Saturday, July 4, 2015

Chorizo Tacos

Okay I am way too old to just be discovering Chorizo. Mom, dear sister and I tried a taqueria that was mentioned in the paper recently. Taqueria La Michoacana boosts they have the "Best Mexican Tacos in Town". The Shreveport Times article and many others support their claim. They all commented that their dishes are authentic Mexican. We tried four different types of tacos. Dear sister tried the carne asada (roast beef). Mom and I were a little more adventurous and tried the cabeza (roast beef cheek) and chorizo (Mexican sausage). We all tried the al pastor (roast pork). I really really loved the chorizo! Everything was delicious but it just had the most flavor punch. Which is lucky for me because I can make the chorizo tacos at home. I don't know how I could do justice to any of the others. I will go back to Taqueria La Michoacana for all the others. I will not even attempt to make them at home. I have always been told chorizo taste like cumin, so I was never in a hurry to try it. They were wrong! I think it is so much more complex than that. I loved it! It was moist and crispy and so flavorful. I don't think it is healthy in the least but this is just one of those things you have to indulge in. In fact that is totally what I did this Friday. I made my tacos and thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact, I am looking at this photo and thinking when can I make more? I mean they are so simple, four maybe six ingredients and you have decadent tacos. I say four to six because the restaurant served theirs with lime wedges, green salsa and a fried serrano. I got so excited when mine were plated that I forgot all about the lime and salsa. Well let me tell you they are delicious both ways. So decadent! The chorizo is silky in texture and crispy around the edges. It is a little spicy too. I love the sweet caramelized onions and the fresh crunch of the raw onion. I love the fresh cilantro but it is not as noticeable in this taco as in others. It is just a fresh green topping. I love these tacos! Now I just need to stop myself from making them to often. Maybe it is a good thing I am just discovering the decadent fattiness of chorizo. Try it! Don't wait any longer!


Chorizo Tacos
Serves 2; Makes 4 Tacos

Ingredients

Canola oil
1 yellow onion, divided
1 tube (9 oz.) pork chorizo
Handful of cilantro, chopped
8 corn tortillas
1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)
Green salsa (optional)

Directions

Slice half of the onion into thin rings. Finely chop the other half of the onion and set aside. Heat a large pan over medium high heat, drizzle with oil and add sliced onion. Cook onion flipping often until translucent and browned on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add chorizo to pan, cook stirring often until most of the moisture has cooked away and the chorizo is deep reddish brown with crispy edges. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Drizzle in more oil and add corn tortillas. Fry tortillas for a few seconds on each side to soften them. Remove tortillas to a plate lined with paper towels. To assemble a taco place two tortillas in a stack on a plate. Top tortillas with 1/4 of the chorizo, caramelized onions, raw onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and green salsa (optional).

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Piccadilly Salad

Growing up the family would go to the cafeteria on occasion. Piccadilly Cafeteria is what I remember most. The funny thing is I don't remember the entrees we would get. I remember choosing the appetizers and dessert. There was an Italian salad, gumbo and cheesecake. That is the extent of my memory of the dishes we would always get. I remember the cheesecake being a must have and then having to agonize over whether to get the salad or gumbo. The funny thing is I remember us all getting the gumbo, but Mom and Dad always complained because it wasn't like home. The salad on the other hand was always delicious. It was served ice cold in a little square baking dish with the dressing on the side. It sat on a chilled buffet table so even the dish was cold. This week I decided to relive those cafeteria days by making a Piccadilly Salad at home. The salad is very simple but very flavorful as well. It is a simple layered salad starting with iceberg lettuce. All the flavor comes from the salty and savory toppings. The Parmesan is nutty, the capers briny and the anchovies add salty, slightly fishy, umami flavor. Then you drizzle the whole thing with Italian dressing. With all this flavor there is no need for salt just some freshly ground black pepper. It is so good! Dear sister thought there may have been olives on the cafeteria salad. I tried it with and without. Both are great but I think I like without because the capers shine more. This is a great starter for a dinner party. You can assemble them ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to serve. They will be ice cold just like the salad of my youth. 


