Anyway, I kept it a little simpler than usual this go-round. May was an insanely busy month, but we squeezed in the May dinner on May 31, Memorial Day. My mom has some sort of issue with Mexican food: She’s never tried it, but she’s decided she hates it nonetheless. The closest she’s gotten is a Taco Bell burrito, which she actually liked. Mom is particularly leery of refried beans and guacamole. This meal was my opportunity to broaden her horizons, even though most of my creations are not remotely authentic. And one of them was completely inspired by India. Whatever.
Appetizer 1: Guacamole and Habanero Salsa Verde with Toasted Low-Carb Flatbread Triangles
Probably the most authentic dish? The guacamole is just guacamole - avocado, lemon and lime juices, tomato, onion, jalapeno, a touch of Splenda, and a little garlic powder because I like garlic in everything. I’d never made salsa verde before, but it was a simple preparation: tomatillo, cilantro, fresh garlic, 1 habanero, and a touch of Splenda to cut the sourness of the tomatillo. The “chips” are baked with chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and lime. This was a huge hit, especially the guacamole.
Appetizer 2: Tamarind-Mango Lassi with Salted Chili-Lime Mango Skewers
Yeah … so a mango lassi is not quite Mexican, but it tasted great. Here’s how a lassi made its way onto my Mexico-inspired menu: I have tamarind concentrate at home and had planned to make a tamarind agua fresca. But I forgot to bring it with me, and the grocery store near her house only had real tamarind pods. I didn’t know the best technique to get enough tamarind paste out of the pods to make a richly flavored agua fresca. So I combined the tamarind I could clean with mango, vanilla Greek yogurt, Splenda, and milk to make a lassi. Mom had never had a mango lassi, but she LOVED this. I also thought it was quite tasty. The tamarind asserted itself just enough that the drink tasted more special than your average mango lassi.
Mom was not as much of a fan of the mango marinated in salt, Splenda, chili powder, and lime juice, so I ate most of it. I accidentally added a bit too much salt for her palate.
Entree: Roasted Chile Rellenos with Poached Shrimp and Eggplant and Oaxacan Mole Rojo
You can’t see this all that well, but I stuffed two roasted poblano peppers with my own fat-free version of refried beans, fat-free cream cheese, and eggplant. Traditional chile rellenos are battered and fried. To bring some of that crunchiness, I tried a new technique of pureeing black beans and baking it at a low temperature until it became crispy, then I used it like croutons on top of the chiles (whole black beans would have been a better call.) For protein, I poached shrimp with lots of lemon, lime, and red pepper to mimic a ceviche (these shrimp weren’t of good enough quality for a real ceviche, in my opinion.) The star of the plate was the fake mole sauce. I cheated by using chipotles in adobo sauce as a base, then adding tomato, raisins, walnuts, dark chocolate cocoa powder, and bread in a blender. Gorgeous, delicious sauce, but it’s definitely not a real mole. The whole plate is sprinkled with cilantro leaves.
I was flying by the seat of my pants on this one, but it was surprisingly yummy. Mom really enjoyed the fake mole, the shrimp and (gasp!) the refried beans. She wasn’t a huge fan of the chile relleno as an entity though - we couldn’t figure out whether it was the pepper itself, the eggplant, the cilantro, or something else that was the problem. I wound up eating the second pepper myself.
Dessert: Mexican Chocolate Protein Frosty
No photo, but Mom loves my protein frosties and this one was no exception. I made a chocolate protein frosty with fat-free cottage cheese, sugar-free syrups, dark chocolate cocoa powder, chocolate sugar-free/fat-free instant pudding mix, and chocolate whey protein, but added a “Mexican” spin with vanilla flavoring, lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins. Mom knew something was different about the flavor, but she couldn’t figure out what it was. Doesn’t matter; she enjoyed it anyway.
I’d originally planned to top this with a horchata-flavored whipped cream, but life got in the way.
There’s good news. Mom told my stepdad, a Mexican food fan who used to live in San Antonio, that she’s willing to try a Mexican restaurant now. Mission accomplished.