Mexican Food for an Elegant Dinner Party, Served with Beautiful Wine from Mexico
Mexican food can be so elegant, and so interesting when served at a dinner party! Last night I catered a party for a client who loves Mexican Food! When we met to discuss the options I was sure she would want TEX-MEX, and I was thrilled when she was open to a more formal setting with more elegant service for her party! This was going to be FUN! I must admit I am a Ham when it comes to me being able to show-out my talents in the kitchen, and ability to carry out a Theme for a dinner. The menu is true Mexican food a combination of recipes from all regions of this beautiful country, it will surely impress the guest, and show how elegant this food can be.
The recipes will follow, but first I would like to paint a picture of the setting I have created for the client! This is a beautiful loft located Downtown Dallas in an "Old Flour Mill". Her decor is "Art Deco" with a Fantastic Table to work with, it is interesting in that it is made from an, 12' round Iron Gear from the original mill with a Clear Red Glass top! The chairs are old fashioned Ladder Backs, 12 of them, painted a Dark Navy Blue, this works well for my theme! Her dishes are very nice but not what I want for this dinner. So I have contacted a local merchant who deals in Mexican Pottery, I have rented some plates and glassware from him for the evening. The plates are very colorful, and have hand painted scenes from Mexico. All in Blue tones with some bright red and yellow accents, the glassware is Hand Blown from Mexico all stemmed and I have opted for a mixture of colors, Red, Blue, Amber, and Purple. The place mats are from a local store and made of woven "Banana Leaf" they cost me $3 each and I have spray painted them Yellow, the Napkins are solid color red, flatware will be the clients it is a beautiful hand hammered bronze set she got at an art show in Ft. Worth some time back. For the centerpiece have used an old Mexican candy mold made of wood. It is 3' long with 12 holes in the top which each hold a colored glass chimney with a candle in each, it is surrounded by sand I got at the local plant shed with some red sandstone rocks out of my flower bed at home, and 15 small Cactus plants to look as if they are growing out of the sand. While the look is fantastic I must protect the glass top of the table as sand will scratch the glass. So all of this is placed on a clear plastic sheet hidden under the sand.
Overhead I have strung some Patio Lights across the room, they are of multi colors, and look great since the ceilings in this loft are 18 ft., and the bulbs are 15 watt. The glow in the room is great! we will all look so beautiful....LOL! I have also set up a bar with an assortment of Beer from Mexico www.corona.com, and Frozen drinks, the Margaritas will be made with "Sauza Silver Tequila" sauzatequila.com, and fresh lime!Small passed finger food will be served for the cocktail hour. My server tonight is a beautiful young lady form Mexico who works for me in the kitchen as well. Dressed in a traditional Mexican outfit she already had from her own wardrobe, I will make sure she is well taken care of since it is just 3 of us tonight, and she has offered to wear her own costume for the authentic look! My Bartender and entertainer is also from Mexico. Here I will kill two birds with one stone, Jose also will play guitar during dinner. He is quite good, and will play authentic Mexican folk music and sing as well....what could be more perfect! For Dinner am serving a wine paired with the starter, Ceviche, & entree all from Mexico, you do know Mexico had the first Vineyards and made the first wine in the Americas in 1524. For Dessert we will enjoy a Mexican Coffee drink with the special White Chocolate Cake I have made just for tonights menu. There are 11 guest and the hostess for dinner, so I have made sure to have plenty of glassware, and just the right amount of plates for tonights service, with a couple of extras just incase!
- Tonights passed cocktail food will be Smoked Chicken Flautas: These I have opted to get pre made from Sysco Foods. I will just heat and serve. This product offers quality, and will free up some time for me in the kitchen, as it only needs to be heated in the oven for 8-10 min.. As a caterer I sometimes value the convinces of using premade cocktail food, but only if enhanced with a sauce for dipping which is the case for tonight. So I have made a spicy Avocado Dipping Sauce. I have planned on 4 per guest a total of 48.
- For the dipping sauce I used 1 ripe Avocado, 8oz Daisy Sour Cream, 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, onion salt, celery seed, 2 tsp "Allegro Hot and Spicy" Marinade, with a bit cilantro leaves. Put in blender and puree till smooth, chilled in a small cup for the guest to dip into from the tray.
