Which Tomato Will You Grow For Your Homemade Sauce

Which Tomato Will You Grow For Your Homemade Sauce

With thousands of tomato varieties available today, selecting the variety of tomatoes you want to grow in your garden can seem like an overwhelming project. Tomatoes are very diverse, as each variety offers up its own unique set of characteristics, such as flavor, size, and even color.

Is your objective for growing tomatoes to serve up tasty tomato sauce, then it would be well worth knowing that some varieties, not all, are better suited for making the sauce.

There are some speciers of tomatoes that have few seeds in their flesh, and a firm meaty texture. Let’s take a look at 5 varieties that fit the bill for a tasty tomato sauce. These 5 varieties of tomatoes may be familiar to you, and possible not.

Great Choices Of Tomatoes For Your Perfect Sauce

Russian Big Roma

Russian Big Roma at a Farmers Market

Russian Big Roma

The University Of California – Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners program says the Russian Big Roma is disease-resisting, and a favorite heirloom paste variety, as well as using to make sauces.

Unlike most paste and sauce tomatoes, this is an indeterminate variety which produces lots of large (2 x 4 inch), dark red fruit, with a splendid “tomatoey” flavor.

San Marzano

Compared to the Roma tomato, the San Marzano tomatoes are thinner and more pointed. The flesh is much thicker with fewer seeds, and the taste is stronger, sweeter and less acidic. Expert tomato growers describe the taste as bittersweet.

Again, the Mater Gardener’s program says the San Marzano is a “Tomato Festival” favorite.

This Italian tomato variety produces an 8 ounce, deep red fruit, that is 4 inches in length. And though the San Marzano in the raw or uncooked has a lot to be desired in respects to flavor, the process of cooking them down to make sauce releases magic qualities, and therefore you will want to grow them year after year.

Polish Linguisa

Polish Linguisa tomato

Image credit: Tomato Geeks

The Polish Linguisa is a variety of tomato from Eastern Europe, and it was brought to the USA by Polish gardeners in the 1800’s.

This particular tomato has bright red fruit, and according to the Tomato Geeks, it has a broad range of uses:

  • Paste
  • Sauce
  • Canning
  • Drying
  • Freezing

Jersey Devil

one half pound Jersy Devil tomato

Image Credit: Teresa Giovanzana

The Jersey Devil tomato is a extremely prolific producer of 4-5” long, bright red fruit that are shaped like banana peppers.

They are very meaty and sweet, with few seeds. The Master Gardeners say it is an excellent tomato for canning as well as eating fresh.

Teresa Giovanzana boasts a 1/2 pound Jersey Devil in the 2013 tomato season.

Amish Paste

Amish Paste tomatoes produce bright red fruit up to 12 ounces that vary greatly in shape from ox-heart to a rounded plum shape.

From the Pennsylvania Amish (USA), the tomato is a large, meaty, bright red heirloom with superior taste, and a nice balance of sweet and acid.

The Amish Paste has been chosen by Organic Gardening magazine as a top paste tomato, as it is juicier than most other paste tomato varieties. Though it is a great tomato to make paste, it also is worth eating straight from the garden. Add some to your favorite salad or sandwich, but make sure you save enough to makes lots of thick and full-bodied sauce!

Tomatoes on VineAll the tomato varieties above are – indeterminate, also called vining tomatoes. The plant will grow continuously until it dies, usually in Fall with the first deep frost.

Once they produce flowers and set tomatoes they will do so continuously until the plant dies.

The five tomato varieties that we reviewed, is far from comprehensive, as there are lots of other terrific choices that can be used to make succulent pastes and sauces.

These tomatoes are a great starting point, because you can easily find seeds at your local garden centers or online. Try adding some or all of them to your garden this year for truly outstanding results during harvest time.

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Ingredients For Delicious Winter Salads

An younf woman eating a warm winter saladFood crops harvested in winter months with the use of hoop houses or hot houses (such as used in California, USA) and other methods that extend the natural growing season, and old-fashioned storage vegetables like cabbages and potatoes all mean that there are plenty of winter produce to choose from.

What winter produce that is available, is sufficient to enjoy delicious winter salads along with great homemade dressings and vinaigrette’s.

