Sunday, May 6, 2007

Seis de Mayo

Because May 5th is Grandpa Day at my house, we celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the 6th instead. I asked Dave to pick something else out of the Dona Tomas book, and I even tried the other version of rice, and I made beans from the book. (Pie is coming later this evening).

Again, this is a somewhat time-consuming meal, but also well worth it. I'm coming to decide that this might be my favorite book of the moment (I do have an un-read stack of them, though). So, either go out and get it, or enter HHDD #12 for a chance to win your very own!

We'll have the leftovers tomorrow night for dinner, but I couldn't help but think that this would have been the perfect meal for company. I was able to get most of the prep done before noon (I've been having trouble sleeping past 7 AM; its made me exceedingly productive on weekends!), and because there were such fun toppings for the beans, it made for a really pretty table. Enjoy!

Note: The achiote paste was a really tricky thing for me to find. Don't do what I did and pop into your local chain grocery and expect to find it (unless your shop is cool like that). Skip right to the International Food Store, and go to their spices section. Took me two days to find it, and I was so excited to actually see it in real life, I bought three. :) Also worth noting, you could make it yourself, from, but you'd still need strange ingredients.

Note: 5/7 - If you know you're going to have leftovers, try to reserve some aioli for the future meal. I reheated the shrimp in the oven, to try to maintain some crunchiness, and we ended up spooning the aioli onto each taco as we went. Also, the shrimp/lime/cilantro party is really great without the tortilla.

Arroz Achiote (Achiote Rice)
Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

Achiote Marinade:
Makes ¾ cup (enough for 3 batches of rice)
2 ounces achiote paste
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or ¼ cup orange juice and ¼ cup lime juice)
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 pinch allspice
1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons canola oil
½ white onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 ½ cups medium- or long-grain white rice
2 ¾ cups water
2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt

To prepare the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed. The marinade can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, just be certain to remix with a whisk before using.

Place a saucepan over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, decrease the heat to medium, and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the rice and continue to sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the grains are well coated with oil and begin to slightly brown.

Add the water, salt and ¼ cup of the marinade and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium. Cover and gently simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fork tender. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Serves 4 to 6.
Frijoles Con Todo (Pinto Beans with Everything)
Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

2 cups pinto beans, picked over, rinsed and drained
About 3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 avocados, cut into ¾-inch dice
2 heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch dice
½ red onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
¼ lb queso Oaxaca, shredded
2 serrano chiles, minced
½ bunch cilantro, stemmed and chopped

Place the beans in a heavy-duty saucepan and cover with cold water so that the waterline is about 3 inches above the beans. (The traditional method would be to cook the beans in an olla or earthenware pot, but any ceramic or heavy-duty stainless steel saucepan, preferably with a copper-bottom will do.)

Bring the beans to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and add the salt. Simmer for 2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure they aren’t sticking to the bottom, until the beans are tender. Add more hot water from time to time to keep the beans fully submerged.

Stop adding water after 2 to 3 hours, when the beans seem close to becoming tender all the way through. The liquid at this point should be somewhat milky and cloudy and will start to thicken with the starch from the beans. You’ll want the water to slowly reduce until its just covering the beans when they’re perfectly tender.

Adjust the seasoning with salt as necessary. Ladle the beans and broth into each bowl and top with healthy portions of the avocado, tomatoes, onion, cheese, chiles, and cilantro right before serving.

Serves 4.Tacos de Camarones Fritos (Batter-fried Shrimp Tacos with Chile de Arbol Aioli)
Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

Chile de Arbol Aioli:
1 dried chile de arbol
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno chile
2 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
3 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons water
1 egg yolk
¾ cup canola oil
About 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 egg

3 cups canola oil
2 pounds shrimp (21/25 count), peeled, deveined, and split lengthwise
Kosher salt

16 (5 inch) fresh corn tortillas
¼ bunch cilantro sprigs
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

The aioli can be prepared well ahead of time. Place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the chile and toast for about 1 minute, pressing it into the pan and turning occasionally with tongs to prevent burning, until lightly browned. While the chile is still hot, remove the stem and submerge in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain the chile and transfer to a blender. Add the garlic, jalapeno, vinegar, sugar, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and puree for about 1 minute, until liquefied.

Add the yolk to the blender and turn the motor on low speed. Carefully remove the lid and add the oil in a slow, steady stream so it forms an emulsion with the yolk and the chile puree. If the mixture is too thick ad won’t blend well with the oil, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of water, then resume adding the oil. If you add the oil too quickly the sauce will not emulsify and you’ll have to start over.

The final aioli should have the consistency of thin mayonnaise with a speckled red color. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the 2 teaspoons salt, using more or less to taste. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

To prepare the batter, sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the water and egg and briskly whisk together until all the lumps have dissipated. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then stir briefly before using.

Pour the oil into a skillet to a depth of ¾ inch, and place over high heat for about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your skillet and stove), until it reaches 350°F. Test the oil by dropping in a drip of batter; it should begin frying as soon as it hits the oil. Working in 3 batches, dredge the shrimp in the batter, then carefully place in the oil. Fry for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, until golden brown and crispy (the crispy texture is imperative as you don’t want the shrimp to become soggy when tossed with the aioli). Transfer the shrimp to paper towels to drain.

Once all the shrimp are fried and drained, toss them with a few pinches of salt and about ¾ cup of the aioli to lightly coat. Adjust the consistency, heat, and flavor with more aioli if necessary.

Place a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Working in batches as necessary, warm both sides of the tortillas in the skillet. Place them in stacks of 2 on individual plates or a platter, so that each taco ends up with a double layer of tortilla. Evenly divide the shrimp among the 8 stacks. Top each taco with 4 to 5 cilantro sprigs and serve at once with the lime wedges.

Serves 4.


Deborah said...

I just posted about the fish tacos I made last night!! I've never had shrimp tacos, but these look fabulous. I'll have to put them on my "to try" list (or else come up with a killer recipe so I can win the cookbook!!)

Kristen said...

That is a great looking Cinco de Mayo feast.

Anonymous said...

OMG! You have a recipe for Frijoles con todo! I just tried it at her cafe this weekend and it was AWESOME! Can't wait to make it!