Archive for the 'Mexican' Category

10
Nov
10

fish tacos and smoked salmon chowder.

I just had the most romantic reunion with my gym. After a rocky, 5+ year relationship, I realized a one month hiatus was necessary. I’d grown bored of the same three cardio machines, and my strength training had become entirely too predictable. I started dancing to restore some sense of endorphin release, and it was fun for a time. I crave the dependability and convenience of my gym, though, so by month’s end I was itching to get back. And, not to be cocky, but I had a feeling the gym missed me, too. We all but slow-motion ran to each other on November 1st, and it was straight magic from then on out. It’s good to be back.

tastebud assasin

Keeping with the theme of doing what I know, I made some fish tacos last week. Fish tacos are probably my favorite meal of all meals, so it’s far from my first time preparing them. I vary my recipe each time, though. This time, I bought some Tilapia at Whole Foods and marinated the fillets with this tasty and attractive Coconut Lime marinade you see to the immediate left.

Now, I’m an equal opportunity condiment-ingester, but I have to tout the benefits of this particular marinade. Not only is seafood an ideal match for citrus (lime), but it damn near explodes when combined with fruit (coconut). Just ask Bobby Flay. Combine that ideology with the fact that coconut is a rarely consumed and delightful addition to my repertoire, and I’m a fan.

I let that marinade for about an hour, and then I got on with it. I sauteed it in a skillet on medium heat for about four minutes each side, and then chopped the flaky fish into bite-sized chunks. The fish was done, and it was time to move on to the fillings.

Ingredients:

tilapia fish tacos3 Tilapia fillets

1/2 cup Whole Foods’ Coconut Lime marinade
1 avocado, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
Juice of one lime
2 tsp Cholula
whole wheat tortillas
salt
pepper

I chopped some avocado, mango and red onion for a salsa, and I topped the whole mix with the juice of a lime, salt and pepper to taste. I folded the whole family in whole wheat flour tortillas, topped with Cholula, and enjoyed. Highly recommended, and they’re easy on the eyes, too.

I’m having an interchangeable love affair with fish and soup these days. When I’m not eating bisque, I’m taking in some sea bass, and vice versa. I’d never dreamed of combining the two, but I found this insane recipe for Smoked Salmon Chowder on Epicurious. My interest is piqued. I’m into the idea:

leeks

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups milk
8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chives, chopped

You start by heating the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and then add the garlic and leeks. Sauté for two minutes. Add the potato, celery, salt and pepper, and sauté for another minute. Add the broth and simmer for another 15 or so minutes, or until the potato softens. Add tomato paste and milk, and bring to a simmer. Stir in cream, remove from heat, and stir in some chives.

This is one delicious chowder. I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. I’m sure that’s a genetic improbability (for now), so I’ll settle on eating it for dinner. YUM.

smoked salmon chowder

09
May
10

halibut with fruit salsa, green pea and tarragon soup.

I’ve been a vegetarian for all of two years now, and there are times when I openly wonder if I could still claim veg status if I maybe just integrated some cured Italian meats into my diet. Just a few; just to see how it feels. I watch the Food Network and am unnaturally jealous when they prepare those adorable lollipop-like lamb chops. Also, I’m weirdly fascinated by duck and the way people score the backside with a criss-cross pattern before cooking. When’s the last time I had that much fun with an eggplant? I do realize that I’m the only one closing myself off to decorating ducks, but the idea of crossing over to the dark meat side fills me with this unmistakable sense of failure. I have no clue when that will pass, so for now I’m choosing to further explore the world of seafood.

I was in Whole Foods last week and was drawn over to the seafood counter. Before I had a chance to explore my options, I saw one of those “WEEKEND DEAL!” stickers on the halibut. I’ve only ever made more mainstream fish such as salmon or tilapia, but my latest desire to keep seafood interesting drove me to purchase. For just $15.99 a pound (3X the price of the modest tilapia), I was the proud owner of halibut – the Lexus of fish. I took it home and prepared with some black bean and mango salsa, a Deena original I like to whip out once it gets warm. I started out by brushing the fish with some olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper, and cooked in on the panini press:

halibut, being pressed

My friend Becca was talking about how professionals always wrap their paninis in aluminum foil before pressing, and how this would lend to a much less frustrating cleanup. I wish I could take credit, but she was the motivation for me deciding to forgo grill marks for the best cleanup of my life. The end result was fish that turned out all kinds of tender, because it behaved as if it were being steamed rather than grilled. Delicious.

