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Recipe - Conchas

Recipe - Conchas

Conchas (Traditional Mexican Sweet Bread)

Bread:

6 - 7 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 pkg yeast

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup butter

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

 

Topping:

6 tbsp. margarine, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

3/4 cup flour

 

coloring options:

yellow food coloring

red food coloring

1 tablespoon powdered cocoa

 

Place 5 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt, and set aside.

Heat the milk, ½ cup water, and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, until the liquid reaches 100°-110°F on a thermometer. Add the yeast and stir until completely dissolved. Pour the milk mixture over the flour and stir until well combined. Add the whole eggs and the yolks, and mix well. The dough will be sticky at first. Add more flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead with your hands for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, flouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. Continue to knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands or to the counter surface. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise in a warm (about 85°F), draft free environment for 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces and form each into a round, domed patty (like a hamburger bun). Place the dough patties on a greased baking sheet. Allow to rise for 1 hour.

While the bread is rising, prepare the topping. In a small mixing bowl, combine the margarine, powdered sugar, egg yolks and flour. Press the mixture with the back of a spoon to knead the ingredients together. When the dough is well combined, divide the dough into 3 portions, coloring one portion with the yellow food coloring, another portion with the red food coloring (pink is the desired color) and the remaining portion with the cocoa powder.

Heat the oven to 350°.

Form each colored dough into 3 balls, for a total of 9 balls. Using a rolling pin or a tortilla press, flatten each of the balls into a thin circle that is just smaller in diameter than the risen bread. Place a flattened circle of topping on each of the completely risen breads. Mark each topping using a concha stamp.

Bake the conchas for 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges.

Makes 9 Conchas

Ready for the Oven

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Tortilla Kit How to Videos

Tortilla Kit How to Videos

Tortilla Kit How to Videos

Thank you for purchasing our Tortilla Kit! Need some help? Here are some instructional videos that will turn you into a tortilla making expert!

To make your tortillas, follow the dough making instructions that are printed on the bag. However, in our flour tortilla making video, we show you how to make your flour tortilla dough from scratch.

How to Prepare Corn Tortillas

How to Cook Corn Tortillas

How to Mix Flour Tortillas

How to Cook Flour Tortillas

Also, check out our app Taco Nation! A bi-lingual recipe app that feature 101 recipes for tacos, tortillas and salsas! Available for use on iPhone and iPad devices.

Muchas Gracias!

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Melissa Guerra's New Years Resolutions

Melissa Guerra's New Years Resolutions

Melissa Guerra’s New Years Resolutions

By now, the brilliance of your shiny new resolution for 2016 may be fading. At the first of the year, I was too busy to be formulating my plan for self-betterment in the New Year. I had a house load of kids, meals, birthdays, funerals, and general chaos that I was swimming through. Now, on the other side, I am ready to commit to some good stuff.

So here is my list for 2016:

Weight management – Being model skinny has definitely been checked off of my list, but keeping myself well – fed while maintaining my ability to fit into a single airplane seat without the extension seat belt seems to be a reasonable goal. I got this.

Worry Less – If fretting were an Olympic sport, I would sweep the competition.  It seems I always have tomorrow and yesterday on my mind, when today is pretty darn good. Having faith that all will be well is not my usual habit, so I have some work to do in this arena. Performing 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day also helps wear out all that extra anxiety. And prayer. More prayer in 2016.

Write more – My college roomie is hunkered down in a cabin in New Hampshire, writing her first novel. She hasn’t seen anyone in 3 days, as of this morning. I am going to stay in closer touch with her (as our relationship has always be predicated on how much we can annoy the other one during serious endeavors.) while I write my own prose here at the dining room table in Texas. She inspires me. And, I need a new camera. If you noticed that my writing stopped for a while, FYI my camera busted during high retail season at the store. Looking at a nice, new used camera body today. And, I started sketching out a baking book this morning. 

This year promises so much, and I am ready to accept whatever is sent my way.

