Sunday, May 29, 2016

70. Big Mac Tacos

Big Mac Tacos Collage

This post contains affiliate links to support my blogging addiction!

All right.  I know what you're thinking.  Don't laugh!

Well . . . you can.  I did.  Yes, this is what it's come to.  I'm bound and determined to finish my project successfully and reach my one hundredth taco recipe by August 2nd!

I got this idea from my youngest sister.  As soon as she said, "Big Mac tacos?"  I knew that had to be a thing?  Why not?  There was a time in my life that I loved Big Macs.  I lived in New York City for a short time during my early twenties and spent lots of time eating at McDonald's and never paying the price because I walked everywhere!

Then I went through an eight-year vegetarian period where I wouldn't even consider eating at McDonald's.  Even after I was no longer a vegetarian, I steered clear.  In general, I still do.  Last summer, I went on a family vacation involving two little boys under the age of four.  Where did we stop on the road?  You guessed it!  What did I order?  Yep.  A Big Mac value meal.  If I'm going to do it, I'm going all out.  I'm not getting a salad at McDonald's.

You know what?  It was pretty good.  I didn't die.  I didn't feel great, but it was pretty tasty, I'll admit that.  :)  

My sister and I had slightly different ideas about the execution of this idea.  I thought these tacos would be great in crunchy taco shells.  She thought I should use a rolling pin on a hamburger bun and flatten it out, then use that as the shell.  Hmm.  I could see that being disastrous.  I did think about flattening a hamburger bun, using the taco shaper, and deep frying it, but . . . I really thought they would be better in a taco shell.

I texted Steve to see what he thought.  When I mentioned the hamburger-bun-in-the-taco-shaper idea, he just texted back, "No!"  With the exclamation point.  Ha ha.

I basically followed the recipe from the old commercial.  You know - two all-beef patties, special sauce . . . etc.  I made a sauce from scratch, because I just can't help it.  Well, it wasn't really from scratch.  It used pretty much every condiment in our refrigerator.  You'll see.  And I used colby jack cheese.  Not American.  I just couldn't do it.  :)

These were fun!  Here's the recipe:

Big Mac Tacos


Serves 3-4 (about 12 tacos)

Ingredients:

For the special sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tsp. sweet pickle relish
1 heaping tbsp. finely minced white onion
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. ketchup
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. chile powder of your choice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. salt

Ingredients for Big Mac Tacos Special Sauce

For the ground beef mixture :

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef

Trader Joe's Organic Ground Beef for Big Mac Tacos

3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

12 high-quality crunchy taco shells

Trader Joe's Taco Shells for Big Mac Tacos

6 slices colby-jack cheese

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion, rinsed and drained

Shredded iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup chopped dill pickles (I diced up these sandwich slices from Trader Joe's.)

Sesame seeds, for garnish

Sesame Seeds for Big Mac Tacos

Instructions:

1.  Make the special sauce:  Place all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well-combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and set aside.

Special Sauce for Big Mac Tacos

2.  Make the ground beef mixture:  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the beef, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper and cook, breaking the pieces apart with a spatula, until done, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Set aside and keep warm.

Ground Beef Mixture for Big Mac Tacos

3.  Heat the shells:  Cut the cheese slices in half and place half a slice into each shell.

Taco Shells and Cheese for Big Mac Tacos

Toast briefly (a couple of minutes) in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and the shells are hot and fragrant.  Watch them - they can go from toasty to burned pretty quickly!

4.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a taco shell on a plate.  Fill with some of the beef.  Top with a small amount of the chopped onion.  Add some lettuce and some of the chopped pickles.  Spoon on some of the special sauce.  Finish the presentation with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Big Mac Tacos

As I said before, these were fun.  They were also quite delicious.  I will definitely be keeping the special sauce recipe.  It would be great on a salad or Rueben sandwich!  Steve actually said that the sauce "didn't work" for a taco.  He said it tasted like "a really great thousand-island dressing".  The rest of the conversation was kind of like this:

"So it tasted like Big Mac sauce?"

"Yes."

"They're Big Mac Tacos."

"Yeah, but . . . it didn't taste like taco sauce."

Ha ha.

He added some Cholula to his and seemed to enjoy them more.  If you like Cholula, you could give that a try!

