Tag Archives: Cinco de Mayo

The Resta the Fiesta

Cinco de Mayo is coming at us like a Hump Day freight train. This year, we’ve got masks, we’ve got shots for the most part. We’re ready! Let’s review. We’re all set with triple spicy margs, and salsa verde, and today we’re adding one new non-recipe app to get the party started.

But first, we’re visiting to the archives for some basics:

For the apps, there must be guac. Lots of guac. I know full well you do not need a recipe for it, but in case you want to go a little off the reservation, there’s this crazy one with apples, pecans and tequila. For a more mainstream option try this Mango jicama guacamole or just add some chopped jicama to your guac for a refreshing crunch. Score points for doing (slightly) more than using your can opener with some easy and delish balsamic black beans. They can be an app or go on/into tacos, burritos enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas, etc.

For the sides? Bust out the Hero Slaw. Full stop. It’s right for any party but especially for a fiesta because it’s fresh, crunchy, spicy, make-aheadable and feeds a crowd. It’s got it all, and neighborhood lore to boot. So, do that. For a more tropical totally refreshing salad Hot Cha Cha Pineapple Avocado Salad is a strong move. There’s got to be a corn course somewhere in there, and for some reason I have no go-to corn salsa recipe. Not to worry! This Mexican street corn inspired corn salad will do quite nicely.

As for the main event, let’s give ourselves the gift of simplicity. That could be: Baked tacos; quesadillas spiced up with Chile crisp, or not; a batch of Chicken taco chili all made easy in the crockpot; summer simmer chicken or some baked salsa verde chicken made with your salsa verde reserves.

Dessert, if you choose to eat it, has got to be Nina’s Margarita Pie. It just does. That said, nobody will complain if you bust out cholliesauce, call it dulce de leche and pour it on anything.

And now, for the non recipe pictured above. These Spicy Shrimp Bites, passed down through a friend chain, are deLISH and so basic. I hope they kick off many fun fiestas to come!

Spicy Shrimp Bites

Ingredients:

Tostitos scoops corn chips
Guacamole of choice (no shame in store-bought for this)
Raw shrimp (nekkid-no shells or tails)
Touch of oil for cooking
Taco seasoning

Method:

Cook up the shrimp in a skillet with a bit of oil until just done (a few minutes each side). As they are cooking, sprinkle them with taco seasoning on each side, and give them all a little stir together when they’re done.

Fill each chip with a bit of guac and top with a shrimp. Ta-da and Olé!

Bringing it:

If your trip is relatively tame, bring these pre-assembled, covered on a rimmed dish. Otherwise, these are easy and quick to put together on site. Just make sure you are kind to your Tostitos so there are enough intact to build your bites.

Triple Spicy Margaritas

No Acepte Imitaciones

We all have those friends who don’t F around, who cut to the chase and know just what you need, when you need it. I am blessed to have a fleet of them. A battalion? Whichever is bigger, and armed with more badassery and love. Most of the time they simply make life fun. When you face challenges, they make life So. Much. Better.

Exhibit A, is German Jules, gold-hearted truth-teller and purveyor of the giant triple spicy margarita. I did promise a review of Bring It Fiesta basics, but, because Monday is the new Friday, we’re jumping ahead to the crown jewel of our Cinco de Mayo prep. It’s the right thing to do, because if you’re going to bring your Fiesta A game, you might need to practice.

This recipe (as seen in the proper volume below) comes straight from the source (above), with guidance from the bottle of Ancho Reyes, a little treat that apparently has been around since 1927. Close to 100 years later I am on it! And because I am a rule follower, I will from here forward obey the label: “No Acepte Imitaciones.”

The spice come from ancho chiles in the liqueur, ginger in the ginger beer and, if you dare, jalapeños in the infused vodka. You can dial down the heat by using regular tequila, and the strength by using more ginger beer. You know you, so adjust accordingly. And…Olé!

Triple Spicy Margaritas

Ingredients:

  • 1 part jalapeño-infused tequila* (or regular)
  • 1 part Ancho Reyes liqueur (non-negotiable)
  • 1 part, or less, fresh (or as good as you’ve got) lime juice
  • Splash, to taste ** agave or maple syrup (Yankees, do the right thing!)
  • Ginger beer (the good, spicy stuff)

Method:

Combine everything but the ginger beer, and shake with ice. Pour over ice and top with ginger beer. Dial the ginger beer up or down to get the desired effect. Pro Tip: Pour a ginormous one in a huge vessel over tons of ice. Take your time—say an afternoon—pouring more ginger beer over the top to refresh and slow your roll.

