Hey there – welcome to my first blog post!
In honor of the last weekend of summer, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite things to make and eat – tacos.
I think tacos can and should be a meal you make once a week. You can whip up fresh and tasty tacos in 40 minutes of less. Better yet – take an additional 5 minutes and treat yourself to a mid-week fresh seasonal cocktail (watermelon tequila cooler anyone?). Use leftovers to make awesome taco salads for not sad desk lunches. Just add lettuce!
Tacos are pretty simple. Take some great tasting tortillas and fill them with flavor and texture.
Here is my formula for tacos:
Tortillas – find your favorite brand – they can be flour or corn
Marinated protein of choice
Fresh homemade salsa
Crunchy garnish – think cabbage, radishes
Something creamy – avocado, sour cream or plain yogurt
Since I am a former restaurant line cook, I think like a line cook when I make dinner. When you work in a kitchen, you learn to cook things in a certain order for efficiency, as well as how to multi-task. So, here is how I take my line cook skills and apply them to my own personal “weeknight dinner rush”.
Here is my plan of attack:
- Marinate protein
- Make salsa
- Cook protein
- While protein is cooking, chop garnish
- Pull protein from oven and keep warm
- Heat up tortillas
- Set out all ingredients
Once you have all those, you’re set and ready for a delicious taco dinner. Stay tuned for more seasonal tacos – I’m just getting started.
End of Summer Tacos
Serves 4 plus extra for leftovers
- Fish Marinade
- Corn and Black Bean Salsa
- Cilantro Lime Crema
- Watermelon and Cucumber Tequila cooler
Makes about 4 servings
1 pound of firm white fish (red snapper, tilapia, halibut)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
Fish needs time to marinate, so get your fish marinade ready! Remove skin and bones from your fish filets and place in a baking dish.
Whisk together all remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over fish. Flip the fish over to coat both sides. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
(Use the marinating time to prepare your salsa and garnishes) Preheat your broiler. After 30 minutes of marinating, place fish under broiler and cook for 5 minutes. Check the consistency, the fish is done when the thickest part of the filet flakes when pierced with a fork.
Cover with foil or a lid until you are ready to serve.
Corn and black bean salsa
Makes 4-6 servings
2 ears corn, shucked
1 jalepeño, minced (remove the seeds for milder salsa)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
generous handful of cilantro, chopped
1 cup cooked and drained black beans (canned or cooked from dry)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Cut the corn off the cob. Because corn likes to shoot across the kitchen, make it easier on yourself and do this in a bowl. Start halfway down the corn cob and gently cut down. Flip over, and do the same on the other side.
Chop the onion into a small dice and place in the bowl. I like to squeeze some lime and sprinkle a little salt on my onions to marinate them while I work on the rest of my veggies. This helps to soften the flavor of the onion.
Slice the cherry tomatoes into quarters. This might sound crazy to some people but I find it really therapeutic and I like the texture of the cherry tomatoes in the salsa. (The ratio of tomato water and seeds to tomato flesh seems to be more palatable for some, and I live with someone who doesn’t care for tomato “goop”) Feel free to buy one large tomato and dice it into small dice if you don’t want to deal with cutting the cherry tomatoes. Mince the jalepeño and cilantro and add them to the bowl. Wash your hands after touching the jalepeño! If you don’t you’ll feel spicy wherever you touch yourself afterwards (especially eyes…. I know from experience) 😉
Add remaining ingredients in a bowl and check for seasoning. If you want more kick, add cayenne or more jalepeno. You can let the salsa sit and marinate at room temperature while you finish the rest of your taco fillings.
Cilantro and Lime Zest Crema
(you can just serve straight sour cream instead of making this sauce but this is a nice touch if you are feeling zesty)
Makes 4 servings
Heaping cup of sour cream
Zest of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon of cumin
Sprinkle of cayenne (optional)
Salt to taste
Use a microplane to zest the lime. If you do not have a microplane, grate the zest on the finest setting on your box grater and mince with a knife if needed. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and check for seasoning.
Chop your garnishes. For fish tacos I love either cabbage or radishes. Any leftover garnishes are welcome in taco salad lunches for the next day!
Warm the tortillas.
Preheat a dry cast iron griddle over medium heat. To warm each tortilla, cook for about 15-30 seconds on each side. The tortillas will puff slightly and have a few dark brown spots. Keep them warm and soft by stacking them on a plate and covering completely with a dishtowel. I have also used bamboo steamers to keep my tortillas warm once I heat them on the skillet.
Flake the fish so that it is easy to scoop. I often put two forks in and make people flake off what they want (aka: I’m lazy during weeknights!).
Set out the salsa, crema, fish, warm tortillas, and any garnishes that you would like to add. Your fish taco bar is ready to go!
…and if you are in the mood…
Watermelon Cucumber Tequila Cooler
Adapted from NY Times
Makes one drink
4 ounces of watermelon/ cucumber juice:
2 ounces of silver tequila
2 slices jalepeno
pinch of sea sal
splash of soda water
Fill a high ball with ice and add all ingredients. Stir gently. I recommend a straw with this one, as the peppers can make your lips burn if they are particularly spicy!
*To make watermelon cucumber juice, place ½ seedless watermelon, cubed (pink looks the prettiest, but my CSA box contained a yellow one) and one peeled and coarsely chopped cucumber in a blender. Blend until smooth and strain with a fine mesh strainer. Refrigerate and enjoy straight or make yourself a cocktail with it!
All photos taken in this post were taken by the lovely Kate Davis. Thank you Kate!