How to prepare a Vegetarian Mexican Food dinner
To set the mood, begin by serving up some Punta Morro Style Martinis. When you read the story behind these, you will definitely be in the right mindset to plan this sophisticated, but casually elegant fiesta. Check it out...
Punta Morro Style Martinis
On the northern edge of Ensenada, hanging right out over the Pacific, is the exquisite gourmet restaurant, Punta Morro. It's the kind of place I reserve for celebrations marking special occasions. Nina and John, on the other hand, stop in for dinner nearly every time they're on their way to La Bufadora. It's that good! The presentation of their Martini is something right out of Hollywood. And the hint of Scotch they add to it makes it smooth, smooth, smooth!
Just imagine yourself sitting back, sipping your Martini as you watch those waves crash onto the rocks below you and explode skyward. As the moonlight dances across the ocean's surface, check out the menu and order on of their mouth-watering dinners, served with home-grown vegetables from the nearby Guadalupe Valley. This recipe, shared with me by my waiter, serves two. For your fiesta, you will either need four buckets and eight glasses, or you'll want to make them the "old fashioned way" in a shaker.
1 16 oz tin bucket (this looks like a tiny version of the stand old-fashioned bucket)
1 6 ox tin urn
1 ½ cups ice water
3 oz Gin or Vodka
3 splashes Vermouth
3 drops Scotch
6 pimento-stuffed green olives on toothpicks or plastic swords
Chill two Martini glasses in the refrigerator. Fill bucket with ice and water. In urn, mix Gin or Vodka with Vermouth and Scotch. Place in ice bucket to chill. Place a sword or toothpick with three skewered olives into each Martini glass. Serve the bucket of Martinis with the two glasses and pour about an inch or liquor into each.
Hint: If you have no way of locating the bucket or urn-you can make these Martinis the old fashioned way in a shaker with slightly crushed ice. When thoroughly chilled, pour into Martini glasses and serve as above, leaving the shaker on the table so your guests can refill their own glasses.
ZESTY RELLENO BITES
This easy, make-ahead recipe is always, always, always a big hit. You can prepare most of it the day before your party, and then just put it in the oven an hour or so before the guests show up. Serves at least eight … but you can use the leftovers for snacks or even breakfast the next day!
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (set aside 1/2 cup for topping)
4 cups shredded Chihuahua or Jack cheese (set aside 1/2 cup for topping)
2 lb fresh pasilla or ancho chiles (spicy) or 2 lb fresh Anaheim chiles (milder), blistered
or 6 7 ounce cans diced green chiles (mild)
6 eggs, well beaten
6 tbsp flour
1 10 ounce can evaporated milk
2 cups (or 2 7 1/2 ounce cans) Salsa Verde
To blister chiles, wash, pat dry and cook over a gas burner, turning constantly until they're evenly charred and stop making popping sounds. Wrap each chile in a moist paper towel to steam. After a few minutes, peel skin off chile. Remove seeds and dice. If using canned chiles, simply spread on a paper towel and pat dry.
Grease a 9 x 14 inch pan. Layer 1/3 of chiles and 1/3 of remaining cheese. Repeat twice, for a total of three layers. Add flour and milk to eggs. Blend well. Pour over chiles and cheese. At this point, the dish can be refrigerated up to 24 hours. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Remove from oven, top with Salsa Verde and remaining cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool until warm, cut into one-inch squares, serve and watch them disappear!
SPANISH RICE SALAD SANTIAGO
Add this to your menu and no one will be disappointed! Serves eight and takes about 45 minutes to prepare.
4 cups chilled, cooked white rice
1 cup chilled, thinly sliced cooked carrots
1 cup chilled, cooked cauliflower-ettes
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced white part only
1/2 cup corn oil
1 tsp onion juice
1/4 cup wine vinegar
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 3 1/2 ounce can sliced black olives, drained as garnish
Combine rice, carrots, cauliflower-ettes, tomato and green onions in large salad bowl. Combine oil, vinegar and onion juice, vinegar, and all spices in small jar. Shake well. Pour over salad and toss lightly. Garnish with black olives.
STACKED CHEESE ENCHILADAS
This recipe blends some of the flavors of the Native Americans of New Mexico with the Spanish. We all remember from our American History classes that our Southwest was part of Mexico for a long time, so the cuisine of this area has many similarities. Stacked Cheese Enchiladas are a New Mexico original. You will not be disappointed by them! They take about two hours to prepare altogether, but they're worth it! Serves eight.
Taos Style Enchilada Sauce:
20 - 24 seeded dried red New Mexico chiles (hot) -or- 4 - 6 tbsp New Mexico chile powder (hot) or 8 tbsp American chili powder (this is milder but not as flavorful)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, quartered
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
4 12 ounce cans tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
24 blue corn or regular corn tortillas
2 cups corn or canola oil
2 large onions, chopped
8 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
6 tbsp butter
8 green onions, diced
2 3 1/2 ounce can sliced black olives
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 fresh avocados, diced
Remove stems and seeds from chiles. In a medium sauce pan, simmer chiles in one cup water for ten minutes or until tender. Puree in food processor with garlic, onion, cinnamon and sugar. (If you're using powdered chiles, puree all ingredients including tomato sauce and an additional 1/2 cup water in food processor.) Return to sauce pan. Add tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes to an hour.
Heat oil in small skillet. Fry each tortilla until slightly crisp. Dip each tortilla in enough enchilada sauce to lightly coat it. After you dip the first four tortillas, place them side by side in one of two 9 x 14 inch greased pans. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of onion and l/4 cup cheese. Fry the next tortilla, dip in sauce and lay over the first tortilla and filling. Sprinkle on more onion and cheese. Fry, dip and lay on the third and last tortilla of each stack. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of each stack.
Fry the eggs three minutes in butter. Lift each stack, using a wide spatula to waiting dinner plates. Top with fried egg and garnish with minced green onion, olives shredded lettuce and diced avocado.
MAYAN MANGO MADNESS
From the deepest jungles of the Yucatán, where the Mayans once ruled, to the produce section at Gigante on the south end of Ensenada, you will never see mangos or papayas any bigger, sweeter or juicier than the ones they grow in Mexico. You can make this dessert with either mangos (even canned will do), papayas, strawberries or peaches. It's a truly delectable summer treat. Serves eight.
2 1/2 pounds fresh mangos, peeled and seeded or 1 20 ounce can mangos
(you can substitute papayas, strawberries or peaches)
1 cup water and 1/2 cup dissolved sugar or juice from the canned mangos
1 ounce brandy
3 3 ounce packages lady fingers
1 pint whipping cream
sugar to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans, 3/4 cup chopped only
Chop mangos into small pieces. Place fresh mangos in sugar and water, or return canned mangos to their syrup. Add brandy.
Dunk lady fingers into fruit syrup quickly one by one and line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 14 glass pan. Add a layer of chopped mangos.
Beat sugar, vanilla and whipping cream. Place a layer of cream and a layer of chopped pecans on top of the mangos. Alternate layers of lady fingers, mangos, cream and pecans, ending with whipped cream. Garnish with pecan halves. Refrigerate three to four hours. Cut in squares to serve.
Recipe and tips provided by Ann Hazard.