I did something bad. We had our first dinner party, and against better judgment, I served dishes according to recipes I hadn’t made before. Several, actually. Pico de Gallo. Guacamole. Summertime roasted tomato salsa. Dessert, too. So much potential for a snafu, and then what would people have dipped all those chips in? That corn-avocado salad (with black beans, too, this time), I guess, but it wouldn’t have been enough.
I put my faith in Lisa, the Homesick Texan. She didn’t let me down. The pico de gallo was fresh, beautiful, and gone by the end of the night. Lisa’s guacamole met a similar fate. Jalapeño stood out in her three-ingredient summertime salsa, which was perfect with thin, crispy chips. All the recipes were simple, delicious, and by the end of the day I’d used the whole bunch of cilantro from the store, which never happens.
So why all the salsas? I told you taco night would happen more often around here. We took those carnitas and tucked them into fresh tortillas with queso fresco and pickled onions. Friends helped us press and cook the tortillas, and a couple of them got pretty good at it. Friends crowded around the kitchen, passing lime wedges to squeeze into bottles of Corona. This, I hope, happens more often around here, too.
Shutterbean also came through for me with her version of Martha Stewart’s coconut cake with berries and cream. Tracy said the cake reminded her very much of a tres leches, and her pictures told me everything else I needed to know. So I separated eggs, whipped in sugar and flour, and folded in shredded coconut until I made my way to an airy dough. After 18 minutes in the oven, the cake is cooked but not done.
Coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream are whisked together and poured over the cake. It floods. The cake disappears for a few minutes until the cream just begins to soak into the cake. A couple people ate two slices. A few slipped into a food coma before being revived for a game of Taboo. Girls won, of course.
The night ended with a box of sparklers left behind from the week in Tampa with Lila, who turned 8 on Saturday. Happy birthday, little lady.
pico de gallo
Make sure you’ve got good tomatoes for this one. A great end-of-summer salsa that is fresh, pretty, and perfect with a bowl of crispy chips or with homemade tacos.
2 cups ripe red tomatoes, diced (about 4 medium tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup diced onion (about 1/4 of a small white onion)
2 jalapeños, diced (stems and seeds discarded)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let them hang out for at least a half hour. Chop tomatoes first and let them drain in the sink through a mesh strainer while setting up everything else, especially if you don’t plan on serving the salsa immediately.
Pico will keep a day in the fridge. Serve with chips and tacos.
Makes 2 cups. Recipe from Homesick Texan.