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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Tortillas

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.

Sonny Falcon’s Fajita Concession (Austin Chronicle)

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

Directions

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the lime marinade ingredients; set aside.

Fajita Ingredients

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
Diced avocado
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Flour Tortillas

Directions

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.

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Fish tacos are a favorite meal in our house. Just about any type of fish works in this recipe. I added the bell pepper topping because I think it helps make a tastier dish along with the Chipotle sauce.

Crispy Fish and Mini Bell Pepper Tacos

4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound fish fillets
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 cup all-purpose flour, low-carb flour or gluten-free flour
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup sliced miniature sweet bell peppers
Tortillas (regular, low-carb or gluten-free), crispy or soft, see below
Chipotle Sour Cream, see recipe below and shredded lettuce or shredded cabbage

Directions

Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Cut the fish into two-inch pieces.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the cream, egg and taco seasoning. Place the flour in another shallow dish.

Dip the fish in the cream mixture and then into the flour. Repeat to coat the fish again in cream and flour. Place the breaded fish on wax paper or parchment.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Add fish to the hot oil (working in batches, if necessary).

Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Drain the oil from skillet; wipe clean with a paper towel.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the peppers to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes or until crisp tender.

Serve the fish with peppers, shredded lettuce and Chipotle Sour Cream in tortillas.

For crispy tacos:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and drape the tortillas over the bars of the oven grill racks until they are crispy, about 5 minutes.

For soft tacos:

Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Chipotle Sour Cream

Ingredients

1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and mix well. Season to taste with salt; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad

Ingredients

2 avocados
2 tomatoes, cored and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Cut each avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Carefully scoop the flesh from the shell and dice it.

Toss the diced avocado with the tomato, cucumber, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, oil and lemon juice. Stir to mix and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Artist Pete Rumney

It has been very cold the past few weeks in most of the country, including the south. Warm casseroles and spicy dishes can warm you up but you don’t have to turn to macaroni and cheese for that to happen. Combining healthy foods with lots of flavor can do it for you. Try these recipes for a start.

Escarole and Italian Sausage Casserole

I save the ends of the parmesan cheese in a bag in the freezer and use them to flavor soups and stews.

Serve with crusty Italian bread.

6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound escarole, approximately 2 heads
6 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped onion
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 lb cheese and parsley Italian sausage (or regular Italian sausage), sliced into half-inch pieces
1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
Parmesan cheese rind
Fresh black pepper

Directions

Remove the outer leaves of escarole if damaged or discolored. Cut off the stem ends, wash the leaves twice in abundant cold water and drain. Cut the leaves into two-inch lengths.

In a large Dutch Oven, sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil until golden but not brown. Add the escarole, salt and red pepper.

Cover and cook over moderate heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the escarole to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, onion, fennel bulb and sausage to the pan; cook until the sausage is browned, stirring frequently.

Add the broth, Parmesan rind, escarole and beans.

Cover; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Beef Burgundy

Like other stews, Beef Burgundy, tastes best when made ahead so the flavors have time to mingle. Serve with noodles, rice, mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash.

Roasted carrots make a nice side dish.

Ingredients

1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and black pepper
5 slices bacon, cut into thirds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour or arrowroot powder
1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 lb mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1-2 cups beef broth
2 cloves garlic head, crushed
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

Directions

Heat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat until the bacon is lightly browned on both sides.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate. Break into smaller pieces.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Add the butter to the pan and melt.

In batches, in single layers, sear the beef in the hot pan for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.

Remove the seared cubes with a slotted spoon to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Add onions the garlic to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour or arrowroot over the onions and stir until no dry flour remains. Whisk in the wine, tomato paste and anchovy paste until combined.

Add the bay leaves, mushrooms and thyme to the pan.

Add the beef and bacon and enough beef broth to come almost to the top of the beef.

Place the pan, uncovered, into the oven and cook until the meat is tender, 3 ½-4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding broth, if needed, to keep the meat half-submerged in liquid.

Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stew can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Huevos Rancheros

Just a note here that this recipe is my version and not an authentic Mexican Huevos recipe.

