Cinco de Mayo: Let’s get this fiesta started!

–by Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple

You may know from prior articles that I am an extreme Kentucky Derby fan. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I was even late for prom (twice) because I didn’t want to miss “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” What Kentucky high school would schedule prom on the first Saturday in May anyway?

As a food writer, imagine my dismay when I realized that the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo would happen on the same day in 2018. This clash of two iconic party subjects happens every few years or so; however, because Cinco de Derby and Derby de Mayo mashups don’t cut it for me, I would have to choose one or the other.

As a party purist and also a Mexican food lover, this year I chose Cinco de Mayo, a day that celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 and the country’s rich and vibrant culture.

So, let’s get this fiesta started!

Chicken al Carbon Tacos with Chipotle Crema
Chicken al Carbon Tacos with Chipotle Crema

Chicken al Carbon Tacos with Chipotle Crema
Serves 6
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chipotle powder

Sprinkle chicken breasts with lime juice, then coat with oil. Season with salt, pepper and chipotle powder. Allow to sit 10 to 15 minutes.

Cook on a charcoal or gas grill or under the oven broiler until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then slice into strips.

Spoon chicken filling into tortillas and top with Chipotle Crema.

Chipotle Crema
1 ½ cups sour cream
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Juice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon or more pureed chipotle en adobo to taste

Mix all ingredients together and chill. Cream will thicken over time and can be thinned with milk or cream.
(Recipe adapted from the book Santa Fe School of Cooking)

Homemade Corn Tortillas
Homemade Corn Tortillas

Corn Tortillas
Makes about 12, 6-inch tortillas
2 cups masa harina
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups warm water, approximately

In a medium bowl, place the masa harina and salt, and slowly add the water, stirring with a fork until dough comes together into a ball. Knead the dough several times and roll into a log shape about 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.

Heat a cast iron comal, skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.

Cut log into ½ inch rounds, keeping it covered so the dough doesn’t dry out. Place one of the rounds between 2 sheets of plastic in a tortilla press and flatten to about 1/16-inch thick.

Peel off the plastic and place tortilla in the pan. Cook about 1 minute, until light brown speckles appear.

Flip the tortilla and cook 30 seconds, pressing down on the tortilla with a small spatula. Repeat with remaining rounds. Stack and keep warm in a kitchen towel. Serve immediately.
(Recipe adapted from the book Santa Fe School of Cooking)

Silver Coin Margarita
Silver Coin Margarita

The Silver Coin Margarita
Makes 1
1 ounce Silver Patrón Tequila
½ ounce Cointreau or orange liqueur
½ ounce brandy
Juice from half a lime
½ cup non-alcoholic margarita mix

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add all ingredients and shake until shaker is icy cold. Pour over ice into a salt-rimmed margarita glass. (Recipe by Jennifer Ruple: Someday Cowgirl)

Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup heavy cream

1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan liberally until coated.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with ¾ cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

In a small pitcher, combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable. Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.
(Recipe adapted from

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