May 1, 2019

Dear friends,

I have never celebrated Cinco de Maya, a cheesy made-for-America holiday, but I may this year. The reason is a Mexican party-in-a-glass (or mug or pitcher) called “michelada” that I just learned to make.

On Saturday I watched Tony’s young Mexican friend, Antonio, assemble this beer cocktail in a terra-cotta “glass” that looked like a vase and probably held a quart. I wrote down the names of the spices and elixirs lined up on his kitchen counter. I watched him garnish the rim of the gargantuan drink with alternating cucumber slices and shrimp. It was spectacular.

Michelada is now my house drink. How it is it I haven’t heard of it before? I have been to Mexico twice and many American Mexican restaurants from haute to humble, but never stumbled across the drink. It is the country’s most popular cocktail, according to the Internet.

The drink is made with equal parts lager beer (Antonio used Modelo) and Clamato juice spiced with Maggi seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice and Tajin (chile-lime powder), with Chamoy sauce (a fruity hot sauce), Tajin and salt on the rim. And, of course, those cucumbers and shrimp.

I hadn’t seen Clamato — clam-flavored tomato juice — since I was a kid. You may have to visit a Mexican grocery store to find it, which you’ll have to do anyway to buy Maggi seasoning (a dark-brown liquid that looks like soy sauce and is made from vegetable protein). Pick up a big jar of Tajin chile-lime seasoning while you’re there, because after you taste it, you’ll want to sprinkle it on everything.

MICHELADA

Chamoy sauce (fruity, chile-spiced syrup, optional)
Coarse sea salt
Tajin (chile-lime powder)

1 1/2 cup Clamato juice
1/4 cup lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Maggi seasoning
1/2 tsp Tajin seasoning
1 to 2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
12 oz. Mexican lager beer

6 large shrimp
6 cucumber slices

Pour some Chamoy onto a saucer. Dip the rims of two large glasses in the fruity hot sauce. (Or wet the rims with a wedge of lime) Place sea salt on one half of a clean saucer and some Tajin on the other half. Dip the rims of the glasses in the salt and spice, so that half of each rim is coated with salt and half with spice. Fill glasses with ice cubes.

In a pitcher, combine Clamato, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi seasoning, Tajin seasoning and hot pepper sauce. Stir well. Fill each glass half full with the Clamato mixture. Top with beer and stir gently. Garnish rims with shrimp and cucumber slices. Makes 2 large drinks.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Baked potato with sour cream, lox and capers; microwave ricotta-egg scramble.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Chicken burrito bowl from Chipotle; T-bone steak, baked potato, tossed salad and a roll at Brown Derby in Medina Township (a terrific special for about $16 on Mondays and Tuesdays); coleslaw, lamb and beef gyro with cucumber-yogurt sauce at On Tap in Medina Township; steak and blue cheese salad from Giant Eagle; spicy shrimp ceviche and chips with guacamole at Tony’s friend’s house; blue cheese burger and coleslaw at Fisher’s Cafe & Pub in Peninsula.

THE MAILBAG
From S.H.:
I am so glad you came to the same conclusion as I on the Crack an Egg product. I purchased one carton and told myself that the manufacturer grossly overcharged for a spoonful of tired veggies, etc., and started to make my own.

Dear S.H.:
I wonder how many of us across the country have started microwaving eggs for breakfast because of that product. As I wrote last week, the secret to decent microwave scrambled eggs in to avoid overcooking them. But the very best eggs, I’ve come to believe, are those scrambled with ricotta cheese — 1/4 cup per egg. The eggs turn out creamy every time, with little visible trace of the cheese. It just looks like a fluffy pile of scrambled eggs.

From Linda C.:
Thanks for the idea of chopping vegetables and freezing them in small packets. So many recipes call for several veggies in small amounts that I usually just pick a couple because I don’t know what to do with all the extras. This is a game changer. Thanks. What veggies freeze best? Any to avoid freezing?

Dear Linda:
Frozen will never taste as good as fresh, but they can be convenient. Cooked bulb and green onions and bell peppers freeze well. So do firm root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips. Green beans — blanched — are good freezers. Stay away from vegetables with a high water content, such as zucchini. I imagine you are most interested in the aromatics that are called for in many recipes. Onions, yes. Garlic, no because the flavor mellows in the freezer.

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