Posts Tagged ‘Mexican/ Tex-Mex’

TNT Dinner: Tortilla West

We had a good crowd for the TNT dinner on July 17. We went to our favorite Mexican place – Tortilla West, on Orapax Avenue near Lamberts Point Docks. It’s more of an upscale Mexican restaurant – one of the waitresses told me they have trained chefs who like to do Mexican-inspired dishes rather than the typical Mexican. It seems to me that most of the Mexican restaurants around here use a version of the same menu – the same Speedy Gonzales Lunch #1 and so on – which are fine for what they are, but Tortilla West has their own delicious dishes.

So, to help us keep track of what we’ve tried and not tried, here’s what we all had that night:

  • Barbara – Chicken Enchiladas Mole
  • Kim – Fish Tacos
  • Susan – Chicken Enchiladas Mole
  • Martha – Chicken Fajitas – a very generous portion!
  • Randy – Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadilla
  • Duane – Chicken Enchiladas

All declared their dinners delicious 🙂

Grow Your Own: Southwestern Potato Salad

Grow Your Own 2008Back in March, Dan and I went to see Bobby Flay do a cooking demonstration in downtown Norfolk. It was lots of fun, and I got an autographed copy of one of his books: “Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook: Explosive Flavors from the Southwestern Kitchen.” I’ve made several recipes from the book and loved them all – although I’ve tweaked a couple 🙂

We both really like this recipe for Southwestern Potato Salad – I’ve made it three or four times now. This last time, I used green onions, a red onion, and cilantro from our garden. I know the cilantro looks a little funny, but it’s trying to bloom and I’m trying to stop it 😉

Southwestern potato salad: Ingredients from our garden

I’m trying to expand my taste horizons, so I went ahead and added the red onion, even though I don’t like the flavor of raw onion. Guess what? I still don’t. But Dan does, so next time, I will just dice an onion for him and he can add it to his portion.

Also, the recipe says to add one jalapeno pepper, finely diced. If you like a lot of heat, go ahead and do this. I made it this way the first time, and it was too hot for us. The second time, I removed the seeds and membrane first, and it was too mild. The third time, I cut the pepper in half and removed the seeds and membrane from one half, leaving them in the other half. This time, it was just right 🙂

Bobby Flay’s Southwestern Potato Salad

2 lbs. small new potatoes (I used Yukon Gold potatoes)
Kosher salt
1 cup prepared mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 tbsp. ancho chile powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large ripe beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped (I used 2 roma tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (I used two)
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Add 1 tbsp. salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes are tender when pieced with a knife, 12 to 15 minutes.

Drain well, let cool slightly, and slice 1/4 inch thick (I cut into 1/2-inch chunks). Put in a large bowl and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you prepare the dressing.

Stir together all remaining ingredients except black pepper in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture over the warm potatoes and mix gently until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature. This can be made up to one day ahead and refrigerated.

We had this with cole slaw and our first smoked BBQ ribs. It was a great meal.

Southwestern Potato Salad, with cole slaw and smoked BBQ ribs

This is my contribution to the Grow Your Own food blogging event, hosted by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

Grow Your Own: Fish Tacos

Grow Your Own 2008Our spring garden of greens is going gangbusters. I actually made a salad for a dinner party for eight using some of the red and green leaf lettuce from the garden, but as usual, I was behind getting the food ready, so I didn’t have time to take a picture. It was delicious, though!

But last night, I made fish tacos for the first time, using a recipe from Cooking Light magazine. Turned out great. Instead of cabbage, of which I am not a huge fan, I used red and green leaf lettuce from the garden. Next week, we’re going to use up the bok choy in some stir-fry. Should be good 🙂

Here’s the garden from a couple of weeks ago:

Greens in the Garden

And here is a pile of washed lettuce ready to be sliced thinly for the tacos:

Red and Green Leaf Lettuce

And the recipe:

Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Crema

Crema:
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise
3 tbsp. reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp. grated lime zest
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, minced, or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Tacos:
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets (I used flounder)
Cooking spray
8 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage (I used leaf lettuce)
2 cups shredded jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 425F. To prepare crema, combine the first eight ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

To prepare tacos, combine cumin and next five ingredients (through garlic powder) in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of the fish. Place fish in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork, or to desired degree of doneness. Place fish in a bowl; break into pieces with a fork. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each with 1/4 cup cabbage or lettuce, 1 tbsp. crema and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

And the fish tacos, served with Mexican rice.