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A Thanksgiving Message from Melissa

A Thanksgiving Message from Melissa

A Thanksgiving Message from Melissa

The weather has turned crisp, and V shaped formations of birds drift across the evening sky. The beginning of cold weather turns the world’s thoughts to homecoming, and I am awaiting my own flock to return to the ranch.

This week will include a celebration of cooking, which for me, is the pinnacle of my year. Turkey, dressing, gravy, all of it has to be prepared just so. Variations are not allowed, as I have been waiting 364 days for these particular dishes. I think the kids feel the same way. They are already asking “Are you going to make…?”

The comment has been made often that the U.S. economy depends on 4th quarter – when our entire population goes ape in the retail stores, emotionally overspending in frenzied haste. Those big box stores concoct ploys to get us lined up outside their doors at 2 A.M for a door-busting holiday buying spree. It’s a bit much.

Thanksgiving, however, is our national day of redemption. There are no big purchases to make, no outlandish decorations, a tasteful level of glitter, and no Santa style spokesperson. We, as a nation, get together with our family, and friends, and enjoy a meal. That’s it. And it couldn’t be more wonderful.

It would be easy to drift into a rant on how the U.S. culture is politically flawed in this way or that, or debate the irony of our current immigration policies. But I would like to point out that Thanksgiving is unique to North America (you too, Canada) and that it is a national day of love and gratefulness. I think we deserve some credit for keeping this New World holiday a tradition. Being thankful is part of the American experience, and once a year, we synchronize our hearts as a nation to feel the same way, at the same time. For a day, we are all welcome at every table. This is good.

Have a lovely holiday with your family and friends. The boys will be here soon, and I am already awash in peace, and gratitude.

Love,

Melissa

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Shrimp Alfredo with Chile Poblano Recipe

Shrimp Alfredo with Chile Poblano Recipe

Shrimp Alfredo with Chile Poblano Recipe

Living here on the ranch, we don’t have too many Italian restaurants nearby. If we have a hankerin’ for a lush tomato sauce, or a Mediterranean style fish dish, chances are we would have to make it ourselves. But as you may have noticed, we are really into cooking. No problemo.

The Perfect Alfredo

For years, my husband has searched for the perfect Alfredo sauce recipe. Every recipe had proven to be a disaster: too thin, too chunky (yes, chunky) or devoid of flavor. But he kept trying, and found this reliable recipe that delivered the creamy, cheesy sauce that he was craving.

The trick that he discovered was that the Alfredo sauce ingredients needed to be mixed in a separate bowl, and then poured over the pasta, so that the pasta and sauce simmered together in a skillet. Voila! Sweet success.

And then, the butt-inski wife shows up.

Of course, I always take his successes, and do my best to improve them. Yes, we are competitive cooks, but he usually lets me win. Or at least he lets me think that I won. He’s a gentleman like that.

This Time, It’s Personal

So my personal tweak on his successful Alfredo sauce find was to add roasted chile poblano. Creamy sauces, although delicious, can be a bit heavy if they are not laced with a lighter element, such as a vegetable, or an herb. Chile Poblano is a terrific, unexpected Latin twist on an old Italian restaurant favorite, giving it not only a fresh flavor, but an updated presentation.

You can experiment a bit with the meats if you like: Add swordfish instead of shrimp, or even chicken breast will do if you are hustling to get a simple meal on the dinner table. Who knows? You might find a signature ingredient that improves this dish even more.

Shrimp Alfredo with Chile Poblano Recipe

 

  • 2 chile poblano
  • ½ lb fettucine, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 green onions, minced
  • 1 lb. uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Roast the chile poblano directly over an open flame, or under a broiler. Once the chiles are well blackened, wrap them in a clean towel, then place the towel in a paper bag. Allow the chiles to sweat in the bag until they are completely cooled. Scrape off the blackened skin, remove the stem and seeds, and rinse briefly under running water. Chop and set aside.

