Week 18 - A Mexican Fiesta
Cinco de Mayo was in week 18, so I decided that the perfect cookbook for this week's challenge was "Retro Fiesta" by Geraldine Duncann, published in 2005. This cookbook is full of Mexican inspired recipes and fun vintage artwork. Many of the recipes are intended to serve large groups, so I had to cut a few of the recipes down.
Even cutting the recipes in half they each made a huge amount of food, so we celebrated both Cinco de Cuatro and Cinco de Mayo. For our fiesta meal on Cinco de Cuatro, I made the recipes for roja chile sauce, salsa verde and refried beans. The roja chili sauce had quite a large number of ingredients and prep work took some time, but it was worth it. The sauce was flavorful and delicious and the half-recipe easily made enough sauce for two meals, plus left-overs to freeze for another time.
The salsa verde recipe was the pretty standard recipe and similar to salsa I'd made before. My only issue with salsa verde is always that it can get quite watery, so I recommend letting the tomatoes drain for quite some time before mixing them in with the other ingredients. I did cut this recipe in half, but it still made a week's worth of salsa.
The final recipe I made from the book was for refried beans. To save some time I opted to use canned pinto beans rather than dry. The process of making them was pretty easy. I just cooked onion and garlic in pork lard, dumped in the beans and smashed them with a potato masher while they were cooking, with some spices. The addition of the lard, while not good for you, definitely made the beans more flavorful. My only complaint is that they dried out really fast so I may look for another recipe that makes moister beans.
I served everything with pork burritos made with store-bought flour tortillas and some leftover slow-cooked pork shoulder I made the previous week for pulled pork sandwiches. I also made a side of rice made with tumeric and Mexican spices.
The next day, on Cinco de Mayo, I made the recipe for bean and cheese enchiladas. The recipe called for corn tortillas which I decided to make myself. Corn tortillas are pretty easy and cheap to make. They simply call for masa flour, water and salt. I made a soft dough, which I then flattened and then cooked on a hot cast iron tortilla pan. I initially tried to flatten them with a tortilla press but the press I own is pretty small, so the resulting tortillas were much too small to be used for enchiladas. Instead, I pressed them with the back of the sauce pan and finished them out by rolling them with a rolling pin. It took a little bit more time but the method still worked pretty well.
I filled the enchiladas with some of the refried beans and grated cheese. Although not in the original recipe, I also added sautéed salsa verde, mushrooms and zucchini to the filling. I topped the enchiladas with some of the roja chili sauce and cheese.
I also decided to make the margarita recipe in this book. It was is a pretty standard recipe for frozen margaritas and I made one each for Chris and me. The best part was that I was able to use my Juice-O-Mat for the lime juice.
Overall, I was very happy with the results of our fiesta, and since we are huge fans of Mexican food I can see myself making these and many of the other recipes in this book.
Cookbook: "Retro Fiesta: A Gringo's Guide to Mexican Party Planning" by Geraldine Duncann, published in 2005
Recipe: Roja chili sauce, salsa verde, refried beans, bean and cheese enchiladas and margaritas
Difficulty: All easy, but time-consuming
Alterations: I cut most of the recipes in half and added sauteed vegetables to the enchiladas.
Make Again: Yes. I also plan to make most of the other recipes from this book as well.