Cinco de Mayo[ˈsiŋko ðe ˈmaʝo] is Spanish for “May 5th (the Fifth of May). It is often mistaken for Mexico’s independence day, but it’s not! Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. The Mexican troops were seriously outnumbered but despite this, the Mexican Army defeated the most powerful fighting unit in the world at that time and the French army was forced to retreat. Unfortunately, in a battle with the French a year later, the French ultimately triumphed, but the date is still celebrated because that initial battle shows the triumph of bravery and determination, even against great odds. Of course, some others think it’s just a fun excuse to have a party!
What would Cinco de Mayo be without Tortillas and Margaritas? It doesn’t matter what kind of Mexican food you love, a tortilla is probably the basis of a lot of your favorites. There are two basic types: corn and flour (sorry, but the gluten-free rice and whole wheat ones are not traditional). If you’ve ever found yourself with a perfect avocado and you’re dying to make guacamole, but you don’t have any tortilla chips, or you just don’t like the over-processed, over-salted types you get in the supermarket bags, try making your own. Trust me, they taste so much better! For that you really need two things: A tortilla press, and a cover to keep them warm as you’re making enough to enjoy your tortillas nice and warm).
…and what would tortillas be without a margarita to celebrate?!
IMUSA has a bunch of kitchen items that can help you have a really fun Cinco de Mayo party. I tried three of them, the DIY IMUSA Tortilla Press features a traditional and durable design that allows for perfectly pressed homemade tortillas, with just the right thickness and round shape. Create your own dough or ‘masa’ and with one press, your dough turns into griddle-ready disks to be cooked. Available at Target.com for $18.99. Keep those tortillas warm with an IMUSA Cloth Tortilla Warmer. This one from IMUSA is not just colorful and practical, it has instructions for how to use right on the back SRP $9.99. And finally, if you’re going to celebrate with everyone’s favorite drink the margarita, the secret is fresh citrus juice. the IMUSA Red Citrus Squeezer makes it easy to get the juice out of any citrus fruit. Cut any citrus fruit in half and simply press down to squeeze the juice out leaving the pits behind. Try fresh lemonade or lime juice to mix into your margaritas and ceviche. SRP $7.99 / . Available at Target.com
I’ve made two little DIY videos to show you how to use a citrus squeezer and how to use a tortilla press (because making things fresh is so much better). Get these, and your Cinco de Mayo prowess will be legendary!
HOW TO USE A CITRUS SQUEEZER
Here’s a more interesting margarita recipe to try:
• 3 oz. of Tequila Blanco
• Simple Syrup (1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water)
• 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
• 2 oz. of Triple Sec
• 1 Jalapeño, cut in half lengthwise
Put 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a saucepan to boil, stir occasionally to dissolve sugar. After the simple syrup cools combine it with 3 ounces of Jenni Rivera La Gran Señora Tequila Blanco, 1 ounce Fresh Lime Juice, 2 ounces of Triple Sec and 1 Jalapeño, cut in half lengthwise. Let the mix chill for 30 minutes- 3 hours. Be sure to taste it until it’s spiced to your preference.
Once ready to serve, remove the jalapeno and serve with ice in a glass and garnish with sliced cucumber.
HOW TO USE A TORTILLA PRESS
How to Make Flour Tortillas
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min. MAKES: 8 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons oil
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in water and oil. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide dough into eight portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 7-in. circle.
In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Keep warm. Yield: 8 tortillas.
How to Make Corn Tortillas
1 ½ cups masa harina
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, lard or butter
About 1 cup hot water, or more as needed
Flour for kneading
Combine the masa and salt in a bowl; stir in the oil. Slowly stream in the water while mixing with your hand or a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a ball.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is smooth and elastic — just a minute or two. Wrap in plastic, and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours.
Break off pieces of the dough (should make 12 -16 tortillas), and lightly flour them. Put them between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and press them in a tortilla press, or roll them out or press them with your hands to a diameter of 4 to 6 inches. Begin to cook the tortillas as you finish pressing or rolling them.
Put a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Cook the tortillas, 1 or 2 at a time, until brown spots appear on the bottom, about a minute. Flip, and do the same on the other side. Wrap the cooked tortillas in a towel to keep them warm, or use a tortilla warmer. Serve immediately, or cool and store tightly wrapped in the fridge for a few days.