Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Giving gracias
I’m still recovering from the 48-hour cooking marathon, gluttonous spread and absolute debauchery that is our misfit-full, southwestern Thanksgiving celebration.
Let me paint the scene: Colorful characters mingling over excessive amounts of tequila, criminal quantities of turkey (2, 15-pounders and a 20-pounder to be exact), all the trimmings with a southwestern flair, ridiculously perfect, sun-shiny, 75-degree weather, football broadcast on a backyard pool-side cabana bar TV…
… and me slaving away in a hot kitchen. I kid, I kid. I have to admit I enjoy it. Besides, if I didn’t cook, we’d be eating pies from Costco (no offense Don) and canned cranberry sauce. OK, so we ate those things (and LOVED it) anyway, but I digress.
Anyway, back to my food. You simply can’t mess up Paula’s corn and potato casseroles, so I surrendered those to my sister. I made Rick Bayless’ Chocolate pecan pie, which I first attempted for me and Dave’s anniversary dinner, acorn squash and goat cheese tamales, chorizo stuffing, fiesta salad with avocado jalapeño ranch dressing, Mexican five-layer dip and chorizo bean dip. Let’s not forget the tequila: our poison came in the form of three different tequila cocktails.
My mother, who taught me the fine art of microwaving, muttered “my poor baby,” and looked on pityingly the entire time, as if all this cooking was some sort of cruel and unusual punishment.
Everything was a big hit, especially the chocolate pecan pie with Kahlua whipped cream, which my mom hid from our guests to save it all for herself. You think I’m kidding—I had to sneak inquiring party-goers out to the garage fridge to smuggle a slice behind her back. You already have that recipe, and here are the others:
Acorn squash, corn and goat cheese tamales
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1/2 cup shortening
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 roasted acorn squash
2 cups corn
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 cup water
20-25 dried or fresh corn husks
about 6 oz. goat cheese
about 3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 jalapeño minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
First, brush the squash, cut in 3-4 pieces, with a mixture of half butter, half olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the squash is soft. Meanwhile, soak the corn husks (if dried) in water for 1-2 hours. Once the squash has cooled, mash and mix in thoroughly with the shortening, butter, masa, corn, baking soda, salt and cumin. Slowly whip in the water with a mixer, and beat the mixture for about 5 minutes.
The mixture should be light a fluffy. To test it, drop a marble sized chunk in water—if it floats it’s ready. If not, continue to beat the mixture and add a little more shortening if necessary.
Make the filling by mixing the goat cheese, cream cheese, minced garlic and jalapeño. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pat each corn husk dry and cut 3-4 into long strips that can be used to tie the tamales. Spread a 1/2-inch layer of the masa mixture in a 4-5-inch square on a corn husk, spread a teaspoon-sized portion of the goat cheese mixture on top of the masa. Roll the corn husk so that the masa encompasses the goat cheese, twist each end of the husk and tie off with a strip of husk.
You can cook these several different ways, and if you’re like most normal people and don’t have a tamale steamer, this is as good a way as any: lay your tamales on a sheet of foil (you can stack them), add 3 tablespoons of water for every ten tamales, lay another sheet of tin foil on top and roll up each side tightly to create a foil packet. Cook at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. These freeze well too.
2 packages of jiffy cornbread, prepared
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
1 stick of butter, divided
1/2 pound chorizo
3 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 each chopped green pepper and red pepper
1/2 minced jalapeño
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth
Cut the cornbread into 1 inch cubes and spread on a sheet pan. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the cornbread, then season with thyme, salt and pepper and toast under the broiler. Watch carefully—they burn easily. Set aside. Cook the chorizo in a stock pot until browned and set aside. Pour out excess grease and cook the vegetables in the same pot with the remaining butter for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and heat until the broth is hot but not boiling. Stir in the chorizo and cornbread croutons and mix thoroughly. Use to stuff your turkey, or pour into a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes before ready to eat.
Fiesta salad and avocado jalapeño ranch dressing
1 bag romaine lettuce
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 large red onion, chopped
one cucumber, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
shredded mexican cheese
tortilla strips for garnish
1/2 bottle of ranch dressing
1 teaspoon cumin
Mix all salad ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Blend dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and toss on salad or serve on the side.
For the longest time, we called this seven-layer dip. Alas, it’s really only five. We’ve been know to add a sixth layer in the form of seasoned cream cheese (cumin, garlic powder and chili powder), green onions or diced tomatoes, but I’m not really sure where this mythical seventh layer comes from. Anyway, this is an easy, fool-proof crowd pleaser at any party and it always makes an appearance at ours.
1 can refried beans
shredded cheese (Mexican blend, pepper jack or colby jack)
Layer the ingredients in a dish in the following order: refried beans, guac, sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese. I like about a 1-2 inch layer of beans, an inch layer of guac, a half-inch of sour cream, a thin layer of salsa and a generous sprinkling of shredded cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.
Chorizo bean dip
1/4 pound cooked chorizo
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup shredded mexican cheese
16 oz. Velveeta
1 teaspoon cumin
Mix all ingredients, minus 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Spread in a oven-safe dish. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top of the mixture. Heat in a 375-degree oven until the mixture is bubbly and golden brown on the top. Serve with tortilla chips.
Phew. That’s a lot of food. Now onto the cocktails. You may remember the description of the different varieties (plata or silver, reposado and anejo) from my tequila tasting post. As a refresher, silver lends itself to typical vodka mixers, reposado: rum and anejo: whiskey.
I got a list of recipes from our gracious Tres Generaciones tequila ambassador, Mando, and I tweaked a couple to make my own recipes. As far as my personal brand recommendations go: Tres Generaciones, Don Julio, and 1800.
Silver/Plata: El Cosmopolitano
2 parts plata tequila
1 part triple sec
1 part cranberry juice
½ part fresh lime juice
Mix all ingredients together in a shaker over ice and strain into a glass. This was my sister’s favorite
Reposado: Mojitarita and Pina reposado
2 parts reposado tequila
8 mint leaves per cocktail
1 part simple syrup
1 part club soda
½ part fresh lime juice
Muddle mint leaves and mix all ingredients over ice. This is a refreshing and less sweet version of a mojito—my dad couldn’t get enough of this one.
1 1/2 parts reposado tequila
2 1/2 parts pineapple juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar per cocktails
Mix all ingredients together in a shaker with ice. Strain into a glass. My mom, who rarely drinks, was guzzling these like a drunken sorority girl. They’re my favorite too.
Anejo: Prickly ginger
1 part anejo tequila
1 1/2 parts ginger ale
½ part prickly pear syrup
Mix the tequila and prickly pear syrup together in a shaker with ice and add the ginger ale. Strain into a glass.