How to Season a Molcajete

Last week we received our shipment of assorted Pig Molcajetes from Mexico and they have been flying off the shelf! Well, I actually haven’t seen any of the pigs fly, but they’ve been very popular thus far and I think we’re going to have a hard time keeping them stocked!

Before one can really put a Molcajete to good use, you have to invest a little time and love into seasoning it so as to really be able to coax the maximum amount of flavor from your ingredients. Eric has been having a blast making salsas and guacamole in our’s, and I’m looking forward to him trying out some other new recipes now that we’ve really got it in seasoned, working order. Since I seem to be going on and on about all the wonderful ways you can use a Molcajete, I figured I better share some tips on how to season one. Here is what we did to get our’s up and running:

Step One: Rinse and scrub the Molcajete in hot water, but do not use soap.

First, wash the molcajete in warm water.
 Step Two: Allow the Molcajete to air dry completely.
Allow the molcajete to air dry completely.
 Step Three: Grind a small handful of rice until powdery and broken. Remove the rice, rinse the Molcajete and repeat.

Grind a handful of rice until broken and powdery.
 Step Four: Grind a handful of course salt until it is fine salt. If the Molcajete still does not appear to be smooth enough, remove the salt, rinse and repeat once more.
Grind a handful of course salt until it’s fine.
 Step Five: Grind 4 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper to create a paste. Allow the paste to sit for 6-8 hours. Wash the Molcajete in warm water and allow to air dry. 
Make a paste of garlic, salt and pepper.
 Now your Molcajete should be ready to rock and roll! If it seems like your’s still needs a little smoothing out, feel free to repeat the steps above until it has the feel and appearance you are looking for. The more you use your Molcajete, the better it will get! And remember, always hand wash your Molcajete in warm water, but never use soap or put it in the dishwasher.
Now your molcajete should be ready to go!
 Here are a few common ways to put your Molcajete to good use:

  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Mole
  • Grind spices or herbs
  • Molcajete Mexicana
  • Serve sauces or dips

Have a question or concern about seasoning your Molcajete? Share your thoughts in our comments and we’ll do our best to help! And don’t forget to check out the different Pig Molcajetes we have available online so you can try one out for yourself!


Enrique’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Habanero Salsa

I have had quite a few requests for this delectable salsa recipe, so I finally cornered Eric and got it out of him. He usually tells me, “Don’t worry about what I’m doing,” when I ask him for a recipe, but this time he caved and I’m glad I can share it!

So, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, here is Eric’s recipe for his world famous Fire Roasted Tomato and Habanero Salsa…

Eric’s homemade salsa is a fresh, smoky salsa that goes great with crunchy corn tortilla chips or served with homemade carne asada tacos.

Fire Roasted Tomato & Habanero Salsa

Makes about 2 1/2 cups of salsa

5-6 plum tomatoes (halved lengthwise), 1 yellow onion (sliced thick), 1 large jalapeño (halved), 1 habanero, 2-4 garlic cloves, a handful of fresh chopped cilantro, fresh squeezed lime juice, salt & pepper

  1. Arrange the cut tomatoes, onion, jalapeño & habanero on a preheated grill over direct heat. Roast the veggies for about 30 minutes or until they are blistered with a nice char. 
  2. In a preseasoned  molcajete or food processor, add the garlic, roasted jalapeño and habanero and crush to form a paste. For a less-spicy version, remove the seeds from the peppers and only use half of each. Adjust for preferred spiciness.
  3. Add the roasted tomatoes and onions to the garlic paste mixture and continue to crush, forming a thick, chunky salsa. Process as much or as little as you prefer, depending on desired “chunkiness.”
  4. Add the chopped cilantro and season the salsa with freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 a lime should do). Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Chill in an airtight container for up to one week (if it lasts that long!).

I hope you enjoy this one! Eric has a pot of homemade Posole simmering on the stove as I write this, and hopefully I’ll get to share that one too! Cheers!

    Molcajete Magic: Grinding your way to flavor town

    On a recent trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, Eric and I indulged in some pretty incredible regional culinary treats that this area has to offer. Known as the Tequila Capital of the World, the surrounding areas of Guadalajara have some amazing drink and food specialties that totally encompass Mexico’s commitment to coaxing maximum flavor from few ingredients. Because I was four months pregnant at the time of our trip, my main focus was more on the food end, but Eric definitely enjoyed a few tequila laden treats while we were there.

