If you ever made a good Southern-style cornbread, you most likely came across Mark Bittman’s recipe, which was featured and adopted by many online sources. James Brown shared his adaptation during the workshop at his mill. Obviously, James’ cornbread was made with his heirloom corn, yellow and red, and was wonderful. I skipped yellow corn and added some diced roasted peppers and Spanish sweet smoked paprika.
“The Corn Mother from whom we receive our nourishment is thus an entity like Mother Earth, and so closely are they united that they are virtually synonymous. Because we build its flesh into our own, corn is also our body. But corn is also spirit, for it was divinely created, so we are also offering spiritual thanks to the Creator.” — Book of the Hopi
I started with Nopi’s soufflé corn cakes recipe and … changed it to make them greener and gluten-free. I also walked away from the Mediterranian flavors. Oaxacan Green corn flour, miso-glazed shishito peppers, and Roth’s Moody Blue (American smoked blue cheese) made a wonderful contribution to a complex flavor and color of the cakes.
This recipe is one of my favorite salads with red cabbage. My Mom used to make it with white cabbage, imitation crabmeat, and canned corn kernels, dressed with mayo. After moving to the U.S., I eventually substituted white cabbage with red and an imitation crabmeat with the crustacean. Who cares about imitation when the real stuff is readily available? Love it dearly and still name it Mom’s Cabbage Salad.
Toppings are my favorite part of this soup. I think they are what makes this traditional Mexican soup exceptional from the taste and texture point of view as well as its serving and eating experience. I like how some recipe authors refer to pozole as a “soup-salad,” because so many raw ingredients are added to a hot bowl of soup right before eating it.
Tortilla soup is one of the most popular Mexican soups. Google it, and you can easily get tons of “classic” recipes and even more variations. The base is always the same — dry red chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime. In some recipes tortilla chips are used to thicken the soup, in other, they are the topping. In central Mexico, this soup flavor is defined by pungent and tangy thin fleshed pasilla, in Michoacan region it’s a fruity and mild ancho, in Puebla a smokey chipotle takes the place. There are also a variety of additional toppings from cooked meat and poultry to avocado, cheese, and cream. Every local chef or home cook features the best regional ingredients in this soup. I often joke comparing tortilla soup in Mexican cuisine to borsch in Ukrainian.
I always think about it as a transitional flavor combination for people who are not familiar with Mexican, Tex-Mex, or Southern cuisines, as an introduction to our local specialties. It tastes wonderful with or without hot chilies. It is beautiful! It is perfect as a light summer meal, or as a side dish. It works well with grilled meats and poultry, with seafood, different tacos and enchiladas, or just corn chips or tortillas.
Naturally gluten-free, with intense nutty corn flavor when cooked fresh, they are always a crowd pleaser in soft tacos or enchiladas. It is practically impossible to find them in stores, because common believe is they have to be cooked and eaten as soon as possible. Most of the time they are cooked stuffed. The recipe is very simple and it is easy to make blue corn tortillas at home. You don’t need any special cooking skills. You need tortilla press and blue corn flour.