"The goal was to map the local “tacoshed,” which, much like a watershed, establishes the geographical boundaries of a taco’s origins—the source of everything from the corn in the tortilla to the tomatoes in the salsa.
By thoroughly understanding what it takes to make a taco, the class hoped to become “better able to propose and design a speculative model of a holistic and sustainable urban future.” The final product is a surprisingly useful microcosm of the industrial food system and its “richly complex network of systems, flows, and ecologies.” According to the class findings, within a single taco, the ingredients had traveled a total of 64,000 miles, or just over two and a half times the circumference of the earth.”
Sorry I missed Tuesday. I just realized this morning was Thursday already. Without the Olympics on tv, it is like time has no meaning for me any more. Also, it is pledge drive week at the public radio station where I work, which is always pretty ex-ci-ting.
Next week, I will probably be returning with a recipe. I am going on holiday for a bit later this month, though, and after that I am thinking of retooling this project because I am getting pretty burnt out on making new tacos every week. Maybe if I ate meats it would have more variety, but as a vegetarian there is only so many I can do. The options would be to make this just a general-interest food blog where I write some non-taco recipe each week, or possibly to do taquería/taco reviews (with my meat-eating boyfriend for diversity).
In the meantime, I suggest you check out my awesome new blog if you have yet to, and come back next week. Any suggestions about the future of Taco Tuesdays are also welcome below.
It should be said that I am very into the winter Olympics. So, tonight, I wanted my tacos to go along with the Olympics-viewing party that was gathering around the telly - but what goes best with hockey, bobsled, and Nordic combined? What tacos can you feel good eating while tiny girls in tiny getups jump around on ice?
I thought about something Canadian themed. Unfortunately, I do not eat bacon or goose, and poutine tacos are right out. Instead, I whipped up some extremely basic - and thoroughly American - tacos that you can enjoy while supporting any nation’s team you like.
These tacos are similar to Taco 009, but let’s just pretend they are new and exciting. They are also extremely quick, which is perfect for when people drop by and you need to toss something together. A little “semi-homemade” to be sure - but isn’t that American too?
[Almost] Classic American Tacos
one packet of ground soy meat, original flavor
one packet of pre-mixed “taco seasoning” from the store
salsa (mine was homemade tomato-chipotle from this book)
cheese (such as Monterey Jack or Cheddar)
crunchy taco shells
beer & margaritas (to taste)
1. Prepare margaritas, if having. This food comes together quickly, so you want all that lime-squeezing and drink mixing out of the way.
2. Shred up the lettuce and grate cheese. Put these in appropriate little dishes and set aside.
3. Put a small amount of oil into a smallish or medium-sized skillet. Heat over medium-high until shimmering.
4. Place block of ground soy in the pan and quickly break it up with a fork until it vaguely resembles ground meat - or at least no longer looks like a brick. Working quickly, add the “taco seasoning” packet, and a couple of spoonfuls of salsa. Mush that all around in there.
5. Have about one cup of water ready. Once you have mushed the spice and salsa in, add the water incrementally until you get a moisture/sauciness level that you like.
6. Put the meat in a bowl and let people get to work assembling their tacos. Let them harbor no illusions that a taco like this could be bought in Mexico. USA NUMBER ONE.
Imagine you find yourself with 2.5kg of meyer lemons. Some of these lemons have cosmetically damaged skin from a freak hail storm back in December, but they are otherwise top-notch juicy goodness.
Sooner or later, faced with a basket full of any citrus, a person makes margaritas.
I have made margaritas with various breeds of lime, with orange, with blood orange (which are great, too)… with any variety of California’s finest. Of all of these, meyer lemon margaritas may be the best.
I highly recommend you make yourself one (or a pitcher) and enjoy. If you live here, the goofy February fake-spring thing is happening, so by all means have them out on the porch in the afternoon sun. Take a thermos-full to the drive-in movie (assuming you are not the driver, of course). If you live some normal place with a normal February of bleak, cold, greyness, then all the better - enjoy a glass of liquid sunshine and ward off that damn scurvy!*
Meyer Lemon Margaritas
2oz fresh meyer lemon juice
2oz añejo tequila
1oz triple sec
salt rim (if desired)
1. Slice open, juice, and strain lemons.
2. If you like a salt rim, use one of the squeezed hulls to moisten the glass rim, then dip in margarita salt.
3. Shake juice, tequila, and triple sec with ice.
*you may think I am a lush - but at least I have never had scurvy.