The different crops available in the winter months include among others:

Beets: Available in season from fall through spring in temperate climates, and those available during the summer months, are from storage.

Belgian Endive: This leafy green is forced to produce under artificial conditions, making them available year round. Their traditional season, as with all chicories, is late fall through winter.

When grown in open fields they are covered with sand for about 6 months to keep out the light. When grown in hot houses they are placed in darkness for 6 months before shipping to market for purchase.

Read more here about the endive (includes a recipe with video): Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken

Broccoli: This and all other cruciferous vegetables can be grown year-round in temperate climates, but broccoli tastes best when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.

salad plate with Warm Winter Salad with Apples Spinach Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Warm Winter Salad with Apples Spinach Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Brussels sprouts: These vegetables are part of the cabbage family.  They grow on stalks, and they last somewhat longer than when sold packaged or removed from their stalks.

Cabbage: This vegetable is crispy when raw with bitter flavor, though it mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked.

Sweet Potatoes: This root vegetable is often referred too or interchangeable with yams. The two vegetables are different though.

Most yams in the USA are sweet potatoes. Yams are dry and starchy, and grown mainly in Africa and Asia. They can weigh up too 100 pounds.

Sweet potatoes store very well and are available year round in warmer areas. Though their season is from late summer through winter.

Other vegetables available in fall to winter months include, radicchio, radishes, turnips, winter squash, rutabagas, parsnips, chard, collard greens, cress, spinach, kale, carrots, leeks, fennel, and celery among others.

There are also a verity of fruits in season during the winter months that you can enjoy in fruit salads, or as a snack. To view the available in season winter fruits link here: Fruits Info – Seasonal Fruits.

Salads To Enjoy In The Winter Months

Chilly temperatures, and dark winter days are traditionally suited to cheese, meat, and vegetable casseroles, including pastas. A salad filled with raw vegetables may not seem appealing in the cold winter.

But what if you could prepare a warm winter salad, like this one – Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts. This recipe is offered by a professional chef, author, recipe developer, educator and certified health coach at A Food Centric Life.

THE RECIPE

Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

1 large bunch of organic kale (Tuscan, Lacinato or Dinosaur)

a white salad plate with Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Image Credit: A Food Centric Life

1 large shallot

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

Handful of dried cranberries

Small handful of chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (suggestion: infused balsamic fruit flavored variety like dark cherry)

Salt and pepper, to season

Bring a large pot (5 quart/liter) of water to a boil while you are trimming the kale leaves and slicing the shallot. Trim the ribs out of the center of the kale leaves, and then cut the leaves crosswise into ribbons. Slice the peeled shallot crosswise into thin rings.

When water boils, add 2 teaspoons salt, then drop the kale leaves into the water and cook for 2 minutes (called blanching). Drain well through a sieve and place kale on a clean kitchen towel. Alternatively you can steam your kale for 2-3 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.

In a medium sauté or fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat until warm. Add the shallot rings, then the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until softened. Be careful not to let them burn. Add the cranberries, walnuts, and vinegar. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the cooked kale. Toss the kale ribbons to coat and warm, season up with salt and pepper, and then serve.

Make this a even more warm winter salad by either serving the warm salad as a side dish with roasted chicken, as Sally the author of “A Food Centric Life” explains, or as a foundation for roasted salmon. She also suggests placing the warm salad over a bed of quinoa for a vegetarian or vegan entree.

Sally says you can use a fruit flavored infused balsamic vinegar like dark cherry or fig when making the vinaigrette.

Another great warm winter salad you can enjoy is: Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet

2 tablespoons olive oil

salad plate with Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet½ cup onion, diced

Red pepper flakes, to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups sweet potatoes, diced

2 cups fresh shrimp

3 cups trimmed and coarsely chopped kale leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a a ceramic coated cast iron pan over medium heat, add olive oil.

Next add onions and red pepper flakes, and saute until onions are soft and browned.

Next add garlic and cook about 30 seconds more.

Next add sweet potato and cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes. If necessary add a 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to help cook the sweet potato.

Next add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they are pink in color.

Turn heat to low and add kale, stirring in until wilted.

Season to taste with salt and pepper (optional).

Plate and serve.

