Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. This is one of those holidays we celebrate without knowing what it’s all about (in my circles, at least). We usually tip back a few Mexican beers and shout a half-hearted, “Happy Cinco de Mayo!” as the total of our festivities. After a little search on Wikipedia, I dug up a few things I didn’t know about this Mexican holiday.
Did you know any of these facts about Cinco de Mayo?
Since this is my first year with a food blog, I have a pitiful lack of Mexican recipes. I tend to cook more Latin/Caribbean recipes because of my Miami roots. Even so, we celebrate Cinco De Mayo in our own way.
Here’s a little wrap up of the Latin and Mexican recipes I’ve posted so far, along with a few favorites from my blogger friends. I hope these inspiring Cinco De Mayo recipes get your ready for a margarita and a hearty Mexican meal. Enjoy!
Top Left: Margarita Cookies from Noshing with the Nolands
Top Right: Mexican Grilled Corn (Elote) from Confections of a Foodie Bride
Middle Left: IXA Organic Tequila Paloma Cocktail from Culinary Ginger
Middle Right: Smoked Salt and Goat Cheese Padron Pepper Tacos (Vegetarian) from Love and Duck Fat
Bottom: Roasted Potato Cups with Loaded Guacamole from She Likes Food
Top: Breakfast Nachos from Runway Chef
Middle Left: Cuban Sandwich Crostini from Love and Duck Fat
Middle Right: Latin Picadillo from Love and Duck Fat
Bottom Left: Arepa, Roast Pork Eggs Benedict with Cilantro Hollandaise from Love and Duck Fat
Bottom Right: Pork Carnitas Tacos from Love and Duck Fat
All images copyright of their respective blog owners.
How do you celebrate Cinco De Mayo? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below.
I have to admit, I don’t cook very many Mexican dishes—but when I do, pork canitas is one of my favorites. Pork carnitas is slow cooked pork with lots of garlic, spices and citrus. It can be easily made on the stove top in a large pot or your dutch oven. After a few hours of cooking, you end up mounds of tender, juicy pork that fall apart with a fork. It’s full of flavor and perfect for tacos one night and a casserole the next.
I like to cook a pork roast about once a month. It’s easy to throw the ingredients in a pot on a Sunday and let it cook without a lot of fuss. The pork slowly simmers on the stove and I end up with enough for several meals (in our small family), plus more to freeze for another round of meals. It may sound like something that is difficult to do, but pork carnitas is actually very easy, and your family will be so happy with the delicious results.
Pork Carnitas Tacos are great to serve for Cinco De Mayo, in fact, I’ll be pulling my stash from my freezer just for the occasion. Serve your tacos with homemade pico de gallo and, some shredded cabbage and corn tortillas and you have yourself a delicious, authentic Mexican meal. Another delicious way to use this pork is for breakfast like in this roast pork eggs Benedict with cilantro hollandaise.
Btw…be on the lookout on your grocery store shelf for La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style Yellow Corn Tortillas. They are drastically better than the ones I’ve purchased before. They don’t fall apart, yet still have that delicious corn taste.
Using a dutch oven or any large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and add the oregano, cumin, onion and garlic. Saute for about 8 minutes, and then place the pork on top. Add enough water to just cover the meat. Add the jalapeno, bay leaves, lime juice and squeeze the orange juice into the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Uncover the pot and continue to cook on medium-low heat, at a vigorous simmer another 1 ½ to 2 hours. Skim the foam or fat off the top as it cooks. When the pork is tender and much of the liquid has evaporated, use 2 forks to pull the meat apart in the pot (you can leave big chunks at this point). Increase the heat to medium-high and cook another 20 minutes, letting the liquid evaporate and the meat caramelize and brown in the fat left in the pan.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the bay leaves. Shred the meat thoroughly and discard any large chunks of fat.
Picadillo is a Spanish dish made with ground meat and other ingredients. It’s popular in many Latin American countries, each having their own variation. Living in Miami, I grew up with Cuban picadillo. Cuban picadillo is a mixture of ground beef, onions, garlic, oregano, olives, raisins and a touch of tomato sauce. It’s a hefty meal, usually served with a big portion of black beans and rice, and some sweet plantains, or plantanos maduros.
