Baja California is located about 15 miles from downtown San Diego and south of the California border in the country of Mexico. Baja cuisine is distinct from mainland Mexican cooking. Most food historians speculate that the fish taco emerged in this area when Asians introduced Baja natives to the practice of deep-frying fish. When this battered fried fish was combined with traditional Mexican toppings, the fish taco was born. It was also where I discovered fish tacos. While I do not deep fry the fish in my recipe, these tacos are delicious and come close to what I remember eating on my visit there.
Serve the tacos with black beans and sliced tomatoes.
Avocado Cream Sauce
1 ripe medium avocado, halved and pitted
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro or 2 tablespoons cilantro paste
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb thin, firm fillets of mild, white fish, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips
1 tablespoon avocado oil, plus extra for the tortillas
4-6 regular or low carb tortillas
Lime wedges for serving
Scoop the avocado flesh into a mini food processor. Add cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, and salt. Process until smooth. Refrigerate until serving time.
Stir cabbage, carrot, scallion, vinegar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush both sides of the tortillas lightly with avocado oil. Carefully drape each tortilla over two bars of the oven rack. Bake about 10 minutes until crispy but still pliable.
Mix together arrowroot powder, chili powder, cumin, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk in egg whites. Coat fish in the batter.
Heat the avocado oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the battered fish pieces and cook, until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Place on paper towels to drain.
Spread a generous amount of the avocado cream sauce over one half of each tortilla. Top with some of the slaw mixture and some of the cooked fish. Top with more avocado cream sauce and serve.
Grilled Steak Salad
1 1/2 pound French-cut, bone-in ribeye steak, about 2 inches thick
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups packed fresh lettuce leaves, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
1 cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
Half a medium red onion, thinly sliced
Half a cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, cut in eighths
4 large radishes, sliced thin
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon grated garlic
2 tablespoons very good balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
In a small mixing bowl, combine the rub ingredients. Brush the steak with olive oil. Sprinkle the seasoning over the entire steak and set aside.
To make the dressing:
Place the garlic and vinegar in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the grilled steak:
Heat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan. Oil the grill grates or pan. Prepare one side of the grill for indirect heat or turn the heat under a grill pan to very low. Place the steak on the indirect side of the grill.
Plan on grilling the steaks for 10-15 minutes on each side over indirect heat. When the internal temperature measures 80-85 degrees turn the steak over. If it’s higher, decrease the amount of cook time on the second side to 5-10 minutes. Once the internal temperature of the meat is about 120 degrees move the steak to the direct heat side of the grill for 2 minutes per side for searing. For a grill pan, turn the heat to high and sear the steak for the same amount of time. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.
For the salad:
Toss the lettuce with half the vinaigrette. Place the lettuce on a serving platter. Top the lettuce with the cheese, tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, radishes, and avocado. Line each topping in its own individual row.
Slice the steaks into strips and place them on the salad platter. Drizzle the remaining balsamic vinaigrette over the salad ingredients.
This past weekend I made Steak & Chicken Fajitas for a get together with friends. Sandwiches seemed like a good option for the leftovers.
On the weekend I cooked the following:
1 pound Flank Steak
3 large boneless chicken breasts
2 large onions, cut into thick slices
3 bell peppers, cut in half and seeded
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and Pepper
Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Drizzle the flank steak with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on either side and season generously with salt and pepper.
Drizzle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the vegetables with the remaining oil.
Grill on the steak 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Set aside to rest.
Cook the chicken on the grill 6-7 minutes each side or until no longer pink in center. Cook the vegetables about 2 minutes on each side..Leftover were refrigerated and later used for sandwiches.
Philly Style Cheesesteak Sandwiches
This sandwich goes well with coleslaw.
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced grilled onion
½ cup thinly sliced grilled bell peppers
6 oz grilled beef steak, cut into thin strips
2 slices (1 oz each) provolone cheese, cut in half
2 slices (1 oz each) American cheese, cut in half
2 sub rolls split and lightly toasted
Worcestershire sauce, ketchup or hot sauce
Heat a skillet and melt the butter. Cut the steak into very thin slices and divide into 2 piles in the skillet.
