Tag Archives: tacos

Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

I confess that I often find Mexican food too dense for my garden-fresh sensibilities, so when I cook Mexican-inspired food at home, I lighten it up with lots of fresh vegetables, homemade salsa and herbs. We made these tostadas the other night and served the ingredients buffet-style, so everyone could pile on the garnishes to their taste.

Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Fresh summer corn cut straight from the cob is sweet and crisp – no cooking required. When cutting the corn, lay the husked cob on a cutting board and carefully slice kernels off with a chef’s knife, rotating the cob. Sweep the kernels and milk into the bowl for the salsa. Serves 4 to 6.

For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

For the black bean salsa:
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn kernels from one ear of corn
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
Juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful cilantro sprigs, chopped

Tostada shells
Lettuce leaves
Tomato salsa
1 avocado, sliced
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

Whisk 1 tablespoon olive oil, lime juice, hot sauce, cumin, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine all of the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Taste for seasoning.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium high heat (or prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat). Remove shrimp from the marinade, shaking off any excess and transfer to skillet 0r grill. Cook shrimp until pink on both sides and just cooked through, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl.

To assemble tostadas, lay a lettuce leaf over the corn shell. Spoon the black bean salsa over the lettuce. Top with 2 to 3 shrimp. Spoon tomato salsa over. Garnish with avocado slices and fresh cilantro. Squeeze a few drops of lime juice over each tostada. Serve immediately.

Chipotle Beef Short Rib Tacos

chipotle beef ribs tastefood

Beer Braised Chipotle Short Ribs with Jicama Slaw

It’s time to bring out the big guns. It’s been quite busy around here with little time to think, reflect and write. I’ve just finished my final edits on a cookbook project I’ve authored called “Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture” to be published by Gibbs Smith for the Spring of 2014. (Yes, a whole year away!) It’s also the finish of the school year, when numerous events notoriously conspire to collide. This year is particularly significant since my son is graduating from high school (what?!) It’s proving to be a bittersweet rite of passage, marked by prom and graduation celebrations, an 18th birthday, house guests and kleenex – with work and every day life somehow woven throughout our kodak moments. So for several reasons I share this recipe for Chipotle Short Rib Tacos. First, it’s dang good.  The whole family will love this one – and your friends, your neighbors and house guests. Second, it’s one of my son’s favorites, so say no more. I posted this on TasteFood a while back, and like all good things in the cycle of life, it bears repeating, because repetition begets tradition – which helps to keep us rooted while life is flying by.

Jicama Slaw tf

~ Jicama Slaw ~

Don’t be daunted when I tell you that you should begin this beef short rib recipe two days in advance of serving. The key ingredient in this recipe is time, and the most important technique you will be asked to master is patience. Waiting will be the hardest part, but I assure you the results are well worth it.

The first 24 hours requires making a knock-your-socks-off chipotle spice paste which is rubbed all over the short ribs. The meat is then tucked away in the refrigerator overnight where it will mingle and mull with the spices, and you, the cook, will exercise your patience.

The second day invites a little hands on kitchen work to satisfy your inner-cook. The meat will be seared in a hot pan and then smothered in an intoxicating stock of beer, tomato and onion. If you haven’t yet mastered the patience technique, you will have another opportunity to practice, when the pot of meat, soup and spice is banished to the oven where it will slow cook over several hours. As the meat braises, a heady aroma of spice and meat will fill your kitchen causing your stomach to rumble, your mouth to water and your nose to tingle, leading you to question whether you have the cojones to wait another day to consume this concoction.

You will dig deep within and find the inner strength to muster more patience. The braised meat will cool, while the soup is reduced to a viscous sauce – teasing and testing your will-power as you taste it for seasoning. Then, once again, the pot of beef will be stowed away in the refrigerator overnight, where the newly shredded meat will continue to absorb the flavors of the sauce. The following day, the congealed fat will have risen to form a tidy lid over the stew. It will be swiftly and eagerly removed, like the wrapping of a gift, to reveal a burnished red, intensely flavored stew. As you taste it your senses will light up, because these short ribs will be crazy good. You will feel happy, warm and sated. You will also feel content, knowing that you succeeded in making this dish, while the mouths you are feeding are humming with delight at the table – a deserving reward for your time and patience.

chipotle beef taco tastefood

Beer Braised Chipotle Short Ribs with Jicama Slaw

This recipe is best made 2 days before serving. Feel free to double the portion for a crowd. Serves 4.

