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Sizzling Summer Fiesta Recipes

07/04/2010 05:00PM ● Published by Style

photos by Anastassios Mentis

Check out these sizzling summer fiesta recipes…all with a little Latin flair!

Watermelon, Shrimp, and Jalapeño Chile Ceviche

Everybody loves the sweet summertime taste of watermelon. Refreshing and tender, it blends perfectly with the citrus flavors, as well as with the cooked shrimp and the delicate spark of jalapeño. You can make the citrus mixture ahead of time and then simply add the slightly undercooked shrimp 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, to allow it to “cook” through. For the melon chunks, which add color, style, and texture to this ceviche, I like to use an oval fluted melon baller.

  • Juice of 5 oranges
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 cup fresh watermelon juice (made by puréeing watermelon in a blender)
  • 3 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 jalapeño chiles, finely diced
  • 6 medium shrimp, peeled, lightly blanched, and butterflied
  • 10 fresh mint leaves, stacked, rolled, and cut into fine shreds, plus additional mint leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly julienned
  • 1 cup puréed roasted red bell peppers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup watermelon balls

Combine the citrus juices, watermelon juice, vinegar, and jalapeños. Add the shrimp and mint and let sit for 15 minutes. Stir in the red onion, peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the watermelon balls. Serve in chilled martini glasses, garnished with fresh mint leaves. Makes 4 appetizer servings.


Pacifico Lobster and Scrambled Egg Wrap

When we started serving brunch at Pacífico, I wanted to create a menu of breakfast items with a Latino flair — and still keep with our seafood theme. This wrap has been a consistently popular item. Easy to make and serve, it is perfect brunch finger food!

  • 1/2 cup cooked chopped lobster meat (page XX), fresh, canned, or thawed frozen
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 burrito-size flour tortillas
  • 1 tsp. Chipotle Garlic Mayonnaise
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

Combine the lobster, celery, red onion, and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Mix well. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs until well blended. Pour into a large nonstick sauté pan and cook, stirring frequently, over moderate heat until done. Remove from the heat, and combine with the lobster salad.
Place half of the mixture along the center of a tortilla in a horizontal line. Roll up the tortilla so that it’s in a cigar shape. Use a sharp knife to cut it into 4 slices, and stand the slices up vertically. Repeat with the remaining tortilla and lobster mixture. Top each slice with just a bit of the mayonnaise and a sprinkle of chives. Serve immediately. Makes 2 wraps (8 appetizer servings).


Hombre Pobre (Poor Man’s) Salad

Whenever my writer, Arlen, has a barbecue—which is just about every Sunday in the summer—she makes this salad. This colorful salad, which she believes has Italian roots (at least in her family!), makes great use of leftover bread, as well as fresh tomatoes and basil. It’s not only simple, fresh, and tasty, it’s also very flexible. You can vary dressing according to your taste, or add different ingredients such as cucumber, mesclun lettuce, daikon radish — even potatoes.

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch cubes of crusty bread (preferably ciabatta)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1 pound vine-ripened red tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 pound vine-ripened yellow tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

In a bowl, mash the garlic pieces to a paste, using a pestle or the back of a spoon, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the vinegar, and whisk in oil until blended.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the bread, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture on top and stir to coat. Let the salad stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the dressing before serving. Serves 4.


Grilled Pork Chops with Passion Fruit-Jalapeño Barbecue Sauce

Even before I worked with Mark Miller — the “founder” of Southwestern cuisine — I was smitten by barbecue sauces. Mark’s passion for his cooking inspired me to make sauces using the flavors I knew and loved. (This philosophy is what drives all of my creations—both inside and outside the restaurants!) In this combination, the sweet-tartness of passion fruit makes it a natural for a barbecues sauce, and the slight bite of the smoky jalapeño also adds balance and depth. And remember, a barbecue sauce is versatile; here I’m using it to top off the fabulous flavors of grilled pork, but you can certainly use it with other meats — like grilled chicken. Also, once you make it, I’m sure you’ll find other ways to have this sauce be a frequent visitor to your fiestas! Serves 4.

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup passion fruit nectar
  • 2 roasted jalapeños, deveined, seeded, and minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. fresh mint leaves cut into thin ribbons
  • 4 (1 1/4-inch-thick) pork rib chops (12 ounces each with bone)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil for brushing

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in the orange juice and the passion fruit nectar, add the jalapeño, and let simmer until slightly reduced, between 8 and 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the ketchup and mint. Transfer sauce to bowl; cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, and use immediately or cover and chill until ready to use. (This sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Light a fire in a charcoal or gas grill. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Brush them with oil. Grill the chops until just cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer them to a plate and let rest for about 10 minutes. Serve with the barbecue sauce. (I like to leave it on the side, but you can also put a bit on top of each chop.)


Grilled Pineapple Mojito 

Grilling the pineapple enhances its natural sweetness; the caramelized fruit complements this mint and lime cocktail. For more than one serving, simply multiply accordingly.

  • 3 half-inch chunks of grilled pineapple
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 3 lime wedges
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
  • 2 1/2 ounces white or pineapple rum (the latter adds more pineapple flavor)
  • 1/2 ounce sour mix
  • 1 splash club soda

In a large bar glass, combine the pineapple, mint, and lime. Using a pestle, muddle them just until you’ve broken up the pineapple a bit and released the juice from the lime. Add the ice, rum, and sour mix. Cover and shake vigorously. Pour into a bar glass, top off with the club soda, and serve. Serves 1.

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