About Señorita Tijerina

Welcome. I am Jessica Tijerina. I want to share my food thoughts, memories, experiences, recipes and travels. I hunger for food knowledge. My passion is to teach. I surround myself with those who love to cook, eat and swap recipes. I teach anything from fresh pasta, soups & stocks, Thai, Indian, Sushi, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Mexican...OH MY! Every day I explore new ways to artistically express my feelings through food. I learn the most by watching others. Ever asked your fish guy for a bag of heads and tails? What on earth would you do with that, you may say. My first kumquat experience was 5 years ago February. It kicked up a feeling of bewilderment, joy and eagerness to learn more. What else was out there? What else is there locally that I have yet to get to know? You will learn with me, teach me and have fun doing it. "Whatever it is you are searching for, I hope you can eat it." What about me you ask? 1. I am a recovering alcoholic, born in MN 2. A Graduate of the University of MN 3. I am many parts; Mexican, German, Irish, Swedish, Scottish, Italian, etc. (i.e. mut) 4. Travels: Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, ask me more... 5. Oldest of 4, youngest is 15 6. Favorite color is orange 7. I eat disgusting amounts of sour cream 8. I make terrible messes in my kitchen 9. I read (I mean truly read) cookbooks 10. I both brush and floss

Truffle curry danced the lambada in my mouth.

Last Wednesday I attended an event at Kitchen Window (www.kitchenwindow.com) in Uptown, Minneapolis.  The class was not about chocolate truffles, although that would have been awesome too.  It was about the mushroom truffle.  Often referred to as, “The diamond of the kitchen.”image

The class was called, “Black Truffle Celebration.” It was a celebration indeed.  Not only of the aromatic, mushroom, but I personally was reunited with old friends and colleagues. It was overwhelmingly exciting and with over $100 worth of truffle in my (very full) belly and the warm feeling from all of the caring embraces and genuine smiles, the event was “priceless”. I have the cheesiest grin on my face as I write this at a local coffee shop and another patron just caught me and gave me a, “should I smile back or is she just crazy” look.

I also heard from both of the event presenters that the event was a kick-off for Kitchen Window and Urbani Truffles as they will be partnering to make the truffle available to the general public when they are fresh and right off the plane.  Stay tuned.  You could be eating truffles and eggs for breakfast.image_4

You may have been lucky enough to have ordered a meal with shaved truffles if in season or truffle butter or oil when not and unless they are in season the amount of fresh truffle in Minnesota is going to be minimal.

They certainly didn’t pass around a small basket of fresh picked truffles for your eyes only. Yes, they have a presence, especially when in season, so don’t get me wrong.  Right now, the Black Winter and Fresh Bianchetti are in season.  From the truffles I was able to see and taste each was about the size of an ice cube, tater tot or one of those bouncy balls you can buy for a quarter.  Whichever is easiest to relate to.  Yes, I did purchase that bouncy ball out of an upright toy dispenser for a quarter.  At the Cinema Cafe.image_1

The event itself was a demonstration by Urbani Truffles (urbani.com) very own Amanda Dentici whose family is, well, Italian.  She has a degree in the culinary arts and grew up in and around the restaurant business, but jumped at the chance to become an advocate and expert in all things truffle.  Urbani Truffles gets first dibs in Italy with some of the most prominent truffle farms and controls over 70% of the worlds truffle traffic.  They make oil, salt, butter, sauce, etc.  Most recently, I was able to taste a bbq, curry, chili, mustard and ketchup.  Admittedly, when I first went to taste the sauces I thought, “why on earth would you add truffle to an already potent, full flavor and bold product such as BBQ or curry?”  Um…well…as I tasted them, I also looked around to ensure I didn’t say that out loud as the flavor profile pranced around in my mouth. The curry, for example, maintained the distinct flavors it yields and is known for and then, I realized the curry was dancing with an award-winning partner and there it was, curry and truffle doing the lambada, in my mouth.

Prior to this dance were the cha cha, the salsa and waltz as I tasted truffle dishes throughout the evening being prepared by our very own Minneapolis based, Ben McCallum, Executive Chef of Three Sons Signature Cuisine (www.threesonssignature.com). 

