Taco Tuesday!

I rarely fry food. And I’m certainly not one who is drawn to all manner of quirky fried foods that have gained popularity in recent years (read: fried oreos, pickles, etc). But I will take fried ice cream any day! Ha…yeah.

That said, last week, I stumbled upon a method for making fried tacos, and was intrigued. It just sounds right. I saw the process demonstrated in a video in the latest issue of e-magazine, Nesting Newbies (which previous to this, I had never heard of). I happened to have everything I needed to make them, so I declared it Taco Tuesday!

The recipe section is on pages 12-21, with the demo video on page 14. The chef gives some good tips, so pay attention, if you plan to make them. One thing I learned, is that corn tortillas have a grain. And to help prevent cracking, they should be gently folded against the grain.

While I followed the recipe process, I made up my own vegetarian “meat” filling to replace the beef. I didn’t intend this to be a recipe post, but I suppose I’ll share my version:

Vegetarian Fried Tacos
Inspired by a recipe by Lea Gonzalez McIntosh, published in Nesting Newbies, issue five.
Makes about 8 tacos.

FILLING:

SHELLS:

  • canola oil
  • 8 small corn tortillas
Directions:
  1. Sautée onion in olive oil in a large non-stick pan until soft and clear. Add seitan and chorizo and brown slightly. Add remaining ingredients, and stir until all liquid is absorbed.
  2. Fill a deep fry pan or wok with canola oil, about 1 inch deep. Heat to approximately 350º – 375ºF. To test if oil is hot enough, dip the edge of an extra tortilla into the oil. If the oil bubbles around the tortilla, it’s ready to go.
  3. Spread 1-2 Tbsp of meat filling down the center of the tortillas. One at a time, gently fold the ends together (against the grain), and slowly dip the bottom of the taco into the oil. Hold for 20 seconds, and then gently lay the taco on it’s side in the oil. Fry until lightly golden, and flip with tongs. Keep a close eye on them, I think I made mine a bit too dark. When done, remove with tongs, let excess oil drain, and set on a plate lined with paper towels. If you want, you can keep the plate warm in the oven until the rest are done.
  4. Gently top with shredded sharp cheddar, lettuce, salsa, and low-fat plain yogurt.
Along with the tacos, we had refried beans and a fresh garden mesclun and radish salad with orange vinaigrette.

 

For dessert, I quartered and fried a few tortillas that were left, and let them drain on paper towels. After they cooled down a bit, I tossed them in a Ziploc bag with a few tablespoons of sugar and a couple shakes of cinnamon. They were a perfect compliment to Turkey Hill’s (all-natural) Philadelphia-Style Vanilla Bean ice cream.

Did I say, “Yum”?
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Our Radishes


Last week, I picked the rest of the radishes left in our little patch. Not only were the radishes full-grown and ready, but the carrots we planted in the same space were begging for more room to stretch out.

Look at all those beautiful greens! I always feel bad about throwing them out (composting, actually). So whenever possible, we wash and save our greens. And tonight, I cooked them in some olive oil with garlic, crushed red pepper, and Gimme Lean (veggie) sausage. Mixed into some thin spaghetti and topped with pecorino romano and black pepper, we all (including Moxie and Moo) gave it a thumbs up!

Our Mother’s Day Brunch

Growing up, our family tradition for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, was to bring the honoree breakfast-in-bed. Although we no longer do the “in-bed” part, we still continue the tradition of making a surprise special meal for the day. So, on Sunday, my sisters and I put together a Mother’s Day “brunch” for our mom. And I have to say, we did a decent job…although she probably won’t appreciate that I’m posting her picture here. Get over it, Mom, there’s another one further down, too. :P~

{ MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH MENU }

  • Mimosas
  • Coffee and Tea
  • Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Feta
  • Biscuits with Creamed Chipped Beef or Creamed Veggie Sausage
  • Turkey, Beef, and Veggie Bacon
  • Salad of Watercress, Spring Garden Greens, and Fennel with Orange Dressing and Almonds
  • Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Coffee or Almond Icing
  • Biscuits with Berries and Fresh Whipped Cream

And now to the pictures…
pretty in pink hydrangeas and Tim’s painting, “Sheaf”

Momma: “Mmmm, I love cream chipped beef!”
Me: “Yes, we know. That’s why we made it.”

Timmy’s plate

Too busy eating to talk

Andrea’s diggin’ the veggie bacon

Tamarind, Amy, and Jamie gettin’ jiggy with the desserts

One can never have cupcakes too often…chocolate with almond and coffee icings

Biscuits topped with fresh strawberries, cherries, and fresh whipped cream. Yum!

Does your family have any Mother’s Day traditions?
Did you or your family do anything special for Mother’s Day this year?

An Experiment in Growing and Eating


a mix of radish, carrots and mesclun (mainly arugula, kale, and leaf lettuce)

Tim read somewhere that carrots and radishes can be planted together because radishes are quick to mature and should be ready to pick by the time the carrots need more space. When he was planting them, I suggested that we also scatter some mesclun seeds over the same space. My logic was that radishes and carrots mainly grow down and lettuce grows up, so there wouldn’t be too much competition. So, at one end of a raised bed, we have a commingled patch of carrots, radishes, and mesclun. Not sure how it’ll work out. It’s an experiment. But so far, it seems okay.

