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AUTHOR KELLEY COFFEEN

Cinco de Taco

Local writer offers up tasty recipes to celebrate May 5

Posted

Kelley Coffeen has been writing cookbooks since 1994. When she was about 15, she started making recipes on her own.

“Cooking is a joy to me, and I love giving the gift of food to others,” she said.

One of her biggest passions is Mexican and Southwestern flavors, she said. They reflect the “culture and friendship and lifestyle along the border.”

It should be no surprise that Cinco de Mayo is one of her favorite holidays and that she celebrates in style – with tacos.

The holiday is much more celebrated in the United States than in Mexico. The day celebrates the success  of Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza, who led a small Mexican army against the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

“It has become not only significant in the United States to celebrate the victory, it has become a wonderful culinary celebration as well, bringing together people and sharing flavors and culture,” Coffeen said. “In this region, we have such an unique kindness and we embrace one another and I think we do that through the foods that we eat and we love.”

Coffeen said it is not unusual to celebrate for the whole week of May 5. In fact, Experience Mesilla will be doing just that for the 2021 Taco-Palooza with the Mesilla restaurants offering specialty tacos and taco specials May 1-8.

One of Coffeen’s cookbooks, “300 Best Taco Recipes,” shares those flavors and multiple combinations for the occasion, and any taco occasion. She said one of the reasons she loves Southwestern food is the endless ways it can be combined for individual tastes.

“You can’t do Cinco de Mayo without tacos,” she said. “So I would definitely say tacos, guacamole and margaritas, are probably the most popular dishes and ways to celebrate. I probably will do a carne asada taco piled high with guacamole and accompanied by a margarita.”

Coffeen said there are plenty of traditional desserts – flan, churros, tres leches cake – that can satisfactorily top off a Cinco de Mayo dinner but she will keep it simple and fresh by taking some fresh fruit, splashing it with a margarita mix and sprinkling some red chile flakes over it.

“Then you have a real after dinner delight,” she said.



Grilled Carne Asada Tacos
Kelley Coffeen
200 Easy Mexico Recipes (Robert Rose Publishing)

Carne Asada is an intensely flavored meat that is very popular in Mexican cooking. It is quick to marinate and easy to grill.

Makes 12 tacos

Barbecue grill

Marinade

Juice of 3 lemons

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup drained sliced pickled jalapeño peppers        

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce 

1 tbsp  minced red bell pepper     

1 tbsp  granulated sugar         

2 tsp    kosher salt      

1-1/2 lbs beef skirt or minute steak

12 6- to 8-inch flour or corn tortillas       

2          limes, each cut into 6 wedges 2

  1. Marinade: In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, garlic, jalapeños, bell pepper, teriyaki sauce, sugar and salt until sugar and salt have dissolved.
  2. In a large resealable plastic bag, add marinade and meat and seal. Work marinade through meat with your fingers. Refrigerate meat for at least 2 hours or for up to 6 hours.
  3. Preheat greased barbecue grill to medium. Remove meat from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill meat for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. When meat is just barely pink inside, remove from grill. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes. Carve meat across the grain into thin slices, then cut into bite-size pieces.
  4. To build tacos, skillet warm tortillas. Divide meat equally among tortillas and top with guacamole and a favorite salsa. Fold tortillas in half. Serve with a sliced lime.

    Tip: There are several different cuts of meat you can use for this recipe. Skirt steak or minute steak are best due to the thin cut and quick cooking time.



Classic Guacamole
Kelley Coffeen
200 Easy Mexico Recipes (Robert Rose Publishing)

This is a classic version of guacamole that is tasty and simple with onion, garlic, lime and seasonings. I serve it in tacos, on tortas and offer it with chips and salsa.

Makes approximately 2 cups

5-6   avocados, mashed   

1 clove garlic, minced    

1/4 cup minced onion (optional)

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 

Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

  1. In a large bowl, gently combine avocados, garlic and onion. Add pepper flakes, lime juice and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or for up to 2 hours.

Tips: You can mash up avocado into a creamy consistency or mash some and dice the rest the avocado for a semi-creamy/chunky-style guacamole



Pink Cadillac Margaritas
Kelley Coffeen
Fiesta Mexicali (Northland Publishing)

Ahhh… a perfect pitcher of margaritas! I have been serving this for over 20 years! Simple and easy way to serve a crowd using a pre-made margarita mix. The sweetness of the grenadine creates a smooth tangy Mexican cocktail. Enjoy!

1 bottle (1.75 liters) premade non-alcoholic margarita mix

12 oz your favorite tequila

1/3 cup grenadine

4 cups cracked ice

4 to 5 limes

Kosher/Margarita salt

In a large pitcher, combine margarita mix, tequila and grenadine. It is that simple! Chill for up to 2 hours. Just before serving, cut 2 limes into thin slices and add to the pitcher along with cracked ice. Cut remaining lime into wedges. Rub the rims of 4 to 6 highball glasses with a lime wedge  and salt the rims of each glass. Fill with margarita mixture, additional ice if needed and garnish with lime wedge.

Kelley Coffeen