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Pork – That’s What’s For Breakfast Lunch And Dinner

Pork - That's What's For Breakfast Lunch And DinnerThe Washington Post wrote an article in October of 2014 about the Tudor Place that housed 6 generations from 1816 to 1983.

Tudor Place became one of the first 70 U.S. properties designated a “National Historic Landmark” in 1960, when the designation was created.

Tudor Place

Image Credit: City Profile

Tudor Place in Georgetown Heights (Washington D.C.) was built by Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Martha Curtis Peter and her husband.

Residents of Tudor Place had a small smoke-house that all 6 generations relied on to smoke their meats.

Can you guess what meat they smoked most often, and ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? If you guessed “Pork,” you guessed correctly.

When touring the residence, you are able to see displayed, a cookbook that served 6 generations providing the kitchen cooks with recipes that only included pork as the main ingredient.

The Washington Post wrote stating that communications officer for Tudor Place, Mandy Katz says that pork was on the dinning table 3 times a day.

Smokehouse at Tuder Place

Preservation Manager Jessica Zullinger and staff tour newly restored Smokehouse – Image Credit: tuderplace.org

The small smoke-house we made mention of was never on the tour of Tudor Place. But it was renovated and became part of the tour on the 23rd of October 2014.

The newly added structure to the Tudor Place tour was celebrated with, yes you guessed – pork. Little smokies and pulled pork sliders to be exact.

This year, 2016 is Tudor Place Bicentennial. You can read and learn more about Tudor Place by linking here: Tudor Place – America’s Story Lives Here.

Our featured recipes include pork, and they are…

  1. Smoked Bacon Golden Beets and Kale Hash
  2. Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup
  3. Stuffed And Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Chops with Brown Sugar And Spice Glazed Carrots

Smoked Bacon Golden Beets and Kale HashSmoked Bacon Golden Beets and Kale Hash

2 strips of smoked bacon per serving, cut into 1-inch slices

1 medium golden beet, shredded

1/2 cup kale, remove leafy parts from steam, leaves torn bite size

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until just done. Next add beets, stir in, and cook 1 minute more. Add kale and stir in just until wilted. Plate and serve.

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup

1 lb. ground pork

2 green onions

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup3 clove garlic, minced

1 piece (1-inch) peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

4-5 teaspoons of orange zest

4 cups vegetable broth

8 oz. snow peas, cut into thirds at an angle

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup cooked black beans

Arrange oven rack 6 inches from broiler heat source. Preheat broiler on high. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a medium bowl, combine pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper (both optional). Form pork mixture into bite-size meatballs (about 1 inch each).  Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, in covered 5-quart sauce pot, heat broth to simmering on high. Once the broth is simmering, add snow peas, rice, beans and cooked meatballs. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and snow peas are tender.

Stuffed And Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Chops With Brown Sugar And Spice Glazed Carrots

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

Stuffed and Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Chops with Brown Sugar and Spice Glazed Carrots1 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic

1/4 cup butter, milted

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional)

1 pound pork loin chops, thin cut

8 slices smoked bacon

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 pound carrots, sliced down the middle and cut into 2 inch slices

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Mix sugar and spices in a small bowl and set aside.

Spread some cream cheese on one side of chops. Sprinkle on some sugar-spice mix. Roll chops and wrap with one slice of bacon. Use a tooth pick or two to hold in place.

Arrange prepared chops into a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish.

Next add melted butter to sugar-spice mix, and incorporate.  Add cut carrots to a 13 X 9 glass baking dish and mix in sugar-spice.

Roast both prepared baking dishes for 30 minutes, or until pork is cook.

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Leafy Green Salads With Homemade Cheese

Leafy Green Salads With Homemade CheeseThrowing some leafy greens with other vegetables together on a plate and topping it with some nuts, seeds and your favorite dressing or vinaigrette is a great way to get your daily servings of vegetables.

How about going a step further and adding some cheese, like Parmesan, grumbled goat cheese, or even some of your own homemade cheese made in an hour? What? Yes you read right, homemade cheese made in one hour.

One Hour Cheese by Claudia LuceroWe were listening to NPR this past week, and the program was All Things Considered, and I was very intrigued at hearing that you could make cheese in one hour.

