El Restaurante Mexicano March/April 2011 : Page 6

A French Twist on Cinco de Mayo BY BRENDA RUSSELL C hef Carlos Gaytan stages the battle of Cinco de Mayo in his kitchen. The executive chef-owner of Mex-ique combines food of his native Guerrero with French fi ne-dining techniques. A new dessert idea is a guacamole Napoleon. What better way to mark the Mexican victory against French forces at Puebla? Mexique last year joined fi ve other Chicago restaurants in marking Cinco de Mayo with prix fi xe menus. Chef Gaytan let his two favorite cuisines battle it out, serving French onion soup with poblanos and Monterey Jack cheese, cochinita rillettes and veal-stuffed poblano peppers and sea bass en papillote with serrano-ginger butter. Chef Gaytan plans on repeating the promotion this year. “It was great, I think, for all the restaurants,” he says. Participating Mexican restaurants that offered three-course, $32 dinners in-cluded the locally farmed Chilam Balam and a North Shore suburban fi xture (La Casa de Isaac) known for lox quesadillas. Mexique’s playful fusion menu might be lost on some Windy City diners. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican version of St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of Mexican culture some-times confused with Mexican Indepen-dence Day, the celebration of Dieciséis de Septiembre. Even Mexicans from other regions may not be aware of the history, since Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday and is not widely celebrated beyond Puebla state. In 1862, troops led by 33-year-old Commander General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín overcame the superior numbers of the French Army under General Charles de Lorencez. The rare defeat was only a tempo-rary setback for the French, who drove President Benito Juárez into exile, but a rallying point for the resistance till his return to power in 1867. The United States gave “Mexico’s Lincoln” tacit payback for keeping the French out of its Civil War with 30,000 U.S. muskets “misplaced” at the border. In Puebla, site of the legendary Cinco de Mayo battle, the victory is commem-orated with parades and a mock battle. Elsewhere in Mexico, celebrations are more low-key. In the past 50 years cel-ebrations have spread throughout the U.S., marking not just the Puebla vic-tory but centuries of Mexican heritage. As on St. Patrick’s Day, much of the focus is on bar specials. One remark-able note in the successful Chicago prix fi xe promotion is that one participant, Sabor Saveur, had no liquor license. Chef Yanitzin Sanchez, who studied in Puebla at the Culinary Institute of Mexico, took a potential negative and turned it into a plus. Sabor Saveur sold Margarita and Mojito mixers to patrons who brought their own bottles of tequila and rum. Customers also could bring their own beer or wine. Manager Maria Lage agrees the pro-motion was worth the effort and plans on repeating the it. Last year Chef Sanchez, who fi nished her studies at the Ecole de Paris Pattisserie Boulangere in Paris, let France and Mexico fi ght it out on the plate with seafood bocoles with azafran beurre blanc, chocolate-braised salmon fi llet and a cream-cheese Napoleon with pistachio and chicharron sauces. The French contretemps is taken more literally in Miami’s Coconut Grove district, where Jaguar Ceviche Spoon bar and Latam Grill takes to the streets on Cinco de Mayo. The restau-rant’s staff, diners and mariachis parade around the corner to Le Bouchon du Grove armed with shots of tequila. House manager Sergio Durazo says the kitchen’s Cinco de Mayo plans special menus to back up the evening sortie. With May 5 falling on a Thursday, Mexican restaurants can wave the fl ag the weekend of April 30 before or enter the fray the following weekend. This year try adding some menu items with a French twist to your res-taurant’s Cinco de Mayo celebration to reinforce the signifi cance of this date. A sorbet is very French but using 6 el restaurante mexicano

