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Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (Cóctel de Camarón) w/ Green & Red Chile Crackers

Some things simply SCREAM summer.  Sitting down and sipping a particularly tropical, fruity beverage.  Sweet juicy pineapple or mango dribbling down your chin and arms.  Lips and often chests of children in colorful swimsuits stained by popsicles to match.  And those round red or yellow-red orbs hanging from trees...the ones that beckon you to make a wobbly human ladder in order to pluck one here and there from a branch.  Aaahhh, cherries.  And then there are dishes that exude sand and saltwater and lazy days on the beach such as ceviche and cóctel de camarón.

Now, it doesn't take much imagination to pretend that it's summer around here right now.  Though it's technically still Spring, this has been such a strange year weather-wise that to conjure up the feel of the tropics, I need simply to step out my side door.  Or the front one, for that matter.  
But I don't live on a beach.  Or anywhere near an ocean.  So I have to turn on the sprinkler and fill a bucket with cold water to stick my feet in every once in a while.  But if I have one of these summoners of summer in hand and I close my eyes before taking a bite...or a sip...I can imagine that I do.

Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (Cóctel de Camarón)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Keywords: appetizer entree shrimp Mexican

Ingredients (~4 c.)
    for shrimp:
    • 1½ lb. shrimp (small to medium)
    • freshly squeezed juice of a lime
    • salt
    • ~1 Tbs. dried, minced onion
    for shrimp cocktail:
    • ¾ c. ketchup
    • ¼ c. Mexican hot sauce
    • ½ c. loosely packed chopped cilantro
    • 2-3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 1 small white onion, ¼" dice
    • ¾ c. shellfish stock, clam juice, or water
    • salt
    to serve:
    • 1 ripe avocado, diced
    • crackers, such as saltines, artisanal crackers, green or red chile crackers
    • and/or
    • tortilla chips
    • lime wedges
    cook the shrimp:
    Fill a large pot (w/ lid) ¾ full of water and salt it generously. Add lime juice and dehydrated onion; bring to a boil. Add shrimp and put on the lid. Time for exactly one minute, then turn off heat and drain the water (into a bowl if you want to save and use the flavorful liquid). Put lid back on pot and let shrimp sit for 5 minutes to steam. Run cold water over the shrimp to stop the cooking. Peel the shrimp and pull off the tails.

    make the shrimp cocktail:
    Combine the shrimp with the ketchup, hot sauce, cilantro, lime juice, and onion in a large bowl. Stir in the liquid of your choice. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Just before serving, fold the diced avocado into the cocktail and divide amongst serving glasses/dishes.

    Serve with crackers (such as green and/or red chile crackers) and/or tortilla chips, and lime wedges for squeezing.

    inspired by/adapted from Fiesta at Rick's
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    Green Chile Crackers (or Red Chile Crackers)

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 5-10 minutes + rest time (up to overnight)
    Cook Time: 8-17 minutes
    Keywords: bake appetizer snack side vegan chiles Mexican American

    Ingredients (60-120 - varies depending on size)
    • 1 jalapeño, stemmed
    • ½ bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
    • ⅓ c. olive oil
    • ⅓ c. + 1 Tbs. water
    • 1 Tbs. sugar
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 2 c. all-purpose flour
    • coarse salt, for sprinkling
    Combine chile, cilantro, oil, water, sugar, and salt in the jar of a food processor. Process to a smooth puree. Add flour and pulse to combine until everything comes together into a smooth-looking ball.

    Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to overnight.
    Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

    Lightly flour your work surface. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each piece as thin as you can get it (the thinner the better). Cut into any shape that you like. Smaller shapes, like 1½" circles will yield the most crackers. Larger rectangles will give you the lesser amount.

    Transfer cut dough to a prepared sheet tray. You don't need to leave much space between, they don't spread. Lightly brush each one with water and sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt.

    Bake until lightly browned and crisp, ~8-10 minutes for smaller crackers and ~17 for larger crackers. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    To make Red Chile Crackers:
    Substitute 2 Tbs. smoked paprika and ½ tsp. chipotle chile powder for the green chile and cilantro. Pulse the paprika and chipotle directly into the food processor with the sugar, salt, and flour. Add ½ c. + 1 Tbs. water and the oil and process until you get a smooth ball. Proceed as above.

    slightly adapted from Fiesta at Rick's
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