Friday, March 20, 2015

Cutting Up Bell Peppers: Updated


Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers,  are a great and dynamic vegetable giving us multiple ways to use them.  From simply stuffing them, to dicing them as a garnish, to cutting them into slices it all depends on what the intended use for the peppers is.  

The most common way for people to prepare their peppers is to simply slice them down the middle and scoop out the seep pod, stem and some of the white veins.   While this method is not terrible, it does make making precision cuts a bit more difficult. There is another method that is much more elegant and gives you greater adaptability with your peppers.  




The first step to cutting your pepper is to remove the stem end.  Simply cut about a fourth to a third of an inch from stem end. This serves the purpose of partially removing the stem while still taking advantage of the pepper around the stem.


Now you have a stable surface to continue cutting from.  The next step is to start cutting the sides of the pepper into flat surfaces.  The easiest way to do this is to cut a line at the obvious edges, then detach the sides from the seed pod by cutting the white membrane.  After this is done cut the bottom piece off the seed pod. You will be left with three or four flat sides, the bottom surface and the seed pod intact without any messy seeds all over your bell pepper.



If you want to get really fancy, you can always remove the excess white membrane left on your pepper.  This is kind of an advanced technique and not absolutely necessary. To remove the membrane simply lay your pepper flat and run your knife along the inside removing the membrane.


Now with your peppers deconstructed you have the freedom to do what you need. You can leave the sides whole as they are perfect for grilling. You can simply cut them into strips for a julienne. 


Or take it a step further and dice them up.  The ring leftover from the initial cut serves perfectly for this purpose.   In either case you can decide how big or small your cuts are. 


Using this method of cutting bell peppers gives you a more elegant and cleaner way of preparing them then the traditional way.  The beauty of it all is that it really does not take any more effort than before and you have more control and get a higher yield from your peppers.  This method works great not only on bell peppers, but on most fresh peppers.  So give this technique a try and see if your peppers come out looking beautiful. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Unsung Heroes of the Kitchen

They go by many names.  They have many jobs. These jobs are often the lowliest, crappiest, most overlooked and easily forgotten ones in the kitchen.  I would bet that most people outside of the profession have never even given these hard workers even the fleetest thought.  I would be willing to bet even most cooks and others that work in the kitchen don't think about them.  Who am I talking about? Sometimes they are called utility staff or stockers.  More often than not they are simply known as the dishwashers. This group of  people is absolutely indispensable for any working to kitchen to function as a cohesive unit.  When a kitchen is running as a well oiled machine, these men and women are the oil that makes it all happen.  Some may be asking why this is the case.  It is not a simple answer.



The utility staff often takes roles that are time consuming but still vital to the entire operation.  Lets start simply with the function that they are normally hired to do: wash the dishes.  This may seem straight forward, but you have to keep in mind that washing dishes in a professional kitchen is not like washing dishes at home.  You don't just simply wash a couple of pots and pans and the dishes from after a meal.  OH NO!  Here they must keep up with a pile of dishes that usually starts piling up from the beginning of the day until well after the doors close.  Some times they are dealing with leftover dishes from the night before.  It is non stop.  First it starts with the pots and pans used by the cooks.  More often than not as soon as one cook is done with a certain pot, another cook will need it due to not having another one in the kitchen of that particular type.  Dishwashers must constantly keep restocking the kitchenware.  This includes pots, pans, serving dishes, as well as any and all utensils.  Not only do they have to do this all day, but they have to do it in a timely fashion.  It is not unheard of for a cook to come into the dish area asking for a particular item to be cleaned "on the fly".  And oh unlucky is the dishwasher that ends up on the receiving end of a cook's screw up.  What I mean is when a cook burns or scalds something it is usually the dishwasher who ends up scouring and cleaning it up.  Even if the chef makes the cook clean it up or the cook himself offers to do the work, most dishwashers will rather do it themselves for the simple fact that they can do it better and faster.  Once meal service starts dishwashers now also have to contend with all the dishes, utensils, and drinkware that is being used for that meal service.  And if that were not enough, they will also start to wash any and all cookware and serving dishes used during the meal.  That is a lot to keep on top of, even with the use of warewashing machines.



