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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Microwave Brownies

Have you ever just NEEDED something sweet AND chocolate but couldn't find anything in the cupboard or fridge? I was in this predicament a week ago and since it is so hot and humid this time of year (most days lately it's 94% humidity), there was no way I was going to fire up the oven. So I searched for something I could make in the microwave. I have tons of unsweetened chocolate, and just biting off a chunk is not that satisfying. In my search, I went to my favorite website, and found a recipe for Microwave Brownies. I have made it 3 times and it comes out perfect each time. So, I want to share this with my 'chocoholic' readers. 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Put the butter and chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Set aside. 

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. 

In a large bowl sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the egg and chocolate mixtures along with the vanilla and stir well to combine. 

Spray an 8 by 8 by 2-inch or 8-inch round microwave-safe glass pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan, spread it out evenly, and scatter the chocolate chips on top. Cook on high for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 3 minutes before cutting and eating.
(Mine comes out perfect each time at 5 minutes)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tortas (Sandwiches)

Tortas are a wonderful lunchtime meal. Yes, meal. They are so full of meat, cheese, and veggies that I do consider them a meal.

Start with a very large fresh bread roll, about twice the size of a hamburger bun. Cut it into two halves as you would a hamburger bun.

On both interior sides, smear a thin layer of butter and place on a hot grill pan to lightly toast. Keep the grill hot. When it is toasted (lightly), smear on a thin layer of mayonnaise on each half.

The meat you use is solely your choice. I like ham and chicken together. The ham should be sliced thin and the chicken can be sliced or shredded. If using sliced meats, you can put on 2-3 pieces of each meat. Top that with a slice of your favorite cheese. Now you can add a slice of tomato – you will need 2 slices if your roll is large. Slice some avocado on now. Pickled jalapeños go on next. Remember that most canned jalapeños outside Mexico are not very hot (spicy). Place another piece of cheese on top of those and put the other piece of roll on top to complete the sandwich.

Place the torta top side down on the hot grill. After the torta is heated – NOT browned – carefully turn it over and heat the other side. Place a lid over the torta to assist in melting the cheese. Do not compress the torta as you would a panini. Serve with a cold beer!

We eat tortas as often as we can. The best place to get them in Mazatlán you ask............why the cafeteria at the Hospital Clinica del Mar! I know, it surprised us too! 


Monday, September 17, 2012

Let's Talk Lard ...

For goodness sakes, I can see some of you shuddering at the very thought of using this unholy substance, but do not fear, the recipes within these pages do not represent a lard-fest! A small amount of lard in a few select recipes, such as refried beans, gives them a rich flavor. Lard is actually a much healthier animal fat than butter, provided you can buy it in the refrigerated section and not off the shelf in one of those nasty white plastic tubs. The non-refrigerated lard or solid vegetable shortening is NOT an acceptable product ... ever!

Good fresh lard tastes like lightly roasted pork. You don’t use very much of it in a recipe and the flavor it imparts to your food is better than butter. Normally a large grocery store will carry a good quality fresh lard in their meat department’s cooler section. If you do not see it, ask.

If you like to do things ‘homemade’ you can render your own. It is easiest if you use cubed pork fat. Toss it in a pan and place it in a 175° C / 350° F oven. The fat rendered will be a tasty lard while the remainder is known as crackling’s. Strain through cheesecloth while it is still warm and refrigerate. It will keep in your refrigerator almost indefinitely.

You all know I have never steered you wrong, but if you do not believe me, there are several great articles written about lard available on the Internet. Lard has reclaimed it's status in the culinary world - Congrats!

One very good article is located at:


Friday, September 14, 2012

Homemade Queso Fresco (Fresh Cheese)

One of the wonderful things I love about Mexico is the cheese.  I won't go into all the types today, but a really easy one to make is Queso fresco ~ fresh cheese.  Of course you could hop on down to the grocery store and buy one, but chances are it is not that fresh nor very appealing to look at. 

To me, this is one of life's little delicacies. It is a creamy, soft, and very mild unaged white cheese. Similar to panela cheese. The flavor is so mild that it picks up the flavors of other ingredients in your recipe.  So, it is wonderful used in a dip, spread, desserts, smoothies, you name it!  I often eat it plain on a cracker.  A word of warning, it does not melt. 

You can make any quantity you like.  This amount works well for my husband and me.  If you have larger cheese tastes, add more milk and some more vinegar.  The vinegar, by the way, does not impart it's flavor to the cheese.  In fact, you can barely taste it at all.  It just acts to coagulate the milk solids. 

2 quarts whole milk - quit rolling your eyes, yes you NEED whole milk
4 Tbls white vinegar
1 Tbls salt, kosher or sea salt

Heat the milk on very low heat to 195º F. The low heat will keep it from scorching. Stir in the vinegar and remove from the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes. The milk will coagulate into curds and start to separate from the whey.  At this point, the whey will have a lovely green color.  I know, but green is IN and besides you are going to throw it away.  
Line a colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth.  Place in the sink.  Pour the curds and whey into the colander. Allow the curd to drain for about 30 minutes or until the curd has stopped dripping.  Now you are ready to remove the cheese from the cheesecloth. Wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or use immediately. 

NOTE:  If you like it dry, as I do, fold the cheesecloth over the cheese and press out the remaining liquid.  Try both to see if you like it moist (not wet) or dry.  

As seen on:

As seen on: