Tag Archives: Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo: Make (and Take) a Great Guacamole

Cinco de Mayo is upon us — the 5th of May, a holiday celebrated by Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and others. It commemorates the 1861 Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexicans stopped the French from annexing their country. (The French did end up ruling Mexico for a short time afterward, but no matter.) As it happens, Mexican Independence Day is much more widely celebrated in Mexico than Cinco de Mayo — it’s in September and marks Mexico’s 1810 independence from Spain. This site features a good history of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo certainly offers an opportunity to celebrate with friends, music, and good Mexican food and drink. There is perhaps no more popular and delicious a dish than a good homemade guacamole, which is very easy to make (provided you have access to fresh avocados) and always tastes a great deal better than anything store-bought.

Because I live with Lippy, the Tequila Whisperer and a fine guacamole maker, I got to ask him for a few of his trade secrets.

Lippy’s Guacamole

You’ll need:

4 avocados (approx. 1/2 avocado per person)
1/4 red onion chopped
1 medium tomato, cut in small cubes
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only, finely chopped
1/2 c. fire-roasted green or tomatilla salsa
4 tsp. salt or more, to taste
Lime juice, optional

When buying avocados, make sure you choose ones that are ripe, but not overly ripe. When you press in the center, there should be some give. If they are too firm,they are flavorless and hard to work with. If they are too soft, they are watery and lose their flavor and texture.

Cut avocados in half, around the pit. Remove the pit by gently inserting a knife and coaxing it out. You can remove the avocado meat many ways, either by scooping it out or by scoring pieces with a knife and releasing them. (They should remove from the skin easily.)

Place avocado halves or pieces in a bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except lime, and gently mash together. The result should be mixed but fairly chunky. Taste and add salt, salsa or cilantro as needed.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time. If you’re not going to serve the guacamole right away, or if you’ll be bringing it to a gathering, you may want to employ Lippy’s trick to keep it from turning brown. (Green guacamole is so much more attractive!) Squeeze a layer of lime juice over the top of it and let it sit there, then mix the lime juice in just prior to serving. (The acid in the limes stops the guacamole from oxidizing.) An alternative (or addition) to the lime juice is a layer of sliced limes, covering the whole top, which can appear festive and decorative. Lippy cautions: Use as little lime juice as possible, just enough for a layer of cover, because lime can be a bit overpowering and not to everyone’s taste.

Serve with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to any Mexican dish. Enjoy! Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman. Guacamole on counter: Jon Sullivan, pdphoto.org.

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Feliz Cinco de Mayo: Make (and take) a Great Guacamole

Cinco de Mayo is upon us — the 5th of May, a holiday celebrated by Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and others. It commemorates the 1861 Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexicans stopped the French from annexing their country. (The French did end up ruling Mexico for a short time afterward, but no matter.) As it happens, Mexican Independence Day is much more widely celebrated in Mexico than Cinco de Mayo — it’s in September and marks Mexico’s 1810 independence from Spain. This site features a good history of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo certainly offers an opportunity to celebrate with friends, music, and good Mexican food and drink. There is perhaps no more popular and delicious a dish than a good homemade guacamole, which is very easy to make (provided you have access to fresh avocados) and always tastes a great deal better than anything store-bought.

Because I live with Lippy, the Tequila Whisperer and a fine guacamole maker, I got to ask him for a few of his trade secrets.

Lippy’s Guacamole

You need:

4 avocados (approx. 1/2 avocado per person)

1/4 red onion chopped

1 medium tomato, cut in small cubes

1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only, finely chopped

1/2 c. fire-roasted green or tomatilla salsa

4 tsp. salt or more, to taste

lime juice, optional

When buying avocados, make sure you choose ones that are ripe, but not overly ripe. When you press in the center, there should be some give. If they are too firm,they are flavorless and hard to work with. If they are too soft, they are watery and lose their flavor and texture.

Cut avocados in half, around the pit. Remove the pit by gently inserting a knife and coaxing it out. You can remove the avocado meat many ways, either by scooping it out or by scoring pieces with a knife and releasing them. (They should remove from the skin easily.)

Place avocado halves or pieces in a bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except lime, and gently mash together. The result should be mixed but fairly chunky. Taste and add salt, salsa or cilantro as needed.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time. If you’re not going to serve the guacamole right away, or if you’ll be bringing it to a gathering, you may want to employ Lippy’s trick to keep it from turning brown. (Green guacamole is so much more attractive!) Squeeze a layer of lime juice over the top of it and let it sit there, then mix the lime juice in just prior to serving. (The acid in the limes stops the guacamole from oxidizing.) An alternative (or addition) to the lime juice is a layer of sliced limes, covering the whole top, which can appear festive and decorative. Lippy cautions: Use as little lime juice as possible, just enough for a layer of cover, because lime can be a bit overpowering and not to everyone’s taste.

Serve with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to any Mexican dish. Enjoy! Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman. Guacamole on counter: Jon Sullivan, pdphoto.org.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo – Chicken Molé & Mexican Cielo

Chicken Molé

This is one of my husband’s favorite dishes, and I traditionally make it for him on his birthday, which happens to be el doce de Mayo. Once you’ve made the real thing, a complicated spicy/sweet mix of chocolate, peppers, fruit, and nuts, you won’t even contemplate buying a jar of readymade molé sauce.

Chocolate has a rich history in the Yucatan Peninsula of what is now Mexico, going back to the Olmec tribe as early as 600 B.C. Later groups –– the Mayans, the Toltecs, and the Aztecs –– fought over chocolate, traded with cacao beans, featured the cacao tree in their creation story, and drank liquid chocolate as part of their wedding rituals. It is probably the Aztecs who created the first molé sauce by adding bitter chocolate to food.

Here’s my molé in all its drippy glory:

molecinco1

The origins for this Chicken Molé recipe are unknown — a version of it is widely available on internet web sites, and I’ve adjusted some of the ingredients over the years. It is a fairly simple dish to make, despite its long list of ingredients. Like me, you may find that you like to pull it out for special occasions. Serve it over rice; with cornbread, beans, or quesadillas; or all by itself.

4-5 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
6 chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 slices canned pimento, chopped (approx. 3 Tbsp.)
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 8 canned whole plum tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp. chili powder (to taste)
2 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. raisins
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 squares bitter chocolate, chopped

Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a deep sauté pan or pot.

Add garlic and simmer for a few minutes.

Add chicken and brown both sides. Remove chicken to a baking dish.

In remaining oil, cook the onion, green pepper, pimento, and tomato over gentle

heat for 10 minutes, adding another Tbsp. of oil if necessary.

Add chili powder, blending well.

Add broth, almonds, raisins, seasonings, sugar, and rind.

Simmer, covered, 30 minutes longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add chocolate, stirring until melted.

Place chicken in a casserole dish and spoon the sauce over it.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until chicken is tender. When done cooking, allow to stand for a few minutes.

Serves 6.

Mexican Cielo

When the weather warms, my thoughts just naturally turn to blue drinks. A cocktail rendered the color of clear skies and swimming pools conveys the essence of summer relaxation and good times. The Mexican Cielo was created by tequila expert, Lippy, to evoke the wide sky over –– where else? –– Tequila, Mexico.

A fresh lime
White sugar
1 ½ oz. blanco tequila
2 oz. blue curacao
½ tsp. heavy cream

Wipe the rim of a chilled martini glass with lime and then dip it into a saucer of white sugar to rim it (if desired).

Pour the tequila and the blue curacao into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes.

Shake well and strain into the prepared glass.

Add the heavy cream to the surface of the drink in a couple of drops, so that it resembles cirrus clouds on a lazy summer day.

Serves 1.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

limes

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman