La Familia Cortez – Inglewood, CA

“These recipes are mother to mother recipes. Mine comes from my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother in El Salvador.” – Ana Cox

Misconceptions are horrible ‘ceptions. Maybe it’s because I had listened to Snoop Dogg and he was always rapping about Inglewood being up to no good. But I was nervous about the Inglewood Sip Snap Savor dinner.

It turned out to be the most lovely experience with the most loving family. I sort of wanted to move in – Mom & Dad Cortez have four squirmy, giggly, classy daughters. Each with her own ideals and goals. It was fascinating to sit with them for a few hours in their kitchen and then in their garden patio for a long Sunday lunch.

When Jamie and I walked into the house, Fleetwood Mac was belting out in the living room. Sister Liza, was rolling limes along the length of the kitchen table in preparation for Mojitos. Mom Ana was buzzing around the kitchen and came out to greet us with hugs and smooches on our cheeks.

It already smelled incredible. Chayote Chilaquiles and Arroz Frito was in the air. The sun was shining. I was starving.

Salsa De Chilequiles
4 tomatoes
1/2 green or red bell pepper
1/2 white onion
1/2 slice of bread
1spoonful of paprika and Knorr tomate caldo
Salt & Pepper to taste

Put all vegetables, seasonings and the bread into the blender. Top off with water. Blend the “salsa” until smooth. The bread adds textures.

Heat over medium low heat. It perfumes your whole house and a slow heat allows all the flavors to coagulate.

Chayote: also known as sayote, tayota, choko, chocho, chow-chow, christophene, mirliton, and vegetable pear, is an edible plant that belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

Chilequiles: The name chilaquiles is derived from the Nahuatl word chil-a-quilitl which means “herbs or greens in chile broth”.

El Salvador:
is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. It borders the Pacific Ocean between Guatemala and Honduras. It lies on the Gulf of Fonseca, as does Nicaragua further south. It has a population of approximately 6 million people

“We don’t put alot of condiments or heavy spiced sauces on our foods en Salvador. We preserve the way things really taste. It’s why I like fresh Asian foods so much. Fresh. Vibrant. Flavorful. Natural.” – Luz Cortez

“Wow! There’s no masking it’s natural flavor. This is Chayote. I will never forget it.” – Melissa

“Yes! Yes, its why I enjoy cuisines that serve fresh radishes and pickled vegetables. Lemon wedges. A little chile. Those natural condiments that preserve everything and bring it together. Not mask and hide. You have to have food integrity you know.” – Luz Cortez

“The center of the chayote is the tan rico part!” – Liza Cortez

“Eating meat all the time is too heavy. You feel better if you eat some vegetables. You can make these ahead of time, two or three days in advance. Store them in tupperware in the fridge.” – Ana Cortez

“This is a make you pretty dish. Full of proteins vegetables and it’s so simple!” – Luz Cortez

Serves 10 people

6-8 Chayotes, peeled and sliced into disks, just as you would slice a cucumber into disks
1 pckg Ranchero soft Farmer Cheese
4Tblsp Crema Salvadorena
5 egg whites (save yolks)
1/4 C vegetable oil
Salt & Pepper

Soft boil the chayote disks. When soft, 8-10 minutes, let drain and cool. They need to be cool enough to touch. Meanwhile crumble the package of Ranchero cheese into the tablespoons of crema in a small bowl. Set aside cheese mixture.

When chayote is cool enough to touch. Spread cheese mixture on one side and top with chayote to make a sort of chayote/cheese sandwich. Set on plate and make another sandwich. Continue until all chayote has been sandwiched with cheese.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowly add in 2-3 yolks after peaks form. This egg meringue will be the coating on the chilequiles.

Heat large skillet on medium high heat with bottom of skillet filled with half of the vegetable oil. When hot enough, coat a chayote sandwich in the egg meringue and set into skillet.

Do not crowd chayote sandwiches as they fry. Depending on the size of the skillet, fry 5-6 sandwiches at a time. The sandwiches will bubble and foam up like little marshmallow puffs.

Continue frying in batches. Stop and stir Salsa de Chilequiles occasionally. Ensure the Salsa hasn’t gotten too hot.

When done frying arrange all chilequiles in a bowl. Top with Salsa de Chilequiles. Rice is a great side dish to this meal and for sopping up the beautiful Salsa.


2 thoughts on “La Familia Cortez – Inglewood, CA

  1. Pingback: Sayote Nostalgia « BAHAY KUBO ~ of True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes

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