April 22, 2009
In the kitchen with Bernadette Gutierrez


Hola, and hope you had a chance to read my story today about "real" Mexican food in the Sacramento area. Hope you also get a chance to try out the recipes we ran with the story, and check my personal picks for the most authentic Mexican restaurants in Sacramento.

Bernadette Gutierrez was one of the sources for my story, and she also joined me for lunch at Lalo's Restaurant on 24th St. We scarfed on quesadillas with flor de calabaza (squash blossom), tamales and I also went for an order of rich and marbled tacos de cabeza (head meat). Bernadette is a celebrated Mexican cook who lives in Land Park, studied with Mexican cuisine authority Diana Kennedy and has also taught local classes in making tamales and mole. The picture above shows Bernadette preparing a Oaxacan meal in her home, and I'm getting hungry just looking at it.

Here's a recipe from Bernadette for the sauteed dish known as guiso, along with her thoughts on cooking:

"I found my love of cooking through my mother, who used fresh herbs and vegetables from her garden. My palate became rich at such a young age because of her. I recently asked my mother how she started to make guisos, which she learned from her mother. Growing up in a family of eight, my mother was often pressed for time. But she was stil quite a cook, creating quick delicious meals for us to enjoy. Opening the refrigerator or using what was growing in her vast garden often made up her meals.

"A guiso is a sautée of various foods, such as a combination of meat, sausages, herbs, chiles, onions, tomatoes or any thing you have on hand to sautee quickly. You can add them to beans or potatoes. You can serve in burritos or as a delicious side dish. Guisios can be great, easy meals on weeknights or weekends where you don't want to slave away in the kitchen all day. I've passed this tradition down to my children for their families and it is certain to continue!"


1 cup of chopped onions
3 medium size tomatoes chopped
3 finely chopped chile serranos - or to taste
1 cup of shredded queso oaxacca or jack cheese
option: prior to serving add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

Start out by cooking your chorizo on a low flame. Meanwhile, chop your onions and tomatoes and chile. Add to cooking chorizo. If the chorizo is giving off too much fat, drain excess. After your ingredients are soft add 4 cups of cooked beans and mix. Add shredded cheese.

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