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Salsa Navarro: Historic Cookbook Recipes in the Modern Kitchen

July 21, 2014

Join Casa Navarro staff on Friday, July 25th from 6:00-8:00pm to learn about historic foodways of Tejano Texas, watch a kitchen demonstration of a recipe from UTSA Libraries Mexican Cookbook Collection, and participate in a hands-on ingredient hunt.

Casa Navarro is located at the corner of S. Laredo and W. Nueva streets in downtown San Antonio, in the Texas Independence and Hill Country Trail Regions.

Salsa Navarro Event Flyer. 6-8pm on July 25th at Casa Navarro Historic Site

Mexican Cooking in the Microwave

July 14, 2014
Mexican Microwave Cookery (1988) by Carol Medina Maze. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Mexican Microwave Cookery (1988) by Carol Medina Maze. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Medina Maze, Carol. Mexican Microwave Cookery: A Collection of Mexican Recipes Using the Convenience of the Microwave Oven. Tuscon, AZ: Fisher Books, 1988. [TX716 .M4 M39 1988]

The culinary potential of microwave radiation was discovered by Percy Spencer of Raytheon corporation in the 1940s, but early models were extremely large and energy-hungry. It was not until the late 1960s that economical microwaves suitable for household use became widely available.  Microwave manufacturers initially struggled to overcome public concerns over the safety of microwave radiation, and also to persuade food processers to repackage their products in microwave-friendly (non-metallic) packaging.[1]

Today, the primary use of microwaves in the U.S. is to reheat leftovers. [2] However, between early adoption and current casual use, microwaves had a heyday in the 1980s and 90s, when creative cooks sought ways to prepare everything from soup to cakes in these increasingly ubiquitous kitchen appliances. And while I can’t recall the last time I used a microwave for an actual recipe, July in San Antonio may be just the time to go a little retro at dinner time.

In the introduction to Mexican Microwave Cookery, Home Economics teacher and cookbook author Carol Medina Maze notes that “[t]raditionally, Mexican foods took time to prepare and required the use of many pots and pans, as well as various burners and the oven.” In this book, she offers readers the results of her efforts to adapt Mexican recipes to “today’s fast pace of living.”

Mexican Microwave Cookery (1988) by Carol Medina Maze. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Mexican Microwave Cookery (1988) by Carol Medina Maze. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Medina Maze’s introduction provides detailed instructions for converting the percent power and times used in her recipes to alternate metrics used by various microwave manufacturers. For example, 70% power is equal to a heat level of 7, a cooking level of med-hi, a power level of 2/3 or a temperature setting of roast. She also addresses the question of cookware, reminding readers that metal cookware is unsafe for microwave use, and instead recommending glass or ceramic casserole dishes and a microwave-safe pressure cooker.

Mexican Microwave Cookery offers a full range of dishes from the opening chapter on Chiles y Salsas (Chiles & Sauces) to several sections on various main course dishes, to the final chapter on Panes, Postres y Bebides (Breads, Desserts & Beverages). Below is Medina Maze’s quick and easy version of a tasty traditional chicken dish.

Pollo en Pipián / Chicken in Pumpkin-Seed Sauce (p. 104)

Lowly pumpkin seeds add distinction to this chicken.

Power level: medium-high
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 3 cups chicken broth or 3 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 3 cups hot water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons red chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons Taco Seasoning Mix, page 7, or 1 (1-1/4-oz.) pkg. taco seasoning mix
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken

If pumpkin seeds are salted, rinse in water; drain well. Combine pumpkin seeds, broth, oil, flour, coriander, chile powder, seasoning mix and sesame seeds in a blender; process until liquified. Pour mixture into a 1-1/2-quart casserole. Cover with waxed paper; microwave on 70% (medium-high) 15 minutes, stirring after 7-1/2 minutes. Add chicken to hot sauce; stir to blend. Cover with waxed paper; microwave on 70% (medium-high) 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Taco Seasoning Mix (p. 7)

Use this mix instead of a 1-1/4-ounce package of commercial taco seasoning mix. 

Servings: 3 tablespoons

  • 1 tablespoon red chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Store in an airtight container for future use.

