Tag Archives: mexican

Okinawan Taco Rice (Tako Raisu)

Sadly, I’ve never been to Japan, so my only exposure to Japanese cuisine has been through television programs, cookbooks and, more recently, YouTube videos.

I first ran across this Tex-Mex/Japanese fusion dish originating in Okinawa on the channel TabiEats and copied the recipe from there.

It’s a simple idea … a basic taco meat recipe, with the addition of some soy sauce to give it that Japanese touch. Instead of being served in a soft or crunchy taco shell, the meat is served over a cup of steamed rice. You can use short grain sushi rice or long grain, like the basmati rice that I accidentally pulled out of the fridge.

Okinawan Taco Rice (Tako Raisu)

Mise en place: Lean ground beef, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, soy sauce, tomato paste, cooked rice, salsa and salt (not pictured). Avocado and firm tofu are for the variations.

Rice and taco meat ready to be garnished

Variations

1. Taconari – Inari sushi tofu pockets filled with a combination of sushi rice and the taco meat (or the tofu option below)

 

2. Tofu taco rice – Crumbled firm tofu replaces the ground meat (beef, beef and pork, chicken or turkey) in the taco meat recipe and is combined with the sushi rice … may be eaten stuffed in inari pouches or in endive cups.

 

3. Avocado Taco – Avocado half, center scooped out and filled with the taco meat before being garnished with your favourite taco toppings

   

 

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Pork Chile Verde and Cauli-Rice Bowl

It’s cold and gray and I’m bored so I made one of the easiest lunches or dinners that I’ve had in ages using leftover chile verde (green) enchilada sauce and cubed pork tenderloin.

Pork Chile Verde – serves 3-4

500 gm pork tenderloin, cubed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chile verde enchilada sauce
1 cup water, plus more as needed
salt and pepper, as needed

Garnish with grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, sliced green onion tops and diced avocado.

In a medium sized saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the pork cubes and saute until lightly browned. Push the cubed pork to one side and add 1/2 cup of water to the saute pan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom. Add the enchilada sauce and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat until the mixture just barely simmers and cover tightly with a lid.

Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the pork is tender and breaks up into shreds when a fork is used. Check the pot every 15-20 minutes, scraping the bottom to make sure that the meat mixture doesn’t stick. Add more water as needed.

Serve over rice or cauli-flower rice. Additional sides include refried beans and flour tortillas.

Cauliflower Rice – 2 1/2 cups of frozen cauli-rice microwaved, squeezed dry in a towel and sauteed with 1 tbsp of olive oil or butter until lightly browned. I added about 1/4 cup of frozen green onion tops to the pan and sauteed it for about one minute before adding the cauli-rice.

Winner, Winner Chicken … Dinner to Start

A sale on whole, fresh chicken is almost as good as one on whole fresh turkeys. And it happens a lot more often. On this occasion, I came home with two whole chickens, about four pounds each for about sixteen dollars. I knew that I wanted to spatch-cock and roast one, but the other … that was decided by fate.

Roasted Spatch-Cocked Chicken – Yes, there ARE four wings in that picture.

Dinner – roasted chicken leg, mashed potatoes with drippings gravy and carrot coins

I cut up and poached the thighs and two half breasts from the second chicken along with half an onion, a carrot, a stick of celery and some aromatics and made chicken stock for the soup below.

Chicken Chile Verde Soup

(Take 2) Chicken Chile Verde Soup – serves 6

1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced (substitute with 1/8 tsp garlic powder)
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1/4 -1/2 cup masa harina
1 1/2 cup green enchilada sauce
1 can (540 ml/2 cups) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can frozen or fresh corn kernels
1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced or 1 4 oz can diced green chiles (omitted)
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (2 thighs and 2 half breasts)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or old Cheddar cheese
4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature (optional)

Garnish: Additional grated cheese and crushed tortilla chips for topping, if desired

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chile powder and ground cumin and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add in the chicken broth.

Combine the water with the masa harina, whisking until smooth. Pour into the pot along with the  enchilada sauce, black beans, corn and jalapeno or green chiles. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until thickened.

