down the center of the pork roast, cutting almost to, but not through, the other side of the meat. Spread the tenderloin flat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound meat lightly with the flat side of meat mallet to make a rectangle. Remove plastic wrap.
Spoon the stuffing over the tenderloin to within 1-inch of the sides. Roll up in a spiral, beginning with the short side. If necessary, tie meat with string ; place seam side down on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush with 2 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter.
Adjust oven heat to 375 F. Roast, uncovered for 45 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 F. Prepare Cracked Mustard Sauce; slice tenderloin & spoon sauce over meat. Serve.
Cracked Mustard Sauce
In a small saucepan, cook garlic in butter until tender, but not brown. Stir in flour, mustard & dried thyme. Season with salt & pepper; add vegetable broth & light cream. Cook & stir until thickened & bubbly. Cook & stir for 1 minute more.
Soup + Stew = Stewp! No explanation needed here. Simply put, an easy one-pot meal that can feature fish, poultry or meat and vegetables. It can either be a tomato based broth or a creamy one. You can serve stewp with crackers, crusty bread or a baguette and a basic salad completes the meal. Some people would tell you that stewp should be like a thickened soup because anything thicker is technically stew. Others think that its more like a thin, watered down stew.
Preparing stewp is so flexible, its hard to fail at it. Some recipes call for plenty of starchy vegetables, which will make the liquid thicken, others call for big chunks of meat or poultry and chunky vegetables to bulk out the soup stock.
I had never really heard the ‘stewp’ word used until the year we went to France. My sister, Loretta had accompanied Brion and I on this trip. The three of us have many wonderful memories, some of which I have spoken of in my blogs over the last few years. One morning while we were in Southern France, Loretta mentioned she wanted to pick up a few gifts for her son and daughters before it was time to return home. Not wanting to make a boring time for Brion, we had him drop us off at some small boutique shops. Of course, as shopping goes, it took quite a bit longer than we expected. In the mean time, Brion, having heard about something called stewp, decided to have an authentic bowl of it for lunch while waiting. When he explained it to us later, it sounded fabulous.
After we got back home, I tried to replicate the ‘taste of his memory’. Obviously that was not possible but I think this recipe is a good try.
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil. Saute onion & garlic until translucent but not brown. Add next ELEVEN ingredients; stir together. Cover & simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add fish pieces, salt & pepper; stir gently, cover & cook for 5 minutes. Add scallops & clams, cover & cook for 5 minutes until scallops are opaque. Discard bay leaves. Serve.
From what archaeologists can determine, pita bread originated with peoples west of the Mediterranean. Pitas have been both a bread and a utensil throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.It is a rather simple bread that could be made with limited technology. Pitas are cooked quickly at a relatively high temperature. The flat dough expands dramatically to form an interior pocket from steam.
Pitas’ popularity is partially attributed to using the pocket like a sandwich bread. Many traditional cultures use the pita more like a soft taco or the pita is pulled apart into pieces and dipped in a variety of sauces.
The possibilities of being able to pack, dip or wrap whatever you choose in the pita bread is limitless. Their taste can only be appreciated when eating your pita with different foods that will compliment them.
Although pitas are enjoyed all through the year, they seem like an easy summer meal to enjoy.
In a large skillet, cook beef, onion & green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, cumin & Italian seasoning; mix well. Simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
In a small saucepan, bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into pita halves; top with sauce, tomatoes & lettuce.