I tried to keep the seasoning on the meat very simple, the way a hamburger would be.  I think it worked out well.  I added a little more salt than I usually do.  I think it needed it.  If you're conservative about salt, you could start with 1/2 tsp. and see how you like it.  :)

As you can see, I used my trusty taco holders, which are very similar to the ones featured below.  With these crunchy taco shells, it does help to have something to make them stand up!



It definitely helps make the pictures turn out better!  :)

Big Mac Tacos (2)

I really enjoyed these.  If you have a fast food craving, this will fix you up!  I know the bun is missing, but . . . just use your imagination.  The taco shell is the bun, OK?

Big Mac Tacos (3)

Thanks for the recipe idea, Jennifer!  :)

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 27, 2016

69. Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos with Tomato Relish and Tangy Green Onion Sour Cream

Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos with Tomato Relish and Tangy Green Onion Sour Cream Collage

Today was another one of those days where I was racking my brain to come up with some kind of taco that was new and different, but not too weird!  Come to think of it, I've had a lot of those days lately!  The higher the number on the recipe, the bigger the challenge becomes!  What have I done?  Ha ha.

When I'm having trouble coming up with an idea, I often ask my husband what he thinks I should make.  This can backfire.  For example, there's a good chance he'll say, "Fish tacos!"  He likes the ones I've always made (in my pre-Taco Project days) - a version of the fish tacos served at Rubio's that I found in a 2000 issue of Gourmet magazine.  They are delicious, but I've explained to him that they don't really qualify as part of my project.  I'm trying to come up with new things!

After he suggested the fish tacos yet again, he mentioned buffalo chicken tacos.  I said, "Well, I've already made buffalo turkey tacos (#64).  You just missed them because you were at that art thing.  They were really good!"  He answered, "Well, if they were good, make them again!"  I replied, "I can't - I need a new recipe or it won't count towards my one hundred!"

You see how these conversations can sometimes go.  O.O

Then, he suggested making some kind of tilapia taco.  Hmmm . . . there's an idea.  I've made a few fish taco variations so far, but I haven't tried tilapia.  I decided to go for it!

I was thinking of doing some kind of cornmeal crust - maybe with some Parmesan mixed in?  It was sounding good, but I wasn't totally convinced.  I did an internet search for fish recipes to get some inspiration and that's where I found the answer!  Potato chips!  A potato chip crust was just what I needed to give this recipe some pizazz!

I decided to go with the whole potato chip theme and add a creamy layer of green onions and sour cream.  A sprinkle of cabbage was a no-brainer.  I'm not sure why, but I was also compelled to create a flavorful tomato relish to give the whole thing a little extra kick.  After I tasted the final product, the tomato element made sense.  Hang in there with me.  I'll explain it at the end!  :)

Here's the recipe:

Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos with Tomato Relish and Tangy Green Onion Sour Cream


Serves 4-5 (about 8-10 tacos)

Ingredients:


For the tomato relish:


Two medium Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/3 cup julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes (Mine were not packed in oil.)
1 small clove garlic, peeled and trimmed
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for Tomato Relish for Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos

For the tangy green onion sour cream:


3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1 and 1/2 tbsp. malt vinegar
1/2 tsp. garlic salt, plus more if desired

For the potato chip crusted catfish:


1 cup crushed potato chips (I used most of a 5 oz. bag)

Organic Potato Chips for Fried Tilapia Crust

1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 lb. tilapia fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs

Canola oil for frying

A few cups of coleslaw mix or thinly sliced green cabbage

8-20 corn tortillas, depending on whether you plan to double them up

Additional malt vinegar for garnish, if desired

Instructions:

1.  Make the tomato relish:  Place the Roma tomatoes into a high-powered blender or food processor.  Pulse until they have broken down and released their juices.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend/process until fairly smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and set aside.

Tomato Relish for Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos

2.  Make the sour cream topping:  Place all of the topping ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and set aside.  (You may want to store it in the refrigerator until serving time.)

Green Onion Sour Cream Topping for Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos with Tomato Relish

3.  Prepare the potato chip crust:  Place the crushed chips, flour, garlic salt, and paprika in a shallow dish and stir to combine.  

