When we first came here, I searched high and low for a food processor. Finally, my mother-in-law brought me one from the USA. I like having it, but it turns out that the essential Mexican cooking gadget is the ordinary kitchen blender. I have used my blender more here than I ever did in all the years before I moved to Mexico.
I have also gone through several spice/coffee grinders since moving here. The blade tends to break off, or the motor burns out. I started using a mortar and pestle to grind peppercorns and other hard spices. But, recently, in Megabalcones, I bought a mini-blender set. The kit costs about the same as a new spice grinder (around $121.00 mxp), but instead of having a small motor, the 3 small half pint jars screw into a cutting blade assembly which you then use in place of your normal blender container and blade assembly. The jars also come with lids so you can use them for storage, too.
I love this accessory. I used it to make some small batches of specialty flours today, by grinding barley, brown rice and oatmeal. I made Saag Panir the other day, and in the past, I have either used a mortar and pestle to grind the chiles, garlic and ginger into a paste by hand or used my regular size blender. The blender is faster and easier, but it's difficult to scrape the small quantity of paste out of it. It was so easy with the smaller blender base and blade.
I know that I sound like an infomercial, but I'm really excited. After selling so much stuff to move to Mexico, I vowed that I wasn't going to buy needless gadgets, and if I didn't use it, I was would get rid of it. So I am glad that it worked out.
With the hot weather, we are drinking agua frescas, and licuados con leche daily. I even bought an expensive juicer, but I use my humble blender more often.
The basic agua fresca recipe is simple. Chop up your favorite fruit, seeding as much as possible. Put it in the blender with a little sugar (if necessary; I don't always use sugar, and if I do, it's only a tablespoon or two). Now, fill the blender with cold water. Blend at high speed. Taste, if it's too weak, add more fruit, and if it's too strong, add more water. This is the time to add the sugar, and blend a little more. If you weren't able to seed your fruit and are concerned about it, take a moment and strain it before serving. If you can wait, the agua fresca tastes much better cold.
Here are some variations to get your started:
- You can freeze the fruit before blending it, or
- You can use ice cubes in addition to the water
- Instead of water, you can use fruit juice.
- One of our favorites is a peach shake. I open a can of peaches and place it in the freezer for half an hour, and then blend the entire contents of the can with milk. In this case, you probably won't need sugar unless you like things really sweet, since the liquid is already sweetened.
I have even made mock ice cream this way; frozen bananas blended with fruit and yogurt. I don't think it's any less calories than ice cream, but it's pretty tasty. Most importantly, I know it hasn't melted and been refrozen like ice cream that I've bought here in the grocery store.