In this episode, I try too hard at some Asian-Latin Taco Fusion Business and it turns out lame.
Scene One - Couple shopping at the local Whole Foods.
“Have you ever had this pre-marinated coconut curry tempeh?”
“Do you think I could make another Thai-inspired taco with it?”
“Well, I’m going to buy it.”
Scene Two - Cooking the tacos in the kitchen
“What makes things Thai, anyway? Lemongrass? Ginger? Hey, we have a bunch of cilantro - that’s Latin and Asian!”
“These beans taste weird. This isn’t working.”
Scene Three - Eating dinner
“So this is… fine. I guess.”
“Well, I’m going to blog about it anyway.”
(Note: While cooking, I noticed on the back of the tempeh box that Tofurky, the manufacturer, was running a recipe contest. I wrote this up and submitted it for that. If I win - which I don’t harbor illusions that I will, mind you - I promise to dedicate my prize to you. You can never win if you don’t try, right? Also, to write a better entry I would have had to buy more tempeh before the deadline, which is today. In any event, the recipe is written a little differently than I normally would. It even has precise measurements for things! Don’t get confused.)
Coconut Curry Tempeh Tacos Burritos? (I think actually burritos)
1 cup thai jasmine rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
15 ounce can of black beans
juice of one lime
1 teaspoon prepared/jarred lemongrass
small head of broccoli
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 package Coconut Curry Tempeh
1 cup (packed) shredded carrot (about three carrots)
prepared Thai peanut sauce
1. Cook jasmine rice until light and fluffy on stovetop or in a rice cooker. When fully cooked, add the chopped cilantro and toss thoroughly to combine.
2. Strain and rise canned beans. Put in a small pot on the stove. Add lime juice and lemongrass. Stir. Simmer until heated through.
3. Chop broccoli head into small florets. Steam florets until bright green and cooked, but still crisp.
4. Heat peanut oil in a shallow pan. Once hot, add coconut curry tempeh strips. As temper cooks, use tongs to move around in the pan and break the strips up into bite-sized morsels. Cook until lightly browned and hot.
5. Assemble the burritos: Begin by spreading a bit of peanut sauce on the center of a tortilla. Add some beans and rice, followed by tempeh. Top with broccoli and carrots. Drizzle sri racha sauce to taste. Wrap the tortilla up and enjoy!
I am an expert on tacos (which you know) and sandwiches (which you may not have known). So trust me that I speak from authority when I tell you this sandwich taco is fantastic. Top-ranked taco. So good. Yes.
As you probably know, bánh mì are popular Vietnamese sandwiches which take tofu or pork, cilantro, and bunch of other Asian goodness, and smoosh it in a split-open baguette. (Admitting that, yes, bánh mì are tasty remnants of colonialism and these things happen.) San Jose, CA, not far from where I live now, has the largest Vietnamese population in the US, followed not far behind by the Northern Virginia suburbs of DC, where I used to live, so I have had chances to try a few bánh mì. However, I think you can probably find a good bánh mì in most any city of the US or Canada at this point.
At the end of 2009, The Kitchn ran a round up of their favorite veg and vegan recipes from the year and included this recipe for lemongrass tofu bánh mì. Ever since, the idea of making the sandwiches at home had been kicking around in my head, but I never got around to it.
Eventually, I realized: Replace the Euro-bread with a tortilla and it would make an awesome taco. I acutally might like this better than a real bánh mì, because the carb-to-filling ratio is majorly reduced and it really emphasizes the best stuff. Finding myself with both a big bunch of cilantro and a bag of beautiful, rainbow-colored carrots from the CSA this week, my plan was clear.
The results of taco bánh mì were terrific. Easily one of the best made for this blog yet. I highly recommend you give these a try.
I. Quick Pickle Carrots
2 cup carrots, julienned
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Cover and stash bowl in the fridge at least an hour.
3. Strain before serving.
II. Lemongrass Tofu
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 blubs lemongrass (I used 1.5 tbs from a pre-prepared jar)
1 clove garlic, minced
block of extra-firm tofu
1. Press it. Smoooosh.
2. Mix the non-tofu ingredients together in a wide, shallow vessel.
3. Chop the tofu into tidy, taco-size bites.
4. Dunk in tofu bites in the marinade and see to it that all sides get sauced.
5. Cover and allow to marinate for an hour.
III. Cilantro Sauce
4 tbs mayonnaise (yogurt would probably also work)
2 tbs cilantro, minced
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbs sriracha
1. Mince up the cilantro quite fine.
2. Whip everything together in a wee bowl. You want a pretty saturated solution of cilantro::goo, so if you need to mince up some more and add it, feel free.