Stir in the grated cheese and cream cheese. Cook until the cheese has melted, whisking if needed, 5-10 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook until heated through.

Note: This soup will get thicker upon standing. If you like a thinner soup, use the lesser amount of masa harina. I omitted the cream cheese because I needed it for something else but it gives the soup a very creamy, rich flavour.

There’s still a container of stock left so I made a batch of matzoh balls with the fat skimmed from the stock, after refrigerating it. I poached the matzoh balls in salted water and froze them away when they had cooled, making it easy to throw together the soup when I’m short of time … and hungry.

Fast and Easy Chicken Chile Verde Enchiladas

I recently bought a couple of fresh, whole chickens on sale, and broke them down for several dishes. With a leftover cup of of shredded chicken (breast and thigh meat) and some odds and ends from the fridge and freezer, I made a small casserole dish of enchiladas.

Fast and Easy Chile Verde Enchiladas – makes 4 enchiladas

2 10 inch flour tortillas, cut in half

Enchilada Filling

1 cup shredded cooked chicken (breast and thighs)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature

Enchilada Topping

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chile verde enchilada sauce
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Garnishes – 2-3 thinly sliced green onions, hot sauce, diced avocado, salsa

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Lightly oil a small baking dish large enough to hold your enchiladas. For the filling, divide the chicken, cream cheese and cheddar cheese among the 4 tortillas. Roll up tightly and fit into the baking dish.

For the topping, combine the sour cream and enchilada sauce in a small bowl and spread over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top and bake in the preheated oven until the topping is nicely browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. If you wish, turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes for a browner crust.

Serve with a garnish of sliced green onions, diced avocados etc.

Memories of Taco Bell

My first exposure to Mexican food was at a local Taco Bell restaurant.

I know, I know … but it’s the only Tex-Mexican restaurant locally. I had to cross the Canadian-US border before I was able to get anything more ‘authentic’. And, since my passport has been expired for some time, I haven’t been back in ages.

My last Taco Bell visit is more recent … 2 or 3 yrs, I think.

But, I DO still eat Tex-Mex food.

This weekend, I made a batch of flour tortillas and used them for beef and bean burritos and shrimp quesadillas.

Some of the changes/tips in  making the tortillas from the original recipe.

Trial 1 (10/20/2018): 1/4 cup lard, less water, made 10 8-9 inch diameter tortillas. I ended up with ~420 gm of dough so I made 10 40-42 gm balls of dough and rolled them out using as little flour as necessary to prevent sticking. My cast iron frying pan gets HOT so I preheated it over a setting of 3-4, wiped the pan with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Each tortilla was fried for a total of 1 min 15 sec … about 45 sec on the first side and then another 30 sec on the second side. Since there were lots of bubbles during baking the first side, I used the bottom of a thin metal spatula to ‘pat down’ the bubbles.

The tortillas are nice and thin and the edge was a bit fragile. A change from the sourdough flour tortillas I usually make, which are more sturdy.

Beef and Bean Burritos

Beef and Bean Burritos – makes 8 burritos, serve 2 per person

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp sauteed onion
1 tbsp dry taco seasoning mix
1 cup refried beans
1/4 cup salsa, medium or hot

8 9 inch flour tortillas

Add-ins
avocado, diced
shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)
salsa, medium or hot
sour cream
diced green onion

In a large saute pan, preheat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and the sauteed onion and fry until the ground beef is cooked through and slighly browned. Break up the beef as much as possible. Drain off any excess oil. Add the dry taco seasoning mix and stir through. Add the refried beans and salsa and cook through until the mixture has tightened up a bit.

Warm up the flour tortillas so they’re more pliable. Add about 1/8th of the filling to each tortillas as well as any add-ins. Wrap up the bottom, and then both the sides. Enjoy

I also thawed the last of the corn tortillas from my freezer and enjoyed a few spicy shrimp tacos.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

While firming/warming up the corn tortillas in the oven, I … lost track of time, and ended up with some very crisp (tostada type) tortillas. So, I decided to use some of them to make a copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. I used my beef and bean burrito filling in place of the meat but scaled down the Nacho Cheese recipe so it would make only four wraps.

