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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mexicalli Rose with the Assiniboine Park Conservatory and the MLCC

I had the pleasure of preparing Mexican regional specialties last night at the Grant Park MLCC for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. The vegetables came from the local Organic foods supplier, Fresh Option Organic Delivery.

As an opener beverage, the guests were treated to a Tequila Flavor Rush.

Blanco Flavour rush

1 oz Tequila
Squeeze of Lime
3 oz Ginger Ale

Pour ingredients in order over ice.

1. Simple Guacamole
The beverage pairing was Carta Nevada Extra Dry (+68494)$12.49

1-2 ripe Avocados
Lime or lemon juice
Green onions
Chopped Tomatoes

Cut Avocado in half and with a heavy knife, cut into the seed and remove from fruit. Scoop out avocado from peel into a bowl and mash with lime or lemon juice, a few pinches of salt. Add any or all of the options and serve with tortillas.


2. Salsa Mexicana

The beverage pairing was Sol Especial (+415661) $1.65

Makes 1 1/2 cups


1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Hot green chiles to taste (usually 1 to 2 serranos or 1 small jalapeño), stemmed, seeded (if you wish) and finely chopped
12 ounces (about 2 medium-small round or 4 to 5 plum) red-ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
About 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt, to taste


Scoop the onion into a strainer, rinse under cold tap water, shake off the excess and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the green chile, tomatoes, cilantro and lime. Stir well, taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

3. Black Bean Soup with Orange Zest: Sopa de Invierno

The beverage pairings were Negra Modelo (+5615) $1.83 and Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Sherry (+13565)$12.72

I call this "winter soup" because to the hearty, filling base of black beans is added the bright taste of the oranges that make cold winter weather more bearable. In the mountains of Central Mexico, while not as cold as it is in the north, they are very happy to see those oranges from the lower altitudes roll into the markets in huge piles during the winter months.


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 large clove garlic, minced
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 cups cooked black beans (if using canned beans rinse them well)
* ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
* 1 teaspoon orange zest
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste
* ¼ cup plain yogurt
* chopped cilantro and scallions for garnish
Salt, to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the beans, orange juice and zest, chicken stock, lime juice and yogurt and cook until heated through.

Using an immersion blender, puree the stock to the desired consistency.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro and scallions. Makes 4 first course servings.

4. Cheese-filled Sweet Potato Patties: Tortitas de Camote

The beverage pairings were Beringer California Collection Chardonnay (+730326) $10.99 and Sutter Home Jargon Pinot Noir (+8137)$14.97

In most of Mexico, these fried patties are made with white potatoes, whereas in Veracruz they are made with sweet potatoes or yucca. This cheese-filled version is more versatile than most, because it can be served as an hors d'oeuvre as well as a side dish.


* 2 pounds sweet potatoes
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* salt to taste
* 1 pound queso fresco, farmer cheese or ricotta (not ricotta salata)
* Corn oil or vegetable oil for frying


Scrub the sweet potatoes, boil in their jackets until tender, cool and peel. Alternatively, prick them with a fork in several places, cook until tender in the microwave, cool and peel.

In a mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes, adding salt to taste, with a potato masher or fork to a smooth consistency. Add the flour and combine well. The dough should have a uniform consistency.

Using moist hands, shape into 8 large balls (for side dish servings) or 12 smaller ones (for appetizers or hors d'oeuvres.) Poke a hole into each and stuff it with about 2 teaspoons cheese for the smaller size or 1 tablespoon for the larger. Re-form the dough around the cheese to cover, and gently flatten each ball into a patty.

Fry the patties in about 1 ½" - 2" hot oil, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Makes 12 as an appetizer, hors d'oeuvre or buffet item.

5. Dulce de Camote y Naranja (Yams and Orange Dessert)

The beverage pairing was Rockstar Mango/Orange Cooler (+503961)$3.25

Fruit desserts, whether candied, crystallized or compotes, are among the most popular throughout the state of Chiapas. This one is more like a pudding, and may be served chilled or at room temperature, depending upon the time of year and the other courses being served. Chiapans have a collective sweet tooth, and the amount of sugar called for may be reduced if desired.


* 2 pounds yams, peeled and cut into chunks
* 1 pound sugar
* 2 cups orange juice


Boil yams until soft. Drain and allow to cool; mash until smooth.

Place the yam puree in a large, heavy bottomed pot with the sugar and orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so mixture does not stick, until the bottom of the pot can been seen when stirring.

Remove from heat, allow to cool and serve at room temperature or chill in dessert dishes and serve cold.

Serves 8.

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