IV. Other Stuff
1 jalapeño pepper
1. Dice the jalapeño. Remove the seeds if you are that kind of person.
2. Roughly chop up a small handful of cilantro.
3. Assemble tacos by smearing cilantro sauce on the tortilla, adding tofu and carrots, and topping with a bit of jalapeño and sprigs of cilantro on top. Add additional sriracha to taste.
Were it not for food blogs, I probably would not know that the Super Bowl was coming up/existed. Honestly, if you told me you were having a party to “watch the big game” this weekend, I would assume you were watching Olympic something-or-other. American football is just not my thing. However, there are food blogs, I read them, and this is a time when people eat Buffalo Wings (and dips, and sweets… but mostly wings)
I have never actually eaten a legit buffalo wing. Fact that I write a taco blog aside, I am no real fan of eating with my fingers. Add ooey-gooey sauce and no pile of napkins is high enough to account for my sudden onset of daintiness. Surely this is a primal pleasure for some - as, perhaps, is eating meat straight from the bone of an animal - but I decline.
That said, in my day, I have eaten about eleventy-thousand Morningstar Farms Wings. I probably those things monthly in college. (Yum.) What I am saying is that I know at least a little bit about the concept of the buffalo.
All of this brings us to tonight’s taco: A veggie buffalo wing taco. Using not Morningstar “wings” which are not ooey-gooey but rather crumbly and breaded, but instead the considerably ooey-gooey-er Gardein brand. (These are made in Canada so, I guess, thematic for your Olympic party also?)
Admittedly, it is a silly thing and I do not think I will make these again, but if you are looking for a taco to eat while watching sport and being terribly American, perhaps these will hit that spot. I think these might be better if they were a wrap/roll-up sort of food that could be skewered on a toothpick and eaten at a party.
Gardein Buffalo Wing Tacos
package of Gardein Buffalo Wings
bit of blue cheese
smear of ranch dressing
several stalks of celery
1. Heat oven to 400F.
2. Place wings on baking sheet. Bake 14-17 minutes according to package instructions.
3. Dice celery to make something you can sprinkle in (or just cut celery sticks if you prefer)
4. Crumble up the blue cheese you want to use.
5. To assemble, smear a little ranch on a tortilla, top with wings, sprinkle a little blue cheese, and top with crunchy celery “slaw”
Dudes. This is one of the best tacos I have made. It is also dead simple. So good and so easy that you will forgive me even for addressing you as “dudes”.
Recently in my local Whole Foods, I came across a container of Thai peanut sauce made here in Santa Cruz (and made entirely without fish sauce, by the way). I am mad for Thai, so I picked it up thinking maybe I could work it into a taco. As it turned out, it worked really, really well. Like, better than my experiments in Korean-taco-fusion - and that is a KNOWN GOOD THING. Seriously.
Also, the boy mixed up some margaritas with a special kind of sweet local lime and he has a bit of a heavy hand on the hooch. Not that it affected my judgement or blogging. No. Not at all. ::hiccup::
I took the basic idea from a blog called Fat Free Vegan and, while I know “fat free vegan” does not scream delicious, it really worked. If you do not have access to a particularly good pre-made peanut sauce, feel free to follow her recipe on that part.
block of firm tofu
tub of peanut sauce
1. Press the tofu. This is always the first step. I should stop even writing it down
2. Cut the tofu into slices, then squares, then triangles. This looks a bit fancy. It is also, for whatever reason, how I most often get tofu in Thai places. (You do not have to cut triangles if you do not want. I understand.)
3. Smear a little of the peanut sauce on each triangle and set it on a baking sheet.
4. When the oven is preheated to 400F, put the tofu in for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, take them out and flip each one over.
5. Bake another 15 minutes.
6. Steam the broccolini in a rice cooker (as I do) or steamer basket. You want bright green and cooked but still snappy.
7. Clean the carrots and shred up into little sticks. I use a special julienne-ing tool, but that is because I am fancy - and have relatively poor knife skills.
8. Carry steamed broccolini, julienned raw carrots, baked tofu and tortillas to the table. Smear your tortilla with some more peanut sauce, load with tofu and veg, top with a spicy sriracha drizzle. Eat. YUMS.
Taco 013: Tofu Tacos with Roasted Tomato-Chile-Garlic Salsa
So, I’m back. Tacos are back. We took a little break from each other, but it only brought us closer together, right? Time to move on. Now more than ever.
