Archive for the ‘Latin/Mexican/Spanish’ Category

Fish Tacos!

July 7, 2018

The fresh corn salsa is also amazing on fish tacos!  Hard to beat fish tacos, and topped with this salsa they’re darn near perfect.  The only drawback I can think of is that your house temporarily smells like fish.  A sacrifice totally worth making!

There are a lot of ways to make fish tacos.  You can fry the fish.  You can blacken the fish.  You can grill it.  You can pan sear it.  I mostly go the easy route and pan sear.  Add some chopped cabbage for crunch, some salsa, and a little lime crema. Heaven.


I cut the fish into pieces and coat them in Tony Chachere’s.  It’s a spice combo that works well on tacos and pretty much anything else.


When you pan sear pretty much anything just make sure you leave enough room in the pan.  You want the pan to be super hot so you get a nice sear.  If the pan is too full the pieces will kind of steam each other.  Not what you’re going for.  Also resist the urge to move the pieces around.  The get a sear from the contact with the pan.  Just let them sit 2-3 minutes and turn them once.  2-3 more minutes and you’re minutes away from tacos!


For the crema, just squeeze some lime juice into some plain yogurt and add a little salt.  Maybe a little cumin.  You want it to be just thin enough to spread easily on the tacos.

Choose your delivery vehicle and stuff!  I like corn tortillas best.  For beef tacos I like the crunchy shells, but for fish tacos I like the soft white corn ones.  Use yellow corn if you prefer, or even flour.

One final tip.  Before you shake the hot sauce, make sure the top is on good.  Just sayin’.




Fresh Corn Salsa

July 7, 2018

My two favorite summer foods – tomatoes and fresh corn.  Throw in some onions, jalapeno, lime juice and spices and you’ve got salsa!  This is my favorite salsa.  You can do anything with it.  Eat it with Scoops as is.  Add black beans and serve it as a side dish.  Add chicken or shrimp, maybe some rice, and eat it as a main dish.  Super fresh, super easy/IMG_2671

The corn is the hardest part.  Shuck and silk it first.  No cooking needed.  My tip is that you keep your hands as dry as possible for the silking.  Water makes the silks sticky and hard to remove.  Then get a wide, shallow bowl and a sharp knife.  Put one end of the cob into the bowl and cut the kernels off.  The bowl will catch the kernels.  Then dice the onion about the same size as the corn kernels.  It makes the salsa easier to eat and it looks nicer.


Seed the jalapeno and dice it finely.  Add the juice of one lime.  Add cumin, chili powder and salt to taste.  You can add chopped fresh cilantro if you like.


Here’s another tip.  Don’t add the tomatoes until you’re ready to serve it.  You can refrigerate the corn mixture.  Tomatoes get mealy and lose flavor in the fridge so add them at the last minute.  You can make extra of the corn mixture.  It will keep for 2-3 days.  Just take out what you need and add tomatoes to it.



Potato, Poblano and Chorizo Tacos

April 16, 2013

It’s installment two in Taco Week!  We’ll call this taco crack.  Serious awesomeness.  I don’t know any other way to describe it.

I have no idea what qualifies this for inclusion in Cooking Light, but I’m awfully glad it’s there.  It feels pretty sophisticated for tacos.  Roasted poblano peppers, local chorizo, charred tortillas.  Fancy.  But before we get too far above ourselves let me point out that this is hash.  Plain and simple.  Potatoes, vegetables and meat all cooked together.  It’s hash.  And it’s amazing.

Chorizo tacos

Let me start with what I left out or substituted.  I left out the corn.  The sweetness would be a fantastic addition, but I really think you need fresh kernels and it’s nowhere near corn season in Central Virginia right now.  There’s corn in the stores, but I’m holding out for the local stuff.  I left out the lime wedges, which would also have been great, but I was starving by the time I got this made so I just didn’t get around to the lime wedges.  I substituted freshly shaved parmesan for the manchego because that’s what I had.  I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock because I had some in the fridge.  I don’t think the recipe suffered at all.  I’ll finish the ingredients portion with a big kudos to Sausage Craft.  I used their chorizo, removed from the casing.  It’s spicy, but not too hot and has an amazing flavor.  Another winner from Sausage Craft.

