Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce
1/2 lb. (about 8) tomatillos, husks removed and washed well
1 large or 2 small serrano chiles, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Half an avocado mashed
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
12 large raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
4 low carb/gluten-free/regular tortillas, heated
1 cup shredded red cabbage
For the tomatillo salsa
Dice the tomatillos. Put them in a blender, along with the chiles, onion, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Pulse until the ingredients are very finely chopped and combined (the salsa should be somewhat smooth, but still have some texture), 30 to 60 seconds. Place the salsa in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.
Yields about 1 cup.
For the avocado cream
Combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator.
For the shrimp
Pat shrimp dry. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and a little salt in a medium bowl.
Preheat a stovetop grill over medium heat. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through about 4 minutes total. Place the cooked shrimp in a serving bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the tomatillo salsa over the shrimp. Toss.and serve the shrimp in tortillas, topped with red cabbage and avocado cream.
Serve a tomato salad on the side.
Mexican Americans have lived in the United States for most of the country’s history. Ethnically, Mexican Americans are a diverse population, but the majority are Mestizo, which in colonial times meant to be a person of half European and half Native American ancestry. Nonetheless, the meaning of the word has changed through time and currently refers to the segment of the Mexican population who do not speak indigenous languages.
The United States is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the world, second only to Mexico itself, and comprising more than 24% of the entire Mexican population of the world. Mexican American families of indigenous heritage have been in the country for at least 15,000 years, and Mestizo Mexican American history spans more than 400 years, since the 1598 founding of Spanish New Mexico. Spanish residents of New Spain in the Southwest included New Mexican Hispanos and Pueblo Indians and Genizaros, Tejanos, Californios and Mission Indians. Approximately ten percent of the current Mexican-American population are descended from the early colonial settlers who became U.S. citizens in 1848 following the conditions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War.
Generally, when Americans speak about Mexican food, they are usually referring to Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex) cooking, an extremely popular cuisine that follows the long border between the United States and Mexico. The food of the southwestern US state of New Mexico and the dishes of many of the Native American peoples of the southwestern US have similar names to many Tex-Mex and some Mexican dishes but they use different flavorings and cooking techniques.
Dishes like chili, fajitas, salsa, tortilla chips, chimichangas, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos are actually homegrown American inventions. Even dishes that exist in Mexico like enchiladas, tacos, and tamales are cooked and served differently in the United States. True Mexican dishes are not as spicy as many US versions. American versions of Mexican entrees add prodigious quantities of cheese, either shredded or melted, to nearly every dish, a practice rare in Mexico. The same heavy hand applies to the American use of sauces of all kinds. North of the border portions are larger, plates are filled so that the food items tend to run one into the other. In Mexico, the soft corn tortilla performs the function that bread on the table performs in the United States; it is a side starch. In the United States, fried tortillas, become an ingredient in nearly every dish.
Like most immigrant groups, Mexican Americans have remained loyal to the food traditions of their homeland. Many shops in small ethnic markets carry Mexican specialty foods. When they cook, they follow recipes handed down to them by their parents and grandparents and their cooking styles have certain things in common. Meat, usually pork or beef, is central to the diet. It is often eaten with salsa on the side. Corn, beans, rice, and root vegetables are also staples, especially sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and taro. Also popular is a pear-shaped squash called chayote. Here are some Mexican American recipes for you to make at home.
Carne asada means grilled beef in Spanish. The best cuts for making carne asada is Arrachera or skirt steak. It’s the taste that comes to mind when you think carne asada.
In Mexico, there are several marinating techniques that vary depending on the region of the country.
In the south and in the Gulf of Mexico area, where bitter oranges are grown, cooks will add some of its juice to the meat they are using to make Carne Asada; in other regions, they will add lime juice, and others will add a splash of beer.
Carne asada is traditionally made using a skirt or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar, but I prefer flank steak. When cutting the cooked meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It is quite easy to see the grain running through the meat in both of these cuts. It looks like long lines. Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them.
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef
2 limes juiced
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jalapeno minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 pounds flank steak
In a gallon size resealable bag, combine the lime juice, crushed garlic, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, jalapeno, and vinegar. Squeeze the bag to mix it up.
Put the entire flank steak into the resealable bag. Seal it up tight. Make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade, squashing the bag around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight is better.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over high heat.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade, and discard the excess marinade. Cook on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes per side.
Once done, remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.
For Carne Asada Tacos
Thinly sliced grilled flank steak
Sliced red onion
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Blood oranges, cut into eighths
Grilled or Roasted Corn On the Cob
4 ears corn
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped herbs (your choice)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or use the grill when cooking the meat.
Remove husks and silks from the corn. Place the corn on sheets of foil.
Butter corn and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese. Enclose the corn in foil and press the edges to seal.
Place wrapped corn on a cookie sheet or on the grill and roast for 25-30 minutes.
Mexican Red Rice
Arroz Rojo Mexicano
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth or water
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 1 to 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeño), stemmed and cut a slit down the side of each one
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
Place the garlic into a blender or food processor, add the canned tomatoes and process to a smooth puree.
In a large saucepan, stir together the oil and rice. When the rice is thoroughly coated, stir in the tomato puree, broth (or water), carrots and 1 teaspoon salt. Nestle in the chiles. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Gently stir the rice, re-cover and let the rice cook about 20 minutes. or until tender Taste a grain of rice: It should be very close to done at the core. If not, sprinkle in a little water, re-cover and cook 5 minutes more.
When the rice is done, uncover it and sprinkle in the peas and the parsley or cilantro. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice, reaching all the way to the edges of the bottom, to release steam and slow the cooking. Re-cover, let stand 5 minutes.
Black Beans with Chiles
1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 whole serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Rinse beans. Place beans in a large bowl. Cover with water by several inches. Let soak overnight.
Place oil, onion, and carrot in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the onion is tender. Drain beans and add to the Dutch Oven. Add whole chiles, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until beans are very tender, about 15 minutes more.
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.