Yvette is as sweet as a Churro, oh and a heart of gold too. (She’s leading a bake sale to benefit Share our Strength – details to come). The fact that Yvette (right), her sister, Veronica (left) and mother, Evangelina (center), have all put their heads and 3 generations worth of amazing recipes together in a cookbook called “Muy Bueno” warms my heart like a little habeñero.
This sweet trio shows us that Mexican cuisine is so much more than bean burritos and tacos, there is amazing tradition behind their creations and I am forever grateful that they’ve shared some of their recipes, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. No, I’m not Hispanic, so it seems odd that I might celebrate – okay, I’ll admit I am always looking for an excuse to eat great fare and toss back some Tequila. I hope you will celebrate with us this Cinco de Mayo (translate: May 5th) with more than just a microwave quesadilla.
Makes: 8 to 10 servings
4 bolillo rolls or French rolls
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 piloncillo cones (Mexican brown sugar)
4 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
3 cups cheese (Longhorn Cheddar or Colby), shredded
1 cup raisins
4 tablespoons butter or spay butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut rolls in ½ inch slices and butter both sides, layer on a baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly toasted and dry. Remove and cool.
Combine water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, creating a syrup. Simmer syrup uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 2 hours. Pour through a strainer and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves. Set syrup aside.
Spray 8 x 10 ½” baking dish with non-stick spray, layer ingredients in the following order: a third of the toasted bread, third of the raisins, third of the cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Wait 15 minutes and layer another third of the bread, raisins, cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Let soak for another 15 minutes, and again top with the remaining bread, raisins, cheese, and syrup evenly over bread. Before baking let set for another 15 minutes.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and bake 40 minutes, uncover and bake until cheese is golden brown about 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve warm.
And no Mexican fare would be complete with just agua, so these ladies threw in their favorite cocktail recipe…the Sandiatini.
3 ounces coconut rum
3 ounces Watermelon Agua Fresca
Wet the rim of a martini glass with some limejuice then dip it into some granulated sugar. Pour the rum, agua fresco, and club soda into a cocktail shaker. Toss in a handful of ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with lime slices and mint if desired.
Makes: 1 martini
Watermelon Agua Fresca
6 cups cubed seeded watermelon, divided
2 cups cubed canary melon, divided
1 ¼ cup water, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ liter club soda, pre-chilled
Lime slices for garnish
Mint leaves for garnish
Puree half of the cubed watermelon and canary melon, half water and half sugar in a blender. Pour through a coarse strainer into a large container. Repeat with the remaining melon, water, and sugar. Stir in lime juice. Refrigerate until very cold.
Photography by Jeanine Thurston
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