For 2 servings

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups jarred salsa
2 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
2 tortillas
1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions

Prepare the tortillas:

Heat the oven to 150° F. Place a pan large enough to fit the tortillas in the oven to heat.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium high, coating the pan with the oil.

One by one heat the tortillas in the pan, a minute or two on each side, until they are heated through, softened and pockets of air bubble up inside of them.

Then, remove them to the pan in the oven to keep warm while you cook the sauce and the eggs.

Make the sauce:

Heat the oil in the same skillet and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook until tender. Add the salsa, tomatoes, chipotle and roasted red peppers.

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Return the heat to medium, so that the sauce is bubbling slightly.

Crack 4 eggs into the sauce in the skillet, cover and cook for about 4 minutes until the egg are almost firm.

Uncover the pan and sprinkle each egg with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover the pan and cook for another minute to let the cheese melt and to finish cooking the eggs.

To serve:

Place a tortilla on a serving plate. With a large spoon place two eggs and half the sauce on top. Repeat with the second tortilla and eggs. Serve immediately.


Baja California is an 800-mile-long peninsula, known for its varied geography, beautiful beaches and delicious cuisine. Baja California, about 15 miles from downtown San Diego, is south of the California border and is part of the country of Mexico.

A few years ago we visited the area and had some of the best fish tacos I have ever had. While Baja is part of Mexico, Baja cuisine is distinct from mainland Mexican cooking. Since virtually all points on the peninsula are no more than 50 miles from a body of water, seafood plays a starring role in many dishes. Also, its physical separation from mainland Mexico has allowed Baja cuisine to develop independently.

Many ethnic influences helped shape Baja’s culinary point of view. Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers went to colonize Baja because they believed it was an area rich in jewels. Both Asian and European seafarers visited Baja on fishing and trading expeditions. So, eventually, a cuisine of Mexican, Spanish and Asian influences emerged and that eventually led to tacos.

In its simplest form, a taco is a tortilla wrapped around a filling. Most food historians speculate that the fish taco emerged 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.

Modern fish tacos emerged in the 1950s in the Baja city of either Ensenada or San Felipe; it’s an ongoing debate, with both cities claiming to be the “home” of the fish taco. From their tiny stands, street vendors in these cities produce simple, inexpensive fare fast. The fish taco is hot, fresh and delicious — the perfect combination for hungry workers and market goers.

While I do not deep fry the fish in my recipe, these tacos are delicious and come close to what I remember eating in my visit there.

Baja California Style Fish Tacos

2-3 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup dark beer
12 ounces firm fillets of mild, white fish, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4-6 small corn tortillas, warmed
Tomato Salsa, recipe below
White Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Combine flour, cumin, garlic powder, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl. Whisk in beer to create a batter.

Coat fish in the batter.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Letting excess batter drip back into the bowl, add the fish to the pan; cook until crispy and golden, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Tomato Salsa

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Ingredients

2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 scallion finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos
1 small clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, red onion, scallion, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, oregano and lime juice.

Season with salt and pepper and chill until serving time.

White Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons milk

Directions

Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.  The sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

Assemble The Tacos

Serve the fish in warmed tortillas topped with salsa and drizzled with white sauce.


This is the perfect time of year to go creative with your salad making recipes.  So many fresh ingredients are available in summer that you will not get bored with the variety of salads to you can make. Below are a few I have made and you might like to give them a try.

Shrimp Cobb Salad

Mini corn muffins (see recipe) go well with this salad.

For 2 servings

For the shrimp
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, tails removed and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the ranch dressing
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon dried dill

For the salad
1 slice cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded carrots
8 grape tomatoes, halved
Half a cucumber, peeled and diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce, sliced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (or any other cheese)

Directions

To prepare the shrimp:

Early in the day.

Peel and devein the shrimp. Place them in a skillet with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together.

Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, just until pink. Refrigerate until time to make the salad.

To prepare the dressing:

In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste.

Refrigerate until serving time.

To assemble the salad:

Arrange the lettuce in the bottom of two salad plates. In rows across the lettuce arrange the shrimp, carrots, tomatoes, egg and cucumber.

