With the entire world in a state of shock right now, we could all use a little comfort food. With that in mind, last Sunday night, September 16th-which was Mexican Independence Day-I invited some of my closest friends and family to come over for dinner. My 79 year-old, recently widowed father came. My kids were there. Three of my former neighbors (and still closest friends), Chuck, Christy and Kathy came. There were eight of us.
My dad was in Buena Vista, about 45 minutes north of the Los Cabos Airport when the terrorists struck last Tuesday. He'd had his best day of fishing in years. Although all U.S. airports were still closed, he managed to get to La Paz (an hour and a half away) and board an Aeromexico flight to Tijuana. He and his friend took a taxi to the border, walked across and we picked them up-ice chests full of fish and all. We served the dorado (a colorful, light and tasty fish known as Mahi Mahi in the U.S.) he brought back on Sunday night.
Christy lost a coworker on American Airlines Flight 11. Although none of had loved ones who were missing, we all had friends and family stranded all over the place. As we sang, "God Bless America" and gave a resounding rendition of "La Grita de Dolores," which is "¡Viva Mexico!" and "¡Viva la Independencia!" while listening to Mariachi music and toasting with Pacifico beers, we were reminded that we are all one, the people of this Earth. As singer Aaron Neville reminds us, "We all one race. The human race."
In the days that followed the September 11th atrocities, I have heard from many Mexican friends. There are no tourists anywhere right now. It isn't merely our businesses that have virtually shut down-but hotels, restaurants and shops that depend on tourism throughout Mexico are also suffering. Big time.
It is, to put it mildly, a sobering time in our lives. Nothing will ever be the same. But solidarity has arisen, like a phoenix, from the ashes and debris of what was once the World Trade Center. Solidarity, not just among Americans-but among all the peace and freedom-loving people on Earth. We have all been impacted … profoundly.
Let us pray for peace. Let us pray that this horrific attack will continue to bring us together, and that we may emerge from this time of darkness and confusion as better, kinder, more loving and forgiving people. That hatred, fanaticism and violence will somehow be lessened and even eradicated … rather than taking us all over and wreaking further destruction upon us.
With all that in mind, I would like to share my recipes for Mexican Comfort Food with you. If you are grieving and unsure of where to turn, please let me suggest a new website, GriefCounselors.com. Hopefully you will find solace and strength there.
God Bless America! - Viva Mexico!
God Bless Every One of Us! - ¡Que Dios Los Bendiga!
¡Viva la Independencia!
-Ann Hazard, September 18, 2001
2 medium red onions, finely diced
6 large tomatoes, finely diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced 9654
5 habanero chiles, minced (remove seeds and membranes, using gloves)
juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp Orange juice or 1 tsp Controy (similar to Triple Sec)
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to three days. Serve with chips for dipping.
For nachos … layer tortilla chips on a plate. Cover with grated cheese. Microwave for 45 seconds to a minute. Remove and spoon salsa over the top. Serve immediately.
PANCHO'S TORTILLA SOUP
This delectable rendition a Mexican classic comes to you from Restaurant Pancho's in Cabo San Lucas. It will warm your heart and soul. Share it with your loved ones. Takes about two and a half hours to make. There will be 10 to 12 servings, so count on having enough for leftovers.
1 whole chicken
4 quarts water
salt, pepper 9829 and other seasonings to taste
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
8 large, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 large, white onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp dried 9638 or fresh oregano, or to taste
6 bay leaves 9601
6 tbsp powdered chicken bouillon (they use Knorr Suiza in Mexico) 2683
4 tbsp olive oil
12 corn tortillas, cut into strips about 1/4 inch wide
1/2 cup corn or canola oil
2 avocados, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups Chihuahua or Jack cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
fresh cilantro, in sprigs6 chiles negros 9652
Boil chicken (well seasoned) with water for at least one hour. Remove chicken from water, remove bones and cut into chunks.
Place peppers, onions and tomatoes in large skillet with the olive oil and saute until cooked. Add the seasonings and bouillon and cook about a half hour. Adjust seasonings and set aside.
About 20 minutes before serving, combine the chicken and stock with vegetables and heat thoroughly.
At the same time, deep fry the tortilla chips and drain on paper towels. Divide among six large soup bowls Place chunks of chicken, avocado and grated cheese in each bowl. Pour two cups soup into each bowl. Float a bit of sour cream on top and garnish with cilantro sprig and chile. Serve immediately and prepare to gloat.
JALAPEÑO CORN BREAD
Jalapeño chiles, real corn and lots of cheese distinguish this corn bread from the old-fashioned, all-American ya'all version of corn bread. It's not too fiery, but makes an awesome side dish for roasted or grilled foods. Serves 10.
2 - 10 jalapeño chiles, finely chopped with seeds 1168
1 3 1/2 ounce can diced green chiles 1146
1 onion, finely diced
1 17 ounce can creamed corn
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup corn or canola oil
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups yellow corn meal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 14 inch pan. In a large bowl, mix jalapeños with corn and onion. Beat in baking soda, salt and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Add buttermilk and oil, then cheese and cornmeal.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan and serve in squares.
CHUCK'S GRILLED DORADO FILETS
Chuck was employed as a chef for several years. While he has moved on in his career, he has not lost his magic touch when it comes to preparing astonishing, delicious food. This one is no exception. Serves eight and takes about an hour to prepare.
8 filets of Dorado (Mahi Mahi)
1 12 oz bottle of El Torito Serrano Grape Vinaigrette
juice of 3 limes
1 bunch cilantro, lightly chopped
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper 9829 to taste
In large bowl, mix all ingredients except fish. In 9 x 14 pan, pour a thin layer of marinade. Add fish, then rest of marinade, coating thoroughly. Let sit, covered on the counter, for up to an hour.
Heat the grill. Grill fish on both sides until done. Remove from grill and place on platter, garnishing with onions and cilantro. Serve immediately with Tortilla Soup and Jalapeño Corn Bread.
Hey, and if you have room for dessert … try something simple and truly comforting … like vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
Recipe and tips provided by Ann Hazard.