Ingredients:

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 mango, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/2 avocado, chopped

1 handful of cilantro, chopped

lime juice to taste

I mixed together all ingredients and seasoned with the lime juice, salt and pepper. The end result unnaturally jacked up my grocery bill,  so I also made a dirt cheap Green Pea Soup with Tarragon recipe I found on the Epicurious app.

halibut with fruit salsa

Ingredients:

2 16 oz bags of frozen peas

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.5 c of sliced shallots

4 c vegetable broth

3 tbsp tarragon

plain nonfat yogurt

I made the recipe by the book, except they wanted me to add pea sprouts to the top and I figured we could do without. You start by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan, and throw the shallots in. I had one shallot, some red onion and a few green onions — the poor man’s version of the building blocks for soup — so I chopped all of the above and tossed those in. You cook for about 7 minutes, and then add all but one cup of the peas to the pan along with the veggie stock and 2 tbsp of tarragon. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce to simmer for about 7 minutes. Then, the recipe instructed me to puree, so I did as told with my immersion blender, arguably my favorite kitchen tool ever. Once pureed, you add the remaining tbsp of tarragon, some pepper, and then ladle into bowls. Microwave the peas for a minute, and top the soup with a few of those and a drizzle of yogurt. It was seriously so sweet and amazing. I’m pretty sure I had three bowls the first night, and that was with my self control in place.

On the sweaty side, I’ve held true to my promise for more yoga, and have started going at least twice a week. Hello, dedication. The downside, of course, is I’ve started talking in cult-like yogi terms. “There’s one long line of energy in Warrior 2, and you can really feel it. And you want to open up your heart in your bind, you know?” This rarely seems applicable when I work it into daily conversation, yet somehow I do. After two weeks of yoga and half-assed aerobic exercise, I’ve come to the conclusion that yoga can only be a part of my life when I’m still hitting the gym on the daily. It’s really the only way to get ride of those 10 peanut butter pounds I’ve accumulated, especially since I’m still eating massive amounts of reduced-fat Skippy while trying to lose the fruits (back fat, etc.) of its predecessor’s labor. I have future plans to start dancing again, so stay tuned re: that.

Anyways, see below for my delicious pea soup:

Green Pea with Tarragon Soup

11
Apr
10

shrimp salad with serrano-mint sauce.

My longest term relationship has been with the gym, and I have put a LOT of time into making it work. We first got together in high school, had a trial separation in college, and got back together right before I moved to New York. We’ve been going strong for four years now, and I am bored out of my skull. I’ve tried different things to keep it interesting, but there are only so many options within those confined walls. As a result, I’ve been looking elsewhere for satisfaction. The track and I have had a well publicized affair, but that’s not the only time I’ve strayed. I recently went to Mexico, and the pool and I had some really good times. We’re talking handstand contests, somersaults, et al. Also, what better way to rehydrate than with a swim up bar and giant frozen cocktails? Sorry, Poland Spring. I appreciate a good sport cap, but Pina Colada won this round.

gym assassin

Also, is it any accident that all the girls with the sickest bodies in Mexico were major yogis? Methinks not. I’m all about the yoga now. I was warned that it would change my body, muscle-y-wise, and I’ll be damned if it hasn’t already. I’ve gone maybe five times in the last two weeks, and I honestly look longer and leaner. Seriously, I think my spine went off and elongated itself. Or maybe it’s all in my head, but I’ll take it.

As far as the food goes, I had something like 20 Mexican meals in a row. Not only was I in Puerto Vallarta eating beer battered fish tacos daily, but then, without skipping a beat, I headed to Austin and had street truck tacos and queso for three days straight. Eventually, I returned to NYC with habanero swimming in my veins, and met a friend for brunch at the legit Mexican place down the street. Two days later, I met another friend for dinner and had – wait for it – Mexican food. Think I’ve had my fill? Nah. Although if my metabolism could talk, it would say, “Listen, my dear. Throw me a bone and deprive yourself of chips and salsa for, like, one day.” And I’d say, “You can handle this. Take it all, bitch.” And it would get all pouty and defiant, and I really hate when it’s like that. So to maintain peace, I’m taking a brief departure from all the huevos rancheros and the like.