*Make your own jalapeño infused tequila by slicing up some jalapenos into a mason jar, filling with tequila and letting it sit for a few days. Strain and enjoy. Here’s an actual recipe for it.

** Technically, the recipe on the bottle calls for 1/2 part sweetener, but Jules goes with a splash Do what you will for you or your crowd.

Go big or go bigger

Return to Fiesta Salsa Verde

The thing about getting through this pandemic with any sort of grace, is having hope. For me, that hope has now come down to Cinco de Mayo and the prospect of a great excuse to drink margs and eat an irresponsible amount of avocados. Maybe I misplaced the irresponsible in this sentence, but regardless, this is an occasion worthy of preparation.  Let’s venture back to last Cinco de Mayo, which was on a Saturday and coincided with what was supposed to be Derby Day. Instead, it became a a sad early milepost to all the celebrations we would lose.

But this Cinco de Mayo will be different. It marks us clawing back at a social life.

Granted, it’s on a Wednesday which is kind of fitting, because long ago my inner circle determined Wednesday is the new Friday.

So let’s spend the rest of our month planning for it shall we?

First up, salsa verde. This is a super easy recipe that involves roasting tomatillos, onions and jalapenos then pulverizing them with a mass of cilantro (Nothing to see here, Sister B). The original recipe calls for olive oil, which tastes great but gives it a weird texture if you refrigerate it. I say bag the oil, but the recipe Gods say you’ve got the option.

I never ventured into tomatillos before, because the husks seem intimidating. They seem to say, “These are for other, more skilled people.” But it turns out, tomatillos are for this person! They’re tangy and kind of citrusy, so they’re even good raw, but amazeballs when roasted and salsified.

I came across this recipe after making an awesome and awesomely easy crock pot recipe of salsa verde chicken, that basically involved chicken and a jar of salsa verde. My friend loved it and wanted to make it for his mom who is on a low sodium diet, so we looked at the label on the jar and…no bueno!

Making salsa verde was the pro move here, and luckily it is totally easy. Easy seems like a great place to start for our Cinco de Mayo prep, so get yourself some tomatillos and let’s get this party started!

Fiesta Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

12 oz. tomatillos, husked, washed, and halved
1 small white onion, quartered
2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced in half
2 tbsp.vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 c. cilantro leaves and tender stems (chopped up if your blender is not top notch)
1-3 tbsp. lime juice (depending on taste)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil (totally optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Toss tomatillos, white onion, and jalapeños with vegetable oil on a sheet tray, and season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Roast until softened and charred in spots, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Transfer roasted vegetables, cilantro, and lime juice to a blender and blend while streaming in olive oil, until mostly smooth. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Serve with tortilla chips.

Serve with chips alongside quick easy cheap salsa or…. bake up a batch of baked salsa verde chicken (thinking it would work with tofu as well) or… press the big fat easy button and use it to smother chicken in a crockpot.

Next up…a review of our Bring It Fiesta basics. And yes, we’re starting with Hero Slaw!

Double Down Derby Day Guacamole

Some days we have difficult choices. Saturday will be one such day. Do you wear a fine hat and celebrate the first Saturday in May according to Kentucky tradition, or do you scarf down some tacos and join the Cinco de Mayo party?

Or, do you do the sensible thing and celebrate both? Well duh! I do not normally do this, but I am posting two untried recipes. Whyyyyyy? Because it’s important! Because it’s Kentucky Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo AND its almost summer. That means it’s high time to get your guac on.

I am a wing it kind of guac maker. As a Californian that is my birthright. That said, you can always improve. These two new takes on guac are both from Mexican food jefe Roberto Santibañez by way of Food52.  The first is unique in approach but features totally classic ingredients. It hits all the must haves and nothing more: lime, cilantro, jalapeño, onion are all pulverized FIRST then added to avocados. As Santibañez says, “There is a very important textural thing to guacamole — we never really mush up the avocado.” I knew I liked this guy. I really felt the love though when I read about his second creation, which is totally wacky. It involves a splash of tequila (he had me there), apples (hello New England) and pecans (a nod to the America south and more weirdness). My awesome neighbor just came back from Georgia bearing two bags of pecans that she harvested and shelled herself. Fate. Kismet. Weird guacamole.

