Exclusive Interview With Chef Javier Plascencia At #HarrahsSocal

Chef Javier Plascencia is one of Mexico’s most celebrated chefs.  Born in Tijuana, Mexico Chef Javier Plascencia owns and oversees 8 restaurants in Tijuana, Ensenada and San Diego.  He is a world traveler and enthusiastic advocate of Baja California’s Mediterranean cuisine.    He proudly uses the freshest local ingredients in his modern surf and turf modern cuisine which is influenced by his travels, culture and heritage.

Interview With Chef Javier Plascencia

I interviewed Chef Plascencia at Harrah’s Latin Food and Wine Festival where over 30 restaurants and 30 wineries celebrated Latin wine, food, culture and music.   We enjoyed the green chorizo sopes and savored the delicate coconut water aguachile of hiramasa (yellowtail amberjack) with coconut cream, edible flowers and coconut.

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Chef Javier Plascencia’s green chorizo sopes, peas, cabbage, raddish and a touch of cilantro

At the end of the month Chef Plascencia will also be opening a new restaurant, Bracero Cocina in San Diego, California.  Read on to learn about Chef Javier Plascencia cuisine characteristics, his family’s historical restaurant and new restaurant influences:

 

Can you tell us about some of the ingredients in the green chorizo sope?

Well we use braised pork for “texturity” and they feed that pork. He eats a lot of figs. He eats a lot of avocados and fruit.

It’s free range?

It’s free range pork and he drinks a beer every day. It’s a special kind of breed that my friend raises in Escondido. It’s in the sope with pickled cabbage and radishes.

And what inspired this dish?

I wanted people to taste green chorizo. A lot of people have never seen or heard of it. It’s very popular in central Mexico. In Toluca we eat a lot of green chorizo. I took inspiration from the fondas in Tijuana. We have lots of fondas where you can go and have a taco or tostada.  It’s sort of  like tapas, but in the Mexican way. So you can go and have a taco or tostada or eat menudo or pozole.  It’s like comfort food, usually run by family. And usually a lady will be cooking.  That’s how I grew up.  I love that food.

Harrah's Latin Food and Wine Festival -  Interview With Chef Javier Plascencia

I was observing you guys when you were preparing the dishes during Harrah’s Food and Wine Festival.  Your team works together like a rhythm.

When you are cooking you have to be well-organized. If not, the end product won’t be the same and won’t taste the same. It’s almost like an orchestra. You’re the director but everybody knows what they are doing.  All the guys that you see here today are from a cooking school and they’ve been with me for several years. They all learned how to cook with me. 

What influences your cooking?

The place where I come from is like being a kid in Disneyland. We have so many good ingredients around in Baja California, the Sea of Cortez, and the Pacific Ocean. We have people making cheese and olive oil too. And that’s all in Mexico. But we also have this side of California as well where people make so many excellent products. And most of it’s the same because the weather is the same. If you taste my food you are going to taste a lot of flavors and contrasts.

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Chef Plascencia’s Yellowtail coconut cream with edible flowers and coconuts.

What features characterize your food?

I do a lot of surf and turf the modern way. I think that’s staple cuisine. But I also work with the freshest ingredients that you can find. I work with the whole animal. I don’t just buy the loins or the ribeye. I buy the whole thing because you can make stocks and chorizo sausage.  I buy the whole animal and we make tons of things. One of the things I make is beef cheek tacos. We may take the cheeks to make tacos de cabeza. It’s mostly cheeks. We use the tongues. We use the tail. You blend everything. My father even eats the eyes.

How does it taste?

It’s amazing. The cheek is the most flavorful and tender meat of the whole animal. People don’t realize that. It’s just really really tender.

At the end of the month Chef Plascencia will be opening a new restaurant, Bracero Cocina in San Diego, California.  Read on to learn about Chef Javier Plascencia, his cuisine influences, his family history and his new restaurant.

 

When did you know that you wanted to be a chef?