Heat a 10” skillet on the stove. Add the butter, and allow to melt over medium heat. Add the green onions and shrimp. Cook over medium heat until the shrimp are completely pink, about 4 minutes.

While the shrimp are cooking, in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Once the shrimp are cooked, add the garlic, and then add the cooked fettucine. Toss the fettucine with the shrimp and butter until well combined. Pour in the cream mixture, toss well with the pasta and shrimp, and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes, until thickened. Add the chile poblano, and toss to combine well.

Serves 4-6

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Autumn Salad with Pork Belly and Pears Recipe

Autumn Salad with Pork Belly and Pears Recipe

Autumn Salad with Pork Belly and Pears Recipe

The Beverly Hillbillies was one of my favorite after – school television shows. A short stack of Oreos, maybe a can of Tab, and my favorite place on the carpet in my grand-parents game room...every day at 4pm I would tune in to visit the Clampetts. Jed would be whittling, Ellie May would be clobbering Jethro, and Granny would be cookin’ up a mess of sow belly, much to Miss Hathaway’s chagrin. 

 

If only Miss Hathway had tried some...

 

Pork belly (Granny called it sow belly) is popping up on menus across the country, and for good reason. Yeah, as a nation, we have all geeked out on bacon, but pork belly is like bacon’s more serious brother. Heavier, meatier, porkier –it’s like a little bacon steak. When you want to amp up your bacon experience, dial pork belly for the hook up. 

 

If I remember correctly, Granny was always boiling sow belly, but to truly enjoy the lusciousness of a good belly, you need to track down one that has been cured, then pan fry it. Check your local high end meat market, and see if they have cured pork belly available. If not, buy an uncooked pork belly, and cure it yourself. 

 

Is curing your own pork belly a hassle? A bit, but so very much worth it. I will post a recipe for curing soon, as my husband is working on the perfect cured pork belly as of this writing. It’s been a real chore to be his taste-tester (not.)

 

I don’t think Granny would have served up sow belly over a bed of crisp greens, with pears and walnuts. But this is not a hillbilly style dish. Hmm, maybe even Miss Hathaway would have approved of this version.

 

Autumn Chopped Salad with Pork Belly and Pears Recipe

 

  • 4 oz cured pork belly or thick sliced bacon
  • 2 oz blue cheese, cut into ½” cubes
  • 6 green onions, minced
  • 1 avocado, cut into chunks
  • 2 oz walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 1 pear, cored and chopped into ½” pieces
  • 6-8 leaves of Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped 

 

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

 

Heat a 9” skillet on the stove. Cook the pork belly or bacon until it is crispy. Remove from the pan, and drain on paper towels. Cut into ½” pieces. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the blue cheese, green onions, avocado, walnuts and pears. Toss to combine well, then add the lettuce, and toss again.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad right before serving, and toss again briefly. 

 

Serves 2

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Senior Moments

Senior Moments

First Day – Last Day

“Don’t forget your noodles!” My face was stuffed deep inside my soft feather pillow. I am worthless in the morning, and today, even more so. My last kid, his last “first day” of school before college. He was up at 6:30 am, and he stopped by our room at 7:00 to say good bye for the day. Did I get up? No. But I did deliver a sage piece of mom advice before he started his senior year. What was it, you ask? Yep… Don’t forget your noodles.

Not a Morning Person

My brain never switches on until somewhere around 9:00, so I got out of bed and fired up the ol’ Facebook. Picture after picture of every kid that was ever born on their way out the door to their first day back at school. After about Cute Picture #401, I started thinking maybe I should have gotten out of bed to give my son a hug or something. Another magical moment, gone.

Wise Words for The End of an Era

Every night, after dinner, I pack a lunch for my son from the leftovers, so it is ready for him to pick up in the morning. Even so, he tends to forget. Apparently, muddled morning thoughts run in the family. So for his first day as a high school senior, he had a container of sesame noodles with smoked ham, carrots and home brined olives, along with a baggie of home-made chocolate chip cookies.

