Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feliz Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is most celebrated in Puebla, Mexico where the famed Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862. While many people in Mexico are apt to nod off at the thought of Cinco de Mayo, it has become a popular day of celebration within the Mexican communities in the U.S. 

Cinco de Mayo is a fun celebration full of brightly colored decorations, dancing, mariachi music and even parades. So, grab yourself a pinata, some basic ingredients and let’s make a fiesta. Here are some ideas for your party menu to make your Cinco de Mayo fiesta delicious and memorable! 

Peach-o de Gallo

  • 1 peach, pit removed and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped (red is best)
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • squeeze of lemon juice

  1. Toss all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir again before serving

Blood Orange Margarita
Makes 4 drinks

  • 4 oz tequila
  • 4 oz orange liqueur
  • 4 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 8 oz fresh-squeezed blood orange juice (~3-4 oranges)
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • Blood orange slices, for garnish

  1. Mix tequila, orange liqueur, lime, and orange juices well.
  2. Taste for sweetness and add simple syrup if desired.
  3. Pour over two small glasses of ice.

Agua de sandia

  • 28 cups loosely packed seeded watermelon chunks
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 12 ounces water
  • Ice cubes
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish
  • Honey-- optional

  1. In a blender, purée the watermelon in batches, adding the mint leaves to one of the batches.
  2. Pour the watermelon juice into a large pitcher.
  3. Stir in the water and taste.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon or more of honey if needed.
  5. Chill for at least 1 hour.
  6.  Pour over ice in tall glasses and garnish each glass with a mint sprig, if desired.

Non-Tortilla Soup
Makes 6-8 bowls

  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 dried ancho chile pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can peeled tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne, for heat (optional)
  • 3-4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts
  • For garnish:
    • 1 Avocado, peeled and sliced
    • Tortilla chips or strips
    • 1 plum tomatoes, diced
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • Sour cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the plum tomatoes in half. Spread 1 Tbsp of the olive oil on a baking sheet or pizza pan and arrange the tomatoes on top, skin side up. Drizzle the tomatoes with another 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Roast the tomatoes for 35 minutes, until the skins wrinkle and the tomatoes are slightly brown around the edges.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, 4-qt soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and saute about 5 minutes, until the vegetables become soft. Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, 1 cup water, and ancho chile. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, decrease the heat and simmer about 15 minutes, until the ancho chile softens.
  3. Remove the chile from the soup and pull off and discard the stem. Cut the chile in half and discard the seeds, if desired. (Leaving the seeds in makes for a spicier soup, I took them out!) Place the softened chile, the canned tomatoes with their juices and the roasted tomatoes (included as much as possible of the juices and browned tomato bits) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree the chile-tomato mixture about 1 minute. Transfer the chile-tomato mixture to the soup and continue simmering, covered, about 1 hour.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and ground red pepper (if using) along with the cooked chicken. (If freezing, stop here and allow the soup to cool before transferring to “leftover” containers and freezing. It keeps for at least two months).
  5. Ladle the soup into medium bowls. Lean 3 to 4 slices of avocado against the edge of each bowl, partially sticking out of the soup. Sprinkle each bowl with a handful of diced tomatoes, and some cilantro. (Top with a spoonful of sour cream and/or some shredded cheese- for those of a primal nature). Serve immediately or cool to room temperature.

Fajita Salad with Tequila Vinaigrette
Makes 4 Salads

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 pound beef top sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium green pepper, julienned
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1 medium onion, sliced and halved
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 cups torn mixed salad greens
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons salsa

  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the lime juice, cilantro, garlic and chili powder; add beef.
  2. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 10 minutes, turning once.
  3. Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, cook the peppers and onion in oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until tender.
  4. Remove and keep warm.
  5. Add beef with marinade to the skillet; cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until meat is tender and mixture comes to a boil.
  6. Add pepper mixture; heat through.
  7. Divide the salad greens and tomato among four bowls; top each with 1-1/4 cups beef mixture and 1-1/2 teaspoons salsa.

Tequila Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the lime juice with the tequila.
  2. Whisk in the olive oil
  3. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Kickin Jalapeno Burgers
Makes 6 burgers

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons light beer or water
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground turkey
  • 6 tablespoons salsa
  • 6 tablespoons shredded lettuce

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients.
  2. Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well.
  3. Shape into six patties.
  4. Using long-handled tongs moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.
  5. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165° and juices run clear.
  6. Serve with salsa and lettuce. 

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