In most cases just because a person is hired as a dishwasher that is not the only role they will play.  This is especially true if they fall under the job title of utility worker.  What that means is that the chef can then call on them to fill in any number of holes, from prep cook (peel a whole lot of potatoes) to cashier (usually with a little more training).  Utility workers are often the ones that take out the trash during shifts.  They are also sometimes the ones who clean the equipment between uses and at the end of the day.  More often than not they are also the ones who put up the orders from the produce and meat as well as other purveyors.  If you can't find something usually the utility staff will know where it is or if there is any in house because they put it away. This versatility means that they can do these mundane tasks while those with the specific skills to actually operate and execute the menu are free to do so.


As stated previously, most of these jobs are boring at best, unpleasant more often than not and sometimes down right gross. Washing dishes and dealing with other people's left over food on a plate is not anyone's idea of a good time.  Taking out the trash at all hours of the day with God knows what in there is nasty.   Having to put away 150 cases of frozen food from Sysco after having put away easily over a hundred pounds of produce is not easy.
 
What really makes the people who work these positions is that it is very uncommon for them to complain.  In my experience most utility workers have a good attitude, are happy to do the job and go well above the expectations put on them.  When asked to so something I usually get a "sure, let me just finish what I am working on right now!" 


Ask any chef who are the most crucial people working in the kitchen and chances are they will point to the dishwashers/utility staff.  Without them, the kitchen be thrown into disarray and grind to a halt.  When someone like that is missing all those tasks must fall to someone else to get done.  So the choices for a chef at that point are to assign one of his cooks so that the line suffers, or just do it himself.  The next time you are in a restaurant or dining facility of any kind keep your eye open for these heroes of the kitchen. 


Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Truth Behind Leftovers!



Let me preface this post by saying that I am not writing this as a warning or an expose.  I am just writing this as an informative piece on the business that is running a professional kitchen.  I just want to provide a little insight into how things work behind the scenes give everyone a little peek.  So, with that being said, I want to address leftovers.  On more than one occasion I have been asked by a patron at many of the places I have worked at what exactly happens to all the food that is leftover at the end of the day.  The truth is that the answer is not cut and dry.  There are a variety of things that can and do happen to leftover food depending on many factors. 

At the end of the day most kitchens are part of a business that is trying to make money.  One of the biggest expenses that a  culinary operation has is that of food cost and anyone running a kitchen is always trying to keep that food cost down.  A chef will try to take advantage and squeeze out as much production out of all food products purchased.  A very easy way to do that is to use up leftovers as much as possible and in as many creative ways as possible. Now when I say use up leftovers there are a couple of things you must understand.  A good chef will never sacrifice safety or quality for the sake making money.   The leftovers being used must be up to the standards of anything that would be served as if it were being prepared that day.  Those leftovers must also be safe to consume.  All decent establishments with a good record of safety and sanitation will have a use by date for their leftovers (usually 3-4 days).  If leftovers don't meet these quality or safety standards they will not be used and will be thrown out.

When leftovers are being used the easiest way to use them up is to reheat and serve them as is.  However there are a few problems with doing this.  First of all you have the problem of possibly compromising the quality of the product upon reheating.  Proteins have a tendency to dry out when reheated.  Vegetables tend to overcook and just not look as appetizing.  So if the plan is to just reheat and serve, special care is taken to reheat so as to not compromise that quality.  The second problem with just reheating and serving is that someone might recognize the food, especially if the customer base is daily repeat customers such as at a cafeteria or a dining hall.  Some observant guest might recognize the meatloaf you are serving today as the same one you had yesterday. A great way to avoid this predicament is to hold off on serving those leftovers and/or serve them at another station. 

French toast that was reheated and served the next day.


Of coarse the easiest way to avoid those pitfalls of using leftovers is to just reappropriate them and use them for something that was not their original use.  Soups are probably the most common way to do this.   Soups are cheap to make and very versatile.  They can use up most leftovers, including vegetables that normally would not be good for anything else do to the poor quality that they were in.  Chicken or beef that would dry out of reheated can easily be put into a soup.  Leftover rice or pasta also works well in a soup.   That soup of the day you love so much at your local eatery is probably made mostly from leftovers.

Leftovers make great soup.


Soups aren't  the only way to use up leftovers.  Another common destination for leftovers, especially meats, is the deli or as a sandwich filling in general.  Most of the time when assembling a sandwich it will be served cold and if it is not, there will be enough accompaniments that if the meat is a little dry it will not be too noticeable.  Sandwiches can also use up any unused sauces or cheeses from different dishes.  Sandwiches are just a great way to disguise leftovers as a completely different thing. 


