Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 19, 2010 09:12 AM

Mexican inspired holiday dinner

I am hosting a post Christmas holiday gathering and the decided theme/inspiration is mexican/south american.
I have some holes in my menu CH can you help me out?!

7 people, 1 shrimp allergy and the meal must be veg or Pescatarian.
This is a sit down semi fancy affair.
(I've nixed tacos- I think it will be to nuts- I'd rather do one large dish served family style)

Apps: mushroom/spinach empanditas. But what else?

Soup: I'd love to a soup especially a veg or seafood variation on tortilla soup- ideas?

Entree: I'm thinking enchiladas and I'd like to do some either holiday or unusual flavors. I'm stuck on a spicy roasted sweet potato and black bean and can't think beyond that. If I did that what kind of sauce? Mole? (I'm also open to other entree ideas)

Side Dishes: 1. jalapeno corn bread
2. sweet and spicy cabbage slaw or green salad with pomegranate seeds and jicama?

dessert: first thing that comes to mind is tres leche cake but I've never made one- is it difficult (i'm pretty kitchen competent) other ideas?

Thanks CH

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Sounds wonderful!

    Other app ideas - of course guacamole & chips, or some favorites: mini quesadillas (cut flour tortillas using a biscuit/cookie cutter - this one was chorizo with manchego) , queso panela con oregano - so easy but always popular at dinner parties - (second recipe) or Salsa de Albanil

    Tres leches cake is very easy - basically a sponge cake poked with hole and soaked with tres leches ("three milks") - cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.

    1. That does sound wonderful. I'd suggest adding fried plantains as an "in-between" course. Also you could have different non-traditional ceviches for variety of flavor and color in apps. I have had some with orange, mango, and lots of other flavors. Let us know how it goes!

      1 Reply
      1. re: soonerhound

        I love the idea of having fried plantains on the table! excellent. My sister-in-law is bringing her guacamole and they will go great with that!

      2. With your parameters I'd suggest the following ideas:

        Appetizer - Marinated Warm Cheese (recipe is in Mexico the Beautiful) in which cheese - either cotija or panela - is marinated in a mixture of olive and corn oil, Mexican oregano, and crush garlic over night and then heated through and served hot with crackers. Works best if you have a small plate warmer underneath it. Super simple and it tastes way better than it sounds

        Soup - lots of options. Sopa Tlalpan or Sopa Azteca are chicken stock based soups with veggies and tortilla strips. A more interesting choice might be Sopa Tarasca which is similar to Tortilla soup but has fried dried chile strips in it as well as a sprinkling of a hard grated cheese. Some versions of Sopa Tarasca are thickened with a little bean puree. For a seafood based soup look at the chileatoles, other seafoods can be subbed in for shrimp in most recipes.

        Entree - I think I would do Pescado Veracruzana using a whole fish (snapper is the traditional fish). It makes a pretty flashy table presentaiton. There are lot of Veracruzana recipes in books and on line. It's a sauce withSpanish and Moorish influences, but really, when done well, it's just plain good eating. If you don't want to use a whole fish, any firm, white flesh fish can be subbed in.

        To play on your sweet potato/black bean idea, I think that would make a great tamal filling. Puree up some of the sweet potatoes and add it to the masa for the tamales for a little extra body and flavor. For your enchilada idea, I would probably use a simpler ancho/pasilla based sauce. Mole is a fairly complex sauce and with your spicy sweet potatoes and black beans you *might* end up with too many competing flavors.

        Sides - some other ideas might be chayotes or calabacitas lightly steamed and seasoned, acelgas (Swiss chard) is popular in Mexico and easy to do. Budins, or puddings, are also pretty easy to do and provide a textural and flavor contrast to other spicier food (tho' probably not a good choice if you end up going with enchiladas). If you live in an area where you can get them fresh, nopales are great and a crisp salad of diced nopales with onion, tomato, cilantro, Mexican oregano, a little oil, and a few sqeezes of lime juice makes a wonderfully different accopaniment.

        Dessert - tres leches cake is pretty simple. It's a basic sponge saturated with a combination of milks and frosted with whipped cream. Other things to consider might be flan and all the various flavorings it can be made with, i.e. lime, coffee, coconut, mango adn more. There's always flan impossible which is chocolate cake and flan cooked in the same pan. When inverted the flan ends up and top and the cake on the bottom. Definitely a novelty dessert. Or get several varieties of extoic fruit ice cream such as coconut, mango, pineapple, lime and serve them with fruit and tuile cookies. Do fancy brownies with flavors that mirror Mexican chocolate - cinnamon, vanilla and almond - dress them up with chocolate fudge sauce and cinnamon ice cream. Chocolate mousse flavored with Kahlua or tequila. Chocolate lava cake or a dense chocolate tart flavored with Kahlua. Or the easiest dessert of all, an ate (like membrillo) and manchego with fruit, coffee and cordials.

        Sounds like you're already on the right track, I'm sure your party will be a great success :-)

        5 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          Just seconding that warm marinated cheese again. As Dining Diva says, super simple, but so good. It's the same recipe (queso panela con oregano from Mexico the Beautiful) linked above in my response.

          Now I'm craving Mexican. I think a chile relleno burrito for lunch is in order!

          1. re: Rubee

            Chile relleno burrito? Sounds delish, but you'll have to eat one for me. Those, unfortunately, are no longer on my menu <sigh>

          2. re: DiningDiva

            great ideas!! I want to make them all. Excellent call on the Mole- ancho/pasilla based sauce will be a much better fit.

            What are nopales- there are several great mexican markets near me- what should I be looking for?

            I'm really excited about the flavored pudding or cake ideas- Chocolate is a big hit in my family one of those will be perfect.

            1. re: poached

              Nopales are cactus paddles. Most of the local Mexica markets in may area carry them fresh and de-thorned. Look in the produce section. Some stores carry the paddles, some stores also offer them diced in a bag. Either way, you're looking for plump paddles or dice with tight skin, not wrinkly or flabby . They should look crisp. You can also find them bottled in the salsa aisle.

              They do have a slim factor to them similar to okra, but you can get by that in cooking. There are probably quite a few on-line recipes or even a YouTube video or two on how to cook nopales. They have a pleasant "green" flavor to them.

              Rick Bayless has the Flan Impossible recipe on his web site. You might have to search a bit for it, but it's there and the recipe is fairly easy to follow. The only caveat I have is that the cooking time isn't right. Depending on your oven, it can be off by as much as 20 minutes. I've made this recipe many times using the 10" springform pan and it's always well received.

              The easiest thing to do for dessert is a simle chocolate mousse flavored with Kahlua and garnished with whipped cream.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                thanks- off to see if nopales are in a market near me- I think I've seen them

          3. Final Menu- thanks all for you great ideas!

            guacamole & chips
            Warm cheese

            Red Chileatole with Fall Vegetables

            Plantains dusted with ground chipotle chili and Thai Ginger salt
            Nopalea salad with Jicima, cilantro, onion, tomato and corn
            Jalapeno Cornbread
            Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas with an Ancho Chili sauce

            Tres Leche Cake
            assortment of fruit ice creams

            1 Reply
            1. re: poached

              Thanks for the update! Sounds fantastic!