Guacamole goes Mainstream

avocado 3 The avocado, although savory like a vegetable, is botanically a fruit. Native to south central Mexico, it’s been around for thousands of years. As for guacamole, that was invented by the Aztecs, whose empire was based in Mexico from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Known back then as ‘avocado sauce,’ the original recipe, according to most accounts, consisted of crushed avocados, tomatoes and salt.
Fast forward to 1871, the year avocado trees were brought to California for the first time. Then fast forward again to 1935, when a California postal worker and amateur horticulturalist, Rudolph Hass, patented the avocado that bears his name. The rest, as they say, is history.
The vast majority of avocados sold in the US are now grown in California and over 80% are Hass, whose buttery texture makes it the perfect partner for guacamole. Since that dish has now gone mainstream, its widespread popularity has to be a major factor in pushing sales. On Cinco de Mayo and Superbowl Sunday alone, Americans apparently consume over 30 million lbs. of guacamole.
So popular has the dish become that it even has its own, unofficial national holiday. This year, Guacamole Day will be celebrated on September 16th. And it has also found its way into the Guinness Book of Records. The biggest serving of guacamole was put together in 2013 by 450 high school students in Tancitaro, Mexico. Made with 250lbs. of onions, 705lbs. of tomatoes and 29 gallons of lemon juice, it weighed over 5,885 lbs.

“Eighty per cent of success is showing up and eating guac.”
Woody Allen


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CRIMES AGAINST GUACAMOLE

  • In 2014, Bon Appetit came out with a recipe for guacamole with chopped celery, claiming that, ‘it will keep your teeth happy.’
  • British department store, Marks and Spencer, has launched brusselmole, a strange version of guacamole made with brussel sprouts. We are not amused.
  • One time Food Network star, George Duran, came out with a recipe for Granny Smith apple guacamole. He claimed that including apples ‘gives it a nice, subtle sweetness that you’ll crave.
  • The New York Times sparked an internet outcry when it published a recipe for guacamole containing mashed green peas. Even President Obama took to social media to respond to that one. ‘Respect the NYT, but not buying peas in guacamole.’

Guacamole Recipe:
Like the chile, we don’t mess with the guacamole!

avocadoes
chopped tomatoes
mild green chile
granulated garlic
onion salt
salt
pepper
lime juice

“I think my wife married me for my guacamole.”
Kyle Maclachlan, actor

All Honey is Not Created Equal

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Honey has been around forever. Humans have eaten it, traded it, bathed in it and treated their wounds with it, since history was first recorded.

Our honey comes from B’s New Mexico Honey Farm, a family owned business based in Albuquerque, which has been producing raw, naturally organic honey for over 25
years. “Nothing’s added and nothing’s taken out. It’s as simple as that,” says owner Jim Berry. The honey is simply passed through a screen to remove any foreign particles and, because it’s raw, is neither heated nor filtered. “The taste and color can vary quite a bit, depending on the time of year and the amount of rain,” explains Jim.

Throughout the year, the honey changes depending on where Jim’s bees are. They may be pollinating flowers, chamisa, pinon, crops such as chile, or many other plants. Sometimes it is deep in color, almost brown, and other times it is much lighter. We sometimes get asked if it is real honey because folks are not used to the different
flavors that can come through when the bees pollinate the unique fauna for New Mexico.

Tomasita’s and Atrisco combined, currently go through about 30 gallons of B’s honey every week. But Jim has serious concerns about the future, because, he says, “Pesticides, pollution, herbicides and microwave towers have had a devastating effect on the bee population. Honey production in New Mexico is about 40%-50% of what it was nine or ten years ago.”

But there will always be a need for honey and the American Beekeeping Federation has established the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, a nonprofit
organization devoted to keeping bees alive and honey intact.

“A bee is an exquisite chemist.”
Royal Beekeeper to King Charles II


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Put your honey where your mouth is

  • Honey is the only food to include all the ingredients necessary to maintain life, including enzymes, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and water.
  • In ancient times, Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance.
  • Honey is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial, making it highly
    effective for fighting infections.
  • Eating locally sourced, raw honey, is one of the easiest and most effective ways of reducing allergy symptoms.
  • Honey never spoils.
  • Archaeologists exploring ancient Egyptian pyramids discovered jars of honey, over 3,000 years old…and still edible!
  • To make 1lb. of honey, bees must visit approximately two million flowers and fly over 55,000 miles.

