Pork chops: the groundbreaking meal 

Pork chops are so easy to cook you will choose them as your emergency meal whenever having people over.

I sure do, as they are a cheap cut, with a beautiful external layer of fat, and, when properly cooked, they capture all the scents and flavours of the spices you rub on them.

First, find your pork chops, I usually go to the local supermarket and they come in packs of two. Now, pay for those bastards and bring them home. No sweat, hombre.

 

This is the secret, use a paper towel to dry them off, however leave them slightly moist. In a bowl, mix flour, paprika, pepper, sea salt, dried thyme and garlic powder. Now throw those chops in the bowl, don’t sprinkle the mix, you are better than that. Be thorough and cover them entirely, until they feel soft and tender (like the way I imagine true love).

Let’s turn up the heat

Use a frying pan or a cast iron pan, nothing else, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, and a wee branch of fresh thyme. Look at the garlic cloves, as soon as they start sizzling, put the chops on the pan. Remember not to overcrowd the pan, make sure that the area covered by the meat is 2/3 of the pan’s surface.

Now, on medium heat, cook each cut for 3-4 minutes on one side, then 2-3 minutes on the other side. On the second turn add a little square of butter, that’s right, you heard me right. Let the butter melt and use a spoon to pour on the meat. This techniques helps you to distribute the flavours and keeps your chops juicy and moist.

Put the pork chops aside, let them rest and serve on some mashed potatoes or mashed kumaras. Don’t hesitate to pour some veggie or chicken stock on the pan on low heat, and deglaze the pan, getting all the rich burnt things you got from cooking the meat, add some flour and stir until desired consistency.

So there you go, pair with a a Pinot Blanc or a Pale Ale.

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Charro Beans (Or Mexican Soup)

I was born and raised in the North of Mexico, Tampico is my hometown and I’ll will always cherish my childhood and youth spent there. However, right when I turned 19 I moved to Monterrey, Mexico. So from 10 good years I studied, lived, worked and ate grilled meat (“carnes asadas”) at the City of Mountains and hard working Mexicans.

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While there I learnt to cook “Frijoles Charros” or as I later called it in NZ “Mexican spicy bean soup”. So, don’t be shy, grab pen and paper and write down the following recipe for some kick ass spicy bean soup that will definitely be the final entrée at your home made BBQ this summer (or Fall… screw it, you know I went on holidays, so this is great for Winter too, ok? just be cool with it). Remember, this is not “Chilli”, this is a Mexican spicy bean soup, alright?

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of Cannellini or Red Kidney beans in brine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic, chopped
  • 3 stripes of smoked bacon (the real deal, you know what I mean)
  • 1 piece of Spanish chorizo in squares
  • Red, yellow and green capsicums squared (1 each)
  • 1 bratwurst roughly sliced (I do prefer either Argentinian sausage or Polish burst)
  • Fresh cilantro (just a handful)
  • 1 smoked chipotle chilli
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
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These are chipotles 

What to do? 

Use a large and deep pot, add the bacon and chorizo, stir around, let those juices cover the wall of the pot, add the onions, garlic and capsicums, stir-fry. Throw in the bratwurst (no pun intended), stir around again, oh yeah, that’s it, you know it. Finally, add the tomatoes, and after a couple minutes put in the beans, brine and all.

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Finally, put the chipotle and the cilantro in. The idea of using the whole chipotle, without chopping it or slicing it is because you don’t want to make this a hot soup, you just want the flavour of this smoked chilli, that’s it.

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Let all the ingredients mix in the pot, now pour in 3 cups of water, let it boil. Salt and pepper to taste.

This my friends, is a great confort food. You can even not put any extra water in it and it is a great side dish for a roast (like pork or lamb).

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In Mexico we can also just buy these and everybody will be ok with that. Kidding, we are not ok with this, go for the real deal

Ps. The year is almost over and we are soon to know who is going to become president of the USA. Aren’t we all excited? Not really, nor of the two options are great for my neighbours, but that shouldn’t be of my business, right? Now, if you excuse me, I have a wall to build.

 

Spanish Tortilla, Bro!