Earlier this week, I thinned out some of the radishes that were growing too close together and cut some mesclun for our first garden salad of the year. I served it along side grilled veggie burgers topped with Swiss cheese, roasted red peppers and sautéed radish greens (in olive oil with some diced onions). I’d never tried sautéing radish greens before, but I figured they were young and tender enough that it just might work. Tim really liked it. But then again, he likes almost anything… :)

Oh, and I can’t forget the sweet potato fries. Did I ever mention that I love sweet potato fries??? No? Okay, here goes: I loooove sweet potato fries!

How about you? Have you tried anything new in your garden or kitchen lately?

Pressure Cooking in Philly

We live a half-block down from our neighborhood’s public high school. About a month ago, when walking Moxie, I noticed there was an unusual number of white vans and work trucks parked alongside of the school. I mentioned my observation on Facebook and a friend directed me to an Inquirer article about Rachael Ray remodeling the school’s culinary arts classroom. Whuh? Come again? Rachael Ray at little ol’ Frankford High??? And wait — Frankford High has a culinary arts program??? Mind you, previous to this, I’d only heard negative comments about the school. So, it was nice for me to hear something redemptive was happening there.

Rachael Ray invited Bobby Flay to share a recipe with the class.
Photo by David M. Russell (Rachael Ray Show)

To my surprise, after further web-searching, I found that the story gets even better. Not only does Frankford High have a culinary arts class, but that it has a 100% graduation rate (as opposed to 60% school-wide). Not only that, but Frankford’s culinary students have dominated the city-wide Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) cooking competitions for over a decade. And much of their success can be attributed to the dedication and toughness of their teacher, Wilma Stephenson, who has been at it for over forty years. The success of her students caught the attention of Jennifer Grausman (the daughter of C-CAP’s founder), who decided to produce a documentary following the story of her classroom and students over the course of a school year. Named Best Documentary at the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival, Pressure Cooker just came out on DVD and is next up in my Netflix queue.

Pressure Cooker DVD, and images from the filming

So, a month after noticing the work trucks, I got to see the much-awaited classroom makeover episode of Rachael Ray on Monday morning. And lemme tell you, the tears were flowing during every segment. But, hey, I’m a crier (really, ya don’t say…). But seriously, I dare you to visit Ms. Ray’s site and watch all the segments of the show (in order). If your eyes stay dry throughout the whole thing, please see a doctor immediately, for you must have a lead soul.

Using my keen sense of observation, I figured out that Christian, one of the current seniors in Ms. Stephenson’s class, lives right up my street! (Screen captures from the Rachael Ray Show)

On a side (but very related) note, if you watch the final segment of the show, you will hear Ms. Ray mention that the C-CAP program is ending. That is not technically true. Rather, C-CAP’s relationship with the School District of Philadelphia is in danger. In order to get more state funding, the school district has made a decision to transfer the focus of their culinary arts curriculum from “back of the house” (read: kitchen) jobs, and more towards “higher paying, front of the room” jobs. Because this emphasis is not within the scope of C-CAP’s mission, after 2012, they may no longer be sponsoring contests and scholarships in Philly. And that would be a shame, because the chance to compete for scholarships is one of the main goals that Ms. Stephenson’s students strive towards all year. Those scholarships give them hope for a better future, one that they’ve worked hard for and deserve. I really hope that whatever decisions are finalized, are made with the best interests of the students in mind. Because I want want to continue to hear about great things coming out of Frankford High in the days and years to come!

Baby Shower Mini Cupcakes

Just a quick hello to share a few images of the mini cupcakes I made this past weekend for a baby shower in honor of our friends’ coming little one.


“Shoup” is pronounced like “shout”, but with a “p” at the end.

I made the mint (green) icing especially for Tiffany, but also made some vanilla for the boring people — sorry Curtis! ;) Haha.

I’m glad they were a hit. Yay!

Side note: These are the first images I’ve posted so far taken with my new-to-me camera! I got it from a friend, who, fortunately for me, got an itch for the next best thing, and thus, gave me a great deal on his hardly-used camera. Thanks so much, Kirk!

Poached Eggs & A Simple Spring Meal

Last weekend we visited Tim’s parents and came home with a couple dozen eggs freshly laid by their small flock of chickens. So, tonight I tried making poached eggs for the first time. Since I’d heard that poaching could be a bit tricky, I decided to try the process that appeared to be the most fool-proof:

Using this process, my first egg came out pretty well, but the second one’s yolk was a bit overcooked. It was still wet inside, though, so it was good enough.

For our simple dinner, I tossed some asparagus (picked from our garden) with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted it at 400ºF for about 12 minutes.

Then I buttered and toasted a hamburger bun (the only bread we had in the house), topped it with the roasted asparagus, poached egg, and finally, some shaved Pecorino Romano.


Tim digs in. I gave him the better egg.

Our meal was rounded out by a tangy salad of fresh dandelion greens (picked from our yard*) tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Tim really enjoyed the meal, so I’m sure I’ll be getting more practice poaching eggs in the near future.

Have you ever made poached eggs?
If so, how do you like to prepare and serve them?


*pesticide and herbicide-free. Why else would it be full of dandelions?

A Year + A Day


imagine there’s a candle

One month ago, I shared my goal to make more frequent posts before the one-year anniversary of this blog…and it would seem that I have succeeded. After posting only twenty-two times in the past eleven months (averaging to one post every three weeks), I posted twelve times in just one month’s time (one post every two-and-a-half days). I don’t think I’ll ever be a daily poster, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ll just keep plugging away at posting a few times a week. That’s enough for me.

So, Happy (belated) Birthday, little blog. Ya done good.