Shrimp Tacos – Tacos de Camarón

I marinated the shrimp in garlic for a couple of hours before cooking. I then pan fried them with the marinade, adding lime juice, salt and salsa at the end.

Ingredients: Makes 9 tacos for 3 hungry people

36 shrimp, size 41/50 (about 3/4 pound)

1 Tb EVOO olive oil

12 cloves garlic, finely chopped

A few shakes red pepper flakes

Several grinds black pepper

1/4 oregano

juice of 1 lime

pinch of Kosher salt

Salsa to taste

Directions:

If shrimp are frozen, defrost in refrigerator the night before, or place in a colander and run cold water over it for 7 minutes, shaking the colander every few minutes so they defrost evenly.

Peel the shrimp. I save the shrimp shells in the freezer to make shrimp broth in the future.

Mix the marinade ingredients in a plastic or glass container and add the peeled shrimp. Let the shrimp marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge.

Heat a heavy skillet until hot, then pour in the shrimp with the marinade. Cook over medium- high heat until shrimp are no longer translucent. Turn off the heat, then squeeze the juice of one lime over the shrimp. Add a couple of tablespoons of salsa and a pinch of Kosher salt. Stir well.

Divide shrimp (4 each) into fresh warm corn tortillas. For a sumptuous meal, make your own corn tortillas. Add avocado chunks, cilantro, torn lettuce, sliced tomatoes and radishes. Top with the salsa of your choice.

Roasted Veggie Tacos

My talented daughter Sonia invented this delicious recipe combining roasted cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and carrots with a brown butter-lime pepita sauce, topped with a cabbage and cilantro slaw and guacamole. We make them with tender homemade corn tortillas, which adds a whole other level of deliciousness.

Ingredients: makes about 10-12 tacos

Roasted Veggies:

1 medium cauliflower head

About 20 -25 Brussel sprouts

3 carrots

olive oil spray

several grinds black pepper

Pepita butter:

1 Tb butter

1/2 cup pepitas

Juice of 1 lime

Pinch chili flakes

Salt to taste

Slaw:

1 small red cabbage

about 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

4 large radishes

1 lime

1 tsp olive oil

salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450′ Cut cauliflower into florets. Cut off ends of Brussel sprouts and halve small ones or quarter larger ones lengthwise. Peel and chop carrots into 1″ pieces. Put vegetables into a large roasting pan and pour about 3 Tb olive oil over them and sprinkle with pepper, tossing the veggies until they are coated.

Roast for 20 minutes, remove from oven and toss with tongs or a metal spatula, then roast another 30 minutes until veggies are browned and crispy. Transfer to a large bowl. You can roast the vegetables ahead of time and heat them up in the microwave before dinner.

Place butter in a small saucepan and heat until melted. Continue heating on low-medium heat until the butter separates and the solid parts begin to brown. Add pepitas and a pinch of chili flakes. Let the brown butter cool down, then squeeze in the lime juice.

Pour pepita butter over the vegetables and mix it in. Adjust salt to taste.

Thinly slice the cabbage and radishes and add cilantro leaves. Squeeze in juice from 1/2 a lime, add a tsp of olive oil and salt to taste.

Place veggies on a warm corn tortilla, top with slaw and a dollop of guacamole. Add salsa if you wish. Enjoy!

Flour Tortillas

Homemade flour tortillas are quick and easy to make. I use my mother in-law’s recipe. She used to make them the traditional Mexican way with lard, but later discovered how tasty they are made with butter. That’s how my husband likes them, and he’s right!

Ingredients: Makes 6 tortillas

1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 Tb softened butter

1/2 cup warm water

extra flour for rolling out the tortillas

Directions:

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a medium mixing bowl, stirring well to mix. Add softened butter and water and stir well with a large wooden spoon until dough is shaggy.

Use your hands to shape into a smooth ball, adding more flour if needed. The dough should be soft and elastic, neither sticky nor too dry.

