Happy Cinco De Mayo

Arriba, arriba, it’s Cinco De Mayo!  And for those of you who are living under a rock, that means, it’s the 5th of May.  It’s basically like the 4th of July or Canada Day for Mexico.  It’s also the best day of the year to make yummy Mexican food and drink the good tequila!

So in honor of this wonderful day I’m getting out my quesadilla maker (yes…I have a quesadilla maker), I’m dusting off the margarita glasses that have had a nice long winter’s rest in my cupboard and am hoping the sun comes out so I can head for the patio later. Today is a particularly wonderful culinary holiday because most Mexican dishes involve everyone’s favourite…cheese!

If you’re not sure what to make today, tacos are always a winner.  Or if you feel like a challenge you could try enchiladas. But I’m sticking to my guns and making quesadillas.  I have some leftover Tillamook pepper jack cheese from a visit to the states that will go nicely with grilled chicken and some flame roasted peppers, smooshed to perfection between two tortillas.  If you don’t have a quesadilla maker don’t fret, there’s a simple fix. Just use a frying pan or heavy skillet to weight down your quesadilla while you pan fry it.

On the side, I love black beans with a bit of queso fresco sprinkled on top.  If I can’t find that feta also tastes good.  I simmer my black beans with cumin, chilli powder and lime.  I usually skip the rice, but an easy way to make mexican rice (no need to buy the rice-a-roni box) is to simmer long grain white rice in some diced tomatoes with juices and water (instead of using 100% water).  Add whatever spices you like and you’re done.

And last but not least, the most important part of any holiday is the festive drinks!  I spent most of my 20’s avoiding tequila, but in recent years it’s grown on me.  After having the best margarita of my life at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Las Vegas a few years ago, I’m an on the rocks convert.  You don’t need a blender, or super sweet mixer that’s full of sugar and chemicals…you just need really good tequila (preferably reposado), club soda, grapefruit juice and lime.  I think this drink is actually called a Paloma, but I usually find some variation on the margarita menu at Mexican joints.  In terms of tequila, I leave my friends Don Julio and El Jimador for the blendy margs and for my Paloma I usually choose Herradura Reposado.  It’s not cheap, especially in Canada at around $80 per bottle, but it’s top shelf and soooo good!  But today I think we’re going to bust out the Tre Generaciones Anejo variety.  I was informed by my husband that this is ‘sipping tequila’ so we’ll see what happens.

So get your sombreros on, hang up those pinatas and dust off your Buena Vista Social Club cd’s because ole, Cinco De Mayo is a great night to have a fiesta!

Oh, and I almost forgot, for dessert…pinata cookies…(no, I am not attempting to make these).

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