Listen here to the 3 minute interview with Claudia Lucero who runs Urban Cheesecraft in Portland, Oregon, and authored the book “One Hour Cheese” (CLICK HERE TO HEAR INTERVIEW). 

After listening in the car to the interview with Claudia, the very next day with a gallon of milk from Whole Foods Market, I ventured to make some homemade cheese in my own kitchen for the first time.

Here’s what you need to do to make your own cheese in an hour….

Pour 4 cups milk into a 2-quart saucepan and heat it on medium as you stir.

Look for foam to begin forming around the inside edges of the pot as well as little simmer bubbles coming from the bottom—not a rolling boil. Stir continuously so that a skin doesn’t form on the milk’s surface.

Once you see a soft boiling of the milk, slowly add 1/8 cup of fresh lemon juice. You can also use vinegar. Apple cider or white vinegar will do.

As you are slowly pouring in the lemon juice, stir gently to incorporate it until you see the clear separation of curds, which will be white solids, and whey, a clear liquid.

This separation of curds from the whey is called coagulation.  When you see coagulation and the liquid no longer looks like plain milk, turn the heat to low and stir the curds very, very gently as you cook them for 2 minutes more after the coagulation begins.

Have a cheese cloth placed in a small strainer over a bowl, and using a slotted spoon, carefully spoon out the curds and place them into the cheese cloth, and let any excess whey drain off.

After the whey has drained off, you can add some sea salt or Himalayan salt to the cheese and mix in.

We add some garlic seasoning, which gave it a great flavor. In Claudia Lucero’s book, she even shows you how to make a faux cheddar cheese (which takes days to make) in an hour by just adding turmeric to give it that orange look that you see when purchased at the market.

Here is what we got at our first try making homemade cheese.

making homemade cheese

The cheese is much like a crumbled cheese you would buy at the market. Here are a few leafy green salads we put together using our homemade cheese.

Leafy Green Salad With Homemade Cheese

               Leafy Green Salad With Homemade Cheese

This salad is a few handfuls of leafy greens (your choice) topped with sliced radishes, pecan pieces, pomegranate vinaigrette, and homemade crumbled cheese.

making a leafy green salad with root vegetables and homemade cheese

Our next salad is a plate of leafy greens, with a fried egg and some root vegetables, consisting of sliced radishes and golden beets. We topped the salad with a olive oil and sweet balsamic vinaigrette, homemade crumbled cheese and fresh thyme.

Leafy Greens With Root Vegetables and A Fried Egg And Homemade Cheese

Leafy Greens With Root Vegetables and A Fried Egg And Homemade Cheese

As we mentioned at the on set of the article, this is a great way to get a few servings of your daily need of vegetables, and a added treat you make yourself, Homemade Cheese.

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Roasted Chicken With Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze 

Roasted Chicken With Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze The Scovilla scale is the measurement of how hot or spicy a chilli pepper is. The scale was first used in 1912 and named after its inventor Wilbur Scovilla.

According to the scale chipotles are between 3,000 to 10,000 SHU (Scovilla heat units), and that means a hot chili.

The word chipotle is derived from chilpoctli an Aztec word, and is a smoked red dried jalapeño chili from Mexico.

The chili is used in Mexican prepared foods as well as Mexican-American, Tex-Mex, and prepared dishes of the southwestern parts of the US, like New Mexico (Link Here for more information about Mexican vs. Tex-Mex: What Is The Difference?).

Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze Our featured recipe is an inspiration as it uses the chili to glaze the chicken. We found the recipe in Novembers issue (2014) of “Good Housekeeping.” The glaze is prepared to use while roasting a turkey.

We thought why not test it on some chicken breasts and see if our palate could endure the spice while eating the roasted poultry, and if so, it would be used to roast a turkey.

Our featured recipe is Baked Chicken With Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze, and here is what you will need.

Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze

1 teaspoon chipotle in adobe
Juice from 1/2 an orange
1 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Blend together in a blender until smooth.

This recipe was reduced down to accommodate four (4) chicken breasts. For the full recipe to roast a turkey link here: Good Housekeeping.