    Our list of recommended restaurants and foods to try was short and sweet, but topping the list was a place called Santo Coyote. This place was incredible! It was roughly the size of one entire street block, unassuming from the outside as an oversized warehouse or storage building, but once you walked through those old wooden doors, you entered an endless courtyard oasis with larger than life stone and wood carvings, a giant waterfall and room after bar after room for dining. Their specialty? Molcajete Mexicana, a savory, slow-cooked concoction of various meats and vegetables in a cheesy, creamy sauce, prepared in a stone Molcajete.  

    A slow-cooked savory dish packed with meat and veggies simmered in a rich, cheesy sauce.
     The traditional Molcajete is made of porous basalt, which makes it a superb grinding medium for crushing spices and preparing various salsas and dips, such as guacamole. In the case of the amazing dish we devoured at Santo Coyote, the Molcajete can also be used to serve prepared food dishes because of its ability to withstand and hold heat for long periods of time. We enjoyed two dishes prepared in the Molcajete while at Santo Coyote–a table side prepared salsa made of crushed fire roasted tomatoes, peppers, onions and habaneros, and the Molcajete Mexicana chalked full of grilled steak, pork ribs, house-made chorizo, cactus, poblano chilis and onions in a creamy, bubbly cheese sauce.  
    This fire roasted tomato salsa was built right in the Molcajete tableside and was packed full of flavor.
     The Molcajete is the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle and can be found in nearly every Mexican kitchen, should you visit. It is considered a favorite cooking tool by many, and takes on many shapes and sizes, as we soon found out. They are traditionally carved out of a single block of vesicular basalt, round in shape with three supporting legs, and are often decorated with the head of an animal. While Eric and I were wandering around an open market in the nearby town of Tonala, we came across the most popular form of Molcajete–the pig! We instantly fell in love with their charm and have them available for sale here
    This Molcajete takes on the traditional shape of a pig and is used to grind and mix spices, herbs and various dips and salsas.
     After we returned home, Eric immediately began recreating some of the dishes we enjoyed in Guadalajara with the help of our new Molcajete. He created his own version of the fire roasted tomato and habanero salsa and one of my all-time favorite treats, fresh guacamole.  
    Fire Roasted tomatoes, onions & peppers for Eric’s fresh salsa.

    Eric’s homemade Fire Roasted Salsas and Fresh Guacamole.

    The possibilities are endless with this awesome new kitchen tool, and I can’t wait to see what Eric comes up with next. With the arrival of better Spring and Summer weather, I’m sure we will have some fun new recipes to share and some additional creative uses for our new Molcajete. Watch our Facebook page for Eric’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Habanero Salsa recipe and his Fresh Guacamole recipe coming later this week!

    Chilly Days Filled with Coffee and Cake

    Nothing says fall or winter like a day spent cozied-up inside, Christmas tunes blaring, with something sweet baking in the oven. My favorite thing to do on a nice, cold day is to test out new recipes I have been collecting for the upcoming holidays, spending the entire day just puttering around the kitchen. I take my time making a fresh French Press of my favorite coffee and then I begin collecting my ingredients…

    This year, I came across a recipe for a Slavic Layered Strudel Cake called Prekmurska Gibanica in the November issue of Saveur. It sounded delightful with multiple layers of delicate pastry stuffed with poppy seed, walnut, cheese and apple fillings. Apparently the layered cake is a very traditional, famous dish in Slovenia, and was originally created to showcase the local bounties of its agriculture. So, after hours of preparation and assembling this very time-intensive cake, I popped it in the oven and waited for the magic to happen.

    Slavic Layered Strudel Cake

    While the cake turned out absolutely beautifully, it did not live up to my hopeful expectations. When I make something that is such a labor of love, I expect the deliciousness to be exponential in terms of time I have put into it. Unfortunately, this one fell a little short. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate it! It just wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping for…

    Coffee and cake really are the best way to stay warm on a cold, wintery day.

    Lucky for me though, I thoroughly enjoyed my morning puttering around the kitchen, sipping a lovely cup of coffee and getting in the holiday spirit! I was also able to spend a little time working on a few Christmas presents, like the Recycled Starbucks Coffee Zippered Pouches pictured here. Each pouch is made from a repurposed one pound Starbucks coffee bag and they make great gifts or stocking stuffers! Visit MISC Root on Etsy to purchase one for yourself or a friend.

