Welcome to the 5th day of May – better known as Cinco de Mayo. It is a celebration of Mexican Pride, Mexican Culture and Mexican Cuisine. You would think it were their 4th of July, but it isn’t. As a matter of fact, Cinco de Mayo isn’t even a major holiday in Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s unexpected victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Conflicts between Mexico and France had been brewing for a year as a result of Mexican President Benito Juarez suspending his nation’s foreign debt payments. This did not sit well with Napoleon III, who responded by sending French troops to invade Mexico and collect payment.
The Battle of Puebla didn’t even mark a turning point in the Mexican-French conflict. While France may have lost that battle, they would occupy the country and install Maximilian I as emperor. It would be another five years before the new Mexican Republic was able to expel France, execute Maximilian I and regain control of their country once more. And it would be another 3 years before Mexico rose up against Spain and declared their independence on September 16, 1810. The War for Independence raged until 1821, when Mexico finally became its own nation. Interestingly enough, it was a priest named Miguel Hidalgo who called upon the people to revolt against Spanish Rule.
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo first began in California on the first anniversary of the victorious battle. The celebration gradually became a festival for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans across the country. As a result, the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement began in the 1940s. Activists pointed to Cinco de Mayo as a source of pride. What started as a social movement was overtaken in the 1970s, when brewing companies began to capitalize on the appeal of Mexican Restaurants throughout the country. It became a day when everyone was a little bit Mexican, and the consumption of imported beers, tequilas and most importantly Mexican foods took precedence. Most people today don’t even know, nor care about the history of Cinco de Mayo any more than most know why rivers run green on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Here in California, Cinco de Mayo is a big deal – people in big cities such as Los Angeles and little rural communities up and down the fertile valleys hold festivals in the streets with food, music and dancing. It’s a day filled with color and celebration and pride. I think everyone should be filled with pride for who they are, where they came from, and to share that with the world.
Today is also a Friday. My challenge was to create a menu that was delicious and yet in keeping with our Catholic Friday adherence of abstaining from meats. For Hubby and I, that is easy since we like seafoods. Kiddo is a bit more particular. The Tamales are more for him, while the Fajitas are more for us. Together they create an amazing Friday Cinco de Mayo feast. Enjoy!
Friday Night Cinco de Mayo Feast
Tamales Monterey de Chili Verde (Estilo Enchilada)
Fajitas de Camarones
Flan de Leche Caramelo con Merengue
Green Chili Monterey Tamales
4 Green Chili-Cheese Tamales
1 cup Green Enchilada Sauce
4 tablespoons Sour Cream
4 tablespoons Diced Jalapenos
Place a metal trivet or steamer basket inside the instant pot. Add 1 cup of water. Arrange tamales, still frozen, on the insert.
Close the lid, seal the valve. Set to Pressure Cook HIGH for 20 minutes. When complete, use quick release to release the pressure.
While the tamales warm, pour enchilada sauce into a sauce pan. Gently warm over medium-low heat. Transfer to a bowl with a serving ladle when ready to use.
Remove with tong. To serve, unwrap tamales. Ladle a little enchilada sauce on a plate, place tamale on the sauce. Ladle with more sauce, a dollop of sour cream and some diced pickled Jalapenos.
Sizzling Shrimp Fajitas
1 lb medium-large Shrimp
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Orange Bell Pepper
2 large Jalapeno Peppers
1/2 Yellow Onion
1/2 Red Onion
2 tablespoons Cilantro
1 Lime, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon Habanero or Jalapeno Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons New Mexican Red Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Hot Smoked Paprika
6 Fajita-size Flour Tortillas
6 tablespoons Sour Cream
Tomato Salsa, optional
Peel and devein shrimp, removing tails. Keep shrimp chilled until ready to cook.
Stem and seed bell peppers, cut into long thin strips, set aside. Stem jalapeno pepper, cut into long thin strips, retaining seeds if desired. Set aside. Cut onions from root to tip. Reserve half of each onion for another purpose. Peel and thinly slice remaining half, set aside. Snip cilantro for garnish, set aside. Cut lime into wedges for garnish, set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Add all the peppers and onions to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and beginning to char on the edges. Season vegetables with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, mix together the New Mexican Red Chili Powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir to combine.