Potato Chip Crust for Tilapia Tacos with Tomato Relish and Tangy Green Onion Sour Cream

4.  Cut the fish into strips.  I ended up with about 25 pieces.  The size is really up to you, as long they get fully cooked!  :)


Break the eggs into a medium bowl and beat with a whisk.  Add the fish and toss.  

5.  Add a few tablespoons of canola oil to a medium skillet until a depth of about 1/4 inch or so is reached.  Heat the oil to about 360 degrees.  When the oil is ready, take a few strips of the tilapia and allow the excess egg to drip off.  Roll the strips in the potato chip mixture and add to the skillet.  Fry until golden brown (turning halfway through), about 2 minutes on each side.  

Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Strips Frying

Remove from the oil and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.  Do this in batches.  It took me about five batches to cook mine, but it went pretty quickly!  Keep the fish warm in a 250 degree oven.  Repeat the process with the rest of the fish.

Fried Tilapia Strips for Tacos with Tomato Relish and Tangy Green Onion Sour Cream

6.  After the fish is fried, prepare the tortillas to your liking.  When I am making tacos with soft corn tortillas, I heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  I place a large sheet of aluminum foil near the pan.  I heat each tortilla in the skillet for about a minute or so on each side, or until it softens and begins to brown.

After each one is done, I place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  I stack them on top of one another as I work.  When I'm done with the whole batch, I wrap them completely in the foil and place them in a 250 degree oven (along with the fish, in this case) until I'm ready to assemble the tacos.  They always stay hot and soft!  If there are leftovers, I heat fresh tortillas for the next meal.  

7.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  If you have thin corn tortillas, like I did, you can double them up!  Place a few pieces of fish down the center of each tortilla.  Spoon on some of the tomato relish.  Top with some of the cabbage.  Add a small dollop or two of the sour cream green onion topping.  Finish with a splash of two of malt vinegar, if you wish.  Enjoy!

Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos with Tomato Relish and Tangy Green Onion Sour Cream

So, we had some mixed (and funny) reactions to these!  Overall, I think the recipe worked out very well.  We both agreed that the sour cream topping and tomato relish were delicious, and we also liked the potato chip crust on the fish.

Unfortunately, the fish itself was not our favorite.  We don't eat a lot of tilapia.  I had forgotten how different it is from some other types of fish.  To me, it has a softer, less flaky texture and a distinctive flavor.  I think these tacos would have KILLED if I had made them with cod.  That could be just our personal taste, though.  Tilapia is very popular right now, so a lot of people must like it!  Don't get me wrong - we ate them and enjoyed them well enough, but we saw missed potential!

The fish looked and smelled just fine as I was preparing it, so I know it wasn't spoiled.  Maybe it wasn't great quality tilapia - I just don't cook it enough to know!

Steve actually said that the tilapia reminded him of the fish that gets ground up to make fish sticks for elementary school kids.

O.O

I had a good laugh about that as I had some bad flashbacks of fish Fridays from my childhood.  Ugh.  Personally, I think he was exaggerating just a bit, but it was funny!  

Potato Chip Crusted Tilapia Tacos with Tomato Relish and Tangy Green Onion Sour Cream (2)

It might sound like I'm not recommending these.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  If you like tilapia, go for it!  If tilapia's not your favorite, substitute cod and you'll be happy!

There were a couple of things about this recipe that came from my subconscious (I think) and only made sense at the end.  I felt very strongly that the sour cream topping needed a little bit of malt vinegar to brighten it up.  That makes sense, right?  Fried fish?  Fried potatoes?  It's basically fish and chips, and I always put malt vinegar on that!

The tomato relish was still confusing me.  Why had I added that?  Well, once I tasted all of the recipe elements together in the finished product, I realized what the tomato relish tasted like - ketchup!  Now, before you turn away in disgust, let me clarify - it tasted like a refined, flavorful, fancy ketchup.

I thought up a perfect way to describe these tacos:

If you were well on your way to being blackout drunk at a fake British pub (like in some random non-very-cool small town) and someone brought you a plate of fried fish, fried potatoes and creamy coleslaw which you then promptly doused with malt vinegar and ketchup and subsequently devoured, THESE TACOS would represent your vague memory of that meal, all wrapped up in a neat little package!