Leftover Pork Loin
Turned into Cuban sandwiches

The truth is that leftovers can and are used all over an operation. The way the chef sees it is just free money, or at the very least money has already been spent and can still be taken advantage of.  It is just a matter of being creative and finding different ways to use up what is already there.  I have seen leftover grilled salmon mixed with capers, lemon juice, and mayonnaise and turned into a salmon salad that was then served from the salad bar.  I have seen unused meatballs chopped up and then added to a meat lovers pizza.  I recently ordered some seafood enchiladas from a restaurant.  When I asked the waiter what seafood was in them he told me a little bit of all the different seafood they served.  To me that indicated that more than likely they were just using leftovers to make the enchiladas.  But ultimately that is ok because I know that as long as the quality of the food was still good (they were quite tasty) and my safety was not at risk then the restaurant is just trying to be profitable.  Really that is what using leftovers is all about. Kitchens are just trying to use up and take advantage of what they have on hand. 

Pretty sure these were made with leftovers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Two Hour Ribs


Now that the weather is turning cooler some might think that BBQ season is over.  I mean who wants to stand out in the cold over a grill for hours?  Well, for the most part I would agree with them.  BBQ is definitely more of a Spring, Summer, and here in Texas, Fall activity.  But what if I told you you could still achieve some measure of BBQ goodness without leaving the comfort of your own heated kitchen?  It is possible to make ribs with only your oven and in only two hours no less.  Now these are not truly BBQ ribs since neither smoke nor a grill are involved.   But they are a good cold weather substitute. They are so easy you can make them any time of year you feel like having some delicious ribs.

This technique works well with either pork spare ribs or baby back ribs.  I usually buy them when they are on special at the grocery store and just freeze them until I am ready to cook them.  When I am feeling like making ribs, I just take them out of the freezer (usually two days ahead of time) and let them thaw.

When you are ready to start preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Caliente!

While the oven warms up you can prep your ribs.  Some will say you need to trim off access meat and fat, but I find this step unnecessary.  I like my ribs as meaty as possible and I find the fat adds more flavor. The first thing you have to do is to score your ribs.   There is a membrane on the back of the ribs that you can either remove entirely or, what I do, is just cut cross hatched marks on the back of the ribs.

You know what the score is.

After the ribs have been scored you want to season your ribs.  You can keep it as simple as salt and pepper or use your favorite rub.  I have used a wide variety of rubs including a Southwest, Cajun and BBQ rubs.  Make sure your ribs are well seasoned.

Season with abandon.

Once your ribs are ready you will need to place them in an aluminum roasting pan with a rack to hold the ribs.  The rack will keep the ribs elevated above the cooking liquid.

The hardware.
Place the ribs in the roasting pan.  Depending on the size of your pan I would do two to three so that there is minimal overlap.  I usually only do two racks of ribs so I only really need one pan.  After the ribs are in add enough liquid to the bottom of the pan so it come up to but does not cover the wire rack.  You can simply use water, but I like to use beer for some extra flavor.  Shiner Bock Beer works really well. Once this is all assembled, simply cover your roasting pan with aluminum foil (make sure it is sealed tight) and put it in the oven for an hour. 

A tasty package!

My wife being a goof!
After the hour is up remove the pan from the oven and uncover it.  Be careful as steam will have accumulated with the cooking process!

Steamy!

These ribs just got out of the sauna and are not dressed. Do you mind!

Next you will need a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.  I personally love Stubb's BBQ Sauce.  Simply brush on the BBQ sauce liberally.  The ribs are not done yet, but they will look and smell delicious!  Now just put them back in the oven.

Like Picasso or Michelangelo.

Back in the hot!

At the half hour mark you will want to take them out and reapply more BBQ sauce, and back into the oven for another half hour.

Getting close.

Saucy!

Once the next half and hour goes by pull out your ribs.  They should be done.  What I mean by this is that they should be nice and tender and juicy.  That being said not all ribs and ovens are created equally.  If you find out your ribs need a little more time, just pop them back in the oven for in fifteen minute intervals until they are done.  When your ribs are done you have two choices.  You can cut them as is, or if you like your ribs extra saucy, just apply another coat of BBQ sauce.  Either way I would let the ribs rest for about fifteen minutes before cutting them.