To make this a little easier on myself I chopped the onion and roasted the pepper last night.  It saved a little prep time tonight.  Using pre-minced garlic would shave a minute or two off as well.  Other than that this is pretty quick and pretty straightforward.  I used a big cast iron skillet, which I generally recommend.  It heats evenly and holds the heat really well.  I’ve found that the top from my large chef’s pan fits the skillet well, but since you only have to cover this partially you can use a dinner plate or whatever top you can find.  Nothing special about the prep.

This is a terrific taco filling.  Really terrific.  This has football season taco bar written all over it.  It would also be great for brunch with an over easy egg on top.  Or great lunch food served on lettuce.  Or great hangover food served with a Bloody Mary, Mimosa or beer on the side – I assume.  (My mom reads this).  Truly I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow when it’s time to eat the leftovers!

Good? So far beyond good!
Easy? Yep, it’s hash. Just really good hash.
Good for company? You’ll be the hit of the brunch crowd.
Special shopping? Chorizo might not be available in your regular grocery. Check a farmers’ market (my preference) or a specialty store or a Latino market.

Potato, Poblano and Chorizo Tacos


2 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups diced white potato
1 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces Mexican raw chorizo, casings removed
3/4 cup unsalted vegetable stock
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 ounce parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)


1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Cut poblanos in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place poblano halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil for 8 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel; coarsely chop.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potato; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove potato; place in a large bowl. Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes. Add poblano, red pepper, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture to potato. Add chorizo to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Return potato mixture to pan. Stir in stock and salt; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until potato is tender, chorizo is done, and liquid almost evaporates.
4. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat tortillas over medium-high heat directly on the eye of a burner for about 15 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Arrange about 1/3 cup potato mixture in center of each tortilla; top with 1 1/2 teaspoons onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese.

Grilled Mahi Tacos

April 14, 2013

It’s been a busy weekend.  Yesterday I ran my first 10K (yay!).  Today I finished the mowing, tilling and edging in the yard.  Then a very successful shopping trip.  I rounded out the day with a Harpoon Summer Ale and a little grilling.  This month’s Cooking Light has a feature on tacos so it’s taco week at my house.  Fish tacos are my favorite so I started with those.  Easy, light, awesome!

Grilled Mahi Grilled Mahi Tacos

You don’t really need a recipe for fish tacos though there are some good ones out there.  If you start with good fish (and you should) I recommend doing as little as possible to it.  I had a 1.5 pound mahi filet that I dressed with a little olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper and lime juice.  No need for anything else.  Just don’t leave the lime juice on too long.  It “cooks” the fish as it sits.  Heat the grill until it’s very hot then grill the fish 4-5 minutes on each side.  Much less if your fish is thin.  That’s it for the fish.

I dress my fish tacos with slaw, avocado, cilantro and lime juice.  Yum!  Many recipes you’ll find for fish tacos call for cabbage and some kind of cream.  Since my slaw is just cabbage, Duke’s mayo, salt and pepper I use that rather than making a crema.  (That way I have slaw left for hot dogs too).  I use corn tortillas because I prefer them.  I heat them slightly in a dry cast iron skillet.  You could do the same by putting them on the hot grill for a few seconds.  It makes them soft enough to make them pliable.  If you leave them too long they’ll start to crisp.  That’s fine if you’re making fish tostados, but not so great for tacos.

This is one of my favorite meals.  It’s everything that’s wonderful about Summer.  Light and yummy and bright and creamy and filling.  Put a beer on the side and it’s pretty hard to beat!

Good? So good.
Easy? So easy you don’t need a recipe.
Good for company? Not many folks will turn down fish tacos.
Special shopping? Nope, just get good fish.

Cuban Chicken and Hominy Stew

February 5, 2013

Today was not a good day.  On top of some significant challenges at the office, I came home to a house where one dog had a stomach issue and another decided that a boot box was his enemy and needed to be destroyed.  Lots of cleanup to manage.  The last thing I felt like doing was cooking.  Truly.  But I stopped at the store on the way home to pick up a pepper and an onion so I could make this dish so I forged ahead.  Glad I did.  A little comfort food was exactly what I needed.

Cuban Chicken and Hominy Stew

Let me start by saying this was supposed to have plantains instead of hominy.  The store I stopped at for the pepper and onion is a scary store that offered no chance of picking up plantains so I decided the hominy, which I already had at home, was an acceptable substitute.  It’s possible that the plantains would have thickened this into a more stew like consistency, but probably not so much.  I also used a pint of home canned tomatoes instead of fresh.  February is not a time to buy fresh tomatoes in Virginia.  I didn’t have a whole cup of sherry so I used 2/3 sherry and 1/3 marsala.  If I’d had port I would have used that instead.  Nothing else in the way of ingredient subsitutions.  I even measured the spices.