Usually when I’m bored I go for a cooking sprint, and it gets pretty nasty. How nasty does it get? You might be wondering. Well, I go to my local supermarket and simply “go for it”. A bunch of dishes starts to appear in my head, hence, an imaginary list of ingredients types itself in my mind.

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This is just a wee example of my cooking sprints.

Spanish Tortilla

Pick 3 to 5 good size potatoes, the yellow kind, half an onion, slice thinly these vegetables. In a medium size pot, put a lot of water to boil, add 1 spoon of salt and put the potatoes there. Let them cook until soft but still firm. Drizzle a large size non-stick pan with some extra virgin olive oil, stir-fry the onions and a garlic clove (already cut in brunoise), until soft, don’t let them caramelize, don’t add any salt, just pepper to taste. Get those tatoes out of the water, and put them in the pan, stir gently until brown.

In a metal bowl, crack four or five eggs, whisk, add salt, pepper, 2 spoons of water, 2 spoons of sour cream, a pinch of dried parsley, and keep on whisking, who told you to stop? Now, let the potatoes and onions to cool down a little, integrate to the egg mix.

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Now the fun part, use a much smaller pan, like half the size of the one you used previously, drizzle more olive oil, put the stove to medium heat, ready? Add the mix into the pan. Why are we using a much smaller pan? Simple, this will make a thicker tortilla, easier to handle while cooking, and it’ll look great when plating.

Where was I? Right! Let the mix cook in the smaller pan, you’ll notice when it’s ready to turn when the top isn’t runny anymore. I usually put a lid on to get a firmer tortilla. Now grab a plate larger than the pan, put it on top, and flip it, put the pan back on the stove and carefully return the tortilla from the plate to the pan. Let it cook for 4 to 5 five more minutes in medium-low heat.

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Now plate!

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You can double or triple this recipe in order to make more Spanish tortillas, this dish is a great entrée and will not disappoint.

Ps. Mexico City is currently experiencing its worst environmental crisis in 15 years. The local authorities determined that limiting the amount of cars on the streets seemed the logical first step to solve the problem. I reckon that the pollution comes from the industrial zones located in the states of Puebla, Estado de México and Hidalgo. The authorities have done nothing to regulate these zones; in the meantime, Mexico City’s administration still hasn’t presented a public transport improvement plan, just saying.

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This is where I “live”… 

A Top Morning Routine to Boost your Day

My mate Gabriel recently posted about things that he does in order to be more productive every day. His post “My Ideal Morning Daily Routine” was inspiring, so here I am, brainstorming.

While I was reading his list I did a mental exercise regarding the things I also do to get my day started. It wasn’t simple, but this morning, everything got clearer.

First things first, I stretch. Indeed, I put my yoga mat on the floor and I do a good 15 mins of old fashioned stretching. It clears my mind, brings plenty of oxygen to my lungs and it counts as exercise, right?

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Then I make my bed, it serves as my first “let’s solve something” task of the day. Recently there was a “scientific” post being shared around the web that tidying up your bed was actually not recommended and leaving your blankets and sheets all scrambled was  good for you. Well, screw that, I love coming back from work and finding a clean tidy bed waiting for me.

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Perfection

Then, the most important thing of the day, the one and only drink that indeed puts my day in motion: COFFEE. Enough said.

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If it’s a work day I check my email, personal and from work. For me it’s a must to glance at my Twitter TL to see how the day is coming. This is mostly done while I´m having coffee, looking through the window at the people walking down the street, rushing to get in time to their jobs.

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I shower (but of course I do)

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Not actual shower

Then, after all this happens, I go for a good walk.

Since I recently got hired at a new company, my workplace is about a 40 minutes walk from my place. This is my daily exercise and it boosts my day up. Walking intensely for 40 minutes somehow cheers me up, and while I do this I think about all the things I have to do, about my life, my goals, my family and friends, my fears and accomplishments, I talk to myself, and I get self-motivated to become a better person than I was the day before.

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Not my actual way to work…

So, by the time I get to the office and sit down in order to start “formally” answering emails and doing my best, I’m already keen to make the best out of this day.

This is so far how my morning looks every day. If you have your own way to boost your mornings, a certain routine that makes you more productive, please share it with the world, it should include at least two cups of coffee, black, 1 sugar.