Tear off 6 pieces and roll each one into a golf ball-sized ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand. Gather them together and place a damp clean kitchen towel on top of them. Let them rest for 20 minutes so that the gluten can develop.

Roll each tortilla out until it’s very thin with a floured rolling pin on a floured board. Try to make them into a circle shape by rotating the rolling pin in a different direction each time you roll it.

Heat a dry (unoiled) comal, griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place the tortilla in the pan for about a minute, until bubbles form

Flip the tortilla and let it cook about 15 seconds. The bottom should be golden brown.

Flip tortilla to a plate to make your burrito. Or if you’re making a stack, put it in a dishtowel-lined tortilla warmer or plate, covering with the towel after each addition to keep them warm. Eat them warm smeared with butter and rolled up – it’s super good!

I made this breakfast burrito with frijoles pintos and scrambled eggs, topped with green onions, cilantro, tomato and avocado slices and salsa.

Papaya and Salmon Spinach Salad

IMG_1532I’ve been buying an extra half pound of salmon so that we can make salmon salad with the leftovers. Coho salmon is really the best and has few bones, even in the center cut.

jicama

This recipe is made with produce that is common is Mexican cuisine . The jicama looks like a pointy potato, but is a bit sweet and crunchy inside.

The citrus dressing is a nice contrast to the sweet papaya, and has a little kick from Habanero salsa and ginger. I thought of adding the cilantro after we ate it, so I’ll have to wait until next time to retake the picture with it.

papaya

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • Several handfuls of clean baby spinach, long stems discarded
  • About 1/3 cup sliced jicama
  • 1/2 small papaya, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 medium avocado, sliced
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pepitas
  • About 1 Tb cilantro leaves

Dressing

  • 3 Tb juice from 1/2 medium lemon and 1 lime
  • 1 Tb cold water
  • 3 drops Habanero salsa (That’s hot enough for my taste but you are welcome to add more if desired.)
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tb olive oil

Directions: 

Make dressing: Combine all ingredients except oil in a jar and shake well. Add oil and shake well to emulsify.

toasted pepitas

Toast the pepitas (Green pumpkin seeds): Preheat oven to 350′ Measure 1/3 cup of pepitas in a bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp water on them and mix in. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt and stir well. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until pepitas are light brown. Cool on a rack.

saladPlace baby spinach on plates, removing the long stems. Slice papaya, avocado and jicama and place on top of spinach.

Place cold salmon on top. Dress with citrus-ginger dressing. Sprinkle toasted pepitas on top.

 

 

 

Ground Turkey Tostadas and Tacos Filling

turkey filling

Ground turkey makes a lighter and healthier filling than ground beef for tostadas and tacos. Even  low-fat ground turkey becomes moist and flavorful with the addition of tomatoes, salsa, and spices.

I browned the entire pound package and added a whole onion, and doubled the salt. I then saved half of the meat mixture for Baked Ziti or other Italian meat sauce.

These seasonings are at  the low end of the spicy scale, so season to your taste.

Ingredients: Makes approximately 8 – 10 tostadas or tacos

  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced and chopped
  • A few shakes red pepper flakes
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of chipotle or other chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tb salsa chipotle or salsa Mexicana
  • 1/4 cup water or broth

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan until it shimmers. Place turkey on the oil and let it sit about 5 minutes or so until it browns. Turn it over and let it brown on the other side a few minutes, then use a metal spatula to break it up. Add the chopped onion and salt, and continue breaking up the turkey. Cover the pan and turn the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in garlic and seasonings, the tomato, salsa and water or broth. Cook for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed but turkey is not too dry.

