Tag Archives: Grilling

Killer Easy Soft Tacos

4 Aug
Soft Taco Ingredients

ingredients for soft tacos

I may be of Cajun heritage but growing up in Texas, Tex-Mex was easily the most consistent staple of my diet.  Our family ate Tex-Mex all the time: at least twice a week at restaurants (El Charro, I miss you so much) and ground beef crispy tacos frequently at home. Cheese Enchiladas with Chili Gravy remain one of my favorite foods in all the world, something I cannot seem to find anywhere but Texas, a version worth eating, at least.

In college, I ate these amazing enchiladas at least three times a week. I always had them as part of the “Deluxe Platter”, a standard on any Tex-Mex menu. The “Deluxe Platter” consists of a first course which is a large plate consisting of one Crispy Beef Taco, one Bean Chalupa, some Chili Con Queso and a Guacamole Salad. Then comes the second plate of two Cheese Enchiladas with Chili Gravy, a Beef Tamale and Rice & Beans. With flour tortillas on the side.

Deluxe platter

A Tex Mex Deluxe Platter

Yes, three times a week. Minimum. Seriously. And I loved putting the enchiladas into a flour tortilla, which I would imagine to some is a terrible faux pas but who cares when you can be this happy.

I was a bit shocked when I moved to California after college. While there’s just as much Mexican food in Los Angeles, it’s very different than Tex-Mex. Shredded beef tacos instead of ground beef? Red Sauce on enchiladas not chili gravy? Corn tortillas with soft tacos, not flour? Black beans instead of pinto peans?

What on earth were these people thinking?

I was quite grumpy about a new type of Mexican my first few years here… although the side effect of not eating a Deluxe Platter at least three times a week was that I lost 25 lbs in my first two months in Los Angeles without even trying. And I’ve come to love the more interior Mexican food of California but I still love Tex-Mex the most.

Another great Tex-Mex dish is soft tacos, which are always made with flour tortillas, not corn. Breakfast tacos – a flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, pico de gallo and bacon or sausage – are heaven and easy to make. We consumed mass quantities of breakfast tacos in college at 3 AM, usually at The Lazy Daisy on Guadalupe which was conveniently located a block from our fraternity house. (Lazy Daisy, I miss you so much.) But I love grilled steak and fish soft tacos as well.

Steak Tacos

Steak Soft Tacos

Let me give you, then, an easy and wonderful dinner you can make quickly when you have all the ingredients on hand. Even better, if you live near a Trader Joe’s, you can get most everything you need in one shop, save canned Chipotles, which you should always have in your pantry anyway.

Take my word for it, people go nuts over these soft tacos.

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A Killer “No-Cook” Summer Pasta

30 Jun
Summer Pasta Ingredients

Ingredients for a fresh summer pasta

My favorite season is Fall for a variety of reasons, not least of which is I look best in fall clothes and it’s all about me. Summer is wonderful, however, because summer means fresh vegetables everywhere. If a bounty of fresh veg doesn’t mean happiness to you, you haven’t been served vegetables the right way.

I have a good friend who refused to eat vegetables, no matter how I served them. Only after years of cajoling did I convince her to try some of mine. She is now a vegetable freak, she can’t get enough. One night she finally explained, “My mom used to take broccoli and boil it until it was white. That’s how she cooked all our vegetables. I thought that was how vegetables tasted!”

Makes me want to weep for vegetable haters everywhere.

blossoms

Summer’s Bounty

While we covered a great way to cook vegetables in an earlier post about roasting (Sunday Night Vegetable Roast) another of my favorite ways to eat fresh vegetables is with pasta. In the fall when not in season, roasted vegetables are a wonderful combination with pasta. But when you have vegetables fresh off the vine, there’s no need even to cook them! Trust me on this.

