Tag Archives: Mexico

International Food for Your All-American Cookout

Pavlova

Pavlova photo courtesy of http://www.kiwibaking.com

American Independence Day – also known as the Fourth of July – is one of the biggest barbecue holidays of the year.

This year, you can freshen up your party menu by incorporating cuisines from around the world. Not only will it give your guests some new flavors to enjoy but it will also permit everyone to celebrate one of the greatest things about our country: that we welcome all people here from around the world.

1. German Potato Salad

More than 17% of Americans report themselves as having some German ancestry, which is the largest self-reported ancestral group. Odds are, if you’re hosting a barbecue for the 4th of July, at least some of your guests are German-Americans. Here’s a Food Network recipe for German Potato Salad to help you celebrate.

2. Tandoori Chicken

Try something new on the grill with this recipe for Tandoori Chicken. You can adjust the seasonings to make it more – or less – spicy without sacrificing the amazing flavor.

3. Korean Barbecue

There’s nothing like barbecued spare ribs on the 4th of July, so tuck your napkin into your collar and get ready to get messy with this Korean Barbecue recipe from Epicurious.com. As of the 2000 Census, there are more than one million Korean-Americans in the United States.

4. Mexican Salad with Avocado Dressing

Fresh and delicious, this salad would go beautifully with whatever else you’re serving at your celebration. It’s also a great way to honor Mexican-Americans, whose numbers have increased 58% between the 1990 and 2000 Census.

5. Austalia/New Zealand’s Pavlova

Not only is this a beautiful-looking dessert, it’s also light after a heavy meal of barbecued foods. It uses fresh strawberries, but if you want to re-create the American flag, go ahead and dot in some blueberries to give the dish our traditional red, white, and blue look.

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Learn About Mexico on Cinco de Mayo

Children celebrate cinco de mayoCinco de Mayo is a fantastic opportunity to go beyond the pinatas, maracas, and quesadillas to help children understand – and respect – Mexican culture.

KidCulture has already explained what Cinco de Mayo is really all about here, so let’s concentrate on what we don’t know about one of America’s closest neighbors.

For example, did you know that Mexico is the 15th largest country in the world? You would think that would earn them some bragging rights!

And although Mexico is a large country, most people prefer to live in cities. Mexico’s largest cities include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, and Juarez.

The name, “Mexico,” comes from the Nahuatl language. Although the exact meaning is not clear, it is believed to mean “the place where the God of War lives” or “the place at the center of the moon.”

Mexico has a relatively young population. Nearly one-third of its people are 14 years or younger.

While most people speak Spanish (more than 97 percent), indigenous languages such as Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages are also spoken. In fact, more than one percent of the population does not speak Spanish at all.

While 86 percent of the population can read and write, on average people only receive about 14 years of education. However, Mexico has a strong tradition of education. The Aztecs are the first recorded civilization to mandate universal education for everyone.

Mexico has become a popular tourist destination in part because of its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Yet Mexico also has deserts such as the Sonoran where temperatures can reach as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mexico is also home to one of the most diverse animal populations in the world, particularly among reptiles. More than 700 reptile species can be found in Mexico.

It is believed that indigenous people in Mexico first domesticated corn, enabling them to better control their access to food. This, in turn, transformed the society and firmly established Mexican food among world cuisines. Amazon.com lists more than 700 different Mexican cookbooks.

Corn, or maize, continues to be a staple of Mexican cuisine. From tamales to tortillas, corn is essential.

Mexican food is extremely well-known – and beloved. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, you might consider trying some new Mexican recipes with your family. Here are some suggestions:

In addition, there are several excellent Mexican cookbooks for children. Check out The Young Chef’s Mexican Cookbook by Karen Ward as a start.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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Cookies 13: Biscochitos

biscochitosBiscochitos are anise-flavored cookies commonly found at celebrations like Christmas.

Biscochitos were probably introduced in Mexico in the 16th century by the Spanish but – like all recipes that continue to be prepared – it has changed over time.

Here’s a biscochitos recipe from AllRecipes.com for you to try!

Biscochitos

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups lard
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons anise seed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the lard and 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth. Mix in the anise seed, and beat until fluffy. Stir in the eggs one at a time. Add the sifted ingredients and brandy, and stir until well blended.
  3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/2 or 1/4 inch thickness, and cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. The traditional is fleur-de-lis. Place cookies onto baking sheets. Mix together the 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the tops of the cookies.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bottoms are lightly browned.

 

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Cookies 10: Russian Tea Cakes

Dainty and delicious, Russian tea cakes probably date to the 18th century and are similar to “jumbles,” a Middle Ages dessert.

Following the tradition of only serving rich foods on special occasions, Russian tea cakes are typically associated with Christmas and weddings.

Although Russians do not celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, their traditional celebrations are similar in many ways to those throughout the world.

Interestingly, Russian tea cakes are the same as Mexican Wedding Cake cookies. The name was supposedly changed during the Cold War.

This Russian tea cakes recipe is from AllRecipes.com, shared by THEAUNT708, with a shout-out to her Bubba (her grandmother from Lithuania).

Russian Tea Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar for decoration

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and flour; stir into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Roll in confectioners’ sugar. When cool, roll in remaining confectioners’ sugar.

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Cinco de Mayo

Although it’s not one of Mexico’s official federal holidays, Cinco de Mayo is growing in popularity as an opportunity for Mexicans and particularly Mexican-Americans to celebrate their cultural heritage.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Pueblo in 1862 when Mexican forces won an important victory against the French who had invaded the country in an attempt to get Mexico to continue making payments on a debt.

Although France eventually occupied Mexico and even named an emperor, Maximilian I, they did not hold the country for long.

It is believed that Cinco de Mayo first began as a symbol of Mexican resistance to the French occupation.

Today, most people celebrate with food, music, and dancing.

Here’s a recipe for you to enjoy – it’s a summer favorite for my family and me. Vamos a comer!

Corn and Black Bean Salad (also can be served with tortilla chips)

1 can yellow corn

1 can black beans

1/2 medium onion, minced

1/2 green bell pepper, minced

1/2 red pepper, minced

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or use 1 clove of garlic, finely minced)

1 tbsp. lime juice

Cilantro (for garnish)

1/4 tsp. chili powder (optional)

Open the cans of corn and black beans and rinse in a colander. Drain well and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Can be served immediately or for richer flavor, allow to marinate well before serving. Can be served over lettuce, with rice, or tortilla chips.

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Are You Safe From April Fool’s Day Pranks?

images-1Here’s a short list of places NOT to go if you’re averse to tomfoolery:

England

Scotland

United States

France

Mexico

Portugal

India

However, having lived in West Africa, I can tell you that former colonies of any of these countries are extremely likely to maintain the practice of April Fool’s jokes.  In Burkina Faso, it was known as the “poisson d’avril,” which means “April fish.”  This turn of phrase stems from the young and naïve fish spring fish who were easily caught on April 1.  

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