Crumble the blue cheese and bacon over the salad ingredients. Serve with the dressing.

Mini Corn Muffins

Makes 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (coarse or regular)
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 scallion, minced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 24 mini muffin tin with cooking spray or use paper liners.

Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine the buttermilk, egg and oil in a big measuring cup. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full.

Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Mexican Corn Salad

Serve with fresh tomato salsa and homemade tortilla chips, recipes below.

Ingredients

8 ears corn, kernels stripped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Half of a large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 grape tomatoes, halved, optional garnish

Directions

In a serving bowl, place chopped celery, onion and peppers. Add the corn, salt, cumin and chili powder. Mix well. Stir in the mayonnaise.

Arrange the cut tomatoes around the top of the salad to garnish, if desired. Chill the salad until serving time.

Fresh Homemade Salsa

About 3 cups

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced sweet onion
2 medium chile peppers, such as poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder or chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons lime juice

Directions

Be very careful while handling chile peppers. You can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands if you use disposable gloves or hold the peppers with a plastic sandwich bag.) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.

You can make the salsa in one of two ways: finely chop the ingredients by hand or use a processor. I prefer to finely chop all the ingredients because I like a chunky, more rustic salsa that is easy to scoop on tortilla chips.

For the processor method:

Roughly chop the tomatoes, chilies and onions.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times-just enough to finely dice the ingredients but not enough to purée them.

Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Taste the salsa. If the chilies made the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. Adjust for salt.

Let sit for an hour at room temperature for the flavors to combine. Serve with homemade tortilla chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

Olive oil

One package (8-10) large (12 inch) flour tortilla

Taco seasoning mix, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil two rimmed baking sheets.

Brush the tortillas with olive oil and sprinkle each evenly with taco seasoning.

Cut the tortillas into 6-8 triangles and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Taco Seasoning Mix

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all together. Store in an airtight container.

Tabbouleh

Serve with pita chips and hummus.

Ingredients

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup (about 1 pound) chopped very ripe tomatoes
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kalamata olives and Feta cheese for garnish
Romaine lettuce leaves for serving
Warm Pita bread or Pita chips, for serving

Directions

Rinse the bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve under cool running water until the water runs clear, then transfer the bulgur to a bowl.

In a heatproof bowl, mix the bulgur with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup boiling water.

Cover, and let stand until tender but slightly chewy, about 30 minutes.

Drain the bulgur to remove any liquid not absorbed.

In a large bowl, combine the scallions, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, remaining salt, pepper and cumin.

Add the soaked bulgur to the bowl and gently toss.

Add the olive oil and the lemon juice and lightly toss, adding more seasoning if necessary.

Set the tabbouleh aside for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend. Cover and chill overnight.

When ready to serve, garnish the salad with kalamata olives and feta cheese. Serve with romaine lettuce leaves and pita bread.

Baked Pita Chips

If you do not have access to Za’atar seasoning, you can make your own. See recipe below.

2 packages of whole wheat pita breads
Olive oil
Za’atar seasoning

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each pita on both sides with olive oil.

Cut each in quarters and place on baking sheets. Sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning,

Bake until crispy and brown about 15 minutes.

Homemade Za’atar Seasoning

Makes 1/4 cup

Combine 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon sumac, 1 tablespoon ground cumin and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.

Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight jar.


My Jeta Farms CSA share this week contained New Mexico green chilies. The CSA farmer told me he had gotten the seeds from a New Mexico farmer and had grown the peppers here on his farm this year. They were beautiful. I did some research and learned more about these green chilies.

They are deep green peppers, five or six inches in length, and have been cultivated throughout New Mexico for quite a long time. Native peoples there still grow some of the older heirloom varieties, and there are newer varieties planted all over the state, as well.

The chilies can have a bit of a kick to them, so taste the sauce and do not use too much when preparing the enchiladas, if you do not like it too spicy.

In New Mexico the chilies are fire-roasted, peeled, chopped and made into a well-known sauce. The sauce can be used on a lot of dishes. You can have green chile sauce with your breakfast eggs, on enchiladas, in a stew made with pork for dinner or in any dish you think you may like it on.

