Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo Tex-Mex Cuisine

Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico's victory against invading French military forces on May 5, 1862. It's celebrated more in the U.S. than in Mexico. Many communities hold festivities and parades as a way to share Mexican-American culture and cuisine. Toast the festivities with sangria or your favorite margarita. 
Southwestern Layered Beef Casserole
Cook's notes: Toasting dry rice before assembling the casserole helps the rice cook through evenly and keeps the grains separate and fluffy. The rice should be toasted a deep golden brown. The caserole has lots of flavor with a bit of a kick. If you like even more flavor include cumin spice.
Recipe adapted from Cook's Country April/May 2014
Ingredients:
  • 1 TB. oil
  • 1 cup dried white rice
  • 1 LB. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 green pepper diced or combination of sweet yellow and red
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin optional
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15oz.) can black beans or pinto beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups Colby Jack cheese or Monterey Jack grated
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced mild green chiles
  • 2 cans each (7.7 oz.) Homestyle Mexican Salsa medium
  • 1 (7.7 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (11 oz.) can Steam Crisp Mexicorn
Directions:
  • Grease a 13 x 9 pan
  • In a large skillet add oil and heat, add rice and stir frequently until golden about 5 minutes
  • Transfer rice to 13 x 9 pan, add broth, chiles and Mexican salsa-spread out evenly in pan
  • In skillet add hamburger, minced garlic, onions and peppers,cover and cook on medium heat until browned
  • Drain meat, crumble and add back to pan
  • Add in chili powder, cumin and tomato sauce, cook til slightly thick about 2 minutes 
  • Layer beef mixture over rice mixture, layer beans then corn
  • Sprinkle grated cheese over prepared dish
  • Spray a piece of foil to prevent cheese from sticking to foil, cover dish and bake about 45 minutes
  • Scoop a small amount from the sides of the pan to check on doneness of rice 
  • Let casserole stand 15 minutes to make it easier for cutting    
Mexican Chocolate Ice-Cream Pie
Cook's notes: This pie is decadent but well worth the splurge for a festive occasion such as Cinco de Mayo. It will last in your freezer for up to a month but its unlikely that will happen. 
The recipe was adapted from Southern Living August 2012
 I used Haagen-Dazs coffee and chocolate ice-cream (each container is 14 oz.) 
Ingredients:
  • 3-1/2 cups of finely ground graham crackers 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 TB. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 pt. container coffee ice cream-softened
  • 1 pt. container chocolate ice cream-softened
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 TB. coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua) 
Directions:
  • Preheat oven 350
  • Use a blender or food processor to finely grind the graham cracker into crumbs. Add in cinnamon and melted butter, mix well. 
  • Reserve 1 cup crumbs and press 2-1/2 cups of crumb mixture into a glass pie pan.
  • Bake 6-7 minutes, set aside to cool.
  • Stir together reserved 1 cup graham crumbs, mini-chocolate chips and pecans. Set aside.
  • Spread softened coffee ice-cream evenly over baked cooled crust. Sprinkle 1/2 cup crumb mixture (crumbs, chips, pecans) over the coffee ice cream layer. 
  • Freeze until firm
  • Repeat with next layer of softened chocolate ice cream and sprinkle with rest of graham cracker mixture (reserve 1 tsp.) and freeze until firm.
  • Beat whipped cream, add in Kahlua and spread over the top of each pie serving or over top of entire pie. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. 
  • Serve immediately. Leftover pie should be stored in freezer and covered with foil.
Tres Leche Cake
Cook's notes: Tres Leches Cake is a light, airy sponge cake soaked with a mixture of three milks: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. Yes, you heard me. Some say the cake comes from Nicaragua; others, Mexico. But no matter which Latin America nation invented it, it’s absolutely to die for.

This cake probably became popular in the early 1900s. Today, the use of condensed and evaporated milk is a part of Latin American culture.

There are two ways to approach making this cake. Use a box mix and bake as directed. Then poke holes into the cooled cake and pour the milk mixture over the cake.
This link is to a great Betty Crocker recipe that makes use of this shortcut.
http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/premium-tres-leches-cake/dee59db0-b964-4002-a5c9-fca08e2ed830

Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Lady) takes the Tres Leche Cake to a whole new level making the cake from scratch. Follow this link to pictures and step by step directions.
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/09/tres-leches-cake/

There's nothing more frustrating than over salting a soup or stew. Trying adding wedges of a raw potato or apple to absorb the salt. Simmer 10 minutes and remove wedges. If your soup or stew is still too salty, sprinkle a spoonful of sugar. If that doesn't work add a dash of apple cider vinegar and that may do the trick. 

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