Rick Bayless is my mom’s favorite “celebrity chef” - and I cannot say she is wrong to be his fan. Every meal she or I have ever had at any of his restaurants has been exceptional. Once, he @replied to something my mom asked him on Twitter and she pretty much flipped out for a week. Thus, it was not super surprising that last month one of my gifts from her was a Bayless cookbook.
Now, for a book with a title like Salsas That Cook you might expect that it would be, say, majority salsa recipes. Turns out not to be the case. Much of the book is various recipes you can make using the half-dozen or so salsa recipes. Nonetheless, I wanted to make one of the signature salsas as a “featured ingredient” in tonight’s tacos.
Other than the salsa, these tacos keep it pretty simple - they are basically just a vehicle. You can put this salsa on anything, really. We made a couple changes to Chef Bayless’ version for our purposes, making it a little better to marinate the tofu and giving me more excuse to use our kick-ass blender.
A note on liquid smoke: I know, that stuff seems weird right? It kind of is. However, it is not gross and chemically like you might think. Recently, I came to have a bottle of Lazy Kettle Brand Hickory Liquid Smoke (ingredients: smoke) from a company up near San Francisco. It happened to be looking at me while I was taste-testing the salsa and I decided to put add a splash. It totally worked. Certainly, this is not mandatory for making the salsa.
Sorry about that terrible iPhone photo up top, by the way. Yikes.
Tofu Tacos with Roasted Tomato-Chile-Garlic Salsa - inspired by Salsas That Cook by RIck Bayless
5 dried guajillo chiles
4 small tomatoes (Bayless suggests plum, the only local ones we found today were greenhouse-grown “clusters”)
1/2 of a small onion
1/2 head of garlic
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground habenero powder
4 dashes of liquid smoke
1. Rehydrate the chiles in hot water.
2. Set your oven broiler. Once it is piping hot, put whole tomatoes in on a baking sheet, as close to the heat as possible. Cook until roasty, toasty with curled, wrinkled skin and black splotches. Pull them out, flip them over with tongs, and put back under broiler until the bottom also looks delicious. This process may take 12 to 20 total minutes or so, depending on your oven. Mine took longer than expected.
3. Decrease oven temp to 425. Place large-chopped onion and garlic cloves in a small roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. When that timer goes off, toss everything around in there. Repeat baking and mixing a few times until onions are soft, brownish, and maybe a little charred.
4. Take the rehydrated chiles out of the water and remove stems and seeds. Chop a bit. Put them in a large bowl with the tomatoes. Get out your immersion blender and blitz that all up.
5. When then onions and garlic are done add them to the mixing bowl. Whirl again until nice and smooth.
6. Add seasonings. Blend until mixed. Add as much water as needed to get a consistency you want - the paste will initially be pretty thick.
7. Refrigerate until using.
1. Press the tofu to get rid of excess moisture.
2. Chop the tofu into little cubes, between mini-marshmallow and full-sized.
3. Put the tofu in a bowl and toss around with a few glugs of salsa. Let this hang out a while. Probably at least 10 minutes.
4. Chip up the lettuce into little shrivels. Crunchy!
5. Heat a small dollop of oil in a skillet. Once the pan is very hot, stir-fry the tofu up quickly until piping hot and appealing to eat.
6. Wrap it up in a tortilla and smother with more tasty salsa.
I am home at my mother’s house in Washington and it is the Most Festive Season Of All. Frankly, all I want to cook and/or eat right now is latkes. They could be fancy and modern or trad, but let’s face it - this is the time of the latke. Given that, I set to the task of trying to come up with a taco that incorporated latkes or general olive-oil fried food in some way.
Yeah. That was a failure.
Anyway, there is not a lot in season out here on the chillier coast, so this week you get hearty, winter-available greens. AND YOU LIKE IT.
2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 head kale
1 can black beans
4 oz crumbly white queso
1. Heat oil in skillet. Add kale, garlic, and cumin. Sautee until limp and cooked but still with some vibrant green color. You know.
2. Drain and rinse beans, then add them to the pan with the kale. Shimmy it all up in there until everything is hot.
3. Spoon on to your tortilla with some cheese crumbles and salsa of your choice.
4. Seriously, you are done. Like, 10 minutes. Damn, son.
Let’s be honest up front: I know this taco has more chipotles than Bobby Flay on a bender at his own restaurant in Vegas. That’s just how it’s going to be tonight.
