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How to Stock Your Pantry for Mexican Cooking

You can enjoy the flavors of a Mexican cantina in your kitchen anytime if you're stocked up with the goods.

To use dried chiles, rehydrate them by soaking them in hot water. (You might opt to toast the chiles first in a hot dry skillet.) Then remove the stems and seeds and puree with water.

Here's some great tasting Mexican dishes.Ortega Chicken Tacos,Beef Tamale Squares and Ortega Chile Verde.

1. Buy fresh and dried chiles of all sorts - or, if possible, grow them. Fresh chiles to try include jalapeno and pasilla. Dried chiles include ancho, chipotle, guajillo, negro and mulato. They set off every Mexican dish. Canned chiles will work if you can't locate dried.

2. Combine Mexican herbs with your collection: add chili powder, cayenne pepper and paprika, as well as oregano, cumin, and fresh cilantro and epazote (if you can find it).

3. Refrigerate ready-made salsa and spicy sauces. They're great for dipping chips and accompanying fish and chicken tacos and other dishes.

4. Always have garlic and onions handy. You'll use them all the time.

5. Keep flour and corn tortillas in your cupboard or refrigerator. You'll need them for burritos, tacos, enchiladas and the like.

6. Buy white rice in bulk. That way you can create Spanish rice and mucho rice to accompany everything.

7. Use canned refried beans and store them along with canned black and pinto beans.

8. Keep lemons and limes in reach - especially limes. They add amazing flavor to many dishes.

9. Buy Monterey Jack, queso fresco and queso cotijo cheeses to include in enchiladas and burritos.

10. Use Tabasco or other hot sauces for added heat.