The Unorthodox Epicure — Fresh Mexican Salsa

Fresh Mexican Salsa — This is the version that every restaurant wishes it could serve. It's wonderful as a chip dipper or a topper.

I still remember the first salsa (or hot sauce, as we call it around here) that I ever had. The brand was Albert’s. It is a semi-chunky garlicky concoction that works just as well over enchiladas and tacos as it does chip dip. Then there was the version served at the now almost-defunct El Chico […]

The Unorthodox Epicure — Esquites stuffed Zucchini

Esquites stuffed Zucchini — There's plenty of zing and zest in this Mexican-Italian fusion.

I still remember my first taste of zucchini. Sort of. We were probably seven or eight when a childhood friend’s mom presented us with warm muffins and challenged us to guess the main ingredient. But neither of us could escape the perfectly married flavors of sugar, cinnamon and other spices to even venture a guess. […]

Food Snob Chronicles — The Ultimate Tex-Mex Cheeseburger (El Gran Supremo)

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In my best Don LaFontaine voice: In a time when the cheeseburger was set in stone … There was a burger that aspired to be more. Provocative … Inviting … Out of this world. Yes. Seriously. The El Gran Supremo is that cheeseburger. It has every element — the beefy, salty, cheesy, crunchy, buttery and […]

The Unorthodox Epicure — Sweet Heat Shrimp en Brochette

plump shrimp are dressed with smoky little slivers of roasted poblano peppers, wrapped with mildly-salty bacon and bathed in a tangy sweet chipotle laden sauce ... Eureka!

It’s a Southern/Tex-Mex fused appetizer with a French name and — with only four ingredients — it’s quite a dandy. I’ve made Shrimp en Brochette (translation: shrimp ‘cooked on skewers’) with as many varieties of peppers as you’ll find at any respectable farmers market. And with a number of sauces and marinades too. Truth is, […]

The Unorthodox Epicure — Tacos de Camarónes Frescos (Fresh Shrimp Tacos)

Grilled Shrimp Tacos —

Fresh. Zesty. Light. Nope, these aren’t the tacos we grew up on. For one, there’s nothing guilty about this pleasure — no frying; no amber-colored grease dripping down your forearm; and no need to postpone your annual physical after eating a plateful.  Plus, they’re quick, easy and absolutely a ten in the flavor department. Want […]

The Unorthodox Epicure — Crispy Flautas w/ Crema Avocado

Crispy Flautas w/ Avocado Crema — 

If you’re from California or are an oft-eater of Mexican food from your grocer’s freezer, you probably know these little rolled gems as taquitos. But in my Tex-Mex world they are called flautas, which is Spanish for flutes. (I think they more resemble the half-size piccolo, but that’s a discussion for another day.) By most […]

Food Snob Chronicles — Recipe: Fresh Chicken Chorizo

Fresh Chicken Chorizo — Warm with a little spice and tang. Everything that is delicious about the 500-year-old Mexico tradition.

It’s been more than 30 years since I had my first taste of Mexican chorizo — tucked in a fresh flour tortilla with eggs, potatoes and cheese — and I’ve loved it ever since. Use it anywhere you’d use any other Mexican-themed meat — with tacos, tostadas (pictured), eggs or even added to queso fundido.  Want […]

The Unorthodox Epicure — Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas — Succulent 'little bites.' Delicious on everything from tacos and tostadas, to tortas and ... by themselves.

Imagine a prepared meat that is so good — so succulent — that it’s difficult to avoid filling up on it before you add it to a dish. In it’s most popular authentic state, this meat really isn’t even seasoned. I’m talking carnitas here, and if you’ve ever had them, my description has definitely conjured […]

Food Snob Chronicles — (Recipe): Charro Beans

Charro Beans — Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants serve these as a side or appetizer. They are just as good as a main course, served over a bowl of steaming rice.

Beans. There’s nothing sexy about them. In fact, we recited a vulgar poem about them in elementary school. But, they are among the most widely (and longest) cultivated crops, and these days are considered a legitimate super food. I remember having a ‘pot o’ beans’ on a regular basis growing up. Ours were just pintos […]

The Unorthodox Epicure — (Recipe): Sopa de Fideos (Vermicelli Soup)

Sopa de Fideos — a classic Tex-Mex/Mexican soup that's cheap, easy and delicious.

Fideo is the Sam Spade of Mexican and Tex-Mex food — its background is a cloudy mystery. We know fideo as the pasta used in sopa de fideos, or vermicelli soup. But where did it come from? And how did it end up here, as a popular soup served first course at Mexican-themed restaurants? One […]