This can reasonably be described as a 30 minute meal.  I roasted and pulled some chicken breast on Sunday so I didn’t have to deal with chopping chicken tonight.  And clearly draining a can of hominy and a jar of tomatoes is less cumbersome than peeling and chopping plantains and tomatoes.  Even having to deal with those things, though, you’d be pretty close to the 30 minute mark.  And it’s all in one pot too so that’s always good.

Speaking of good.  This stuff is good.  It’s soup-like, not stew-like, but the flavors are terrific.  The sherry/marsala adds a wonderful sweetness to balance the salty broth and tomatoes.  The hominy gives it a starchy richness.  I added a squeeze of fresh lime juice to my bowl to add a little bright citrus as well.  Without it, the sweet was almost too much.  Next time I’ll add a little chopped avocado garnish too.  That would put this over the top.

I almost made only a half recipe thinking that I might feel inclined to cook later in the week.  I may, in which case I’ll freeze some of this, but for now I’m really looking forward to the leftovers!

Good? So good.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? A terrific weeknight dinner with friends.
Special shopping? Nope. Even in Virginia you can get cooking sherry in the grocery store.

Cuban Chicken and Hominy Stew


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 pint chopped, peeled tomatoes
1 cup dry sherry or port
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C chicken broth
2 C roasted, shredded chicken breast
1 can white homniy, drained
Limes, cut into wedges


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and bell pepper; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in tomato and next 9 ingredients (tomato through broth). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in hominy and chicken; cook 10 minutes or until tender.
Serve with lime wedges.

Fresh Salsa Verde

September 30, 2012

Whew, happy to be home from some business travel!  And ready to put the garden to bed for the year. Of course that means that while I was away the garden was busy starting over, kind of.  Bunches of green tomatoes on the vine; a few bush beans; and more peppers than I know what to do with.  I took out the tomatoes, beans and squash yesterday.  I’m going to give the peppers another week to finish what they’ve started.  So, that left me with lots of green tomatoes to deal with – but not enough to bother with the whole canning thing.  Salsa verde it is.

Normally salsa verde is made with tomatillos, but I’ve found that really green tomatoes work just as well.  It’s a great use for the tomatoes left on the vine at the end of the season.  The small ones are best because they have fewer seeds and other tomato gunk.  I had a few dozen green Juliet tomatoes that worked great.  The great thing about these is that they don’t have to be husked, cored, peeled or anything.  I quarter them and throw them in the food processor.  Add some garlic, cilantro, jalapenos and salt; pulse a few times; and you’re done.  Couldn’t be easier.

It turns out a little briny; a little crunchy; a little sharp; and a beautiful bright green.  It’s perfect for a lot of things.  Feel free to eat it as is with chips.  I used 2 cups or so – half in white turkey chili and half as garnish – tonight for football watching.  I ended up with 6 half pint jars to spare and share.  Yum.  I’ll be using one of my jars with chicken or fish later this week I’m sure.  Try it with enchiladas too!

I put the leftovers in jars, but feel free to put some in freezer bags and lay them out flat for freezing.  It will keep for months and be easy to store that way.  This recipe is completely scaleable to feel free to make as little or as much as you like at one time.

Good? So good.  Maybe better because the tomatoes and peppers came from my own garden.
Easy? So easy. A knife and a food processor. That’s it.
Good for company? Sure, make extra for sharing!
Special shopping? Definitely not. Absolutely use tomatillos if you don’t have green tomatoes.

Fresh Salsa Verde


3 lbs small green tomatoes, quartered
6 cloves garlic
4 jalapenos, seeded and rough chopped (use more or fewer to adjust the heat level)
2/3 bunch fresh cilantro, rough chopped
salt to taste


Put everything in a food processor and pulse until ingredients are chopped fine. Add a little water if needed.


July 1, 2012

Yet another sign of Summer – fresh gazpacho!  I just love this stuff.  Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers all come in at the same time in Central Virginia so the beginning of July starts gazpacho season.  This is another one of those things that has a million recipes.  Some people chop everything by hand because they like a really chunky gazpacho.  Other people, including me, go the food processor route.  It’s quick and chops things fine without liquifying them.  Some people go the blender route to get a smoother soup with a little foam on it.  Try them all!

