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Mothers Day Specials, Cinco de Mayo Favorites

By Jane Butel  May 3, 2021

This Mother's Day give her a gift that keeps on giving!   All of the classes and tour have a special 3 day discount. The ultimate is to give her (or you or both) a registration for our Oaxaca Culinary Tour set for June 15 - 21, 2021.  Or, perhaps a gift certificate for one of our forthcoming classes, Perfect Pies,  May 6,  Classic Paella Dinner, June 3 or Chocolate and Chile, Perfect Culinary Companions set for July 8.  Or, perhaps a space in our upcoming weekend class July 16 - 18 or our week long class October 25 - 29.  Or, maybe she would prefer to stay home and enjoy a wonderful gift box featuring our pure spices and an autographed cookbook.  All of the above are on a three-day special until Wednesday, May 5, 2021 .

Do you know the significance of Cinco de Mayo?  It is a celebration of the Mexican militia (they were not allowed to have their own army under French rule) under the leadership of Santa Ana who defeated   Napoleon's army.  This battle is often called the Battle of Puebla and is not as celebrated in Mexico as it is up here in the States .

Some fun foods to celebrate with are of course Margaritas and perhaps Composed Nachos.  To make really perfect margaritas, select a good quality silver tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice and Triple Sec or Cointreau.  A tiny bit of freshly beaten egg white gives them an attractive "head".  To make them very special,  gently touch  the rims of the glasses with a bit of lime juice from an already squeezed lime and crunch it into coarse sea salt and freeze the glasses until the margaritas are made.   

Silver tequila is the most alcoholic distillation and most frequently used for margaritas.  Many Americans like to use gold tequila, however did you know how the gold tequila is made!  It is flavored and colored with brown corn syrup, definitely making it not worth the extra cost.    The longer a tequila is aged the lower the alcohol content.   Reposada is aged two to three years longer or more depending on the distillery and is less alcoholic and smoother.  Anejo is aged longer and is the brandy of tequillas and usually considered too expensive for magaritas.

Margaritas by the way are named for Margaret who danced to a Spanish guitarist who became so infatuated with her while drinking shooters of tequila in a bar in San Miguel Allende that the bar tender decided to place lime juice and salt around the edge of a high ball  glass  to make it easier for him to watch her and "hit" his mouth.  Supposedly this dates to 1928.

The composed nachos are a more styled version of the tossed together nachos and made an attractive sunflower look.  Guacamole is in the center encircled by Refried Beans and cheesed tortilla quarters garnished with olive slices, jalapeno slices chopped onion and tomato .

There are my favorite Perfect Margarita recipes and the Composed Nachos.

PERFECT  MARGARITAS

When we first lived in Albuquerque, NM, nearly every Friday evening our neighbors and friends gathered at our house for drinks, a potluck of whatever they wished to bring and lots of conversation and good times. These soirees continued for years until we moved away.

One of our very fun neighbors started calling my margaritas “crawl home” when they were made as directed below. (He had literally almost crawled home one Friday night.) Afterward, if we made them half strength of the tequila, we started calling them “walk home” margaritas and the name stuck among our friends.

Interestingly enough, for our full participation weekend and week long classes, we make them and the students without exception always vote for the Perfect or “crawl home” margaritas.

These are so much better than the margaritas the average American bar serves. They are definitely the best when made with freshly squeezed lime juice and good-quality silver tequila and Triple Sec or Cointreau. These margaritas are strong, so be careful!

Yield: 2 to 3 drinks

Coarse or kosher salt (optional)

2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice, approximately 2 to 3 limes, save halves after juicing

6 ounces tequila

2 ounces Triple Sec

1 teaspoon raw egg white, lightly whipped, optional*

Ice cubes

1. About an hour before serving, squeeze limes. If salted rims are desired, place salt in a small, dry saucer. Gently rub rind of lime that has been squeezed on the edge of the glass, then lightly crunch into the salt and place glasses in the freezer so they will be frosty.

2. Combine lime juice, tequila, Triple Sec, about 1/2 teaspoon egg white if using and about 8 to 10 ice cubes in a blender or cocktail shaker. Blend or shake well. Taste and add more lime juice or Triple Sec, if desired. Pour into the frosted goblets and serve.