Piccadilly Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients

1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 to 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 to 2 tsp. capers, drained
Black pepper, to taste
2 anchovie filets
2 Tbsp. Italian salad dressing (fat free works too)

Directions

Assemble salad in a chilled bowl. Layer lettuce, Parmesan and capers. Season with black pepper. Garnish with two anchovies and a shot glass filled with Italian dressing. To serve pour dressing over the top.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mexicana Beef Tacos

I think I have found that secret ingredient that makes restaurant tacos and fajitas so tasty. It is called Maggi Seasoning Sauce! For years my dear sister has said she thought they used soy sauce in their marinades. She was not far off. We now know it is Maggi. It is similar to soy but it has more of a smokey note. When you taste it you will immediately think, that's it! It has a very familiar and memorable flavor. Now that I have convinced you that you need Maggi Sauce, don't fret if you can't find it. One chef says you can substitute equal parts soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. I found my bottle at the international grocery. It is also available online too.

You might be wondering how did I discover this secret? It was totally by accident. I bought the Maggi Seasoning Sauce to make another recipe. When I did a taste test of my new purchase I knew I had found a new flavor secret. I could not wait to experiment. Now I did not make the recipe I bought it for, I decided to try to recreate some tacos I had at a restaurant in Bossier City. The Carne A la Mexicana at El Mariachi are so delicious! They are served fajita style with the tortillas on the side just like the Alambre Chicken Tacos. It is a simple but favorful plate piled high with grilled skirt steak smothered in tomatoes, onions and peppers. They serve it with rice, refried beans, a dollop of sour cream and guacamole. They are so good! What I like about these tacos is it eats like ground beef, meaning it is easy to eat. No pieces of steak or veggie that you can't bite through. But then it taste smokey and fresh like fajitas. It is not heavy on cumin or chili powder the spices commonly found in ground beef tacos. As a bonus if served straight up without sides and toppings they are very healthy too. 

Well, I feel like I have nailed the flavor perfectly. The marinade makes the skirt steak smokey and savory. The pico adds fresh tangy and saucy flavor. I used my homemade Pico de Gallo but your can use store bought or your favorite recipe. If you like spicy add more jalapeno to the pico. It will be great! What I am still missing is their secret to grilling the skirt steak. They get a perfect crust and a medium rare center. So I am still practicing and perfecting the grilling. But I could not wait to share these tacos with you. They are so good! Trust me you have to try these on your next taco night.



Mexicana Beef Tacos
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb. skirt steak
Juice of 1 lime (3 Tbsp.)
3 Tbsp. Maggi Seasoning Sauce
3 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
2 tsp. chipotle hot sauce
Black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
3 to 4 cups Pico de Gallo
8 small flour tortillas

Directions

Place skirt steak in a food storage bag. Combine lime juice, Maggi sauce, oil and hot sauce, whisk to emulsify. Pour over steak, seal storage bag removing as much air as possible. Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Flip bag over every 30 minutes if possible during the 2 hours.

Remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Pre-heat grill to high heat for 10 minutes. Pat steak to remove excess marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes a side. Remove from grill and let it rest 20 minutes. Cut steak into 1/2” dice and set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium high to high heat. Add Pico de Gallo and sauté until most of the moisture has evaporated. Add the steak and sauté until heated through. 

Place a skillet on high heat, when hot warm the tortillas on both sides until warm and blistered. To serve place beef mixture in warm flour tortillas.

Note: You can add additional toppings of you choice. I have tried cheese, sour cream and guacamole all delicious.

