I have always liked blue corn chips, and I first tasted blue corn pancakes at the historic and funky El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM, on a long-ago road trip. I’ve been unsuccessfully looking for them on menus ever since. Fast-forward to this past week, when my husband bought two pounds of Gold Mine Organic blue masa harina. It would take more years than I have left to use it all in tamales, so I decided to adapt a pancake recipe. I used as a base a Food.com recipe for Masa Harina Pancakes, conveniently portioned for two. Here’s what resulted,
Blue Corn Pancakes
1⁄2 cup masa harina
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg 1⁄2 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Combine with dry ingredients and mix until smooth (masa harina will not be lumpy as wheat flour would be).
Heat griddle on medium with a little oil . When it is hot, ladle on about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until nicely browned and firm, about two minutes each side.
These pancakes are very light and have a little crunch to them. I served them with a little fruit on the plate and bacon and maple syrup on the side, I still have a lot of blue corn masa left, so I imagine I’ll be making them again.
As award-winning Cordon Bleu-trained chef Marc Quinones was cooking his way around some of the top restaurants and resorts in the Southwest, he prepared a lot of excellent versions regional favorites. But when the recently appointed executive chef of downtown Albuquerque’s historic Hotel Andaluz was asked to cook for a Denver media reception on behalf of New Mexico travel interests, his imagination took wing, and he offered contemporary dishes from various traditions but using New Mexican-grown and -raised ingredients.
Some of the dishes:
I think I was too busy eating and sipping cocktails made with Colkegan single malt whiskey or gin from Santa Fe Spirits, a craft distillery, to take pictures of two terrific dishes: the Berkshire pork belly with Anasazi bean ragout, yellow corn and harissa-sherry reduction and the super-fab Mew Mexico ceviche — Bay scallops in tangerine, Maldon salt, pickled red onion and Chimayo chile vinaigrette.
Then there was the chocolate — the wonderful chocolate from Cacao Santa Fe, which produces fantastic chocolate bars, beautiful and interesting bonbons, workshops led by master chocolatier Melanie Boudar and Factory tours with owner Derek Lanter.
Then there was Clear Light, the Cedar Company, which has been producing Cedar Essence and other aromatic potions since 1971, giving complimentary hand and forearm massages. The boss’s business card is a thin slice of cedar.
It was wonderful to have New Mexicans bring their eats and drinks (and more) to Denver. High time to head south to eat in situ.
I often complain that when compiling lists of “top” this or “best” that, national sites pay scant attention to restaurants in the flyover states of the Mountain West. When some establishment makes such a list, more often than not, it’s in Denver.
So it came as quite a fine surprise when The Daily Meal’s selection of the World’s 35 Best Ice Cream Parlors 2016included the Taos Cow in tiny Arroyo Seco, a hamlet between Taos and Taos Ski Valley. It’s actually more than an ice cream parlor but a place to stop for breakfast and lunch offerings, including really good soups. I have no delusions that The Daily Meal actually had a correspondent try out. Bon Appétit, USA Today and the two Times newspapers (L.A. and New York) previously wrote about it. The Daily Meal’s words about this ice cream:
Taos Cow, Arroyo Seco, N.M.
Specializing in all-natural, rGBH-free ice cream since 1993, Taos Cow mixes traditional flavors with local ingredients, creating Southwestern-inspired varieties like Buffalo Chip (vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate-covered coffee beans), Maple Walnut (made with real maple extract and walnuts), Cherry Ristra (cherry ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and piñon nuts), and Holstein Sunset (strawberry ice cream with white, dark, and milk chocolate chunks).
In case you’re wondering, rGBH is a growth hormone commonly administered to cattle.
On previous visits to Santa Fe, lunch or dinner at Cafe Pasqual ‘s has been on the food docket. I always enjoy this cheery eatery a couple of short blocks from The Plaza. The breakfast items are unusual, with flavorful versions of popular New Mexican favorites plus items I’ve never seen before.
Regional chefs, restaurants in the running for honors.
The James Beard Foundation has released the names of semifinalists for various 2016 restaurant, chef and beverage awards, and again, a few local names appear on this list. Some are “the usual suspects.” Others are new for consideration to go on to the next step — the list of finalists — for these prestigious honors in the top categories. Semifinalists from Denver/Boulder again lead the Colorado nominees for what are called the Oscars of the culinary and restaurant realm:
Outstanding Wine Program, Element 47 in Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel
Also in the Mountain time zone, Eloisa of Santa Fe was nominated in the Best New Restaurant category. Chef John Rivera Sedlar, a Santa Fe native, named it in honor of his grandmother, Eloisa Rivera. Sedlar, along with Mark Miller and Stephan Pyles, wrote Tamales, one of my favorite Southwestern cookbooks. And up the road in Ranchos de Taos, Ron Cooper of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal was nominated as Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional. And it was a good day to be a chef named Jennifer. In addition to Jasinski’s national nomination, Jennifer James of Jennifer James 101 in Albuquerque was nominated in the Best Chef Southwest category.
The capitals of Colorado and New Mexico lay claim the best of this Southwestern fave.
Ask a Coloradan which city makes the best green chile cheeseburger, and the instant answer is Denver, The Mile High City. Ask a New Mexican, and the reply is Santa Fe, The City Different. There are plenty of reasons to visit beautiful, artistic San Fe, and its Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail is one of them.
Here’s what Santa Fe claims: Santa Fe, NM is a burger lover’s paradise, and ‘The City Different’ spends 365 days celebrating the Green Chile Cheeseburger. Santa Fe’s indigenous cuisine dates back to the area’s Native American roots and their staples of beans, corn and squash. With the introduction of foods brought by the Spanish like onions, tomatoes and of course, chile, the table was set for what became the distinctive New Mexican fare with its enduring emphasis on the use of chile in and on almost everything. The green chile cheeseburger has been a staple on menus around the state of New Mexico since at least the middle of the 1900s.
Like other Coloradans, I was excited to read the announcement that Trader Joe’s was coming to Colorado. By the time February 2014 rolled around, when the first three stores opened here (Denver, Boulder, Greenwood Village), I was underwhelmed — even disappointed. I used to make a point of shopping at TJ’s whenever I was in New Mexico, but I have changed my buying food habits to the point where I shop there much less than I thought I would.
I was increasingly buying organic (Trader Joe’s is light on organic) and I was very dismayed at the packaging. Not only is there too much waste from shrink-wrap — which as far as I know is not compostable or recyclable — but I don’t like someone in the California corporate office deciding how many sweet peppers or chicken breasts I should be buying at one time. One notable exception seems to be bananas, which are priced by the pound with organic each a dime more than conventional.
Now a petition on Change.org asks Trader Joe’s to revamp their packaging and waste less. It starts, “Please package all of your products— produce (lemons, lettuces, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes…), nuts, frozen goods etc. in 100% RECYCLABLE AND BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING to ensure a sustainable and closer to zero-waste business model.” I signed. Will you?
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.