And it would be a GOOD memory.  :)

I ran this description by Steve and he laughed and agreed.  I also ran it by one of my sisters.  She just said, "Ummm . . . you're not really selling those very well.  Ha ha."

I guess it just depends on your perspective.  Ha ha.  I'd recommend them.  With cod instead of tilapia.  And a black and tan on the side.  (Just not ten black and tans.  You'll want to remember these the next day!)

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  Am I wrong about tilapia or do you agree?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

68. Pineapple Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells, Mango-Kiwi Salsa, and Whipped Cream

Pineapple Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells, Mango-Kiwi Salsa, and Whipped Cream Collage

Now that school's out and I have a bit more time on my hands, I figured another brunch taco was in order.

I love brunch!  It always makes me feel like I've gotten away with something.  There's not much that seems more decadent than sitting around on a Sunday morning (or afternoon) eating a plate of something that involves bacon on the side and holding a mug of coffee in one hand and a breakfast beer (or mimosa) in the other.  :)

Brunch tacos can go sweet or savory.  I left it up to Steve.  He was rather indecisive, saying, "I don't know . . . sweet?"  That was enough for me.

I decided to go with a tropical theme.  I've already made Irish-y Apple Tacos, rich Banana-Nutella Tacos, and flaky Nectarine Rolled Tacos.  I wanted to do something different.

I've discovered that pancake shells work pretty well, though they do blur the line between tacos and . . . just pancakes.  Ha ha.  To give the shells a coconut kick, I added some cream of coconut and a splash of coconut rum.  It's pretty hard for me to make a brunch recipe without adding a splash of something boozy, apparently!

These tacos have everything you need - a tasty filling, a fresh and flavorful salsa, and a creamy topping!  Here's the recipe:


Pineapple Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells, Mango-Kiwi Salsa, and Whipped Cream


Makes 12 tacos, serving about 4 to 6

Ingredients:


For the mango-kiwi salsa:


One large mango, peeled and finely chopped
2 firm but ripe kiwi, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
Juice of half a lime
1/4 tsp. grated lime zest

Ingredients for Mango-Kiwi Salsa for Pineapple Tacos

For the coconut-ricotta pancake shells:


1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup cream of coconut (such as Coco Real)
1/4 cup Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay rum
1 egg
1 tbsp. canola oil

Non-stick cooking spray


For the pineapple filling:


4 tbsp. butter
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay rum

1 half-pint container of heavy whipping cream
A few large pinches of sugar

1/2 cup toasted coconut (sweetened or not, your choice) for garnish

Instructions:

1.  Make the mango-kiwi salsa:   Place all of the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine.  Cover and set aside.

Mango-Kiwi Salsa for Pineapple Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells and Whipped Cream

2.  Make the pancake shell batter:  Stir together the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.  In a separate small bowl, beat together the remaining ingredients.  Transfer the wet ingredients to the medium bowl and stir until just combined.

3. Cook the pancake shells:  Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat.  Cook the pancakes, 3 at a time, using about 1/4 cup of the batter for each one.  They should spread out to about the size of a street-taco tortilla, though they won't be quite as thin.  When the tops are bubbly and almost set, flip them and cook until done.  As you finish them, stack them on a sheet of foil and place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.  Repeat this process until all of the shells are cooked.  (I got 12, or four batches.)

4.  Make the pineapple filling:  Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the pineapple, sugar, and rum and cook and stir for about 8 to 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced.  Set aside and keep warm.

Pineapple Filling for Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells, Mango-Kiwi Salsa, and Whipped Cream

5.  Place the cream in a medium bowl and add sugar to taste.  Whip with a whisk until soft peaks form.  You can also use a hand mixer.  Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve the tacos.

Whipped Cream for Pineapple Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells and Mango-Kiwi Salsa

6.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a pancake shell on a plate.  Top with a few of the pineapple slices.  Spoon on some of the salsa.  Top with a dollop of the whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkle of the toasted coconut.  Enjoy!

Pineapple Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells, Mango-Kiwi Salsa, and Whipped Cream

These shells turned out a bit more pancake-like than those of some of my other brunch tacos.  I think the baking soda and baking powder were possibly NOT helpful in this situation.  They were slightly puffy.  Did we still pick them up and eat them?  Yes!  Are you kidding?  According to my project description, they still qualify as tacos.  After all of this work . . . yeah.  I stand behind my creation.  Ha ha!