Works Cited

[1] Solomon H. Katz and William Woys Weaver. Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. New York: Scribner, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed July 8, 2014): 513-514.

[1] ibid.

Fresh from the Garden: Salsa de Chile Macho at Casa Navarro

July 7, 2014

This week’s post features guest blogger Emiliano Calderon, a staff member at Casa Navarro State Historic Site, located in downtown San Antonio.

El cocinero mexicano, ó, Coleccion de las Mejores Recetas para Guisar al Estilo Americano : y de las Mas Selectas Segun el Metodo de las Cocinas Española, Italiana, Francesa e Inglesa. Mexico: Imprenta de Galvan, a cargo de Mariano Arevalo, Calle de Cadena num. 2, 1831. P. 138.

by Emiliano Calderon

Late May HarvestAn ongoing interpretive project I am engaged in here at Casa Navarro State Historic Site aims to engage visitors through interactive programming associated with our on-site garden.

It was common for both rural and urban Tejanos living during the 19th century to maintain a small garden where vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash and fruits would have been grown to supplement a diet that hinged largely on the cultivation of corn and beans. At Casa Navarro, a variety of these vegetables were planted the early spring, giving us the opportunity to do a small early harvest for public program development and preparation.

I chose to recreate a Salsa de Chile Macho published in the third chapter of El Cocinero Mexicano, ó, Coleccion de Las Mejores Recetas para Guisar al Estilo Americano. The recipe is fairly general but did not require much kitchen savvy.

Ingredients for Salsa de Chile MachoPublished Recipe:

Se tuesta chile ancho y la tercera parte de pasilla. Se desvenan y machuacan añadiéndosele un poco de pulque, ajo y pepitas del mismo chile. Estando machacado, se mezcla con cebolla cruda picada, un poco de mas pulque, aceite de comer, y queso añejo desmoronado.


Toast one ancho chile and one third of a pasilla chile. Devein the chiles and mash them with a little pulque, garlic, and seeds from the chiles. When these ingredients have been crushed, add some chopped raw onion, a little more pulque, some cooking oil, and crumbled, aged cheese.

Recipe as Kitchen-tested:

Salsa de Chile Macho (2)Ingredients:

1 Ancho Chile
1 Small Onion
1 Jalapeno (subbed)
1 Teaspoon of Tequila (subbed)
½ Teaspoon of Crushed Garlic
Seeds from Ancho and Jalapeno Peppers
Queso Añejo
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil


  1. Remove stems and roast the Ancho and Jalapeno Peppers (I did this over a gas fire until the skins of the peppers were blackened.)
  2. Cut roasted Ancho and Jalapeno Peppers, and mash together with Tequila, Crushed Garlic and some seeds from Peppers. (I mashed these together using a Molcajete and Tejolote, a Tejano version of the mortar and pestle.)
  3. Chop the Small Onion, add to previously made mixture with olive oil, a drop of tequila and Añejo Cheese. (I purchased the Queso Añejo because it is an aged cheese made from Goat’s milk, and has a crumbly consistency.

Salsa de Chile MachoAs noted, I substituted several ingredients because I wanted to use what I had readily available from our early harvest. The portion of the Salsa came out very small, but I am looking forward to making a larger amount in the near future, as well as testing out other recipes in the collection!

Casa Navarro is located at the corner of S. Laredo and W. Nueva streets in downtown San Antonio, in the Texas Independence and Hill Country Trail Regions.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo (1913 edition) Nos. 1 & 4

June 30, 2014
La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 1. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 1. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Cocina en el Bolisillo Nos. 1 and 4. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, 1913. [TX716 .M4 C675].

As readers may recall from our June 9th post, UTSA Libraries Special Collections holds volumes from two editions of La Cocina en el Bolsillo. For the most part, No. 1 features recipes for the same dishes found in almost every Mexican cookbook – Bistek (beefsteak),  Mole poblano, Sopa de Macarrones (noodle soup), etc. However, No. 4 includes several more unusual recipes, including Hongos en mole (mushrooms in mole), Habas verdes (green fava beans), and Chayotes en pipián (chayote squash in pipián). Unfortunately, No. 4 does not include any kind of preface, so it is difficult to say why the editor chose to branch out beyond the classics.  