I made a beautiful little salad the other night that had a fair amount of Mexican flavors, though. It called for:

Ingredients:

1/4 lb pre-cooked shrimp

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 sliced avocado

5 sliced roma tomatoes

chopped cilantro

1/4 lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

It started with some shrimp that I bought pre-cooked at Whole Foods. I sauteed some baby portabella mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper, and then heated the shrimp in there as well. I sliced the avocado and tomatoes, threw those on top of the spinach, and then added the mushrooms and shrimp as well. I topped the whole mix with the chopped cilantro, and then made this Bobby Flay serrano-mint sauce to use as dressing. It was the spiciest thing I’ve made in ages, and it calls for:

Ingredients:

1 c mint leaves

2 serrano chiles, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons Agave nectar (Bobby calls for sugar; I didn’t have)

1/4 c white wine vinegar

salt

You throw all ingredients in a blender and pulse until mixed. I drizzled it atop the salad. Even after my two week Mexican food bender, I found it to be just slightly too spicy. I added a little more agave nectar, but the mint, ginger, white wine vinegar and chiles quadruple-teamed each other to make a pretty potent sauce. Anyways, see below for the delicious final product. It may have sacrificed half my stomach lining, but what a way to go:

shrimp salad with serrano-mint sauce

25
Nov
09

shrimp tacos.

I’m leaving on a jet(Blue) plane first thing tomorrow morning, so cue a straight week of eating my face off and watching 19+ hours of “Days of Our Lives.” It happens. I’ll try and work in the occasional lake run, but I can’t make any promises. Until then, I’d like to live off my recent accomplishments. Indulge me.

To begin with, I’ve been running every single day. I look like her, except turn the intensity waayyy down. runningI’m all for rock running, but I’ve been sticking to my diluted version with the treadmill and some “Lady Gaga” on Pandora. I cut out the elliptical for good, which seems a little finite considering how good it is to my knees. I’ve never been that impressed with the results, though, so for now it’s over between us. On Saturday, I ran two miles, and then I walked an entire mile by bringing the incline gradually up to 10, and then back down to one. Then, I ran two MORE miles. How serious am I? Not as serious as this girl, but I’m at least halfway there.

On the food front, I’ve been making delicious stuff lately that is just not so photogenic. I’m too honest and law abiding to superimpose one of Giada’s recipes on one of my plates, so I’ve decided to leave them out of this. One was pretty clever, though, so it’s a shame. My friend and I had brunch plans last Sunday, so I was up and doing my morning gymming when I got a text from that friend. He was all, “Can we do a cheap-ass diner instead?” which I read as “dinner,” and immediately started making my own brunch. Once I realized my mistake, I had an over easy egg just hanging out with nowhere to go. I tupperwared it and met my friend for brunch.

Later that night, I was considering making a carbonara to make use of my egg. I don’t eat bacon, I’m mostly off cheese, and the egg was already in a phase not compatible with carbonara, so I had to nix that idea. I made a pasta and my own sauce out of tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and garlic, and at the last minute I threw the egg in there to heat it. I ended up eating it altogether, and it was pretty amazing. Seriously. Just not so pretty, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

I love a good taco, so I decided to make some shrimp tacos on Monday. I started with some pre-cooked and frozen shrimp, which I ran water over and then heated with some butter. I toasted a low-carb wrap (obvs), and then heated some black beans alongside my shrimpies. I have this delicious corn-chile salsa from TJ’s, so that became a pretty serious part of the meal. On the side, I chopped tomatoes and fresh cilantro. Not only were they delicious (roommate-approved!), but they’re so easy on the eyes. See below:

shrimp taco

15
Aug
09

grilled scallops with avocado puree.

Lately I want to, like, spoon with nature. I’ve been planning to give up my morning workouts in favor of some after-work runs, because two days a week is not fulfilling my nature needs. I’m all adjusted and plateaued, anyways, and I’ve just now realized that I never work as hard first thing in the morning. My body is all anti-sleep and variety, it seems, because I’ve had a hard time transitioning. This past week’s humidity and constant tease of rain has been an awesome enabler. I woke up this morning to this good looking sunrise, though:

sunrise

sunrise

I feel like that’s pretty much a sign that the rain and Florida-esque humidity is on its way out, right? In any event, I’m totally converting to a p.m. runner first thing next week. I’m much too excited about this.