All kidding aside - they were a bit messy.  I might tinker with the shell a bit.  Steve suggested making the pancakes and then deep frying them to make them crispy.  Umm . . . that's a lot of work for these little shells.  I don't know.  Maybe they would be the best thing ever!

As I have said before, after I finish my taco project, I want to write a cookbook featuring all of the ideas that were sparked by making all of these tacos!  :)

You could make the shells, throw all of the other stuff on top, call them "tropical pancakes", eat them with a fork, and probably be perfectly content!  Ha ha.  I won't tell anyone.  And I would still include the bacon on the side.  Just because you can.

Pineapple Tacos with Coconut-Ricotta Pancake Shells, Mango-Kiwi Salsa, and Whipped Cream (2)

Well, what do you think?  Please feel free to comment below!  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

67. Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad, Peanut Sauce, and Lime Aioli

Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad, Peanut Sauce, and Lime Aioli Collage

This post contains affiliate links to support my blogging addiction!  

This is one of those recipes that was a direct result of having ingredients in the refrigerator that were just begging to be used!  In this case, they were portobello mushrooms and corn on the cob (just one ear).

I'll admit it.  This is a weird one.  I was really craving crunchy taco shells, so that's what I used.  If there is a flavor profile, it's slightly Asian.  I guess.

So, how does one justify using crunchy corn shells with soy sauce and peanuts?  That's definitely unusual.  Well . . . just add some corn to the salad/slaw and make the out-of-place corn slant a purposeful choice, right?  That's exactly what I did.

For this recipe, I did use one piece of special equipment - my trusty stovetop smoker!  I couldn't NOT smoke the portobello mushrooms.  They're so good that way!  How does that fit in, though?  Is the smoke going to overwhelm the peanut dressing?  (Spoiler - it didn't!)

Cameron Stovetop Smoker

If you don't have one, don't worry - you can still make this!  You can roast the mushrooms in a 375 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes (and maybe add a shake or two of liquid smoke with the oil).

As I've said before, I would highly recommend getting a stovetop smoker if you don't already have one!  Click here if you'd like to read a more detailed review of the Cameron smoker (the brand that we have and love).  It's awesome!  It's not just for meat.  I was a vegetarian for about 8 years and I was always amazed at how completely this smoker could transform the flavor of a simple onion or an ear of corn.  Give it a try - it's worth the price!  Here's a link to buy it from Amazon:



It's very easy to use, too.  Trust me - it's a great product!  :)

These came together quite nicely.  As I said, they were a little unusual, but I loved the crunch of the shells and the combination of smoky, savory, and fresh flavors in the mushrooms and salad.  I always like some kind of creamy element in a taco, so I also included a lime aioli.  It added a little bit of spunk and yet another layer of flavor!  If you wanted to make these tacos vegan, all you'd need to do is use Veganaise instead of the regular mayo!

Here's the recipe:

Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad, Peanut Sauce, and Lime Aioli


Makes about 8 or 9 tacos, or 2 to 3 servings

Ingredients:


For the smoked mushrooms:


2 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the cabbage, corn, red pepper, and tomato salad:


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium to large ear of corn, kernels cut off of the cob

Corn for Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad with Peanut Sauce and Lime Aioli (2)

1 small garlic clove, peeled and pressed through a garlic press or finely minced
1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
Juice of half a lime 
1 and 1/2 cups coleslaw mix (or just shredded cabbage)
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the lime aioli:


1/2 cup mayonnaise (You can use vegan mayo if you wish.)
1 small clove garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press or finely minced
1/4 tsp. finely grated lime zest
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 or 9 high-quality crunchy taco shells (I used the shells from our local Food City.)

Chopped roasted/salted peanuts, for garnish

Peanuts for Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad with Peanut Sauce and Lime Aioli

Instructions:  

1.  Cook the mushrooms:  Brush the mushrooms with the oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Cook in a stovetop smoker over low heat for about 18 minutes (start counting when the smoker starts smoking) or until tender.