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Linking to:
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
Love Bakes Good Cakes: Freedom Fridays with All Bloggy Friends
God's Growing Garden: The Great Blog Train

Piri Piri Ribeye Dinner

I told you about the early stages of experimenting with Piri Piri Butter. What I didn't tell you is that we tried it on more than just corn. I put some on steak that night too. It was delicious! That is what gave me the idea of making a piri piri steak dinner. Originally I was going to cook filet, but then I saw the prices I bought ribeye instead. Don't get me wrong I will try this on filet in the future. This combo of Piri Piri flavors, steak, asparagus and sweet potato is a great meal. I loved everything! I love the spice the Piri Piri Butter adds to the steak. The interesting thing is that the first bite it the best bite. That is when the Piri Piri flavors are most prominent. Contrary to other dishes where the heat continues to build. This butter just enhances the smokey, juicy grilled steak with spice. The asparagus and sweet potato are perfect accompaniments. I love the roasted bits on the asparagus and the caramelized grill marks on the sweet potatoes. So good! Definitely a fine plate of food to serve over and over again.


Wonkie color by iPhone

Piri Piri Ribeye 
Serves 2

Ingredients

1" thick Ribeye
Kosher salt, to taste
Piri Piri Seasoning
Piri Piri Butter

Directions

Remove steak from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Season with kosher salt and Piri Piri Seasoning.

Preheat grill to high heat for 10 - 15 minutes. Grill 4 minutes a side for medium rare or to your desired doneness. Remove from grill, cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes. To serve cut steak into two portions and top with a slice of Piri Piri Butter.





Color courtesy of iPhone


Piri Piri Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Wash sweet potato and poke with a fork 4 to 6 times. Wrap in paper towel and microwave for 3 minutes. Flip potato over and microwave 3 more minutes. Allow potato to cool and slice into 1/4" thick slices. Rub each slice with olive oil and season with Piri Piri Seasoning and kosher salt to taste. Grill about 4 minutes a side until marked with grill marks.



Piri Piri Grilled Asparagus

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Wash and dry asparagus, drizzle with olive oil and season with Piri Piri Seasoning and kosher salt to taste. Grill rotating often until tender about 8 minutes total.



Linking to:
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
Love Bakes Good Cakes: Freedom Fridays with All Bloggy Friends
Carole's Chatter: Food on Friday - BBQ

Piri Piri Butter

One day dear sister and I were looking for a way to season some grilled corn on the cob. I suggested we mix Piri Piri Sauce with butter. It was delicious but did not combine very easily. Then I saw Pioneer Woman make Bell Pepper Butter. I thought now that is how you make Piri Piri Butter. It worked beautifully. It is a delicious spicy butter that is great on corn, steak, veggies and even popcorn. It gets it's spice from the bird's eye chilies and the fresh garlic. The red bell pepper adds a fruity sweetness to balance the heat. Now don't be scared to give it a try, it is not too spicy. It is a butter and has all the creamy elements of butter with a little bit of heat. If you are still intimidated, try using a fresno chili instead of the bird's eye chilies. Just be sure to try this recipe. It is amazing!


Piri Piri Butter
Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

2 sticks salted butter
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 bird's eye chilies, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest of one lime
1/2 tsp. cumin

Directions

Put the butter, red bell pepper, chilies, garlic, zest and cumin in a food processor and process until combined. Drain any liquid that may form and use right away. To serve later place the mixture into ramekins, or roll into a log with plastic wrap and chill until needed. For long term storage place plastic wrap roll of butter in a freezer bag removing as much air as possible and store in the freezer.

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Love this butter on grilled corn! Or any corn really.



Great on steak! Check out this Piri Piri Ribeye Dinner.

iPhone photo, sorry the color is off

Delicious on Popcorn too! Melt a slice of Piri Piri Butter 
in the microwave and drizzle over fresh popped corn.


