We had quite a fiesta at our house about ten days ago. Wyatt and I, as well as our co-op friends Zoila and her son Ernesto, hosted a group of 20-some people -- grownups, kids, and babies -- for a potluck lunch at our house. We had margaritas for the grown ups, horchata for the kiddos, and plenty of great Mexican foods.
Zoila's homemade tamales (wrapped in reed leaves) with red chili sauce, fresh tortillas, and Mexican rice stole the show. But everyone pitched in with great food to share. Corn salad, taco fillings to go inside our fresh tortillas, grilled fish, fruit, chips, salsa and several amazingly large bowls of guacamole. Yes, I said large bowls of guacamole. What could be better, right?
Despite the drizzle, we managed to get some outdoor time for piñata whacking -- Zoila had made the piñatas with paper and flour and water. She and Ernesto decorated one, and Wy and I decorated the other. It was a fun, messy, and somewhat labor-intensive endeavor but quite satisfying in the end -- and actually quite sturdy too. In any case, we filled them with toys from Value Village, snacks from Barry (our down-the-street neighbor who is a rep for an Organic kid cereals and snack company), and some candy. Everyone seemed pretty thrilled once the piñatas broke open.
Katianne, Wyatt's "nanny," helped out to keep our house from falling apart during the party. She also expertly ran the piñata whacking.
This is the second year we've done a co-op Cinco de Mayo potluck at our place. A fun, wild day that felt like a fiesta in almost every way.
As for the food, Zoila's Mexican Rice was one of the best version of the dish I've ever eaten -- flavorful and tomatoey with a crumbly texture and nutty undertones, nothing starchy or sticky about it! She graciously agreed to share her ingredients and technique so, hopefully, the rest of us can replicate it somehow.
Zoila's Mexican Rice
Make the tomato sauce first. Blend together and put aside.
2 Roma tomatoes
1/4 of white onion
2 cups of chicken broth or 1 chicken cube bouillon with 1 1/2 cups of water
For the rice:
1 cup white rice
dried oregano or bay leaf
1/2 cup stock or water (if needed)
In a heavy pot, pour 2-3 spoons of olive oil. Once the oil is warm, pour in a cup of rice. Let it sit for a minute and then start slowly stirring until it browns. Make sure not to leave it unattended because it can burn quickly. Once brown, pour in the tomato sauce. Let it sit until it starts boiling and changes color to reddish. Add oregano or 1 bay leaf. Pour another 1/2 cup of chicken stock or water if needed (I usually do). Stir once to make sure it doesn't stick on the bottom. Cover and lower temperatures to medium low. In about 7 minutes check to see if the liquid has dried up. If it has mostly, turn it off and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!