*The egg white sustains a foam on top of each margarita, which is very attractive.

VARIATIONS:

Combine fresh lemon juice and lime juice for a delicious, if unconventional, margarita

Imperfect or “walk home” Margaritas: For less strong margaritas, reduce tequila to 3 ounces.

Frozen Margaritas: Keep adding ice and blending until mixture is somewhat firm or to desired consistency.

COMPOSED  NACHOS

These alone are almost a meal. When artfully arranged as described below, they are beautiful and look like a sunflower—a picture really worth eating. The crispy, cheesey nachos serve as a scooper for the guacamole, refried beans and garnish! 

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Oven Temperature: 425 F

Baking Time: 17 minutes about

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, crisp-fried or baked

1 cup mixed shredded Monterey Jack cheese and Cheddar cheese

¼ cup thinly sliced fresh or pickled jalapeno chiles, or to taste

1 cup or more Guacamole (recipe, follows)

1 cup or more Refried Beans (recipe, follows)

2 Tablespoons each chopped onion, fresh tomato, and ripe olives

2 Tablespoons dairy sour cream, optional

1. Deep fry the whole tortillas in vegetable oil heated to 375 F until crisp, about 22 seconds each. If baking the tortillas, preheat the oven to 425F. Arrange tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet, topped with a smaller baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes, then remove the top, smaller sheet and finish baking about 7 more minutes or until crisp. Prepare Guacamole and Refried Beans. Generously sprinkle cheeses on tortillas. Bake about 5 more minutes or until cheese melts.

2. Cut each cheesed tortilla into four pieces like a pie. Arrange them on a round large plate or platter, placing them in an overlapping chain – the point of one slightly overlapping the top of the next. Position a mound of Guacamole in the center of the platter. Spoon a circle of beans around the outside edge of the Guacamole. Garnish with jalapeno slices, onion, tomato, and olives. Top beans with sour cream, if desired.

PERFECT GUACAMOLE

Guacamole at its best! For greatest flavor, appearance and keeping quality–always cut avocados with two knives into coarse chunks about 1/2 inch square.

Yield: 4 servings

2 ripe avocados (preferably Haas)

½ teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste

1 medium-size tomato, chopped

¼ cup finely chopped Spanish onion

1 medium fresh jalapeno, minced or pickled jalapenos

2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Halve the avocados; scoop pulp into a bowl. Coarsely chop with two knives. Add salt and garlic; then slowly add lime juice to taste.

2. Fold in tomato, onion, chiles and cilantro, being very careful not to over mix. Let stand a few minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.

3. Taste and adjust seasonings. Some like spicy guacamole, while others like it quite mild. Often piquancy is best determined by the other foods you are serving. If some like it hot and others don’t, a solution is to serve a side dish of spicy salsa or freshly minced jalapeno.

4. Serve guacamole in a Mexican pottery bowl and garnish the top with a few tostados thrust into the top. Serve with a basket of tostados. As a salad, serve over chopped lettuce and garnish each serving with a cherry tomato.

FRIJOES REFRITOS with JALAPENO CHILES

(Refried Beans with Pickled Jalapeno chiles)¨

I think most refried beans just occupy space in a rather ugly way. They are tasteless and gooey looking. When made this way, refried beans are very flavorful and excellent as a side dish and in nachos and many Southwestern specialties. The addition of the chopped, pickled jalapenos adds a nice bit of spicy flavor, however you can certainly leave them out.

Yield: 4 servings

1 Tablespoon lard, bacon drippings or butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tablespoon finely chopped Spanish onion

2 cups cooked pinto beans or 1 (16-oz.) can pinto beans

Salt & freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped, pickled jalapenos

1. Melt lard in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and as soon as it starts to barely turn golden, add the onion. Then immediately add the pinto beans with a little liquid and mash them, using a potato masher or a heavy wooden spoon, leaving some of the beans almost whole. Mash the beans as they fry, adding additional liquid or chicken stock as needed.

2. Fry over medium heat about 15 minutes, turning to prevent burning, until the beans reach a thick, paste-like consistency. Stir in the chopped, pickled jalapenos if desired. Serve piping hot.

 

  

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