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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo! May 5, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. It’s Cinco de Mayo, and that means Fiesta Night here at Hawk’s Haven! We suggest that you plug in the chile lights, crank up the Jimmy Buffett, mix up pitchers of margaritas and sangria and stick ’em in the fridge to chill, and join the party! (And yes, it’s okay to buy that tacky parrot pinata at the grocery. Just don’t beat the poor thing to death.) Tart up the deck with some blooming tropicals, or at least with some tropical-looking blooms. And yes, why not put on that long, brilliantly colored broomstick skirt and tank top or chile-themed Hawaiian shirt and shorts? Go for it!

Incidentally, for this occasion we recommend Jimmy Buffett’s CD “Take the Weather with You,” which features “Cinco de Mayo in Memphis,” and his box set “Jimmy Buffett: Boats Beaches Bars & Ballads,” which includes his classic “Margaritaville” on the “Beaches” CD. Both are guaranteed to relax you into a party mood, even on a Monday. Honorable mention also goes to Al Stewart’s “Down in the Cellar” CD, especially for “The Night the Band Got the Wine.”

But what’s a fiesta without good food and great drinks? Our friend Ben has persuaded me to share my regionally famous refried beans recipe with you, along with two ways to serve them, and of course I have to add a few salsa recipes and our favorite drinks (including one just for kids) to the mix. Not to mention our Sunday Brunch favorite, Hawk’s Haven Huevos Rancheros. (Check my earlier post, “Come and get it: cornbread and black bean soup” for a couple of other great fiesta foods.) These are simply too good to save for once a year, so we enjoy Mexican Night at our Friday Night Supper Club at least once every couple of months, and plainer beans-and-rice fare here at home every week or two. Yum! Are you in the mood yet? Put that Jimmy Buffet in the CD player and let’s kick off this party!

           Silence’s Top Secret Disappearing Refried Beans Recipe

I call these Disappearing Refried Beans because if I make them for a gathering they have a bad habit of disappearing before I can even get any! (Our friend Ben knows better than to try that stunt.) So if you make them, make sure you save some for yourself before setting them out! I’ll be the first to admit that I love the convenience of canned beans, but you can absolutely soak your own instead, and kudos for doing it. I’m also going to say as I do with pretty much every recipe that I’m an intuitive cook who tends to just toss stuff in rather than measuring it out. I find that recipes are very forgiving in this respect (UNLESS you’re baking—don’t try this in that case unless you’re a true chef or the recipe provides options), so I encourage you to add more of what you like and less or even none of what you don’t. Courage! It’s going to be great! And if for some reason it isn’t, just serve a few rounds of margaritas or sangria before supper and everyone will love it anyway! Thus saith Silence.

3 cans pinto beans, or mix of pintos, black beans, and/or kidney beans (we’ve tried them all and they’re all good, but they will change the color of the finished dish, so be forewarned)

canola oil or butter

1 large sweet onion (Walla Walla or Vidalia type), diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

3-6 paste tomatoes, chopped

1 heaping tablespoon black or brown mustardseeds (do not substitute yellow mustardseeds)

1 heaping tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon salt (we like Real Salt)

1 tablespoon hot sauce or to taste (we like Pickapeppa or Tabasco Chipotle)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or 1 tablespoon cilantro paste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oil or butter in a heavy Dutch oven. (This is going to take up a lot more room than you think.) Add black mustardseeds, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Add diced onions and saute until clarified. Add diced pepper. Once pepper has softened, add chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce. Stir in beans and liquid from cans (if using soaked beans, I suggest that you rinse and drain them, simply replacing liquid with water or veggie stock as needed). When beans are thoroughly heated, use a heavy potato masher to squash beans into paste. (A strong arm is helpful here; thanks, Ben!) You don’t have to squash every last bean. The goal is to get a more pastelike consistency. Keep stirring to prevent sticking. Once the refried beans have reached a thick consistency, stir in the chopped cilantro or cilantro paste and serve.

Serving suggestions: We prepare bowls of chopped green onions (scallions), grated sharp cheddar or Mexican cheese blend, sour cream, fresh and prepared salsa (see below), sliced black olives, shredded lettuce, chopped fresh cilantro, diced red and yellow bell peppers, and chopped paste tomatoes (less juicy than other tomatoes, so ideal for this), and sliced jalapenos and set them all out, along with a big bowl of rice and a platter of hot white-corn tortillas so everyone can make their own favorite creations. Our friend Ben enjoys loading up crispy tortillas with beans, cheese, and toppings, and making a separate salad with the lettuce and more toppings, while I prefer skipping the tortillas and creating a platter with rice, beans, and toppings, including plenty of lettuce. Everybody will have a preference, and that’s part of the fun of setting it all out and letting everyone make their own.

As a fabulous dip: Here’s a serving alternative: Turn these yummy, spicy refried beans into the base for a 7-layer dip. Cook them until they’re really thick, then add a layer of them at the bottom of a souffle dish or other straight-sided serving dish. Top with layers of shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, sliced black olives, chopped paste tomatoes, and shredded lettuce, and serve with lots of white-corn tortilla chips (we like Tostitos and Green Mountain Tortilla Chips) for dipping. We like this dip best when the refried beans are still hot.