Next will be the seated dinner foods. we will start off with a beautiful appetizer of "Crepes filled with Mushrooms and Cilantro", next we will have a fantastic and easy to prepare "Lobster Ceviche", Followed with the entree of oven roasted "Quail served with Yellow Hominy and Roasted Chiles". Being able to cut corners and protect the integrity of a dish is important when catering. So You will understand some of the short-cuts I have used to simplify and create some of the marinades, and sauces used for this party.
- For the "Crepas Rellenas De Hongo Al Cilantro" I use frozen crepes get them at your local grocery and just fill. The sauce will be premade at the home kitchen and transported so as to just need to be heated and poured over the crepes once filled, the filling will also be premade prior to the event. The crepes will be assembled at the location. This recipe makes 24 crepes perfect for tonights dinner.
- For the filling you will need: 1/2 cup Olive oil and 6Tbs Butter, heat and sautee 1 average size White Onion Grated, with 4 cloves crushed garlic till translucent. To this add 2 small cans green Chiles drained, 2 + 1/4 pounds finely chopped mushrooms, and 3 Tbs finely chopped cilantro. Cook over low heat for about 45 min. till mixture thickens, and cool. Transport and at location add filing to crepes place on cookie sheet and cover with foil heat in oven till warm. Spray foil and pan with cooking spray so crepes do not stick to either. Place 2 on each plate add sauce, and garnish plate with fresh cilantro and diced Tomato for color!
- For the sauce I take 1 can "Campbells" Nacho Cheese & 1 can Cream of Onion soup, add 1 cup heavy cream and heat over a low heat with 1/4 cup of Dry Sherry added. bring to a simmer for 5 min. do not scorch!The sauce will be very tasty, and there is no need to drown the crepes in sauce, this is plenty for 12 guest. www.campbellsoup.com
Now on to the next part of our fantastic Mexican meal. The "Ceviche de Langosta Las Brisas" is so elegant it may be served as a lunch entree, but for tonights meal it will take the place of a soup or salad, and work well to enhance the WOW factor! This will be premade and transported to the clients home. When there I will put it in beautiful footed blown glass, martini glasses and serve atop the entree plate for extra impact. This will also allow the guest to see the extraordinary craftsmanship of the plates to be used tonight. As well as make the service easier for the server. I guarantee if you serve this dish you will be the Toast of the Gourmet Club!
- For the "Lobster Ceviche" I take 6 precooked Lobster Tails about 1 lb, each. The meat will be cut into chunks, and to this I will add 24 extra large cleaned Shrimp, 24 large Scallops, and 2 lbs. fresh Red Snapper filets cut into chunks. Fish should have skin removed. The sea-food will be placed in a large glass bowl, and to it I will add the marinade, and refrigerate for 2+1/2 hours. Once plated I will garnish each with sliced Avocado, and a dollop of Sour Cream.....Beautiful!!!!!!....be sure to fill dish with plenty of the juice mix.
- Marinade: mix 2 qt. fresh Orange Juice, 1 qt. Pineapple Juice, 1 cup fresh Lime Juice, 2/3 cup silver Tequila, 1/4 cup Grand Marnier, 1 tsp Sea Salt, 3 minced Jalapeno peppers, 6 green onions chopped very small, 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped, and 3 Tbs minced mint leaves.
Tonights Entree is so fantastic and easy to prepare! "Quail Jaliciences" is a rustic dish I will serve with a favorite side of "Roasted Hominy". The combination of flavor is wonderful and makes quite a beautiful plate. I admit Quail are not very filling, that is the reason for the two earlier dishes, they will guarantee every guest is satisfied.
- I suggest 2 Quail per guest, cleaned and halved. Take a large oven proof pan and add the Quail skin side up in a single layer. Salt and pepper the birds, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush each bird with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. Put birds in oven for 5 min, then brush with sauce, return to oven for 10 min, brush with sauce again, return for the last 15 min and remove from oven baste again and let rest for 5 min before you plate. I suggest a mound of Hominy centered in the plate with the quail arranged at 12-3-6-9 on the plate. For added effect I like to place a ripe and summer fresh tomato wedge between each, with a dusting of minced cilantro.
