I look forward to Cinco de Mayo every year. I love Mexican food (and margaritas) and if the weather is warm, as it is today in New York, Cinco de Mayo symbolizes the start of summer for me. In the city, every restaurant that has even a hint of Mexican cuisine on the menu is packed with revelers spilling onto the sidewalk (or as is most often the case, waiting in line on said sidewalk to get in) and the mood is festive and fun. But also really, really crowded. So after navigating SRO bars for years for what usually amounted to a sickly sweet, half melted marg, I decided to start hosting my own Cinco de Mayo fiestas. Last year our friends Emily and Andy came over for turkey tacos and this year, we’re having them over again. Only I’ve decided to kick up the menu a notch. Tonight we’ll be starting with corn fritters, a recipe I found in the book Fabulous Parties by Mark Held, Richard David and Peggy Dark. I recently interviewed Mark for a story and he was fabulous. I’ve never made fritters before but they look relatively simple and I already had the ingredients, so I’m going to give it a go. I wanted an easy aioli of sorts to dip them in and I found a recipe for cilantro dip on Epicurious which I’m also going to make. We’ll have chips with fresh guacamole and salsa and then for the main course, skirt steak and grilled-chicken tacos, both recipes adapted from Food & Wine’s May issue. The chicken has been marinating overnight in a mixture of lime juice, tomatoes, water and salt.
As for drinks, I’m always on the hunt for a margarita that isn’t too sweet so I consulted my mixologist friend, Matthew Biancaniello, who I also recently interviewed, for an easy, tasty margarita recipe. He suggested a ratio of 2 oz of tequila, 3/4 oz of agave nectar, and 3/4 oz of fresh lime juice. I’m going to make a pitcher, so I’ll adjust the quantities accordingly.
Photo courtesy of Seattle Weekly Blogs.
Pictures of our meal to come later, but for now here are recipes for the corn fritters and cilantro dip. And on a completely unrelated note, today is also the ninth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, a cause I have worked on extensively over the years. Check out an article I wrote on the topic on Tonic.com.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Makes 20-30 appetizers
2 cups whole corn kernels (either fresh cut from the cob or frozen, do not use canned)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions, white part only
1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
corn oil, for frying
Heat the oil in a large frying pan until very hot. Mix all of the ingredients together. Using two spoons or your fingers, drop small dollops into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Mix all ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until flavors blend, at least 1 hour or overnight.