Dilemma – what is the correct spelling – chile or chili? In my research I also discovered this spelling controversy and my spellchecker wants me to use chili.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Las Cruces, N.M. — Chili vs. chile.

The war over how to spell New Mexico’s most valuable vegetable crop continues to rage for the head of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University.

Paul Bosland, director of the institute and the school’s chief chile breeder, has been trying for years to get everyone to spell chile–the hot peppers or the plant from which the peppers come–with an “e.” He says chili–the spicy dish of meat and sometimes beans–should be spelled with an “i.”

“A lot of people argue about it,” he said. 

The word chile originated from the Aztec word “chil,” meaning pepper. Bosland said the Spanish added an “e” to the end of the word to make it a noun in their language.

Advertisements lining the back roads in the lower Rio Grande Valley, where most of New Mexico’s peppers are grown, spell it chile. Just across the border in Texas, restaurants advertise their state dish as “chili.”

Bosland has heard quite a few arguments against the New Mexico way of spelling chile.

“One person said you can’t use c-h-i-l-e because that’s the name of a country. That’s true, but Turkey seems to have done quite well,” he said. “Some say the English spell it c-h-i-l-l-i. Well, they also spell color with a “u.”

Webster’s Dictionary helps to complicate the matter. It provides three spellings–chili, chile and chilli–that are all defined as either hot peppers or a dish of meat and spices.

The Associated Press uses chili. Norman Goldstein, AP Stylebook editor, says the “i” spelling is more commonly used in most other parts of the nation.

The Los Angeles Times spells the vegetable “chile” and the spicy soup “chili.” The sauce made of chile, onion and tomato? Chile sauce.

Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas

You may also use leftover, cooked chicken, if you have it on hand, instead of cooking the chicken breasts, as described below. If you do, then use prepared chicken broth.

I use 6 inch corn tortillas. If you use a different size, you will have to adjust the recipe amounts.

For the Chicken
1 1⁄2 lbs. chicken breasts
1 small carrot
1 small onion
1 garlic clove

For the Enchiladas
8 soft 6 inch white corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese mix, divided
5 scallions, chopped

Directions

Make the chicken:

In a large saucepan, place the chicken breasts, carrot, onion and garlic. Add enough water to cover and bring to a simmer.

Let simmer until the meat is cooked through and the broth is flavorful, about 30 minutes.

Strain, reserving both the broth and the chicken separately. Let the chicken rest until cool enough to handle.

Shred the meat and discard the bones and skin. Set aside.

Reserve 1 ½ cups of broth for the sauce and 1 cup for softening tortillas.

Make the green chile sauce, recipe below.

Combine the shredded chicken, chopped scallions and ½ cup of cheese in a mixing bowl.

Make the enchiladas:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cover the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch glass baking dish or a dish that will fit 8 enchiladas in a single layer with a thin layer of green chile sauce.

Heat the 1 cup of chicken broth.

To soften the tortillas so they can be rolled without breaking, dip them very briefly in the hot broth, until softened slightly.

Working with one tortilla at a time, distribute about 3 tablespoons of the shredded chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla.

Roll the tortilla loosely into a cigar shape to cover the filling, then transfer seam side down to the prepared baking dish.

Repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken, placing the enchiladas snugly side by side.

Ladle additional green chile sauce over the top to coat all the tortillas.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sauce, cover with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through and the sauce is beginning to bubble, about 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbling, about 15 minutes more.

Serve the enchiladas with sour cream, if desired.

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce

I double the recipe, so I can freeze some of the sauce for another Mexican dish.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons masa harina flour (corn flour) or regular flour
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock, see above
1 cup chopped roasted and peeled New Mexico Hatch green chilies
1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

To prepare the peppers:

The peppers need to be roasted on the grill or under a broiler before making the sauce.

Place the chiles on an outdoor grill or under the broiler and roast until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Avoid completely blackening the chiles; you’re looking for them to be about 40% to 50% charred.

Using tongs, turn the chiles over and roast on the other side until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the chiles from the grill or broiler and place them in a paper bag, food-safe plastic bag or heat-safe bowl.