- Chipotle Sauce for Quail: ! can 12oz Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, place in blender with 8Tbs Honey www.moonshinetrading.com, 2tsp cumin, 2tsp fresh oregano, 3Tbs crushed Garlic, and 4TBS Grand Marnier. Transport to clients for use later.
Our "Maiz Estilo"side is so simple, and a great side with the Quail. Hominy is a creamy textured type of corn with an earthy quality.
- In a large heavy pan heat 2 stick butter with 3 cleaned and thinly sliced Pablano Peppers and 1Tbs ground cumin. Let Butter brown a bit to this add 3 40oz cans White Hominy, just heat and serve! I like to add the zest of 2 limes to brighten up this dish!
For dessert a fantastic Mexican style White Chocolate Cake is the answer! This cake is impressive and delicious I love this cake as a perfect finish to any meal. The "Pastel De Chocolate Blanco Del Castillo" is reserved for very special occasions in Mexico, but it is perfect for tonight! I wil garnish each plate with fresh raspberries & blackberries, they add a depth to the white chocolate and rum in this dessert that I love!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Grease and flour 2 9" cake pans. Beat egg yolks till foamy, gradually add sugar and beat till mixture forms a ribbon when poured from a spoon, add butter a bit at a time until a thick paste is formed. Add Pecans and Almonds. Stir and fold flour, Cinnamon, and extracts into mixture do not over work batter! Next whip egg whites to a stiff peak and fold into mixture with a large spoon. Fill cake pans evenly and bake for 45 min or until done. Remove from oven and cool 10 min before removing from pans to cool on wire racks.
- For the Cake Batter: 10 egg yolks
- 1 + 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 + 1/4 cup melted butter warm
- 2 cups each Pecans and Almonds ground
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/3 cup Flour
- 1/2 tsp each Vanilla and Almond Extract
- 10 egg whites
- While cake cooks start the syrup. Take sugar and water boil together for 20 min. Remove from heat and pour in Liquor. Pour syrup over cooled cakes allowing cakes to absorb liquid
- For the Syrup: 1 + 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup dark Rum
Next we will frost the cake, and Garnish with White-Chocolate Curls. This cake is so beautiful and tasty, people love it! I do cut corners however with the frosting. I am just not good with frostings but this works out perfectly well.....
- I use 2 cans premade Pecan frosting. I like the Betty Crocker Brand. I do however add 1/2 tsp Rum extract to the frosting being sure to mix it in well, and be sure to put a layer of frosting inside the 2 layers of the cake! Then just add the chocolate curls. Fantastic! www.bettycrocker.com
Now we will discuss the wine choices for tonights event. Mexico produces some exceptional wines from 7 regions and have been producing wine for centuries. I am a huge fan of the "LA Cetto" winery but they all have quality products. For the Crepes I will serve The LA Cetto, "Riesling", it is a fruit forward Dry Riesling. With notes of flowers and ripe fruits and a wonderful slight bitterness at the end, perfect with tonights crepes!
The La Cetto, "Sauvignon Blanc" is a perfect choice with the Ceviche. It offers a crisp, soft, freshness that plays well with the seafood and its fruity base. I serve this wine with sharp white Mexican cheeses as well, or with chicken enchiladas in sour cream sauce.
Our Quail deserve a fantastic "Petite Sirah", again from LA Cetto. This wine is perfect as it has an almost raisin fruit taste, which will lend itself perfectly to the roasted birds with the "Chipotle Glaze". Try this wine it is a great drinking wine as well, I often suggest it for party wine as it is very affordable and of high quality. www.cettowines.com
Our coffee drink for dessert is a "Mexican Coffee". I take glass mugs and sugar the rim, add 1 tbs Brandy, and 1 oz Kahlua www.kahula.com to the mug and top with coffee, add fresh whipped cream if desired it is a tasty treat with the cake served tonight!
* As a caterer I always like to make a lasting impression on the host and guest at these smaller parties, so I have left a gift bag with a bottle of the Petite Sirah Wine from "LA Cetto" and one of my business cards for each of them to enjoy later. I think this is why I have never had to look for business. I feel treating the client and the guest at these events is all I need to do to keep people taking for sometime about the food and experience! Calling me back as their choice for events of all sizes! Just good business...................