Thursday, July 24, 2014

Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos


Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos
(12 tacos)

 
Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lb. Bone-in Turkey thighs or drumsticks, skin & fat removed
as needed Salt & Black Pepper
4 large cloves Fresh Garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium White Onion, 1 inch dice
1 large sprig Fresh Oregano
1 large Fresh Jalapeno, stemmed, seeded & sliced crosswise (1/4 inch thick)
1 medium Fresh Tomato, coarsely chopped
1 medium Ancho Chile, stemmed, seeded & coarsely chopped
1 2-inch Cinnamon Stick
1 12-oz. bottle Dark Mexican Beer
1 cup Water
12 6-inch Tortillas (corn or flour), warm
as needed condiments Diced Onion, Toasted Sesame Seeds & Cilantro

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. of oil over moderately high heat.  Season turkey with salt & pepper and add to pan.  Cook until richly browned all over (about 8 minutes) and then transfer to a plate.  Add remaining oil to pan with garlic, onion, oregano and jalapeno.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are soft (about 8 minutes).  Remember to stir as needed throughout cooking process.  Add the tomato, ancho chile & cinnamon stick cooking until tomato releases its juice.  Return the turkey to pan, add beer and water while bringing to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat about 1 hour.  Turn turkey over halfway through cooking time.  Return turkey to plate and let cool a little.  Discard oregano sprig and cinnamon stick from pan.  Bring liquid to a boil over high heat until reduced to ¼ cup (about 12 minutes).  Remove turkey meat from bones and shred.  Puree sauce in a blender.  Add both meat and sauce back to pan and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a serving bowl and spoon turkey mixture into warm tortillas and top with condiments.

Note:               You can top with any condiments you
                        prefer as well.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chorizo & Potato Tacos


Chorizo & Potato Tacos
(12 tacos)

 
Ingredients:

2 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes
1½ lb. Chorizo Sausage
¼ cup Canola Oil
12 tortillas (corn or flour – your choice), warm
Condiments as needed Salsa, chopped onions, cilantro and lime wedges

Directions:

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender.  Drain and cool slightly.  Pell the potatoes and coarsely mash them in the saucepan.  In a large mixing bowl, break up the chorizo sausage and then gently knead in the potatoes.  Try leaving some chunks of potato.  Using two large skillets (or one twice) preferably cast-iron or nonstick, heat the oil until shimmering over moderately high heat.  Add the sausage-potato mixture to skillets and press into an even layer.  Cook undisturbed until a crust forms on the bottom (about 5 minutes).  Turn mixture over in sections and cook until browned and crusty on the bottom (about another 5 minutes).  Transfer mixture into a bowl and serve with tortillas and your favorite condiments for tacos.

Note:               You could use this mixture in burritos
                        too.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Part 6 of Mexican (Tacos) Cuisine

What comes to mind when someone says "Tacos" to you.  For many in the USA it's the taco that was brought to you by "Taco Bell" or "Taco John's" or some other American institution.  But these hard shell folded in half corn tortillas are a "Tex-Mex" invention.  Not a true "Mexican Taco" served in Mexico.

These "Two-for-Tuesday" cheap fast food tacos were great for young people's budget and quick service.  But not for "Authentic Mexican Food" that we see much more now in the USA.

A true Mexican taco is served on a corn tortilla that is still soft.  It can be filled with almost anything.  However, you won't see it filled with ground meat as is the case in much the USA.

Yes, today in the USA tacos can be found with chicken, pork, beef, fish and seafood.  Most of these are either chopped or shredded.  Some, such as fish tacos, are served with pieces.  While shrimp tacos are usually whole shrimp.  They're also served on soft corn tortillas or flour tortillas.

Hard corn tortillas are usually flat now, which makes them "Tostadas" a traditional Mexican product.  Fast food Tex-Mex establishments and grocery store shelves still offer the folded in half hard corn tortilla.

In Mexico it depends on where you are as to the ingredient used to fill tacos.  Along the coasts, fish and shrimp tacos are big.  Inland it becomes beef, pork, chicken or goat.  The meat is seasoned and chopped or shredded with simple fresh toppings.  The toppings are different too.  It's back to location, location, location.  Also , each different meat may get a special local topping.

A taco in Mexico is as a sandwich is in the USA.  It's different everywhere and even changes by individuals personal tastes or favorite condiments.

So let your imagination run away as you create your favorite taco.  And just because a taco is Mexican, it doesn't mean it has to be filled with heat.  That's personal too.

Remember "Warm" tortillas for tacos.  The best way to have warm tortillas is to wrap some in foil and place in the oven to warm.  A 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes should do a bundle of 3 or 4 tortillas.  Use multiple bundles so each person has their own.  That way they can take one out and recover the remaining ones to keep warm until needed.  Small ones (5-6 inch) are best in my opinion.  You can make your own too or buy them.  Recipes for making your own in the "Odds & Ends" recipe tab.