Corn by any other name

chicos-2Tomasita’s and the Atrisco Cafe are among a handful of Santa Fe restaurants that list genuine chicos on their menu. And in case you don’t know, chicos are kernels of ripe sweet yellow corn that has been dried by traditional methods dating back thousands of years. Their full name, ‘chicos del horno,’ is a reference to the horno mud oven in which the corn is steam-baked before being dried. The process is lengthy and time consuming and not too many farmers are prepared to take it on these days. Fortunately for us, our source, Jesus Guzman, has been growing corn and making chicos on his farm in Nambe since 1980.

“I do it because I love it,” he says simply, “and I think it’s important to keep the tradition alive.” Born into a farming family, all his seeds are heirloom and organic.
Corn baked in an horno acquires a distinctive color and sweet, smoky flavor and, once dried, will keep for a long time. “It makes for great comfort food,” says Jesus, “especially in the winter.” One horno can hold about 1,000 ears of corn, so, in spite of the short harvesting season (from the end of August through September) he is able to
make enough chicos to sell year round. Jesus also sells chicos and other corn-based products, at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.

Tomasita’s features chicos and beans Fridays and Saturdays and the Atrisco Café serves them on Mondays. Be sure to ask your server for chicos in your beans.
If you haven’t tried our chicos, you’re in for a treat!


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CHICOS for beans or other stews

INGREDIENTS:
4 oz dried corn chicos
¾ lbs diced pork (butte or shoulder)
1 quart. water (add more during cooking if necessary.)
1 cups diced onions
¾ tee-spoon salt
1 table spoons dried granulated garlic
1 table spoons oregano
1 table spoons olive oil
1 table spoons chicken base
METHOD:
Rinse and drain chicos
Preheat pan add pork & oil sear until golden brown
Add onions & sauté until almost golden
Add corn to above ingredients & stir
Add spices
Add water to cover and stir in chicken base,
bring to a slow simmer
Soup is finished when chicos are tender but not soggy
still s bite to the corn.
Now, add this chico “soup” to your pinto beans, red or green chile, or any soup or stew. For beans, the ratio should be about 20% chicos and 80% beans. You can freeze the stew for later use.

Keep Calm and Eat Beef

barn_cattleBeef is one of the most versatile of meats. It can be roasted, grilled, fried, barbecued, baked, broiled, braised, cured, dried, stewed, ground… and made into sausages.
No wonder it appears on so many restaurant menus, ours included. Burritos, sopaipillas, tacos and quesadillas, can all be beef-based and of course we offer hamburgers and steaks as well. Between Tomasita’s and the Atrisco Cafe, we go through a heck of a lot of beef!

All our beef is raised by New Mexico and Southern Colorado ranchers and processed by Caviness Beef Packers in Hereford, Texas, just over the New Mexico border. Supporting local family ranchers is very important to us; we hope to you, too! The Caviness plant is one of the most modern, state-of-the-art facilities in the country. The livestock handling area is modeled after the latest designs by renowned professor and animal behavior expert, Temple Grandin. Both she and Caviness are committed to the humane handling and processing of animals, so that the cows are not stressed or agitated.

Dr Temple Grandin is an autism activist and professor of animal science at Colorado State University, who is changing the beef industry, worldwide, with her innovative designs. She is the subject of the film, Temple Grandin (available from Netflix)
adapted from her own writings. Cattle from New Mexico and Southern Colorado are processed separately at the plant; then packaged, boxed and labeled accordingly, each box naming the specific ranch the beef came from. So, not only are we getting the best beef we can, we are also supporting local ranchers and the humane treatment of animals.

So now you have the inside story of where our beef comes from.
We thought you’d like to know!

George and Joel prepare to tour and inspect Caviness Beef Packers to see exactly where the beef comes from.

George and Joel prepare to tour and inspect Caviness Beef Packers to see exactly where the beef comes from.

burritoFUN FACTS ABOUT BEEF

  • Americans eat more beef than any other people – about 60 lbs. per year.
  • The US and Brazil are the top beef-producing countries in
    the world.
  • In India, killing or injuring a cow can land you in jail. Hindu
    nations believe cows are sacred and should be respected,
    not eaten.
  • More than 100 medicines, including insulin and estrogen,
    are derived from cattle.
  • The hide from one cow can make 20 footballs.
  • Beef is a rich source of protein, zinc, iron, potassium,
    vitamins B6 and B12
  • Disneyland (CA) sells over 4 million hamburgers each year.

A burrito is a sleeping bag for ground beef.
Mitch Hedberg, comedian.

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Las Posadas Santa Fe Style

combined-foods_redLAS POSADAS (meaning ‘lodging’ or ‘inns’) is a centuries old Mexican celebration, combining Christian tradition with Spanish folklore.

Traditionally held from Dec. 16-24, actors playing Mary and Joseph re-enact the couple’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, by touring the neighborhood, knocking on doors, seeking shelter.

A crowd follows, singing songs, asking people to take them in. The answer from inside each house, again delivered in song, is always no.

On the last night, the night before Christmas, they finally find lodging and the event ends with a grand celebration around a nativity scene. And, of course, there’s food! Special treats created for the occasion typically include sweet and savory tamales, warm buñuelos (fritters) and cinnamon chocolate champurrado (thick, hot chocolate), and of course posole with red chile.

While local families still host open houses for friends, family and strangers alike from December 16-24 as they have for centuries, Santa Fe, being the City Different, has its own way of doing things and has condensed the celebration into a single night (this year it’s December 11th.) Held on the Plaza since the early 1970s, the crowd following Mary and Joseph carry lighted candles, as men dressed as devils taunt the procession from rooftops, windows and doorways. Wearing red face paint and makeshift horns, the devils try to intimidate the crowd by throwing insults and yelling, ‘Váyanse de acqui!’ (‘Get out of here!’)

The crowd yells right back, as the procession makes its way around the four corners of the Plaza, knocking on doors and being refused entry. The event ends, happily, with a festive gathering in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, accompanied by hot chocolate, biscochitos and musicians playing carols.

And you’re all invited!

cookies

Traditional Biscochitos

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups all purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons crushed anise seed
Zest of one orange
11/4 cups lard
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
TOPPING:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS
1) In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add anise and orange zest and mix well.
2) In a separate bowl, combine sugar and lard and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.
3) Gradually beat in the flour mixture, until the mixture is combined. (Dough should be thick and similar in consistency to pie crust dough.) Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
4) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon for topping.
5) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut our cookies with a cookie cutter. Place on lined baking sheet and bake until light golden, about 10-12 minutes.
6) Let cookies cool for about a minute, then carefully dunk them in the sugar mixture. Place on cookie rack until completely cooled.

ENJOY!

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Real Corn Makes Great New Mexican Food

shutterstock_99731915_r1Corn is the backbone of New Mexican cuisine. Tortillas, tacos, posole, chips, tamales… the list goes on. But corn is everywhere nowadays – according to the National Corn Growers Association, the average American consumes about 25lbs of it each year. So the quality of that corn is particularly important, especially as most of it nowadays is genetically modified (GMO.) We prefer to serve real corn that is non GMO.

We get our tortillas, posole, masa for tamales, and blue and white corn chips, from La Mexicana in Albuquerque. Owned and operated by Margy and Tony Hernandez, La Mexicana is a multi-generational business and the oldest corn tortilla maker in Albuquerque. They’ve actually been in business continuously  since Tony’s grandfather started out in 1932! Their corn comes from another family owned company, Sunny State Products, in San Jon, New Mexico (www.sunnystateproducts.com). La Mexicana uses only non GMO corn. Much of the blue corn Sunny State grows is a unique variety developed by Leo Thrasher, owner of Sunny State products.

Believe it or not, La Mexicana’s day begins at 3.00am, fulfilling orders which are then packaged for delivery the following day. The corn is made in to nixtamal the traditional way; the corn is first soaked, then cooked, in a lime solution, enhancing both the flavor and the nutritional value of the corn. The nixtamal is then made in to tortillas, chips, and masa. And, of course, no additives or preservatives are used in any of their products.

We, at Tomasita’s and the Atrisco Cafe, aim to provide food that is healthy, natural and chemical-free. And that’s why we’re committed to non-GMO corn wherever possible, grown the way Mother Nature intended and why we source our products from families in New Mexico who feel the same way.