Since we own different numbers from each edition, it is not possible to determine whether the contents of these volumes are the same as the equivalent volumes from the earlier edition.  Perhaps future acquisitions will make direct comparisons possible. In the meantime, please enjoy the following recipes for mushroom mole and fava beans 

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 4. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 4. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Hongos en Mole / Mushrooms in Mole 

 Se escogen que sean buenos, se lavan en agua limpia y se ponen a que dén un ligero hervor en poca agua con sal y unos dientes de ajo; se escurren y se les dá una pasada en Manteca en que se fríen ántes unos dientes de ajo; que se sacarán antes de echar a freir los hongos. Se hace el mole de chile pasilla y mulato y cuando ya esté sazonado se agregan los hongos.

Choose good mushrooms, wash them in clean water and boil them in a little water with salt and a few cloves of garlic. Drain the mushrooms. Fry a few more cloves of garlic in lard. Remove the garlic and then dredge the mushrooms through the lard. Make a mole of chile pasilla and chile mulato. When it is ready, add the mushrooms.

Habas Verdes / Fava Beans

Se esojen las habas que estén un poco tiernas, se descabezan y se ponen a cocer con una poca de manteca y sal suficiente. Se disponen de varios modos, a saber: en caldillo de gitomate con carne de puerco, en tomate con chicharrón y carne de puerco, en los mismos caldillos con carne de ternera, en mole de ternera con chícharos y ejotes o bien como ensalada, con cebollas cocidas, aceite, vinagre, aceitunas, chilitos curados, queso rayado y un poco de oregano despolvoreado.

Select beans that are slightly tender. Boil them with a little lard and salt and serve in any of the following ways: with a red tomato broth and pork, tomatillo broth with peas and pork, in either tomato or tomatillo broth with beef, in a mole of veal with peas and green beans. Alternatively, serve as a salad with cooked onions, oil, vinegar, olives, pickled chiles, grated cheese and dried oregano.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo Nos. 5 & 6: Pulque

June 23, 2014
La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 5. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 5. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo Nos. 5 & 6. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, [1890s]. [TX716 .M4 C675].

This week, we continue exploring the series La Cocina en el Bolisillo. Volumes 5 and 6 both focus primarily on main courses, such as guisado de asadura (organ meat stew), chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers), bisteck á la marinera (beefsteak with salsa, capers, and radishes), and Pipian de nuez (chicken pipián with pecans). However, each volume also includes a short section on desserts at the end, including such delicacies as Crepes, Yemas encaneladas (an egg-based candy rolled in sugar), and Conserva de chabaganos (apricot preserves). Below is a mole recipe from No. 5 and a recipe for Leche Lisa from No. 6.


Mole Prieto / Dark Mole

Se tuestan los chipotles después de desvenados, hasta que se pasen, pues casi deben quedar quemados. Se echan á remojar en agua caliente y se muelen con un trocito de ajo y muy pocos cominos. Se muele aparte un puño de ajonjolí tostado y unos cacahuates fritos: se frie en manteca el ajonjolí y los cacahuates y cuando esté bien frito se echa el chipotle á que se refria bien, agregándolo el agua suficiente y sazonándolo de sal. Se le echa en seguida carne de puerco frita aparte ó si se prefiere, se puede hacer con longaniza, con carne de ternera ó con pollo, quedando de todos modos muy bueno.

After deveining the chipotle chiles, toast them until almost burnt. Rehydrate in warm water and then grind with garlic and some cumin. Separately, grind a handful of toasted sesame seeds and fried peanuts. In lard, fry the sesame seed and peanut mixture. When well cooked, add the chipotle chile mixture and cook well, adding water as needed and seasoning with salt. Then add cooked pork, or if you prefer, sausage, beef, or chicken, all of which are very good.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 6. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 6. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Leche Lisa

Se ponen á hervir dos reales de leche pero con bastante fuego para que el hervor sea fuerte, después de una hora de estar hirviendo se le pone un vaso de agua fría en que se habrá desecho un pedazo de tequesquite blanco del tamaño de una avellana, y se deja hervir hasta que toma punto de cajeta, que es cuando al moverla con la cuchara se vé limpio el fondo del caso, entonces se pone en el platón la mitad de la leche, una capa de soletas y encima la otra mitad; adornándola, cuando ya está fría, con polvo muy fino de azúcar blanca y piñones.