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Food for your 4th

27 Jun

Ah, the 4th of July. Fireworks, friends, family… and food. What can be better? Particularly when the 4th is on a Thursday, which means you will probably take off Friday, which means a four day weekend, which means four full days of fireworks, friends, family and food. So with out my usual prefatory rambling, I give you a plethora of food (and drink) for your holiday weekend.

DRINKS

* POMEGRANATE COSMOS

While I myself am partial to a Martini (click here!) or a Manhattan, I came up with this twist on a regular cosmopolitan for friends who like something a little less intense than either of my favorites but not as icky sweet as most “fru-fru” cocktails. These Pomegranate Cosmos are very tasty with a nice surprise kick from Limoncello. They are also gorgeous to present. I usually make a pitcher full, they go that quickly, but you can make them one at a time. Be sure to use fresh pomegranate juice. I once used juice from a jar and the result was terrible. Pom Wonderful is indeed wonderful and worth getting for this drink. 

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

How to:

Mix 1 part vodka with 2 parts Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice.  (I usually do half and half but let’s start easy.)

Add Roses Lime and Limoncello. If you are making a single drink, a healthy splash of each will do. If you are making a pitcher, a few healthy glugs of each is called for. Then add fresh lime juice following the same principle.

Stir it up and taste!  If you want it sweeter, add more Roses. If you want more of a kick, which people like, add limoncello. If you want it, um, stronger, add vodka. Stir and taste, stir and taste, it’s part of the fun of making this drink.

If you are making a pitcher, mix it early and stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then you can pour right out of the pitcher… or go ahead and cocktail shaker each drink anyway to get it freezing cold and impress your guests. Definitely use a shaker for single servings. Don’t forget the fresh squeezed lime juice in the drink and a lime wedge as a garnish. Fresh pomegranate seeds are an excellent garnish in the drink, just three or four per cocktail.

MAIN DISHES

* GRILLED MEATS

Most people will be grilling, of course. I love grilling sausages and/or baby lamb chops. If you do lamb chops, find a rack of lamb you can cut into individual riblets. Cut them into the riblets then marinate them overnight in olive oil, salt and pepper, minced garlic, lemon juice and thyme. Then grill… not too much! Simplicity is always best and lamb chops/riblets prepared this way are divine. If you grill sausages, get a bunch of different kinds. And be sure to make aioli on the side. This is a must. If you watch the video below, you will see it can be ridiculously easy. I used to make aioli by hand, which takes a lot of effort but the result was worth it, so I suffered through it weekly. Now I get the same wonderful result in less than a minute. Check this video:

If you want to make something amazing that takes a little more effort than grilling sausages and lamb chops, make

* SUZANNE GOIN’S PORK BURGERS

I posted about these once before but they are so good, I am posting the recipe again because they are the perfect 4th of July food and because you simply must try these. I’ve made these pork burgers every 4th of July the last few years. They are amazing. I’ll say it a third time… these are amazing. Be sure to make the Romesco, it’s a must and I always add aioli to the burgers. Just make the damn aioli. The recipe for these burgers can be found at another wonderful food blog I encourage you to check out, Food Gal, written by the extremely talented Carolyn Jung:

Pork Burger Recipe

Burger

** Here is another good look at this amazing way to make Aioli.

SIDES

* WHEAT BERRY SALAD

Another favorite of mine. This Wheat Berry Salad is fresh, healthy, tastes great and is an excellent base for all kinds of variations. I love using wheat berries because even when fully cooked, wheat berries have a soft but hearty pop in your mouth.  You can easily substitute barley or farro, or any grain you like. If you are gluten-free, try quinoa… or just eliminate the grain and make a tossed vegetable salad. 

You can also substitute your own favorite herbs and vegetables. The recipe below is a guideline, though if you follow it you will get a wonderful salad. Note: I tend to do all my vegetables raw in this salad, but feel free to roast the peppers and asparagus first. Just not too much. You want a good crunch.

WheatBerry1

Wheat Berry Salad ingredients

How to:

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