Spread the tostada shell with frijoles pintos, then with the turkey. Top with lettuce, cilantro, tomato, avocado, radishes and black olives (halved so they won’t roll off the tostada!) and salsa if desired. Tacos pretty much the same, except with heated tortillas.

tostadas with ground turkey filling

Salsa dancing around the kitchen with red chili sauce

dry red chilies

This simple chili salsa is made with dried red chilies. II was gifted a large quantity by a visitor from New Mexico. I use them with all the seeds and veins. We used it on tamales at Christmas, on tacos, in stir fry, chip dip, and whatever else could benefit from some heat.

salsa in serving dish

Makes 2 cups salsa roja

Ingredients:

15 Red chilies. (You could use other dried chilies and mix them up for a more complex flavor.)

2 cups cold water

A pinch of salt

Optional: Add 1 or 2 garlic cloves

Rinse chilies in a colander, pull off stems, and place in a medium pot with water

chilies in water without stems

Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let sit covered off heat about 10 -20 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are soft.

destemmed chilies in blenderPlace chilies in a blender along with the cooking water. If desired add garlic.

blended chili sauce in blenderBlend on high for about 30 seconds until chili sauce is smooth.

salsa in serving dishEnjoy!

Empanadas de Camote: Yam Turnovers

IMG_0519

Empanadas de Camote are our favorite Mexican pan dulce (pastry). After years of trying different doughs, from cream cheese and butter dough that was delicious but fell apart, to yeast dough that reminded us of Rio Grande valley empanadas,, I hit the jackpot with modified pie dough! Easy to make and easy to use, light and tasty!

Makes 8 large empanadas

Ingredients: 

Dough:

1 cube cold salted butter

1 Tb frozen shortening (Crisco)

Dry ingredients:

3 Tb  granulated sugar

2 Tb  brown sugar

1 2/3 cups  all-purpose flour, divided into 1 cup and 2/3 cup

1/2 tsp  Kosher salt

1/2 tsp  baking powder

1/2  tsp cinnamon

Liquid ingredients:

1 Tb half and half

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Filling:

1 large yam, baked for an hour and 20 minutes until super soft, peeled and smashed

1 Tb  brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

A couple of shakes pumpkin pie spice

A few more shakes nutmeg

2 Tb half and half

Egg Wash:

Reserved egg and cream mixture

A pinch of coarse demerara sugar to decorate

Directions:

Sift 1 cup of the flour together with the other dry ingredients into a food processor, and pulse a few times to mix.

Slice butter and shortening into small pieces. Stir gently into the flour with a fork, so they separate and are coated with flour.

Pulse until butter and flour become a paste.

Break up the dough with a knife and then add the rest of the flour and pulse just a few times so that the flour-coated butter pieces range from from pea-sized to crumbles. Empty processor into a medium-large mixing bowl.

Whisk together egg, cream, and vanilla in a smaller bowl. Set aside 2 Tb to brush on the empanadas.

Add the vinegar to the butter and flour mixture along with 1 Tb of the liquid mixture. Toss with a fork and add more liquid, a little at a time until it’s just moist enough to squeeze with your hands to form a large piece of dough. The dough should not be too dry with cracks nor should it be sticky.

Form dough into a round shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more. This allows the dough to resist shrinkage. If you leave it overnight, let it sit for at least half an hour to soften before rolling.

Form into balls that fit in your hand and place each ball between plastic wrap. Roll each ball in a circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches diameter. Put a 6″ diameter bowl over the dough like a cookie cutter and peel away the excess dough so the circle will have smooth edges. You can also roll out 1/3 of the dough at a time and cut out 2 circles from each piece. Refrigerate the dough circles for 1/2 hour or more.

IMG_0609Mix the brown sugar, spices and cream into the yam.

IMG_0610Whip the yam mixture until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400′

Scoop a ball of yam mixture (about 2 – 3 TB) into the dough circles. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges.

Hold the empanada in your hand. Starting in the center and working your way to the edges, fold dough over to make a half moon. If there’s room for more filling, add it a little at a time before you seal the last edge.

Crimp to seal using your thumb and forefinger, starting at the middle and working your way to the edges.

