Cinco de Mayo Recipes

posted on 4/28/14

Next to the cocktails, the second best thing about throwing a Cinco de Mayo party is the food. A well-cooked Mexican dinner is such a wild gastronomical joy–the cheese, fresh veggies, spicy meat. The tastes of Mexico bring my mouth so much joy that my brain doesn’t quite know how to describe it. Naturally, I turned to Geoffrey Stanton and asked him to describe the cuisine. He simply responded with, “So [expletive] good.”

I’m using Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to compile some of my favorite recipes from across the internet. But really, you should probably add these delicious treats to your weekly menu. You’ll thank me later.

1. Black Beans with Lime

This Martha Stewart recipe is so quick and easy. The chili powder gives the beans an extra kick and, hey, add some jalapenos in there if you’re feeling extra adventurous. The scallions can be replaced or enhanced by a little cilantro, too.

What you need:
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced and separated
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of water

What you do:
In a saucepan, heat up your oil on medium heat. Add white parts of scallions, salt and pepper. Heat for a few minutes, until everything is nice and soft and smelling delicious. Add beans, chili powder, and 1/4 cup of water. Cook until warm, about five or so minutes. Remove from heat and add lime juice. Garnish with green parts of the scallion. And hey, feel free to throw cheese on the top of it. I can’t imagine how that would make this delicious recipe worse.

2. Mexican Corn Cakes

Another Martha recipe here. This one is bound to soothe the starch lover in your life. Masa harina is a traditional Mexican flour which can be found in most grocery stores. This is the stuff of tortillas. Cotija, on the other hand, is a traditional Mexican cheese. If you’re looking for an authentic version of this recipe, do your best to find cotija. Otherwise, substitute it with whatever Mexican-style cheese you like best.

What you need:
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen corn kernels
4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 to 1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

What you do:
Start by whisking together masa harina, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the corn kernels and cheese. Add water, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each pour until the mixture holds together firmly. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot but don’t let it smoke. This will take about five minutes. Scoop a 1/2 cup mixture and shape it into a patty that is about 1/3 inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Working in batches of 3 or 4, fry the patties. Turn them once until each patty is golden brown. This will take less than five minutes per side, so keep a close eye on them. Transfer the patties to a paper towel to let them train. It’s good to keep a little extra oil on hand in case your pan gets dry.

3. Grilled chicken-finger fajitas with peppers and onions

So far we have gone over some great side dishes. Now it’s time for the main course. Grilled chicken-finger fajitas are a great and healthy way to feed your grumbling tummy. Better Homes and Gardens has a simple recipe and delicious recipe that is a go to in my kitchen.

What you need:
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 pound chicken breast tenderloins
2 tablespoons fajita seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 fresh poblano pepper, stemmed, quartered, and seeded
1 red sweet pepper, stemmed, quartered, and seeded
1 onion, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch-thick rings
Olive oil
8 6-7 inch flour tortillas
Shredded cheese
Salsa or pico de gallo

What you do:
Stir together the sour cream and taco seasoning. Combine the chicken tenderloins, fajita seasoning, oil, lime juice, and hot sauce. Coat the chicken well with the mixture. Brush the peppers and onions with oil and season with salt. Grill the veggies on a rack directly over medium heat for just about ten minutes. Add the chicken to the grill. Cover and cook for about five minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the tortillas to the grill and cook for less than 30 seconds per side. Place everything on a beautiful serving dish and enjoy your healthy, nutritious dinner!

4. Churros

On one of my first few days in New York, I was waiting for the train at Lexington with a friend. We saw a woman with a cart who was selling long, doughy-looking sticks covered in sugar (and some sprinkles!). I had never heard of a thing called a “churro” before. Usually I try to avoid buying food from strangers in the subway but my friend insisted so I handed over a few bucks and got a brown paper bag of treats in return. To be honest, I can’t think of a better way to spend a dollar. The dough, sugary treat was so delightful that I simply had to find a good churro recipe. Make this for your friends at your Cinco de Mayo party or just to show them that you love them for being so sweet. Completely Delicious has a great recipe.

What you need:
1 cup unsalted butter
8 fluid ounces milk
8 fluid ounces water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
5-7 eggs
Cinnamon sugar, as needed

What you do:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add milk, sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from heat. Mix in the flour, stirring until it becomes a paste. Return the saucepan to heat and stir for several minutes as the paste dries. When the paste is leaving a film residue on the saucepan, remove from heat and put the paste into an electric mixer. Mix the paste on low and allow it to cool. Once cool, add the eggs one at a time. Beat well. The paste should shine and come off the beater in thick strips. Put the paste into a piping bag and pipe into long strips on a paper towel. Chill the strips for a while. This will help them keep consistency. Fill a heavy pot with vegetable oil and heat to 375 degrees. Make sure your cinnamon and sugar mixture is ready when you start frying. You’ll also want to line a plate with paper towels–this will help absorb some of the oil from frying the churros. Peel the paper towel away from the churros and fry them in the oil. When the churros are browned, remove from the oil and dry them on paper towel. Eat immediately. Why wouldn’t you?

5. Tequila Watermelon Popsicles

One of the great things about popsicles is that they are incredibly easy to make with a few simple supplies. So long as you have your popsicle tray ready to go and the patience to let them freeze, nothing should stop you from preparing a few icy treats in the dead heat of the summer. I simply love this Love & Olive Oil recipe. And hey, since we’re all adults, why not make those icy treats alcoholic?

What you need:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup watermelon juice (from about 1/2 a watermelon)
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons tequila

What you do:
Mix the water and sugar in a bowl. Heat high for 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Allow this to cool for a while. Making watermelon juice is really easy. Just roughly chop the watermelon into three cups of cubes. Run those bits through a food mill or crush them and strain through a fine mesh. Combine the juice, sugar syrup, lime juice and zest, and tequila in a small bowl. Pour into popsicle molds and insert sticks. Freeze until solid and enjoy the deliciousness while you sit by the pool or wherever you go when its hot out.

Marge Poore’s cookbook 1,000 Mexican Recipes (1,000 Recipes) is a great resource for your Cinco De Mayo party (and life).

I’m officially starving now.

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