Almost ready.

It is now time to slice up your ribs! The easiest way is to flip them over so the concave side is up towards you and follow the bone.  This can get tricky sometimes, especially on the ends, as the bones begin to fan out.

Use a sharp knife.

Ready for consumption!

 Now that you have cut your ribs make yourself a plate and enjoy!!

You know you want some!!



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On Being A Sous Chef

First let me start by apologizing for such a long time between updates.  The reason for my extended lapse was due to a change in jobs.  For those of you not in the know I recently was hired on at the University of Houston as a sous chef.  This is a big deal for me as this is my first job as a sous chef.  I was very excited when I got my first chef coats with my name sowed in.  Well this happened back in mid August and it seems as things have finally settled down.  My schedule has been hammered down into a predictable pattern and I am finally starting to get a handle on all that I need to do as a sous chef.  I just want to share with you some thoughts as a first time sous chef.

The first challenge I had was getting used to my "boss legs".  What I mean by that is that when you come from a place that you are on equal footing with all of the other employees and you are suddenly put in a supervisory role it is a bit of an adjustment.  I was just not used to telling people, "hey you need to do this" or "no, don't do that" with the authority of being a supervisor.  It is not a role that I naturally take to.  But with this job comes some of that and I am still getting used to it.  I also know that I cannot lord that authority over people because no one response well to that.  My personal philosophy is to try to let everyone know that ultimately we are all on the same team and I am there to help them as much as possible.

Another aspect of being a sous chef I am noticing is that you have to pay attention to so many more things.  It is all about the bigger picture.  When I was just a cook all I had to worry about was my area, my station, and my food.  As a sous chef I have to over look everyone and make sure that all the cooks and stations have everything they need and if they don't then what can we do about that.  How are we going to fix the situation?  I once joked that the reason the sous chefs were given red coats was because we were more like fire men than chefs, putting out fires where ever they popped up.  When I was just a line cook I knew that the chef and sous chef were ultimately dealing with more than what I was, but it is a very different experience knowing that and actively dealing with it.

As a sous chef it is also important to know your crew.  Every person is different.  Every person has their strengths, weaknesses, good attributes and flaws.  As I get to know the people I work with better I am starting to differentiate what those qualities are.  I know which people on which nights will need some help and which can function on their own.  I am starting to learn that in some cases you might have to pay closer attention to someone less they wander off and leave their area unattended.  It is also important to make sure everyone is executing the menu correctly.  I have had one instance where the menu called for fajitas and my cooks were making quesadillas. 

I am also doing a lot more administrative tasks.  I am usually the one who is doing the produce order for our location.  That is a challenge in that you have to take into account what you have on hand, what you need to maintain par levels and what you need for the next day.  These values could vary greatly from day to day.  That is not even mentioning that you have to get a feel for what you actually need versus what is called for.  What I learned and mean by this is that even though your needs list may call for 200 lbs of beets, the fact of the matter is roasted beets as a side dish will probably not be very popular amongst college kids.  Therefore, you could probably get away with only half of that.  Besides ordering there is also the task of checking coolers, temperatures, making sure everyone has soap and sanitizer, and making sure everyone has all that they need to actually make the food.

This position has also forced me to keep thinking ahead.  Just because this meal period is running smoothly does not mean I can take it easy.  I have to start thinking about dinner during lunch or start thinking about tomorrow's service during dinner.  By thinking ahead we can do things like pulling frozen product out of the freezer to make sure it thaws out or if I know there is something that is labor intensive during the next meal period I can jump in and get a head start for the people who have to execute it.  I am also always looking in what we call the over production cooler where we keep all of our leftovers from previous meal periods to see what and where we can utilize some of that product.

Some of the challenges I have come across as a sous chef are just being on top of everything constantly and maintaining my skills.  When you are a cook and you have a bad day or you miss something it only really affects you.  Chances are you have someone else with you to give you a hand.  As a sous chef if you miss something or screw something up, it is affect others and their ability to do the job correctly.  Luckily we have a strong team and I am not the only sous chef.  But I would still rather not depend on others for my success or that of my team.  As far as maintaining my skills go...  Well, as they say practice makes perfect and when you stop practicing your skills degrade.  I don't want that to happen to me so I rather enjoy the opportunity to get back "in the trenches".  At my previous job I worked with a man who was being hired on as an executive chef for another location.  While I don't doubt his skills, his hustle and sense of urgency was gone.  It was a challenge to work with him that day.  That is the worst case scenario for me in the future.