I had to break the edges off the corn tortillas so I could wrap the flour tortilla around the package.

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme – makes 4

4 9-10 inch flour tortillas
4 corn tortillas, crisped up, or tostadas

1 recipe Nacho Cheese (recipe below)
1 cup Beef and Bean burrito mixture from above
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
4 tbsp sour cream
2-4 tbsp diced tomatoes (or salsa)

Nacho Cheese – enough for 4 crunchwraps

2 tsp butter
2 tsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk
2 slices of American cheese, roughly torn
1/8 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Pour in the milk, a bit at a time, while whisking until you’ve added all of the milk and the mixture starts to thicken. While whisking, add in the salt and cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth.

Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla

Layered Creamy Beef Enchiladas aka Mexican Beef ‘Lasagna’

This is a fairly easy recipe to make and uses a combination of made-to-order and leftover items during my freezer clear-out.

The enchilada ‘sauce’ is a diluted mixture of rehydrated and pureed chiles, onion, tomato and spices which I had made as a braise for my red chile pulled pork. I ended up with some amazing tamale filling and had a couple of cups in the freezer for future cooking projects.

I used leftover sauteed red onion to flavour the ground beef and made my own corn tortillas as a base. Since the tortillas were ‘barely’ six inches in diameter, I didn’t want to try to fill and roll them up so I used them as a base on which to layer the other filling ingredients. Sort of like a Mexican lasagna. I added a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese to the meat mixture because I remember seeing it used in a chicken enchilada recipe I found on line … and I just felt like it.

Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese happened to be the two kinds of cheese in my freezer that seemed like they would work, taste wise, in the recipe.

Layered Creamy Beef Enchiladas aka Mexican Beef ‘Lasagna’

I made the enchilada bake in a disposable aluminum baking dish (7 3/4 in by 7 3/4 inch) which had been recycled enough that I was planning on discarding it after use. It saved me having to do any dish washing afterwards. For those going to a pot luck or family gathering it’s a perfect container to bake, transport and serve.

Profile of the ‘lasagna’

Layered Creamy Beef Enchiladas – serves 6, generously

10 6 inch corn tortillas
1 cup refried beans, canned or home made
1 can (~ 1 1/2 cups) of enchilada sauce if you don’t want to make your own
1- 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (mixture of cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack)

Home made corn tortillas –  A round ball of the masa dough was placed between two 7-8 inch diameter circles of parchment paper and pressed down, as hard as possible, with an 8 inch round glass pie pan. The dough was fried, over medium heat, for a minute or a minute and a half, in a cast iron frying pan, which had been brushed with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.

Optional Garnishes

thinly sliced green onions
diced avocados
sour cream or Mexican crema

NOTE: If desired, drained and rinsed canned black beans and frozen and thawed corn, about a cup of each, may be added when layering the enchiladas. In this case, a larger baking dish would be advised.

Enchilada Sauce

1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp all purpose flour
1 cup red pork marinade
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Make a roux with the oil and flour. Cook for a few minutes in a small sauce pan, stir in the marinade and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes and then let cool. You may want to add some additional stock or water to thin your sauce down so it’s spreadable. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Let cool to room temperature.

Creamy Ground Beef Mixture

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup very lean ground beef
1/4 cup sauteed red onion
2 tbsp (1 oz, 30 gm) cream cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat, add the oil and when hot, add the ground beef. Break up the ground beef and brown. Drain off any excess fat and add the sauteed red onion, cream cheese and about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir through until the cream cheese is melted into the sauce and it’s bubbling a bit. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Let cool while assembling the remaining ingredients and preheating the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

Assembly and Baking Directions

Tortilla Layer 1

In a small baking dish (8 inch by 8 inch, or slightly smaller) add about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce and spread evenly to cover the base. Place a layer of the corn tortillas (two whole tortillas and the third cut in half) on the bottom of the baking dish. Add half the refried beans (~1/2 cup) and spread it out evenly. Add half the ground beef mixture and spread out evenly.