He is one of my favorite local chefs, not only in food knowledge, but in style of presentation, relaxed and fun and his overall presence exudes approachability.  He often sings his ingredients while cooking in front of a class and I don’t think he knows it.image (3)The dishes we watched being prepared were a truffled white bean tapenade on molasses butter canapé, wild mushroom duxelle (sautéed mushroom dish that has been deglazed) with grilled focaccia and shaved Pecorino Romano, pan-seared chicken on tagliatelle pasta (freshly made in class) with truffle bacon cream sauce. 

The finale was a fresh batch of hand whisked black truffle sabayon.  Thank you Ben for whisking away for 30 people, yikes!image_1 (2)

My favorite was the chicken with truffle bacon cream sauce, unforgettable.  My mouth is watering. Again.

Quick Facts
1. Truffles are in the tuber family, grow like a potato, mostly around chestnut and oak trees
2. Grown mainly in Italy, but also found in France and Croatia
3. Certain types and in-season truffles can yield over $5,000 per pound
4. Types: Black Winter, Fresh Bianchetti, Fresh White, Fresh Summer and Fresh Burgundy
5. The Fresh White Truffle is the most sought after and most expensive
6. The price of a truffle is based on both availability and flavor profile
7. Truffles need to attach to a protein to enhance the flavor (milk, butter, oil, fat)
8. Synthetic versions of truffle oil are actually made with propane gas. Say what?!
9. 4oz. of Black Truffle it is about $399 USD. (Approx. 7-9) 4 oz. of Bianchetti is about $169 USD. (Approx. 10-12)
10. A person can obtain 2-3 servings from 1oz. of truffle

Follow me for some of my very own truffle recipes.
Up next…buying, cooking and eating rabbit, locally sourced.
“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Señorita Tijerina


A reason to get together…Leprechauns.

Okay okay, no leprechauns, but how cute would it be if Irish families had a version of “elf on the shelf”, but with a leprechaun? small_3356693001

Remember when I said my family loves to get together for any reason to eat food? St. Patrick’s Day is one of those reasons. We really only eat corned beef and cabbage around this time, unless we go out for dinner somewhere and they have “the best” Reuben. Anyone have any suggestions in the Twin Cities area? We have tried them all. My mom did make Reuben’s this past summer to support my first attempt and absolute failure to make pumpernickel rye bread. In fact, it could still be on the lawn being used as a gnome house.
I said I would deliver a new twist on an old Irish recipe and so here it is…

Señorita Tijerina

“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Prosciutto and Irish cheddar soda bread biscuits

Yield: Makes 12 biscuits

½ stick Kerry Gold butter
4 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour + bench flour (extra flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. white pepper
2 cups buttermilk (substitution: 2 cups milk 2 T. lemon, let sit for 5 minutes)
½ cup ¼” diced prosciutto
½ cup Irish cheddar (or your own preference)
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 shallot, diced
(I use the pre-diced package of onion, garlic and shallot from Trader Joe’s)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Grease muffin tin with Kerry Gold butter.
In a skillet, sauté the diced prosciutto, onion, garlic and shallot, 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool on a paper towel to allow grease to soak up.
Toss cheese in 1/2 tsp. of flour and set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, white pepper and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or in an upright mixer with dough hook.
Gently fold in the sauté mix and cheese.
Place onto a lightly floured surface.
Pat the dough gently into a square shape.
Fold the dough in half several times, bringing the dough in from the outside toward the middle, all the way around. Add a pinch of flour if necessary. Pat into a larger square.  Do not knead the dough.
Cut into 12 squares and shape each into a round disk and place it into the prepared muffin pan.
With a sharp knife, make two large slashes on the top.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake until lightly brown, about another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack before serving.image

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/akbuthod/3356693001/”>amy_b</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Bonsai! 盆栽 You should massage your kumquat.