Ps. It’s a shame what happened in Belgium and Turkey, it’s a shame, but that’s how this world struggles every day. If you feel like it makes a difference, go ahead and put a filter to your profile picture, c’mon, be my guest.

Ps2. Also breakfast, I mean, it’s important, but that’s part of a different list, I reckon.

2016 Resolutions

As a matter of fact, I did my research, and according to the “New Years Resolutions Act” of 1904, you have until the last week of January to publish your resolutions for the ongoing year.

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My biggest concern was, of course, not having a clear mind and the right amount of ambition to enlist what I really wanted to accomplish this 2016. First, going through my last year’s resolution post, I realized of how much I did and how my accomplishments improved my life and opinion about myself.

So, let’s get started, shall we, and please, if you feel I should add something to this list, well, I’m all ears.

Traveling

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I´m going to travel more, no questions asked. For one sole reason, I reckon that in life you should invest more in experiences rather than material things. But you knew that because you read plenty of that motivational literature you love to glance at while waiting in line at the supermarket, am I right? Where should I go now? I´m thinking Colombia, Panama, Belize, and, perhaps, California.

Comedy

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There’s only one thing missing there

This year is the year I’ll finally find the courage to take a stand-up comedy class. Maybe one day I’ll put my videos on youtube, you know, saying rubbish about non-important stuff, and making people laugh. That’s the dream.

Cooking challenge

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As on February I’ll announce my own Mexican cooking challenge. I’ll cook 31 traditional dishes from the 31 states of Mexico. I will be posting the recipes, pictures and step by step instructions, as well as uploading videos, so one day I will become famous, like Gordon, or Jaime! Hell yeah! Or at least this will serve as a good way to document my country’s diverse cuisine.

Savings

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I’m aiming to save up to USD10,000 this year. This number won’t sound as much to you, but I´m Mexican and this represents a considerable amount.  What will I do with this money? Don’t know yet, but maybe I’ll spend it on traveling, abroad investments or an upfront payment for a property here in Mexico. Who knows, it is just money, you know?

Well, those are this year´s resolutions, let’s see how the first half of this 2016 develops. In the meantime, my advise to all of you is simple: Be nice to others, take bullshit from no one, be kind to your loved ones, and smile a lot, there’s always a reason.

5 Tips to Become a Better Person

1 – “Please” and “Thank you” 

Basically, don’t be an arse. Every time you ask for a favour don’t forget to say please. Personally, I do remember those who kindly ask for my help or assistance. If you are under a lot of stress and you ought to get something from someone and you just forgot to ask politely, after you have finished whatever you were doing, come back and nicely acknowledge his/her help.

And always, always, always, say thank you.

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2 – Help people out

You don’t need to go all “Mother Teresa” about this one, just be kind. Last Saturday I went out for a long walk, I usually walk 3 kms from my place to my favourite taco stand (Hey, it’s a great 6km workout!) and out of the sudden I heard a wobbling sound, turns out a truck had a flat tire. I waved at the driver, he pulled over, as soon as I noticed that flat tired I knew I wanted to help him to change it.

Helping others is awesome, it feels good, it is rewarding, and for me, every time I do something good for somebody else I know I’m getting some extra Karma points.

"You can do it!"

“You can do it!”

3 – Call your family 

Yes, you owe them big time, they have put up with your craziness, literally, all your life, so give your parents and siblings a bloody call. Since my dad had a stroke I’ve been calling home more frequently than before, just to hear my parents’ voices, to tell them I love them, to talk about life, ask my mum how cook a certain dish (obviously) and just to tell them how proud I’m of them.

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4 – Cook for others 

I know, that’s my passion and I love cooking, but,  without hesitation, doing something from scratch, like cooking, writing or crafting, meant for others, feels good. When I invite my mates over for dinner, I think about what they might be craving, what they like and enjoy, then I cook for them. I become extra careful with those details, I want them to have an amazing experience based on what I’ve crafted for them.

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5- Smile

It is a cliché, that’s fer sure, but when you smile, the world smiles with you. Give it a try, if you begin your day as an optimistic person, with a positive attitude, smiling at those who interact with you, suddenly something amazing will happen, it’s call mirroring, people will smile back at you. Smiling boosts you up, and let me tell you a secret, it confuses your enemies.

