ESU chef celebrates Cinco de Mayo

May 3, 2011

After the success of last week’s Spring Fling, Emporia State students again will have an opportunity to dine al fresco when the Morse Hall lawn west of Wooster Lake is the site of a Cinco de Mayo celebration on Thursday, May 5, 2011.

Saiket “Johny” Patwary, executive chef for Sodexo, has created a menu of Mexican dishes to serve during lunch, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The meal is included in students’ meal plans. For others who want to eat, the price is $5 plus tax.

The meal begins with two starters. Pico de gallo, which means “rooster’s beak” is a very common condiment that is found almost in every Mexican dining table. The common ingredients used in pico de gallo are fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime.

“I consider this as one of the most versatile condiments because it can be used onto tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc.,” Patwary said. “I have seen many Mexican chefs add little bit of olive oil in their salsas which helps to expose some richness to the dish.”

The second starter is Queso Fundido or Mexican fondue.

“Unlike fondue,” Patwary explained, “you don’t dip anything in it. Instead, you scoop it onto your chips or tortillas. It is very creamy, rich and delicious; it is one of the dishes that disappears in a minute when you put it on the table.”

To entrees will be featured. A chicken and tortilla gratin called “Budin,” which means “pudding” is considered a homey dish, which can be thought of like lasagnas, made with leftover tortillas layered with desired meat and dressed with varieties of sauces that help to keep it moist, according to Patwary.

Fajita de puntas de res y salsa ranchera or Beef Fajita with Ranchera Sauce, features sirloin tips — “puntas” means “tips.”

“Mexican cuisine is known for the spicy food that showcases the authenticity of their rubs and spices and how it complements the star of the dish,” Patwary said.

Side dishes are Elotes Asados con Chile or Grilled Corn with Chile Sauce.

“This is a very common dish when it’s time for barbeque,” Patwary said. “Mexican corns are usually not as sweet as American corns. So, when it is grilled, it will give you the rustic savory flavor.”

Arroz verde is green rice.

In Mexico, people never simply boil rice before serving,” Patwary explained. “They fry it slightly to give it a toasty flavor and crispy texture. It is then boiled in seasoned water. Usually onions and garlics are finely chopped and sautéed before they are added to the rice, so when mixed with the rice, it exposes the flavors.”

Finally, Patwary has included two dessert options. Pastel de Arroz con Leche is Rice Pudding Cheesecake.

“It is a very delicious creamy cheesecake dense with rice pudding. This is one of the desserts that showcases both sweet and savory ingredients and how they complement each other.”

Ante de frutas is chocolate, mango and berry trifle.

“’Antes’ means when a dessert is made from leftover sponge cake,” Patwary said. “The sponge cake is usually soaked in flavored syrup that helps to give it a smooth velvety texture when used in these type of desserts. Traditionally, these desserts are chilled before serving, which helps the flavor to come together with the cake.”

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