Wine Wednesday: Prepare your Cinco de Mayo celebration

There’s no better way to celebrate Mexico’s proud culinary heritage than with intensely flavored, authentic recipes. Here, we’re featuring our favorite Mexican dishes and drinks that turn any gathering into a delicious fiesta.  Of course great Tequilla and or a cold cerveza is perfect to serve your guests.  While we celebrate “Mexican Independence”…is it really??

This dessert, excerpted from the cookbook My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson, gets its name from a magical thing that occurs in the oven. You fill a caramel-lined cake pan with chocolate cake batter, pour a layer of flan on top, and bake. When it comes out of the oven, you find that the flan has disappeared, and all you see is chocolate cake. You wait for it to cool, unmold it, and there is the flan! This is a sticky, rich, sweet dessert that is not for the faint of heart.

Spicy Pork Kebabscincodemayo

For the marinade:
1 dried hot red chile, stemmed and seeded
1 Tbs. grated lime zest
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbs. chopped canned chipotle in adobo (I like Herdez brand)
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the kebabs:
2 pork tenderloins (1 to 1-1/4 lb. each), trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced into 1-1/2-inch-thick half-rounds
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 fresh poblano chiles, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
16 medium radishes, trimmed
16 scallions, root ends trimmed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the marinade:

Soak the red chile in very hot water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain the chile and put it in a blender, along with all the remaining marinade ingredients. Blend until smooth. Set aside 1/2 cup of the marinade for basting. Put the remaining marinade and the pork in a large zip-top bag, seal, and massage the contents to coat. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove the pork; discard the marinade.

Make the kebabs:

Thread the meat onto skewers, alternating with the onion, the poblano pieces, and the whole radishes.

Build a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to medium high and oil the grill grate. Grill the kebabs (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas), turning every 2 to 3 min. Once the pork loses its raw look, baste with the reserved marinade each time you turn the skewers. Grill until the pork is firm to the touch and the edges have begun to brown and the vegetables have begun to color and soften, about 15 min. Mound the skewers on a warm platter; tent with foil to keep warm. Brush the scallions with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until they begin to brown and soften, turning frequently, 3 to 5 min.

To serve:

Remove the meat and vegetables from their skewers, mound them on the platter and arrange the scallions around the edges.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime-Cayenne Butter

4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
8 to 10 ears of corn

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the lime juice, salt, and cayenne. Keep warm.

Peel off all but one or two layers of the corn husks. Pull the remaining husks down, but not off, and remove the bulk of the silks (the rest will come off easily after they char). Pull up the husks; it’s okay if some kernels peek through.

Prepare a hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to high. Put the corn on the grate while the coals are still red-hot. (Cover a gas grill.)

Grill the corn, turning often, until the outer layer of husk is completely charred. Depending on your fire, this could take from around 5 to 10 minutes. You can push the corn to a cooler spot if you’re grilling other things for your meal, or transfer the grilled corn to a platter and keep it warm in the charred husks.

Just before serving, peel off the husk and brush away any remaining silks. Brown the kernels on the grill briefly, turning the corn frequently to develop a roasty color and a little additional smoke flavor, about 1 minute. (If the corn spends too long on the grill without the protection of the husk, the kernels will become dry and a bit chewy.)

Brush the warm cayenne butter on the hot grilled corn and serve immediately.

Flan Impossible (Impossible Chocolate Flan)

1 cup cajeta, store-bought (see tip, below) 

For the cake:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the flan:
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
1 (14-oz.) can condensed milk
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, for garnish

Tip: Cajeta, or Mexican milk caramel, is usually made with goat’s milk, and available at Latin markets. If you can’t find it, substitute dulce de leche.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan.

Pour the cajeta over the bottom and sides of the cake pan using a brush or the back of a spoon (you can heat the cajeta very slightly in the microwave so that it is easier to spread).

Make the Cake:

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined. Pour the cake batter into the pan and set aside.

Make the Flan:

Combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a blender and blend until there are no visible lumps. Pour gently over the cake batter.

Cover loosely with foil, place in a large baking dish, and fill the baking dish with hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Remove the cake pan from the baking dish and allow to cool for at least 4 hours or refrigerate overnight. To unmold, lightly pass a warm knife around the edge, place a plate or dish on top, and carefully but rapidly flip over. Garnish with the toasted nuts. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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