Tonight I used two Hanover tomatoes and an orange tomato of some variety.  Orange and yellow tomatoes are lower in acid so it’s nice to include one or two.  I had half a sweet onion and half an orange bell pepper.  I usually include a jalapeno, but I didn’t have one so no hot peppers in this batch.  Raw garlic adds a little bite to it though.  Tonight’s secret ingredient is green Tabasco.  I thought that would add a little salt and a touch of heat.  I left the herbs out of this batch so that I can add basil when that goes best with the rest of the meal and cilantro when that works better.  Tonight was a basil night.

There aren’t many things that beat good gazpacho.  Maybe I like it so much because it’s a Summer thing and I love the Summer.  Maybe I like it because it’s a great cool lunch on a hot day.  Maybe I like it because it’s pretty filling, but has virtually no fat and not many calories if you make it fresh.  In my book that’s a license to eat as much of it as I want.  You can top it with croutons or dill or corn or a little smoked salmon.  You can serve it as the centerpiece of a light meal or in shot glasses as a starter.  It’s so versatile and so fresh and so good.  It’s like someone poured the farmers’ market into a bowl.  And pretty too!

Good? Way beyond good.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Absolutely
Special shopping? Get really fresh ingredients. It makes a big difference.



1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, red or red and orange mixed (about 3 large)
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded
1/2 large sweet onion
3 t balsamic vinegar
1 t Worchestershire sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 t green Tabasco
1/4 C olive oil


Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency.
Top with fresh cilantro or basil.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Chimichurri

May 22, 2012

I’m working my way as quickly as I can through the mass of vegetables I bought at the farmers’ market this week.  The longer they sit the more vitamins that dissipate.  And, believe it or not, I’m still working my way through the freezer stock of farmers’ market meats from last Fall.  Yesterday I pulled out a lamb chop to thaw.  Then I came upon this recipe originally called “Grilled Lamb Chops with Roasted Summer Squash and Chimichurri” which reminded me that I had some squash in the drawer.  Of course there’s also the endless supply of swiss chard. (Note to self – one bunch of chard is plenty).

I didn’t end up roasting the squash as directed.  The squash is exceptionally early this year because of the very warm Spring.  Summer squash is about my favorite vegetable in the world so this is a banner event.  The first squash of the season just had to be squash and onions done in the cast iron skillet.  Then in another pan I sauteed a little onion and then steamed the chard with cider vinegar.  All those little pink bits that you see are the stems.  Usually people throw those out, but if you dice them kind of small they add a really nice texture.

Turns out I was really only interested in this recipe for the chimichurri.  A chimichurri is an herb based sauce served with grilled meat.  It has South American origins.  I’ve seen many varieties so feel free to play with the recipe a little.  I chopped down a lot of my parsley plant so I didn’t have enough parsley.  I threw in some cilantro to make up the difference.  Other than that it’s oil, citrus (lemon juice), acid (vinegar), heat (red pepper) and salt.  Lots of flavor, very little fat.  I didn’t have the proportions quite right in this one.  It was a little bit soupy.  Soupy enough that I drained it before I put it on the plate.  The texture notwithstanding, the flavor was really good.

It’s hard to beat good grilled lamb.  The lamb is the mildest I’ve ever had.  Pair-A-Dice Farm has never let me down.  Every cut of lamb I’ve ever bought has been wonderful.  (Incidentally their wool is beautiful too).  The chimichurri added a wonderful tang and some nice heat to the grilled flavor of the lamb.  A slightly bitter green flavor from the chard and the sweetness of the squash and onions made a really balanced plate.  And pretty too. 

This was just a regular Tuesday night dinner, but if someone had stopped by unexpectedly I would have been more than happy to serve this to a guest.  I’m pretty excited that I’ll be having it for dinner again tomorrow night!

Good?  Very good.
Easy? Yep. A mini chopper and a grill.
Good for company? Sure, why not.
Special shopping? Of course I recommend local lamb.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Chimichurri


2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped onions
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
Lamb chops for 2-4 people, loin or shoulder


1. Place garlic, 1/2 cup parsley, 2 tablespoons oil, shallots, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper) in a food processor; process 1 minute or until almost smooth. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; pulse 2 times.
2. Lightly coat lamb with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place lamb on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
3.Top each lamb chop with 1 1/2 teaspoons chimichurri.