This week's two recipes use a meat ingredient that many of you may never have thought of for tacos.  Tomorrow's recipe of "Chorizo & Potato Tacos" uses a Mexican sausage which has a little kick.  On Wednesday, the "Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos" use poultry other than chicken.  I'm just trying to show you that you're only limited by your imagination and taste buds.

So "Happy Cooking" and enjoy a taco to two until next week.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Israeli Couscous & Tomato Salad


Israeli Couscous & Tomato Salad
(8 servings)

Ingredients:

6 cups (6 oz.) Arugula
2 cups (12 oz.) Israeli Couscous
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus some for drizzling)
¼ cup Pine Nuts
4 cloves Fresh Garlic, chopped
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
to taste Salt & Black Pepper
1½ pints Red Cherry Tomatoes, halved
4 large Yellow or Orange Tomatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces

Directions:

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.  Add the arugula and blanch for 10 seconds.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander.  Rinse under cold water and let drain.  Now add the couscous to the boiling water and cook to al dente (about 1o minutes-see box instructions).  Drain couscous and drizzle with a little oil.  Mix gently and then spread the couscous out on a sheet pan to cool to room temperature.  While couscous is cooling, toast pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Let cool.  Squeeze excess water from arugula and chop.  Place in a food processor and then add nuts, garlic, cheese and ½ cup of oil.  Process until nuts are finely chopped.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer couscous to a large mixing bowl and stir in the pesto you just made.  Now gently fold in the tomatoes and serve.  Salad can be refrigerated but be sure to toss gently again just before service.

Note:               Pine nuts are expensive.  So you could
                        sub walnuts if desired.

Note:               You can mix up your tomatoes in this recipe too.  Go with ones you like and/or what is available in the market.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Orzo Salad (Nicoise-Style)


Orzo Salad (Nicoise-Style)
(4 servings)

Ingredients:

8 oz. Orzo Pasta
½ cup Nicoise Olives, pitted & halved
½ cup Pear or Grape Tomatoes, halved
½ cup Red Onion, finely chopped
¼ cup Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
1½ tbsp. Capers, drained
1 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove Fresh Garlic, minced
to taste Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the orzo and cook until al dente (see box instructions).  Drain and rinse under cold running water and then drain again.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the olives, tomatoes, onion, parsley and capers and set aside.  In a small mixing bowl combine the vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and then whisk in the olive oil.  Pour mixture over the ingredients in large mixing bowl, toss gently and serve.  Or refrigerate at least 2 hours to overnight before serving.  Toss again just before service.

Note:               You can substitute other olives in this recipe to meet your taste or availability.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Pasta Salads

Taking a Dip!
As you can see here, my assistant is taking a little break from our work on this week's blog.  It amazes me how she can always get me to give in to a break on a busy day like this with topics and recipes to finish up.  But she does.  I must be getting soft in my old age.  Well it's alright as long as she knows who the boss is around here.  Better get back to this week's blog topic.

We're into summer and in fact it's over the halfway mark too.  Where does the time go?  Well the warmest part of the summer is yet to come (good for some and not so good for others).  We're still doing outside meals but may be getting a little bored with some of our food choices.

Shake up your menu and try a few new recipes.  Even get out of your comfort zone.  There are plenty of places to find and try some new recipes to you.  I have over 300 recipes on this food blog and I'm fairly certain none of you have tried them all.  So check them over and see what might appeal to you and your follow eaters.

But there are many other areas to look to.  Check out the cookbooks in your home.  I really don't know  anyone that has ever tried all the recipes in a cookbook of 50 of more recipes that's tried them all.  Ask family and/or friends for some recipes that they make that you have never eaten.  In this day and age, you might try the internet.  There are a few recipes out there.

This week I'm looking at pasta salads.  When someone mentions a pasta salad, most people probably think of something with "Rotini" in it.  Or maybe "Macaroni."  The nice things is just about any pasta can work in a salad.

I've got 2 recipes this week that use a pasta that most of you would never think to use.  The first one which is for Wednesday is "Israeli Couscous & Tomato Salad."  But couscous is so tiny?  Not Israeli Couscous.  It's much larger than regular couscous.  It's about the size of a small pea and works well in this dish.

Thursday's recipe is for "Orzo Salad (Nicoise Style)" and again is not the norm for a pasta salad.  Nicoise style just means in the style of Nice, France.  It usually involves olives, tomatoes and a vinaigrette in a salad.

"Happy Cooking" until next week when I'll talk "Tacos" to you in "Part 6 of Mexican Cuisine".

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Balsamic Vinaigrette


Balsamic Vinaigrette
(about 1 cup)

Ingredients:

¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbsp. Honey
2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Whisk together in a medium mixing bowl the vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper.  Once well combined, slowly add the oil while continuously whisking.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve tossed in salad or on the side letting individuals add as desired.

Note:               You want to use a good balsamic vinegar
                        and olive oil when making a vinaigrette.

Note:               Notice that this recipe uses a 2 to 1 ratio.  The standard ratio is 3 to 1 for vinaigrettes.  You may want to add a little more oil but do this by personal taste.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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