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July 2000 Issue
Food with a 'Tude
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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When I made the decision to go to Dallas, two things were on my mind. First, that I would finally get a chance to meet my long time online friends, Brenda Everroad and Jamie Griffin, and second, that I would be in the best place in the world to research that unique blend of ingredients and flavourings known as Tex-Mex cuisine.

Brenda herself has her specialties, as far as TexMex is concerned, and she was more than happy to share them with me. She treated us to a wonderful evening featuring her own special recipes and I have to tell you it was some of the best TexMex this northern girl has ever tried.

At first, when you think of TexMex -- at least when I think of TexMex -- the thing that comes to mind is chili; or as it more correctly should be known, chili con carne. And at the risk of starting a stampede, let me just say that while chili is important, it's not all there is. Some of the recipes that follow will require the use or addition of chili but I'm not giving you a recipe for it. We all have our favourite, and to be honest, to do the topic justice, I would have to devote a feature just to that. Come to think of it, I may just do that sometime soon.

But for this month, I want to look at the rest of what makes up TexMex cuisine. It varies a lot from region to region in terms of seasonings, but the main dishes are consistent throughout. So please join me as I run through some of the dishes that to me exemplify TexMex cuisine -- food with a 'tude!!

These first two recipes are for munching and sipping while you prepare the rest of your feast. But beware, both pack a bite!!


Crunchy Chile Pecans

Careful, these little guys are truly addictive!!
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp powdered red chiles (either powder in a coffee grinder or buy them from a reputable source top be sure that nothing has been added to them)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups jumbo pecan halves
  • 2 egg whites, well beaten
Preheat your oven to 375F.

Spray a jelly roll pan with non-stick spray.

Combine the sugar and spices in a small bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the pecans and the egg whites, stirring them together until the pecans are completely coated. Before the whites have a chance to dry, sprinkle the spice mixture over all and stir to completely coat the pecans.

Spread the nuts in a single layer on the prepared pan, bake for five minutes in the centre of the oven. Stir occasionally to break up any clumping, and continue baking and stirring until the nuts are lightly browned. This should take seven to ten more minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for about a week, if they last that long!

  • Yields: 3 cups
  • Preparation Time: about 25 minutes


Fire and Ice Tequila

This stuff is great just poured straight into a chilled martini glass. Or add it to tomato juice. Or try it as part of your next "tequila popper"
  • 1 - 750 ml bottle of the best tequila you can get your hands on
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 green onion trimmed to fit the tequila bottle
  • 1 fresh Serrano chile, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 chile de arbol, stemmed split and seeded (I actually leave the seeds in)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • the zest of a lime (try to get it in one long continuous piece)
Pour off about 1/2 cup of the tequila and make margaritas.

Put all of the remaining ingredients into the tequila and cover the bottle. Let stand at room temperature for 48 hours. Place the bottle in the freezer.

Serve the tequila straight from the freezer.



Sherry Blast

Use this instead of your hot sauce next time and I promise you, you will never go back to store bought!!
  • 1/4 pound of fresh Serrano chiles
  • 1 cup imported sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
Stem the chiles and cut them in half length wise. In a 1/2 litre glass or ceramic container, combine all the ingredients, mixing well to dissolve the sugar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 48 hours before using. Pour into a bottle that has a tight fitting lid and store in the fridge.

Sprinkle it on everything!!

  • Yields: about 1 cup
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus resting time

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