Lost in Translation: Not-Quite Tortas Ahogadas

summary: Northern take on Ersatz Tortas Ahogadas; opened-faced sandwiches; we’re gonna need a sharper knife….

It’s a hangover dish. Or at least it seems like the dish was invented by a drunk. – Aaron Garcia, owner of Pialeadero de Guadalajara, Mexico City, June 2017

Open-Faced Torta Ahogada (Drowned Sandwich)

One of the reasons that Karen (Karen’s Kitchen Stories) decided we BBBabes should make Birotes Saladas this month was so we could make tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches).

Here is what David Norman and Bryan Ford have to say about the sandwiches:

They say the torta ahogada was invented by accident when a sandwich vendor dropped a carnitas-filled roll into a vat of tomato salsa. It is now ubiquitous in the market stalls, street cars, and restaurants of Mexico’s second largest city.
      There are two sauces, one a flavorful but not spicy tomato sauce for “drowning” the sandwich, and a second made from arbol chiles, potent and fiery, used to cusomize the heat level. […] I read that a true Tapatio (a native of Guadalajar) supposedly can eat this sandwich by hand with only one napkin […] One important element in a torta ahogada is the refried beans used to coat the inside of the cut rolls. In Guadalajara, Mayocoba beans are treaditionally used […] [but, you] can use any variety except black beans.
– David Norman, Bread on the Table | Torta Ahogado – Sandwich from Gadalajara, p235
I find nothing more satisfying than recreating the unique breads of Latin America in my very own kitchen. I especially love when the bread is meant to be stuffed with savory fillings and drowned in spicy salsa—in Mexico, the torta ahogada is just that.
– Bryan Ford, New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fremented Breads | Birote, p60

Hmmm. I find it difficult to believe that drowning the sandwich in tomato salsa wasn’t entirely by design. (continue reading )

So THAT’S what it is!

summary: mystery object revealed; useless kitchen gadget; the internet is amazing; vegetable candleholder??

:!: :!: :!:

mystery object

Eons ago, we asked here if anyone knew what this implement is. I came across it again the other day when I was rummaging through the wooden spoon/biscuit cutter/spatula/ladle drawer. We tried to identify it with Google Lens with no luck. Then, today, T asked on Reddit | Identify Unknown Objects and got a reply about half an hour later! FINALLY we know what it is!

It’s a Twisty Twirl tool! Or, rather, half a Twisty Twirl tool.

This fun tool is great for making fun corkscrew french fries, candy cane striped vegetable garnishes and edible vegetable candles. If works well with root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, jicama, fat carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams and daikon.
– Nita, How to Carve Like a Pro | Twisty Twirl Tool

Now that we finally know what this implement is for, I thought I’d try it out with a zucchini. (There’s no way the implement would easily cut through a carrot or beet!) We don’t have both parts of the gizmo (or at least, neither of us remember seeing anything like it), so I had to improvise. (I tried first with pliers and then switched to using a can opener.)

Look, how lovely!! {cough} And delicious too…. :whee: :whee:

Please sir, may I have some more vegetables?

Twisty Tool and Zucchini
Nita claims that the spiral can be used as a vegetable candle holder!
A carrot candle would be fun to top a carrot cake to celebrate a birthday.” – Nita

(continue reading )

A Wild Take on Birotes Salados (BBB July 2020)

go directly to the recipe

BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Wild Birotes Salados; playing with the recipe; wildly divergent; fixing the hydration; my reading skills have not really improved; seemingly impossible – my verbosity has increased dramatically; information about Bread Baking Babes;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Birotes Salados (Mexican Sourdough Rolls)

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens. – unknown

Bread on the Table by David Norman
Bread on the Table | Birotes Salados, p222-223
by David Norman
photography by Johnny Autry

We have been happily making wild bread since July 2017 using a starter made with just whole wheat flour and water. I know from reading Elizabeth David’s book English Bread and Yeast Cookery that before commercial yeast was readily available, people used barm (what was left after brewing beer) to leaven their bread. Apparently, this was going on for some time problaby as far back as the Ancient Egyptians.

However, aside from using baking powder or commercial yeast, we have never tried using anything but our Jane Mason starter as a leavener for bread. Who knew that we might be asked to try using beer?!! What a concept….

Which is what Karen (Karen’s Kitchen Stories) has suggested we do this month, as per the sourdough created in Guadalajara. (Please be sure to read her post to learn about the history of these rolls.) With that Guadalajaran-like sourdough, our project was to make Mexican breadrolls: birotes salados, using a recipe in David Norman’s excellent book, “Bread on the Table”. (continue reading )

Raita inspired by “The Mistress of Spices” (Novel Food No.39)

go directly to the recipe

summary: raita; mint; green bean sabji; chilis; heat; brief review of “The Mistress of Spices” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; Novel Food Event;

Novel Food No. 39: Raita inspired by “The Mistress of Spices” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Cucumber Mint Raita and Green Bean Sabji

There are myriad references to foods to prepare in The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. How could there not, with each chapter entitled with a spicename or mixture? Some familiar, some not: Tilo (sesame), Turmeric, Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Asafoetida, Fennel, Ginger, Peppercorn, Kalo Jire (black cumin), Neem, Red Chili, Makaradwaj, Lotus Root, etc. etc.

While some of the sections may have arguably gone too far into fantasy with wild tales of sorcery, pirates, talking sea serpents, violent storms, and spices that speak (or don’t speak), the compassionate lyricism keeps the book open and the pages turning. It really helps that behind the fantasy is an excellent social commentary that sometimes starkly displays our prejudices and fears.

In short, I was completely entranced by this beautifully written book that I finished reading way back in April. …April, when staying at home was still a bit of a novelty, and when lining up at the grocery store involved wearing hats, scarves and mittens, rather than how things are now: standing resignedly on our chalked lines 2 meters from the other chalked lines, sweltering in the blazing sun, with masks in hand – ready to put on the moment before we are allowed to enter the store. (continue reading )

This isn’t just any old pesto – it’s carrot tops pesto!

summary: making pesto doesn’t have to mean using basil; some people’s compost materials are other people’s condiments; freebies from the supermarket; problems with focussing on our cameras;

Le jour vient où une seule carotte, fraîchement observée, déclenchera une révolution – Paul Cezanne

The other day, one of my west-coast sisters told me about the most amazing dinner that they had on Canada Day: freshly caught salmon with roasted carrots (from their garden) and carrot top pesto on pasta.

That’s right. She said “carrot top” pesto.

It has been rumored that carrot tops are poisonous and potentially deadly, but that’s actually not true. In fact, they are very edible and loaded with vitamins and minerals. There is a persistent belief that the alkaloids in carrot tops make them slightly dangerous for consumption, but this isn’t really true, as alkaloids are a substance found throughout nearly every leafy green vegetable.
The leafy tops [of carrots], which remind me of parsley, taste herbaceous and vaguely reminiscent of, well, carrots. They can be eaten raw in salads, although their taste can be a little bitter.
– Kelli Foster, Kitchn | Yes, You Can Eat Carrot Tops. No, They’re Not Poisonous!

I moaned about the fact that we didn’t have any carrots growing but maybe we could steal some from M and J’s garden two doors down…. They have LOTS of carrots! They wouldn’t miss a few, would they?? :lalala:

But Lady Luck was kind to us and saved us from becoming petty thieves.

Carrot Tops

Guess what we had for dinner last night! (continue reading )