Smoked Portobello Mushrooms in a Cameron Stovetop Smoker

(Alternately, you can roast the mushrooms in a 375 degree oven for about 18 minutes or until tender.)  Allow to cool slightly.  When cool enough to handle, cut the mushrooms into strips.

Smoked Portobello Mushrooms for Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad with Peanut Sauce and Lime Aioli

Cover to keep warm and set aside.

2.  While the mushrooms are smoking, start the salad:  Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the corn kernels and cook and stir until no longer raw but still al dente, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Corn for Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad with Peanut Sauce and Lime Aioli

3.  While the corn is cooling, make the aioli:  Place all of the aioli ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well-combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Cover and set aside.

Lime Aioli for Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad with Peanut Sauce

4.  Finish the salad:  When the corn has cooled, place it and all of the other salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  Toss until the dressing is smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Cover and set aside.

Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad for Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos

5.  Heat the shells:  Place the shells on a baking sheet.  Toast briefly (a minute or two) in a 350 degree oven until hot and fragrant.  Watch them - they can go from toasty to burned pretty quickly!

6.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a shell on a plate.  Place a couple of mushroom slices in each shell.  Top with a generous amount of the salad.  Drizzle on some of the aioli.  Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.  Enjoy!  :)

Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad, Peanut Sauce, and Lime Aioli (2)

I have to say, these hit the spot.  The combination of flavors and textures was just delicious.  They were great as tacos, but I could see making some kind of weird Asian-y vegan nachos out of these ingredients.  That would cut down on the shatter factor as you bite into them!  :)

Steve also enjoyed these.  I'm always glad when that happens, as he is usually the sole witness to this crazy project!  Ha ha.  He basically said, "Yeah, these are kind of weird.  They're really good, though."  I'll consider that a win!

Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Cabbage, Corn, Red Pepper, and Tomato Salad, Peanut Sauce, and Lime Aioli

As you can see, I used my trusty taco holders, which are very similar to the ones featured below.  With these crunchy taco shells, it does help to have something to make them stand up!



It definitely helps make the pictures turn out better!  :)

This was a good amount for two to three people.  We had three tacos each and were very satisfied.  There were several mushroom slices left and a good amount of the vegetable mixture.  The next day, I may or may not have made a salad out of the leftover ingredients and topped it with crushed taco shells.  O.O

What's next on the agenda?  Brunch tacos, I think!

Well, what do you think?  Did you try these?  What did you think?  I'd love to hear some feedback!

Thanks for reading!  :)


Thursday, May 19, 2016

66. Ground Beef Tacos with Tangelo Adobo Sauce, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado

Ground Beef Tacos with Tangelo Adobo Sauce, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado Collage

Note:  This post contains affiliate links to support my blogging addiction!

The inspiration for this taco creation came from a delicious Lamb Adobo recipe from one of my favorite restaurant cookbooks!  Actually, I was going to use ground LAMB for this, but our local grocery store didn't have any.  I was surprised.  Lamb isn't super popular around here, but they usually have some.  Oh, well.  I switched to beef!  I'm sure it would be delicious with either.

The restaurant is called Elote and is located up in Sedona.  It's one of those places that is really popular and doesn't take reservations.  It's a great opportunity for them to keep pouring you margaritas while you wait for a table, right?  :)  It can be a fun time with the right company!  Anyway, here's a link to the cookbook.  It's great - it has a lot of unexpected basics that have made it onto my go-to list.  For example - spicy cabbage (p.49) dressed in Cholula, cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Who knew?  It's great stuff!  If you're a cookbook junkie like me, I would highly recommend adding this to your collection:



Anyway, the recipe in the cookbook is quite different - it involves braised lamb shanks!  I wanted to see if I could present some of the flavors (chile, citrus, spices) in a taco form with an easier (and shorter preparation).

I used a tangelo instead of an orange because I can never choose the simplest and most obvious option, but either would work.

During the last few weeks of school, I had to take a hiatus from my taco project!  There were just too many rehearsals and concerts - and too much stuff to grade.  I couldn't do it all.  This recipe is me getting back in gear!  I made it about a week ago and am just now finishing the post.  I also made tacos last night and will posting that recipe shortly.  Now that I'm on summer vacation, we can have tacos EVERY DAY!  Steve will be so pleased.  Ha ha.

