Tuesday, May 5, 2015

¡Olé! It’s Cinco de Mayo, Time to Celebrate
What’s cooking? Simply Savory Guacamole and Crazy Margaritas

I don’t know why EVERY holiday catches me by surprise, but there it is. I’ve just realized that Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow – ack! now it’s today, because it took me so long to put together this post. And let’s not even discuss the fact that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. Ever since our sons graduated from the school system, I no longer have markers like Columbus Day and Spring Break to remind me of time passing. When you’re retired, every day is Saturday.

But back to Cinco de Mayo. Now you may or may not know that the Kitchen Goddess grew up on Tex-Mex food. In San Antonio, where I was born and raised, Tex-Mex is the cuisine du jour not just on the Cinco de Mayo (and how many times do you get to use French and Spanish in the same sentence?), but every day of the year. In the public schools I attended from elementary through high school, Wednesday was Tex-Mex day for all 12 years. Probably still is. In high school, even when it wasn’t Wednesday, we’d haul ass most days over to a tiny Tex-Mex place where we could eat our fill for less than a dollar. And as likely as not, my family would order the stuff to pick up from a nearby restaurant any time my mom didn’t feel like cooking, which was at least once a week.

In San Antonio, tortilla chips with bean dip and chile con queso are de rigueur as party fare. (OMG, English and Spanish food terms with French – it’s a linguistic free-for-all! Can you tell I’m having fun?) In fact, I’ve just returned from a three-day high school reunion there where we had Tex-Mex for dinner on Friday and for brunch on Sunday, and everyone loved it. Salsa is mother’s milk to this group.

Our brunch at La Fonda on Main in San Antonio. Photo by Cindi Bless Bullen.

Historical note: Cinco de Mayo is a celebration – not of Mexico’s Independence Day, which is September 16 – but of an unlikely victory by the Mexican army over the French in the town of Puebla in 1862. In a classic David-vs-Goliath fight, the Mexicans decisively defeated the French, despite having an army about half the size. It took another four years for the Mexicans to finally evict Napoleon III’s army, who were trying to establish an empire that would favor French interests, but the Battle of Pueblo provided an important boost in morale for the Mexicans. Today, Cinco de Mayo celebrations take place all over the U.S., and even in parts of Canada.

The Kitchen Goddess loves to celebrate almost anything, especially if there are some authentic and tasty foods involved. Two of the essentials to any legitimate Cinco de Mayo festivities are guacamole and margaritas. Now I want to say right here that there are a thousand recipes for guac, and probably two thousand for ’ritas. This guac is mine, and it’s so easy I have taught it to my husband, who now thinks he’s a guac expert. I think that’s cute, so I haven’t disabused him of the notion. It’s fairly simple, and you may wish to start with mine and add things like raw onion or cumin or cilantro or jalapeño. The KG doesn’t like raw onion or really hot spiciness, so onions and jalapeños are never a part of our concoction. But we get a lot of compliments on this one, and sometimes simple is best.

The KG has boldly stolen this margarita recipe from friends who grew up in New Jersey, and who said they got it from friends in the South, who got it from other friends. Which only goes to tell you that it’s good enough to pass around. I’d heard about this particular mix, and was, frankly, horrified. But the New Jersey friends made a batch for a recent party and offered the KG one without letting on to the ingredients. Well, friends, let me just say that you must try this before you dismiss it out of hand. Purists will gag at the list and consider burning the KG on a rotisserie grill, but they would be foolish to do so without testing it out. And that’s all I’ll say.

Kitchen Goddess note on buying avocados: If you’re eating them today or tomorrow, buy avocados that yield slightly to gentle pressure in the palm of your hand. Don’t poke them, which causes bruising. Unripe avocados are hard to the touch but will ripen at room temperature in 3-4 days. Avoid ones with indentations, as those are signs of soft spots/bruises. The skin of California avocados (sold both as Hass and as Haas) turns very dark green – almost black – and is covered in small bumps when ripe.

Simply Savory Guacamole

Makes 2 cups.


2 Hass avocados, ripe but not soft
juice of one lemon (or lime juice, if you prefer), about 3 tablespoons
¼ cup Rotel Tomatoes & Green Chilies (from a 10-ounce can), plus 1 tablespoon liquid (see directions below)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground pepper to taste (3-4 good grinds)

Cut the avocados in half, then peel and seed them. Add them to a small but deep bowl and, using either a fork or a potato masher or (Kitchen Goddess’s preference) a pastry blender, mash the avocado to a rough texture. Add the lemon juice and continue to mash until the mixture reaches a consistency you like. (The Kitchen Goddess likes it with small bits of avocado still intact.)

Measure out the tomatoes from the can, using a fork or slotted spoon to avoid the juice, and add the tomatoes to the bowl. Then measure out 1 tablespoon of the liquid from the can and add that as well. Add the garlic salt, and stir well. Taste to correct seasoning, and add pepper.

Cover the finished guacamole with cellophane wrap, tucking the cellophane down into the bowl so that it forms a film on top of the guacamole. This will keep the guacamole from turning brown as it chills. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips or (low-cal version) red bell pepper and cucumber pieces.

Margaritas Locas (Crazy Margaritas)

Makes 8 6-ounce drinks.


1 12-ounce can frozen limeade
1 12-ounce can or bottle of beer (I use Corona)
12 ounces tequila
12 ounces 7-Up
limes, cut in wedges
kosher salt, about ¼-inch deep, in a saucer or shallow bowl

Pour the first four ingredients into a pitcher, stir, and chill. When ready to serve, use a wedge of lime to moisten the rims of the glasses, then dip the rims into the salt. Serve the margarita mixture over ice in the salt-rimmed glasses. Add a wedge of lime to each glass.


  1. Holy Guacamole!
    Eileen in Atlanta

  2. You know, Eileen, I was sure there were some great puns I was missing. I should have asked you. Wonderful to hear from you, as always.Next time...

  3. ooh, easy guac! and this is not the margarita recipe i got from A.P. (7-up, really?) but i will do a taste test :)

    1. Good for you, Hen. I made those margaritas last night, and Jim was very impressed. Let me now how it goes.

  4. Where's the cilantro?
    LOVE this post.

    1. Thanks, Gusty -- it was fun. And the cilantro is one of those ingredients that you are welcome to add to your own version. If I included it, I'd have to explain the difference between cilantro and parsley to my local guac "expert" and help him find it in the fridge or the garden. Easier for me if he can just find the ingredients himself. And I'm all about easy.

  5. What an elegant and beautifully done blog, Lee! Eye-pleasing, bright witty. Always ready to try new guacamole and Margarita recipes! Thanks

    1. You're very welcome, Jimmy! I'm so glad you like Spoon & Ink. It was great seeing you and Laska at the reunion.