When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Cinco de Mayo – 2 days late May 7, 2009

I was actually unable to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year because I was working that night 😦

For the past couple of years I have celebrated Cinco de Mayo by making Chicken Tortilla Soup, Refried Beans, Mexican Rice, and Homemade Tortillas.  This year I celebrated it on the 6th and made a completely different assortment of food.  Well, except for the tortillas.  I can’t stand store bought, so I always cave and make my own.

Tortillas are actually really easy to make, but the rolling out is the hard part.  When I first starting making tortillas 8 years ago, I would roll them out with whatever I had handy (ex: a wine bottle, rolling pin, or a metal lid and a hammer…don’t ask).  A few years ago, I received a tortilla press as a gift and it has been a God send.  It makes the whole process so much easier and less time consuming.  I have also found that I prefer lard over vegetable shortening.  I appologize to all the vegetarians and vegans out there.  The tortillas with lard taste like the ones from home that I miss and I swear when I make them with crisco I can taste the crisco :shudder:

When I got back from Texas on Monday, I found the June 2009 issue of Bon Appetit magazine in my mailbox.  While flipping through the magazine after work on Tuesday (Cinco de Mayo) I found 3 recipes that were begging to be made: Mexican Seafood Saute with Avocado Mango Salsa; Rice with Summer Squash, Red Peppers, and Roasted Pepitas; and Spicy Black Beans with Chorizo and Chipotle Cream.  Everything turned out fantastic.  The seafood and the mango salsa were great together.  The mango actually added a nice freshness to the dish.  The rice and black beans actually married well, and the chipotle cream on top of the beans completed the dish.  The homemade tortillas brought everything together and you could either wrap everything up in the tortilla or just eat it plain.

My game plan for making all of this food was to do it in stages.  However, I did cook all of this in 2 hours except for the beans.  Remember that the beans do need to soak overnight.  If you forget like I did, then follow the instructions on the beans for a quick soak.  Which includes boiling it in water for 2 minutes and letting it sit for an hour.  Earlier in the afte noon, I prepped the beans and cooked them from 2 hours, then set them aside.  The next thing I started was the salsa for the Mexican Seafood, so that the flavors could blend.  Then I made the marinade and marinated the seafood for 1 hour.

While the seafood was marinating I prepped all the ingredients for the rice and started the rice.  Once the rice was on the stove and cooking, I finished the beans off and let them simmer for probably 20 minutes.  I pulled the beans and rice off the burners to rest with lids on.  I then proceeded to make the tortillas, which I covered and set aside while I used to same skillet to finish the seafood saute.  Everything was pretty straight forward, but there is a lot of chopping.

100_2124Mexican Seafood Saute with Avocado-Mango Salsa

Source: Bon Appetit June 2009 Issue, page 80-81

6 Servings


1 mango, peeled, pitted, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, diced

1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1 jalapeno chile, seeded, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp fresh lime juice


1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 2 medium)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup tequila

2 garlic cloves, pressed

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup plus 4 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 1/2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined

1 pound sea scallops, side muscles removed

12 green onions, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only; about 1 1/2 cups)

Lime Slices

Salsa: Mix all ingredients in medium bowl.  Season to taste with salt.  Cover and Chill

Seafood: Whisk first 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend.  Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil.   Season marinade to taste with salt and pepper.

Place shrimp in large resealable plastic bag.  Place scallops in another large resealable plastic bag.  Pour marinade into bags, dividing equally (about 1/2 cup each).  Seal bags; turn to coat.  Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour

Drain shrimp and scallps; pour marinade into small saucepan.  Bring marinade to boil; set aside.

Pat scallops dry.  Heat 2 tbsp oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Ad scallops to skillet and saute until beginning to brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.  Transfer to large bowl.  Add reminaing 2 tbsp of oil to skillet.  Add shrimp and green onions; saute until shrimp are almost opaque in center, stirring often, about 3 minutes.  Return scallops with an accumulated juiced to skillet.  Add boiled marinade.  Simmer until seafood is just opaque in center and mixture is heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to larger shallow bowl.  Garnish with lime slices.  Serve with salsa.

Rice with Summer Squash, Red Peppers, and Roasted Pepitas.

Source: Bon Appetit June 2009 Issue, page 80-81

6 Servings

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice

3 cups low-salt chicken broth

3 tbsp roasted salted shelled pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.  Add bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini; saute until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add rice; saute 1 minutes; stirring constantly.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add broth, increase heat to high, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to love, cover, and cook until rice is tender, 18 to 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in pumpkin seeds and parsley.

Spicy Black Beans with Chrizo and Chipotle Cream

Source: Bon Appetit June 2009 Issue, page 80-81

6 Servings


1 1/2 cups dried black beans ( about 10 oz)

2 peeled onions: 1 halved, 1 chopped (about 2 cups)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried oregano (preferable Mexican)

1 tbsp olive oil

2 links fresh chorizo sausage (6 tp 7 oz), casings removed

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for garnish

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp minced seeded jalapeno chile

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Chipotle Cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/4 tsp chipotle-flavored hot pepper sauce

1 tsp fresh lime juice

Beans: Place beans in large saucepan.  Add enough water to cover by 2 inches.  Let beans soak over night.

Drain beans.  Return to saucepan.  Add onion halves, bay leaf, and oregano.  Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered until beans are very tender, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on age of beans).  Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid.  Discard onion halves and bay leaf.

Heat oil in heavy large deep nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add chorizo and cook until brown, breaking up with back of spoon, 4 to 5 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to small bowl.  Add chopped onion to drippings in skillet.  Cook until soft and golden brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.  Add 2 tbsp cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and cumin; stir 1 minute.  Add beans, 3/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, and chorizo to onion mixture.  Stir to distribute evenly.  Simmer over medium-low heat until heated through and flavors are blended, 3 to 4 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chipotle Cream: Whisk all ingredients in small bowl to blend.  Season with salt.

Transfer beans to large bowl.  Garnish with chipotle cream and chopped cilantro.

Flour Tortillas

Source: From Food Network: Adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless, Authentic Mexican

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

5 tbsp lard or vegetable shortening (I prefer lard)

1 cup very  warm tap water

Place the flour in a bowl and cut in the lard into it until it is evenly distributed.  Dissolve the salt into the water.  Pour the water into the flour and lard mixture and mix until combined.  If too stick add a little bit more flour.  Divide the dough into 12 portions, roll into balls and place on a flat surface or plate.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rest for at least 30 minutes.  I have made this recipe many times without resting the dough and it turns out fine.

On a lightly floured surface roll each ball into a 7-inch circle.  If you own a tortilla press, cover the inside of the press with plastic wrap, spray with non-stick spray, place a piece of the dough off center towards the back and press down.  The dough will spread out and form a circle.  Continue with the rest of the balls.  I like to press 2 to 3, cook them, and then press a few more until they are all done.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat.  When ready place 2 to 3 tortillas in the skillet and cook on each side.  When done the tortilla should look white and have some small brown dots, do not over cook.  Place on a plate and cover with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out.


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