Tag Archives: Mexican

Fish Tacos and Tostadas: Easy, Breezy, Light

23 Jun

We are digging the flavors of the SouthWest – rice, beans, cumin, peppers, avocados, corn, red onion….They holler summer to me and are right now hollering my name.

fish tostadas

Pile ’em high with whatever you like!

Mind you, I have very little idea how people actually eat in the SouthWest, but I have these ideas shaped by the mysterious forces of The Media Age. These ideas make flavor sense to me and make me happy AND are easily achieved in my little kitchen, AND my son likes them AND they lend themselves to individual assembly and in my family of diverse eaters, that is really, really important, so there you have it.

You can pop them into tacos or eat them on the side

You can pop them into tacos or eat them on the side

The Northeastern factor is fresh fish from our salty sea. I have figured out how to quickly season and pan-fry chunks of fish to add to our little buffet. Leandro piles it into tacos with loads of cheese, my mother and I onto tostadas with beans and corn, and my dad on his crazy-ass diet skips the fish altogether and piles on the vegetables. Everyone can eat with their fingers and everyone is happy. Continue reading

Flex-Mex Shredded Chicken (one step, one pot) and easy red beans

29 Oct

I had about two pounds of boneless chicken breast defrosted and one of Leandro’s besties and his mom coming over for a congenial play date and dinner. I have the habit of fussing in the kitchen when they come over, as Amanda is an appreciative eater who likes to try new stuff. For the kids I usually make macaroni and cheese (from a box that — try not to roll your eyes — purports to be organic. Is this the foodie equivalent of ordering a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a diet Coke?)

This time, I wanted to be able to do more sitting and talking than mucking about with pots and pans. I don’t want my guests to be speaking to my back as I stir something on the stove and I just didn’t feel like making a second meal for the kids. I hate doing that, actually, but end up there more than I like to admit.

So this recipe — which I adapted from others I have done or read — was perfect. Just bung everything into a pot and a half hour later you have tasty, crowd-pleasing goodness that you can pile onto other Mexican-infused ingredients. On this occasion I made quick quesadillas with red beans (another one pot dish, see below) and Cheddar and Dominican white cheese which Leandro, Amanda and I ate, accompanied with avocado, cilantro and red onion. The revelation was Lucas, a bit more of a picky eater, who tasted the quesadilla (both the all-cheese just-in-case one and a chicken one) which by itself would’ve been cool, but who ended up loving the chicken on its own and eating several servings!

And yes, I sat – we all sat down to dinner together, in fact — and I didn’t fuss! Hurray!

Mexican-Style Shredded Chicken

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts

½ Cup onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stock cube and four cups of water OR four cups of your favorite chicken stock

1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced, seeds removed (1 pepper was not very spicy; play with this proportion according to your taste)

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 20 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. If you have time, you can cook it longer for more tenderness. Remove from heat and remove chicken from any remaining liquid. Allow to cool, shred, and serve – hot or cold — in your favorite Mexican-style recipes (quesadillas, tacos, with rice, on salads). Flavor affinities include avocado, lime, cilantro, kidney beans.

Easy Red Kidney Beans

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs minced onion

1 half stock cube

1 tsp oregano

1/4-1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable juice (less water for drier beans)

1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp chopped cilantro

Saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 15 minutes until flavors are incorporated.

Party Snacks: Oven-Charred Tomatillo, Tomato and Hot Chile Salsa

22 Aug

If you are lucky enough to get a handful of tomatillos in your CSA share or find them in your grocery store, this recipe for a small amount will make your tastebuds very happy (or scream in agony if you overdo it on the hot peppers) and won’t take you very long at all.

There are very few commercially prepared salsas that I like; most are too sweet or too tomatoe-y or just boring, so making my own makes a lot of sense. Once you see how easy tomatillos are to char, you will probably become adventurous with your own flavor combinations.

Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) is indeed in the same family as the tomato, as well as the ground cherry (or cape gooseberry), which it actually resembles more, in looks, if not flavor. Native to Mexico, tomatillo has green or sometimes purple fruit, surrounded by a husk that gets papery as it ripens; it has always reminded me of a Japanese lantern.

When you buy, look for firm fruit with the husk still on (they will keep for a month in a paper bag). When you buy green ones, avoid any that are yellowish.  To prepare them for cooking, remove the husk and wash off the stickiness on the skin.

Although tomatillo is most often used for salsa verde (green sauce), I used purple ones in this recipe. I charred them under the broiler with red tomatoes and mixed them together for a deep and satisfying color.


Roasted Tomatillo, Tomato  and Chile Salsa

7-8 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half

Tomatoes of your choice, in an equal amount to the tomatillos, sliced in half (if using cherry-types) or chunked to the same size as the tomatillo halves

1 fresh hot chile pepper of your choice (I use jalapeño)

2 Tbs red onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs cilantro, chopped

1/8 tsp lime juice

1/8-1/4 tsp coarse salt

Place tomatillos, tomatoes and whole chile pepper on a baking sheet and broil, turning once (carefully!) with a spatula when the tops start to char (my sturdy, but not so high-powered toaster oven took 10 minutes on each side {!} but a stronger oven could do the job in half the time, so watch out!)

When the vegetables are charred, let them cool until you can peel them (over a bowl to catch the juices). Discard peels and add tomatillo and tomato to bowl. Also peel the pepper and BE WARNED: this is a small amount of salsa, so you don’t want to go overboard on the heat. I use only half a jalapeño and remove the seeds and it is still pretty searing on the tongue. So…add roasted chile at your discretion/peril.

I break my salsa up with a fork – unnecessary if you are going to use a blender at the end. Stir in remaining ingredients. For a smoother texture, pulse a few times in a food processor or blender (I prefer chunkier and I hate extra equipment to wash, so I skip it). Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

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