My dear readers, Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo and one of my friends asked me how is it that I don’t have to make a run to the grocery store every time I make a Mexican dish. She said she could never begin a Mexican dish with what she has on hand in her pantry.
Soooooooo here is a reminder of what I call the Tools of the Trade, ….Tips and the ingredients I have on hand for making Mexican Recipes!
Hola…(hello) Buenos días or Buenas tardes (Good Morning or Good Afternoon, depending on what time of day you are reading this)
¿Cómo estás? ( how are you?) Amigo (Friend)
If my sister-in-law (Vera) in New Mexico is reading this, I am sure she is laughing out loud right now! I speak un poquito (a little) de español (Spanish) and I don’t always pronounce the words right.
Ok, getting serious now…so my friend asked, …
“do you have to run to the market each time you make Mexican food and the answer to that for me (and my sister-in-law) is rarely”!
After living in New Mexico for so many years and being 26 miles from the nearest supermarket….one learns to have ingredients on hand, …and luckily, Mexican ingredients are not as perishable as some foods. The Freezer is your friend when you live up in the snow packed mountains of New Mexico! ????
I am also going to show you a few tools that I would not be without.
First a large wood cutting board! I use this for most of my chopping. I have smaller cutting boards that are dish washer friendly and I use them for certain tasks, to avoid cross contamination! For instance the red one is always for red meat! The white one is for chicken, the green one is for green chiles and Jalapeno peppers (any “hot” peppers) and the orange one is an extra if I have a need. I would advise having the two… one for red meat and one for chicken.
Another tool is my tortilla roller…for rolling out tortillas.
About 20 years ago, I cut off a piece from the middle of an old broom handle to the size fitting my hand and sanded it down. A rolling pin is too long as I only use one hand to roll tortillas, the other hand is constantly turning the tortilla as I roll. My roller has rolled out many a home made tortilla over the years….and didn’t cost me a dime. However, I had to learn to sweep the floor a little bent over! (Just joking folks) ???? It was an old broom and ready to be tossed when I cut the piece out.
Another tool is my “lifter”…that is my name for it. ???? It is used for moving chopped veggies to a destination as well as cleaning the flour board, cutting dough in half, …such as bread dough. You can see by the scratches that this little tool has been in my kitchen for a long time.
And then there are my spice racks…Love, love them!
I use the labels that come with and add a few of my own. I have 4 of these little gems.
I like how the shelf tips down for easy access and I actually leave it down until I replace the spice(s) after using.
No more looking behind little bottles and having them topple over. You won’t forget to buy a spice or buy an extra spice, because you can pull down the shelves and see what to purchase at the next market run.
Yep…it is a can opener…but it does several things, so it is a multi tasker.
It does not “cut” the lid on a can, but actually removes the packing seal so there is no chance of cutting oneself. See my finger circling the rim of the can?
And the little “thing-a-ma-jig” on the side of the opener… lifts the lid so you don’t have to touch it, just toss it into the waste basket. (That is not a good pic, but it is difficult to take a pic while balancing the opener in mid air) ????
The opener opens flip tops…saves a manicure. … And the circle you see in the above picture opens bottles….so you can also pop a top!
Below is a list of ingredients…and I am sure I will miss one or two. ????
I am not suggesting you go out and buy all these ingredients (probably you have most on hand in your pantry anyway). But you can pick up an extra can or spice during your weekly shopping.
I am showing you what I try to have on hand…remember, I make a lot of Mexican Dishes!
If you are making one or two recipes, you might want to choose only those ingredients. For instance, unless you are making tamales, you don’t need Masa and Corn Husks on hand, etc.
- Meats: Ground Beef, Briskets, Pork Roasts, Chicken Thighs, (more flavor and Breasts, healthier…keep in your freezer)
- Garlic, Gotta Have GARLIC! fresh, powder and bottled minced.
- Green and Red Chiles….(I have fresh and canned of the green chiles and jars and dried of the red chiles)
- Peppers, Jalapeno, fresh and canned…plus fresh sweet red, green, and yellow bell peppers
- Onions, Gotta Have ONIONS! Red and Spanish and green scallions (such a pretty garnish as well as flavor)
- Chile Ancho powder
- Chipotle powder
- Hot Mexican Chile powder
- Hot Chile Flakes
- Cilantro, (fresh is best but dried works too)
- Tobasco, red and green
- Lemons and Limes
- Tomatoes (canned and fresh)
- Dried Beans: Pinto, Black and Navy (canned Black and Pinto Beans in a pinch)
- Hominy, (canned,… love Mexican Posole soup)
- Black Olives, (bottled or canned)
- Honey (can’t eat sopapillas without honey)
- Corn and flour tortillas (I love to fry flour tortillas for chips…most people fry the corn tortillas and you can whip up your own tortillas in less than an hour)
- Green Chile and Tomatoes (fresh, canned, Rotel is my favorite)
- Cheese, block and grated. (I like to grate my own, but in a pinch I have used the Mexican Mix as well as the cheddar or Longhorn, but did you know that shredded cheeses have “extra preserving ingredients included in the shred? Much better to shred your own from a block of cheese)
- Enchilada Sauce (canned, hot and medium)
- Adobo Sauce (great for tamales and chile Rellenos)
- Dried corn husks (keep forever…well not forever, but it has a great shelf life)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Chicken and Beef Broth
- Lard (or shortening for making tortillas)
- Flour and Masa (for making tortillas, tamales, Rellenos and many other dishes)
- Baking powder (for making tortillas)
My tortilla roller and some ingredients from pantry and fridge.
Dried Red chiles!
Always have broth(s) on hand…as well as some in the freezer that I make myself from stock.
Got to have Cheese and Texas Pepper Sauce!
Tamales are so good and not that difficult to make…just a bit time consuming…Ingredients for tamales and other dishes.
You can make your own enchilada sauce…but this is easier! The Captain loves the “hot”…he likes everything spicy, (including me) but you can also use the mild and medium enchilada sauce!
Always in the freezer, green chiles! You can still see some of the “char” on the peppers from roasting over my gas cook top….doesn’t hurt a thing, makes them taste better. ????
Now, I need to go make me some Sangria….;)
Please comment, I'd love to hear from you.