Home Cooking: 3 tasty choices to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (column)
May 2, 2018
When I consider cooking for a holiday I consider three different strategies, all of which are covered in this article.
First, I lean toward the desire to recapture a favorite dish that conveys the holiday and which I know is a tried and true crowd pleasure. After all, holidays might not be the best time to spring something new on a crowd of friends. In this case, my recipe for fish tacos brings back happy memories of a trip to Hawaii with Mom.
Second, completely contrary to the first strategy, try something new! This is risky, but if your friends and family are adventurous eaters, a special holiday might be the perfect time to experiment with something completely different. That's what I had in mind when I made the posole recipe. To be honest, I've never had posole, but I love slow cooker pork. So, I read over 20 different recipes, and then tried to come up with my own take. In this case, adding a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end of the cooking process to lighten this earthy stew. I liked the result, and so did my friends, Pat and Verne.
Third, despite our best intentions, sometimes the made-from-scratch dinner we'd planned never comes to fruition when last minute work assignments, doctor's appointments or a gloriously beautiful day calls us out of the kitchen and into the woods for a hike. No matter! A good cook will know that shortcuts can be taken and still produce a meal that everyone will enjoy. That's the beauty of Enchiladas Three Ways, there's an option that everyone will enjoy, and they can all be ready in minutes.
Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa
The first time I had fish tacos was in 2005, in Hawaii. The fresh fish combined with the sweetness of pineapple has stayed with me all these years. Which is why I can't explain that it has taken me all these years to come up with my own version. Well, here it is and it's not only delicious, it's very easy to make!
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4 filets of medium/firm fish (I used frozen wild caught cod)
2 tablespoons of neutral oil such as canola oil
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
Lemon pepper or another citrus-based seasoning (I used Penzy's "Florida" seasoning)
8 corn tortillas
¼ – ½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ bunch cilantro
2 cups shredded cabbage (you can also use coleslaw mix)
Mango avocado salsa
3 small golden mangos
2 small firm avocados
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425F. Remove frozen fish filets from their packaging, lightly brush both sides of fish with oil, then sprinkle with lime juice and seasoning. Bake for 20 minutes, and then broil for five minutes to give the filets a golden color and grill taste. Remove filets to a separate plate to rest.
While the fish filets are baking, prepare the mango avocado salsa: cut the interior meat of the mangos and avocados into small cubes, toss together with chopped cilantro, oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Then mix the "special sauce" mayo, cumin and lime juice together in a separate small container.
To assemble the tacos
Hold the tortilla in one hand, spread a generous layer of "special sauce" on the tortilla, add cabbage, half of a piece of fish filet, top with mango salsa, top with more special sauce if desired. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Posole
This is a spicy soup/stew with a great depth of flavor. Best of all, you can easily throw it into the slow cooker in under 10 minutes, set it on low in the morning and come home to a fragrant dinner. Note: Feel free to halve the ingredients to create a more manageable amount for two to four people, especially if you are serving it as a starter rather than a main course.
3 lbs pork shoulder cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups chicken stock or water
1 large onion
1 25 oz can of hominy
1-2 tablespoons oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Splash balsamic vinegar before serving
Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Turn on low. Come back in six to eight hours, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve with shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, thin slices of radish. Yep, it's that easy.
Quick and Easy Enchiladas three Ways
There are times when making something from scratch is well worth the effort. And then, sometimes, you might get the same result from taking a shortcut. The result will still taste better than frozen food, and will be delicious and home-cooked. Just quicker. These three enchiladas options are perfect for weeknight dinners or big group dinners when you're asked to bring a main course.
When I first worked on this recipe, I made an enchilada sauce from scratch. It was delicious. However, I couldn't justify the extra time and cost of accumulating the ingredients to insist that you make it instead of buying a can of enchilada sauce for less time and money. So, if we're going to open one can, let's make this entire dish convenient and easy.
1 large can of red or green enchilada sauce (you can choose mild, medium or hot to suit your taste)
8 oz of shredded cheese
Cojito cheese to top the enchiladas (optional, but delicious)
For cheese enchiladas: add another package or two (depending on how many enchiladas you are making) of shredded cheese, such as cheddar, or a taco mix.
For chicken enchiladas: Shred the meat of a rotisserie chicken
For black bean enchiladas: two 14 oz cans of black beans, drained
Pour a thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Then pour the rest of the enchilada sauce into a saucepan, warm gently. Dip each tortilla into the sauce so that it is lightly coated with the sauce. Holding the tortilla in the palm of one hand, use your other hand to add the fillings of your choice, shredded chicken, beans, cheese or all three! Gently roll the tortilla to enclose the filling and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Continue until you've made all the enchiladas you want to eat! Spoon enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and then top with lots of shredded cheese. Bake in a 375F oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and filling warmed.