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What, no limes for Cinco de Mayo? April 27, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. You’ve probably heard about the lime shortage that’s causing soaring prices and a lot of heartache to Mexican, Thai, and other restaurants that rely on limes in their cuisine and drinks. A whopping 95% of our limes are imported from Mexico, and winter downpours there have set back the lime crop, resulting in late ripening. The fact that druglords charge the lime growers outrageous “export fees” (and, Godfather-like, make them “offers they can’t refuse” if they don’t pay them) doesn’t help prices, either.

The remaining 5% of limes in the U.S. are grown in California and Florida. A three-year drought has literally dried up California’s lime crop, and Florida’s has been hit with a citrus disease that keeps the fruit from ripening. It’s predicted that the Mexican lime crop won’t arrive here in time for Cinco de Mayo, that great celebration of all things Mexican (and margarita). What’s a margarita lover to do?!

The few cases of limes that have managed to make it into the U.S. are so expensive that they’re forcing restaurateurs to get creative. One Mexican restaurant in California now offers patrons margaritas for 25 cents if they’ll bring in limes from their own backyard trees. Others have raised the prices of their top-shelf margaritas or refrained from adding slices of lime unless they’re specifically requested by the customer. Still others are experimenting with substituting lemon juice in dishes like ceviche and guacamole.

What does this mean for your Cinco de Mayo party? Probably not that much. Limes are going for 99 cents each or $2 a bag at Wegman’s, a high-end grocery, so they’re probably less at your local store. It’s not a huge sacrifice to splurge on a few limes for your fiesta. Or you could go for a paloma, a drink that’s more popular in Mexico than margaritas.

This delicious, refreshing drink is traditionally made with tequila and a Mexican white grapefruit soda (the drink’s golden color caused its originator to name it for the beautiful golden paloma horse). But as white grapefruit soda isn’t that easy to find in my part of rural PA and I happen to love pink grapefruit juice, I devised my own version. Allow me to present the Pink Paloma:

Fill a tall glass 1/4 full with golden tequila; add a splash of Triple Sec. Add pink grapefruit juice (no pulp, no added sweetener!) to bring the glass to half full. Top it off with mandarin orange seltzer water (again, unsweetened). So delicious! And it’s much less heavy and syrupy than most margaritas. Add a slice of lime at your discretion.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo! May 5, 2012

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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

The perfect margarita. October 17, 2011

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben is addicted to margaritas, but I’ve never been as fond of them, because even though the flavor is good, the thick, syrupy, too-sweet margarita mix that makes up most of a typical margarita is just too much for me.

But my thinking underwent a sea change when OFB and I went to this year’s Bowers [PA] Chile Pepper Festival. The festival is always fun, anyway, but this year, one of the booths was serving (non-alcoholic) samples of margaritas spiked with their clear Frostbite hot sauce. One sip, and I was hooked. I’ll bet you will be, too. That touch of heat was the perfect antidote to the margarita’s sweetness, giving it a wonderful edge. We bought bottles for ourselves and our heat-loving friend and blog contributor, Richard Saunders, as well as our other chilihead friend, Rob.

Back at Hawk’s Haven, I decided to work on my standard margarita recipe to make it work even better with the Frostbite hot sauce. Here’s what I came up with. We love it! Now I often join OFB in a margarita when “it’s five o’clock somewhere,” and he insists that I add a splash of Frostbite to his martinis, too. Mind you, I’m an intuitive mixmaster as I’m an intuitive cook, so I eyeball the amounts I use. Adjust the recipe to suit your own tastes!

              Silence’s Perfect Margarita

per drink:

1 large goblet, preferably colorful Mexican glass

1/2 inch gold tequila in bottom of goblet (the better the tequila, the better the margarita, of course)

1/4 inch Triple Sec on top of that (Grand Marnier instead will boost the flavor but also the price)

generous splashes of Key lime and Key lemon juice (You can sub regular lemon juice, but please, look for Key lime juice in the fruit juice aisle of your grocery, or Key limes in the produce section. It’s worth it!)

4 drops Frostbite hot sauce, or to taste (start with 2 if you’re unsure, you can always work up)

2 pinches margarita salt (any salt will do in a pinch)

Swirl all this around in your goblet to blend and put some of the margarita salt into solution. You won’t get it all to dissolve! But more will dissolve as you drink the margarita, so keep swirling as you drink. Why do I put the salt in the margarita instead of on the rim of the glass, you ask? Well, it’s so much simpler and less messy. But if you want to dip the rim of each glass in lime juice or water and then in margarita salt, be my guest!

Now, here’s the key: Add one inch—no more!—of Jose Cuervo margarita mix to your goblet. More will make the margarita thick and syrupy and take away that delicious edge you’ve been trying to give it. In this case, less is definitely more! 

Swirl to blend, add 3 or 4 ice cubes, swirl again, and serve. Ole!!!!