Tortilla Layer 2

Add another layer of tortillas (two whole and the third cut in half, flipping the layout so any small missing spots from layer one would be covered and vice versa) followed by the remaining refried beans and ground beef.

Top with a final layer of corn tortillas. (For the sake of aesthetics, I used four whole tortillas for the top layer though three would have been plenty.) Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and place the baking dish on a baking sheet for ease of transport and as a support for the flimsier aluminum baking dish.

Bake covered for 35-40 minutes.

Remove the foil, top with as much grated cheese as desired, return to the oven and continue baking uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes to set the layers and make cutting and serving neater. Serve with desired garnishes.

Picspam: Frozen Perogies and Fresh Strawberry Margarita

Making perogies from scratch isn’t as challenging as you’d think.

I’ve made them … once.

And they were delicious.

But sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to make them so you buy a bag of the frozen ones, especially when they’re on sale.

The default way to serve perogies is boiled, sauteed in butter/olive oil until golden brown

… and then topped with sauteed onions, crispy bacon and sour cream. A sprinkling of thinly sliced green onion for colour (and so you can pretend there’s something fresh and healthy on your plate).

But, you may want to switch things up every once in a while.

Home made or canned chili is a great topping.

Or bolognese. Or a duck ragu. How do you serve YOUR perogies?

And, because my strawberries were getting past the peak of their freshness … I pureed the remainder and made a fresh strawberry margarita. (If my blender was able to grind up ice, I’d have the slushy version of this delicious drink which I first had at the Regal Constellation in Toronto at a Toronto Trek convention.)

Coincidentally, it’s a nice Cinco de Mayo drink if you want something sweet.

Fresh Strawberry Margarita – serves 1

125-150 gm fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1/4 cup tequila
2 tbsp Cointreau, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Garnish
fresh strawberry and/or lime wedge
coarse salt for rimming glass
coarse sugar for rimming glass

Run a lime wedge around the rim of a tall glass, or a champagne coupe glass. Dip the glass into a shallow bowl with coarse salt (or sugar), to create a decorative rim. Set aside the glass.

Add all of the above ingredients, excepting the garnishes, to a blender and puree. Taste and add more lime juice or honey, to taste. Strain through a coarse strainer to make sure any chunks are gone.

Add a few ice cubes to a shaker, pour the margarita over the top, shake for a minute or two and then strain into the salt rimmed glass. Garnish with a fresh strawberry that you’ve cut a slit into from the base, and/or a lime wedge.

Cinco de Mayo 2018 – Bloody Maria ver 2

I haven’t made this drink in ages but, with a week to go until Cinco de Mayo, it seems appropriate to repost this Mexican version of the vodka based Bloody Mary. Besides, I needed to crack open the can of tomato juice I had in the basement, to make gravy with. I didn’t have any horseradish but seafood sauce is a great substitute. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol so you can double the amount of tequila.

 

Bloody Maria – serves 1

1 oz tequila
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes hot sauce ie. Cholula, Tapatio or Frank’s Hot Sauce
1/2 tbsp seafood sauce (or 1/2 tsp horseradish)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
6 oz tomato juice

Garnish options
Lime wedge or wheel
Celery stalk
Coarse salt for rimming the glass

Decorate the rim of a tall glass with salt by rubbing the edge with a lime wedge and then dip into salt.

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all the ingredients except the garnishes, and shake until well chilled.

Strain into a tall glass filled with ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

More Ducky Treats … Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack and Duck Crackling Croutons

If you’re on a tight food budget, minimizing waste is important. The dishes below are re-imaginings or by-products of previous dishes.

I occasionally bake sourdough breads but, in the meantime, I store the sourdough starter in my fridge. It’s fed only once a week the minimal amounts to keep it going. Nevertheless, it DOES accumulate so, every 6-8 weeks, I make a batch of flour tortillas, leaving only enough starter behind to keep the culture going. The tortillas freeze well and make great wraps for sandwiches and crusts for individual pizzas. And you can flavour them with various dried herbs, pureed spinach, finely minced sun-dried tomatoes and pastes like pesto, tomato paste, chipotle in adobo and even, cocoa powder.