To make pretty repulgues, fold over the triangular edge of the empanada, then fold the next triangle, continuing all around the edges. Fold the last triangle under. This takes patience and lots of practice!

Brush with reserved egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake at 400′ for 20 minutes until golden brown

 

Mexican Wedding Cookies with Anise: Pastelitas de Boda con Anís

IMG_0278Bizcochitos are anise studded Mexican sugar cookies. I combined this idea with the recipe for  Mexican Wedding Cookies I found in Joy of Cooking. It made a tasty cookie even more delicious. These are a special treat at Christmastime which melts in your mouth with a lovely anise flavor.

Ingredients:

Anise

1 cup shelled pecans

2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar plus 1/3 cup for rolling the cookies in

1 Tb vanilla

1 teaspoon anise seeds

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

raosted pecansSpread pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes. Let cool on a plate. Run in food processor until they are in tiny pieces, but not powdery or oily.

whip butterBeat softened butter, add salt, 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed until it is fluffy. Gradually add pecans and anise, and beat until they are incorporated into the butter mixture.

Sift the flour over the top and slowly beat just until well blended.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cookies-on-parchment.jpg

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll 1 inch balls between your palms and place them on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies at 350′ for 12-15 minutes until tinged with golden brown. Rotate the sheet halfway through for even browning.

Place baking sheet on a rack to cool until the cookies begin to firm. Then slide the parchment paper to the rack for cookies to cool completely.

roll in powdered sugarRoll cooled cookies in 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar to coat them.

Huevos Rancheros

Hevos Rancheros with frijoles

Huevos Rancheros con frijoles pintos is my favorite hearty Mexican breakfast. I like to make a batch of beans the night before and let them slowly cook in the crock pot overnight. Then I pour them over the huevos rancheros and sprinkle them with salty cotija cheese or queso fresco (fresh cheese).

tortillas on comalIngredients: (serves one)

2 corn tortillas

nonstick canola oil spray

2 tsp butter

2 eggs

2 Tb warm salsa

2 teaspoons cotija cheese or queso fresco

about 1/4 cup frijoles pintos

Directions

Warm eggs in warm water for about 5 minutes.

Heat the comal. Spray comal and both sides of the tortillas with nonstick spray and heat over medium.

fried eggsMelt butter in a nonstick skillet. Fry the eggs. When the whites begin to harden, divide the eggs so the whites are not touching.

Pour salsa on eggsWhen tortillas begin to crisp, transfer them to a plate. Carefully place the eggs on top of them, Pour heated salsa over the eggs.

eggs-with-salsa-and-cheese.jpg

Sprinkle with half the cheese (about one teaspoon).

Hevos Rancheros with frijolesLadle beans over eggs and on the side if you wish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the beans. Disfrutalo!

 

 

 

Black Beans with Yams

serving black beans and yamsSlow cooked black beans brightened by chunks of yams in a rich, slightly chocolaty sauce will warm your winter chill. Thanks to CHEFS student Maria for inspiring this recipe from her vegetarian chili.

Ingredients:

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped, seeds and ribs discarded

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans

8 cups cold water

1 Tb cumin

1/4 tsp ancho chili powder. Add more if you like spicy beans.

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp oregano

3 large Diane yams, peeled, thickly sliced and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces

about 1 Tb salt. Add a bit at a time until it’s to taste

Instructions:

Fry onions and bell pepper in olive oil until the skin begins to char. Add garlic and fry for a minute more. Remove from heat.

Rinse beans and discard imperfect ones. Add to cold water in a large pot. Stir in seasonings and bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Add fried vegetables and chopped yams to water and bring to boil again. Pour contents of pot into a slow cooker. Add more water if needed to cover the beans. Set cooker on low and cook all day or all night, depending on whether you start in the morning or evening. It could take at least 8 hours until the beans are soft. Salt to taste, stirring in salt a bit at a time. Freezes well.