(Note that while we strive to serve non GMO ingredients, we are not certified as a GMO free facility, and we cannot guarantee that 100% of our ingredients will be GMO-free.)

So now you know the back story of our corn…


corn1THE ORIGIN OF CORN AND OTHER CROPS
Native American Myth

After man was created, he was lonely, so the Creator gave him a sister to keep him company. The man dreamed that five spirits would visit his sister and would want to marry her. In the dream, he was told that she should reject the first four and marry the fifth suitor.

The first four to arrive were Tobacco, Squash, Melon and Bean. On being rejected by the girl, each one fell down dead. The fifth and final suitor was Mandamin, or Corn. The girl took him for her husband and he then buried the other four. From their bodies grew tobacco, squash, melons and beans. All Indian people are descended from the marriage of the Indian girl and Corn.

Many pueblos perform corn dances, open to the public, from May to November. They include the following:

Taos, Santa Ana, Santa Domingo, Zia, Sandia, Tesuque, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Isleta, San Juan, Cochiti and Santa Clara.

Do call the main office of each pueblo, ahead of time, to confirm dates and to learn the rules for visitor etiquette and the taking of pictures. These apply specifically to each individual pueblo.

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Adios Angel!

angel

This month we will say goodbye to one of Tomasita’s longtime employees, Angel Amaya, who has been part of our family for the past 33 years.

Originally from Mexico, Angel worked for the Eldorado hotel for about a year, before joining Tomasita’s in 1983. Starting out as a dishwasher, washing everything by hand, he was soon promoted to the steam table, and from there went on to become a lead line cook. In the time Angel has worked at Tomasita’s he has seen many people come and go, and many changes. He is nicknamed “El Professor” because he knows the kitchen so well and has trained so many of his colleagues.

Asked why he has stayed for so long, Angel says simply, “I like every aspect of what I do and we’re treated well here.” Looking back, things have obviously changed over the years. “It was much harder in the 80s,” he recalls. “I remember the oven, in particular. We had to warm plates and melt cheese in a regular oven, so we were constantly bending down, and burning our hands too. Of course, the restaurant was much smaller then.”

As for what he will miss, Angel says it won’t be the food, because he can cook that himself, at home. But he will miss the people – the customers and his co-workers. “So when I get hungry and don’t feel like cooking,” he says with a grin, “I’ll come back to visit.”

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A chile a day keeps the doctor away!

tomasita-newsletter_chilesWe Don’t Mess with the Chile

New Mexico is famous for its chile and so are Tomasita’s and the Atrisco. And that’s because we do it right. All our chile comes from family owned and operated businesses in and around the village of Hatch, the self-proclaimed ‘chile capital of the world.’ These families have been growing chile in southern New Mexico for generations and pride themselves on still doing things the traditional way.

The Franzoy family business, Vegetable Products, has been supplying us with green chile for over a decade. The chile is harvested, by hand, in the morning and roasted, cleaned and frozen that same afternoon. The speed and efficiency of the operation makes for the best, freshest tasting chile around.

Our red chile comes from Salem, an even smaller village just up the road from Hatch, where it’s grown by the Delgado family. After harvesting, the chile is left out in the fields to dry. The sun-dried, whole pods are what we then purchase and immediately freeze, to maintain their freshness and flavor.

Preparation is a bit more involved for red than it is for green. After removing the stems, the pods are seeded, rinsed and soaked, before being put through a grinder (for home use, a blender) to make red chile paste.

From that point on, both red and greed are treated the same way. And since out goal is simply to bring out the distinctive flavor of New Mexico chile, we add nothing but an olive oil based roux and some garlic. (A gluten free version is also available on request.) That’s it!

So now you know what we mean, when we say, “We don’t mess with the chile!”

  • One fresh, medium sized green chile has as much vitamin C as six oranges.
  • Hot chile peppers burn calories by triggering a response in the body that speeds up the metabolism.
  • Capsaicin, the heat generating substance in chile peppers, is used in ointments, patches and tinctures, to treat arthritic pain and aching muscles.
  • Chiles are very mineral rich, containing high levels of potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium.
  • Capsaicin has been shown to dramatically inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.
  • Chile peppers have powerful antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-carcinogenic properties.

And that’s just for starters… so fire up your taste buds and do your health a favor at the same time!

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