Three tacos, a cake, and a baby


Last Friday we partied.  My parents came for a visit so we whooped it up with them and a handful of others to celebrate Wyatt's first birthday.  After spending such a fun week in Mexico in December, we decided to try to capture all those wonderful flavors and sunshine again with a Mexican food theme for the party.

I made three taco fillings: a roasted sweet potato with onion and Rancho Gordo New Mexican Red Chili Powder; veggie burger with onions; and my all-time favorite taco filling . . . . poblanos rajas. This one is the perfect combination of spicy and creamy.  I really can't remember where we got the recipe.  Could be a Rick Bayless thing.  But the preparation is so simple that it can hardly be called a recipe anyway.
Poblanos Rajas
4 or 5 fresh poblano peppers
1 large white or yellow onion
Olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican Oregano
Salt

Grill the poblanos over an open flame until the skins blacken and blister.  I grilled mine on the gas range over the "power burner."  You'll want to watch for sparks from the stems burning off, but otherwise, it worked great.  Toss the blackened peppers into a small bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap.  The idea here is you want the peppers to steam as they cool.

Once cool enough to handle, peel away the skin...even the areas that didn't blister, if any.  Then slice them open and remove the seeds and the stem.  Slice the peppers into strips. Reserve.

Slice the onions into boat-shaped pieces (cut from stem to root and then slice each half the same way) a little wider than the width of the poblano slices.

In a large skillet or saute pan, saute the onion in olive oil on medium-high heat until it just begins to soften.  Add the poblano pepper strips and continue cooking another few minutes to heat the peppers through and until the onions are toothsome, but not crunchy.

Reduce the heat and pour in some cream -- just enough to make the peppers and onions creamy, you aren't making a sauce here.  You want the cream to warm up but don't let it boil or it will break and, well, it won't be pretty (although it's still edible).  Add dry oregano and salt to taste.  Serve warm.

And to make the fillings even better, we enjoyed them on fresh tortillas courtesy of Byron.  Rice, beans, chips and salsa and guacamole rounded out the meal.  And then there was dessert.

Soggy cake is generally not my thing.  I have never been much for trifle.  And every tres leches cake from a store that I've ever eaten has left me wondering why everyone loves it.

This is why.  When made at home, soaked with the right amount of liquid, and topped with mounds of lightly sweetened whipped cream it's not hard to know why tres leches cake is a true Mexican comfort food.  I will admit that it's not much to look at.  But who cares.  It's awesome.  I had never made one before but will definitely find a reason do so again -- soon!  (MLK day could require cake, right?) In case you're interested, here's the recipe I used.

By 8 p.m. when we cut the cake, Wyatt was pretty much ready to go to bed.  To his credit, he was curious about the cake and poked and pinched it to investigate.  He thoroughly inspected the cherry on top before licking his fingers and deciding it was pretty good stuff.  He wasn't sure how to get it into his mouth with any efficiency, however, so he seemed relieved when his dad offered him a few bites from a fork.  The cake was a good choice, I think, for a little person with no molars to speak of.  The rest of us didn't mind either.

Of course our celebration wouldn't have been complete without some decorations, extended family, and a few gifts.  Thank you, all, for helping us mark Wyatt's first year.

Birthday boy with the grandparents Worrell
Reading books with his buddy, Arlo, on the afternoon of his birthday.

A festive party table.
Wyatt was aided in unwrapping his birthday gifts by older "cousin" Arlo, who showed him how it was done. (Photo by Darren Mutz)
Yes, there were hats. (Photo by Darren Mutz)
When it came to eating his cake, Wy opted for a little help. (Photo by Darren Mutz)
A little post-party reading of his favorite book with Uncle Darren. (Photo by Becky Worrell)

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