Now let’s glaze some chicken with that Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze.

preparing chicken breastsUsing a fork or knife, poke holes all over each chicken breast. You can use breast’s with the skin on, but as you can see we have some with the skin removed.

raw chicken breast wih Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze Next, spoon on some sauce or glaze and spread out over the meat. Set aside for about 30 to 40 minutes and allow the flavor of the spices to absorb in.

putting chicken breasts with Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze in oven to roastPlace chicken into a 350 degree preheated oven for for 40 minutes or until internal chicken temperature is 165 degrees.

Roasted Chicken With Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze on a platterPlace the roasted chicken breasts on a platter and serve with an appropriate side dish. Link Here for some suggestions.

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Blueberry Pear and White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Blueberry Pear and White Chocolate Bread PuddingOur featured dessert is original prepared only with blueberries. But we were given Bosc pears, and they are very good eating. We decided to use them as an addition to the bread pudding. The Bosc is a cultivar of the European Pear grown in the northwestern U.S. states of California, Washington, and Oregon. It is also cultivated in Australia, as well as in British Columbia, and of course Europe. In Europe it is sometimes referred to a the Kaiser pear.

The featured recipe was prepared in video format, please enjoy. The recipe follows at the end, and you can also copy it were it is posted below the video.

Information on different varieties of Pears: Local Foods – Pear Varieties

 

Blueberry Pear and White Chocolate Bread Pudding

3 eggs

Blueberry Pear and White Chocolate Bread Pudding4 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt*

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup Bosc pears, 2 medium, diced

1 (10 -12 ounce) package white chocolate chips

1 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

 

Preheat oven 350°

In a large mixing bowl; combine eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla. Stir in blueberries, pears and baking chips.

Mix in bread cubes; let stand for 15 minutes or until bread is softened. Transfer to a greased 13×9 inch baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 50-65 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

*With the presence of sugar in a recipe, using salt can require less sugar. The original recipe calls for 2 cups sugar but no salt. By adding the salt, less sugar is needed. The salt brings out the sweetness of the sugar, and making it seem as though you put two cups.

 

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Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon

Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon

Honeydew is another summer favorite fruit. If you missed the prior articles about the watermelon and cantaloupe you can read about them here: Articles on Melons.

It’s so disappointing when you get a melon that just doesn’t taste good. It may not be sweet enough or not ripe enough. It just makes the whole melon eating experience a let-down. That’s why we’re going to ask Mark a vendor at our local Farmer’s Market to show us how to pick out just the right honeydew melon so you can get the most flavorful, enjoyable melon possible.

Squeeze the ends of the honeydew melon. You want them to have a little bit of a give to it, as that means it’s ripe.

Look at the color of the outside of the honeydew melon, the more yellow it is, the better. Look for a golden hue to it.

The skin will have almost a sticky texture when it’s at its ripest.

Brown spots on the rind of a honeydew melon are kind of like brown spots on a banana. That’s where the fruit is the sweetest. So don’t shy away from a few brown spots.

Pay attention to the shape of your honeydew melon. You want it to be spherical in shape for the tastiest melon.

Weight matters, too. Because melons consist of mostly water, you want one that is heavier than it appears. This will be the juiciest melon.

Use all of your senses when checking your honeydew melon. Give it a smell. If it has a nice, pleasant aroma, then it’s going to taste good too.

Mark grabbed a honeydew melon up to his ear and started shaking it side to side. He said, “If you can hear the seeds rolling around in there, then it’s ripe.” I tried it, but couldn’t hear the seeds. He said that one takes practice.

Tapping on the melon with your knuckle and hearing a hollow sound, means the melon is ripe.

I asked Mark about honeydews that are orange inside?

orange flesh honeydew

An organic orange flesh honeydew…Picture credit: http://www.burpee.com

Mark said, “If you find honeydew with orange-flesh, that’s okay. This is a new kind of honeydew which is easier to tell if it’s ripe, the more orange it is, the better. However, be warned – it might not have as sweet of a taste as your typical honeydew melon.”

Make also said that if f a honeydew melon is picked too soon, that is, before it turns yellow, it will never ripen. He also said it’s best to avoid buying melons past August, because you probably aren’t going to get a very tasty melon unless you live in California where they are grown.

