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BellaOnline's Mexican Food Editor

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Tortillas and Tortas

Mexican Food Information

Autumn gold and squash blossoms star
The markets of Mexico are splashed with gold and the time of year has arrived when every stall is decorated with armfuls of flamboyant courgette/zucchini and pumpkin flowers, a truly seasonal treat.

Avocado in Tomatillo Sauce Recipe star
This very typical Mexican salad partners the liveliness of ripe tomatillos with rich, smooth avocado, chillies and fragrant coriander, all characteristic Mexican ingredients – and accompanied by totopos or tortilla chips with which to scoop it up, it is a vibrant taste of Mexico.

Celebrate 5 de Mayo with a fajitas fiesta star
5 de Mayo, 5 May, is a date dear to Mexican hearts and a cause for celebrations, fiestas and general jollity, especially in Puebla, where a memorable battle was once fought. No specific dishes are served on 5 de Mayo but fajitas are real fiesta food and an appropriate way to mark the occasion.

Chilaquile Casserole Recipe star
In this very Mexican casserole, stale tortillas are folded into a rich, smoky tomato sauce studded with feta cheese, topped with cheddar and baked until crusty. Rich, savoury and utterly satisfying.

Chilorio Recipe from Sinaloa star
Sinaloa, in the North West of the country opposite Baja California, is the home of the very regional Chilorio, which has spread north and east across the state’s borders but not much further. The best way to describe it is perhaps as the Sinaloaense cooks’ version of pork carnitas.

Christmas in Mexico - Tortas de Navidad Recipe star
Buried amidst the passions, intrigues, anger, frustration, conspiracies, politics, machinations, plotting, scheming and deceptions of Laura Esquivel’s enthralling novel Como Agua para Chocolate or Like Water for Chocolate are twelve recipes, including Tortas de Navidad or Christmas Sandwiches.

Cookbook Review - Tacos, Tortas and Tamales star
In his latest book, Roberto Santibañez spotlights three of Mexico’s most popular street foods: tacos, tortas and tamales. These quintessentially Mexican dishes are part of everyday life throughout the country, and the variations are literally infinite.

Egg and Chorizo Sandwich Recipe star
Tortas are the quintessential Mexican street food, big-hearted sandwiches packed with any number of savoury fillings and bursting with flavour.

Epiphany in Mexico - Green Tamales Recipe star
In many Mexican households, Epiphany is almost more important than Christmas and the chosen day to exchange gifts. Hot chocolate and churros are served for breakfast, and tamales, that quintessentially historical Mexican dish, take pride of place on the table.

Hibiscus Blossom Quesadillas Recipe star
While doing some research the other day, I came across an old menu from the lovely Restaurante El Arrayán in Puerto Vallarta which we visited several years ago and where we tasted some very unusual and delicious quesadillas filled with hibiscus blossoms.

Huitlacoche Quesadillas Recipe star
With the onset of the long rainy season, Mexican cooks start looking forward to the appearance of the so-called truffle of Mexico. It is smooth and velvety to the touch, soft and spongy, dark to silver grey in colour and creepy beyond description.

Mexican Antojitos - Quesadillas star
Quesadillas, the Mexican version of a toasted cheese sandwich, are a crisp, crusty, golden envelope made from a corn tortilla, filled with rich, savoury cheese which is all gooey, melting and oozing out around the edges.

Mexican Antojitos - Sopes star
The “sope” family is vast and convoluted, difficult to track, but whatever a sope’s origin, regional designation or topping may be, it is definitely a member of the clan. Name aside, it is simply a container or tartlet made of masa which acts as a base or plate for a delicious, savoury topping.

Mexican Antojitos - Tacos star
Tacos are perhaps the best known Mexican dish outside the country, and the simplest to prepare. The easiest way to describe them is as a corn tortilla wrapped around a filling – but this does not even begin to illustrate their diversity and exuberance, let alone their potential for complexity.

Mexican Antojitos - Tostadas star
Tostadas are rather like an open sandwich: a crisp, crunchy tortilla topped with anything from refried beans to smoked tuna and halibut, shredded pork and chicken to scrambled eggs with chorizo - as with most Mexican antojitos, the topping is up to the cook, and what is in season and available.

Mexican Antojitos - Yucatecan Codzitos Recipe star
To “codz” is to roll and the Yucatecan codzitos are to all intents and purposes what the rest of Mexico calls a taco, or more specifically a taco dorado, golden taco, one which has been fried until it is deeply coloured and wonderfully crunchy.

Plantain, Fruit and Vegetable star
Faintly sweet, decidedly starchy, inedible raw, rich and voluptuous when cooked, a fruit which is eaten as a vegetable and can be ground into a flour to make bread and turnovers – this is “plátano macho”, the “male banana” of Mexico.

Prawn Turnovers Veracruz Style Recipe star
The word empanada translates as breaded and therefore implies the use of bread or at least a dough made of wheat. When it comes to the very Veracruzana Empanada de Camarón, however, a pre-Columbian dough made of corn (and a bit of post-Hispanic flour) provides the wrapping.