I grew up in my parent’s restaurants. They own a chain of restaurants in Tijuana and this past month it turned 47 years old.   Giuseppis is a chain of pizza restaurants. My father opened the first pizzeria in Baja California. He was the one who invented the Mexican pizza.

What’s different about a Mexican pizza?

The story is that my father opened a Giuseppis and it was very successful because there were no other pizza places. My father was the pizza guy. My grandmother made the sauce. And my mother was the cashier. It was a very small place. It only had three tables. It was mostly to go. They worked like that for many months and they were eating pepperoni pizza every day because they were so busy and tired. But one day my father opened a can of jalapenos and put some refried beans instead of tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese and chorizo and bacon. That pizza became really popular with his friends. The clients started asking for it and now it’s their best seller in the restaurant.

You’re opening a new restaurant soon in Little Italy in San Diego. Can you share some details?

At the end of this month. It’s going to be called Bracero. It’s a tribute to the Bracero workers that worked the fields. We thought there was a story to be told. Whenever we open a restaurant we like to tell stories. We wanted to give some history to it. We found the Bracero story very interesting. We met a couple ex-Braceros and they’re living the American Dream in Napa Valley. They’re winemakers. We went to Stanford University and they had a lot of letters and photographs and stories.  The restaurant will open on May 27th.

Will your restaurant have Braceros all around it?

Yes.

Does travel inspire any of your cooking?

Yes. I don’t travel to go to museums or the beaches, I travel to go eat and find ingredients and markets. I don’t go shopping, I go shopping for food.

What do you want our reader to know about Mexican cusine?

I want people to taste and learn about Mexico. Here in California or in the United States, when you think of Mexico you think of tacos, burritos, or nachos but Mexico has many regions and every region has different flavors. I want people to look into that. The region of Oaxaca is very different from the region of Veracruz. They can use the same ingredients but the flavors at the end are very different and unique. Everybody cooks differently. I want people to know that. And I want people to not buy store bought tortillas. They’re awful.  Go find a good tortilleria or make your own. It’s not that hard. It’s very easy and you’ll have fun doing it. Once you have a good tortilla, you’ll never go back to eating that sh*t!

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I’m excited about what Chef Javier Plascencia is doing for the food scene in San Diego and Baja California.  Chef Plascencia’s love of his culture and heritage is evident in everything he touches from the savory baja mediterranean cuisine menu-style, his plating and creative restaurant concepts.  For additional information on the grand opening visit Bracero’s Cocina website or Braceor’s facebook page.

Harrah’s Latin Food and Wine Festival featured world acclaimed cuisine and wines.  For a full list of wines and restaurants visit Harrah’s Latin Food and Wine Festival.

 

Buen Provecho!

Eva Smith Tech Life Magazine

Harrah’s Resort | Latin Food and Wine Festival #HarrahsSocal #LatinFoodWine

Southern California Harrah’s Resort is hosting their 2nd annual Latin Food and Wine Festival with over 10 restaurants and 34 wineries on May 2 from 2pm-6pm to celebrate the rich history of International wine and cuisine. The day will be filled with tapas and wine tasting and live entertainment that includes Spanish Guitar with Flamenco Dancers, Cumbia, Latin Pop, Mariachi and Latin Jazz!

California’s love of Latin wine dates back to the 18th century when missionaries planted the first vineyards.  Join Harrah’s for a journey through wines of the region to celebrate the history through wine tasting and Southern California inspired cuisine.

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Chef Javier Plascencia will also be preparing savory tapas-style cuisine during a live-demo. Chef Javier Plascencia was recently named among the Distinguished Bajacalifornians of 2013 by the State Government, and included in the list of “50 people that are transforming Mexico” by Quien Magazine, both for his work in promoting the people, product and culture of Baja California.

