How to ripen an avocado quickly and 9 other avocado facts for Cinco de Mayo

avocadoSince no Cinco de Mayo party is complete without fresh guacamole, you probably carefully selected the perfect avocados during your pre-party shopping trip days ago. But, what if the day before before your party, you discover that, despite a few days of relaxing on your countertop, your avocados remain rock-hard, unlikely to be easily mashed into your favorite flavorful dip?

Not to worry! We’ve researched how to ripen an avocado quickly — and added other must-know facts about avocados here:

  1. There are close to 500 varieties of avocados.

  2. Avocados are actually fruits, and are often eaten with sugar or as an ice cream flavor for dessert in Brazil.

  3. An avocado ripens in 5 stages, from light green to ripe. Keep these in mind when you choose your avocado at the store. Continue reading

Colorado sauce reveals the essence of authentic Mexican food

Chili peppers for Colorado sauce

Good Colorado sauce begins with your dried chili peppers.

By Tom Havran

Overused words like “authentic,” “traditional” and “real” are proffered like bottomless bowls of genetically modified corn chips and watery salsa to describe the corporatized Mexican food that is so sadly pervasive in America these days. (I weep for what Taco Bell has done to Mexican food.)

For your Cinco de Mayo party this year, honor the true culinary spirit of Mexico by making Colorado sauce. My recipe below employs native ingredients with a simple method that will lend Mexican flavors and aromas to an endless array of dishes – from enchiladas to rice and beans.

Of all cuisines, Mexican is my favorite (which is why I’ve made Colorado sauce on countless occasions), and at no other time of the year does it seem less honored or more insulted than when it’s hijacked as part of the Americanized take on Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Every May 5th, we don our cheap sombreros, fake “bandito” mustaches and gather at the local “Mexican” eatery to get boozily obnoxious on overly sweet margaritas, canned beans and gallons of oozing Colby Jack cheese. The people of Mexico, their culture and the food they have given the world deserve a lot more respect. Continue reading

Book Review: Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We hope you’re celebrating with some fabulous Mexican cuisine today.

We’re feeling especially festive because we’re introducing our first cookbook review, too! We look forward to sharing reviews and recipes from the latest cookbooks, both here and on our website.

We’ll start off with Truly Mexican, by Roberto Santibañez, chef and owner of NYC’s Park Slope restaurant Fonda, which has become a popular dining destination for authentic Mexican cuisine.

Reviewed by Karen Miles

Remember what Julia Child’s cookbook did for French cuisine? Well, Roberto Santibañez similarly — and successfully — offers us the art of preparing a foreign cuisine in his new book, Truly Mexican. While walking us through the process of composing authentic Mexican sauces and condiments, we learn techniques that are important to Mexican cooking, such as toasting chili peppers and roasting tomatoes. We learn about Mexican staples, including spices, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables.

Because the focus of the book is on sauces and condiments, entire chapters are devoted to salsas, guacamoles, adobos, and moles and pipianes. “I chose those sauces and dishes that contain accessible ingredients, illustrate important culinary concepts, and of course, taste amazing,” explains Santibañez. That’s not to say you can’t craft an entire Mexican meal from these recipes.

In fact, we learn how to use the sauces and condiments to transform a piece of meat or poultry into an irresistible, authentic ethnic dish. (There’s even a chapter on “More Ideas for Using Mexican Sauces.”) A chapter on “Sides for Rounding Out Your Meal” includes such basics as Mexican Fried Rice and such delicacies as Chipotle-Avocado Leaf Black Beans. And there’s no shortage of inspiring photos.

Don’t buy this book if you’re looking for something to whip up in a flash for dinner tonight. But if you love Mexican food and want to expand your repertoire beyond the usual taco Tuesday fare, invest in this cookbook. What you’ll get in return is a thoughtful, inspiring course in authentic Mexican cooking.

For a sampling of the recipes in Truly Mexican, check out these three from the book on our website: Peanut and Arbol Chile Salsa, Lamb in Modern Yellow Mole, and Mexican Red Rice. For more about Mexican cooking — and additional recipes — check out Cooking Great Mexican.

Watch the beautiful preview of the book, and see if you don’t feel like celebrating Cinco de Mayo right now.