           Fresh Salsa a la Silence

1 large sweet onion (Walla Walla or Vidalia type), chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

3-6 paste tomatoes, chopped

sliced jalapenos to taste

chopped fresh cilantro to taste

1 teaspoon salt

splash lime juice                 

Mix, chill, and serve.

           Primo Peach Salsa a la Silence

I tweaked a salsa recipe from my CSA, Quiet Creek Farm, created by CSA farmer Aimee Good, to take advantage of peach season, when we had both an abundance of ripe peaches and a ton of ripe tomatoes. Freeze or can it in a hot-water-bath canner to use anytime, or refrigerate the cooked salsa and make a Mexican Night of it within a couple of weeks. This recipe makes a ton, so feel free to adjust the quantities down as desired or give pints as gifts.

2 large or 3 medium onions (I like to use sweet onions), diced

6 sweet red bell peppers, diced

1 large or 2 small heads of garlic, minced

1/2 cup hot peppers, sliced or diced

8 quarts paste tomatoes, chopped

6 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped

1 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 1/3 cups minced fresh cilantro

Cook tomatoes on medium heat in a large stockpot or Dutch oven, stirring occasionally. Saute the onions, peppers, hot peppers, peaches, and garlic in olive oil until tender. Set aside. Continue to cook the tomatoes down on medium heat until desired thickness is achieved (this may take a few hours). Once the tomatoes have reached the thickness you want, stir in the cooked veggies and peaches. Add the salt, cumin, coriander, and red wine vinegar. Add the chopped cilantro at the very end. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

To can, pack hot salsa in hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Seal with hot sterilized lids and process in a boiling-water bath for 20 minutes. Yields about 8-10 pints.         

Gee, it’s drink time! Let’s move on from yummy main dishes and salsas to sangria and margaritas.

              Silence’s Sangria

1 bottle dry red wine

juice of two limes

juice of one lemon

juice of two oranges

1/4 cup sugar or 1/2 cup sugar syrup

1/2 cup triple sec

slices of orange, lemon and lime         

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher. Chill and serve.

            Ben’s Knock-Me-Down, Set-Me-Up Margaritas

I find straight-up margaritas too syrupy, but our friend Ben loves them, so here’s Ben’s go-to recipe. Per glass:

2 oz chilled gold tequila

1 oz chilled lime juice (juice of 1 chilled lime)

1 oz Cointreau

4 oz margarita mix (spring for the best; we like Jose Cuervo)

Make as many multiples of this basic formula as you have guests or want to. Chill pitcher until ready to serve. Serve straight up, on ice, or in a traditional margarita glass with the rim rubbed with lime juice and dipped in margarita salt.

           Chalino Special

Try this gorgeous, cranberry-colored Prohibition-era drink as an alternative to the usual margaritas and sangria. I found this recipe courtesy of MSN and Esquire. Yum! Per glass:  

3 ounces white tequila

1/2 tablespoon creme de cassis

1/2 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce lime juice

1/2 tablespoon simple syrup

Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon or lime peel.

Finally, just for kids:

            La Palomina

Per glass:

1/2 ounce lime juice

pinch of salt

grapefruit soda

slice of lime  

Combine the lime juice and salt in a tall glass and stir. Add ice, top off with grapefruit soda and lime slice, and stir again. If you can find it, use a Mexican soda like Jarritos, but if not, try a lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up with a splash of grapefruit juice. You can turn this into a refreshing adult drink, La Paloma, by adding 2 ounces of tequila (preferably reposado) to the basic recipe.

Oops! Almost forgot those huevos! Our chickens would never forgive me if I didn’t include them.

         Hawk’s Haven Huevos Rancheros

4 large eggs

butter

1 cup sliced button mushrooms

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 large sweet onion, diced (Walla Walla or Vidalia type)

chopped green onions (scallions)

Trocamare or salt and hot pepper sauce (we like Picakpeppa or Tabasco Chipotle)

White corn or flour tortillas or buttered slices of crusty baguette

Refried beans (optional)

Sliced orange and grapefruit

Sour cream

Shredded Cheddar or Mexican cheese blend

Fresh or jarred salsa or both 

Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Saute diced onion, mushrooms, and peppers until onions have clarified and mushrooms are well cooked. Push to the perimeter of the skillet and break four eggs into the center of the skillet. Liberally sprinkle eggs with Trocamare or with salt and hot sauce. When eggs have set on underside, flip them, sprinkle with more Trocamare or salt and hot sauce. Flatten with spatula and fry hard. When you break eggs into the skillet, heat white corn or flour tortillas or buttered slices of crusty baguette, and cut slices of orange and grapefruit. If you have leftover refried beans, lucky you! Heat them in a separate pan.

To serve, mound refried beans (if you have them) on a plate, top with two eggs and a generous helping of the onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Top all with green onions/scallions, shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa to taste, and serve orange and grapefruit slices on the side and warm tortillas or slices of baguette for scooping.

This recipe serves two generously. Make more if you’re having company, and break out those margaritas! Or maybe a pitcher of Tequila Sunrises or Chalinos. Good times!!! 

Now get on out there and celebrate!

                 ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

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