It's Fiesta Time!
If you know me at all, you will know that I really enjoy entertaining. You will also know that I really love and enjoy great food. But it’s not just the food that I love, although I really do love to eat; it’s also setting the mood, coming up with a theme, being creative, having a good time, and sharing a meal with the people that I love. So, in the spirit of welcoming in the warmer weather, today I decided to create my own version of a fiesta.
So, what’s on the menu?
Spicy Gazpacho Soup Shooters
Here’s a tip: One of the best gazpacho soups I have ever made came from a mistake made with an over-salted salad. This is the recipe: I diced up some tomatoes, cucumbers, white onions, cilantro, parsley, a few fresh basil leaves, and then added a splash of apple cider vinegar, a dash of salt, and then, wait for it….feta cheese. Yup, you heard that right. I then simply added garlic cloves, some strained tomatoes, and a bit of hot sauce (or you can use a pinch of cayenne pepper), and a dash of cumin and paprika, then I blended it all together and, voila, amazing tangy spicy-ish gazpacho. And I’ve been recreating this recipe ever since. You know, sometimes the best recipes come from making "mistakes," like the potato chip, for example.
I like to add cilantro, garlic powder, cumin, lime, a dash of Himalayan salt, and green onions to my perfectly ripe, but not overly ripe, fork-mashed avocadoes. So simple and so good.
Blanched Argentinian Shrimp Ceviche
I blanched some wild Argentinian shrimps, finely chopped some white onions, cucumbers, and cilantro, then added some lime juice, a dash of extra virgin olive oil, a bit of hot sauce, and a pinch of Himalayan salt. You can add a bit of apple cider vinegar if you want it to be a bit zestier. But I opted for just the lime juice this time.
Ground Chicken Tacos
I used an amazing seasoning mix that I found sold in the health food store, as well as GF taco shells, but you can use romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce as the vehicle just as well, or make a taco salad with all of the fixings. Once the chicken was sautéed and ready to go, I laid it out with the shells and all of the toppings, such as, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, grated old cheddar, green onions, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, and some chopped up iceberg lettuce. A dollop of guacamole never hurt anyone either.
I was contemplating making Sangria, but then I decided to wait for local and seasonal fruits to come to market. There's nothing like fresh picked strawberries from your local fields to add that extra summer fresh feeling.
FYI – Unless I am baking something (and even then sometimes I like to go rogue), my recipes are not usually measured; they are simply done intuitively and to taste. So, feel free to play around with your ingredients and proportions, as many great discoveries have come of trial and error. You can always add what’s needed, but be sure to taste along the way. Just make sure that the salt dispenser lid is securely fastened before you use it. ;-)
By the way, have you ever actually taken a moment to smell a sliced lime up close? The smell of lime instantly takes me back to the tropics, having a cool drink on the beach as my fresh caught fish is being cooked right on the grill. So good!
But I digress.
So, in addition to the food spread that I put out today, I managed to also find all sorts of appropriate décor items as I rummaged through the house yesterday. Items like colorful plates and place mats, bright paper napkins, a vintage style jug that I filled with citrus flavored water, and even a painting of Mexican revolutionaries (very appropriate for the times). Even the cutlery I found was perfectly styled. And, of course, no fiesta would be complete without the music. And although salsa music isn’t exactly Mexican, it’s one of my favorite styles of music, as it always manages to put a smile on my face.
I guess my stashing over the years has really paid off too, because I always seem to find something in the house to fit with the theme that I have in mind. And if I don’t yet have what I need, there are always options to be found pretty much anywhere I go. The key is to be open-minded and creative; then you will find everything you could ever need in order to enact your ideas.
The truth is, there is really no right or wrong way of entertaining and creating, and you don’t have to be 100% accurate in representing any specific theme or culture that you choose either. Cultures borrow from each other all of the time, and so collaboration and inspiration should be the true themes to focus on. Great ideas always come from the openness of trying new things. Remember, this is YOUR experience and you can mold it in any way that you desire. Don’t let paranoid political correctness rain on your parade. There are truly no rules!
So, here are some more images from my set up from today. Feel free to use this as inspiration for your own creations, as well as motivation to enjoy all of the blessings that you can find all around you.
Music link (Salsa mix):