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There you go, give it a try, you can put all these advices to work today, tell me how it goes, or not. Just be yourself and remember, you define how your day goes.

Father´s Day Asado

Almost a month ago my dad had a stroke, it was the day after my birthday, as soon as we found out my sisters and I didn´t hesitate to run to our hometown, to be there with him and our mum. So, together, as a family, we made it, my dad has almost fully recovered and he is very keen to take the most out of this second chance life has given him. So, last weekend we came over again to celebrate father´s day with him. Indeed, it was a very meaningful celebration.

For this weekend, one of my sisters decided that we should feast as we always do on special occasions, throwing a massive asado (or “carne asada”, as we know it here in Mexico).

Ribs, picanha, and more meat... plain and simple

Ribs, picanha, and more meat… plain and simple

We used a charcoal grill, medium high heat, only using half of the cooking surface. This turned out to be a great idea as we usually just spread the heat all along the grill, in order to use all the cooking surface. However by doing this we were able to cook perfectly the pieces of meat and the rest of the veggies without burning them. Start by putting some jalapenos and tomatoes on the grill until they burn, later we place them on a mortar and make a salsa out of it. Wrapped in tin foil we placed some potatoes and onions really close to the fire, we want all the heat on them as they take longer to cook.

Let those jalapenos burn,  and destroy in that mortar, add some caramelized onions to the salsa and a splash of lime juice.

Let those jalapenos burn, and destroy in that mortar, add some caramelized onions to the salsa and a splash of lime juice.

Finally, for the “piece de resistance“, this time we had beef ribs, some fillets, and a 1.5 kg piece of picaña (which comes from the top back part of the cow). For the picaña (or picanha), the meat had to be scored first, it has a thick layer of fat, and you want the scoring not to get all the way to the meat but to be slightly deep, as you will be rubbing the whole piece with pepper and salt. Asado 3 My strategy is simple, put it on the fire, and let it cook on the surface, when you reckon it has a nice colour on the outside put the meat away from direct fire and close to grill´s lid, we are going for a medium level of doneness,  lots of juices and a beautiful pink in its core. The whole asado takes around 1.5 hours to 2 hours to cook, including the meat, ribs, vegetables, salsa and sides. Asado 4Indirect grilling turned out to be a fascinating technique, as it allows the meat to cook evenly, but without burning it, giving you more control during the process. Certainly the result was outstanding and it was the best way to celebrate not only Father’s day but also the successful recovery of my dad, he is getting there and we couldn’t be happier.

Beautiful indeed...

Beautiful indeed…

Pork Rib Roast – The Musical

This one isn’t an easy recipe, turns out that for great dishes and outstanding flavours sometimes we have to be patient and take our time.

So, get your oven tray ready, turn on the heat, sharpen your knives and let’s get kraken with this.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 kilograms of Loin rack Joint
  • Half a litre of white wine
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 10 white small potatoes
  • A good bunch of fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Let’s find the meat. Go to your favourite butcher, I know I have mine, and ask him for a good piece of Loin rack Joint (use the previous image for life changing purposes), tell the lad to leave the fat on, (always leave the fat on), take it to your kitchen counter, ready? Now let the magic begin.

First remove the membrane that comes on top of the ribs, this will make the meat really tender while cooking it. Ready? Sweet, now score the meat on the other side, you want the salt and the pepper to really get into that layer of fat.

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Now place the white potatoes, in halves, the thyme, pepper, salt and the garlic cloves on the cooking tray. This will look like a potatoe bed where you will place the ribs on, fat up.

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Pour 300 ml of the wine on the tray, cover the meat with tin foil, and put that baby inside the preheated oven, now leave it there for 1.5 hours at 180 degrees Celsius.

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1.5 hours are gone, take the tray out of the oven, remove the tin foil and put the pork back in. The meat is now cooked but we want that fat to turn into a beautiful golden crust. Leave it there for 35 more minutes, after that, place the piece of meat on a wooden board and let it rest for good 5 minutes, you want those juices to get evenly distributed. In the meantime, take that tray and pour the rest of the wine, deglaze that bastard, use a whisker to scratch those flavours out the tray.