Anyway, here are the recipes. I will be making and testing them both on Saturday, celebrating both occasions of course.  If you do the same please tell me what you think and we can discuss. Whatever you choose to celebrate, have a fantabulous weekend!

P.S. Post time is 6:12. For the worst odds and the best name I’m taking Patrona Margarita, with 50-1.

Numero Uno:

Roberto Santibañez Classic Guacamole

Adapted slightly from Truly Mexican (Wiley, 2011)

Makes: about 1 3/4 cups

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh serrano or jalapeno chile, including seeds, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/4 teaspoon fine salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 large or 2 small ripe Mexican Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • A squeeze of lime, if desired
  1. Mash the onion, chile, salt (the coarseness of kosher salt helps you make the paste), and half of the cilantro to a paste in a molcajete or other mortar. You can also mince and mash the ingredients together on a cutting board with a large knife or a fork, and then transfer the paste to a bowl.
  2. Score the flesh in the avocado halves in a crosshatch pattern (not through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with a spoon into the mortar or bowl. Toss well (it should be like salad properly dressed in vinaigrette), then add the rest of the cilantro and mash very coarsely with a pestle or a fork. Season to taste with lime juice (if you’d like) and additional chile and salt.
  3. Guac Uno, as made beautiful on Food52

Numero Dos:

Roberto Santibañez’ Guacamole with Tequila & Apples

Author Notes: Roberto says:” The apple needs to be sweet and crunchy (not Granny Smith-tart) and diced not too fine, to contrast just vocally enough with the guac’s salty heat and richness. The pecans should be tossed in butter after toasting, not before, so you get fresh, unbrowned butter flavor, too. Adapted slightly from Truly Mexican (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).

Makes: 2 cups
For the apples & pecans

  • 1 large crisp, sweet apple, such as Gala or Macintosh, peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon silver (blanco) tequila
  • 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves, sliced crosswise or coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt, or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

For the guacamole

  • 1 fresh serrano or jalapeño chile, stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (or to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 large or 2 small ripe Mexican Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  1. Toss the apple with the tequila and lime juice in a bowl and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Heat the oven or toaster oven to 350° F. Spread the pecans on a small baking pan and bake until golden and fragrant, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the butter to the pan and toss to melt the butter and coat the pecans. Sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat.
  3. Heat a comal, griddle, or heavy skillet over medium-low heat and roast the chile, turning it over with tongs once or twice, until tender, blistered all over, and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the chile (you might have to use a paring knife).
  4. Mash the chile, onion, salt (the coarseness of the kosher salt will help you make the paste), and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro to a paste in a molcajete or other mortar. You can also mince and mash the ingredients together on a cutting board with a large knife, and then transfer the paste to a bowl.
  5. Score the flesh in the avocado halves in a crosshatch pattern (not through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with the spoon into the mortar or bowl. Toss well, mashing the avocado coarsely with a pestle or fork, taking care to keep the avocado chunky.
  6. Gently stir in the apple mixture and most of the pecans just until it holds together. Garnish with the remaining pecans and cilantro. Serve right away with tortilla chips.

 

 

Cinco de Derby

With this in your house, how can your weekend go wrong?

 

 

 

 

What we have here, my friends, is a dream Double Header. Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby, on successive non-school nights. If there was ever a time to have a cool, refreshing  drink in your hand (and a snazzy hat on your head) this is it.

In honor of creative cocktails and mocktails, below are two infused simple syrups that will give your drinks a fresh twist appropriate for the upcoming occasions. And what the hell—keep scrolling for a few cocktail concoctions as well, though they are only a starting point. Don’t be afraid of using the jalapeno syrup in your mint julep (or even subbing cilantro for the mint) for some south of the border cha-cha.

Have fun and if you’re placing bets, good luck!

Jalapeño Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and halved lengthwise (or not seeded if you are brave)

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine 1 cup water, sugar, and jalapeños. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer to three to four minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let steep 20 minutes.

Strain syrup, discard jalapeños (or chop up the now mild pepper and use as desired), and cool syrup. (Simple syrup can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to 6 months. It keeps even better if you add a capful of vodka.)

Cilantro Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large handful cilantro leaves

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan, and bring it to a slow boil while stirring continuously until all the sugar has dissolved. Just as the mixture begins to boil, add 1 cup of fresh cilantro. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and let cool (this syrup will keep in your fridge for about a month. More if you add a capful of vodka).

Now how do we use them? Below are two ideas, but this is no time to follow directions. Use these in whatever cocktail or mocktail could use some salsa sass.