Bring two reales worth of milk to a boil and simmer for an hour. Dissolve a piece of white tequesquite the size of a hazelnut into a glass of cold water and add it to the milk. Bring to a boil again and cook until the milk thickens to the point that when you pull a spoon through it, you can clearly see the bottom of the pan. Then, pour half the milk onto a serving platter, top with a layer of ladyfingers, and then finish with the other half of the milk, adorning the aoil until caramel decision point, when to move to the merits spoon looks clean, then put the bowl in half the milk, a layer above soletas and the other half. When it is cold, decorate with very fine powdered white sugar and pine nuts.

Note: Tequesquite is a mineral salt used as leavening in Mexican cooking. Baking powder may be substituted. [1] 

Works Cited

[1] Fromm, Dan, The Great Mexican Cookbook in the Sky: México’s National Community Cookbook [unpublished manuscript, draft]: 898.


La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 2: Pulque

June 16, 2014
La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 2. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 2. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolsillo No. 2. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, [1890s]. [TX716 .M4 C675].

Last week’s post introduced the pocket cookery series La Cocina en el Bolisillo. This week, we take a closer look at No. 2 from the 1890s edition.

On the verso of the title page, the editor mentions the success of No. 1, describes the contents of the current volume, and indicates his plans for No. 3:  

Animados por el buen éxito obtenido en la publicacion del primer cuaderno de los que deben formar esta útil coleccion, damos hoy publicidad al Segundo cuaderno, en el que los gastrónomos hallarán exquisitos y nutritivos platillos; agregando varias recetas de pulques curados de mejores que se conocen.

El próximo cuaderno llevará una escojida coleccion de recetas de repostería.

Si logramos complacer á nuestros favorecedores, quedarán cumplidos los deseos de

El Editor.

Encouraged by the great success of the publication of the first book of this useful collection, today we advertise the second book, in which gourmet readers will find delicious and nourishing dishes, including several recipes for the best-known healing pulques.

The next volume will include a collection of dessert recipes.

If we gratify our fetching readers, it will fulfill the wishes of…

The Editor.

Agave Americana. By Alberto Salguero (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Agave Americana. By Alberto Salguero (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], Wikimedia Commons. [2]

Pulque is a mildly alcoholic drink made from fermented agave juice, with roots reaching back to the Aztec era and before. [1] True to  the editor’s word, the current volume includes seven different pulque recipes, although the text does not expand on their supposedly curative powers.

  • Pulque Colorado / Red Pulque
  • Pulque de Fresa / Strawberry Pulque
  • Pulque de Zarzamora / Blackberry Pulque
  • Pulque de Piña y Requezon / Pineapple and Cottage Cheese Pulque
  • Pulque de Membrillo / Quince Pulque
  • Pulque de Almendra / Almond Pulque
  • Pulque de Café con Leche / Coffee and Milk Pulque

All of these recipes assume the reader knows how to produce plain pulque and no base recipe for fermenting agave is provided. Instead, each recipe suggests flavor-enhancing additions. The recipes for Pulque de Zarzamore and Pulque de Almendra follow below.

Pulque de Zarzamora / Blackberry Pulque

Este pulque necesita más requisitos, pues se pone el almíbar á la lumbre hasta que tome punto, ya que está en este estado se le echa la zarzamora molida y colada, y se deja en la lumber hasta que tome punto alto. Ya que está así, se aparta y luego que se enfria, se une con el pulque.

This pulque has more special requirements because the syrup must be heated until it comes to the correct state. At this point, add the ground blackberries and again heat the syrup. When it is read, allow it to cool and add it to the pulque.

Pulque de Almendra / Almond Pulque

Se muelen dos ó tres libras de almendras <<esperanza>> que esté muy hecha masa; se pasa con mucho cuidado por dos ayates dobles, seis libras de azúcar, una poca de agua de azahar, y cuando ya esté pasado se le hecha una poca de canela molida, reposa y se sirve. 

