more homemade tacos

Tacos with homemade tortillasMore about my new tortilla press -- I'm addicted now. I didn't know tacos could be this good. My next try was a bit more improvised, and I can't quite tell you how I made it.  The shrimp was a little spicy with onion, garlic, cumin, and maybe some cilantro. I cooked that up fast in a skillet. The inspirationfor the sauce comes from a Sam the Cooking Guy recipe made with some canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, but I fancied it up a bit with heavy cream and a few other tweaks. Basically I just kept tasting it along the way until I was happy. These turned out so well. I really can't rave enough about having my own tortilla press.

tacos at home

Tacos with homemade tortillasRecently I had the opportunity to try out a tortilla press, and I was immediately hooked. I had no idea making tortillas at home was so easy and fun. Of course I didn't own a tortilla press yet, so I consulted with my friend and author, chef Roberto Santibanez of Fonda. He told me what to buy, and it turns out they're pretty affordable (but heavy!). I needed a recipe to follow, so of course I consulted Roberto's new cookbook, Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales. Here's how it went.Tacos with homemade tortillasFirst I made a salsa, but I guess the term "salsa" is broader than I'd realized because this one is made with heavy cream. It called for habaneros which I couldn't find, so I used Scotch Bonnets (just one, dry roasted in a skillet). There are also roasted red peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and allspice. This sauce is so good, you'll want to serve it with everything.Tacos with homemade tortillasI made a mushroom filling, also following a recipe from the book. I know mushrooms might sound kind of boring for my first time making tacos at home, but words (and a photo) cannot to justice to how amazing this turned out. There is onion, jalapeno, cilantro -- pretty normal stuff -- but the mushrooms turn out so good, it's almost impossible to resist eating them straight from the pan.Tacos with homemade tortillasTacos with homemade tortillasNow comes the fun part. There is a recipe for corn tortillas in the book, but it's super easy -- masa harina, warm water, and salt. You almost can't go wrong, but you'll probably need to adjust the moisture a bit so the dough isn't too wet. Why did I always believe this was some complicated thing to prepare? Once using the press, plastic wrap helps a lot to prevent sticking.Tacos with homemade tortillasTacos with homemade tortillasAnd voila, there you have it. You toss the tortillas into a hot skillet, and they're done really fast. I probably could have cooked them until they browned a bit, but I think these turned out just fine.Tacos with homemade tortillasThen you put everything together, the cooked tortillas, filling, and salsa, with some Mexican-style cheese crumbled on top. Honestly, this is one of the best-tasting things I've made at home in my entire life. And knowing how easy it was to make tortillas from scratch, I'm addicted now.

spicy black beans

Spicy Black BeansI won't make excuses about not posting for a while. Well, maybe just one excuse. I was busy having fun at the IACP conference here in New York City. If I write a post about all the cool people I met and saw, I'd risk forgetting to mention a few of you. Plus I didn't take many photos there, perhaps because I wasn't doing any site seeing. So back to cooking at home, my latest favorite from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now is Spicy Black Beans with Chorizo and Jalapenos.Spicy Black BeansBesides the rice, it's a one-pot recipe (a large skillet) and is a breeze to prepare. The chorizo is just enough meat to make this dish taste great but not make it seem like a "meat dish," if you know what I mean.Spicy Black BeansThe fried egg on top is optional, but it's so much fun, you almost have to try serving it this way once. Plus is looks great in the photo. Of course I didn't bother frying up another egg when I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day, and it was just as yummy, so don't feel bad if you leave it out. This dish is another one of those Melissa Clark wonders -- as soon as you're done eating it, you wonder when you're going to make it again. Have I mentioned I love this book? Of course I have.

