May 31, 2014

Mexican Fiesta, Part 2

Welcome back!! Did you find some inspiration on Pinterest? Did  you pick up everything you needed from the store?  I did most of my shopping at Vallarta, a Latin grocery chain in LA.  They have really great produce for cheap and make their own tortillas, essential for an authentic taco party.  [Note to self: next time take photos of Vallarta, because it's kind of like shopping at Disneyland.  It's so colorful and everything smells AMAzing.]

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I tend to mentally edit my menu while grocery shopping.  For example, I was planning on making a coconut bark or cocada as a dessert option. The recipe calls for 2 ingredients, sweetened shredded coconut & condensed milk (the basis of any great dessert, IMHO.)  Plus, the cocada can be baked ahead of time. Win.  However, when shopping at Vallarta, I couldn't find the shredded coconut milk in the baking aisle.  I suppose I could go to the Ralph's across the street from my house to pick it up, but I try to avoid multiple grocery store trips, if I can.  Instead, I picked up some paletas or popsicles in fun, summery flavors like lime and chile cucumber. Voila! Dessert is taken care of.

I was also planning on buying pre-made pico de gallo and guacamole, but I wasn't thrilled with the quality of the selection at the store yesterday.  So instead, I delegated the salsa + guac to a couple of guests who wanted to bring something.  Check.  I cut the salsa borracha because I didn't buy tequila yesterday.  Plus, the steak is pre-marinated, so I think it will be well seasoned enough.

Here's what my revised menu looks like today:

Steak tacos - purchased 2 lbs of pre-marinated carne asada or flap meat from the butcher
Shrimp tacos - 2 lbs of unshelled shrimps
Rajas, creamed poblano chiles, grocery stores sometimes label poblanos as pasilla chiles
Taco toppings - white onion, radishes, cilantro, limes, also added Mexican green onions for grilling
Salsas:  salsa borracha, pico de gallo, guacamole = delegated!
Cocada, coconut bark  Replaced with paletas, keep in the cooler with the beer
Beer + agua fresca - purchased watermelon & grapefruit, I'm still on the fence about the agua fresca, as it involves transporting juice... Might just chop the watermelon to eat as is

So, what do we need to accomplish today?

Day Before Party - Cook Any Make Ahead Dishes Today

A taco party really is pretty genius for a first time hostess because everything is just chop, chop, chop, a quick grill and the guests can assemble their own.

The one dish I want to make ahead of time is the rajas, which I've never made before.  They can then be served at room temp as a taco filling tomorrow afternoon.

The recipe I'm adapting comes from Fresh Mexico by Chef Marcela Valladolid.

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced
2 c fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
6 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and cut into strips
1/2 c Mexican crema, or creme fraiche
1/2 c shredded Oaxaca cheese or mozzarella cheese
Salt + pepper

1.  Heat oil in a large skillet.  Saute the onion for 5 minutes.  Add the corn kernels for an additional 3 minutes.
2.  Add the chile strips to the corn mixture and cook for 5 minutes, or until corn is tender.  Add the crema and cook for 8 minutes, or until bubbling.
3.  Add the cheese and stir until melty and smooth.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.
4.  Cool, cover and refrigerate.

Done and done.

Now all that's left for tomorrow is to chop all of the taco toppings, grill the meat and pour a cold beverage!

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