Comfort food to boost your mood…iViva México!



photo 3 photo 2 (2)Mexican!






In my experience, Mexican food elicits the most definitive reaction from people.  A typical response from my fellow co-workers prior to a tasting I organized at work was, “I love Mexican food” or “I will eat the heck out of some enchiladas, don’t dare me” or “I love guacamole,” all with a toothy grin and a lingering look of euphoria in their eyes.

General consensus from family, friends, co-workers, friends of friends, etc is that it is quick, easy, filling and makes you feel happy.  Once devoured, the rice, tortilla and bean begin to expand.  A miniscule bead of sweat forms along your hairline, both from over indulgence and for those adventurous Minnesotans, el fuego or spice. It may be Tabasco, pico de gallo or a family favorite, Scorned Woman. Yes, it is a hot sauce and it is HOT with a very beautiful flavor and I highly recommend it. Great with eggs.  (Consume with caution)

Mexican food is a beautiful thing and has evolved over the years from hamburger hard shell taco night to tamale pie, tinga de pollo (chicken tinga) and sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup).

For me, it has always been a comfort food.  The nasal euphoria of fresh cut onion, garlic and cilantro fills my kitchen along with the thick aroma of meat stewing in dried chiles. I lose myself in Mexican cooking. At times I believe I am in a trance, then, I end up with a delicious and memorable soup. It’s magic I tell you.

Tamales take a whole day, but I am never too exhausted to eat at least 3 when they finally come leaping out of the steamer onto a plate full of frijoles borrachos (drunken beans) and Elote (Mexican street corn). My next blog will be from a class I taught on Mexican food as well as a tasting I did for my co-workers based solely on ingredients purchased from Trader Joe’s. They do not sell dried chiles! It was a challenging adventure.

Today, I am in desperate need of a bowl of homemade tortilla soup. Tortilla soup is my go to when feeling sick, cold, down or just really hungry for Mexican soul food.

My brother loves to eat this as though it will never be made again and I need to buy him his own bag of tortilla chips. (see photo below) I love him dearly and I know he will always and forever love Mexican. To you my brother, I love you. iViva México!

Señorita Tijerina’s Sopa de Tortilla con Pollo

(recipe first published 6/26/2014 on

Serves 6

1 lb. chicken thigh
1 T canola oil or other high heat oil (not coconut, too much flavor)
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
8 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, no salt)
2 T cumin
2 T paprika
1 T celery salt
3 T Kosher salt
1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
2 dried guajillo peppers, seeds removed (may want to use gloves)
1 dried ancho pepper, seeds removed (may want to use gloves)
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Queso Fresco


  1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven and sauté onion until translucent
  2. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute
  3. Add 2 T stock, cumin, paprika, celery salt and Kosher salt, stir 1 minute
  4. Add 6 cups stock, bring to a boil and add dried peppers and chipotles in adobo sauce, these are very spicy as are the dried peppers, so use sparingly, start with 1 and taste after simmering for 2 minutes
  5. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer until chiles are re-hydrated 10-12 minutes
  6. Remove chiles, onion and garlic with a mini strainer and pureé with 1 T of broth
  7. Add chicken to dutch oven and boil over medium high heat 6-8 minutes
  8. Add pureé mixture to chicken in broth and reduce heat to low
  9. Remove from heat
  10. Season to taste with salt and additional chipotle

Serve with crema (sour cream), queso fresco (mozzarella works as a replacement), avocado, freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice and chips