For the first taco of this officially being a veg taco blog, I decided to take on one of the cliches of vegetarian recipe writing: “Anything you can meat, I can soy-meat better.” While, as a general matter, I think fake textured vegetable protein “meat” is a bit lame (I am a vegetarian who likes vegetables - crazy, I know), I do not rule it out either.
The fake meat in question today is Mexican Chipotle “Sausage” from Field Roast Grain Meat Co.. The Seattle-based Field Roast has been in business since 1997, but have only fairly recently been on my radar. The sausages and “celebration roasts” (think, Tofurkey competitor) seem to be available at all the Whole Foods and independent markets around me. According to the company website, they seem to have pretty wide distribution in the US.
The Mexican Chipotle flavor is a bit of a chorizo-ish concept, which was my jumping off point for the recipe. On it’s own, the sausage is not super flavorful, but it gives a nice chipotle-spiced base to build a taco from. It also cooks up very quickly, so if you omitted the potatoes from this taco, you could whip this meal up in a matter of minutes.
Roasting the potatoes made this an extra-hearty, filling meal, and the tacos would be fine without. That is, presumably, if your apartment is heated. If however, like me, you have a single gas heater for your unit which PG&E cannot connect until January and in the meantime have to huddle around your oven for warmth like a hobo over a garbage can fire (with, apparently, an equally minimal concern for energy efficiency), I say roast those bitches while shaking your fist at how ill-prepared Californians are for a cold snap.
Chipotle Field Roast, Black Bean, and Potato Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream - Inspired by this and this
I. Roasted Potatoes
2 waxy yellow potatoes
II. Chipotle Sour Cream
2 dried chipotle peppers
1 lime, juiced
4 oz sour cream
pinch of salt
couple grinder-twists black pepper
III. Bean-Sausage Filling
1 can of whole black beans
1 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tsp ground cumin
2 links Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage
Tortillas (I used 365 Organics’ Red Chile. They were kind of good - and red.)
I. Roast Potatoes
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Dice the potatoes into wee bites, leaving skin on, and put in a small roasting dish (I used a single loaf pan which was just the right size).
3. Add a glug or so of olive oil and a couple dashes of salt. Toss together to coat potatoes.
4. Roast in oven about 30-40 minutes, until skin is crinkly and browned on the tips.
5. Mix yourself a margarita and hang out for a minute.
II. Chipotle Sour Cream
1. Rehydrate the chilies: Put the dried peppers in a shallow, wide bowl and pour boiling water over top to submerge. Weight them down and let them hang out until soft and plumped.
2. Cut off the stems and roughly chop the peppers into pieces small enough to fit comfortably in your food processor. Mine is tiny, so these would be fairly small. Maybe you have a big, fancy chopper and can put them in whole - if so, go ahead, show off.
3. Add sour cream and lime juice and blitz until smooth and orangish. Add salt and pepper to taste.
III. Bean-Sausage Filling
1. Get the Field Roast links and peel off the plastic “casing.” Crumble the meat all up into small lumps with your fingers. It will bleed oily orange grain-blood all over your hands. Wash up and deal with it.
2. Heat a bit of olive oil in a deep skillet. Once shimmery but not smoking, turn the heat down to about medium-high and cook the sausage until hot and cooked but not over-done along with the garlic.
3. Add the spice mixture and saute it all together to get the flavors acquainted. Remember: Grain meat is not even as forgiving as actual sausage and will get dry and gross if you cook it too long, so taste and keep an eye out. Transfer to a small bowl.
4. Drain the beans and pour into the empty, hot pan. Cook them until nice and piping.
5. Add the sausage-spice bowl back in and scamble it all up with the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep over low heat while you finish preparing and assembling the meal.
6. Use the left-over mixture to fill omelets in the morning. Especially if, say, your cool friend brought you eggs from her backyard chickens as a hostess gift for the party you had over the weekend. Or, you know, if you “bought” eggs at the “market”. Whatever.
Sorry, folks. Today is my last night in DC and I have plans that keep me from tacoing it up. I will be going with friends to see the impossibly crush-worthy Jonathan Safran Foer talk about his recent book, Eating Animals. Unfortunately, it will take all my energy to get his talk without swooning, thus: no recipe.
This does, however, give us a good opportunity to talk about something. Some of you have noticed that there has never been a beef or pork taco on this blog. Instead, there has been a fair bit of poultry and some fish. Henceforth, there will probably be no meat at all.
