Southwestern Menu on a Budget
Now those of you that know me will agree that this will be difficult for
me to handle. I’ll make it as elegant as possible. Remember to be cheap you
have to put forth more effort in the preparation. It can be done though. This
meal will have a Southwestern flair in honor of my friend Wynn whose birthday
it is today. She’s 39, older than me. She used to live out there so this will
be perfect for her.
The avocado pate is a new guise for the ever popular guacamole. Make it
a day in advance. The chowder can be made ahead as well along with the cake.
The Indian Fry Bread is an authentic recipe from a pioneer family in Durango,
CO. These should be made at the last minute but it’s okay because the Navajo
Taco Sauce can be made ahead and reheated along with the soup. This will be
This menu Serves 6
Avocado Pate with Parsley and Pistachios
Green Chile Chowder
Indian Fry Bread
Navajo Taco Sauce
Aspen Chocolate Cream Cake
Avocado Pate with Parsley and Pistachios:
4 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons, fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
4 Boston lettuce leaves
1/2 cup pitted black olives
10 ripe cherry tomatoes
Line a 6-cup rectangular glass loaf pan or ceramic dish with 3 layers of
waxed paper, extending over long sides only. Brush top sheet generously with
oil. Puree avocados and cream cheese in food processor. Add shallots, lemon
juice, garlic, chili powder and salt and blend 30 seconds. Transfer mixture
to prepared pan; smooth top. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pate and refrigerate
at least 6 hours or overnight.
Remove plastic from pate. Unmold onto rectangular platter. Remove waxed
paper. Mix parsley and pistachios in small bowl. Sprinkle over pate. Arrange
lettuce decoratively at corners of platter. Garnish with olives and tomatoes.
Surround with tortilla chips.
Green Chile Chowder:
1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh long green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
(approximately 3 medium fresh chiles)
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 lbs. Potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk (can use 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups half-and-half)
Shredded cheddar cheese to garnish
Combine first 6 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20
minutes. Melt margarine over low heat; add flour to blend. Cook, stirring constantly
for 3 minutes to make a blond roux. Strain liquid form potato, chile and onion
mixture and reserve 3 cups of it. Mash 1/2 potato, chile, and onion mixture.
Reserve other half. Stir reserved cooking liquid into roux. Raise heat, stirring
with a wire whisk until thickened. Add milk to thickened liquid and continue
to stir until it comes to a simmer. Turn off heat; add mashed potato, chile,
and onion mixture. Stir in and blend well. Add reserved cubed potatoes, chile
and onions. Serve with shredded cheese on top,
Indian Fry Bread:
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 cup unsifted whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups warm water
Combine flour, baking powder, oil, salt, sugar, and water. Mix well, using
hands if necessary. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. On well-floured
surface, knead dough till smooth and elastic. Break off dough in small pieces
and roll out to serving-size pieces 1/8 inch thick. Make a slit in center with
tip of knife.
Fry bread in moderately hot cooking, ½ inch deep, until brown on both sides,
turning once. Serve with Navajo Taco Sauce (recipe follows).
Navajo Taco Sauce:
1 1/2 lbs. Ground beef
1 6-ounce can tomato paste, diluted with 2 cans water
1 15-ounce can chili beans with sauce
1 package dry taco seasoning mix
6 rounds Indian Fry Bread (above)
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped green onions
Crumble meat into heated skillet. Cook over moderate heat until meat loses
its redness. Drain off fat. In a bowl, combine tomato paste with water, beans,
bean sauce, and dry taco mix. Using potato masher, mash beans well. Add bean
mixture to the ground beef. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered,
about 20 minutes.
Place a round of Indian fry bread on each plate. Mound lettuce on top of
fry bread. Top with beef mixture and cover with cheese and onions.
Aspen Chocolate Cream Cake:
Pastry Cream Filling:
2/3 cup milk
1 1-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 1/2 pint baskets strawberries
For pastry cream: scald milk with vanilla bean in heavy medium saucepan.
Whisk yolks, sugar and flour in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Return
mixture to saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce
heat to medium low and stir until pastry cream is very thick and smooth about
1 minute. Transfer to small bowl. Remove vanilla bean. Press plastic wrap onto
surface of cream and refrigerate until well chilled. (can be prepared 3 days
For cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 8-inch cake pans.
Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix 1-cup sugar and cocoa in another
bowl. Gradually stir 1/2 cup buttermilk into cocoa mixture. Using electric mixer
cream butter, brown sugar and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl until fluffy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in cocoa mixture. Mix in dry ingredients alternately
with remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake until toothpick
inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on rack for
10 minutes then turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.
For icing: Melt 8 ounces semi-sweet and 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate in
top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from
over water and cool to room temp, about 20 minutes. Using electric mixer beat
butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in chocolate. If too thin refrigerate.
Line cookie sheet with waxed paper. Using vegetable peeler, shave 6 ounces
semi-sweet chocolate onto sheet. Slice 1 basket of strawberries into 1/8 inch
thick slices. Place 1 cake layer on cardboard round or platter. Spread 1/2 pastry
cream over. Distribute 1/2 of strawberry slices over filling. Top with second
cake layer. Spread with remaining pastry cream and top with remaining strawberry
slices. Top with last cake layer. Spread top and sides of cake with icing. Gently
press chocolate shavings onto sides of cake. (Can prepare 8 hours ahead. Refrigerate.
Let cake stand for 3 hours at room temp before continuing) Slice remaining strawberries
into 1/8 inch thick slices. Place slices on top of cake in concentric circles,
tips pointing towards outer edge of cake and overlapping slightly.