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Get a good knife, and cut the pork into slices according to each rib, now plate, pour that gravy on and it is done. Enjoy it with a chilled white wine or a really good Pilsner.

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Hot Wings and Beer

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That’s, I reckon, the best title I’ve ever come up with for any of my posts in this blog. The reason for today’s topic is plain and simple, Hot Wings and Beer are awesome (it’s in the bible, look it up)

Beautiful

Beautiful

Here in Mexico City we tend to go for wings every other Wednesday, and when I say “we”, I mean my mates from my hometown who live here and sometimes we bring a special guest. This sort of tradition began with my friends up north in Monterrey, most of them from my hometown, Tampico, used to get together every Wednesday. The day was chosen not because we love Wednesdays, but because of the specials they have that day at this restaurant (Wings Army), you order 20 hot wings they bring you 30. This place, Wings Army, besides serving great wings, also has a wide variety of national and international beers, which is awesome. From the local brews, to artisan beer, all the way to Cuban or great German beer. The place has it all.

Literally, from everywhere, except, you know... North Korea

Literally, from everywhere, except, you know… North Korea

I must admit I don´t really know how they do it, how they cook these wings to perfection, I’ve tried at home and the result is not disappointing but just “not the same”. I’m not going to explain how to cook the perfect wings, or what to look in a hot wings joint. This is just a reminder that there are some things that other do better, and we should appreciate them and munch our way through.

What other dishes you’d love to cook at home but just don’t turn out as good as your favourite food joint cooks them?

Ps, Oh, by the way, do you know that this guy in Guadalajara registered the “Duff Beer” and branded the bottles to commercialize this brew.

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Punta Mita – Mexico

As it turned out, what I just needed were some days off, close to a Mexican beach, going for long walks, a beer as cold as my ex`s heart (or cold dead as William Shatner`s career), enjoying my home country’s cuisine, and celebrating the marriage of two great friends.

Pic taken while going for a morning walk

Pic taken while going for a morning walk

Punta Mita is an hour flight away from Mexico City (or, if you happen to be a bad holiday planners as me, a 12 hours bus drive). When you get to Puerto Vallarta, just walk a few blocks from the bus station to the bus stop, and take the “Punta Mita” local bus, it’s only a 45 minute trip (don’t you worry, it’s says “Punta Mita” on it, hard to miss).

I stayed at“El Coral” hotel, which is fine, around USD60 a single bedroom, or USD 110 for a double (sounds weird, but go for the double if you are more than 3 people). And the food, my friends, the food is efing amazing, the restaurant isn`t that flashy, the kitchen looks dodgy (but they are so friendly, they even let me cook with them), and most people get there because it’s right where the boats leave to the “Marietas”, but it is fantastic.

Not Islas Marietas, but some other islands close to Marietas

Not Islas Marietas, but some other islands close to Marietas

I’m from the Gulf of Mexico, so the ocean there is quite tame, with soft waves and refreshing breeze; but this is the Pacific, the water breaks against the reefs, the waves storm on the shore pulling the sand back into the ocean which such ferocity it is sort of intimidating even for experienced swimmers like me. The seafood is different, the shrimps, lobsters, fish and oysters are bigger, making any seafood platter you order here look voluptuous, massive and awesome (or, like John Key might even refer to these specimens as “tantalizing”, while stroking any wee Mexican girl’s pony tail). Unlike the seafood from my hometown, aye, seafood is bigger, but the flavours from the Gulf are sweeter and, honestly, more delicious.

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However, the food was outstanding, like the “Pescado Zarandeado”, or “Pulpo a la plancha”, or the fresher oysters I`ve ever tasted. Literally, I was just hanging out at the restaurant and this fisherman gets out of his boat carrying a bag full of oyster he just got out of the ocean. Without hesitation I told my waiter “I want a dozen of whatever he`s carrying in that bag”. 15 minutes later, he arrived with a platter of delicious oyster, fresh, sweet and massive.

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What about the wedding? It was beautiful. My mates looked like coastal royalty, and the venue was fabulous. They said yes to each other while the sun was setting in the background, and we couldn´t resist but to let a wee “awwww”.

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Anyway, just wanted to post some pics of this weekend off, mates, if you are really keen to visit a magical place, take some time off and get your arses to Punta Mita, you won’t regret it.

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