Let’s Talk Food: Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo and Children’s Day

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Boys’ Day koi floating in the wind.

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Kashiwa mochi with ti leaf in the shape of oak leaves.

Tomorrow is May 5, and is Cinco de Mayo and Children’s Day. If you want to celebrate both occasions, you can have Mexican dishes and kashiwa mochi for dessert.

Combining hominy and pinto beans makes an interesting and great side dish for your entree.

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Hominy Pinto Bake with Bacon and Cheese

Serves: 8

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 7-by-11-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Char over a gas burner:

1 Anaheim chile

1 poblano chile

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and steam for 15 minutes. Peel, seed and chop chiles.

Puree in a food processor:

1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, undrained

Cook in a saute pan until crisp:

4 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced

Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel and discard all but 2 tablespoons dripping.

Add and cook over medium heat until crisp-tender, 3 minutes:

1 cup diced red onions

Add just before onions are done so you do not burn it:

1 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

Stir in one can of pureed pinto beans, charred and chopped chiles, half of the bacon and:

1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, drained

1 can (15.5 ounces) white hominy, drained and rinsed

1 can (15.5 ounces) golden hominy, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt to taste

Transfer bean mixture to prepared baking dish; top with:

1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

1/2 of chopped, cooked bacon

Bake bean mixture until cheese is melted and filling is bubbly, 15 minutes.

• • •

This smoked pork entree would work well with the bean casserole:

Smoked Pork Loin, barbacoa-style

Serves: 8

In a food processor, puree:

1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1 cup chopped onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon dried sage

1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano or dried oregano

1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoons chili powder

Juice of one lime

Transfer to a large resealable bag, add:

4 pounds pork loin

Turn to coat, refrigerate overnight, tossing occasionally.

Remove pork from marinade, letting excess drip off; reserve marinade to baste pork. Let pork come to room temperature before smoking, 30 minutes.

Preheat grill for indirect grilling, heating all burners on medium-high, 15 minutes, then reduce to medium. Turn off half the burners.

Drain wood chips and transfer to a smoking box or foil tray.

Grill pork loin indirectly, covered, turning and basting with reserved marinade every 15 minutes until a thermometer inserted in the center registers 145-150 degrees, 1 1/4 hours. Stop basting in the last 15 minutes. Let pork rest 10 minutes before thinly slicing.

Serve with flour or corn tortillas and salsa.

• • •

On Boys’ Day, also called Children’s Day, kashiwa mochi is eaten to honor their individual strengths, and happiness is wished upon them.

Kashiwa is oak and the mochi is wrapped in the kashiwa leaf. The oak leaf does not shed the old leaves until the new leaves grow, so the Japanese consider oak trees a symbol of the prosperity of one’s descendents. However, they are not edible, only giving the mochi an earthy fragrance.

Kashiwa Mochi

Makes: 12-15 mochi

1 package kashiwa leaves or fresh avocado leaves

2 cups mochiko

1 1/4 hot water

3 tablespoons potato starch

1 package koshian (azuki beans)

Soak kashiwa leaves in boiling water until pliable. Drain and dry with a towel before wrapping mochi.

Add hot water to mochiko and mix well.

To hasten the steaming process, make small balls of even size of flattened whole dough and poke with a chopstick. Lay on a wet dish towel and steam for 15 minutes. When done, take out the towel and contents and dip into cold water to separate dough from the towel.

Knead steam dough and divide into 12-15 pieces. Roll in potato starch, flatten in the palm of hand and place a spoonful of koshian in the center. Fold in half and press edges together.

Wrap in kashiwa or avocado leaf, place on a damp towel and steam for 15 minutes.

Nonfood thoughts

• Did you know that here in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is more popular than in Mexico?

You might see flying multicolored fish streamers hanging from bamboo poles around town. We have them for Quentin. According to Kokomo, “May is the time when insects begin to appear and harm the rice plants. Farmers would frighten away the insects with bright banners and grotesque figures. The colorful banners eventually took the form of koi or carp, the boldest and noblest of fish. Swimming upstream against strong currents to reach their spawning grounds, the carp has become the symbol of courage, virility and strength. Parents hope their sons grow up in the same way to be brave and strong, attaining success by overcoming life’s obstacles.”

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• Happy Birthday to my second son, NEIL!

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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