Señorita Tijerina

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



From the “Edge of the wilderness”…Smoked fish

Growing up I remember the many trips up north to grandma’s house in the Northeastern portion of MN so rightly named, “Edge of the Wilderness” Big Fork, MN to be exact and within the Chippewa National Forest. I remember the long drives and in particular the part where each and every one of us would get sick due to the “windy road”. No, not wind with air, but twisty with curves. Although we did open the windows to see if that helped. Oh man there was nothing any of us could do, but hold on tight and listen to our parents tell us to “stare out the window and breathe”. Never helped, it was inevitable one, if not all of us were green in the face. In the end, it was definitely worth it. A favorite memory of mine, unlike the aforementioned, was reaching the dirt road that lead directly to grandma’s house, several miles long, beautiful scenery. Describing or photos would not do it justice. It was breathtaking. Another not so favorite memory of mine was when my step-dad thought it would be a good idea to teach me to drive (when I was 6 or 7) in this big ‘ol rickety truck down the dirt road and he told me to “grab the wheel” and I did and then we hit a tree. Not my favorite memory. Going up to grandma’s we did a lot of crazy things as kids. ATV’s, guns, mouse traps and small animals included, even large ones’ like beavers and bears had a run in with us a few times. Oh no, we did not hurt them. I don’t think. I may have blocked it from my memory.
The smell of grandma’s house always hit me just as we could see the dome house approaching. It was the smell of a wood burning stove, the woods, the cedar sauna and to me smoked fish. It must have been the combination, but to this day when I smell smoked fish my mind immediately snaps a photo of Grandma Mary’s dome house. Smoked fish is a favorite of my family and when we can get it we devour it. Right out of the newspaper is ideal, but sometimes we cheat and it just might come on foam wrapped in plastic. Hey! I am just sayin’. As I have grown older and traveled much around the state of MN exploring I have come to love the smoked fish from Kendall’s Fish house along the scenic byway headed through Duluth towards Two Harbors. They have never failed me and I have always recommended them to anyone up in that area. Their smoked salmon is to salivate for and their smoked trout is divine with crackers and bit of, that’s right, Tabasco or just simply plain right out of that day’s local newspaper.
I hadn’t been able to get smoked fish lately that I am head over heels for, until we had a tasting at work and someone made a smoked trout dish that almost made me cry. I will ask her permission to post the recipe and get back to you, but until then I have not been able to stop making dishes with it. Guess what? It comes in a tin can. I know! I couldn’t believe it. It is the smoked trout in oil found at Trader Joe’s, about $3 a can and most certainly worth every penny.
I submitted a recipe in a recipe contest for favorite breakfast meals and posted this (Trout Hash) as it is one of my new favorites that I wish I could eat everyday. Enjoy.

Smoked Trout Hash
Serves: 4

• 2-3 sweet potato, peeled, diced cut into 1/2″ cubes
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 tablespoon large shallot, peeled and diced
• 2 cloves garlic, diced
• 1 can trout in oil (Trader Joe’s, smoked trout in oil)
• 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons capers
• 2 green onion, diced, green only
1. In a sauté pan over medium heat add 1/2 T of oil and the sweet potato, sauté until sweet potato is tender 6-8 minutes
2. Add shallot and garlic and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes
3. Add trout and oil from trout into the sauté pan and stir
4. Let sit for about 4 minutes until it begins to brown and becomes crisp and then flip
5. Let this side sit for an additional 4 minutes until brown and crisp, then add salt, fresh ground pepper and capers and stir
6. Let both sides crisp up once more only about 2 minutes per side and then add in green onion and serve
7. Add additional salt to taste, serve with toast

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

Señorita Tijerina





The Mellow Mallow

It snowed April 29th, 2014 and I can’t wait to go camping.  I know you are reading this going, “oh that silly girl, she is going to say something funny to make a joke about people camping in snow,” but no, no I am not.  Just as soon as I can see 2 days of sunshine, warm air and no snow or rain, I am going camping.  Campfire 2014Camping means several things to me; fun times, planning the food, breathtaking fires, the painstaking hunt for kindling, uninterrupted family time, meaning my brothers and I can joke about the dumb things we have done in our lives and not get defensive, anymore, which brings us closer together, nature, or as you and I like to call it mosquitoes, hiking, shooting sta…”what? You saw one? I blinked”, smoke, “black rabbit, black rabbit, black rabbit”, campfire hair (smell, look and feel) the lulling sounds of the night as I snuggle into the sack, only to wake up either freezing cold and sore from shivering or so hot I have forgotten I am camping and panic and then there are S’mores, delicious little dirty, messy morsels of chocolate, marshmallow and graham.  My memory gives way to Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate rectangles between two Nabisco Honey Maid graham crackers.

I have only met one person in my life that has ever made marshmallows from scratch. She was a culinary artist I worked with for several years and incorporated booze and powdered peanut butter.  She made them using gelatin, so I thought that was how they had always been made. 2

According to the National Confectioner’s Association, the first marshmallow was derived from the mallow plant (Athaea officinalis), a plant that is native to marshes. Get it? Marsh mallow.  Candy companies have now replaced the mallow with gelatin, which is how I was able to spend the afternoon making marshmallows. To think what was once only suitable for royalty, Americans now consume over 90 million pounds per year, or 1,125 full 18-wheelers.  90 million pounds!

