MEXICAN BIRTHDAY DINNER

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A very close friend of mine just had her 30th birthday.  To help her celebrate in style, my husband and I hosted a small dinner party for her.  I asked for her favorite kind of food, and her favorite vegetables.  She came back to me with “Mexican”….and brussels sprouts and broccoli.  To me, these vegetables and “Mexican” didn’t really mix.  Luckily for me, I made no promises.  So I came up with a five course dinner (six?  If you include the two salsas, guacamole, fresh pickles and spiced peanuts and pepitas that were out during pre-dinner drinks as a course?) that was mostly “Rick Bayless” inspired–and I managed to include brussels sprouts!  But no broccoli.

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SOUP:  Roasted Poblano Cream soup can be found in Rick Bayless’s “More Mexican Everyday“.  (Great cookbook, btw.  Not “vegetarian” but a lot of the items can be made vegetarian, and there is a large vegetables section.  It also has a couple of meat recipes that my husband is super excited to try for our next family gathering.)

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SALAD: Roasted Brussels Sprouts in Escabeche is adapted from this taco filling by Rick Bayless.  Of course I used my homemade veggie broth rather than chicken broth, pan-roasted pepitas instead of bacon, and topped the salad with cotija cheese.

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APPETIZER:  Sopes with Fresh Jicama salsa.  I created this salsa because my dear friend cannot eat raw onion.  I actually tried making two different salsas while figuring out what to serve: one with onions that were blanched (which was successful and interesting, the onions were very sweet, not bitter at all, and still had a fresh little bite to them), and one with jicama.  My husband and I decided the jicama was a little more interesting and unusual, so we decided to serve it instead.  So, our sopes were a layer of chipotle-black beans, sliced avocado, jicama salsa and queso fresco.  Full recipe HERE.

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ENTREE:  Folded Enchiladas in Mole Poblano.  My favorite mole.  It takes five hours to make.  It is messy.  But it is so delicious.  Obviously, I used my veggie broth and ignored everything about turkey…..

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We served this up similarly to a meal I had at Frontera Grill a couple of weeks ago; with arugula, slices of parsnip, crema, queso fresco, and it would have had honey-glazed shiitake mushrooms, but we had a small refrigerator mishap that led to the mushrooms living in the waste-bin with shards of glass.

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DESSERT:  Chile Chocolate Mousse.  I am not much of a dessert person, and when I do make desserts, I usually follow recipes pretty religiously because I am a bit out of my comfort zone.  I’ve made mousse before, but never with chiles.  I read Rick Bayless’s recipe, but didn’t love that it involved gelatin, so I made up my own.  Check out my recipe HERE.

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