Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo. Yes, I know that Cinco de Mayo is more of an Americanized holiday, but I love the flavors of Mexican food so much that an excuse to consume I just can’t deny. And consume I did! As you can tell by my Instagram feed, I’d really been gearing up for a fun day with lots of great food, and the day did not disappoint. So, let me tell you how I came to serve this beautiful plate of Beer Corn Fritters with Pepper Jack Fondue.
A few weeks ago, I decided to invite some friends over to celebrate. After all, it’s not every year that my favorite food holiday falls on a Saturday! While I knew I wanted to host something, I had a hard time figuring out what to do at my “event”. Game Night? Hang in the backyard? Or, do what I used to do so often, serve a plated, multi-course meal for my friends. Well, it came down to the wire, but I decided on a four course Cinco de Mayo plated dinner! Check out the menu….
It’s been awhile since I hosted a dinner party of my own. When I lived back in Hoboken, NJ and worked in Catering at the Met Museum, I did dinner parties all the time in my little apartment just for fun, long before I thought about starting my own personal chef and catering business. Various guests with varied menus and occasions, it was a big hobby of mine. I planned weeks ahead, made spreadsheets, shopped days in advance and prepped into the wee hours of the night to create special meals for my guests.
My, how far I’ve come. This time around, I planned a whole lot less. No spreadsheets. A scribbled menu on a scrap piece of paper. A shopping trip with only half the menu actually decided. And then, some prep work the night before. One of my original menu ideas included plantains, but when my local market didn’t have any, I decided not to trek all over town to find some. Instead, I went to Plan B, and around 9:30 pm the night before I came across this recipe for Sriracha Lime Beer Corn Fritters out there on the world wide web.
Oh boy, am I glad I did. First of all, I had all of these ingredients, so that meant no second trip to the store. Second, I love all these ingredients – sriracha, lime, beer, sour cream and frozen corn. Yessir! Thirdly, I knew these fritters would pair amazingly well with the other components I had been planning to serve with the plantains – a Pepper Jack Cheese “Fondue” and Baby Radish Greens with Pickled Red Onions. Done and done!
I have to give a shout out to Jackie Dodd of the Beeroness.com. While I haven’t come across the Beeroness.com food blog before, the minute I read this recipe I knew it was going to be a winner. So confident was I, in fact, that I didn’t even test or try the recipe until a half hour before my guests were arriving. I also didn’t change a thing (rare, for me!) I love recipes that deliver as promised. AND, are so incredibly simple! Fail-proof, I’d say. Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself!
As for the pepper jack fondue, well, I made a roux, poured in some milk, brought to a boil to thicken and then stirred in the pepper jack cheese. Just like making a cheese sauce for macaroni, or lasagna. I went light on the milk because I wanted this to be a thick sauce, something I could spread on the plate.
Lastly, I just have to add that the pickled red onions were a great accompaniment. Since cheese sauce and fritters can feel fairly heavy and rich, the bright pop of flavor and acidity coming from the onions cut through all that to make everything dance together. So good! I’ll be posting the simple onion recipe soon, too, so be sure to stay tuned!
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, cut into small cubes or grated
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Once melted, stir in the flour. Cook until bubbly, stirring continuously, about 1-2 minutes.
Slowly whisk or stir in a 1/2 cup of milk. I switch between a whisk and a wooden spoon. The whisk helps dissolve the flour better, but the spoon helps get into the edges of the saucepan so all the flour-butter mixture gets incorporated. Once all the milk is added, continue to stir, but let come to a boil to thicken.
Once thick, slowly whisk or stir in the cheese in small batches. After all the cheese is added and melted, check seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. If mixture is too thick, add more milk. Remove from heat. Serve warm.