What to Celebrate Weekend Special?

So we’ve got a couple of thing going on this weekend. First and foremost, today is Cinco de Mayo. It’s raining again, so a sunny Mexican-inspired meal sounds pretty good about now. If you don’t have time to fiesta tonight, then you can always celebrate the Kentucky Derby tomorrow.

Here are a few ideas for your Cinco de Mayo feast!

For starters, how about the Middle East meets Tex-Mex with a tasty Chipotle Sweet Potato & White Bean Hummus? Or try my Corncakes with a dab of Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

Move to the table and a simple salad. My Romaine & Radicchio Caesar Salad is delicious. Now for the main course. My grill is still on porch so I’m good to go with Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol and a side of Grilled Zucchini, Onions and Peppers and a spoonful of steamed rice.

And for dessert … as far as I know my I Love Lime Pie has nothing to do with Mexico. However, it is delicious. That’s a good enough reason for me. How about you? Feliz Cinco de Mayo y ¡buen apetito!

=o=

Now, what about Derby Day?

Celebrate the Derby with fun and festive cocktails! It’s not a Derby without Mint Juleps:

Kentucky Mint Julep
Serves 1

1-2 tablespoons minted simple syrup
Crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon
Garnish: sprig of fresh mint

Put the syrup in a tall glass or silver Julep cup, add about 1 cup crushed ice and the bourbon. Add more ice and a splash of water to almost fill the glass. Stir well and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Minted Simple Syrup
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bunch mint

Put the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Stirring frequently, heat over medium until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mint and steep for 15 minutes. Strain the syrup, cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.

Can be prepared ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

Now the question, what to nibble while you watch the sport of kings?

How about a make-your-own crostini bar? Grill up some bread, add some breadsticks and artisanal crackers and let your friends mix and match. To build your crostini bar, start with a Duo of Pestos Artichoke and Sundried Tomato and add a small bowl of Tapenade. Grilled Vegetables are lovely on crostini. Asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and peppers … any and all are delicious. While you’re at it, throw a few Shrimp on the Grill.

Alright, what’s next, hmmm … how about Chicken Liver Pâté and Smoked Salmon Mousse. Of course, you’ll want some cheese … a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a log of goat cheese and maybe another wedge, this one Stilton or Gorgonzola. Be sure to include something sweet, maybe some honey or Fig Jam and add some nuts. Walnuts and pine nuts are always a good choice.

Top off the evening with something sweet: In keeping with the make-your-own-theme, how about a sundae bar? A few quarts of your favorite ice cream or gelato and some delicious sauces, Chocolate, Caramel and Maple, one, the other or all three, work for me. Some fresh berries would be nice too!

Stay dry, have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Advertisements

Cinco de Mayo & Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol

May 5th, better known as Cinco de Mayo, is this coming Friday. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Celebrated from coast to coast with tequila shots and tacos, it is an excellent excuse for a party. Perhaps you’ve been thinking that it would fun to have a totally authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration. You know, skip the queso dip and Macarena in favor of real Mexican flavors and dance steps. I get it. You want to a party like they do down in sunny Mexico.

Alright then, here’s what you do … nothing. Yup, that’s right. Absolutely nothing.

Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in Mexico. Widely mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an early victory in the Franco-Mexican War. The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862. The resulting victory was more than fifty years after Mexico declared its independence from Spain. In case you’ve forgotten, Mexico was a colony of Spain not France.

So indeed, our enthusiastic celebrations of Cinco de Mayo are somewhat akin to the Swiss celebrating the American victory against the British in the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh. In case you’re wondering, they don’t. I know where Plattsburgh is but I doubt that too many of my Swiss friends do. I also know where Puebla is. Not because I’m a geography or history whizz but because I looked it up on a map a few minutes ago.

Regardless of whatever convoluted calculations or interpretations you might try to make, Cinco de Mayo adds up to being a mostly American holiday. I suppose that’s makes sense. After all, we are a nation of immigrants and many of our holidays reflect that. The Chinese New Year celebrates our ties with China. Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. Oktoberfest has found its way from Munich to Muncie and several other U.S. cities.

Now the question arises – how to celebrate? Well, you could find one of those 100-foot margarita bars, the kind that serves fruity cocktails in glasses the size of fish bowls. Alternatively, you could expand your horizons and spend the day learning something about Mexico. Listen to Mexican music, study Mexican artists, investigate true Mexican cuisine or get a better understanding of how our two economies can and do work together.

Complete your day with a Mexican-inspired celebration. Skip the taco chain restaurants for a more authentic experience. I’m not sure if you can find real Mexican food this far north but you can always try. Many of us dream that one of those absolutely wonderful Mom and Pop-type Mexican restaurant will miraculously appear close to home. So far, it hasn’t happened but one can always hope.

For now, invite a few friends over and try your hand at some Mexican-inspired dishes. Dinner outside in early May in New Hampshire is probably pushing it but cocktails on the porch might work. Set your table with a brightly colored cloth and flowers and think warm and sunny thoughts.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo y ¡buen apetito!

Oh, and by the way, Mexican Independence Day – it’s on September 16.