 

Participating Restaurants

Aquí es Texcoco

Cocina Vallarta Escondido

Cocina del Charro

Mi Guadalajara

Bracero Cocina – Chef Javier Plascencia

Tempo Urban Kitchen – Chef Jorge Cueva

La Querencia – Chef Miguel Angel Gurrero

Acapulco Mexican Restaurant Y Cantina

El Torito Cantina Autentica

Culinary Arts Institute from Tijuana – Chef Javier Gonzalez

Participating Wineries – Region

Tinto Figuero – Spain

Halter Ranch – USA

Emilio Lustau Sherry’s / Lustau Fine Selected Wines – Spain

Vina Herminia – Spain

La Rioja Alta – Spain

Torre de Oña – Spain

Jed Winery – Argentina

Lagar de Cevera – Spain

Bodegas Aster – Spain

Bodegas Mauro – Spain

Giró Ribot – Spain

Beso de Vino – Spain

Bodegas Peique – Spain

Sierra Norte Pasión de Bobal – Spain

Ferdinand – USA

Maldonado Vineyards – USA

La Mejorada – Spain

Capita Vidal – Spain

Orin Swift Cellars – France

Neyen – Chile

Bodega Gimenez Riili – Argentina

Hacienda La Lomita – Mexico

Totol Winery – Mexico

Cloudline Family Cellars – USA

William Hill Estate Winery – USA

Heitz Cellar – USA

Mirassou Winery – USA

Belasco De Baquedano Winery – Argentina

Poggio al Tesoro – Italy

E&J Gallo Winery – Spain

Baron Balche – Mexico

L A Cetto – Mexico

Bodega Iniesta – Spain

Bodega La Remediadora – Spain

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Ticket Details


VIP tickets start at $150
and allow you a full hour of private access to all wineries, a private celebrity chef demonstration and tasting, a commemorative gift, and a reserved lounge area.

GA tickets start at $75 and offer you unlimited tastings from local celebrity chefs and wineries and a commemorative gift.

Designated Driver tickets start at $30 and allow guests to taste all of the cuisine and enjoy the live entertainment.

Latin Food & Wine Festival Package
Enjoy special pricing when you stay for the evening. Choose from a two-ticket or four-ticket package:

Two tickets and your choice of room accommodations starting from $399/nt.

Four tickets and your choice of room accommodations starting from $499/nt.

 

Additional Information

For additional information visit Harrah’s Latin Food and Wine Festival.

Marshmallow Rice Krispies Fruity Treats

During the Spring it’s fun to spice up recipes by making them colorful.  One of my favorite treats is a spinoff of the original marshmallow treats.  The bright colors make them so bright and edible.   The recipe is very easy to make and takes about five minutes to prepare.  It is a great way to quickly make a treat for the special occasion or for the special last minute celebration.  Whip them up and viola! you have an instant party.   Just make sure you have another person in the room to ensure you don’t eat them all by yourself.   They really are that good.

 

Marshmallow Fruity Rice Krispies

 

Ingredients

3 teaspoons of butter

1 package (10 oz) of marshmallows

3 cups rice krispies

3 cups fruity pebbles

 

Preparation

1. Add butter to saucepan and melt over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.

2. Add rice krispies and stir.  Add fruity pebbles and stir until well coated.   My recipe uses 2 cups of fruity pebbles and 4 cups of rice krispies.  However, you can modify the recipe to suit your needs and tastebuds.

3.  Using a buttered spatula, spread mix over a 13x9x2 pan or waxed paper and spread evenly.

4. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until cool.  Cut into 1 1/2 squares. Best if served same day.  Prepares 20 squares.

 

Buen Provecho!

Eva-TFL

 

World Health Day 2015 | From Farm To Table, Keep Food Safe

The World Health Organization observed World Health Day to educate people globally about the importance of Food Safety with their, “From Farm To Table, Keep Food Safe” slogan.

What do the words, “From Farm To Table” mean to you? In my local neighborhood it means I can buy locally grown fresh organic produce free from microbes, viruses and chemicals while supporting economic growth of my community. It means I can be worry free about the way the food is handled, cleaned and stored.

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However, with globalization it also means that not all the food we purchase and eat is locally grown. It also means that if food handlers in developed and developing countries don’t take precautions with food safety we may come into contact with unsafe food. Everyone deserves safe food that is free of viruses and microbes.

