Monday, July 12, 2010
*(for those of you who do not speak spanish, I’m not talking about Julio the guitar slinging, long-haired, Mexican hunk-a-lunk you saw in a pepsi commercial. I’m talking about julio, as in July.)
What? doce de julio is NOT a holiday in Mexico??? Preposterous! Well, from now on, I declare this day independent and will celebrate yearly with my new Mexican-inspired menu.
Tonight’s theme - thanks to mr who has a love affair with Mexican food - spicy or not - was all kinds of Mexican. I already have a few Mexican delights in my repertoire, but mr requested fajitas and flan - neither of which I’ve made before. He also requested his aunt’s Bean Salsa, which I HAVE made before, but is a favorite around here, so I let it slide. I decided to top it all with some homemade guacamole - my own invention. I even threw together what I thought to be some pretty yummy punch which was super easy, so I’ll include that too.
I found two recipes that I worked with for the fajitas. They were both on recipezaar - HERE and HERE. Since I combined the two, and cooked it differently than the recipes suggest, I’ve decided to list my version as well.
Fancy Pants Fajitas
2 lbs steak (I used sirloin because mr requested that I make sure the meat was really tender. I knew the cut would make a difference, which influenced my decision. Not that I know anything about beef. You can probably tell that by looking at the recipes I post...)
4 garlic cloves (peeled and pressed with my new garlic press)
1/3 C. veggie oil (+ 2 Tbsp.)
4 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
Burrito-sized flour tortillas
Mix 1/3 C. veggie oil, lime juice, salt, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder with a whisk. Put your steak between two sheets of wax paper and pound a bit with a meat mallet to tenderize. Trim the fat off. Use a kitchen scissors to cut the meat into skinny strips. Put these in a bowl and pour the marinade over. Cover and marinade the meat in the fridge for at least two hours.
Slice the onion and peppers into thin strips. In a large skillet, sauté the veggies in 1 Tbsp. veggie oil. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Pour the meat and marinade into the skillet and cook on med-high for a few minutes, until the marinade is bubbly. Then drain in a colander and return the meat to heat. Add 1Tbsp. veggie oil and sauté until the meat is cooked to desired done-ness.
Serve the veggies and meat in flour tortillas.
mr wasn’t disappointed. The meat was really tender. I don’t really like beef fajitas - I opt for chicken ANYTHING whenever we go out - but I actually really liked them too. The fact that the meat was so tender and sliced so thin definitely helped. Everyone really liked them, and because this was so easy to make, it could definitely join the normal dinner rotation.
And now, for the bean salsa. I sincerely hope this is NOT a secret family recipe, because if it is, I’m in trouble.
mr’s aunt’s Bean Salsa
1 can chopped green chilis
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can corn (drained)
about 6 chopped green onions (whites and crispy parts of greens)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 chopped red bell pepper
5 tomatoes (chopped well)
lime juice (to taste)
garlic (granulated - to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)
Teeny bit of cumin
Mix it all up together in a big bowl. Chill a bit before serving. It’s great on chips.
As I said, this is a family favorite. Tonight was no different. Even with the super huge quantity this recipe makes, we didn’t have much left over.
And here’s how you make
3 avocados (peeled and pitted)
1/2 yellow onion (diced)
2 Tbsp. lime juice (more if desired)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
Put the avocado, tomato and onion in a bowl and use a potato masher to mash it all up good. Mix in the seasonings. Add the lime juice and mix well. Add the cilantro and mix it up some more.
I have no idea if this is how you usually make it or not. Maybe this isn’t such a novel idea. Maybe you have a way better way to make guac. But this is quite possibly the best guac we’ve ever had. I think it was just because of how fresh everything was. And the lime juice. If you want to make any Mexican dish sing, add cilantro and lime. Seriously. And way better than that stuff in a bag I usually get.
I found the flan recipe here (on recipezaar). I made it exactly as it is listed, except I tweaked it a bit by adding a tad more cream cheese, and I added a little bit of brown sugar to the white sugar while I was caramelizing it. I’d heard flan wasn’t “all that hard to make” and I suppose it wasn’t super difficult. It was just finicky. You had to stir the sugar to make sure it didn’t burn, but you couldn’t over stir it. You then had to pour the caramelized stuff into the cake pan IMMEDIATELY and pray that it wouldn’t harden before you got the bottom all coated. And then when it DID harden too soon, you had to heat the cake pan itself over the burner. At this point, you may or may not have lit a paper towel on fire, then dropped it on the stove in a panic where it flopped into the open flame and flared higher. You then threw the paper towel into the sink, screaming “FIRE!” and doused it with water. And that was enough excitement for the day... You had to cook the flan in a round cake pan placed in a larger pan of water. The hot water bath was essential. And difficult to maneuver. Not only did you soak your oven mitt and burn your fingers multiple times, but you also probably sloshed water all over the place - first all over the inside of the oven, then all over the floor - narrowly avoiding your feet.
I’m told that all of this is routine when making flan. Or maybe I just told myself that to make me feel better.
When I placed the serving plate over the cake pan, then flipped it to invert it, the top (which was supposed to be a hardened caramelized layer) was still runny and dripped down the sides onto the plate. We ate it anyway, and it was good. Even with the runny stuff. My dad said it was the best flan he’d tasted because the consistency was better than normal. I guess it’s usually “slimier” - his words. So, try this recipe out if you’re a fan of flan.
I served punch made with limeade, club soda and grenadine. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do, what with all that lime juice going on.
It may not have been an ACTUAL holiday today, but there WAS a party in my mouth. mr’s dinner selections pass with an “A+”.