Each makes two drinks:

Cilantro coolers: wayyyy better than a kale smoothie on a fine spring night

Cucumber Cilantro Cooler

Cool. Hot. Fresh. This one has it all. slightly adapted from organic authority

To a cocktail shaker add:

  • 1 cup chopped cucumber (seeds removed) and a large handful of cilantro leaves (cilantro haters use mint instead, and maybe extra vodka to get over the cilantro glut)

Muddle well with a muddler or a heftier pestle. Then add:

  • 4 ounces vodka
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 1/2 ounce jalapeno simple syrup
  • ICE! Don’t be shy here.

Shake well for twenty seconds and then strain* into a lowball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a wheel of cucumber and a sprig of cilantro.

*brave multi taskers, fans of zero waste, and those desperate for a meal idea because they spent so much time prepping cocktails will love this: fully drain the remaining cucumber and cilantro shrapnel and mix it in with Chinese noodles, a few more veggies and soy dressing for a summery salad.

 Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita

To a shaker add:

  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 ounce cilantro syrup
  • 1 ounce Blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce Reposado tequila and 6-8 slices of jalapeno (seeds removed).

Shake it like you mean it, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lime, a slice of jalapeno and a sprig of cilantro.

And finally, if making margs for a bigger crew…

Spicy Margaritas by the Pitcher

  • 2 cups of tequila
  • 1 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of orange liqueur
  • 1/2 cup of jalapeno simple syrup

Stir together with ice in a large pitcher and pour into 8 glasses.

Love the One You’re With Pineapple Salsa

salsa

A picture of restraint. Pineapple salsa with Taco Works chips, imported from San Luis Obispo, CA. At left, all the ingredients that did not go into it.

What? Don’t tell me you forgot it was Cinco de Mayo. True, having it fall on a Tuesday is just plain sad (see Marcharitas and weep). Sadder yet is that this is the very first time I realized my birthday day of the week syncs up with Cinco de Mayo. I’m not sure what that means, but it must have something to do with a cicada-like cyclical intensity of birthday season. Regardless, it’s tough to rally for a Tuesday.

BUT, we can get a little tropical and sassy with pineapple salsa. This came about because I had some leftover fresh pineapple from a pineapple avocado salad that I will share with you as soon as I sort out the spice thing. (Suffice to say, habañero and jalapeno are different animals.)

Making salsa is neither complicated nor precise, but it can be messy, especially when you are working with juicy fresh pineapple. The prospect of a sticky cutting board and floor made me turn to the food processor. While that made the pineapple more pulpy than chunky, it makes the finished product easier to eat. Bottom line: you can wrangle even more of it onto a chip, which is the entire goal when a good dip is involved. (See also Ollie’s Trip Salsa, mango jicama guacamole, balsamic black beans.)

Even thought the pineapple gets pulverized, the other key elements stay appropriately chunky so you feel like it’s salsa and not just sauce. I am pretty happy with this salsa for what went in to it, but also for what didn’t. I’m looking at you, mango, avocado, garlic and jicama. Just because I had every Mexican fruit and vegetable didn’t mean I wanted to make you all go get them. Finally, here is the very loose recipe for…

Love the One You’re with Pineapple Salsa

As the name suggests, this salsa is a consequence of what I had in the house. Don’t be shy—go with what you’ve got. LTOYW

 Ingredients:

  • ½ fresh pineapple (or less), cut into whatever slices you know how to make
  • ¼ red onion (or more if that’s your thing)
  • 1 small or part of a large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 chunk fresh ginger, chopped (about 1 Tbsp)
  • A responsible amount of fresh cilantro (a healthy handful), chopped. Go with your gut on this. And if you hate cilantro (Beatie) grab some mint instead.
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (totally optional but it was there)

 Method:

Put the pineapple in the food processor and pulse until all the big chunks are gone and it is the consistency you can imagine eating.

Pour the pineapple into a bowl.

Put the onion, jalapeno, ginger and cilantro in the processor and pulse until desired, edible consistency.

Scrape those veggies into the pineapple. Stir in syrup (if desired) and lime juice. Add salt to taste.

Enjoy with chips, on fish or chicken, on a sandwich, on a spoon…whatever. And while you’re staring at the jicama you didn’t use, cut that baby up and squeeze the other half of the lime over it so you have another thing to dip in the salsa. Happy Cinco de Mayo. May it make your Friday come all the faster!