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5 Things To Know About Food Safety

  1. More than 200 diseases are spread through food. Millions of people fall ill annually as a result of eating unsafe food. Diarrhoeal diseases alone kills an estimated 1.5 million children annually, and most of these illnesses are attributed to contaminated food or drinking water. Proper food preparation can prevent most foodborne diseases.
  2. Contaminated food can cause long term health problems, including cancer and neurological disorders.
  3. Foodborne disease affects the most vulnerable people, specifically the poor, children, pregnant women and the sick. Foodborne disease may be fatal.
  4. Food contamination affects society as a whole.
  5. Food safety is everyone’s responsibility. Women groups, educators, public health officials, government officials and everyone in between is responsible for ensuring our food is safe.

World Health 2015 Resources

Visit World Health Day 2015 through out the year to obtain a preliminary report on global food safety across the entire food chain supply, learn more about the challenges of unsafe food and opportunities to do our part to ensure we have safe food globally. Also review the documents Protecting Yourself from Food Poisoning and Foodborne Outbreak Tracking And Reporting for additional details on keeping food safe. You can also follow #WorldHealth2015 hashtag online to follow the conversation via social media.

Let’s do our part to support global food safety and our children’s future by educating ourselves and spreading these resources.

Eva-TFL

 

 

 

Things To Do On Valentines Day Weekend

Are you getting ready to plan your Valentines Day?  One of the things we love about Southern California is the restaurants.  We couldn’t suggest a better location for your special day with your loved one.   Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year which gives you several options from planning a romantic evening to a weekend getaway!

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Here are our picks for the Best Valentines Day Restaurants in Southern California

Top Picks

Sea Legs Wine Bar is the hippest place in OC.  Great ambiance and menu.  Try the Valentine’s dinner for two or visit for a couple’s brunch on Saturday or Sunday.  We absolutely love this place!

Ponte Winery is accepting walk-ins from 11am-8pm. Come early. There will be a wait.

Valle d Brume is a small, family owned French dining spot and bakery.  They have a couple of openings for dinner tonight.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House has a steak dinner for $48.95

PF Changs has a Hot & Spicy three-couse dinner for two for $45

Tresinos –  Truly the best Italian Dining experience in Inland Empire.  The restaurant is family owned.  The food is fresh and all ingredients are homemade.  The owners also make their own pasta. ($5-$20)

E.A.T Marketplace – An organically inspired menu will be prepared between 6-10pm on Friday and Saturday.

Budget Friendly Suggestions

California Pizza Kitchen has a Buy a Dinner for 2 for $32

Coco’s restaurant has a Steak and Lobster for $15.99

Crepes de Paris – Nestled within the Victoria Gardens Mall is  a quaint and esquisite restaurant.  Crepes de Paris serves delicious french crepes.   They also have sandwiches and salads for a perfect dinner, lunch or dinner on Valentine’s Day.  We adore the French music they play and the decor.  It’s so romantic! (Cost $8 – $15)

Eva-TFL

 

Red Chile Chicken Pozole Recipe | Pozole De Pollo Con Chile Rojo

Pozole is a traditional Mexican dish made with hominy, meat, chile sauce and garnish.  The soup has a historical background as well.  During the Aztec periods, maize was very sacred and only eaten as part of a community ritual.  The dish was also mentioned in historical Spaniards books.  The recipe has changes significantly, especially the meat used, but hominy remains the main ingredient of the dish.  

Today pozole is served in all restaurants in Mexico with pork as the staple meat.  In the US the soup is only served during the Christmas, New Years, Three Kings Day and weekends.   It is a time consuming recipe, but certainly worth the time.  Most traditional recipes make the recipe with pork or beef.  However, I prefer to make my recipe with chicken as a healthier alternative.  The soup is also served with cabbage, red radishes, oregano, onions and lime.

We recently celebrated several milestones in our family: An engagement, Three Masters completions, Attendance to a UC, Attendance to USC, Attendance to Graduate school and most of all the blessing of being surrounded by family to celebrate it all.   It was a great and memorable celebration to look back at the previous year and look forward to the opportunities the new year has to offer.