Grilled Shrimp with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Appetizer or main course, shrimp with spicy peanut sauce will make a delicious addition to your Cinco de Mayo feast. This smooth peanut sauce is also good with chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Olive oil
3/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 onion, chopped
4 or more (to taste) dried arbol (also called bird’s beak) chiles, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2-3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime or to taste

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, peanuts and chiles, season with allspice, salt and pepper and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes more.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Let the salsa cool for about 15 minutes, transfer to a blender and process until very smooth. Cool to room temperature, stir in the lime juice and serve.

The salsa can be prepared in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Grilled Shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
About 2 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (optional)

Put the olive oil in a bowl, add the garlic, lime zest and juice and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Place the shrimp directly on the grill or thread them onto the soaked skewers. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until just opaque, 2-4 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with Salsa de Cacahuate y Chile de Arbol.

The shrimp can be grilled in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Puffy Apple Pancake

Two Years Ago – Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa
Three Years Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Four Years Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Five Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Six Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Seven Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Eight Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo and our southern neighbor on Friday? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

A Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

Limes_Hot_PeppersIt’s Cinco de Mayo (May the 5th) on Thursday. Time for fun and a festive, Mexican feast! Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. It commemorates a battle between the Mexicans and French in 1862. Independence Day or not, inco de Mayo has captured the hearts and stomachs of most of America. What about you? Are you ready for some south of the border treats?

Here are a few ideas!

To Start: A sure crowd pleaser is my Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa. Or maybe you would prefer to keep it simple with some chips, Salsa and Guacamole.

The Main Event:
If you have a hankering for chili try my Chili Con Carne. Chili not your thing? How about
Pork Mole. I won’t verify its authenticity but it is full of flavor and delicious. Complete the either one of these cozy stews with with some steamed rice and crunchy Jicama Slaw.

Sweet Treats:
Chocolate was discovered in Mexico so what could be better than … Flourless Chocolate Cake or Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart? Take your pick!

Have a fun and festive evening! Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Viva Cinco de Mayo & Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa

Hot_Peppers_01Today is Cinco de Mayo, translation – the 5th of May. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That would be September 16th. May the 5th commemorates a battle between the Mexicans and French in 1862 in the state of Puebla. Although it is not a national holiday in Mexico, you might start to wonder if Cinco de Mayo is a holiday in this country. All over the United States, Cinco de Mayo will be celebrated with tortillas and margaritas.

I suspect that most Americans know little if anything about the battle that led to all this hoopla. To put it in perspective, our celebration of Cinco de Mayo is akin to the Mexicans celebrating Patriots’ Day. If you didn’t grow up in Massachusetts or Maine, you might not know that Patriots’ Day commemorates the first two battles of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord. It is only celebrated in the two aforementioned states.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you are somehow lacking if you don’t know the ins-and-outs of Cinco de Mayo. It’s probably enough to know that, for whatever mysterious reason, it has captured the hearts and stomachs of many Americans. Perhaps it’s because Dieciséis de Septiembre is more difficult to pronounce. I guess it doesn’t really matter why. Regardless of our grasp of our neighbor’s history, we have figured out that Cinco de Mayo is an excellent excuse for a Mexican-style celebration complete with wonderful spicy food, music and of course margaritas.

I discovered Mexican food when I was in high school. A Mexican restaurant, it probably belonged to one or another big chain, opened up a few miles down the road on Route 9. It quickly became one of my favorites. Even if Mexican food was a long-established staple in California, it was wonderfully exotic fare for this New England teenager. In spite of my enjoyment, I’m guessing the dishes were distant cousins to anything prepared in Mexico. But to my inexperienced palette, it was a delicious discovery.

When I moved to Switzerland, I found that the Swiss were behind New England in discovering the delights of Mexican cuisine. I was not ready to give up the spice and heat. For several years, I smuggled pickled jalapeños, tortillas and black beans into the country. In truth, smuggling is much too strong a word for it. Every year I spent a week or two in the US and, at the end of every vacation, I stuffed my suitcase with goodies and schlepped them back to Geneva. Swiss customs could not have cared less that I was bringing in a few jars of jalapeños and a bag or two of dried beans. To the delight of my friends with these few staples, I could put together a party with the spirit and good cheer, if not the authenticity, of a Mexican feast.Limes_Hot_Peppers

So, break out the chilies and cornmeal and cook up some south of the border goodies. Throw a batch of margaritas in the blender and celebrate spring and Cinco de Mayo. It’s okay if your feast is not strictly authentic as long as you enjoy a festive evening with friends and family.

¡Viva México! and ¡Buen Apetito!

Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa
This dish makes no claims at authenticity. Imagine that New England had a fling with sunny Mexico and this is the results … corn cakes and salsa. Enjoy!
Makes about 8 large or 16 mini tostadas

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and halved
1/2 cup (or to taste) sour cream
Grated zest of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup rinsed, drained and roughly chopped cooked black beans
About 1/2 cup seeded and roughly chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon (or to taste) minced jalapeno
2-3ablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
Kosher slt and freshly ground black pepper
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves

Make the Avocado Crema: Place the avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the sour cream, lime zest and cumin, season with salt and pepper and stir until smooth and well combined. For a creamier mix, add more sour cream. Cover and let sit to combine the flavors.

