Saturday, May 5, 2012

Three holidays: Cinco de Mayo, Derby Day, LCM 5th Anniversary

What a difference a year makes. Today is Derby Day, the running of the Kentucky Derby horse race, and if I were in Nashville as I was last year at this time—which, thankfully, I am not—I would feel compelled to wear a big hat and make something Southern, and likely a mint julep. But I am in Tucson now, hard by the Mexican border. And today is also Cinco de Mayo, a holiday celebrated throughout America and becoming as popular as Halloween, not least because it is a great excuse, as if one were needed, to eat Mexican food. So Mexican it happily must be.

But the real reason I am surfacing after so much absence from this space is that today is the 5th anniversary of Little Compton Mornings. I am supposed to be grading final papers and getting in my final grades. But really, if I missed posting something today, wouldn’t that mean that May 5, 2012 had become the first anniversary of LCM’s death, rather than the fifth of its life?  I am not quite ready to let that happen. We all have trouble letting things go.

It is possible that what I have to let go is the really time consuming part of the blog—the insistence on recipe writing.  It would be so much easier and faster to just write about and photo what I cook and eat, or carp about the declining this or that, something I am congenitally good at. Or use other people’s recipes rather than develop and codify my own or spend a lot of time testing out the sketchy instructions from heirloom New England cookbooks.

In fact, using someone else’s recipe is what I have done today, and it is, yes, so easy!  Especially when you know the cookbook author has been conscientious in making her recipes reliable. Like Fany Gerson with My Sweet Mexico.  Below is a slightly altered version of her Gorditas de Piloncillo. Why these? Well, this is LCM’s anniversary, which you could argue really demands a plain, old-fashioned dessert (the subject of every other anniversary post (here, here, here, and here), and the gorditas come as close to New England as Mexican can get. Actually, they are like nothing so much as a thick, East-of-Bay johnnycake. So although they are in Gerson’s dessert book, they are, I think, more suited to breakfast, with a cup of cappuccino. You do see the little “5” in the cappuccino foam in the photo, don’t you? Happy 5th, LCM. May you have a long life, and a productive summer in Little Compton.

Gorditas de Piloncillo

I met Fany Gerson at the Tucson Book Festival recently, having been a fan since her book came out. She has a little place in New York that you should seek out.  These gorditas are nice just sugared, but honestly, I found them delicious dunked in—a la jonnycakes—maple syrup.  Serves 2.

5/6 c masa harina
½ c hot water
1 oz grated piloncillo (or light brown sugar, dried)
1 ½ oz queso aƱejo, ricotta salata, or cotija, crumbled
½ tea ground cinnamon

Lard for frying (or Crisco®)
Pure cane or turbinado sugar

Mix and knead together the cheese, cinnamon, and piloncillo. In a small bowl, mix the masa harina and water lightly together, then knead with the cheese/sugar/spice mixture just until smooth. Form into six balls and keep covered.

Heat the lard  to 365F to a depth of a few inches in a deep 9” frying pan.  Pat the masa balls out to about 1/8” thickness. Fry the gorditas two or three at a time; they should be covered with the fat. Like a good tortilla, they may puff slightly. Cook til golden brown, and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar while warm, and serve for breakfast plain or with maple syrup for dunking. 


racheld said...

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Hope your horse won and the julep was FROSTY!

Happy Anniversary!

And welcome back---I've MISSED you.


Jane said...

Miss you too, Rachel! Summer will revive me and the blog, I hope!