I love the rich flavor of picadillo. It’s an easy, one-pot dish that feeds a whole family. I don’t love how heavy it is, almost completely lacking in vegetables. Instead, I make a healthier spinach picadillo, packed with spinach, green pepper, celery and peas. It’s loaded with flavor and something every member of the family will love—even the picky little ones. You can serve it with white or brown rice and even substitute the ground beef for turkey.
Feel free to play around with this recipe. It’s very forgiving and you can add or substitute your favorite ingredients. I’ve made it with ground turkey instead of ground beef and it’s just as good. Lately, I make it with grass-fed organic ground beef, which is lower in saturated fat and contains 2-3x the amount of Omega 3, CLA, beta-carotene and lutein than regular beef.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for spinach picadillo as much as we have. It’s one of the few dishes I make again and again and I’m so happy to finally share it with you on Love and Duck Fat!
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the ground beef. Chop up the beef with a spatula as it cooks, turning often. Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper. Cook about 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft but not brown.
Add the olives, olive juice, celery, bay leaf tomato sauce, raisins, white wine and broth to the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring to combine. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes.
Uncover and increase heat to medium. Add lime juice and spinach. Cook for another 5-10 minutes uncovered or until mixture reduces to desired consistency. Stir and season to taste. Add peas just before serving. Remove bay leaf and serve with rice and an avocado salad.
I’ve been holding onto this recipe for a while now, so it’s only fitting it goes out as Love and Duck Fat’s last recipe of 2013. It’s the ultimate “Miami-style” Eggs Benedict, perfect for the morning after a long night out in the warm December air. Tender roast pork, poached egg and fresh cilantro hollandaise perched on top of a buttery-sweet arepa. The recipe isn’t too complicated. I use leftover roast pork, and store-bought arepas. The hollandaise is freshly-made, using lime juice and cilantro. Make sure you serve it with some hot sauce on the side.
Eggs Benedict can be made so many ways. I came up with this one with my husband while we were discussing the ultimate “Miami-style” Eggs Benedict over brunch one morning. If you have visited Miami, you may have come across the arepa vendors in popular parks and events. They are grill corn flour patties, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are slightly sweet with the taste of corn, and delicious sandwiched together with warm melted cheese.
You can buy arepas in the refrigerated section of many Latin markets (usually next to the queso fresco). They come in a regular and mini-size. I prefer using the regular size for this recipe, trimmed down to the size of the Eggs Benedict. The mini arepas are more dry, but will work if that is all you can find.
Of course, you need some good roast pork. I like to slow roast a pork shoulder every few months with lots of onions, lime juice and cumin. It goes into tacos, appetizers (like this Cuban sandwich crostini) salads and then the freezer, to thaw for recipes like this (roast pork recipe to follow). If you are a true Miami native, you may have some roast pork left over from your Noche Buena celebration.
As my last post of 2013, I wish everyone a Happy New Year filled with love, family, friends and delicious food. Thank you for spending time with me (even if it was just a minute or two) on Love and Duck Fat. It’s been a blast!
Whisk together the egg yolks and lime juice in a stainless steel bowl until they are lighter in color, and thickened. Heat about 2 inches of water in the bottom of a small saucepan to simmering (or use a double boiler). Place the bowl on top of the saucepan, without allowing the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Be careful not to get the eggs to hot or they will scramble.
Continue whisking the egg mixture rapidly. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the eggs until the sauce is thick and double in volume. Remove from the heat.
Add the cayenne pepper, salt and cilantro to the sauce. Cover and keep warm until you are ready to serve.
I like to poach eggs in a small nonstick skillet filled with a few inches of water. I add a touch of white vinegar to the pan and bring it barely to a simmer.
Crack an egg into a small glass bowl. When bubbles begin to appear on the bottom of the pan, carefully pour the egg into the water. Cover and turn down the heat to low. Allow to cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spatula (you may have to carefully pry off the bottom of the pan), and place on paper towels.