Thankfully, my son is a sweet kid that forgives his mom for being such a lump at the break of day. My only redemption is the possibility that he will remember a few magical moments created at the dinner table, or possibly think kindly of me when he opens his lunch bag.

When he came home tonight, I had a nice rare Porterhouse waiting, with a side of salted cinnamon butternut squash, crunchy chimichurri potatoes, and a fresh, warm blueberry pie. And as of this moment, I have already packed his lunch for tomorrow.

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Spanish Olive Plates on Sale Now

Spanish Olive Plates on Sale Now

Spanish Olive Plates on Sale Now

Inspired by our friends at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, all of our all of our Spanish Olive Plate designs will be 25% off until August 1st and all other hand painted Spanish ceramics will be 20% off!

INSPIRATION FROM ELMENDORF

Over 16 years ago Sandy Winokur planted the very first Olive tree that would eventually blossom into what is now one of the first successful Olive Orchards in Texas. The 267 acre ranch is home to more than 11,000 olive trees each aiding in the orchard’s success. Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard is proud of their product in every sense, from olive related products such as cooking oils, to  handcrafted soaps, spa and skin care products, to the olives themselves.

OLIVE OUR CERAMICS

It’s no wonder the beautiful Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard served as our muse for our Spanish ceramics sale. In particular our Spanish olive plate design ceramics were hand crafted with tedious painting design. The microwaveable safe and lead free ceramics will bring a warm touch of Spaniard orchards to your table setting.  Our Tomas Olive designs are one of our most vibrant and are sure to make your summer parties pop. With a fiery red base background the Tomas design is sure to catch your eye. Accompanied with a lovely trim of intertwined blue and yellow pattern these ceramics will bring life to your kitchen. Whether its garlic jars, mugs, pitchers or plates our Tomas design can cater to your kitchen needs.

For those who prefer a more toned down refined and earthy color palate, we offer our Olivas Nuevas design. Lead free and super chic, this tableware can be sure to look good on any table. With a beige background and green trim, the earthy tones combine to form a beautiful ceramic set. The beautifully intricate olive designs and polished exterior might be just what you needed to take your next brunch party to the next level. The Olivas Nuevas design also carries everything from bowls for mom’s homemade caldo to pitchers for a refreshing horchata.

But wait there’s more!

For those big and bright personalities, we haven’t forgotten you. Melissa Guerra has just the right kitchen ware for you. The Big Olives Spanish Ceramic design is definitely a head turner. The big and bold hand painted olives almost jump off of the bright golden yellow background. With a little more variety in this collection it could make the perfect combo gift set. This collection contains a variety of different dish shapes and sizes including the perfect party snack tray with dividers and a dip bowl for all of your favorite finger foods. Not to mention the awesome mix-and-match-ability between these three design sets you’re sure to have olive the coolest tableware around and for 25% off!

THE OLIVE THEORY

To all of my other fellow How I Met Your Mother fans, we know that not everyone is a fan of olives. So for our customers who love all of the other handmade ceramics, we come bearing even more cool deals. Any other hand painted Spanish ceramics are also going to be 20% off! So stop in and give your kitchen a beautiful Spanish makeover from Melissa Guerra Latin Kitchen Market.

 

By Jaqulin Alvarez

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Matty Gee’s Prickly Pear Cocktail Recipe

Matty Gee’s Prickly Pear Cocktail Recipe

Matty Gee’s Prickly Pear Cocktail Recipe

What Does it Take to Be A Good Mixologist?

I asked Matty Gee, our guest mixologist for the July edition of our online blog, to sling us a few pearls of mixology wisdom.  His response:

"Good ice is key, always squeeze fresh juices, make simple syrup in advance so you have it in the fridge, always add ice last, and always have two pounds of ice per person per hour so you don't run out."