For years I was a vegetarian and it worked out pretty well. Some time ago, I decided to let poultry and seafood back into my life. I did this because I had access to poultry which I trusted from small local producers. As for the fish, that was just because I was in Japan for a time and it was convenient and tasty - no better excuse. Eating “good meat” made (makes) sense to me as a practical act of voting with ones dollars in favor of a sustainable economy for small farmers. There are farmers who raise animals in a really commendable way and, while they account for a teeny fraction of the supply, I am willing to pay the extra cost to support the kind of work they do.
I still believe in this, but when I read Eating Animals this week, I saw myself, a smug, farmer’s market shopping “selective omnivore,” get called out - and I deserved it.
Once I became accustomed to eating meat again, I just kept doing it. There was meat creep. I pretended that if I shopped at Whole Foods and bought things with “Organic” and “Free Range” packaging that it made a meaningful difference. I am thankful for the book reminding me to be more of an activist about my food and stop being placated by corporate labels.
In short: this blog is going to look a lot more veggie-ish from here on out. I understand that some of you will likely stop reading because of this. There are, after all, only so many mushroom tacos I can expect you to make. However, I think we should try this and see how far we can get together. Maybe some of you already are vegetarians or vegans and want to share tips and recipes. Maybe you are balls-out meat-lovers but will not mind eatings the occasional meal without - or maybe you will reblog with your meaty additions.
I feel really strange writing about food like this, but it seems like as a food writer of a sort you deserve to know this about me.
Also, just for the record, I am doing this because I know it is the right choice for me right now, and not [exclusively] because of my fantasies in which Jonathan Safran Foer invites me up to his precious Park Slope brownstone for “seaweed” and “tofu”, wink wink. [In this fantasy I guess he’s not married with kids because that would be awkward and I would not want to be a fantasy home-wrecker.] Sounds delicious, though….
photo: Ed Anderson for “Tacos” by Mark Miller, via Project Foodie
This is a perfect autumn weather taco. I had delicious firm heirloom apples from the farm project when I made these. That was before I left California for my trip, but the weather was still a bit crisp. Where I am now (typing this in the positively lovely Chinatown Coffee Co, by the way) it has been drizzly, overcast, and hovering around 50 degrees for days. There are wet slippery leaves in piles along the street. I could not be happier to be home.
Last evening I went out with a friend to some cozy little bar he knew about. The kind of place that prints “No Televisions. No Standing.” on the beer menus and as soon as you walk in from the chilly, moist outside you are totally surrounded with the cozy. Soon you have a rich Belgian beer in your glass and are sitting next to a fireplace. If you wanted to replicate this experience in a taco, this is your taco.
A note about this taco: It is a bit like making chilli and then wrapping it in a flour tortilla. I hope you are ok with that.
1 large green chile, roasted (I am still working on those Hatches from the freezer; you could use poblano)
3 cloves garlic
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp habenero powder
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp oregano, toasted
1 cup unfiltered apple cider
2 big, firm green apples (such as Fuji, but I do not remember exactly which variety we used)
4 ounces goat cheese
1. Sliver the green chile into slivers. Call them “rajas” if you’re fancy.
2. Smoosh the garlic up with some kosher salt to make a paste. (Honestly, I do not know why you do this, but it is in the book.)
3. Season the breasts with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high and add chickens. Brown them lightly on both sides, then lower the heat. add the garlic-salt mash and saute.
4. To the pan add seasonings and cider. Cook down for a good while until the sauce reduces. While that goes, peel your apples and cut them into thin slices.
5. Remove from heat. Pluck out the chickens and cut them into bite-sized morsels. Then put them back in and add the apples. Keep this warm until you are ready to eat.
6. To eat, scoop the sauce/apple/chicken mixture on to a tortilla. Sprinkle liberally with goat cheese and, if you are like me and take the book’s direction, a homemade Tomatillo-Arbol Chile Salsa which was awesome (recipe forthcoming) or, alternately, a salsa or hot sauce of your choosing.
There you go. Whip this up for your family tonight and then tomorrow, while the womenfolk are cooking your Thanksgiving dinner, you can do whatever you like and say “I don’t need to help, I made dinner last night.”
No takers came forward for tacos in Virginia today. Just as well - it turned out District Taco had an emergency that closed the cart. They will be back on Friday, at which time I will personally probably swing by. Join me if you wish!
Criminy! I just realized that today is Tuesday and in just a few hours you will be expecting this week’s recipe. Unfortunately, I do not think I can make it happen today.