In the name of variety, I made my first ever scallops this week. Actually, I’m pretty sure it also marked the first time I ate scallops. I saw a bag at TJ’s and just decided to go for it, all lady balls to the wall.

I prepared them by first defrosting, then coating each in olive oil, salt and pepper. I grilled them on the Panini Press, which took maybe three minutes for each mini batch. I found this adorable Bobby Flay recipe to work with, so I started by making the avocado puree.

I added an avocado, some chopped red onion, jalapenos, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to the food processor:

avocado puree, pre-puree

avocado puree, pre-puree

I pulsed everything together until it pureed up all pretty. It was basically an extra-spicy guacamole when it all came together, but I loves my spicy so I approved. Meanwhile my scallops were cooking off and smelling incredible in the background. I have proof, too. My roomie said so. So there.

I assembled the little scallop boats just like Bobby did, although mine were complete with these Longboard tortilla chips courtesy of TJ’s. I started with a chip, and then topped it with the spicy guacamole, one scallop, and some sliced jalapeno. They ended up looking like little Mexican-flavored kayakers, so they totally spoke to my nature infatuation. See below for the final  product:

grilled scallops on tortilla chips w/ avocado puree

grilled scallops on tortilla chips w/ avocado puree

06
Aug
09

Austin eats.

I just took my first big girl vacay, and I think I fell a little bit in love. I visited my lady Lauren in Austin, TX, where she and fiance Dave have lived for the past year. That city is crammed full of Mexican food and fitness lovahs, and I’m a little into both myself. And by “a little into,” I mean that I’d like to die by means of salsa and avocados after a nice outdoor jog. I haven’t worked out the specifics for that amazing/slightly morbid fantasy, but what a way to go.

Lauren let me tag along while she did her grocery shopping at the organic red light district-esque Central Market. You know, if the red light district offered free samples and was about food, rather than prostitution. Just look at the fish counter:

fishes.

fishes.

How sexy is THAT? She didn’t come outright and say that she was challenging my loyalty to Trader Joe’s, but I could see it in her eyes.

One of the things I love most about TJ’s is the customer service, but the employees at Central Market are above and beyond. They pretty much stop just short of going home with you and preparing the food while you watch Days. Maybe if coaxed? I think they could be talked into it.

Lauren and I were all, “Hmm maybe we’ll make crab cakes. How does one prepare those?” And the employee was like, “Hold please, I’ll go print a recipe for you.” And then he DID. And it was an Ellie Krieger recipe! It’s like he sensed we’re Food Network addicts, and we both totally took care to cover our track marks.

We were in Central Market to buy breakfast burritos ingredients, which is one of Lauren’s specialties. We went back and she prepared, while I sat stove-side and observed. She started with a couple of russet potatoes and one yellow onion, which she chopped and threw in a pan with a little canola oil. She added about a clove of chopped garlic, some cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Those sauteed for about 10-15 minutes, and she covered the pan for most of the time to expedite the softening:

breakfast burrito master

breakfast burrito master

She then scrambled about five eggs in a separate skillet, which she prepares by heating the skillet on high and adding the eggs immediately. She scrambles for about a minute, and then turns off the burner to let it cook a minute or so more. Although Sunny says cook eggs low and slow, I totally approve of this method. Who doesn’t love fast and easy? No one. No one doesn’t love it.

Lauren heated the tortillas in yet another skillet, which is kind of great because it snubs the microwave. I get such a thrill out of that. When everything cooked up all delicious-like, she threw them all in the warmed tortillas and dressed with salsa verde and hot sauce.

They were so spicy and flavorful, and I’m taking her recipe without shame. Meanwhile, see below for the final product:

Lauren's breakfast tacos.

Lauren's breakfast tacos.

I spent four days with Austin, and by the end of my trip we realized we forgot to make the crab cakes that the fish counter man was so committed to!

We were too busy having the most amazing Indian food in life, excellent mushroom pizza at The Alamo, and great $10 brunch that kept me full for like 12 hours. Oh yeah, and cinnamon and nutella crunch gelato. I had that also.