34 more recipes to go - August 2nd is my projected completion date.  I'll be picking up the pace!

Here's the recipe!  :)

Ground Beef Tacos with Tangelo Adobo Sauce, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado


Serves 4 (about 8 very generous and filling tacos)

Ingredients:


For the ground beef and adobo sauce mixture:


2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup soaking water (from the chiles)
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup fresh tangelo juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
1 lb. ground beef

Organic Ground Beef for Tacos

1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. finely grated tangelo rind

For the tangelo pico de gallo:


4 small plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. finely grated tangelo rind
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, to taste
1 tbsp. fresh tangelo juice
1 tbsp. cider vinegar

Ingredients for Citrus Pico de Gallo

8 to 16 corn tortillas, depending on whether you want to double them up

A few ounces grated cheese of your choice (I used the same smoked Provolone that I used in recipe 65.)

Smoked Provolone Cheese for Tacos

Shredded iceberg lettuce

One or two avocados, sliced

Sliced Avocado for Tacos

Instructions:

1.  Soak the chiles for the ground beef filling:  Place the chiles in a glass liquid measuring cup.  Cover the chiles with about 1 1/2 cups boiling water.  Allow them to soak until softened, about 20 to 30 minutes.

2.  While the chiles are soaking, make the pico de gallo.  Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and set aside.

Citrus Pico de Gallo for Ground Beef Tacos with Tangelo Adobo Sauce

3.  Remove the chiles from the water.  Reserve the soaking liquid.  Place the chiles back in the glass measuring cup and add the 1/4 of the soaking liquid (reserve the rest in case you need it later), the wine, and the tangelo juice.  Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  (Alternately, you can use a regular blender.)  Set aside.

Chile Puree for Tangelo Adobo Sauce

4.  Make the ground beef mixture:  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, lower the heat a bit, and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves and cook for an additional minute or until fragrant.

Onions and Spices for Tangelo Adobo Sauce - Ground Beef Tacos

Increase the heat to medium and add the ground beef.  Cook and stir until slightly browned and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Season with the salt and pepper.

Ground Beef for Tacos with Tangelo Adobo Sauce

Add the chile mixture.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce, about 15 minutes.  (If it gets too thick, you can add a bit more of the soaking liquid.  Or more wine - your choice.)  Add the vinegar and tangelo rind.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Keep warm.

Ground Beef in Tangelo Adobo Sauce for Tacos

5.  While the beef is cooking, (or after, if you don't want to multi-task,) prepare the tortillas:  Heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, one by one, until browned but still soft, about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.  As the tortillas are done, stack them on a sheet of foil.  When they are all finished, wrap them in the foil.  You can keep them warm in a 250 degree oven if you wish.

Corn Tortilla in a Cast Iron Skillet for Tacos

6.  When all the components are ready, assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  (If your tortillas are thin, as mine were, double them up!)  Top with some of the beef mixture.  Sprinkle with some grated cheese.  Add a small amount of lettuce and a couple of avocado slices.  Finish with a healthy dose of the pico de gallo.  Enjoy!

Ground Beef Tacos with Tangelo Adobo Sauce, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado

These were delicious!  I do think ground lamb would have been even better.  Next time I make these, I'll use lamb.  I just love the way the flavor of lamb combines with the other ingredients!  Don't get me wrong, though - this beef version is not too shabby!  :)

If you're looking for spicy (hot) tacos, you may want to add more heat.  These were flavorful, but mild.  I haven't had much luck getting spicy serrano peppers these days.  You could always add a pinch of two of cayenne pepper if this doesn't do it for you!

Ground Beef Tacos with Tangelo Adobo Sauce, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado (2)

These were very filling and satisfying.  We ate two tacos each and were slightly stuffed.  With chile-citrus goodness.  I'm not complaining!  Ha ha.

Sometimes I recycle the taco leftovers and make them into something else.  Anything to avoid eating MORE tacos.  Whose idea was this project, anyway???

O.o

Well.  I ate these for lunch the next day.  As tacos.  And I liked it.

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try the tacos?  What did you think?  Stay tuned for smoked mushroom tacos tomorrow . . ..

Thanks for reading!