Make the Black Bean Salsa: Put the black beans, tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic and lime juice in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Cover and let sit to combine the flavors.

Make the Corn Cakes:
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sweet corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
Olive oil

Put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in bowl andsk to combine. Add the cheese and toss to combine. Add the corn, garlic, jalapeno and onion and toss again.

Stir in the egg and milk and continue stirring until well blended. Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. After giving the batter a stir, add large or small spoonfuls of batter to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side or until golden.

To serve: put a small dollop of the avocado crema on top of each corn cake, top with a spoonful of black bean salsa and garnish with cilantro.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Two Years Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Three Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Four Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Five Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Six Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate spring and Cinco de Mayo? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Busy Spring Weekend Special

forsythiaIt’s going to be a busy weekend! First, there is The Kentucky Derby on Saturday, otherwise known as The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports. And Sunday is Cinco de Mayo. Sounds like a great excuse for a party or two!

If you need a little help, here are a few suggestions for the weekend:

Celebrate the Derby with fun and festive cocktails! Think spring and whip up some crostini with two of my favorite spring veggies … Artichoke and/or Asparagus. Add a few Roasted Shrimp with Tarragon Aioli. Don’t forget to put out a few fabulous cheeses, some Tapenade with a few fresh veggies and some Roasted Almonds. And it’s not a Derby without Mint Juleps.

Kentucky Mint Julep
Serves 1

1-2 tablespoons minted simple syrup
Crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon
Garnish: sprig of fresh mint

Put the syrup in a tall glass or silver Julep cup, add about 1 cup crushed ice and the bourbon. Add more ice and a splash of water to almost fill the glass. Stir well and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Minted Simple Syrup
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bunch mint

Put the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Stirring frequently, heat over medium until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mint and steep for 15 minutes. Strain the syrup, cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.

Can be prepared ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

Unless, you’d prefer a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta: Start your dinner margaritas and a tasty appetizer. Try my Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa or maybe my Avocado, Black Bean and Tomato Tostaditas . And if your day is crazy, keep it simple with some chips, Salsa and Guacamole. Don’t forget the Margaritas!

Frozen Mango Margaritas
Serves 6

1/2 lime
Kosher salt
1 cup golden tequila
Juice of 2-3 limes (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of 2 orange (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup Triple Sec
2-3 cups frozen chopped mango
Lime wedges

Rub the outside rims of six glasses with lime and dip each glass lightly into a plate of kosher salt.

Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, Triple Sec in a blender. Add the mango,1 cup at a time, and puree until smooth.

Pour the margaritas into the prepared glasses, garnish each with a lime wedge and serve.

Onto the main course: How about a delicious Pork Mole. It’s great for a crowd. Serve the pork with steamed rice and Roasted Beans. Then again, Tequila Shrimp sounds pretty good. Or get out the grill for Spicy Chicken. Either will be delicious with Jicama Slaw.

Top off your feast with something sweet: I think something lemony would be nice. How about lemon Tart, Cheesecake or Mousse?

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

Will you be watching the Derby? Celebrating Cinco de Mayo? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2013

Weekend Special – Time to Celebrate

.

If you are looking for something to celebrate this weekend, well, May 5th has been a pretty busy day. There is plenty to choose from – so take your pick:

.

.

The Supermoon! This weekend!
Kublai Khan became ruler of the Mongol Empire in 1260.
Karl Marx was born in 1818.
The historic Cinco de Mayo battle between the French and Mexicans was fought in 1862.
Carnegie Hall had its official opening in 1891.
James Beard, US, culinary expert and author was born in 1903.
Coco Chanel introduced Chanel Number 5 in 1921.
Tennessee teacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching of evolution in 1925.
Alan Shepard was the first American in space on 1961.
A lot of Kentucky Derbies have been run, including 1973 when Secretariat won the run for the roses. The famous thoroughbred then went on to win the Triple Crown.

Here are a few ideas to help you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby or whatever:

Something to nibble: Who doesn’t love chips and a really good salsa? If you agree, try my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa.

Add a batch of your favorite Margaritas and enjoy!

The Main Event: If you are in the mood for seafood, try my Spicy Tequila Shrimp & Jicama Slaw. If not, well how about Spicy Grilled Chicken with Caribbean Black Beans and steamed rice. Pork Mole with steamed rice and a spoonful of Roasted Squash is another possibility.

And something sweet: How about a sweet little bite like my Espresso Brownies? What something smooth and creamy? How about Lemon Mousse or Ginger Crème Brûlée?

.

Celebrating the Derby and not interested in South of the Border dishes? Visit the on-line edition of Image Magazine. I’ve got recipes for a festive Kentucky Derby cocktail party … including the infamous Mint Julep!

Have a wonderful weekend! Bon appétit!

.

Want more? Click Here! for more seasonal menus or Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s on tap for you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button.

And if you’ve got a minute … many thanks for taking a look at my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. Why not join me at the next Eat Well-Do Good dinner?

(margarita photo courtesy of www.free-extras.com)

© Susan W. Nye, 2012