Thursday, April 28, 2011

If you like Cinco de Mayo . . .
Sing the above headline to the tune of “If you like Pina Colada.” Now get ready to enjoy “ all the flavors of the fiesta without all the guilt.” That’s how La Tortilla Factory bills new authentic hand made style tortillas in Yellow Corn, White Corn, Chipotle flavors at 90 calories a tortilla. I picked chipotle and loved the flavor, flexibility and 14 grams of whole grain. This Santa Rosa, Ca.,-based company suggests a Cinco de Mayo Makeover that includes their tortillas, and a “skinnied-up” margarita. I always try to shave calories off my Mexican food with dabs, not globs of cheese, a high pile of lettuce and salsa and diet lemon-lime soda as the base for my beverages. Viva!

Top tequila
Tequila Partida’s Reposado has received a “best tequila in the world” rating from one source, so that made me want to check out a sample. I’m rating the blanco (not aged) Anejo (aged 18 months) as pleasing. In a six-month aging, the reposado acquires sweetness with aromas of chocolate and vanilla, hazelnut and almonds. It’s possible to sip it straight for Cinco de Mayo, but when I found this Sangrita recipe incorporating a jalapeno with seeds, I had to give that a shot. It’s a keeper.

2 ounces Tabasco or Cholula Hot Sauce
1 ounce lime juice
7 ounces orange juice
2 ounces grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
15 ounces tomato juice
1 jalapeno, cut in half with seeds
Add all the ingredients into a pitcher. Stir until the salt and pepper is dissolved. Let the mix sit for 15 minutes to 30 minutes with the jalapeno then, when the right heat level is reached, discard the jalapeno pieces. Keep refrigerated.
Enjoy Sangrita traditionally accompanied with neat pour of your favorite Partida Tequila.

Ruby Partida
1 1/2 ounces Partida Reposado Tequila
1 /2 ounce fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce French Cassis
Shake the first 4 ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Dribble the 1/2 ounce French Cassis down the inside of the glass so it will settle at the bottom.

Passport to flavor
McCormick must have had success with new cards of pre-measured spices cooks snap out for exotic meals. New World Flavors include Tuscan Chicken Stew, Chicken Tikka Masala, Asian Sesame Salmon and Caribbean Grilled Steak. Nervous cooks can have confidence from the cards.

Healthy Steps
Culinary Thrill Seekers who say they love my column always ask how I can try so much food. Portion control, baby. I’m loyal to Weight Watchers for showing me how. I measure everything, so I’m loving Healthy Steps, a line of ladles, etc. designed so you know your serving size. They have bright green handles, which my mom says is the color of the season on all the food shows. My favorites include a collapsible strainer you can measure for a single serving. Hook it on the side of your pot and you can cook it, strain it and serve it with confidence. There’s a butter cut and serve tool, a cheese grater that, forgive me, everyone says looks like those foot file eggs, and a very cool push scooper for ice cream that can allow you to form an attractive tower of cool cream and dress it up with fruit, sauce and a cookie. Even if you aren’t on any diet plan now, just monitoring your portions can make a big difference.

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