A French Twist On Cinco De Mayo

Brenda Russell

Chef Carlos Gaytan stages the battle of Cinco de Mayo in his kitchen.<br /> <br /> The executive chef-owner of Mexique combines food of his native Guerrero with French fi ne-dining techniques. A new dessert idea is a guacamole Napoleon. What better way to mark the Mexican victory against French forces at Puebla?<br /> <br /> Mexique last year joined fi ve other Chicago restaurants in marking Cinco de Mayo with prix fi xe menus. Chef Gaytan let his two favorite cuisines battle it out, serving French onion soup with poblanos and Monterey Jack cheese, cochinita rillettes and vealstuffed poblano peppers and sea bass en papillote with serrano-ginger butter.<br /> <br /> Chef Gaytan plans on repeating the promotion this year. “It was great, I think, for all the restaurants,” he says. Participating Mexican restaurants that offered three-course, $32 dinners included the locally farmed Chilam Balam and a North Shore suburban fi xture (La Casa de Isaac) known for lox quesadillas. <br /> <br /> Mexique’s playful fusion menu might Be lost on some Windy City diners. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican version of St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of Mexican culture sometimes confused with Mexican Independence Day, the celebration of Dieciséis de Septiembre.<br /> <br /> Even Mexicans from other regions may not be aware of the history, since Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday and is not widely celebrated beyond Puebla state. In 1862, troops led by 33-year-old Commander General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín overcame the superior numbers of the French Army under General Charles de Lorencez.<br /> <br /> The rare defeat was only a temporary setback for the French, who drove President Benito Juárez into exile, but a rallying point for the resistance till his return to power in 1867. The United States gave “Mexico’s Lincoln” tacit payback for keeping the French out of its Civil War with 30,000 U.S. muskets “misplaced” at the border.<br /> <br /> In Puebla, site of the legendary Cinco de Mayo battle, the victory is commem- Orated with parades and a mock battle.<br /> <br /> Elsewhere in Mexico, celebrations are more low-key. In the past 50 years celebrations have spread throughout the U. S., marking not just the Puebla victory but centuries of Mexican heritage.<br /> <br /> As on St. Patrick’s Day, much of the focus is on bar specials. One remarkable note in the successful Chicago prix fi xe promotion is that one participant, Sabor Saveur, had no liquor license.<br /> <br /> Chef Yanitzin Sanchez, who studied in Puebla at the Culinary Institute of Mexico, took a potential negative and turned it into a plus. Sabor Saveur sold Margarita and Mojito mixers to patrons who brought their own bottles of tequila and rum. Customers also could bring their own beer or wine.<br /> <br /> Manager Maria Lage agrees the promotion was worth the effort and plans on repeating the it. Last year Chef Sanchez, who fi nished her studies at the Ecole de Paris Pattisserie Boulangere in Paris, let France and Mexico fi ght it out on the plate with seafood bocoles with azafran beurre blanc, chocolate-braised salmon fi llet and a cream-cheese Napoleon with pistachio and chicharron sauces.<br /> <br /> The French contretemps is taken more literally in Miami’s Coconut Grove district, where Jaguar Ceviche Spoon bar and Latam Grill takes to the streets on Cinco de Mayo. The restaurant’s staff, diners and mariachis parade around the corner to Le Bouchon du Grove armed with shots of tequila.<br /> <br /> House manager Sergio Durazo says the kitchen’s Cinco de Mayo plans special menus to back up the evening sortie.<br /> <br /> With May 5 falling on a Thursday, Mexican restaurants can wave the fl ag the weekend of April 30 before or enter the fray the following weekend.<br /> <br /> This year try adding some menu items with a French twist to your restaurant’s Cinco de Mayo celebration to reinforce the signifi cance of this date.<br /> <br /> A sorbet is very French but using Avocado gives it a Mexican fl air. Serving the sorbet with fresh raspberries and whipped cream pays homage to the colors of the Mexican fl ag. Serve the sorbet with Authentic Mexican Fiesta Balls and you’ll have a simple dessert special which would be appropriate in a family- or fi ne-dining establishment. And drink specials are a must for Cinco de Mayo, so using Champagne is an easy way to add French fl air. Pairing pomegranate and Triple Sec with Champagne is a perfect way to marry Mexican and French fl avors.<br /> <br /> See recipes for California Avocado Sorbet, Authentic Mexican Fiesta Balls and Coctel de Champana y Granada (Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail) on page 25.<br /> <br /> California Avocado Sorbet<br /> <br /> (Recipe courtesy of the California Avocado Commission www.CaliforniaAvocado.com/Foodservice)<br /> <br /> Serves 4<br /> <br /> 1 c. sugar 1 c. light corn syrup <br /> <br /> 2 c. water 1 t. grated lime peel <br /> <br /> 3 California avocados, seeded, peeled and mashed <br /> <br /> 2 T. lemon juice <br /> <br /> 1 T. lime juice <br /> <br /> Fresh raspberries and crisp cookies, optional<br /> <br /> Bring sugar, corn syrup and water to boil in large saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in lime peel. Cool 50 to 60 minutes.<br /> <br /> Blend avocados and lemon and lime juice in blender or food processor until smooth. Add cooled sugar mixture; blend until thoroughly combined.<br /> <br /> Pour into 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan or 2 smaller pans so depth is about 1/2 inch. Freeze 1 hour.<br /> <br /> Remove sorbet from freezer, beat 2 to 3 minutes until light and creamy. Pour back into pan; cover with plastic wrap and freeze until fi rm, about 4 hours.<br /> <br /> Serve sorbet with fresh raspberries and crisp cookies. To mimic the colors of the Mexican fl ag, add whipped cream topping <br /> <br /> * Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly..<br /> <br /> Authentic Mexican Fiesta Balls<br /> <br /> recipe courtesy of Christine Szalay-Kudra at www.mexicandessertrecipes.net © 2010) Makes 60 cookies<br /> <br /> 1 c. finely chopped nuts, walnuts<br /> <br /> or pecans<br /> <br /> ¼ c. cocoa powder<br /> <br /> ½ c. sugar<br /> <br /> 1 c. butter, at room temperature<br /> <br /> ¼ c. chopped green maraschino<br /> <br /> cherries<br /> <br /> ¼ c. chopped red maraschino<br /> <br /> cherries<br /> <br /> ½ t. salt<br /> <br /> 2 t. vanilla extract<br /> <br /> 1 c. powdered sugar<br /> <br /> 1 T. instant coffee powder<br /> <br /> 2 c. sifted flour<br /> <br /> Preheat the oven to 325º F. Beat the butter well. Add sugar and beat until mixture is fluffy and light. Add vanilla and continue beating to combine thoroughly. Sift together coffee, cocoa, salt and flour. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Blend in nuts and cherries. Chill dough until firm.<br /> <br /> Shape into 1-inch balls and place them an inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Roll the cookies in powdered sugar. Cool on wire racks.<br /> <br /> Pomegranate champagne cocktail (Coctel de champaña y Granada)<br /> Recipe couresy of Karen Hursh Graber © 2010 www.mexconnect.com<br /> <br /> Serves 10<br /> <br /> 2 750-mililiter bottles of champagne, chilled<br /> <br /> 1 c. pomegranate juice, chilled 1/4 c. Triple Sec<br /> <br /> Pour all ingredients into a pitcher Serve in champagne flutes, garnish with pomegranate seeds if available.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
 

Loading