Cook up a sizzling fiesta

Cooking with Cathie

Cathie CampbellMarch 27, 2013 

In my home town of Gilroy, there is a rich blend of many cultures. I grew up being fortunate enough to share in many varied activities and as you've no doubt guessed, I was, and still am, particularly taken with the foods! To name just a few, I got to sample from Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Irish, German and who knows how many other cultures/nationalities. My own heritage (bloodline) is strongly connected to Italian and Portuguese. No wonder I love to go out in the ocean and fish.

Well, you didn't turn your attention here to have a lesson in my family history, so put on your colorful serape and sombrero and let's try some kitchen magic with delicious Mexican foods.


Queso fundito (Melted cheese)

Might as well start out with an appetizer.

  1. 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  2. 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled (found in many grocery stores these days)
  3. 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  4. 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small ones), minced or crushed
  5. 1 cup spinach, chopped rough and tightly packed
  6. 1/4 cup butter
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste
  8. Cooking spray or extra butter
  9. Tortillas or chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place the cheeses in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter and saute the mushrooms until cooked, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and spinach and cook about 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted and garlic becomes fragrant. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Pour over cheese, toss to mix.
  3. Pour cheese mixture into lightly sprayed or buttered oven-safe baking dish. Something with low sides would be a good choice. Sprinkle top with additional salt and pepper, just lightly.
  4. Place in preheated oven and bake until the cheese mixture bubbles and becomes lightly browned on top, about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve while cheese is hot, along with tortillas or tortilla chips.

Easy-fix Margaritas

Easy because of the frozen limeade concentrate.

  • 1 can (6-oz.) frozen limeade concentrate
  • 6 fluid ounces of your favorite tequila
  • 2 fluid ounces of triple sec
  • Salt for the glass rims, if desired
  1. Fill blender with crushed ice. Pour in limeade concentrate, tequila and triple sec. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses (with or without salt on edges) and serve. Makes 4 servings (depending on size of glasses).

Orange and jicama salad

Light and refreshing. Takes a little time to peel the membranes off the orange segments, but it's worth it.

  • 4 oranges
  • 2 cups julienne-cut peeled jicama (cut into 1 1/2 -inch sized pieces)
  • 1 cucumber (about 6 ounces), peeled and halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups cantaloupe, cubed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  1. Peel and section oranges over a bowl; squeeze membranes to extract juice. Set sections aside; reserve 1/4 cup orange juice. Discard membranes.
  2. Place the orange sections, jicama, cucumber, cantaloupe, red onion, cilantro and mint in a large salad bowl. Combine the reserved orange juice, fresh lime juice, salt and chili powder. Pour juice mixture over jicama mixture, and toss gently. Cover and chill 2 hours. Makes about 8 1-cup servings.

Healthy fish tacos

  • 3/4 pound firm, white fish fillets
  • 2 teaspoons fajita seasoning
  • 2 cups green or purple cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • Reduced-fat sour cream (optional)
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and diced (I like more)
  • Salsa, bottled or homemade
  • Lime wedges
  • Cooking spray
  1. Lightly spray grill rack with nonstick cooking spray, and preheat grill.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of fish with fajita seasoning, gently pressing into flesh. Grill fish 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Flake into pieces with a fork; keep warm.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together cabbage, lime juice, salt and cilantro.
  4. Wrap the tortillas in paper towels, and microwave 1 minute on HIGH or until they're warm. (Or judge by the power of your own microwave.) Note: I like to grill the tortillas, but you need to watch them carefully.
  5. Place taco ingredients on the table for assembly. Spread each tortilla with 1 teaspoon (or desired amount) of sour cream, if using, and top with fish, cabbage mixture, and avocado. Serve with salsa and lime wedges on the side. Makes 4 servings of 2 tacos each.

Flan

You can use a pie pan for this recipe, and place it in another pan with some water.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Heat 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy skillet or saucepan, stirring constantly until it melts and turns a dark golden color.
  2. Remove from heat and immediately pour into a 4 1/2 -cup metal ring mold, swish it around so it evenly coats the bottom of the ring mold.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Stir in milk, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla and orange peel.
  4. Place caramel coated ring mold in another pan and place on an oven rack. Pour egg mixture into the ring mold and pour the hottest tap water possible around the ring mold to a depth of 1 inch. Bake in preheated oven about 1 hour or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  5. Cool flan on a wire rack, then chill for at least 3 1/2 hours.
  6. To unmold the flan, loosen edges with a spatula, slip spatula down the sides to let air in. Place the serving platter over the mold and flip over so the flan rests on the platter. Drizzle leftover caramel sauce from the mold on top of the flan. A nice idea for serving is to place some sliced strawberries or kiwi fruit in the center of the ring of flan. Makes about 10 servings.

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