Top each with one slice of provolone and one slice of American cheese to warm through and melt the cheese.
Be sure the peppers and onions are warm.
Divide the peppers and onions between each sub roll, placing them on the bottom half.
Place a steak/cheese mound on top of the peppers on the sub rolls. Top with your favorite condiments.
Mexican Shredded Chicken Sandwich
Serve this sandwich with Guacamole.
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups shredded leftover grilled chicken breast
1 cup salsa
Sliced jalapeno peppers, optional
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 soft sandwich rolls, cut in half
Heat the oven broiler.
Mix the shredded chicken with the spices, salsa and add sliced jalapenos to taste, if using.
Combine 1/2 cup cheese and sour cream; set aside. Toast the rolls in the broiler on one side until lightly browned.
Spread the four roll halves with the cheese/sour cream mixture and broil until the cheese begins to melt and spread about 2 minutes.
Grilled Asian Chicken Thighs with Citrus Salsa
4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon Korean hot sauce (gochujang) or your favorite Asian hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Half a navel orange
One red grapefruit
Zest of ½ a lemon
Zest of half an orange
1 large spring onion or 2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Pinch of salt
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag and add the chicken thighs.
Coat the chicken in the marinade then seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or up to 6-8 hours.
To make the salsa: Using a grapefruit knife, remove the fruit segments over a colander placed over a bowl. Let the fruit drain. Use the juice for another recipe.
Combine the fruit segments with the remaining salsa ingredients. Set aside while the chicken cooks.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.
Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.
Drain the chicken and discard the marinade in the bag. Place the chicken pieces skin-side down on the hot grill, and cook them for 7-8 minutes.
Turn the chicken pieces over with tongs to avoid piercing them and letting the juices run out. Cook the thighs for another 7-8 minutes.
Place an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are cooked when the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the chicken to a platter and place the Citrus Salsa on the side of the chicken.
Spring Strawberry Salad with Warm Mozzarella Cheese
1 green onion, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, peeled
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons honey, according to taste
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ounces leaf lettuce
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 pound cooked asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, each cut ½ inch thick
1 oz chopped pecans
1 large egg white, beaten with 1/2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter
Purée the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth to make a dressing. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until needed.
For the cheese: Dip each cheese slice into the egg wash and then into the chopped pecans, pressing on the nuts to help them stick to the cheese.
Place the slices on a baking rack set on a sheet pan or large plate and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
Arrange the greens, strawberries, and asparagus on Individual salad plates,
Heat the butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chilled cheese slices and cook until softened but not melting, about 2 minutes.
With a wide spatula carefully turn the cheese slices over. If some of the nuts fall off, just scoop them up and place them back on the cheese
Place a cheese slice on top of each salad. If any nuts fall off into the pan, just sprinkle them on the salad. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve.
Grilled Asian Flavored Scallops
½ lb medium sea scallops
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Allow the scallops to marinate for 15 minutes.
Skewer the scallops on soaked wooden or metal skewers and cook on a preheated indoor grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes per side.
They should be slightly firm, Serve with the Spring Vegetable Stir-fry.
Spring Vegetable Stir-fry
Stir Fry Sauce
1/3 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned (unsweetened) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or a low-carb sweetener
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium spaghetti squash
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small head baby bok choy, sliced into 1-inch strips
4 scallions, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the halves, with the cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until you can poke the squash easily with a fork.
Let cool until you can handle it safely. Then scrape the insides of one half of the cooked squash with a fork to shred the squash into strands and place on a plate.
Reserve the remaining squash for another recipe.
Prepare the stir-fry sauce.
In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and broccoli and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.
Then stir in the bok choy and bean sprouts; cook for 3-4 minutes until wilted. Add the stir-fry sauce and then stir in the cooked spaghetti squash and red pepper flakes.