turkey patty time

Moroccan Turkey PattiesI'm a bit of a burger snob. People mention Shake Shake or some trendy burger joint, and all I can think is, "Why bother?" Yes, I've got a soft spot in my heart for Good Stuff in D.C., but at home I can literally count the number of times I've made a burger in the past 5 years on one finger. Then I met the Moroccan Spiced Turkey Patties in From the Ground Up by James Villas, and that all changed. This is my new standard for burger goodness. If you'd asked me before what I thought of ground turkey, you would have gotten a blank stare. In general, I don't find turkey to be all that exciting. Again, that's all changed.Moroccan Turkey PattiesI guess turkey is one of those foods which takes on the flavor of the other ingredients. Then there's the sauce, just yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne -- a simple but amazing combination. I've raved about From the Ground Up and other books by James Villas before, but this is a must-try recipe. Maybe it's a bonus that it's probably relatively healthful because the turkey is lean, and it's super easy to prepare even on a weeknight. Let me know if you try it.Morrocan Spiced Turkey Patties--From the Ground Up by James Villas, reprinted with permissionServes 41 1/2 pounds ground turkey1/4 cup seedless dark raisins (these really make the recipe -- do not omit)1 tablespoon tomato paste1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/8 teaspoon ground gingerSalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste2 tablespoons olive oil1/2 cup plain yogurt2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1/8 teaspoon ground cumin1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper1. In a bowl, combine the turkey, raisins, tomato paste, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and pepper and mix with your hands till well blended (do not overmix). Gently form the mixture into 4 patties about 1 inch thick.2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat, add the patties, and cook for about 6 minutes. Turn the patties over and cook the other sides till lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes.3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne and mix until well blended. (Of course you can add a little extra cayenne if you'd like, but don't go too crazy.)4. Serve the patties hot with equal amounts of the sauce spooned over the tops.

a little summer potluck

NYC viewApril threw a little rooftop deck summer potluck over the weekend. Once I got a glance of this incredible view, I understood why. And once I heard about the foodies who were attending, I knew I couldn't miss it. I started book-marking recipes in my favorite cookbooks, first 15 recipes, then three, and finally these two which I made. Both of these recipes coincidentally come from gorgeous cookbooks published by my buddies at Weldon Owen, and as usual, I didn't pay for these books and am friends with the authors too, so keep in mind that I'm a little biased. That being said, these recipes were pretty amazing.Endive, Radicchio, Apple saladFirst up, a spectacular Endive, Radicchio, and Apple Salad from Good Food to Share by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan of The Kitchn. This is one of those stunning Williams-Sonoma books and perhaps you were lucky enough to pick it up in one of their stores already. If not, the book is due to be released everywhere else next month. Besides using my mandoline to julienne the apples, the only other change I made was to add extra bacon, and Sara Kate told me she was cool with that. The dressing is made from buttermilk and blue cheese, and trust me, you need to try this recipe.Roasted Cauliflower saladI also made Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Raisins. My food styling isn't as pretty as the photo in the book, Cooking for Friends, but it's not fair to compare because authors Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm are professional food stylists. This is another gorgeous Williams-Sonoma book, but it's also available in bookstores now.  And you won't be worried about your food styling skills once you taste this dish. It's a little hard to see in the photo, but there are golden raisins (I added some extra because I love them) and toasted pine nuts. I forgot to add parsley at the end, but it was still delicious.Potluck tableribs by Savory Sweet Livingpopovers by Hungry RabbitI thought the potluck was a hit, even if it was insanely hot on the rooftop deck. Our hostess, April, made her own cured salmon. There was some great mac & cheese that someone brought, made by her boyfriend who happens to be a private chef... nice. Margaret brought her now-legendary ribs -- she said she makes it differently each time, but you can check out the master recipe here. The secret must be the guava jam. And Ken brought these killer cinnamon-sugar popovers. I've been out with Ken a few times recently, and he never shows up to a dinner without treats for everyone to bring home. He always claims it's a coincidence that he happened to be baking that day, but something tells me he's just a really generous guy. As for these popovers, let's just say that I ate two of them.  Okay, maybe two and a half.