Rub:
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 short ribs, 3 to 4 inches in length, about 3 1/2 pounds

Braise:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bottle dark beer
1 (16-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
Salt to taste

Combine all of the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Smear over the short ribs. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the short ribs in one layer in batches. Brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining short ribs.  Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to the pot and sauté, 2 minutes. Carefully add the beer, scraping up any brown bits and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juices and bay leaves. Return ribs and any juices to the pot, submerging the meat in the stock. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake until meat is tender, about 3 hours.

Remove pot from the oven. Transfer the meat to a bowl and discard the bones.
Bring the stock to a boil and cook until reduced by half, skimming fat with a spoon. Add sugar and any accumulated juices from the meat to the stock. Taste for salt.

While the stock is cooking, and when the meat is cool enough to handle, shred the meat.  Add along with any juices to the stock and heat through. (May be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate, covered. Skim solidified fat from the top before reheating.)

To serve, arrange a tortilla on a plate. Spoon Jicama Slaw down the center of the tortilla. Spoon meat over the slaw, and drizzle with some of the juices. Sprinkle with chopped avocado, cilantro leaves and juice from a lime wedge. Roll up and enjoy.

Jicama Slaw
Makes 4 to 5 cups

3 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups shredded jicama
3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 small sweet red pepper thinly sliced
1 jalapano pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Combine the cabbage, jicama, green onions and peppers together in a large bowl. Whisk the lime juice, oil, Tabasco, cumin, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour over the cabbage and toss to combine. Refrigerate at least one hour and up to 6 hours. Before serving, stir in the cilantro and parsley.

Pork Carnitas Soft Tacos

Carnitas Taco

I discovered carnitas when we moved to the Bay area 3 years ago.  Before then, Mexican food was a rare treat, often misinterpreted and maligned in further flung cultures where we lived, where at best you could find skimpy versions of nachos or the ubiquitous fajita.  Now that we live in California, taquerias dot every neighborhood, burritos are the alternative to a burger and inspired Mexican cuisine plays a prominent role in our local restaurant scene.

I don’t prepare a lot of Mexican food at home, but I enjoy making Pork Carnitas.  Pork Carnitas are the perfect intersection of traditional home cooking and festive interactive food, great for families and casual parties. Braised pork is cooked until falling apart tender, then shredded and quickly roasted to get a crispy texture.  It’s then arranged on a fresh tortilla, and heaped with fresh tomato salsa, cool guacamole, spiced black beans and crispy lettuce.  It’s the best kind of finger food, requiring two hands and everyone participating in assembling their own food.  Napkins recommended.

Pork Carnitas Soft Tacos

During the season of fireside dinners and slow cooking, try serving these spicy, festive tacos for a little extra heat.

Serves 4-6

3 lbs. pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed, cut in 3″ pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 cup dark beer
1 cup orange juice
1 yellow onion, quartered
6 cloves garlic

Fresh flour or corn tortillas
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 300 F. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a deep pot or Dutch oven.  Add pork in batches and brown on all sides.  Transfer pork to plate or bowl.  Add beer to pot and deglaze, scraping up any dark bits. Add orange juice.  Return pork to pot.  Add onion and garlic.  Cover and transfer to oven.  Bake until meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Remove pot from oven and remove pork.  Discard onions and garlic.  Boil braising liquid until reduced by half.
While liquid is boiling, shred pork and discard any fat or gristle.  Toss shredded pork with a few tablespoons of reduced braising liquid. Arrange meat in one layer on a baking pan. Broil until meat begins to caramelize and crispen on the outsides. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, wrap tortillas in foil and warm in oven.  Arrange some of the pork on a tortilla.  Add garnishes such as salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, fresh lime juice.