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South Of The Border

Some of my favorite memories are those working as a restaurant critic in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. I love Mexican food and make it quite often in my own home. Mexican food makes the perfect party fare or simply a snappy supper at home.

4 large flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups Kiwi Salsa (recipe follows

Spread 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 cup salsa on each tortilla. Fold over and place in hot skillet to lightly brown and allow cheese to melt. Flip and repeat on other side. Serves 2.

2 kiwis, peeled and diced small
1 can whole-kernel corn, drained well
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 jalepeño peppers, finely chopped and seeded
2 green onions with tops, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients and store in refrigerator in airtight container. This salsa is also good with tortilla chips and as a garnish on other Mexican food. Serves 8-10.

6 ears fresh yellow corn, silks removed but husks intact
Olive oil
Coarse salt
2 cups cotija cheese, crumbled*
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Ancho chili powder
1 large lime, cut into thin slices

Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high. Tie back husks on each ear of corn to make handles. Soak husk handles in water for a couple minutes to prevent burning. Brush each ear of corn with olive oil and season with coarse salt. Grill about 20 minutes until ears are nicely charred and tender. While corn is grilling, combine chopped cilantro with crumbled cheese. Spread on a large plate. When corn is finished grilling, brush each ear with mayonnaise and roll in cheese and cilantro mixture. Sprinkle with your favorite chili powder and serve with lime slices. Serves 6.

*Note: Cotija cheese is an aged crumbly cheese similar to Romano, which you can use if you can’t find cotija at a Mexican specialty store.

1-1/4 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Position rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 350°. Set an 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish next to the stove. Stir 3/4 cup of the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until the sugar is amber-colored caramel. Remove pan from heat and pour caramel into baking dish. Working quickly so caramel doesn’t harden, tilt and rotate the dish to coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.

Put milk in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Whisk eggs with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Gradually temper egg mixture by adding hot milk to eggs a small amount at a time. Whisk vigorously. Add vanilla. Don’t beat mixture too much or flan will have air bubbles. Pour mixture into caramel-lined dish. Skim foam or bubbles from the surface.

Put a roasting pan in the oven and set flan in the center. Pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Tent loosely with aluminum foil; bake about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until flan is set around the edges but still wobbles a bit in the center when you give the dish a gentle shake. Cool flan in the water bath on a rack until water is room temperature. Remove flan from water and cool. Stretch and seal plastic wrap across the top of the dish but not on surface of the flan; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Gently pull the edges of the flan away from dish with your fingertips. Invert a large, deep serving platter over the baking dish and flip. The flan should fall gently onto the platter and caramel will flow over it. Cut into squares and serve with a spoonful of caramel drizzled around each piece. Serves 6-8.

(Huevos Rancheros)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons garlic, mashed
1 small dried arbol chili
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 large potatoes, shredded (hash-brown style) and drained well on paper towels
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
6 small corn tortillas
6 eggs
Butter to fry eggs

Purée tomatoes, garlic, and dried chili in blender until smooth. Heat two tablespoons oil in medium saucepan and brown shredded potatoes until crisp, then remove from pan. Sauté onions for two minutes. Strain puréed tomato sauce into pan with onion. Season with salt and oregano. Cook over medium heat three to four minutes. Turn heat down to lowest simmer until ready to put on plate.

Fry tortillas in remaining oil and drain. Place a tortilla on each plate. Divide potatoes evenly on each tortilla. Fry eggs in butter over easy and place one on each tortilla. Serve tomato sauce over each. Serves 6.

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