To serve: Sprinkle the vegetable stir-fry with the cashews and serve.
Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Cinco de Mayo 2018 occurs tomorrow on Saturday, May 5. A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, however, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day. Mexican independence is celebrated on September 16.
Celebrate the day with this traditional Tex-Mex dinner, Steak Fajitas. The fajita is a Tex-Mex food (a blending of Texas cowboy and Mexican panchero foods). The Mexican term for grilled skirt steak is arracheras, and its American counterpart is fajitas. Today, the term fajita has completely lost its original meaning and has come to describe just about anything that is cooked and served in a rolled up soft flour tortilla. The only true fajitas, however, are made from skirt steak.
According to the Austin Chronicle, Fajitas appear to have made the leap from campfire to backyard grill in 1969. Sonny Falcon, an Austin meat market manager, operated the first commercial fajita concession stand at a rural celebration. That same year, fajitas appeared on the menu at Otilia Garza’s Round-Up Restaurant, At the Round-Up, fajitas were served on a sizzling platter with warm flour tortillas and mounds of condiments – guacamole, pico de gallo (chopped fresh onions, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro), and grated cheese – for making tacos. The more popular the dish became, the less likely it was to be made from skirt steak. By the mid-1980s, fajitas were a fairly common dish in most Mexican restaurants and would ultimately become a popular nineties fast-food item where other cuts of meat were used, and the addition of grilled items such as chicken, shrimp, and even vegetable “fajitas” blurred the line even further.
How do you make authentic steak fajitas? This way:
First, make the Lime Marinade
Grated zest and juice of 3 limes
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the lime marinade ingredients; set aside.
Lime Marinade (see recipe)
1 to1 1/2 pound skirt steak or flank steak
2-3 assorted bell peppers, cored, seeded, and quartered
1 large sweet onion, cut into thick circles
2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped
Shredded cheddar cheese
Lay the skirt steak on a cutting board and remove the outer membrane (grab the membrane with one hand and slide the knife beneath it, cutting as you go). Using a sharp paring knife, make a number of slits in the meat, cutting both with and against the grain of the meat (this cuts the muscle fiber and reduces any toughness.)
Add the skirt steak to the lime marinade; re-seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour but overnight is recommended, turning the steak occasionally.
Remove steak from refrigerator and bring to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grates.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap stacked flour tortillas in aluminum foil and heat in the oven 15 minutes or until hot.
Brush the bell peppers and onions with olive oil.
Drain the steaks and reserve the marinade. Place the steak on the hot grill and spoon some of the reserved marinade over the steak. Close the grill lid and cook 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare (120 degrees F. on a meat thermometer). Remove the steaks from grill and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the steaks on the diagonal into thin strips.
While the shirt steak is cooking on the grill, add the bell peppers and onion slices and grill about 2 minutes or until soft; remove from the grill, place on the cutting board and slice into strips. Place cooked steak strips and vegetables onto a platter.
For each fajita, fill a warm flour tortilla with cooked steak strips, peppers and onion slices. Add tomatoes, cheddar cheese, sour cream and avocado as desired and roll up like a burrito.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Ripe avocados are typically a dark, almost black color with hints of green when they’re ripe. If you want to use the avocado as soon as you get home, choose one that is dark. If you plan to use one in a couple of days, select one that’s more green. If an avocado looks ripe, you should still feel it to test its ripeness. Hold it in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t feel overly soft or mushy. Store whole, ripe avocados in the refrigerator.
You can vary this sandwich by replacing the tomatoes with smoked salmon or adding bacon or a sausage patty.
For each serving:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice sourdough, whole wheat, or pumpernickel bread, toasted
Half an avocado pitted and skin removed
4 thin slices of a plum tomato
1 slice American cheese
Heat the butter in a small skillet. Add the egg and cook over easy or the way you like to cook eggs.
Place a slice of toast on a small foil-lined pan.
Mash the avocado and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed avocado over the slice of toast. Place the tomato slices over the avocado. Top with the cooked egg.