Grind two or three pounds of almonds, hopefully enough to produce a well-cooked dough. Grind the resulting dough and carefully press it through sieves of cloth. Combine with six pounds of sugar, a little orange flower water, and a little cinnamon. Allow to rest and then serve.

Works Cited

[1] “Pulque.” An A-Z of Food and Drink. Ed. John Ayto. Online Encyclopedia. Oxford University Press, 2004. 

[2] Salguero, Alberto. Agave Americano. Photograph [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons. Accessed June 16, 2014.


La Cocina en el Bolsillo: A Turn-of-the-Century Pocket Cookbook Series

June 9, 2014
[Detail]. El Regidor. (San Antonio, Tex.), Vol. 10, No. 443, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 23, 1897. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

[Detail]. El Regidor. (San Antonio, Tex.), Vol. 10, No. 443, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 23, 1897. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

La Cocina en el Bolisillo [series]. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, [1890s] and 1913. [TX716 .M4 C675].

UTSA Libraries Special Collections recently acquired several volumes of La Cocina en el Bolsillo. At just 15 centimeters tall and 15-16 pages long, these turn-of-the-century recipe chapbooks published by Antonio Vanegas Arroyo reallydo fit into a bolsillo or pocket, perfect for ready reference in the kitchen. Each volume includes twenty to thirty recipes for (mostly) traditional dishes such as Lengua de Vaca (beef tongue), Huachinango Relleno (stuffed red snapper); Chilles Rellenos (stuffed chiles); mole verde; and Pulque Rompopo (a traditional alcoholic drink made from agave). We’ll feature several of these recipes in the coming weeks, but today’s post takes a look at the artwork and distribution of the series:

La Cocina en el Bolsillo was published in at least three editions: one issued at some point in the 1890s or possibly 1901, a second appearing between 1907-1909, and a re-print of the latter in 1913. Identifying the edition with certainty is difficult, as only the 1913 volumes include a date on the title page. There may have also been a 1903 edition, but it has not been possible to confirm this.

Cover illustrations for the first edition alternates between artwork by Manuel Manilla and José Guadalupe Posada (perhaps the most famous Mexican printmaker of his time). The composition of the image is the same on all volumes – a woman (possibly of indigenous ancestry) in traditional clothing with plaited hair – but stylistic differences are evident. Based on a comparison with plates from Posada: Illustrator of Chapboks (2005) by Mercurio López Casillas, it appears that UTSA’s No. 2, 5, and 6 belong to this edition and were illustrated by Manilla.

The 1907-09/1913 edition, on the other hand, was entirely illustrated by Posada and has a very different style. Each volume depicts a woman in fashionable dress and hairstyle engaged in some culinary activity, such as removing fish from a basket or stirring a pan on top of a stove. Posada’s signature is visible in the lower left corner of No. 1 and No. 4 below. Interestingly, the cook’s leg o’ mutton sleeves are more characteristic of 1890s fashion than the 1900s, and were thus already old-fashioned when published.

Antonio Vanegas Arroyo was an important publisher of inexpensive chapbooks on popular subjects, from cookery to prayers, to magic tricks, and his distribution reached at least as far north as San Antonio. A December 23, 1897 issue of El Regidor contains an advertisement from Pablo Cruz, listing a wide range of titles for sale. Most of Cruz’ books sold for between $1.00-4.00, but Vanegas Arroyo’s cookbooks could be purchased for just ten cents each, including not only La Cocina en el Bolsillo, but also El Moderno Pastelero and El Dulcero Mexicano.

[Detail]. El Regidor. (San Antonio, Tex.), Vol. 10, No. 443, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 23, 1897. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

[Detail]. El Regidor. (San Antonio, Tex.), Vol. 10, No. 443, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 23, 1897. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.


Mercurio López Casillas. José Guadalupe Posada: Illustrator of Chapbooks, with Charming Covers, Choice Illustrations and Vignettes. Editorial RM, 2005. Pp. 184-187, 221-222.

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