Friday, March 2, 2018

Los Colibris by Chef Elia Herrera: Cocina Mexicana

Los Colibris, which translates to “the hummingbirds” in Spanish, is Toronto’s first upscale Mexican restaurant that features exceptional hospitality, white linen service, and authentic world class Mexican cuisine by Executive Chef Elia Herrera. Ms. Herrera grew up in Cordoba, in central Mexico, in a prominent culinary family. Her grandmother, Luz Carmen Dominguez de Herrera, was a de facto culinary ambassador for the country, producing elaborate state dinners at the Vatican and in the Spanish court. Ms. Herrera's mother, Elia del Carmen Herrera, also became a chef, and now runs the family's national catering enterprise from their hometown in Veracruz state. Ms. Herrera followed her mother and grandmother's career path. She began cooking when she was 6 years old, yet a life in Mexico would have been too predetermined, too comfortable, she worried, so she moved to Toronto 10 years ago to work as a pastry chef creating the desserts at Mistura, Canoe and Scarpetta before signing on with Los Colibris. Scratch cooking is at the heart of each of the chef's dishes, from hand-pressed tortillas to slow-cooked duck carnitas and dozens of salsas, every ingredient is carefully chosen and, each day, transformed into memorable Mexican favourites with a twist. Chef Herrera takes great pride in bringing authentic and fresh Mexican food and culture in a refined setting to downtown Toronto. Mi Casa es tu Casa, meaning "my home is your home" is the philosophy that the Los Colibris team live and breathe by. 

chef Elia Herrera

The celebration table at Los Colibris

Illustration inside the menu

The warm and inviting interior of Los Colibris

La Malinche cocktail with Siempre Plata, Christina Palomino Sherry, Grand Marnier and lemon juice, shaken and sprayed with avocado leaf infused absinthe and garnished with lemon zest

Pink Tapatîa made with Tromba Blanco, guajillo-arbol infused aperol, lime, grapefruit, pink peppercorn-epazote infused agave, celery bitters, shaken, on the rocks

Tostada de Atun with mango, tamarind and jalapeños 

Tijuana Caesar with grilled romaine, cotija cheese, pomegranate and house made chorizo

Sopa de Tortilla with chicken, avocado, panel cheese and guajillo-arbol pepper

Camarones a la Diabla with spicy grilled shrimp in guajillo-arbol adobo, corn purée and avocado

Tacos de Rajas Poblanos with confit chicken, cream sauce, fresh corn, roasted poblano, panel cheese and handmade corn tortilla

Flat iron steak marinated in chile ash sauce, cheese chicharron, pico de gallo, refried chipotle bayo beans, chorizo verde and handmade tortillas 

Chiles en Nogada: pork piccadillo stuffed poblano pepper with raw walnut sauce and poblano rice

Churros Sandwich: Mexican doughnuts with house-made ice cream, chocolate sauce 
and chocolate crumble

Serves 4 as appetizer
Recipe courtesy of chef Elia Herrera

Chili dust:
1 tsp each: guajillo, ancho and arbol chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

3 cobs corn, husked
6 cups water
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Kosher salt to taste
1/4 oz dried epazote, preferably large pieces still on stem or 3 sprigs fresh 
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
1 lime, quartered

For the chili dust, in small bowl, mix guajillo, ancho, arbol and salt. For the esquites, cut the corn kernels from cob which should be about 1 1/2 cups. Place the cobs in large pot with 6 cups water. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil 20 minutes. Discard cobs. Strain broth. You should have 4 cups. Keep warm on low heat.

In medium, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add corn kernels. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add kernels to broth. Season to taste with salt. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Add epazote. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 7 minutes. To serve, divide corn among 4 small bowls. Top each portion with desired amount of broth, discarding epazote if using dried. Top each with 1 tbsp mayo, 2 tbsp cheese and 1 tsp chili dust, or to taste. Squeeze 1 lime wedge over each. Stir well before eating.

Enfridjolada (Black Beans Enchiladas)
Serves 4 
Recipe courtesy of chef Elia Herrera

8 tortillas
4 large eggs
1/4 cup Cotija cheese

Black bean purée:
1/2 cup dry black beans
1 1/2 tbsp. Spanish onion, chopped
1/2 garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

Soak the beans for purée over night. In a pot, sauté the onion and garlic with canola oil until translucent. Add the pre-soaked beans and water over medium heat until cooked. Blend mixture and place back on the heat to slightly reduce. Season with salt and pepper. In a non-stick pan, scramble the eggs, and fill the tortillas with the egg like a taco. Add the hot bean puree over the tortillas and sprinkle the Cotija cheese on top. Serve immediately.

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