Mark pointed out that the most important thing when choosing just the right honeydew melon is to pay attention to the color of the rind. A honeydew melon starts out green. If it remains green or even has a greenish hue to it, then it’s not at all ready yet. Watch out for green spots too. This means it’s not ripe yet either. And it’s not going to get that way with time like bananas will. Honeydews don’t keep ripening after their picked.

Honeydew melon is really a melon you have to buy to eat right away. It doesn’t get better if you buy it early and let it sit in the sun. You also want to store it at room temperature.  However, after it has been cut into you will need to store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. This will help keep it fresh for up to two weeks.

Now go out and pick your perfect honeydew melon and then enjoy all of its sweet, watery goodness. You’ll never pick a disappointing melon again, thanks to the tips Mark shared with us on how to choose the best honeydew melon.

 

Header image credit: Epicurus

 

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Mexican vs. Tex-Mex: What is the Difference?

Mexican vs. Tex-Mex: What is the Difference?

 

Today we have a guest blog speaker who is a native Mexican who will speak to us on the Tastes of Mexico.  Our guest speaker is Norma and the owner of Splendid Recipes and More (SRandM) is interviewing her.

SRandM: So how are you Norma?

Norma: Fine thank you. I just want to say I am excited to be a guest on Splendid Recipes and More. You have a lot of great recipes posted here on your blog. I had seen a few Mexican dishes as well.

SRandM: Will thank you Norma and I am glad you could speak with us. So Norma were in Mexico are you from?

playas de RosaritoNorma: I was born in the Mexican state of Baja California North, in a small beach town called Palayas de  Rosirito.

SRandM: Exactly where is Rosarito?

Norma: Across the border from San Diego, California. When you cross the border you come into Tijuana first, and Rosarito is about 20 minutes from Tijuana going south.

SRandM: So you told me you immigrated to the U.S. in 1992 and have been an American citizen since 2004?

Norma: Yes that is correct.

SRandM: What do you think about the Mexican food that is made here in the States?

Norma: For the most part it is authentic. But many Americans for their love of the Mexican food have made their own recipes using the ingredients we use in Mexico, and call it a Mexican dish. Such as New Mexico, they make enchiladas as we do in Mexico, but they use flour tortillas, and the Mexicans use corn tortillas. Some people have even made enchiladas, casserole style calling it an Enchilada pie, which is not authentic Mexican.

SRandM: Yes I understand. What do you think about the variations in Texas? Is Mexican food and Tex-Mex the same?

Before Norma answers our question, have you ever wondered what the difference is between authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex food? If you look around online, you’ll find plenty of debate over which style of theorizing cooking is better. Some “traditionalists” even question if Tex-Mex is a legitimate form of American cuisine.

No matter where the debate leads, Tex-Mex has earned its place on the American table. Still, that doesn’t answer how Tex-Mex differs from authentic Mexican food.  So let’s allow Norma to answer that.

Norma: Will here’s a little history. The roots of Tex-Mex cuisine trace back to the Spanish. The Spanish missionaries brought their recipes to Texas, and when they left the area in the 1700s, the natives of the region had already assimilated portions of their cooking culture into their own.

chili con carneAlong with this influence, early colonization of Texas also included other cultures. For example, individuals from the Canary Islands brought a different flavor palate with them, which included cumin, garlic, and chili powder. These flavors now form the foundation for the Tex-Mex favorite, chili con carne.

SRandM: So chili con carne is not an authentic Mexican dish?

Norma: No, chili or ground meat with beans and the use of spicy peppers are a Western frontier dish.

This blending of outside cultures with Mexican farm food and Texas ranch food is evident in many other modern Tex-Mex dishes.

One example that comes to mind is the use of beef. You will find a lot more beef in Tex-Mex recipes than in traditional Mexican dishes. Even though beef cattle could be found in Mexico, grasslands were overgrazed and herds were scarce.

SRandM: What types of meat are most popular then, in authentic Mexican cooking?

Norma: Pork, turkeys, wild fowl, chicken, and seafood were more available to the average Mexican household, and as a result, these ingredients were used and are used today in Mexican dishes, with the exception of turkey. You won’t find that at all in any Mexican dish.

SRandM: I guess since beef cattle have long been a staple in Texas, it would make sense that beef plays a more pre-dominate role in Tex-Mex recipes.

