I found this cookbook, published by the Junior League of Mexico City in 1981, in the Rare Books Department at the Los Angeles Public Library, and was able to photograph it, although I couldn’t bring it home with me.  Though the Junior League is best known within the United States, there are also active Leagues in Mexico and Canada, as well as one in London.  Of these Junior Leagues outside the U.S., the JL of Mexico City, established in 1930, is one of the oldest.

All the recipes in this splendid cookbook are provided in both Spanish and English.  Some are familiar favorites, while others, like the Yucatecan Pork (cubed pork loin, marinated in the juice of sour oranges and achiote paste, fried in lard, and served with homemade pickled onions) sounded like things I’d very much like to try.  I sort of had a hard time picking, but only sort of, because I really, really wanted to make chilaquiles.

Brady and I became aware of chilaquiles, a delicious breakfast or dinner food made out of leftover tortillas in sauce, during a trip to Tijuana a few years ago.  While they’re not difficult to find around Los Angeles, we don’t have them as often as we’d like, which is to say, daily.

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles with sour cream and queso fresco

16 tortillas
1/2 cup oil
Red Sauce
Green Sauce
Garnish: 4 chipotle chiles; 1 cup Mozzarella or Manchego cheese, grated; 1 cup sour cream; 2 cups pork rind, crushed; 1/2 cup onion, chopped; 1 Spanish sausage, cooked and sliced; Refried beans

Cut tortillas in thin strips and fry in oil until golden. Drain on paper towel. Serve tortilla strips on individual plates. Serve with red sauce, green sauce, and garnishes.

Red Sauce

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 sprigs epazote
2 sprigs coriander
1 clove garlic, minced
2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste

Fry onion in oil until tender Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 10 minutes.

Green Sauce

20 small green tomatoes (tomatillos)
2 sprigs coriander
1/4 cup onion, chopped coarsely
1 clove garlic, minced
2 serrano chiles, seeded
Salt to taste
3 T. oil

In blender, mix all ingredients except oil. Fry in oil until flavors blend.

Serves 4

I made a few adaptations to this recipe, chiefly that I also pureed the red sauce to better blend the flavors.  Also, I could find nary an epazote sprig at the store, so I left it out without too many tears after reading that a) nothing could really substitute for its distinctive flavor and b) it is poisonous in large quantities.

Both sauces were excellent, although the green sauce was definitely more flavorful – there’s no beating the combination of tomatillos, serrano chiles, onion, and garlic in my book.  And there’s something very satisfying about eating a plate of chilaquiles.  For the first few bites, your plate is pristine and the tortilla strips are crispy, but as you go on and the sour cream gets muddled into everything and the tortillas sop up all the sauce, the plate gets messy, but every bite tastes better, and it’s hard to keep your table manners from approaching those of Randy in A Christmas Story.

It’s good stuff.

And for breakfast this week, I made this recipe, because the idea of putting avocado in a coffee cake intrigued me; however, this comes out more like a quick bread than a coffee cake.

Avocado Coffee Cake

Avocado Coffee Cake

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter or margarine
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups avocado, mashed
2 2/3 cups flour
3/4 t. allspice
3/4 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup nuts, chopped
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup dates, chopped
Topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in avocado pulp. Sift flour and spices together. Combine flour mixture and avocado mixture alternating with buttermilk to which the baking soda has been added. Mix the nuts, raisins, and dates and fold into cake mixture. Pour all into 2 greased loaf pans. Sprinkle with topping mixture made from blending the sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until middle of cake tests done.

Yes, the batter will be green, but don't worry.

Yields 2 loaves

Actually, as green as the batter was, I was a little disappointed that the cake wasn’t green in the slightest.  However, there’s no denying that adding a couple avocados to a cake recipe will make it insanely moist.  I forgot to take a picture of a slice of cake when I made it, so the slice pictured above is actually about five days old, and as you can see, it’s still moist.

This is a fun cookbook, and well worth seeking out.  I look forward to making that Yucatecan Pork at some point in the future.

As for the Junior League of Mexico City, I thought it worth noting that while the service projects of most Junior Leagues focus on issues like poverty, art education for children, and services to women and children in crisis, their primary focus is environmental education.  They sponsor or co-sponsor recycling, reforestation, education programs, especially geared towards children, which I thought was interesting and neat.

Next up, I have a veritable cornucopia of cookbooks to choose from, though right now, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are the frontrunners.  Until then…

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