Expanding borders: Cinco de Mayo menu

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Artisan

1PfalsefalseNo hablo "boring meals"? This Cinco de Mayo, put on your cooking sombrero and prepare for a delicious fiesta with bold recipes from Chef Roberto Santibanez, author of "Rosa's New Mexican Table: Friendly Recipes for Festive Meals:"

Guacamole
Servings:

4 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
    • 1 firmly packed tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
    • 2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeño, or more to taste
    • 1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
    • 3 medium ripe but firm Hass avocados (about 8 ounces each)
    • 3 tablespoons diced tomato
    • 2 firmly packed tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
    • Salt if necessary
    • Tortilla Chips
    • Fresh Corn Tortillas

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Make the chile paste: Grind the onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and salt together in a molcajete until all the ingredients are very finely ground. Alternatively, use a fork to mash all the ingredients to a paste in a wide hardwood bowl.Cut each avocado in half, working the knife blade around the pit. Twist the halves to separate them and flick out the pit with the tip of the knife. Fold a kitchen towel in quarters and hold it in the palm of your “non-knife” hand. Rest an avocado half cut side up in your palm and make 3 or 4 evenly spaced lengthwise cuts through the avocado flesh down to the skin, without cutting through it. Make 4 crosswise cuts in the same way. Scoop the diced avocado flesh into the molcajete. Repeat with the remaining avocado halves.

Pico De Gallo
Servings:

Makes about two cups

Ingredients

    • 2 ripe medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces)
    • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped white onion, or to taste
    • 12 large fresh cilantro sprigs, thick stems removed, remaining stems and leaves finely chopped (about 1⁄4 cup)
    • 1 medium jalapeño or 1 small serrano, finely chopped (about 11⁄2 tablespoons), or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    • Juice of 1 lime, or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Core the tomatoes and cut them in half. Gently squeeze out most of the seeds, and cut the tomatoes into 1/4 inch (no larger) dice. Toss the diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño together in a mixing bowl. Add the salt and lime juice, then stir in the oil, if using. Let sit for a few minutes. The salsa can be made and kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours—no longer—before serving. Stir and taste again before serving.

Rice Pudding Cheesecake (Pastel de Arroz con Leche)
Servings:

Makes 12 generous servings

Ingredients

  • For the crust

    • 3 ounces Maria cookies or graham crackers, crushed (about 1 cup; see Note)
    • 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely ground
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon
    • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the filling

    • Four 6--inch Mexican cinnamon sticks
    • 2 vanilla beans
    • 4 cups heavy cream
    • 4 cups milk
    • 1 cup basmati rice
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1⁄4 cup water
    • 1 envelope plus 11⁄8 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
    • Two 8--ounce packages cream cheese,
    • cut into pieces, at room temperature
    • 2⁄3 cup sugar

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Make the crust: With a rack in the center position, preheat the oven to 350°F.Stir the crushed cookies, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crust mixture into an even layer over the bottom of a 9--inch springform pan. Bake until the crust is lightly browned and firm, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely.Make the filling: While the crust cooks, cut a 6--inch square from a double thickness of cheesecloth. Crumble the cinnamon sticks onto the square, add the vanilla beans, and tie the cheesecloth into a neat bundle. Put the cream, milk, and rice in a large saucepan. Drop in the spice bundle and heat, stirring, to a simmer. Add the salt and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.While the rice is cooking, soften the gelatin: Pour the water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface, slowly and evenly to prevent lumps from forming. Whisk with a small fork until the gelatin is softened and the mixture is fluffy.Stir the sugar into the cooked rice and remove from the heat. Stir in the cream cheese until the cheese is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Pour half the rice mixture into a sieve set over a bowl and, using a wooden spoon, mash the rice against the sieve to squeeze as much of the liquid from it as possible. Some rice will pass through the sieve too; that is fine. Scrape the mashed rice from the bottom of thesieve into the bowl with the liquid. Transfer the rice in the sieve to another bowl, and repeat with the remaining rice mixture. Measure out 2 cups of the reserved rice and stir into the liquid; discard the remaining rice. Whisk about 1 cup of the rice mixture into the softened gelatin until the gelatin is dissolved, then stir back into the rice mixture until thoroughly blended.Pour the rice mixture over the cooled crust. Refrigerate the cake until completely chilled and set, at least 4 hours, or up to 1 day.To serve, release the sides of the springform pan—run a knife dipped in warm water between the cake and the sides of the pan to free the cake completely. Cut the cake into wedges, making sure to cut all the way through the crust, and serve, passing the caramel sauce separately.Note: Maria cookies are crisp round cookies with a pleasant, simple flavor, not unlike animal crackers—which make a good substitute. Maria cookies can be found in many Latin groceries and online at www.tienda.com.

Excerpted from "Rosa's New Mexican Table: Friendly Recipes for Festive Meals" by Roberto Santibanez and Christopher Hirsheimer. Copyright © 2007 by Roberto Santibanez and Christopher Hirsheimer. Published in March 2007 by Artisan. All rights reserved.

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