Tacos of Achiote-marinated Pork Carnitas Recipe star
Achiote, a spice blend based on annatto seeds, is one of the most recognizable flavours of southern Mexican cuisine and finds its way into countless regional dishes including Yucatecan pork carnitas: rich and succulent, hot, sweet and sharp, wrapped in a warm corn tortilla with a sparkling salsa.

Tacos of Oven-roasted Achiote Carnitas Recipe star
Achiote, a spice blend based on annatto seeds, is one of the most recognizable flavours of southern Mexican cuisine and finds its way into countless regional dishes including Yucatecan pork carnitas. Slow-roast belly of pork, basted with an achiote marinade, makes wonderfully succulent carnitas.

Tamales star
Tamales are among the oldest and most authentic of Mexican dishes, dating back millennia and served to the conquering Spaniards in Moctezuma’s splendid banqueting hall. The Náhuatl name itself means wrapped food, which is an excellent description of this very historical and traditional creation.

Tamales star
Tamales are among the oldest and most authentic of Mexican dishes, dating back millennia and served to the conquering Spaniards in Moctezuma’s splendid banqueting hall. The Náhuatl name itself means wrapped food, which is an excellent description of this very historical and traditional creation.

The Chillies of Mexico - El Chipotle star
The smooth and glossy jalapeño chilli loses much of its looks when it is transformed into one of Mexico’s most popular and widely used dried chillies, the chipotle, but its flavour, far from deteriorating, thrives on this transformation.

The Sauces of Mexico - Yucatecan Sikil Paak star
Rich and creamy with pumpkin seeds, spicy with roasted chillies and fresh with the juice of the very local sour orange, naranja agria, the Mayas’ Sikil Paak is one of the Yucatán’s great specialities.

Tomatillo and Mulato Chilli Sauce Recipe star
My favourite way of serving this sauce is with a fried egg sitting on a lightly fried tortilla – very reminiscent in fact of that Mexican classic, Huevos Rancheros, Eggs from the Ranch. While the whole dish is typically served for breakfast, it also makes a delicious lunch or supper.

Tortas, Part of Everyday Mexican Life star
Tortas are an institution in Mexico, a part of every day life and an essential constituent of Mexican cuisine – there are even annual festivals in their honour. They are eaten by everybody at any time, and “torterías” are found on virtually every street corner.

Tortillas, the bread of Mexico star
Corn tortillas are quintessentially Mexican, intoxicatingly fragrant and utterly addictive. They take centre stage in the national cuisine as the “bread” of Mexico, and no meal is complete without this truly pre-hispanic food which is eaten daily in every household.

Tostadas from Guadalajara Recipe star
ico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, is home to Los Tapatíos, as its residents are known. They are very keen on their food and the local cuisine is rich and savoury, with noticeable pre-Columbian and post-Hispanic roots.

Veracruz - Black Gorditas Recipe star
The cafés in the port of Veracruz do a roaring trade at breakfast time, with the state’s famous Gorditas Negras flying out of the frying pan and onto the tables as fast as they can puff up.

Veracruz - Molotes a la Veracruzana Recipe star
Plump, torpedo-shaped and decidedly carbohydrate rich, the molote’s main characteristic is its pastry, which is more often than not a mixture of pre-Hispanic masa harina or corn flour and post-Conquest wheat flour often with the addition of mashed potatoes or, in Veracruz, mashed cooked plantain.

Veracruz - Pambazo Recipe star
Tortas, huge, satisfying and nourishing sandwiches, are an essential part of Mexican gastronomic culture. While the bread traditionally used is a flat roll with a good crust known as a telera, in Veracruz a soft doughy roll is preferred for the local and very regional torta, El Pambazo.

Veracruz - Pellizcadas Recipe star
The unattractively named Pellizcadas – pinched ones – of Veracruz are bumpy and dimpled, their surface a landscape of miniature hills and valleys to trap a topping and hold it firmly in place.

Veracruz - Picadas Recipe star
The Veracruzana Picada, like its sister, the Pellizcada, is a very regional member of the vast clan of Mexican antojitos – snacks based on corn, cooked, served and consumed mainly on the streets and in the markets.

Veracruz - Tortillas in Black Bean Sauce Recipe star
Enfrijoladas are a simple formula: stale corn tortillas bathed in a purée of whatever the local bean may be, red, black, white, speckled or tan – it is the food of the home, the market, the countryside, cheap, comforting, soulful - a favourite of street cooks, a truly pre-Hispanic antojito.

Veracruz - White Gorditas Recipe star
The gorditas - little plump ones - of Veracruz are utterly pre-Hispanic, despite being deep fried, and as typical of the state as it comes. The negras which incorporate the local black beans and perhaps some Veracruzano chillies, are the most popular but the blancas are just as time-honoured.

Yucatán – Venison Salpicón Recipe star
The Maya hunted a small, red deer which they cooked with aromatic sauces boldly flavoured with chillies and often thickened with seeds or nuts – moles and pipianes. In modern times, domestication has enabled this species of venison to remain a traditional Yucatecan dish.

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Past Issues

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Sweet Mexico - Big Ears Cookie Recipe

Tostadas from Guadalajara Recipe

Yucatán - Kibbeh Recipe

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