These margaritas are just right alone, with tortilla chips and salsa, or refried beans and all the fixings, or with the chili burritos I’m going to tell you about tomorrow. Try them and let me know what you think!

Warning: These are addictive. You’ll probably want a second, so it’s best to drink them at home.

For the Frostbite sauce: I just found a place in New Hope, PA, Suzie’s Hot Shoppe (www.suzieshotshoppe.com), that carried Frostbite this past weekend, so check your favorite hot-sauce supplier. Or order online from CaJohns Fiery Foods (www.cajohns.com).

         ‘Til next time,

                      Silence

National Tequila Day July 24, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Yes, folks, today, July 24, is National Tequila Day. We hope you realize that margaritas are the original Gatorade, containing copious amounts of both salt and sugar, just the thing for combating a heatwave like the one we’re all going through now.* And did we mention, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere?

Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we wanted to look into the history of the margarita and see when it first arrived North of the Border. So we turned to our venerable copy of Gordon’s Cocktail & Food Recipes, ca. 1934. There were no margarita recipes in the index, but there were three variations on a “marguerite cocktail,” so we quickly turned to page 91 in the hope that this was a Frenchified name for the venerable beverage. Alas, all three versions turned out to be gin-based, and one contained absinthe, which at the time was considered addictive and hallucinogenic and was, despite the popularity of absinthe cocktails in the book, illegal in the U.S. at the time (though legal in Britain). There wasn’t a mention of tequila in any form in the entire volume.

Based on these clues and the fact that Gordon’s Gin is produced in London, we concluded that, despite the fact that the book claimed to have been published in Boston and didn’t list any other places of publication (such as, say, London), it must have been British, and thus the absence of tequila in the book didn’t necessarily mean a corresponding absence of tequila at the time in the U.S. More research was clearly called for.

Turns out, tequila wasn’t introduced into the U.S. until the late 1800s, by Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884-1885, according to Wikipedia. Since tequila had been made there since the 16th century, it surprised us that it took so long to get here; we’d have thought it would have arrived in the Southwest with the Spanish.

Here are five fun facts about tequila that we also learned from Wikipedia. Use them to astound your friends over margaritas tonight!

* The most expensive bottle of alcohol ever sold was not a vintage champagne, as we’d have assumed, but a bottle of tequila, which sold for $225,000 in 2006.

* In 2009, Mexican scientists discovered how to make tiny synthetic diamonds from tequila.

* Used Jack Daniels barrels are especially popular for making aged, or anejo, tequila.

* Despite the mythology, tequilas do not contain worms (actually caterpillars, moth larvae that feed on agave) in the bottle to prove that they were really made from agave. Apparently some mezcals from Oaxaca began including these worms in bottles as a marketing gimmick in the 1940s, and that’s how the legend started.

* In Germany, gold tequila is drunk with a dash of cinnamon taken before the shot and orange slices afterwards. White or silver tequila is taken with salt and lime as it is here.   

And by the way, all tequila is made from the blue agave plant, Agave tequilana Weber Blue variety, and exclusively produced in the State of Jalisco, where the village of Tequila is located. The best tequilas are 100% agave, while even the cheapest brands must contain 51% agave.  

Yikes, the sun is over the islands (to quote Jimmy Buffett, whose song “Margaritaville” did more to popularize tequila in the U.S. than anything before or since), so it’s time to share a couple of tequila cocktails.

First is the Tequila Sunrise, an International Bartender Association Official Cocktail (please don’t ask us the significance of that designation, we don’t know either). The version we all know and love originated in the early 1970s, and because the red, orange and gold layers settle out, it apparently reminded its creators of a sunrise. It’s made with tequila, orange juice, and grenadine, and served in a highball glass over ice with an orange slice and maraschino cherry. Bring ’em on!!!

Next, of course, is the margarita. We make the Hawk’s Haven version with gold tequila, Triple Sec, splashes of Key lime and Key lemon juice, and Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, served over ice with margarita salt. We like to serve them in huge goblets hand-painted with festive chile peppers that we found at Goodwill, preferably accompanied by white tortilla chips, homemade salsa and pepper Jack cheese. Lime wedges optional but always appreciated.

Silence Dogood is as fond of a good margarita or Tequila Sunrise as anybody, but her favorite tequila drink is the Pink Paloma, made with gold tequila, pink (“ruby red”) grapefruit juice, and Mandarin orange sparkling water. She says it’s not too sweet, not too thick, and perfectly refreshing on a hot, humid day.

What’s your favorite tequila drink?

* Disclaimer: While the salt, sugar, citrus, and water (ice cube or crushed ice) content of a margarita may help protect you from the effects of extremely hot weather, it’s well known that alcohol contributes to heat exhaustion. You’d be better off drinking iced tea.