Due to the dwarf nature of the kumquat tree (or shrub), they can be grown in a pot, pruned and often will bear fruit, adding color, depth and the element of surprise to the typical art of bonsai.Kumquat Tree

It is said, by many a kumquat guru, I don’t know any personally, but in my research those that worship the sour little morsels say that they taste best if gently rolled between the fingers, massaged, before being eaten.  It is supposed to release the “essential oils” in the citrus. I have learned to roll my lemons and limes around the counter top prior to cutting them or juicing them, never researching why, so I tried it.  I would first like to tell you that when someone says to squeeze something gently, they mean it.  I squeezed, ran to the kitchen sink and stuck my entire face under the cold running water. Yes, I had just released essential oils into my eyes. Yes, I did.  Not a proud moment, but nonetheless a learning experience.  Always have someone else massage your kumquats.

You eat kumquats as you would eat grapes (with the peel).  The person who first introduced me to the citrus failed to mention they also contain seeds the size of orange seeds.  Once I realized this, I didn’t want to chew them and I was in the middle of the produce section so spitting them out in my hand was not an option and you don’t want to swallow them.   I was told when I was young that if you swallow a watermelon seed a lttle-girl-eating-watermelon-27666650watermelon tree will grow inside of your stomach.  I don’t need to explain to my doctor how a bonsai got in there.  Come to find out that watermelons aren’t even grown on trees.  My grandfather also called the watermelon a “piss punkin.”

The seeds are good for something.  They contain pectin, which can be extracted through boiling and then used for making jelly.  I am not going to attempt the jelly this time around, but I did decide to make my own preserved kumquat and infused salt.  Citrus salts are like having a stash of firecrackers in your cupboard.  Sprinkle a little on popcorn, scrambled eggs or ice cream and it’s like lighting a pack of “black cats” in your mouth.  Minus the actual use of flame or the after smell of sulfur…that would be dangerous.

3 quick kumquat facts:  

  • Best available November-June
  • 3.5 ounces/100 grams contains approximately 71 calories
  • On your counter they stay fresh for about 4 days, in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks

Remember; always let someone else massage your kumquats.

“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Señorita Tijerina

Preserved Kumquat with Ginger + Infused Kosher SaltPreserved Kumquat


12 oz kumquats (340 grams)
.5 oz ginger root (20 grams), sliced, skin on
12 oz Mason jar or equivalent with airtight lid
1 cup Kosher salt


  1. Task someone to massage your kumquats
  2. Begin layering in the jar; kumquats, salt, ginger, salt, etc. until full
  3. Seal lid until tight; shake
  4. Store jar in a cool, dark place 2-3 weeks
  5. Shake once after 72 hours as the salt with begin to turn to liquid
  6. This is where you can reserve some of the salt to use as you please
  7. Open the lid every few days to release any pressure caused by fermentation
  8. Once the liquid tastes a bit tangy, place in the refrigerator and it will last up to 1 year

Try adding vanilla bean, rosemary or even peppercorns in place of ginger for a new experience.

“Kumquat(ly) and no one gets hurt”

No one got hurt

No one got hurt

I look forward to the look on ones’ face when they eat a Kumquat. I had not had a kumquat until about a week ago. Not only did it make me pucker, but once I swallowed the gallon of saliva my mouth produced from the sour little morsel, I giggled. Then ate another. Food makes me happy. My family loves food.  We live, love and learn food together.

When getting together, the first thing we all text mom is…”what are we having to eat?” I know you are smiling and I know why. The art, beauty and act of cooking food has brought my family closer together. Our food chat is constant from the minute we know we are getting together, but endless texts in-between showing off what we have masterfully created or successfully failed at in our own kitchens is fuel for our culinary knowledge. A spoonful of sibling competition, goes a long way.
Three of us are now grown or at least old enough and somewhat wise enough to cook something other than Ramen noodles or tortillas with cheese. We have all in some form or another found comfort in food.

I am not talking comfort food to cure what might be an, “I had a bad day and all I want is a huge pile of spaghetti and a meatball the size of my head” comfort, although it may have happened once or twice. I am talking about a hunger for food knowledge. I know you share this hunger.

Want to know how a kumquat is grown?  A bonsai-say-what?  Add a pinch of kumquat infused sea salt to a salad and you just might giggle.  Follow me to the next blog and learn a little more about kumquat.

For my love of food, family and knowledge (and to one-up my brothers) thank you for reading.

Senorita Tijerina
“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it!”