    These Repurposed Starbucks Zipper Pouches make great stocking stuffers!

    Happy National Deviled Egg Day!

    I love that there is a special day dedicated to celebrating Deviled Eggs. Who would have guessed this deliciously creamy, eggy snack would have earned its own place on a celebratory calendar in the company of such delectable treats as donuts or pies?!

    Unbeknownst by many, deviled eggs actually originated in Rome, Italy, and were prepared in the common style we know today by hard-boiling the eggs and seasoning them with spicy sauces. They were often called “stuffed eggs” or “dressed eggs” throughout history, and managed to nestle their way into classic Southern cooking sometime in the mid-19th century. There are many variations of this devilish recipe, but all tend to follow the basic technique created centuries ago.

    My love for deviled eggs goes way back to when I was a little girl. My Nanny would make these delicious little treats for every family get-together, and I would always sneak one or two off the tray before they even hit the table. Her old school, basic Southern recipe encompassed everything you would expect from a deviled egg–slightly tangy, extremely creamy and dusted with a smokey red paprika.

    Reminiscing on our last trip to San Francisco, Eric and I shared a fantastic meal at the Wayfare Tavern and one of our favorite dishes there was the Honey Mustard Deviled Eggs with Ham and Candied Pumpkin garnished with fried brussels sprouts. They were absolutely AMAZING! The depth of flavor in these creamy little morsels of eggy goodness was unbeatable, and in our book, a prize winning champion deviled egg!


    In honor of National Deviled Egg Day, Eric has again outdone himself and created a sampling of deviled eggs for us to indulge in. He made a Jalapeño and Bacon Deviled Egg that tastes exactly as it sounds–spicy, salty bacony-goodness all wrapped up in egg form. Everything is better with bacon in my book. Especially when it’s the homemade smoked bacon Eric made from the pig we raised and butchered at the beginning of the year!

    Eric also made a Classic Deviled Egg with Capers and Kalamata Olives that has the perfect hint of Horseradish. The blend of salty with the slightly sweet, creamy egg mixture is devine! And the little kick from the horseradish lights up your mouth like the Fourth of July! I can’t seem to stop eating them!

    Because deviled eggs deserve to be showcased in only the finest manner possible, Eric and I invested in these beautiful authentic Mexican Talavera Deviled Egg Trays the last time we visited Mexico. We now import them, along with an entire line of Talavera Pottery, and have them for sale in our shop on Amazon. All of the pieces are hand-painted in Puebla, Mexico, and embody all the classic charm of Mexican Talavera. They add such an elegant, authentic Mexican charm to any kitchen, we just had to share! Visit Wanderlust Wares to see the entire collection of Talavera pottery we have available.

    International House of Deliciousness

     My favorite thing about a weekend at home is Eric’s cooking. Whether it’s dinner for two or a house full of guests, Eric masters the kitchen domain and I obsess over the presentation, pomp and circumstance. Each of us fusses over our respective area of expertise until every detail is perfect. When I know my responsibilities are fulfilled, I pour myself a glass of wine and take my place at the bar to watch the magic happen.

    Whenever I challenge Eric to prepare a particular meal, he has a meticulous way of researching, learning, and perfecting the style of cooking it involves within a matter of days. No type of food is off limits, but Asian food is by far his favorite to master. Eric first began his love affair with Asian cuisine in his early 20’s when he began visiting close friends in Thailand multiple times a year. He was awed and inspired by the delicious and exciting new flavors of Thai cuisine, whether it was “pig-on-a-stick” or a giant plate of freshly fried Pad Kee Mao, his taste buds were tantalized and hooked for life.

    After a couple trips to Thailand, Eric realized that his chances of indulging in the same caliber of authentic Thai cuisine state-side was slim to none, thus, his quest to recreate the amazing dishes he so much enjoyed in Southeast Asia began. He would spend hours and hours when visiting our friends in Bangkok simply observing the house cooks as they concocted slowly simmered curries and soups, stir fried noodle dishes or whatever happened to be on the menu for that day. Very few words were exchanged as this English-speaking white guy from America sat quietly and observed the group of older Thai-speaking women cook up some amazing culinary treats. They would patiently demonstrate their basic techniques to Eric, silently sharing with him the power of layering flavors, and he just soaked it up.

