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.
Dipping Sauce: To Accompany Wraps
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch granulated garlic
Mix together and let sit at room temperature for several hours to allow the flavors to combine.
Homemade Egg Rolls
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
1 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon honey
6 large wonton wrappers or medium low carb tortillas
1 egg, beaten
Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sesame oil, ground pork, grated ginger, and garlic.
Brown the ground pork and break it into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the pork is mostly cooked through, stir in the shredded cabbage, bell pepper, green onions, honey, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Cook until the cabbage has softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Lay each wonton or tortilla out on a kitchen towel and scoop 1/6 of the pork filling on one end of each wrap. Brush the edges with egg to seal. Fold the edge of the egg wrap over the filling and fold the sides inward, like a burrito. Roll the wrap, tucking in the edges to fully enclose the filling. Brown on all sides in hot vegetable oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with Chinese mustard or dipping sauce.
Cabbage Pot Stickers
8 outer cabbage leaves from a medium head
1/2 pound lean ground pork
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the core off each of the cabbage leaves and add to boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft and tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked cabbage to a plate of paper towels to drain.
Prepare the pot sticker filling by combining the ground pork, chopped green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ground ginger in a skillet and cook until the pork is brown. Place ⅛ of the filling on each cabbage leal and fold in the sides and then roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling.
Brush the skillet with vegetable oil and place the cabbage rolls in the pan. Cover the pan and cook the rolls over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the rolls over, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with a dipping sauce.
1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 pound chicken tenders
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Large lettuce leaves
Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken tenders and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool. Then cut the tender into small pieces.
Mix together the garlic, celery, green onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha in the skillet the chicken was cooked in. Cook 2 minutes and then add the chopped chicken. Cook until hot.
To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf and roll up.
Asian Broccoli Salad
Side dish for Asian wraps.
Half a head of broccoli cut into small florets
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup Teriyaki sauce
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
In a large bowl, stir together the ingredients including the uncooked broccoli florets. Toss to combine.
Let sit for several hours at room temperature. Toss again before serving.
Serve with coleslaw and any other Mexican side dishes that you like.
1 ½ cups New Mexico Hatch Chile Pepper Sauce or any green chile sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs or chicken tenders
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups canned finely chopped tomatoes
One (8 ounces) package shredded Mexican cheese blend
For the chicken
Melt butter in a large deep skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour chicken broth over thighs and bring to a boil. Cover skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook the chicken thighs until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove the pan from the heat. Remove chicken from the chicken broth to a plate, reserving any broth in the pot in a small bowl. Shred the chicken and set aside.
For the sauce
Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook and stir onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper in hot oil until onion is soft about 6 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, reserved chicken broth, and the Green Hatch Chile Sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until thickened.
Stir the shredded chicken into the pot with the chile tomato sauce.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spread half of the chile chicken sauce on the bottom of an oiled 9-inch pie dish and sprinkle with half the Mexican cheese blend over the sauce. Repeat with a second layer of chicken tomato chile sauce and cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
Serve on heated tortillas and top with sour cream.
6 ounces shredded cabbage
1⁄4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 cup shredded carrot
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw, carrots and green onion.
In a separate bowl, combine the honey, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, whipping cream, vinegar, and lemon juice, using a whisk.
Pour over the vegetables, stir gently to mix.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir before serving.
I have family visiting, so this week I will share with you some of our main dish entrees.
Pulled Pork Tacos
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 carton Pomi Tomato Sauce — 17.64 oz
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) boneless pork butt roast
10-12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
New Mexican Green Hatch Chili Sauce, see recipe below
Adjust the oven rack to a lower-middle position and heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Brown the pork on all sides. Remove to a plate,
Add the onion and cook until lightly browned 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce. orange juice, vinegar, Worcestershire, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits.
Return pork to the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Transfer the pot to the oven, uncovered, and cook until pork is tender about 3 hours, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove the pot from the oven and shred the pork with two forks.
Serve the shredded pork on top of the tortillas with Green Chili Sauce, cheese and other toppings of choice.
New Mexico Green Chile Sauce
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
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 saucepan, 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 the refrigerator, covered, for up to one day or the freezer for several months.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.