Linking to:
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
Love Bakes Good Cakes: Freedom Fridays with All Bloggy Friends

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mint Iced Tea

I made a double batch of Mint Iced Tea this week to take to Mom and Dad's. We had family visiting and we ordered take out from Monjuni's. This tea was the first thing that came to mind for a beverage. I made it with granulated splenda for baking not sugar. It was very refreshing! In fact, as I type this I am finishing up the leftovers. Most Italian restaurants make mint tea in our area. The first place I remember ordering it was at Dominick’s Restaurant. They would serve it in large frosted globe shaped goblets. I looked it up and the globets are for beer, they are called schooners. I honestly think I remember more about the tea than the food? Dominick’s is long gone now, but other local restaurants like Notini's, Monjuni's and Fertitta's still serve it. It is always sweetened with sugar and very delicious. A few years ago I finally found an excellent recipe to bring back those memories of Italian food and ice cold mint tea. I don't remember whose's recipe it is. I do know it was passed down by an Italian grandmother to her grand daughter and she shared it on a message board I follow. I was thrilled when I found it; I had tried many times on my own to replicate the recipe but I could never get it quite right. It either taste like just mint or orange. This recipe is a perfect blend. It uses both orange and lemon juice. Using both does not compete with the mint. It is just delicious. Now I sweeten it to my taste. The original recipe called for 1-1/4 cups of sugar, I found that to be too much. But dear Dad and sister usually like it sweeter, so add sugar or splenda to your families' taste. This is a refreshing beverage for more than Italian food. It would be great at a BBQ or with Greek or Indian food. Heck it would be great all by it's self too. What are you waiting for, go pour a glass!



Mint Iced Tea

Ingredients

3 family size tea bags (6 regular size)
10-12 fresh mint leaves
3/4 cups sugar or granulated splenda (or 18 packets)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
4 Tbsp. orange juice (fresh or bottled)
Orange, sliced for garnish
Mint sprigs for garnish

Directions

Using a 12 cup coffee pot place tea bags and mint it pot. Brew 12 cups of water. When finished brewing turn pot of and let it steep 5 minutes. Meanwhile in a pitcher add sugar, lemon and orange juice. Pour hot tea in pitcher including mint leaves. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Serve over ice with an orange slice and mint sprig as a garnish. If any tea remains remove mint leaves before storing in the refrigerator.

Note: Some restaurants serve a spiced mint tea. I found that chai tea bags substituted in this recipe makes an excellent spiced mint tea.




A Schooner from Libbey Glass

Linking to:
Tumbleweed Contessa: What'd You Do This Weekend?
Love Bakes Good Cakes: The Ultimate List of Summer Drinks

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Here is another restaurant copycat recipe. I tried this soup at Panera Bread recently and immediately wanted to make it at home. I tried a recipe I found on Pinterest and thought it was delicious but decided to make some adjustments of my own. First, I did not get fussy about measuring the veggies. I added more spinach and onion. I also added a clove of garlic too. I tried to chop the veggies really fine, just as small as I could. I wanted to be able to almost drink the soup without a spoon. I also decided to add a tempered egg to add body and silkiness to the broth. It also balances the lemon juice really well. It turned out delicious. I know it is summer and all that, but this soup is light and fresh. It made a great lunch for dear sister and I. We have to thank dear sister for being my hand model today. Without her you could not have seen all the goodies hidden below the surface of the soup. I told her I may need her services in the future. The last photo is my favorite. She really captured all the delicious ingredients in that one spoon. I hope it will tempt you enough to try this recipe for yourself.



Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

8 cups fat-free low sodium chicken broth
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (6 ounces)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 large celery stalk, cut into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped spinach, chopped
1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves only
1 sprig fresh basil (6 to 8 leaves), chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup dry orzo
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1 egg, beaten
Lemon slices (optional garnish)
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Directions

Place all of the ingredients except the lemon juice, egg and garnishes in a 4-quart pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the orzo is cooked al dente.

Remove the chicken breast from the soup, dice into 1/2” inch pieces, and return to the pot. Add the lemon juice to beaten egg, whisking to combine. Slowly drizzle in a ladle of broth from soup into egg mixture whisking as you go. Add two more ladles of broth continuing to whisk. Add egg, lemon and broth mixture to soup pot stirring to combine. 

To serve, remove and discard the bay leaf. Ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with lemon slice and/or Parmesan cheese (optional).

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Linking to:
Love Bakes Good Cakes: The Ultimate Soup Recipe List Linky
Tumbleweed Contessa: What'd You Do This Weekend?

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