Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Tortillas

Tip: Did you know you can freeze whole lemons and limes? They are perfect for cooking. Leave the frozen fruit on the counter for an hour. The zest is easy to remove, and the fruit slices and juices easily also. Next time you see lemons and limes on sale, buy a bag and freeze them for future cooking.

Southern Italian Style Lemon Chicken

Cooking a whole chicken is very economical because you get several meals from one chicken.

Ingredients

3 large lemons
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4-pound whole chicken

Directions

Remove the zest from the three lemons and set aside. Cut the lemons into thin slices and set aside.


In a small bowl combine the lemon zest, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and salt.


Cut the chicken along the backbone on one side with kitchen shears. Do not remove the bone. Turn the chicken over and flatten it. (The reason I did not remove the backbone is that I want to use the entire chicken carcass for soup.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on the baking sheet. Lay the lemon slices in the olive oil down the middle of the tray as a “rack” for the chicken. Sprinkle one-third of the lemon rub on the underside of the chicken. Turn the chicken over and rub the remaining lemon mixture over and under the skin of the whole chicken. Lay the chicken, skin side up, on the bed of lemons and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Roast, basting every 15 minutes until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thigh about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Using a fork, mash the lemon pulp into the juices on the baking sheet, discarding the rind. Mix the pulp into the drippings and use this mixture to spoon over the chicken just before serving.

Serve some of the chicken for dinner. I was able to remove about 4 cups meat. I left some meat clinging to the leg, wing and breast bones for soup. Shred 1 to 2 cups for the recipe below. Use the carcass and some of the cooked chicken for chicken noodle soup. You may even have enough leftover for some chicken salad.

Baked Chicken Taquitos (Rolled Tacos)

The entire recipe makes 20 taquitos. I cut the recipe in half and made 10 for my family. I like tortillas made from cassava flour for this recipe because they are grain-free, light and easy to roll.

For the Taquitos:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
20 corn tortillas

For the Toppings:
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Guacamole
Sour Cream
Chopped Green Onion
Crumbled Queso Fresco
Pico de Gallo
Salsa

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken with cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and fresh lime juice. Stir until chicken is well coated with the seasonings. Stir in the shredded cheese.

Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and place on a plate. Microwave for 1 minute or until the tortillas are warm and pliable.
Layout the tortillas on a flat surface and divide the chicken and cheese mixture among the 20 tortillas. Roll up each tortilla tightly and secure with a toothpick.

Place a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture in the center of the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place the taquito, seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Continue rolling taquitos until the tortillas and filling are gone.

 

Spray the taquitos generously with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the taquitos are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and serve warm with desired toppings.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Leave some meat on the bones, especially the legs, wings, and breast bone

Ingredients

Broth
Chicken bones leftover from the roasted chicken recipe above
1 whole onion, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
6 fresh thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon peppercorns
8 quarts water

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Strain the broth in a colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl. Let drain completely. Pick out any meat in the cheesecloth and set aside. Discard the cooking vegetables and bones and return the broth to the stockpot.

Noodle Soup

Ingredients

Strained broth
Reserved chicken meat
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
5 scallions, diced
6 oz fettuccine or noodles
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place the strained broth, carrots, celery, and scallions in the stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook the vegetables, about 20 minutes. Return toa boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5 minutes. Add salt (I added 2 teaspoons) and black pepper to taste. Stir in reserved chicken meat, dill, and parsley.


Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

2 servings

Tomatillo Salsa
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

Avocado Cream
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

Shrimp
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

Directions

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

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.

 

Carne Asada

Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Servings: 6
Ingredients

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

Directions

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 tomato
Sliced avocado
Sliced red onion
Shredded lettuce
Cotija cheese, crumbled
6 tortillas
Blood oranges, cut into eighths

Grilled or Roasted Corn On the Cob

Ingredients

4 ears corn
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped herbs (your choice)

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

Mix together and let sit at room temperature for several hours to allow the flavors to combine.

Homemade Egg Rolls

6 rolls

Ingredients

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
Vegetable oil

Directions

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

Serves 8

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Lettuce Wraps

4 servings

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Ingredients

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
Tortillas

Directions

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.

Coleslaw

Ingredients

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

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw, carrots and green onion.
Put aside.
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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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 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.

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.


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 we 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 on 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 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoons milk

Directions

Whisk all ingredients together in a 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.



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