Place the cheese on top of the egg and place the sandwich under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt. Remove and serve immediately.
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1 cup chicken salad, recipe below
Chopped chives or chopped cooked bacon for garnish
Loosen the avocado flesh with a spoon by running the spoon around the shell. Do not remove the avocado from the shell.
Place a ½ cup of chicken salad on one avocado half. Garnish with chives or bacon. Repeat with the second half of avocado. Place on a lettuce leaf, if desired.
For the cooking the chicken
2 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 small onion, halved,
1 clove garlic, cut in half
The tops of the celery stalk that will be used in the salad
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water
Ingredients for making the salad
4 scallions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced tops used for cooking the chicken
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Place 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and remaining ingredients for cooking the chicken.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook the chicken about 15-20 minutes or until they are white through the center.
Drain the chicken over a bowl and save the broth for another recipe. Cool the chicken breasts. Discard the cooking vegetables. Dice the chicken.
Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and chill covered in the refrigerator for several hours.
2 grilled chicken breasts or 2 cups chicken salad (recipe above)
4 slices bacon
Lettuce, chopped (4 cups)
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and sliced or cherry tomatoes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)
4 hard-boiled eggs
Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in 4 large eggs into the water. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes.
Drain off the hot water and add ice cubes and cold water to the pot.
Once the eggs are cool to the touch, peel them and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
Slice the hard-boiled eggs. Cut the avocado into slices.
Arrange the lettuce on two individual salad plates.
Place the chicken salad (or sliced chicken) on one area of the lettuce, the tomatoes on another followed by the eggs and avocado as you go around the plate.
Place the blue cheese in the center of the plate. Break the bacon into large pieces and place on the salad plates.
Sprinkle with chives and serve with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.
Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 dash salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and Worcestershire until smooth. Stir in chives, blue cheese crumbles, salt, and pepper.
Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Springtime means ham and lamb in the meat department. They are often on sale now in the market or from your local farm. Ham is always a good buy and supplies plenty of leftovers for several meals. Spring also brings us lots of new vegetables and fruits, so I look forward to using them and developing new recipes with them. I am especially taken with my newly discovered rutabagas. They are very similar to potatoes but contain many less carbs. I decided to try making my potato salad recipe with them and it turned out very well and so delicious. Fennel is also in season and there are so many good ways to prepare it, either cooked or raw. Try out some new vegetables this week and see how you like them.
Glazed Spiral-Sliced Ham
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 lb Spiral Cut Fully Cooked Ham
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Place the ham cut side down onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Mix together the brown sugar, apricot jam and mustard in a small bowl. Brush half of the glaze onto the ham using a pastry brush.
Reserve the remaining glaze. Enclose the foil around the ham and place on a rimmed baking sheet also covered with foil (for easy cleanup).
Roast for 75 minutes in the preheated oven, or if your ham is a different size, figure 15 minutes per pound.
Take the ham out of the oven, pull the foil away and brush the remaining glaze onto the ham.
Place the ham back in the oven without enclosing it in the foil.
Bake 15-20 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°F. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Rutabaga “Potato Style” Salad
1 ½ lbs rutabaga or red potatoes, peeled
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 cup minced bread and butter pickles
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion or scallions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cut the rutabaga or potato into thin slices, about 1 x 1 inch, or cut the vegetables into cubes if you prefer that cut.
Place the rutabaga in a large pot with a lid. Cover with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook with the lid ajar about 15-20 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender.
Drain and place the rutabaga in a medium serving bowl. Add the pickle juice and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste to see if the salad needs salt.
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and a little paprika, if you would like to garnish the salad before serving it.
Fennel Salad With Avocado Dressing
2 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 of a large fennel bulb, cut into one inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Avocado Dressing, see link
Combine the tomatoes, fennel, onion and pine nuts in a medium serving bowl. Add a few tablespoons of dressing to the top of the salad.
Serve with the remaining Avocado dressing on the side.