Tu Casa Mi Casa:
Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook
Do you remember Chi-Chi’s? Chi-Chi’s was the only game in town for Mexican food in Toronto for many years. We’ve come a long way, baby. Think Burrito Boyz, Playa Cabana, La Carnitas and now Quetzal, to name only a few. And when we don’t want to go out, we like to cook Mexican food at home. So I was happy to hear about Tu Casa Mi Casa.
Enrique Olvera is a Mexican chef with restaurants in Mexico and the U.S. His previous cookbooks are focused on his restaurant recipes but Tu Casa Mi Casa is about Mexican home cooking. The recipes are simple, although sometimes they take a bit of time to cook or require ingredients that you may not already have in your pantry. I liked it and found that the recipes were different than what we usually make.
The first thing I tried was Chicken Tinga, a stew made with boneless chicken breast, tomatoes and chipotle chiles. This is the dish I always order at Playa Cabana. Apparently this is the first recipe a Mexican will cook when they move out of their parents’ home to live on their own. It’s been a while since I lived with my mother, but I felt this was a good way to start. It’s simple to make, the ingredients are accessible and it was good too. I served it in tortillas with cheese and guacamole, but it was messy and next time I would reduce the liquid or serve it over rice. BTW start with two chipotles, not four, and only if you like spice.
I also made Chiles Rellenos (stuffed chiles) and I liked these a lot. The components are flexible and I made mine out of poblano chiles stuffed with refried beans and queso fresco, covered with Salsa Roja and baked in the oven. This did require a trip to a Mexican grocery store (Market-tino) to buy queso fresco and an herb called epazote for the beans. The queso is a mild cheese and the epazote tastes like mint and oregano to me. I especially liked the Salsa, made with charred tomatoes, onions and chiles. The leftover chiles held up well for lunches and with the leftover components I made huevos rancheros, a tortilla topped with beans and salsa and a fried egg. Yum.
I also made Blackberry and Queso Fresco Ice Cream, which is apparently a classic. Because of the chunky berries and cheese, the texture wasn’t as smooth as I would like, but it tasted like cheesecake ice cream or a cheese Danish and there is nothing wrong with that.
The book covers the basics, like making tortillas and salsas, as well as breakfast, dinner, sweets and drinks. Good for a Mexican inspired stay-cation any time of year.
Note – Chi-Chi’s faded away in Toronto before the entire chain closed following a fatal hepatitis outbreak. Yikes.