    Eric’s quest to learn the art of cooking authentic Thai food slowly began to morph into a much larger beast. As his trips to Thailand evolved into trips to Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, China and beyond, his obsession with recreating the wonderful dishes of these countries at home in Washington grew stronger.

    This weekend I put in a request for authentic Chinese food. Of course I know better than to spring it on him last minute, so I gave him a few days notice so he could mentally prepare. After a few visits to the Asian market in Seattle for inspiration, and an evening or two of reviewing some of his favorite recipes, a feast was born.

    Dish after delectable dish came rolling off the wok. We had Kung Pao Chicken, a surprisingly light yet fiery stir-fried chicken dish with dried red chiles and crunchy peanuts.

    Next came stir-fried Ho Fan with beef and wide rice noodles speckled with scallions and fresh mung bean sprouts.

    And of course, BBQ Pork Fried Rice and Vegetable Chow Mein–both fantastically light, fresh dishes that rounded out the complete meal.

    After stuffing ourselves beyond silly, we made a call or two to see who wanted “Chinese take-out” for dinner and headed out to make a few special deliveries. Sorry, folks, chopsticks not included!

    A note about the table setting…

    The collection of Jade Dragon dishes we used is a set Eric came across at a garage sale years ago. The dishes were hand-painted in Hong Kong, but we really don’t know much about them beyond that. What I DO know is they add such a great decorative flare to all of Eric’s Asian-inspired meals, so I incorporate them into my table settings as much as possible.

    The brightly-colored cotton place setting accents are part of a collection of hand-woven material I acquired from a handicraft market in Thailand. These all-purpose pieces of material come in assorted vibrant colors and can be used for just about anything–table runners, table cloths or even as a wrap or scarf. I especially enjoy using them in my table settings because they add such a unique dynamic to every meal presentation. For more information or to purchase one for your own table setting, visit MISC Root on Etsy.

    Endless Days of Summer: Poolside in Palm Desert

    Well, the last six months have been a blur of BBQ, food trucks, catering gigs and events, working around the clock, and on and on… and while I haven’t had much time to dedicate to my food porn rants, I have still managed to squeeze in a few great meals, happy hours that kick ass and a relaxing week in Palm Desert.

    I won’t go into too many details about the six month blur, but that week in Palm Desert was pretty fantastic and packed to the gills with sunshine, palm trees and poolside happy hour, which, I’m not going to lie, was definitely not limited to only one hour a day. While we would have much preferred to visit The Desert a few months ago, work and life didn’t permit an earlier trip, so we booked our flights knowing that it was going to be hotter than hell and had every intention of filling our time with refreshing libations and great food instead.

    Every visit to The Desert starts with a walk-about around the condo property to scope out which citrus trees are offering the best, and most ripe fruit–whether it be grapefruit, lemons or limes–if it’s juicy, we’ll build a cocktail around it. This time around, we had grapefruit, and they were, by far, the sweetest, most flavorful grapefruit I have ever tasted. Maybe it’s the vodka talking, but this fruit is what inspired us to create a “Top Three Cocktails of The Desert” this trip. Without further ado…

    Top Three Cocktails of The Desert 2015:
    1. A Fresh Squeezed Greyhound by the pool–Nothing beats sweet, fresh squeezed grapefruit carefully mixed with your favorite vodka and ice in a frosty mug. Nothing. And the fact that it was poolside in 112 degree weather with palm trees swaying in the breeze didn’t hurt.

    2. The Classic Mai Tai at Tonga Hut (Palm Springs)–The Mai Tai’s at the Tonga Hut in Palm Springs are the epitome of classic cocktails in a retro Tiki Bar atmosphere. Bartender John shakes a mean drink and as the Don Ho croons in the background, you can’t help but slip back in time with each sip of the perfectly balanced rum libation.

    3. The Raspberry Mojito at Tommy Bahamas (Palm Desert)–Fresh raspberries and mint muddled to perfection with all your typical Mojito, rummy goodness was a much needed refreshment during those three digit days. The only thing missing was sand in our toes and Jimmy Buffet singing in the background.


    With happy hour still fresh on my mind, I sit here writing this post back home on the deck, sunshine on my face, and a fresh Greyhound in my hand. The last of the grapefruit we carefully transported home in our luggage has now been exhausted and I do believe it is time to plan another trip…