Festive fare for Cinco de Mayo. May 5, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! It’s time to put up the pepper lights and mix up some margaritas to celebrate Mexico’s national holiday. Since we’re still in week one with our new pup, Shiloh, our festivities are likely to be a little less elaborate than I’d like. But we’re not about to pass up a chance to enjoy some fiery favorites and diabolically delicious drinks.

If you’d like to join us, I’ll give you recipes for Fresh Salsa a la Silence and two amazing drinks to kick things off. But you’ll find tons more fantastic recipes and ideas for extras in several of my earlier posts (just search for them in our search bar at top right). For a full range of fiesta-worthy fare, including Silence’s Top Secret Disappearing Refried Beans and Ben’s Knock-Me-Down, Set-Me-Up Margaritas, see “Fiesta Time! It’s Cinco de Mayo!” You’ll find more of our favorite salsa recipes in my post “Salsa: Some Like It Hot.”  And for a hot, easy appetizer, see “Homemade Jalapeno Poppers.”

We love salsas, and have plenty of both homemade and small-batch salsas on hand, as well as the occasional jar of Tostitos salsa, since they sometimes have a “free jar with every purchase” giveaway. I like to use it to spice up chili, refried beans, and tomato sauces, spooning it into the dish as I’m cooking it, but it’salso nice to have a backup jar or two of salsa in case people want something milder and/or more recognizeable as salsa than some of the small-batch versions. (Our friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders, the original chilihead, has presented us with some amazing salsas over the years that he’s discovered on travels to the Southwest and at our own local Bowers Chile Pepper Festival. But most of them are so hot only he can eat them.)

But I always like to whip up this fast fresh salsa to serve along with the jarred varieties. The flavor and crunch are great, especially when combined with a creamy dish like refried beans or bean dip or on quesadillas and taco salad. And of course, it’s delicious as a topping for white tortilla chips or tortilla chips with lime. But there’s another way to use fresh salsa that isn’t quite as obvious: on a homemade pizza. We pat a layer of this salsa into the tomato sauce before topping the pizza with cheese and our toppings of choice, and it adds a layer of crunchy flavor that makes people rave. Yum! Since it keeps well for up to a week in the fridge, you can double or triple the batch size and have plenty for pizza, refried beans, heuvos rancheros, dipping, and more (at least, as long as our friend Ben isn’t visiting your house!). Try it as a topping on grilled or baked chicken or fish, too.

            Fresh Salsa a la Silence

1 large sweet onion (WallaWalla, Vidalia or Candy type), diced fine

1 large red bell pepper or equivalent amount of mixed red, orange, yellow and green pepper, diced fine

3-6 paste tomatoes, diced fine (we prefer paste tomatoes for this because they’re drier and hold their shape and texture better than juicier tomatoes)

minced jarred jalapenos or fresh minced seeded jalapenos to taste

chopped fresh cilantro to taste (we love cilantro and use a ton)

1 teaspoon salt

splash lime juice

Mix, chill and serve.   

Moving on to the drinks, I saw bags of blood oranges for sale at one of our local grocery stores, which made me think it was time to make this beautiful and luscious margarita (from Jane Lawson’s book Shaken).

                 Blood-Orange Margarita

1 1/2 ounce gold tequila

1/2 ounce Grand Marnier or mandarin liqueur

1/2 ounce lime juice

1 ounce blood orange juice

1/2 ounce sugar syrup

ice cubes

Add a scoop of ice to a cocktail shaker, then tequila, Grand Marnier or liqueur, lime and blood orange juices, and sugar syrup. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass. Serves one.

Now, mind you, OFB and I don’t have a cocktail shaker or strainer, and if we were going to the trouble of mixing up this margarita, we’d make a pitcher and just chill it without the ice ’til serving time. But that’s just us. 

How about a totally different drink? MSN featured it last year for Cinco de Mayo. They’d gotten it from Esquire and we really liked it, so even though I presented the recipe in “Fiesta Time! It’s Cinco de Mayo!” I’ll give it to you again here. Presenting…

              La Paloma

2 ounces tequila (preferably reposado)

1/2 ounce lime juice

pinch of salt

 grapefruit soda (preferably Mexican Jarritos brand)

slice of lime

Combine the tequila, lime juice and salt in a tall glass. Add ice, top off with grapefruit soda and slice of lime, and stir. The soda can be hard to find; as a last resort, use lemon-lime soda (such as Sprite or 7-Up) with a splash of grapefruit juice. Serves 1.

Again I ask, who’s going to make (or drink) just one? But unless you have a crowd at your house, since you’re dealing with a carbonated soda and want to keep the fizz, I’d recommend waiting to mix these up until you’re ready to drink them.

Hope you have a fun and fabulous fiesta tonight (and possibly a siesta this afternoon as well). And if you have favorite Cinco de Mayo recipes to share, I’d love to add them to my stash!

         ‘Til next time,

                    Silence

Fiesta time! It’s Cinco de Mayo! May 5, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, Uncategorized.
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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