I happened to run across the last of a tub of gochujang (Korean chili paste) in my fridge recently so I added two rounded teaspoons to a batch of the tortilla dough for a mild spicy flavor and pretty orange colour.

Gochujang Sourdough Flour Tortillas

 

My duck ragu was delicious but I wondered if I could use it in another interesting way, similar to the way I used pulled pork, combined with barbecue sauce, as a topping for flour tortilla pizzas. But I didn’t WANT pizzas. A Mexican tortilla stack came to mind even though tostadas or corn tortillas are usually used for that. I ended up with something that was delicious and let me clear out more items from the fridge (an avocado that was past its prime) and a scant cup of home made refried beans from the freezer. Monterey Jack cheese, recently bought on sale, was shredded and added to the creation. The rest of the cheese, ungrated, was bagged, labelled and dated,  and tossed in the freezer.

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack with Salsa Rice

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack – serves 2 or 3

3 7-8 inch diameter flour tortillas (bought or home made, regular or sourdough)
1/4 cup shredded duck ragu
1 cup refried beans
1/4 -1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
diced avocado and green onion sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a pie dish with a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around your tortilla stack.

Spread half of the refried beans on two of the flour tortillas, spread one tablespoon of sour cream over each stack and then top with half of the duck ragu. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of grated Monterey Jack cheese over the top.

Place one of the stacks in the prepared pie dish and then place the other stack on top of the first. Top with the last flour tortilla and wrap the aluminum foil around the stack. Bake in the oven for half an hour.

Take the pie dish out of the oven, unwrap and top the tortilla stack with the rest of the grated cheese. Return to the oven and bake uncovered until the cheese melts and is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, cut into desired serving portions, top with the diced avocado and sliced green onions and serve with Mexican rice and salad for a complete meal.

Duck Crackling Croutons

When I made the duck ragu, I removed the thick, fatty skin from the breast, and wrapped it up and then refrigerated it. Since I had the oven on today, I cut the skin into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide, made shallow cross-hatched cuts across the surface of the skin for easy drainage of the rendered fat, and placed the strips of skin on a baking dish. Then I put them in the oven (350 deg F) along with my tortilla stack. Periodically, I drained off the melted fat and, when the strips were nice and crunchy, I removed the baking dish from the oven and let the duck crackling strips cool. Then I diced them and sprinkled them on a Caesar salad in place of croutons.

Caesar Salad with Duck Crackling Croutons

Pork Roast ChilaMigas with Red Kidney Refried Beans

A hearty ‘morning after’ breakfast full of protein and assembled from odds and ends. This is a combination of two classic Mexican dishes, chilaquiles and migas, so I called it “ChilaMigas”.

Breakfast Pork Roast ChilaMigas – serves 2

NOTE: amounts are estimates based on availability and hunger level

1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup leftover pork roast, diced (use leftover pulled pork or shredded rotisserie chicken if you prefer)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup salsa, spicy or medium (or mild)
1 cup refried beans**
2 handfuls of corn tortillas, crushed lightly
handful shredded Monterey or Jalapeno Jack cheese (use cheddar if you prefer it)

For Garnish … use as many of these as you have or want
fresh cilantro or green onion tops, thinly sliced
diced tomatoes
diced avocados
feta cheese (use Cotija cheese if you have some)

** I used my own home made red kidney bean refried beans

In a small bowl, combine the eggs and the salsa. Reserve.

In a large non-stick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the leftover pork and brown a bit until heated through. Add the refried beans, stirring until warmed. Add the egg/salsa mixture and the crushed tortillas, stir and continue cooking until the eggs are almost set.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top and let it melt a bit.

Serve in a bowl with your preferred garnishes on top. You can eat this with more corn tortillas or a fork as it’s a bit thick.

PS: A can/bottle of Corona or Dos Equis with a wedge of lime would be a perfect accompaniment.