Being a sous chef means you have to be as sharp as your knives and pay attention to fifteen different things all at once.  It means going to do one task and end up doing five before you are done.  It is demanding and stressful and exhilarating and aggravating and fulfilling all at once.  It is a job I hope to be doing well and I am ever grateful for the opportunity to do it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Inspiration

Let me start be saying that great cooks, either professional or home, are made not born.  But why?  What gives someone that drive to learn to cook.  What makes someone say, "I could just boil this and eat it, or I could parboil it, then saute it in butter and it will taste amazing!"  The truth is that there is no easy answer to that.  Every person that has ever put on an apron and taken on the mantle of meal maker has different reasons for why he or she does that.  For some it is personal drive to be the best at what they do.  For others it comes from their past.  For me my love of food and cooking comes from my family.


Growing up my family was never well off.  We struggled, but I am happy to say that I never lacked in having what I needed.  And I most certainly never went hungry.  But what does all this have to do with the love of food and cooking?  Even through the tough times my parents always found a way to show me and share what it was to eat well.  My parents were very adept at finding things that should have been expensive at less than expensive costs.  It was this ability to obtain fancy foods at a deal that let me experience a full and rich culinary palette from a young age.


It was because of this that I was able to experience things such as smoked oysters or squid cooked in its own ink.  One of my parents favorite things to do, especially when watching some kind of sporting event, was what they called "botanear".   What this means is to eat a variety of small snacks.  So my mom would reach into the pantry and pull out all the various tins of different morsels she and my dad had collected over time.  She would lay them out on a tray, usually with some crackers and some assortment of cheeses and we would just eat our fill as a family.

I remember the first time they introduced me to brie.  I had no idea cheese could be so rich and creamy and delicious.  I was only about 6 or 7 years old.  Normally at that age most kids would scoff at the notion of this weird cheese with a hard outside and gooey inside!  But my parents had taught me from an early age that in order to get on in this world you must learn to eat well. And in order to eat well you must try things.  You don't have to like everything you try, but you have to try it first then make up your mind.  So I was already accustomed to trying new and different things.  That first bite was sublime.  OK, at the time I would not have described it as sublime, I would have just said that was super good, but the idea remains the same. 

It was this exposure form an early age that really opened up my culinary world.  I was used to trying things that for some might be off putting because they were strange.  Food never scared or intimidated me.  This I believe is vital for a chef.  So when I decided that I wanted to go to culinary school I'd like to think I had a small advantage, especially to those who were squeamish.

Both my mom and dad encouraged me to eat well and try new things.  My mom, however, is the single biggest reason for my love of cooking.  She is the one who first taught me what it meant to turn raw ingredients into something delicious.  She is that one that taught me how to season said ingredients and to just "feel it" when I asked her how much I needed.  She also put up with me when I was staunchly against the use of salt because I thought it made everything salty.  She is the one who could reach into the pantry and pull out three or four random items and make it into an amazing meal with the same ease and skill as an old seasoned chef doing a mystery basket. 




At first I really wanted to learn how to cook as a practical life skill.  After all, I new I would eventually grow up and have to feed myself.  So when I was about 11 or 12 years old I approached my mom about learning the secrets of the kitchen.   She gladly accepted me as her protege and started showing me about the preparation of food.  Some of the first lessons I remember are that you need to stir your ingredients in the pot, otherwise they will burn even if you have oil in there as well or that you need to patient with your food.  Water does not boil instantly, no matter how much you want it to.  As I referenced earlier seasoning to her was something you just had to have a feel for.  You couldn't measure, you just knew when it was enough or if you needed more spices.  She also taught me some tricks such as if you want to thicken a sauce or soup quickly, add some bread crumbs or that if you over salt that sauce or soup, throw in a chunk of potato to help absorb some of that salt. 

My mom has a whole catalog of dishes and recipes that she has made a thousand times before.  Some of them were taught to her by grandmother.  Some of them she has learned on her own.  And some she has just come up with on the fly with nothing but her own sense of taste as inspiration.  I'd like to think that I have that same sense in me. I'd like to think that I can come up with appetizing meals on the fly with nothing but a few ingredients and my own ideas as inspiration.  In any case I have my mother to thank for putting me in the kitchen.  Thanks mom for helping me do what I love.  So to all of you preparers of food, you makers of meals, no matter what your inspiration is, I hope it serves you well to help make the best food you can!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Delicious Homemade Tortas!