Fish Tacos with Homegrown Lettuce

This is my entry in the food blogging event “Grow Your Own,” hosted by Andrea of AndreasRecipes.com. The round-up of all the recipes is here.

Dinner at Plaza del Sol

Plaza del SolLast Wednesday, our TNT dinner group went to a new Mexican place that just opened in November – Plaza del Sol, at 22nd Street and Colonial Avenue in Ghent.

It’s an interesting space. There’s a large patio up front, with tables for dining al fresco, and a bar and dining room inside. It has a two-story ceiling and attractive Mexican decorations on the walls.

The food was just okay, though. Barbara, Susan and I all had the chicken fajitas with a side of refried beans. Nothing special there. I like the beans better at San Antonio Sam’s because they mix in lime juice and top with cheese to give more flavor.

Jane had a bowl of chicken tortilla soup. It looked good, and had lots of chicken in it, but it was not hot when it was served. The manager took care of that right away – we appreciated that. We’ll probably go back and try something else, but right now it’s just – so so.

Time for a new year …

Grow Your Own 2008 … of food blogging. This one is hosted by Andrea’s Recipes – thanks, Andrea! 🙂 The topic is “Grow Your Own,” as in, make a dish with at least one ingredient from your own garden, or from a friend’s garden if you don’t have your own. Dan and I have planted a veggie garden for most of the 15 years we’ve lived in this house, and I have a fairly large herb garden as well.

Last summer, some neighbors had their annual Porch Party potluck (they have a huge, wraparound porch); I wanted to make something different, and we had planted something different this year, and boy was it prolific. We planted three tomatillo plants and had so many tomatillos I gave bags of them away, mostly to Liz and Walter, who moved here from Colorado a few years ago. I still have some in the freezer. Among other things, we also grew onions and jalapenos this year, so I had those on hand, too.

The round-up of all the entries is here.

Home-grown tomatillos, onions and jalapeno peppers

So I made a few batches of salsa verde (green salsa) from Tyler Florence’s recipe and decided to make sort of an enchilada casserole for the potluck. It was a big hit 🙂

Tyler Florence’s Salsa Verde

12 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed
1 onion, quartered
Splash white vinegar
Water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 limes, juiced
Salt

Put the tomatillos, jalapenos, and onion in a saucepan with the vinegar and water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and poach until the tomatillos are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain. Put the vegetables in a blender, add the cumin, and puree. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and salt, and pulse to combine.

Making chicken enchilada casserole

Enchilada Casserole

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 bay leaves

3 tbsp. corn oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 each red, green and yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

About 15 corn tortillas

2 cups salsa verde
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Put chicken breasts in a small saucepan and cover with water; add bay leaves. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain chicken, discarding bay leaves, and let cool for a few minutes. Using fingers or two forks, shred chicken and set aside.

Heat corn oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or saute pan. Add garlic, stir for 30 seconds, then add onions and peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring, till softened, about 6-7 minutes. Stir in oregano, turn off heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut tortillas into half-inch wide strips. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1/2 cup of salsa verde on the bottom of the baking dish; top with half of the tortilla strips, then half the pepper mixture, half of the shredded chicken, and about 3/4 cup of salsa verde. Add the rest of the tortilla strips, pepper mixture, chicken, and salsa, in that order. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Top with cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, till cheese is melted and bubbly.

Chicken enchilada casserole

Rick Bayless and Mexican Cooking

Well, this was such a coincidence, I’m taking it as a sign 🙂 As I was cooking up my first batch of tomatillo salsa using a recipe from Rick Bayless‘ cookbook “Mexican Cooking,” I was watching “Emeril Live” on the Food Network. And who is Emeril’s guest chef this evening? Why, none other than Rick Bayless, and they get to cooking some Mexican.

Maybe this means the tomatillo sauce will work out 🙂 I don’t really know what it’s supposed to look like, so I don’t know if I’m doing it right. And to top it all off, I’m using the sauce to make chilaquiles (a Mexican layered casserole, like lasagna) for a neighborhood party tomorrow evening. I guess we’ll see. The test will be whether the pan is empty when I come home.

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