I am visiting my wonderful Washington, DC-area friends and family this week, many of whom I have told about this blog and they invariably respond “Awesome! Let’s make tacos together!” which is pretty much the best thing that could come of this blog (other than a book deal). That part is great.
What is neither great nor conducive to posting tonight is this: I am staying with my mom who does not have the internet at home. That means only blogging from coffee-shops - and while I am at one now, I forgot my notes about this weeks’ taco. Sorry, Taco Fans.
Tomorrow I will post something yummy and very seasonal that I hope you like. It will make a lovely pre-thanksgiving meal for the family
Today, I was searching the amount of calories in a taco. I typed in Google search, “If I ate” but before I could finish “If I ate myself, would I be twice as big or disappear completely?” popped up. My original question didn’t seem quite as important anymore. MLIA
I am going to call these “red sauce” turkey tacos. Firstly, because they have something of a red sauce, yes, but also “red sauce” in the sense that we talk about those old school Little Italy type Italian restaurants as being “a red sauce joint.” People keep going to those restaurants not because they are the vanguard of cuisine - or even always very good - but because they turn out reliable, comfortable favorites. A type of food that, while it certainly has an Italian accent, is at this point fundamentally American. This taco is like that. A comfortable classic that has Mexican origins, but has become a staple of the Great American Menu.
I adapted this recipe from my very favorite taco cookbook, Tacos by Mark Miller. He uses ground beef and I suppose you could too. This is the first time we have used crispy taco shells on the blog and I did think the crunch added something to this dish as well as being kind of fun.
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 smallish tomatoes, diced*
5 dried guajillo chiles
1 large serrano chile, stemmed and diced
1 tbs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 tbs water
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 lime, juice of
crispy yellow corn shells
grated cheddar cheese
1. Rehydrate your chiles. This will take some time, so be prepared. Put them in a wide, shallow bowl. In your teakettle, boil some water, and then pour enough over the chiles to submerge them. Weight them with something on top to keep them fully under water. It will smell delicious! Hang out for a while. Once they are soft and pliable again, remove the stem and finely chop.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add all ingredients listed above from garlic to water. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook this mixture until it is the consistency of a thick, very chunky marinara sauce. (See, again, it’s like I said at the top!)
3. Put the turkey in and mash the whole mess about. Turn the heat to high and cover with a lid. Let it cook about 10 minutes until it is thoroughly cooked.
4. Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Serve immediately in a crunchy shell, topped with lettuce, cheese, and your favorite salsa.
*Remind me I want to talk about tomatoes sometime soon. I am really lucky to still find them in the farmers market at this time of year, but I worry that you might not be so privileged.
Who rhymes “Conga” with “Longer” (Longa). Seriously, who does that? Stop it.
This has only the most tenuous connection to tacos, but Mike’s post reminded me: If you have not yet seen it on your local PBS station, we reccomed the recent documentary mini-series "Latin Music USA". Our friend, ethnomusicologist Wayne Marshall, is featured in the fourth hour - but the whole thing was well worth watching.
On the occasion of my most recent Kogi visit, it was a bit late in the evening and I was by myself. A cute guy ahead of me in line was carefully packing his order in a sack and trying to secure it to his bicycle. I offered him a ride to wherever he was taking them (I am nothing if not concerned with taco security!) and was totally surprised and confused when he accepted. We tossed his pretty vintage road bike in the boot of my car and I drove him to his friend’s house where a small group of people sat on a patio and ate tacos and drank Pabst from cans.
That I love Kogi tacos is no secret - and is hardly unique. Every time I have had occasion to visit the famous truck, I eat the tofu tacos. These may be my most favorite taco. I have tried a few times now to approximate the Kogi tofu taco at home and it never comes out right. For this experiment I used a recipe I found for the Korean BBQ sauce they use for other tacos at Kogi and improvised from there.
Maybe someday I will move to the Southland and taste-test Kogi frequently and intensely enough to reverse engineer them better. Maybe I will move to the Southland for other reasons altogether. As a dyed-in-the-wool East Coaster, it is hard to admit, but Los Angeles is really pretty ok and has things going for it.
1. Drain and press your tofu. Once it is pressed, chop into bite-sized cubes.
2. In a bowl, whisk up the gochujang, sugar, soy, vinegar, oil, and sriracha until smooth and saucy.
3. Toss the tofu chunks in the sauce to coat and set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes.
4. While tofu is marinating, mix yogurt, lime juice, and cilantro in a small bowl. Set this crema aside.
5. To cook tofu, put a small amount of oil in a hot frying pan. Place the cubes carefully and after they have had a minute to cook on the first side, flip them over with tongs. Continue moving and cooking until tofu is fully cooked and slightly darkened in color. Remove from heat and put in a bowl for serving. If you have extra sauce that was left in the marinading bowl, feel free to add it back in - this is tofu after all, not raw meat.
