Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Mexican Fiesta

inviteA few weeks back The Dinner Belle partnered with The Supper Club to co-host a “Chef’s Night In” Cinco de Mayo cooking lesson and dinner party. On hand were 20 invited guests, the Sauza Tres Generaciones tequila sponsors, and a piñata. Erin and I were behind the stove teaching and tasting our way into Mexican food comas. Weeks of preparation meant weeks of “research” (i.e. eating the best tacos, tamales and flautas round town) to compile our own signature recipes for what I’m calling “New-Mex” cuisine.

New-Mex is this New Yorker’s compilation of everything I love about Mexican food, Tex-Mex, and my personal favorite, produce-centric Cal-Mex …of which I’ve been eating plenty of out West and will fill you in on next week. Our New-Mex menu ranged from Queso Fundido, a classic chorizo and cheese fondue, to mushroom and corn Huitlacoche Quesadillas. Our bartender poured mango margaritas and spicy Pepinos (not unlike my own recipe for cucumber margaritas) as we demoed Chocolate-Chipotle Rubbed Short-Rib Tacos and endured the rain to grill limes, Elotes Callejeros (Spanish for corn on the cob) and Key West butter-basted shrimp, the featured ingredient in our Napa Cabbage & Shrimp Tacos. We stuffed baby bell peppers with a mix of Mexican cheeses, lemon zest and garlic, and were gratefully kept dry under our assistant’s umbrella while popping those suckers onto an open flame. After a few tequila shots, we even had one guest jump behind the stove with us to whip up freshly fried tortilla chips!

Our menu was expansive and offered a great balance of lighter fare like, Papaya Y Jicama Ensalada, for guests gearing up for bikini season, and decadent desserts like, Aztec Chocolate Pots de Crème, served up in martini glasses for those of us who can’t turn down a spicy, salty sweet no matter what the weather.

supper_club-mexican_brunch-small159But without a doubt, the most popular dish of the night (we actually sent a guest on a run for more avocados to make a second batch) was my Tequila Spiked Mango Guacamole. A lusciously creamy avocado spread spiked with Tres Generaciones Plata tequila and fresh lime, and then peppered with chopped red onion, cilantro, Serrano chili, and mango; this ain’t your grandma’s guacamole. Served with tortilla chips, sliced rainbow carrots & jicama, this recipe was the house hit, notwithstanding the candy and condoms that came flying out of the piñata as a heavily tequila-ed crowd went to bat.

As parting gifts, we assembled recipe books for each guest to take home and attempt our New-Mex cuisine in their New York kitchens. I’m gifting you but one recipe for “killer guac” to impress the crowds at your next summer soiree, but I promise new video websiodes in the weeks to come that will put you right smack-dab in the center of the party…

finished-guacTequila Spiked Mango Guacamole (serves a small crowd)

•    3 ripe Avocados
•    ½ Red Onion (diced)
•    1 Serrano Chili (seeded and finely chopped)
•    1 bunch Cilantro (chopped, reserve a few leaves for garnish)
•    1 Lime (juiced)
•    1 shot Premium Tequila
•    1 medium-ripe Mango (peeled, flesh cut from the pit and diced)
•    Salt to taste
•    Tortilla Chips, Carrots or Jicama Sticks (for serving)

First off, buy ripe avocados! Don’t be lured into the bright green, firm fruit; go for the ugly, mushy, brown/black avocados that seem to be on their last legs. They are! But they have one final chapter yet to write…they’ve been waiting for some lucky soul to grant them a last hurrah and transform their silky flesh into a velvety smooth guacamole. Remember: buy ‘em ripe and use ‘em right away, and save the green guys for sliced avocado and eggs.

When you get home, cut the avocados in half, running your knife around the pit from top to bottom, and back up again. Twist the halves in opposite directions to free the pit, and pull the halves apart. Whack your knife into the pit and pull it out, then scoop the avocado flesh into a large bowl. Continue with all 3 avocados. Then coarsely mash the avocados with a large spoon or potato masher.

Add the onion, Serrano, cilantro, lime juice and tequila and stir. Gently mix in the diced mango, but save a tablespoons worth to garnish the guac. Taste and season with salt.  If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto  the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate – preferably for no more than a few hours as guac oxidizes quickly and will turn brown.

When you’re ready to serve, scoop guacamole into a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining diced mango and cilantro sprigs. Serve with tortilla chips or carrot and jícama sticks. ¡Buen provecho!

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4 Responses to “A Mexican Fiesta”

  1. Bells & family

    It sure sounds like your New-Mex menu was a hit. I will be trying your recipe for Guacamole. I have a soft spot for Mexian food ain addition to Russian food. My little girl will (sometimes) attempt to eat salsa’s and guacamoles.

  2. TofuTakedown

    The avocado paragraph has me. New to Belle and reading on. Good work.

  3. Kimberly Belle

    Thanks TofuTakedown! It can be a psychological test of will to look past the grassy green, perfectly firm avocados and reach for the mushy black ones at the bottom of the pile, but looks can be deceiving. Go for flavor and texture every time!

  4. Carol Gabriel

    Hi There!

    Your cooking class sounds fabulous. I purchased the gooy advocados and the guacamole was great.

    Also, you gave such an incredible foundation to your former student great plans are on the horizon.


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