Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cinco De Mayo

This fun vegetarian menu is a party in itself! Perfect for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta or a night in with friends. It is colorful and flavorful and substantial! Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory of the Mexican militia over the french army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862. Although the Mexicans won the battle they lost the war but still celebrate the victory as a day of national pride and unity.

Strawberry Guacamole with Jicama Chips
(Myra Kornfeld, Healthy Hedonist Holidays)

Sweet strawberries add an unexpected festive twist on everyones favorite guacamole.

2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1/4 cup cilantro
1 cup strawberries, rinsed, hilled, and sliced, plus a few for garnish
1 pound jicama or tortilla chips

Scoop the avocado flesh into a medium bowl and mash it with a fork. Stir in the lime juice, salt, scallions, chiles, and cilantro, and combine well. Gently stir in the strawberries and sprinkle some on top for garnish.

Peel and cut the jicama into thin sliced and serve the guacamole surrounded with the jicama.

Asparagus Quesadillas with Red Chili Paste
(Myra Kornfeld, Healthy Hedonist Holidays)

The quesidillas are cheesy, spicy and smokey. The chili paste which can be made up to a month in advance adds a savory explosion. I love the bite from the sprouted whole grain tortillas.

1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4- inch diagonal pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
Butter or extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Four 9-to 10- inch burrito-size tortillas, preferably from sprouted whole wheat, or 4 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup Red Chili Paste
8 ounces (2 cups) grated sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, or Moneterey Jack cheese, preferably raw

Place the asparagus, garlic, oil, salt, and water in a large skillet. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, until the asparagus is just tender. Uncover, raise the heat, and cook, stirring, until the liquid is evaporated, and the asparagus is golden and caramelized, and additional 3 minutes or so. Transfer the asparagus into a bowl.
Spread the butter or brush the oil, if using, on one side of each tortilla and set the tortillas on a work surface, buttered side down. Spread a tablespoon of the chili paste over the tortilla.
Distribute the cheese among the tortillas, covering only have of each and leaving a 1-inch margin at the edge. Distribute the asparagus on top of the cheese. Fold the tortillas in half to enclose the filling, creating a half moon.
Put the quesadillas in a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Cook, covered, until the cheese melts and brown spots appear, about 4 minutes. Uncover and flip the quesdaillas. Cook until the second side is golden brown and the cheese has melted completely, about minutes.
Remove from the heat and divide each into 5 or 6 wedges.

Red Chile Paste

1/4 pound tomatillos (about 4 medium), husked and rinsed.
1 small plum tomato
1 fresh serrano chile
2 dried pasilla chiles
5 dried chilies de arbol
2 garlic cloves, peeled, root ends trimmed but left whole
2 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatillos, tomato and serrano chile on a broiler pan and place in the broiler for 6 to 8 minutes, turning, until all sides are blistered. When cool enough to handle, remove from the pan. Remove the stem and seeds of the chile. Transfer the tomatillos, tomato, and chile to a blender.
Slice off and remove the stem of the dried chilies and pour out the seeds. Heat a heavy- bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron, until very hot. Place the chilies in the skillet, in batches so you don't burn them, pressing down on them. Cook for a couple seconds per side, until they blister and puff. Immediately remove the chilies and transfer to the blender. Cook the garlic for about 1 minute per side, until it starts to blacken. Transfer to the blender along with the water, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Blend until the paste is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.

Black Bean and Plantain- Stuffed Peppers
(Myra Kornfeld, Healthy Hedonist Holidays)

Bright red bell peppers are stuffed with refried black bean and sweet plantains and topped with gooey cheese.

1 1/2 cups black beans, soaked in water overnight
1 dried chipotle chile
6 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking the plantains
2 cups finely diced onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Red Chile Paste
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3 ripe plantains
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, or queso quesadilla or Monterey Jack

Drain the beans and transfer to a medium pot. Add 4 cups of water and the chipotle chile, cover, and bring to a boil. Add 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 60 to 70 minutes. Check to make sure there is water to cover. Drain , reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid, discarding the chile.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and pull out and discard the seeds and membranes, keeping the peppers whole. Reserve the tops. Place the peppers on a baking dish and back for 20 minutes, just until they start to soften.
Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onions and saute over medium low heat until softened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Dd the garlic, cumin, and oregano and saute an additional 3 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium, add 1 cup of the beans and 1/3 cup of the been cooking liquid to the onions. With a potato masher or the back of a spoon, mash the beans into the liquid. Continues cooking until the liquid evaporate. Add another cup of the beans and 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid, and mash and cook again, stirring. Repeat one more time, adding the rest of the beans and 1/3 cup more cooking liquid, cooing and stirring, until the liquid is absorbed and the beans hold together. Some of the beans should be mashed and some will be whole. Stir in the chile paste and lime juice and adjust the salt to taste.
Cut the skins off the plantains. Use a pairing knife, score the plantains and then peel back and remove the skins. Cut the plantains into 1/4 inch diagonal pieces.
Film a large nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium high heat. Add half the plantain pieces, sprinkle with salt and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Repeat with the second batch, adding more oil in necessary. Stir into the beans.
Stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese, if using, into the bean mixture, and stuff into the peppers.
Distribute the remaining cheese on top of the peppers. Position the reserved pepper tops on top of the peppers. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, until the peppers are completely softened and the cheese is melted.

Note: This holiday menu comes from Myra Kornfelds, The Healthy Hedonist Holidays. I highly recommend this book. It is a great way to experience different cultures holidays through their foods.


salli s. swindell said...

perfectly perfect!!!!! YUM to everything on this very veggie menu!

Kevin said...

Now that is how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

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