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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home

Recipes to spice up May 5


April 30, 2020

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 and has become a time to celebrate Mexican culture.

While Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a small regional holiday in Mexico, it's become a popular celebration in the United States, recognizing the significant historical and cultural contributions of Mexico and Mexican-Americans.

To make merry on this occasion, serve empanadas, a popular Mexican street food, or some tasty tostadas.

Half Moon Empanadas

Homemade biscuit dough (similar to pie crust):

2 cups self-rising flour sifted into a large bowl

1/2 cup lard or shortening, chilled and diced

3/4 cup cold milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Put lard in the middle of the flour and, with your fingers, mix together. Add half the milk and mix well with your fingers; add remaining milk and knead to make dough easy to handle, adding more flour if necessary, if too wet. Divide dough into 20 1-ounce pieces (to roll out 4-inch rounds) or, if you'd prefer larger empanadas, 10 2-ounce pieces (to roll out 6-inch rounds).

Using the filling choices below, place 2 tablespoons on one side of 4-inch round (4 tablespoons for 6-inch). Wet fingers with water and moisten inside edges of the dough. Gently stretch dough over filling to make a half moon shape; press edges to seal. Bake empanadas about 14 minutes for 4-inch or 18 minutes for 6-inch or until golden light brown. Serve warm.

Tip: You can also place on baking sheet, wrap and refrigerate until baking time or, freeze filled empanadas until needed.

Makes about 20 ounces of dough.

Note: If using refrigerated biscuit dough or dinner roll dough, roll pieces out to same size and bake at temperature suggested by manufacturer.

Potato-Cheese Filling

1-1/4 cups mashed potatoes (see note)

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies, not drained

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups finely chopped green onions (white and green parts, about 2 bunches)

6 ounces diced Jarlsberg cheese

In medium size bowl, mix cumin and chilies (with liquid) into mashed potatoes; set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray pan with oil; add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add green onions and cook 1 minute or until just beginning to wilt; stir into potato mixture. Mix cheese into potatoes.

Note: If using dried potato flakes, boil 1 cup water plus 1/3 cup milk and 1 tablespoon butter in saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup dried potato flakes; add salt to taste.

Makes 3-1/2 cups filling.

Chicken-Cheese Chorizo Filling

1-1/2 cups diced chorizo

1-1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced

2/3 cup mashed potatoes

6 ounces diced Manchego (you can also use Jarlsberg or a good Cheddar)

1/3 cup packed chopped parsley (stems included)

Salt and pepper, to taste

In skillet, cook chorizo over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until oil is released. Transfer to a bowl and mix in chicken, potato, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper, to taste.

Makes 3-1/2 cups filling.

Consider serving tostadas for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Prepare ingredients for a few different kinds and let your guests pile on what they like. Tostadas are friendly accompaniments for a tequila tasting, especially if you use smaller tortillas. Eat between sips to help keep the effects of the liquor to a minimum. And have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages at the ready.

Meal-size tostadas may need a knife and fork, or at least a lot of napkins and a willingness to use your hands. That said, they can almost be buffet food if not overloaded with toppings.

"Tostada" is a form of the word "toast" in Spanish. In Spain, it is used to describe an actual piece of toast. Food historians have said tostadas were devised as a way to use slightly stale tortillas. Baking or frying them for the tostada base gives them a new life. Clever.

Use either flour or corn tortillas, depending on your tastes. When frying, flour tortillas puff more than corn. Use a spoon to push down bubbles after you remove tortillas from a skillet. Drain on a paper towel to blot excess oil.

To save calories and fat, bake tortillas instead. Brush both sides lightly with vegetable oil and bake at 350 for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway.

Besides the recipes included here, consider these toppings for your tostadas:

- The flat taco: Spicy ground beef, shredded cheese, diced tomato and onion, chopped lettuce, avocado chunks, salsa, sour cream.

- Greek-style: Melt feta cheese on the tortilla and pile with shredded rotisserie chicken, kalamata olives, chopped tomato, red onion, cucumber and tzatziki sauce or Greek yogurt and lemon juice.

- Breakfast tostada: Scrambled eggs with chorizo, shredded cheese, sliced scallions and sour cream.

- Veggie platters: Grilled vegetables brushed with olive oil (zucchini, mushrooms, scallions, peppers) with feta or goat cheese. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

- Go green: Guacamole and salsa. Enough said.

Smoky Refried Bean Tostadas

7 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil; more if needed

8 (5- to 6-inch) corn tortillas

Kosher salt

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup water

2 tablespoons chipotle (smoked) Tabasco sauce

1 cup crumbled feta (about 6 ounces)

3/4 cup finely diced fresh tomato

1/2 cup thinly sliced red radishes

1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

Heat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a small (8-inch) nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat until the oil bubbles when the edge of a tortilla is dipped into it. Using tongs and working with one tortilla at a time, fry the tortillas until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds per side.

As each one finishes frying, briefly dangle the tortilla above the pan to allow excess oil to drip into the pan, then transfer the tortilla to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each tortilla with a little salt while it's still hot. As you fry, adjust the heat to keep the oil from getting too hot or cool, and if the pan goes dry, add more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. When all the tortillas are fried, keep them warm in the oven.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Working quickly, mash the beans with the back of a fork until most but not all of them are broken apart, and simmer until the beans look creamy and spreadable and much of the water has been absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chipotle Tabasco sauce and season to taste with more salt if needed.

To serve, spread each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the beans and top with the feta, tomato, radishes and cilantro leaves.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from: Fine Cooking

Rotisserie Chicken Tostadas

3/4 cup salsa

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small white onion, thinly sliced

1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 3 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 flour tortillas, baked or fried

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1 ripe avocado, diced

2 fresh tomatoes, diced

Mexican queso blanco or Monterey Jack cheese, finely grated

Chopped fresh cilantro (to garnish)

Combine the salsa and vinegar in a bowl, stir and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onions over medium heat until they begin to caramelize, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add salsa mixture to skillet, simmer until well reduced, add chicken, stir, heat and then cool slightly; season with salt.

Top each tortilla with some chicken mixture, then add some avocado, tomato and cheese and sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 8 tostadas.

Recipe from: Fine Cooking


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