The next time you want to celebrate a major milestone in your life consider making Red Chicken Pozole.

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Red Chicken Pozole Recipe

Ingredients

Red Chile Puree Ingredients
Find Recipe Here

Pozole Ingredients
12 pieces of chicken legs & thighs
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons salt
105 oz can of Hominy

Garnish Ingredients
6 limes
2 bunches of cilantro
3 bunches of red radishes
1 chopped red onion
1/4 thinly sliced cabbage
2 tsp oregano

 

Chicken_Pozole

 

Preparation

1. Place Chicken in large pot. Add garlic cloves, onion, salt and 18 cups of water.
2. Bring water to a boil for about 30 minutes or until chicken is tender.  Keep chicken fat in the pot to add flavor.
3. Add red chile sauce to pot and bring to a boil.
4. Add hominy and bring to a boil.
5. Serve pozole in a bowl with tortillas and your preferred garnish.  Serve with love.

 

Buen Provecho!

Eva-TFL

 

 

 

 

Authentic Mexican Red Chile Sauce Recipe

Red Chile sauce is a time consuming recipe, but once you master the recipe you can use it  just about anything you want to add red chile sauce to. I use red chile sauce to make enchiladas, chile con carne, tamales, Pozole, menudo and chilaquiles.  After you learn to make an Authentic Mexican Red Chile Sauce you will never buy the red sauce in the can again. The best part about this recipe is the freshness, savory flavor and homemade touch.

Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 bag dried ancho chiles (10-12 chile pods)
1/2 bag guajillo chiles (10-12 chile pods
1 garlic clove
1 cup water

Preparation:

1. Rinse and remove seed & veins from chiles. Keep seeds & veins for extra spicy salsa.

Authentic Mexican Red Chile Sauce Recipe

2. Add chiles to hot water

Authentic Mexican Red Chile Sauce

3. Bring to boil for 20min until they change color. Let cool slightly.

4. Purée chiles in blender with water.

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5. Use colander to separate pulp from the skin. Depending on size of colander you may need to do this a couple times.

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Buen Provecho!

Eva-TFL

Sweet Pineapple Tamales | Tamales De Dulce

We look forward to cooking tamales every year in our home. It’s a family tradition to gather around the table with all the prepared ingredients and assemble tamales.  Everyone in our family participates in the tamale assembly, also known as a Tamalada.   Whether you are relative or neighbor just stopping by, you become a part of our family when we make tamales in our home.  It’s a way for us to check in with each other, talk about family memories during the year, act silly and make new memories. Our most popular family tamales are the Mexican Chicken-Pasilla Tamales, but our favorite dessert tamales are the sweet tamales made with crushed pineapples and sugar.  The sweet pineapple tamales also known as “Tamales de dulce” are also my husband’s favorite! You have to get your tamales as soon as they are done when we cook them.  Otherwise, they will be all gone. Sweet Pineapple Tamales | Tamales De Dulce   Sweet Pineapple Tamales Recipe  Ingredients:

  • 2 package corn husks
  • 5 lbs of prepared masa
  • 3 cans of crushed pineapples with pineapple juice
  • 2 cup of raisins
  • 2 cups white sugar

Method: Sweet Pineapple Tamales | Tamales De Dulce

  1. Remove debris from corn husks and soak in hot water for 1 hour.
  2. Mix 2 cans crushed pineapples, 1 1/2 can pineapple juice, 1 cup sugar, prepared masa by hand.  Make sure to taste the dough periodically as you mix the dough by hand.  You may need to add additional sugar to taste, as the sugar will lose some of the sweetness during steaming.
  3. To assemble tamales: Drain cornhusks, remove any red corn silk, and stack. Lay 1 cornhusk flat, smooth side up. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of masa mixture on the bottom half of the cornhusk and smooth with the back of a large soup spoon. Add 3-5 raisins in the middle.
  4. Locate the long side with a 2 inch space with no masa. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other side so the edges of the dough meet. Wrap the extra husk around the back. Then fold the broad end over the top and then the longer narrow end over the broad end.
  5. Create strips of husk by cutting or tearing 1/4 inch lengths off of some of the smaller or unusable husks. Use these to tie across the middle of the tamales to hold the flaps down.
  6. Set tamales upright in a steamer. You can buy large steamers made just for this purpose. You may have something else you can use to create the same effect. The key is to have a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of the pot and a colander or mesh of some sort to keep the tamales away from the water.
  7. Let Simmer for about 60-90 minutes.
Serve warm & with love.
Buen Provecho!
Eva-TFL