It’s Not That Easy…

Just like studying to be a chef, Becoming a beverage expert takes time. Matty has learned from years of bar tending that having all of your beverage elements prepped and ready for serving are vital for the perfect beverage experience. Need ice? Well, then the party is over until you get some. Be prepared.

Beverages As Art

Mixology is an art, with fruit, herbs, spirits and ice acting as color, light, tone and mood. A true mixologist is aware of the subtle nuances of a flavor; how the flavor begins, peaks and ends, whether the flavor is salty, savory, sweet or rich.

Mixology is not about getting drunk, just as gastronomy is not about overeating.  Mixology is the art of the beverage.

Practice and Patience Makes Perfect

Look for fresh, local seasonal fruit that are at the peak of ripeness. Is it prickly pear season? Let's make Prickly Pear Cocktail. Are the oranges fresh off the tree? Let’s Make a Cucumber Orange Cooler.

Arrange your bar and bar tools so you can work quickly. Get to know all of your ingredients when they are at their best. Superior ingredients and practiced techniques will add incredible flavor, and convince your friends that you actually know what you are doing.

Matty Gee’s Prickly Pear Cocktail Recipe
  • 3 oz tequila
  • 1 fresh prickly pear peeled and quartered
  • 1 1/2 oz lime juice
  • One quarter of a fresh pear, Anjou, Bartlett, your choice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Ice

Add all of the ingredients to the bottom container of a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or a large wooden spoon, muddle all fruit and liquid.  Add about 1/2 cup of ice, affix the top of the cocktail shaker, and shake well. Strain the beverage into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice.

Garnish with pear and prickly pear garnish.

Serves 2

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Goat Cheese with Thyme, Garlic and Honey Recipe

Goat Cheese with Thyme, Garlic and Honey Recipe

Goat Cheese with Thyme, Garlic and Honey Recipe

Rough Climates Produce Delicious Ingredients

Dry, hot climates are perfect for goats and cactus, so we thought we would match our guest Mixologist Matty Gee’s Prickly Pear Cocktail with an easy goat cheese appetizer that whips up in a snap!

Thyme and garlic are the chef flavor elements of this easy goat cheese spread. Add just a touch of olive oil for a creamier texture.  And, as usual, I had a stack of flour tortillas in the fridge. I toasted them on my cast iron griddle and they made a perfectly crispy cracker for the herbed spread.

A Taste of Honey

You may not expect to serve a honey alongside this herbed goat cheese spread, but I can't recommend it enough. You can drizzle the honey over the top of your chilled goat cheese spread, or you can serve it in the side if anyone has their doubts as to its deliciousness.

Greece is the Word

I can't help envisioning the flavor of Greece with this appetizer.  Goat cheese, thyme, garlic and honey are all classic Greek flavors - ingredients that are all quite popular and produced in my dear ol' state of Texas. Greece and Texas are both hot, dry climates but I'm not too sure if Greece celebrates the prickly pear the way we do. I would have to investigate.

Try mixing together this quick goat cheese appetizer the next time you are headed out to a pool party. No cooking, different and delicious, this easy nibble will elevate you far above that guy that always shows up with a six pack and a bag of the bargain pretzels. We ain't kiddin'. wink

Goat Cheese with Thyme, Garlic and Honey Recipe

  • 4 oz. goat cheese, softened
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 small clove fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • Thyme and 2 bay leaves for garnish


Place the goat cheese on a large flat plate or pie plate. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of thyme, and add to the plate. Discard the thyme stems. Using a fork, mash together the goat cheese, thyme, and minced garlic. Combine well.

Using a rubber spatula, remove the goat cheese from the plate, and place in a square of waxed paper. Close the paper around the cheese spread, and shape into a log. Place the cheese log in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or chill in the refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight.

When you are ready to serve, remove the goat cheese from the waxed paper, and place on a bed of 2 bay leaves. Drizzle with the honey, or serve the honey on the side. Garnish with the thyme sprig.

Serves 2-4

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