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until foaming. Add the arepas and cook until slightly browned on both sides. Just before serving, top the arepas with shredded cheese and allow to melt.
Arrange two arepas per plate, cheese-side-up. Top with warm roast pork and press down slightly so you have a flat surface. Place a poached egg on each and spoon hollandaise sauce on top. Serve immediately.
Growing up in Miami, the Cuban culture is a part of me. I grew up attending Nochebuena parties to celebrate Christmas Eve, complete with a whole roast pig. You can find small cafes all over Miami selling the famous Cuban sandwich, made with buttered Cuban bread, yellow mustard, roast pork, sliced ham Swiss cheese and dill pickles.
This Cuban appetizer variation uses all of those familiar ingredients, served open-faced on thin slices of Cuban bread. The result is a bite-sized presentation of a familiar dish, full of flavor. What I love about crostini is how versatile they are, while still looking elegant, like these, made with prosciutto, Burrata cheese and figs. The Cuban sandwich crostini is an easy appetizer recipe your guests are sure to love.
One loaf of Cuban bread will make about 35-45 crostini, and the recipe below is for 30. If you need to make more, just purchase more meat and cheese. I like to use a fresh loaf, because Cuban bread gets very brittle when it dries out. The slathering of butter underneath the melted Swiss cheese keeps the bread nice and moist, even after several hours.
Yield: 30 crostini
Preheat oven to 350 °F/°C
Spread out the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet (work in batches if necessary). Spread a small amount of butter on each slice. Top each slice with ½ a slice of Swiss cheese.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread are lightly browned (check often so the bread does not burn). Allow to cool.
Spread about 1/4 – ½ teaspoon yellow mustard on the top of the melted cheese. Then top with a strip of sliced ham. Follow with a piece of roast pork (I like to fan it out a little).
Place a single dill pickle slice on each crostini and serve.
I’ll say it now. I’m not a big fan of tacos. My husband loves them. So does my mother. My son will probably love them when he’s big enough. They are good, but they don’t blow me over. I prefer to eat them with a fork off my plate after they have fallen apart, because they usually do.
Maybe I’m just not doing it right.
My experience with tacos so far has been a few authentic taco joints, dry supermarket tortillas and taco bell. I lived in California for 5 years and had some pretty delicious Mexican food, but the emphasis was always on huge portions. I used to call my usual burrito, “baby burrito”, because once wrapped in aluminum foil; it felt like I was carrying a very warm, infant-sized package for my lunch. I’m sure if I had handmade tortillas easily available filled with handmade (with care) anything, my perception would change.
My perceptions changed slightly with this recipe for smoked salt Padron pepper and goat cheese tacos from the Bojon Gourmet. This is a sophisticated, delicate taco. My mother brought the recipe over, along with all the ingredients except the smoked salt, which I have. She had received a carton of Padron peppers in her weekly organic produce delivery.
With a little research, I found out that Padron peppers aren’t Mexican at all. They come from Spain. They are mild and sweet (with the occasional rebel), despite their appearance. These little peppers have a unique flavor and are usually served lightly charred and drizzled with olive oil as tapas. We ate a bunch of them on their own and they were delicious. You eat them whole, stem end and all. Charred in a skillet, and sprinkled with smoked salt, they are a delicious treat.
Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes with salt and place in a strainer to let them release their juices.
Mix together the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and some salt in a small bowl. Taste and season some more if you prefer. Set aside.
Cut the stems off the peppers, leaving the crown end intact (this is edible). Rinse the peppers and pat dry with a towel. Using a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering hot. Add the peppers to the pan and cook them, tossing every few minutes, until they are blistered, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with smoked salt.
Using your oven or another skillet, warm the tortillas on both sides until soft. Place the tortillas on plates and build the tacos, using the ingredients in the following order:
cilantro lime crema
Top with a sprinkle of smoked salt and cilantro. Serve while the peppers are still warm, with lime wedges for squeezing.