Let me start this post by saying that I LOVE sandwiches.  They can be eaten at home or on the go.  They are easily customizable, easy to make and absolutely delicious.  The Mexican torta is no exception.  I grew up eating all sorts of tortas whenever I would visit Mexico City.  Some came from restaurants, some from little shops or huts and some were made at the local market.  As good as all those were my favorites were always the ones prepared by either my grandmother or my mother. Those always seemed to have the extra something and personal touch that made them stand above all others. 

Before jumping into how to make your own torta, let's take a look into what a torta really is.  At its most basic a torta is just a sandwich, in other words, it is two pieces of bread that have a bunch of tasty ingredients wedged between them.  What really differentiates a torta from other sandwiches is the type of bread used to make it.  A torta is made with a bolillo, which is an oblong crusty white bread with a soft interior.  


A variety of the bolillo is the telera though it has a more rounded shape, is divided in three sections, and is usually softer.


The bolillo is the foundation of a good torta, so having a good bolillo is essential.  Luckily finding good bolillos is not difficult, especially if you live somewhere with a significant Hispanic population.  Here in Houston I have a lot of choices.  I can always go to the panaderia (Mexican bakery) right down the street.  Or if I am doing my weekly shopping I can just pick some up at my local HEB in their bakery.  Heck I am even lucky enough to have La Michoacana (a local grocery chain catering to Hispanic clientele) that sells both bolillos and teleras.  If you are not lucky enough to have any of these resources at hand and simply cannot find bolillos or teleras, use French rolls or Italian bread.  My mom says even a baguette can be used in a pinch. 

Like with anything in life, there is a great variety in the types of tortas made.  Usually they are simply classified by what they are made with. For example a tora de jamon is a torta made with ham or a torta de huevos is one made with scrambled eggs.  Besides the main ingredient and the bread itself tortas vary by just how they are prepared.  Some are served cold or prepared simply while others are made hot on a griddle.  In Guadalajara there is a variation call the " torta ahogada" or drowned torta due to the fact that after the sandwich is made it is then smothered in a red sauce. 

Making your own torta is as easy as making a ham sandwich.  As stated earlier you will need some bolillos to start with.  Since bolillos come in whole pieces you will then need to split them in half.  Once the bread has been cut it is important to remove some of the migajon, or soft white part from the upper piece of the bread.  This will give you a concave piece of bread that will help hold the sandwich together.


Once you have your bread ready you can go ahead and leave it as is to make your sandwich or you can toast it in the oven.  We choose to toast our bread in a 350 degree oven for about 5-10 min.

While the bread was toasting my mom and I gathered up our sandwich fixings which included refried black beans, mustard, Mexican cream, queso fresco, sliced pickled jalapeno, ham, head cheese, fresh tomatoes, avocado, and red onion.


After the bread was done toasting, we were ready to build our tortas.  First thing we did was spread our cream on the concave side of the bread.  We then spread the black beans and mustard on the bottom half of the bolillo. 


Next we started piling on the meats. First the ham, then the head cheese. After the meat was arranged so it would lie flat against the bread we added the queso fresco.  Now we cut the cheese into slices, but it is possible and acceptable to crumble it and add it to your sandwich this way.




 Then we started to add the veggies such as the onions, tomatoes, and avocado.  It is important to try to add the veggies in a manner to keep them flat so that they won't slide off your sandwich. 


The last thing we added to the torta before topping it off with the other piece of bread was the pickled jalapenos.  The jalapenos add little kick as well as a nice tang to the overall flavor profile of the sandwich. 


All that was left to do was put the lid on the sandwich and enjoy.  The sandwiches were so massive that we simply had to cut them in half just to handle them.  They were a great lunch and so delicious.  They reminded me so much of my visits to Mexico City.


The beauty of the torta is in its simplicity.  A torta is so easy to assemble and to make it just how you want it.  For instance I know head cheese may not be the most popular ingredient.  If that is the case with you then just simply leave it out.  Are you a vegetarian?  Then make yourself a torta de aguacate (avocado)!  The choice is yours. Hopefully this inspires some of you to just go out there get yourself some fresh bread and go nuts!