Next week marks Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates a major Mexican victory against French invaders (Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, which actually falls on September 16 and celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain).
This holiday is a fine excuse to celebrate the wonderful flavors of Mexico. In much of our country, Mexican food is synonymous with flour tortillas, Cheddar cheese, and crunchy tacos filled with ground beef. But Mexico is a food lover’s paradise, with fantastic fresh seafood, a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, exotic herbs, and bold flavors.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I am delighted to share some authentic, flavorful, and family-friendly recipes with you from my friend, Patricia Jinich, a native of Mexico, chef, and cooking instructor at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. Pati is also the host of the enchanting new cooking show, Pati’s Mexican Table, which airs on many PBS stations.
(By the way, watching cooking shows together is a fantastic way to get your children interested in cooking and expand your own knowledge about food and cooking techniques. The content is almost always appropriate for all ages.)
Pati says, “Molletes, a popular Mexican anytime antojito or craving, can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, brunch, afternoon munchie, or dinner. As with most antojitos, this recipe is flexible: You can add extra toppings like diced ham, turkey, cooked bacon, or fried chorizo. Although molletes are generally served with a juicy Pico de Gallo salsa (see recipe below), they can be drizzled with any salsa of your choice.”
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl, toss well and serve. Can be prepared up to 12 hours ahead of time, covered and refrigerated. Can be eaten with anything you want to try it with!
For your Cinco de Mayo celebration, you might also enjoy this tortilla salad recipe from Cooking Flexitarian: http://cookingflexitarian.blogspot.com/2011/02/tortilla-salad.html
For dessert, how about some Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies like these from Rachel Currier? http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/2010/09/mexican-hot-chocolate-cookies/
Do your kids like to watch cooking shows with you? Which are their/your favorites?
Recipe: Molletes with Pico de Gallo Salsa
By Patricia Jinich www.patismexicantable.com
- 4 teleras, bolillos (Mexican rolls), petite baguettes or large baguettes cut into 6” portions
- 2 cups refried beans (homemade –recipe on my site- or store bought)
- 2 cups grated cheese, either Mexican Oaxaca, Pupusa style Salvadorean, Mozzarella or Monterrey Jack (any melting cheese of your liking will do)
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, about 3 cups, halved, cored, seeded and chopped
- ½ cup white onion, finely chopped
- 1 Jalapeño or Serrano chili, finely chopped, or more to taste (seeding is optional if less heat is desired)
- ½ cup cilantro, rinsed, drained, lower part of stems removed and roughly chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, such as kosher or sea salt
Serve with Pico de Gallo salsa, (recipe follows) or another salsa of your choice.
Pico de Gallo Salsa
(Makes about 4 cups)
There are countless versions of Pico de Gallo salsa. Its trademark is having ingredients that are fresh rather than cooked, and diced and chopped rather than pureed. This is the most common and well-known version, typically served alongside Molletes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bread portions in half lengthwise to have 8 pieces. Spread each piece with 3 to 4 tablespoons of refried beans and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of grated cheese on top.
- Arrange Molletes on a baking sheet as you make them. (If you want to add additional toppings like ham, turkey, bacon or chorizo sprinkle them on top of the cheese.) When they are all assembled, place the baking sheet into the oven.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread has achieved a nice toasted crust around the edges.
- Serve with Pico de Gallo salsa on the side, or a salsa of your choice, to be spooned on top, if desired.