Norma: That is correct.

SRandMore: What other foods are used in authentic Mexican dishes?

Norma: Will before trade and commerce exploded in Mexico, beans, corn, and rice formed the basis for many meals. As Mexican people moved north, these foods found their way onto the plates of many households in Texas.

In return, Texans introduced Mexican cooks to more plentiful milk and cheese, in addition to beef. This blending of cultures and cuisine created excitement, especially during the 1940s and 1950s as the borders between the two countries became more open.

 Los Pesos Tex MexSRandM: So could it be correct to say it was around that time when the term ‘Tex-Mex’ was coined?

Norma: Yes, and was proudly used to describe Mexican dishes adapted by Texan cooks. But I will say as the years passed, the recipes lost much of their heritage.

SRandM: How so?

Norma: Will by the 1970s, many Tex-Mex dishes were almost completely revamped into unrecognizable concoctions that are not authentic Mexican dishes.

SRandMore: Such as?

Norma: Will, like Chimichangas, cheese nachos, just to name a few is Tex-Mex cuisine inventions.

Much of what we know as Tex-Mex today can be traced in part to the fast food franchise explosion which introduced “Mexican” food to most Americans.

The menus you typically see featured in these restaurants have pre-made taco shells which house a variety of ingredients buried under piles of cheese and sauces.  Though these restaurants will give a general nod to a “south of the border” flavor, their menus really have little in common with authentic Mexican food.

Another fact I find funny, is restaurants that have popped up all over America make the claim to serve only “authentic” Mexican food, when they are actually making a stab at Tex-Mex.

SRandM: So do you feel Tex-Mex has stolen the spot light from the real thing?

Norma: Will when it comes down to deciding which is best – authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisine – I really can’t find a right or wrong answer to your question.

All you can do is compare and decide for yourself which you prefer. There are many cookbooks available for both Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines to see what appeals to you. You can also visit authentic local restaurants to try for yourself.


NachosSRandM:
Will that is all the time we have today Norma. Tell our readers what recipes you will be presenting in the next post?

Norma: I thought I would prepare some authentic Guacamole and Real Mexican salsa, a couple of great condiments that pair well with lots of Mexican dishes.

SRandM: We look for to that Norma. So to our readers, return here to Splendid Recipes and More for some authentic recipes that will be prepared by Norma, which is: Homemade Guacamole and Fresh Mexican Salsa.

Link to: Homemade Guacamole and Fresh Mexican Salsa

Image credits:

Chili con carne    

Palayas de Rosarito

Los Pesos Tex-Mex

Clip art of Nachos and Taco

What Others are Saying About Mexican and Tex-Mex food:

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Mango Coconut Rice Pudding

Mango Coconut Rice PuddingMango season in the Northern hemisphere is April to October. One does not need special skills to eat the ripe fruit. Simply peel the fruit and bite into its juicy flesh.

Many love to eat the raw skin of the fruit as well. Myself personally, I have never tried to eat the peel. Now days you can find the mango dried, or frozen. In both cases the mango is still sweet in flavor. You can juice the mango, which I have with fresh blueberries, what a yummy smoothie.

Mexico's Tasty MangoesYou can make mango salsa and even in India they make Mango Jam. Mangoes do not grow in mild to cooler climates, they are grown in tropical regions of the earth. In 2012 the consumption of mangoes by Americans was up 30% over the prior 5  years.

If you are familiar with NPR or National Public Radio (USA), they had a report the morning of April. 9, 2013 entitled “Demand Is High For Mexico‘s Magnificent Mangoes”.

Take a moment to listen. Just Click Here to listen to the 1 1/2 minute NPR Report – another window will open to here report.

Our featured recipe:

Mango Coconut Rice Pudding

1 – 14 ounce can coconut milk
¼ cup Arborio rice
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1/6 tsp. nutmeg, ground
1/6 tsp. cinnamon, ground
¼ cup mango (pureed)
some macadamia nuts (chopped, optional)

Place the coconut milk, rice, salt, sugar and cardamom in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 25-35 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and let cool. Mix in the mango and garnish with chopped macadamia nuts.

What Others are Saying About Mangoes:

Image credit: Closet Cooking

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