Add shrimp to the vegetable pan, sprinkle with seasoning blend. Stir to combine seasoning, sautéed vegetables and shrimp. Cook for about 5 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. While the shrimp cook, warm the tortillas and set aside.
Sprinkle the cilantro over the shrimp just before serving. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve with warmed tortillas, sour cream and tomato salsa as desired.
Farmhouse Ro-Tel Mexican Rice
1 cup Chicken Stock
1 cup Water
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel Tomatoes
1 box Farmhouse Mexican Rice
Fill sauce pan with chicken shock and water. Add Ro-Tel tomatoes and seasoning mix from the rice, stir to blend.
Add rice, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat, let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
Super Easy Mexican Refried Beans
1 can Jalapeno Refried Beans
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 tablespoon Bacon Drippings
Empty beans into a microwave-safe bowl. Season with taco seasoning. Microwave for 2 minutes. Remove, add bacon drippings and continue to microwave, covered with a paper towel, for another 90 seconds or until heated through. Stir one more time just before serving.
12 or 16 oz Margarita Glasses as needed
1800 Ultimate Margarita as desired
Shots of Silver Tequila as desired
Shots Grand Marnier or Triple Sec as desires
Chill margarita glasses. When ready to serve, slice limes. Run a lime wedge along the rim of the glasses. Place margarita salt in a small dish. Dip margarita glasses, rim side down, into the salt.
Pour in the ultimate margarita mix, a sot of tequila and a shot of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec as desired.
Serve with lime wedges and enjoy.
Flan de Leche Caramelo con Merengue
1 cup Sugar
Melt 1 cup of sugar over medium-high heat while stirring constantly to prevent sugar from burning. Once the sugar begins to melt, reduce heat. Continue to cook until all the sugar has melted and is a nice golden-amber color. Pour caramel sauce into the bottom of a large baking tin. Allow sugar to cool and begin to harden.
20 Egg Yolks
1 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 large cans Evaporated Milk
1 cup Half and Half
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Fill a large casserole pan about a quarter of the way with water to create a bath. Set aside.
Separate egg whites from yolks. Reserve 5 whites for the meringue, the remaining 15 whites for another purpose such as egg-white Omelettes. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with vanilla and sugar, set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottom sauce pan over medium heat, scald evaporated milk and half and half. Immediately remove sauce pan from heat, reducing burner to low. Slowly ladle about a cup of hot milk into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Pour egg mixture into the sauce pan with the milk off heat. Mix slowly while stirring constantly. Once mixed; return to heat for about 90 seconds.
For the ultimate smoothness of the flan, CAREFULLY ladle the custard mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into caramel-glazed baking pan. Cover with foil. Place pan in the bath and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes or until firmly set and done in the middle.
Remove from oven. Carefully life Flan Pan from the bath. Place on a cooling rack. Run a knife around the edge to loosen custard from the pan. Let custard cool in the pan for 1 hour. Invert onto oven-proof serving dish. Pour any remaining caramel from pan onto custard. Set aside to make the meringue.
5 Egg Whites
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Beat together ingredients for meringue topping with an electric mixer until firm peaks form. Top flan with meringue.
Heat broiler element in the oven. Place flan under the broiler and and lightly brown before serving. May be served at room temperature or cold.
Any remaining flan will keep, refrigerated, up to 3 days.
Let Your face shine on Your servant O Lord;
Save me in Your unfailing love.
2 thoughts on “Friday Night Cinco de Mayo Feast”
What a great post! I confess that I know next to nothing about Mexican history beyond a few high points. I can’t imagine how colorful and celebratory this event must be in California or the Southwest. Here the feast is mostly a special event in our Mexican restaurants. Have a happy day!
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It’s a big deal here in California. Although I think most people really don’t know why.
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