¡Olé!

2011.May.07 Saturday · 9 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“Cinco de Mayo has come to represent a celebration of the contributions that Mexican Americans and all Hispanics have made to America.”

– Joe Baca, congressman

How could we pass up a chance to celebrate 5 de Mayo? It also gave us an easy reason to shift our schedule this week to Thursday and Friday dinners, giving us a night off tonight to check out one of our friendly competitors in the puertas cerradas world – you’ll find out details tomorrow (unless we just hate it, in which case I’ll never mention it again). For four of the five dishes I brought back some favorites from past Mexican influenced meals, and added in a new one that just zooms to the top of my list, and not just for Mexican style.

Jalapeno poppers

You may have noticed that in general I’m trying to lighten things up a bit in style. So bringing back a perennial favorite, Jalapeño poppers, I decided instead of dipping them in egg and then in panko crumbs, I’d give them a light brush of the egg and just a sprinkle of the crumbs. Not a huge difference, but everything adds up. I mean, they’re still stuffed with my homemade bacon cream cheese…. As usual, we couldn’t stop eating these. On the other hand, I think I miss that bit of crunch from the panko crust all over, so back to that version in the future.

Pozole

One of my favorite Mexican soups is pozole, and for this eve, I brought back the vegetarian version that was received so well recently. I spiked up the spices a bit, plus put in more vegetables, and used a more intense vegetable stock. Definitely an upgrade!

Calamarette with Ocas and Cashew-Chipotle Cream

Okay, here’s the new winning dish as far as I’m concerned. It was so good we made about 50% extra the second night and just sat in the kitchen eating it. The components, simple – wok sauteed calamarette in olive oil with just a touch of salt and pepper, ocas (remember them?) that were trimmed, cut in bite-sized pieces, then blanched, shocked, dried, and sauteed in olive oil and butter with salt and pepper, and, the crowning touch that brought it all together, my take on the roasted cashew and chipotle sauce that I liked so much at Empellon in NYC recently. My version – roasted half a pound of cashews in the oven until lightly browned, then pureed them with a cup of yogurt, several tablespoons of chipotles en adobo, and just enough water to smooth it out. Salt to taste. Amazing.

Spareribs in Chatino Mole

And, a happy reworking of the Chatino mole that was such a hit the couple of times I made it. The reworking – eliminated the added oil in the final preparation, just slow-cooking the sauce over low heat. And, I used full pork spareribs rather than the little crosscut beef riblets that are so common here. Instead of boiling them and then braising them in the sauce, I took some of the sauce and marinated the ribs for about six hours. Then into the oven to roast them at high heat with the convection fan going. A dollop more of the mole sauce on top to serve. Much, much better. Simple white rice infused with bay leaf, and a return of my favorite black beans, simply sans the mango puree, actually a Cuban-inspired recipe, but damn they’re good. This time, however, I cooked the beans with all the other stuff already in the pot so that they really infused the flavors – just waited on any additional salt until the beans were well cooked.

Margarita cheesecake

And finally, a Margarita cheesecake – infused with tequila, lime and tangerine peel, and then a little more lime peel and powdered sugar atop. Not a bad finish at all.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc May 12, 2011 at 16:21

Where did you get those little crocks in the pozole pic?

dan May 12, 2011 at 17:28

From a chef friend whose Brazilian restaurant here closed and he was selling out both little and big bowls like that that he’d been using for moqueca and feijoada. They’re perfect size for a soup course and a main course that’s more stew-like.

Marc May 13, 2011 at 15:06

Oh well. I’m a bit a bowl freak, especially in winter when seafood stews, chowders, and bisques are on my mind.

dan May 13, 2011 at 18:29

I can ask him where he got them – don’t know if it was here or in Brazil, but can’t hurt to ask, right?

dan May 14, 2011 at 09:38

Turns out they were manufactured in Chile. At the moment he just remembers that there was a sales rep here about ten years ago who brought around samples and sold them to him, but he doesn’t remember the company name offhand. They are, btw, if you can’t tell from the picture, earthenware, not wood.

Marc May 14, 2011 at 12:13

Thanks for asking!

Frank Almeida May 17, 2011 at 19:36

Dan,

Thanks for the wonderful evening! The food was fantastic!

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