6. For taco assembly, smear some yogurt crema, top with tofu chunks, and finish with cabbage crunchies. Probably dash more sriracha on top.
Mighttt be my new favorite tumblr. No, seriously. This person GETS ME. No, Terry Gross isn’t my date, but I wouldn’t turn her into the streets if she asked.
And, as I sit here, listening to Zeppelin IV and drinking my first PBR Tall boy of the night (Not an ironic literary device to make you laugh at my indie credibility but seriously- I am, and always will drink PBR tall boys. Hopefully.) I think that There’s A Feeling I Get When I Look To The West, toward my nearest taco dispensary I ponder what truly genus soul is behind this Taco Blog? Probably, and I’m merely speculating here, but I’m thinking a visionary. Someone who, male or female transcends space and time and is and will forever be loved by all of Mankind.
As has been mentioned in these pages previously, I volunteer a few hours a week at a local produce operation packing up the boxes of farm-grown goodness for customers. One of the advantages of getting all “hands on” with the veg is learning about new things that I have never tried before. As a volunteer, sometimes I also get sent home with a little extra this or that which I never planned to have in the kitchen. This is how today’s taco began.
In general, I love squash. They are the very flavor of autumn. If there are pumpkins on neighborhood stoops, I want some roasty, sweet, orange bits to eat. Pumpkin and butternut seem to vie for most popular on the table and both are certainly delicious. However, we did not have extra butternuts or pumpkins last week. Instead, there was a glut of delicatas - a type of squash I was aware of but had never sampled.
Delicata squash is more mild in flavor than butternut and less sweet. This actually makes for a rather good taco filling as it really takes on the spices and seasonings you give it - sort of like tofu, though not as bland as that to start - but unlike tofu maintains a sturdy, meaty texture. In short, it turns out that it makes a really good taco filling.
That said, I think I will be doing another experiment in squash tacos sometime this season. The recipient I followed is cooked completely on the stovetop, but I think it would really improve with roasting the squash in the oven. Roasting, however, will have to wait until we get some actual autumn weather out here because it is 73F and sunny and my apartment does not have air con. (Side note: I am going back to the East Coast for an extended visit in mere weeks. Cannot wait.)
1 delicata squash
1 cup cremini mushrooms (chopped)
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 red onion
1 tsp New Mexico chilie powder
1/2 tsp pasilla chilie powder
1/2 cup vegetable broth Bufalo Chipotle Sauce
1. Peel squash (with delicata this is easy to do with a standard peeler) and chop into small cubes.
2. Heat oil in a large, wide pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, spices, and salt.
3. Cook the onion until they become soft and have given off a bit of liquid.
4. Add the squash and mushrooms to the pan, followed by broth. Stir together until everything is moist and combined. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and ready to eat.
5. Smear some Bufalo on a tortilla, fill with squash and mushrooms, and top with a wee crumble of goat cheese.
“ASSISTANT: Marisa, I have Tacos for you.
MARISA: Thanks, put them through. Hi Tacos!
TACOS: Oh hello! I am lettuce and meat. I’m here with tortilla and onion. Cilantro and sour cream are late
MARISA: That’s okay!
TACOS: Thanks for agreeing to this conference call. We’re REALLY excited to talk to you.
MARISA: I’m flattered!
TACOS: so look, as you know we’ve been following you for a really long time.
we’re HUGE fans. Salsa showed us some of your stuff and we basically all flipped out over it.
MARISA: You guys! Stop it! You KNOW I’m a big fan of you too!
TACOS: Marisa, we’re dying to know, what’s it gonna take for you to eat us?
MARISA: : Well, I’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now. I just finished up a thing with soup, and I’m about to dive into some juice. So, you know how that is-
TACOS: Hey, Marisa! It’s hard shell talking now. These guys are telling me you’re having cold feet, and that’s normal! but we’re gonna throw in cheese as a bonus.
TACOS: Eh? Cheese?
CHEESE: Did I hear my name? We’re loving you, Marisa! We want to BE IN THE MARISA BUSINESS!
MARISA: Alright, now we’re talkin! It’s a deal.
TACOS: Perfect! Now, normally we do a handshake deal, but why don’t we just nom on it and call it a day?
MARISA: Fine by me!