Come Tuesday, I tried to leave Austin, but the city like wouldn’t have it. My flight was supposed to leave at 1 p.m., but it delayed, delayed, delayed and was eventually canceled by 6 p.m. Not one airline wanted to fly anywhere near NY at that point, so I called Lauren and filled her in on the situation. The quickest flight out was this morning, so I crashed for one more night with my favorite Texans.

We made our collaborative crab cake dinner, meaning Lauren made the cakes (the important part) and I cut sweet potatoes into fry-like shapes. She made the cakes by mixing lump crab, a diced red pepper, and chives with some worchester sauce, hot sauce and dijon mustard. She then mixed in one egg, rolled them in bread crumbs, and pan seared them in a little oil for about five minutes. I cut the sweet potatoes, brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked them at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

I’m an unapologetic grill fiend, so I was all ready to grill the corn on Lauren’s indoor grill. Rather, she wet the corn still wrapped in its husks, and microwaved it for about 8 minutes. They steam when nuked that way, and they came out perfectly done. Also, the husks just shed right off that way, which is pretty convenient for the husk-challenged.

The meal was delicious and totally reaffirmed Jetblue’s decision to ground me for one more night. See below:

clockwise from right: sweet potato fries, crab cake, corn on the cob and green onion garnish.

clockwise from right: sweet potato fries, crab cake, corn on the cob and green onion garnish.

21
Jul
09

tabbouleh and fish tacos.

I’m not usually a proponent of short-term anniversaries, but this is the third straight week that my track and I have been together. I may celebrate with some sort of homage to the track. Maybe a long overdue iPod holder since I broke the clip on mine more than a year ago and have since been running with it in my sports bra? I don’t want to go all out, but I do think it’ll do wonders for my track rep.

Outdoor running totally has the potential to transform one’s body in half the time of gym cardio stuff. I have little to no legit proof of this, but I’m convinced I see effects much sooner. In order to expedite the beach body in my sights, I have decided to eat a little lighter. Cue last week’s tabbouleh.

I’ve always loved Mediterranean food, and I was all hopped up on this awesome episode of No Reservations I saw last week. Anthony was in Greece, and there was this hilarious part in which he went to the hills of Crete with a bunch of men to slaughter a lamb. They shot it, salted it, filled the small intestine with its spleen, and then roasted it over a fire. If I wasn’t a vegetarian before….Then, they ate it cavemen-style (no utensils, no mint jelly, etc.), and drank what looked like quarts of alcohol each. Then, they played with handguns for a while, and wrapped up the day with some highly effeminate ritualistic dancing.

I was inspired, so I decided to make tabbouleh. What? That’s a natural transition. Trader Joe’s was all, “bulgur what?”, so I had to make it with couscous, though. I chopped mint and parsley, cherry tomatoes and cucumber, and tossed that into the mix. I added a few lemons, salt and pepper, and then stuffed the mix into a toasted whole wheat pita with some feta cheese:

pita stuffed with tabbouleh and feta

pita stuffed with tabbouleh and feta

It was pretty delicious, and it really didn’t get old after five straight days. Impressive.

There was nothing spicy about it, though, so come this week I got the shakes from cayenne withdrawal. It happens. I decided to make fish tacos with mango-jicama slaw, because I’m fancy.

I found some cheapo mahi-mahi at TJ’s which was excellent, but I could not find a jicama any which way. I was so unwilling to compromise my mango-jicama slaw, because that would have really destroyed my fancy factor. Long story short, I had to hit up Whole Foods and shell out like $5 for a 2 pounder. It was absurd:

a jicama

a jicama

I hate to do anything without involving my panini press, so I decided to grill the fish on it. If that thing doesn’t have a million different uses, I don’t know what does. I seasoned the fillet with old bay seasoning, salt, pepper, lime juice, and delicious cayenne pepper. Then, I grilled it for five minutes max. It smelled amaaaazing.

Meanwhile, I chopped up some mango and jicama into thin strips. I grilled a low-carb wrap (don’t knock it), and then cut the fish into strips as well. Then, I topped the whole thing off with this great corn chile salsa stuff from TJ’s.

All the flavors/textures blended so amazingly well together. Also, it was pretty easy on the eyes. Some dishes DO have it all. See below:

fish taco with mango-jicama slaw and corn chile salsa

fish taco with mango-jicama slaw and corn chile salsa




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