Close the bag or cover the bowl, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The steam will help loosen the peel from the chiles.

When cool enough to handle, pull the skins off and set aside.

To prepare the sauce:

(I do not like the sauce chunky, so I puree the chopped peppers with half of the chicken broth first and then add it to the sauce.)

In a medium sauce pan, saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium-high heat, until tender (about 3 minutes).

Stir in the flour, cumin, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock and simmer until thick and smooth.

Stir in the chiles and oregano.

Cool the sauce and store in refrigerator, covered, for up to one day.


 

Planning a taco party is a great way to entertain. Much of the organization can be done in advance and guests can serve themselves. Offer options for toppings and sides that you think will appeal to your guests. If you know someone is vegetarian, then plan a vegetable filling along with fish and meat fillings. Don’t forget the margaritas and ice cream is great as a dessert for this type of meal.

Grilled Tacos

Plan on 2-3 tacos per person

For the lime-cilantro sour cream sauce

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 scallion, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

For the Pico de Gallo

2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 small clove garlic, grated
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

For the shrimp marinade

2 teaspoons ground Ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large shrimp (about 24), shelled and deveined

For the swordfish marinade

1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz swordfish fillet

For the steak marinade

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Kosher salt to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoons Chipotle chili powder
Two 12-ounce, 1-inch thick, boneless Ribeye or New York strip steaks

For the tacos

12 6-inch corn tortillas or more depending on the number of guests
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
Grated Cheddar cheese
4 limes, quartered

Directions

To make the lime-cilantro sour cream sauce:

Combine all the ingredients in a 2-cup serving bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate, covered, up to 4 hours until ready to use.

To make the Pico de Gallo:

In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, oregano and lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature, covered, until serving time.

To prepare the shrimp:

In a small bowl, combine the Ancho powder, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Add the oil and whisk until a loose paste is formed. Add the shrimp and mix well to cover the shrimp in the spices. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

To prepare the swordfish:

In a small bowl, combine the chili powders, oregano, coriander and garlic. Stir in the oil to make a paste. Rub on all sides of the swordfish and set on a plate. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

To prepare the steak:

Combine all the ingredients for the steak rub in a small bowl and rub over the steaks. Place the steaks on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To grill the shrimp, swordfish and steak:

Light a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill on high. Oil the grill’s cooking surface. Let the coals burn down to a medium-hot fire or adjust the gas grill burners to medium.

Place the swordfish on a section of the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning the fish half way through the cooking time. Let rest on a plate.

Place the steaks on another section of the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning the steaks half way through the cooking time. Let rest on a plate.

Thread the shrimp on skewers. Grill over direct heat, turning once, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skewers and transfer to a serving platter.

Cut the swordfish and steak into thin slices. Transfer to the serving platter with the shrimp.

Divide the tortillas into 2 stacks and wrap each in aluminum foil. Place on the grill until heated through, about 5 minutes.

To assemble the tacos:

In each tortilla place 3 grilled shrimp or swordfish slices or steak slices, a tablespoon of the sour cream sauce, a tablespoon of the Pico de Gallo and some of the cabbage and cheese. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the filling and fold the tortilla.

Guacamole Salad

Ingredients

1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
Salt and pepper
4 scallions, sliced thin
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tablespoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and finely minced
1 ripe avocados, pitted, skinned, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Lettuce leaves

Directions

Mix together the tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheet and let drain 15 minutes.

Combine the scallions, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Let sit 5 minutes, then slowly whisk in oil.

Add the jalapeno chilies, avocados, cilantro and drained tomatoes to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in lettuce cups.

Beans On The Side

The beans taste better if made the day before serving.

Ingredients

To cook the beans:

1 ½ cups orca beans (white and black colorings), washed
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To finish the bean dish:

½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder

Directions

Place the beans in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with cold water by two inches high. Cover and soak overnight.

The next day, add the onion, garlic and salt to the soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 ½ hours until tender.

Chill the beans overnight in the refrigerator in their cooking liquid.

The next day, drain the beans. Stir in the cilantro and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and chili powder. Saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and heat. Serve as a side dish.



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