I began my marshmallowy, gooey, sugary adventure.

Quick Facts:
• Mallow plants were used by doctors to soothe sore throats in the early 1800’s.
• At one point in time it took 27 hours to create one Peep. Today, it takes about six minutes. Technological advances… (ACA, 2014)
• The Girl Scout Handbook published the first S’more recipe in 1927. (ACA, 2014)
• Powdered peanut butter is the process by which the hydrogenated fat is removed from the peanut and then ground into a fine powder adding in sugar and salt. (

Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste Marshmallows
Yield: 24 1” marshmallowsMarshmallows

• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• Cooking spray, for coating the baking pan
• 2 ¼ ounce packets unflavored gelatin, powdered
• ½ cup + 1/4 cup cold water
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1/8 teaspoon salt (I used my kumquat and ginger infused salt)
• 1 large egg white
• 2 teaspoons Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste
1. Sift powdered sugar and cornstarch into a bowl, set aside
2. Coat an 8.5×11” baking pan, set aside
3. Empty gelatin packets into a mixing bowl and pour 1/4 cup water directly over it to let is soften
4. In a heavy bottom saucepan cook sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup of cold water and salt over low heat
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir until sugar is dissolved
6. Increase heat to medium high and boil mixture, DO NOT STIR
7. Let sit until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 10 minutes
a. If you cook it too long the sugar will begin to harden, learning the hard way my first batch produced spider webs of sugar from pan to spoon to shirt to floor to arm to hair…
8. Remove from heat and pour sugar over the gelatin mixture directly into the mixing bowl, stir until gelatin is dissolvedphoto 1 (2)
9. Gradually whip to high speed until thick and double in volume
10. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until it holds stiff peaks (see photo)Egg White - Stiff
11. Add egg white and vanilla bean paste to mixing bowl and continue to whip another 1 minute or until just combined
12. Pour mixture into baking pan
13. Sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixture over marshmallow
14. Allow to cool, uncovered, until firm, at least three hoursphoto 1 (5)
15. Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan
16. Dust a work surface with a thin layer of the remaining powdered sugar mixture
17. Invert onto the surface and cut into whatever sizes you desire ( This is where I actually rolled it up like a jelly roll and wrapped in plastic wrap until I used it for my dessert)
“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Señorita Tijerina

Next up…Flourless Chocolate Cake Brownies with Marshmallow Toppingphoto 3





Grilled truffle flatbread pizza

Inspired by the fact that I promised a recipe from the last post from my truffle class, this pizza is through and through a mushroom explosion.
I start with a truffle crust using unbleached flour and truffle flour. 93002_white_truffle_flour
Then, I make my own flatbread crust on the grill and add savory toppings to compliment the truffle crust and truffle oil.

6 flatbread

Grill Crust
Stovetop griddle or
Pizza stone in 375 degree oven or
Pizza stone over high heat grill

Crust Ingredients
1 cup warm water
1 ounce yeast (3 1/3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
15.3 ounces unbleached flour (3 ½ cups)
¼ teaspoon truffle flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Truffle infused olive oil
Truffle shavings (seasonal)
Shiitake mushrooms
Crimini mushrooms
Roasted garlic
Caramelized onion
Italian cheese blend (Quattro formaggio, asiago/romano)image

1. Place warm water, yeast and sugar into mixing bowl and let sit 4-5 minutes
2. Add flour and salt and using a dough hook, knead dough in a mixer for about 10 minutes
3. Sprinkle surface with small amount of flour and turn out dough
4. Cut dough into 6 pieces, roll in hand to form small balls and place onto sheet pan
5. Rub small amount of oil onto each ball using fingers or pastry brush
6. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let sit for 4-5 minutes
7. Uncover dough, take each piece and roll out onto a floured surface to desired shape
8. Cook bread on stovetop griddle until brown or on a pizza stone in oven or grill
9. Top with ingredients, keeping to minimum so as not to create a soggy crust
a. Rub small amount of truffle oil on crust and top with ingredients
10. Bake in a 375 degree oven or grill 4-6 minutes or until cheese is melted and light brown

“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”
Stay tuned as I will be sharing my latest, “firsts in the kitchen”.

Señorita Tijerina

Truffle curry danced the lambada in my mouth.

Last Wednesday I attended an event at Kitchen Window ( 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 ( 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 ( 

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