Ever since I discovered the fish taco, a Cal-Mex specialty that originated around San Diego and Baja, it’s been one of my favorite summer dinners, especially for a crowd. The real thing is a soft tortilla wrapped around fried fish, but grilled fish is even better to my taste.
As you know, avocados quickly turn brown after they're cut, so guacamole starts to look pretty yucky if you make it too far in advance. The best way to prepare and serve this traditional Mexican appetizer is to let your guests watch you grind up the ingredients in the molcajete, then let them start dipping right away.
I was first introduced to pickled eggs in college, where a group of us would hang out in an old wood-paneled bar, drink beer, shoot pool, and eat pickled eggs and pretzel sticks. Even after all these years, I still like pickled eggs and pretzels. When making them, I add a little juice from pickled beets to color them just like the original eggs, but you can color them yellow with ground turmeric or leave them natural. To prevent the dark green line that sometimes forms around the yolk, immediately plunge the egg in cold water to cool them down. The ring forms because of a reaction with the iron in the yolk and the sulfur in the whites. Over the years, I began adding chiles to "jack-up" the heat level. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.
Although the recipes may vary from place to place, the bottom line with ranch-style eggs is that they are delicious for a hearty breakfast or a brunch served with refried beans and hash browned potatoes.
Turtle, or black beans, have always been a favorite in both Central and South America and have been gaining in popularity in the country. These are also the beans that the Chinese ferment for their black bean sauce. This is a great recipe to serve your vegetarian friends and is so tasty you won’t even miss the meat.
Emil O. Topel, Executive Chef of Fancy's Restaurant, was raised in England, received his culinary training in France, and produces his own line of condiments. Here he presents a wonderful, spicy soup that is a great starter, or a wonderful light lunch.
Since Chile has a 2600-mile coastline, I would be remiss if I didn't include a fish recipe from that country. There is a minimum of grazing land in Chile, so instead of beef being the major source of protein, it is fish and shellfish. The wines of Chile are quite good, so be sure to include a nice chilled Chilean white wine when you serve this Chilean ceviche. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.