Stocking Stuffers and Gifts for The Mexican Cook
Do you know someone who loves Mexican cooking? Find great stocking stuffers and gifts for the Mexican cook!
I love Mexican cuisine. It's flavorful and exciting. One of my favorite things is how simple and sensible so much of Mexican food is. You don't have to be an expert chef to get great flavor. You just need to know your basic ingredients and how to work with them. Living in Mexico for several years taught me just how simple and varied most cuisine is. I find that many of the faves of the States are really a matter of thrifty people finding ways to make use of day old food. Trust me, a day old corn tortilla is tough, and a day old flour tortilla isn't much better. Dip it in sauce, and it's palatable. Fry it and it's crisp. Mash those day old frijoles and they become a delicate soft mass of refried beans. Add cheese and you can't go wrong.
If you know a fan of Mexican cuisine and need some simple gift ideas, whether for stocking stuffers or as part of a gift basket, I've got some simple tools to recommend. You can get by without, of course, but why? Read on for my suggestions!
Citrus Squeezer: A great stocking stuffer for the Mexican Cook
A citrus squeezer is a huge help in Mexican cuisine. You can squeeze citrus by hand, of course, but if you are doing mass squeezing, protect your hands. I've gotten lime burns from juicing limes, and it's terribly painful. Citrus plays a big role in Mexican cuisine, surprisingly, and the serious Mexican kitchen ought to have a squeezer.
You'll find that one of the best uses for an orange or lime squeezer is fresh orange or limeade. Mexican style, I water the orangeade down a bit and use a little sugar for sweetness. One orange to a glass of water is perfect. Limeade depends on the size of the limes, but a couple of large limes to a large glass of water with some sweetener is perfect.
Lime juice is squeezed over a lot of dishes in Mexico. You might squeeze lime over your taco or posole. You might squeeze it into your chicken noodle soup. It works well in ceviche, the main agent for cooking the raw clams or fish. I use lime juice on top of tostadas and in my pico de gallo.
Do you use a citrus squeezer?
More Citrus Squeezer Models
Avocado Masher: A Helpful Tool in Mexican Cuisine
Given the cheap price and the innovative design and use, I love this avocado tool and would love it in my stocking. Next time I need to cut up or mash an aguacate (Spanish for avocado), this would be great! My own avocado masher is cool because it has a purple handle. However, it's thick mashing grid holds as much avocado as it leaves in the bowl. Given the costs of avocados, you don't want to waste any. This little tool is pretty cool!
Avocado Masher and Tool for Mexican Cooks: A great stocking stuffer, and cheap!
Tortilla Warmer: A must for Mexican Cuisine!
One of the toughest things for me is keeping big quantities of food hot enough for serving everyone at one time. A tortilla warmer is important for getting hot tortillas to your family or guests and keeping them that way. I like this ceramic version as it's more durable and of gift quality when compared to the traditional plastic warmers. I don't mind the plastic ones, of course, but this one is just a bit more likely to be handled carefully in my busy household.
Tortilla Press: Great for a Mexican Cook's Christmas
Tortillas are a lot of work, from my perspective, and it's easier to buy them already made. If you want a recipe for tortillas, my perspective is that you'll get a different recipe from every Mexican cook you ask. I devised my own approach of half maiz and half flour. Works beautifully, when I have the time and energy to make them, and I had the neighborhood Mexican kiddos gobble them up at dinner, a sign that they were good enough to eat!
Flour tortillas are best rolled out. Corn and corn-flour mix tortillas are better when pressed, although I had a lesson in hand pounding corn tortillas from an indigenous family. Use two rounds of heavy duty ziploc bags to line the press, place your golf ball sized piece of masa in the center between the two sheets of plastic and press. Not too hard or it will be thin and stick to the ziploc plastic.
Worth the Effort? Do You Make Your Own Tortillas?
On Making My Own Tortillas:
Comal: A great gift for the Mexican Cook
A comal is basically a griddle. You'll find heavy cast iron versions in the homes of many Mexicans who make their own tortillas, and most that I've seen are large round designs, perfect for a single burner. I use an elongated comal like the one pictured here. When you are heating tortillas or crisping quesadillas, you need lots of space. I use my griddle for American fare like grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and of course, French toast and pancakes!
A new comal is on my wishlist this season, and this is a great option. My older version is warped from using high heat on a flat cooking surface, and it's time for an update!
What's your favorite use of a griddle?
First easy prep dish that I'd make would be...
Explore Additional Comal Options - A griddle is a great asset to the kitchen of a cook who loves to make Mexican food!
A blender is a must if you are going to make Mexican dishes....especially salsas.
I adore green salsa. Many years, I grow my own tomatillos, and I love using green salsa for enchiladas and chilaquiles. Red salsas are good, too, and great if you have an abundance of tomatoes. Add a jalapeno or habanero if you dare, and you are really cooking! Of course, it's a mis-perception that every Mexican loves spicy food. Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for being creative.
Making a great salsa is really a matter of taste. Pick your fruit, put it in a pot and cover with water. Add peppers, cilantro, onion and garlic according to your preference. Salt as you please...I'm sparing with salt. Boil, and blend. Don't put steaming hot liquid in the blender...let your ingredients cool or you might have a hot mess...the heat will cause the lid of your blender to explode off, splattering the contents.
A stick blender is a great alternative, especially if you want your salsa ready quickly. You can thicken your salsa by draining off excess cooking liquid.
Careful...the blades are extremely sharp!
My Mexican Recipes Online
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
Yummy and easy!
My favorite Mexican soup!
- Albondigas Style Soup
If you love albondigas but don't have time to make meatballs, this is a great alternative.
- Easy Sopa Fideo
A simple broth and noodle soup, so good!
- Arroz Con Leche
Rice with milk is rich and creamy, a fave breakfast of the kids in our home. It's like a rice soup, and it's delicious!
- Chilaquiles Verdes con Pollo
An easy alternative to enchiladas if you don't have the time...so easy and so delicious!
- Mexican Red Rice Side Dish
A standard part of many Mexican meals, easy to make. Add a little chicken for a complete meal!
- Red Salsa
Very easy, perfect if you have extra tomatoes.
- Salsa Verde
Green salsa from scratch...yum-oh!
- Salsa Bandera...
Also known as pico de gallo!