Last Wednesday we had three of my book club girls over, along with their husbands, for a mid-week taco party. We’d planned the dinner a while in advance, without knowing just how much we all would end up needing this kind of stress-releasing get-together on just this night. Already, it had been a long and hectic week so far for nearly all of us. A fun, low-key party like this, with it’s great company, yummy food, cold beer and on-the-strong-side margaritas, was a welcome diversion for everybody.
Speaking of crazy, hectic weeks, this is another one for me. So I’ve got to keep things on the short side. Tons of pictures should make up for it though. Like the one below – baby avocados, each one only a little bigger than an egg. Their pits were the size of almonds. Aside from their tininess, and their incredible price (Ten for a dollar! I about died when I saw them in the market!), they were no different from regular avocados, and no less delicious.
I’m including a lot of basic recipes in this post – classic margaritas, guacamole, tomato salsa, mango salsa, coconut macaroons. I was tempted to put all sorts of fancy twists on everything, but thought you all might appreciate some good and tasty recipes without all the gourmet bells and whistles. All these classic recipes are so good in the first place, so why change them?
Two things a bit out of the ordinary were the rice and the beans. First, a few words on the Cilantro-Green Onion Rice. Thoroughly speckled with enormous amounts of fresh cilantro and sliced green onions, and loaded with all kinds of other bright flavors like garlic, cumin, jalapeno and lime, this robust rice was a little bit hot, a little bit sweet, a little bit salty and a big bit delicious. A giant leap from ordinary white rice, this stuff was well worth straying from the everyday basics.
The Black Beans with Chorizo too, were worth a bit of a twist. A twist on my norm that is, because the combination of beans and chorizo is classic Mexican. I’d stumbled upon this recipe on Epicurious.com, and knew I had to try it. I love chorizo, a deep red, smoky Mexican-style pork sausage full of intense spices like paprika, chili peppers and garlic. The flavorful sausage is a great companion to the creamy, tenderly cooked black beans. Together, they’re delicious tucked inside a taco, with all the fixin’s, or even on the side, atop the rice.
And I almost forgot about the shrimp. This was a pretty straight forward recipe too – a quick rub with some ground spices then an even quicker flip on the grill - but the results were delicious. The tender pink shrimp went especially well with the tropical tones of the mango salsa, and a good dollop of bright green guacamole, all stuffed within a blistered flour tortilla.
Dessert, I have to admit, was so good. And half of it – the mango sorbet half – was store bought. I do think I would have liked to try my hand at making my own mango sorbet, but our ice cream maker is broken. And anyways, like I’d mentioned before, it was a crazy week. And those kinds of weeks always seem to call for Häagen Dazs. Along with the mango sorbet, I served freshly baked coconut macaroons. These have always been one of my favorite treats. But guess what, I’d never made them before. And I can’t believe it, because they are so easy to make! I found the recipe in the Joy of Cooking, which is always a good place to turn for classic cookie recipes like this. Anyways, the end result of this simple recipe was simply spectacular. These coconut macaroons are as good as any I’ve ever had before, soft and chewy on the insides, but crispy golden brown on the outsides. And they went splendidly with the mango sorbet. As luck would have it, nearly all our guests were huge coconut fans, so there were lots of oohing and ahhing around the table. Always good to hear!