Nescafé With Coffee-mate 2-in-1 Together Is Better #NescaféCoffeemate #Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Nescafe. However, all opinions are my own.

As a busy mom, wife and working professional, the Fall is one of my busiest time of year.  I’ve been looking for different ways to enjoy my morning coffee with a busy schedule and was recently introduced to the new 2-in-1 Nescafe with Coffee-mate.    The coffees are very creamy and full of flavor and can be made in less than 5 minutes. To make a delicious hot cup of French Vanilla latte, you simply add 2 tablespoons of Nescafe Coffee-mate 2-in-1 into a coffee mug with hot water and viola, instantly create a delicious homemade hot coffee.  It’s also very tasty over ice as an afternoon refreshment or in the evening with dessert.

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I’ve been enjoying my daily hot coffee in the morning for about 2 weeks as I get ready in the morning while listening to music, on my way to work and in between meetings.  I absolutely love that it is so easy to make and comes in so many great flavors. Nescafe currently comes in original coffee flavor, hazelnut and my favorite, french vanilla.

I finally decided to make my husband and daughter a cup this week and they also love it.  I feel like a Barista in my own home.  Nescafe with Cofee-mate is better together!

 

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Giveaway

To celebrate the new 2-in-1 Nescafe with Coffee-mate will be giving away a two week supply to one of my lucky readers. Follow the giveaway to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dulce de Leche Cream Custard Recipe

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Coffee-mate.  However, all opinions are my own.

One of my favorite recipes to make during the Fall  is Dulce de Leche Cream Custard.  I serve it as a light dessert  after a meal, as an afternoon with tea or as a delicacy with warm milk in the evening.     It brings welcoming  aromas of a bakery into our home and reminds me of  my mothers baking.  It is also the perfect multi-purpose recipe that can be used to make pastries.   It’s one of my go to recipes because the possibilities with Dulce de Leche Cream Custard are endless.

Coffee-mate recently introduced new flavors that capture the natural flavors of Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Abuelita and are a wonderful way to make traditional recipes with ease.   In addition to using it to add delicious flavors to my coffee, I also use it to make my favorite Holiday recipes.

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I used Coffee-mate’s Dulce de Leche creamer to make Cream Custard and it is amazing!   I have developed several recipes, but this by far is one of my favorites.   It’s is my favorite ingredient for mult-purpose recipes. To make sure I have enough for the entire family I made 3 batches of Dulce de Leche Cream Custard and stored a batch in a container for future use during the week.

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Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche Coffee-mate
1 cup milk
2 egg whites
1 egg
1/4 cup cornstarch (maizena)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions *

1. In saucepan stir in Coffee-mate La Lechera Dulce de Leche Creamer, milk and egg whites. Bring to boil over medium heat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites and egg. Stir remaining sugar and cornstarch; then stir the mix into egg until smooth. When milk comes to boil, pour it into bowl while mixing. Return mixture to the saucepan and slowly boil, stir constantly to prevent so curdle or scorch on the bottom.

3. Remove from heat and pour into container(s). Refrigerate until chilled before using.

*To make the perfect custard you need to stir continuously.

Giveaway

To celebrate the special occassion, Cofee-mate has offerred to give one of my readers 2 coffee-mate full value vouchers, $25 VISA, Coffee-mate Coasters, Coffee sleeve and a beautiful custom-made mug from Crafty Chica!

The Giveaway prize is valued at $60.  You have the opportunity to win by participating in the giveaway below:

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