Portuguese Noodle Bowl

May 12, 2012

It’s been a long day here, for a lot of reasons.  The plan for tonight was comfort food that celebrates the garden and the farmers’ market and some wine on the side.  I made my first garden harvest today.  I pulled in the beet greens and the collards to make way for a few additional tomatoes and another squash plant.  All I can say is, “Yay baby collards!”  White beans, Faith Farm Chorizo, Bombolini Black Pepper Linguine cooked with collards, onions and garlic – it’s a meal made in heaven.  I could have eaten the entire pot.

This is seriously easy to make.  One pot for the stew part and one pot for the pasta.  It took me about 40 minutes to put together, but I’d guess that I could do it in 30 if I was motivated.  The recipe recommends cooking the greens in the broth for 25 minutes, but since I used baby greens they only took about 10 minutes.  I took the chorizo out of the casing and cooked it into crumbles.  You don’t get the punch of flavor you’d get from eating the slices, but it makes the flavor really even.  If you’re looking to save time you could absolutely use pre-chopped onions and garlic.  Note that there’s no added salt in this recipe.  With the chorizo you won’t need it.  I also didn’t add any black pepper because I used black pepper linguine.  If you use plain pasta definitely add the pepper.

First let me say that I’m extremely proud of these collards.  I started them from seed.  This is my third attempt at growing collards and my first success.  Baby collards are so mild you could likely eat them steamed, but I really enjoyed the pot liquor they made with the homemade chicken stock, chorizo and other vegetables.  Definitely worthy of slurping straight from the bowl.  Now some kudos to Faith Farm.  They make some of the best sausage in town – sweet Italian, hot Italian, chorizo, etc.  Nothing fancy, but fantastic all the same.  This is just the right balance of salty and spicy.  The perfect balance for the creamy white beans and earthy greens. Note that this is Mexican style chorizo. It’s soft and can be cooked in the casing like other sausages or crumbled like I did here. Spanish and Portuguese style chorizos are dried sausages so served in slices. (I’m pretty sure I have that right).

There’s nothing in the world fancy about this meal, but it’s darned good and then some.  It’s a complete meal in one bowl – protein, vegetables, starch – but I’d be tempted to add some crusty bread on the side for sopping up the broth if I was serving it to company.  Somehow slurping from the bowl seems tacky if you have people over, but this dish is totally worth being just the slightest bit tacky so as not to miss a single bite. I only made half a recipe, but I might be sorry about that!

Good? So very good.
Easy? Absolutely.
Good for company? Not fancy, but definitely worth sharing.
Special shopping? You can get chorizo at better groceries, but if you have a source at a local farmers’ market or butcher shop I recommend that.

Portuguese Noodle Bowl


1 pound collard greens
1/2 pound chorizo or spicy sausage
3 cups chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 C chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces linguine


Remove stems from collard greens. Wash and pat dry; cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips.
Cook the sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned. Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving sausage drippings. Add onion and garlic to drippings in pan, and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add greens, sausage, and broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until greens are tender. Add beans and pepper, and cook 10 minutes. Place pasta in each of 6 large bowls, and top with broth mixture.

Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas

May 8, 2012

Tonight was a no fuss, no muss kind of cooking night.  I put a couple of plain chicken breasts in to roast while I changed clothes, caught up on some email and took care of the pup.  I only used one of them tonight so you’ll either see the other one tomorrow or Thursday or it will go in the freezer.  I had an open jar of Summer Salsa from my canning stores and I always have black beans in the cabinet.  A couple of tortillas and some lettuce and dinner is done.

This took about an hour to put together tonight, but if you used leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the store you could knock that time down to about 15 minutes.  Here’s what you do.  Shred the cooked chicken with a couple of forks.  Put it in a pot with a cup or more of your favorite salsa.  Cook it until most of the liquid cooks out of the salsa.  Heat up the black beans in a small pot with some cumin and chili powder.  Warm the tortillas in the oven that’s still warm from cooking the chicken.  While everything is heating chop a little lettuce.  Mash the beans onto the tortillas then top with chicken and lettuce.

The salsa I used is a sweet salsa.  It’s made from peaches, tomatoes, onions and various mild peppers.  It tastes very light. It’s a good balance for something salty like a rotisserie chicken.  In this very plain chicken and earthy black bean dish it added some nice bright flavors.  Perfect for folks who are sensitive to spicy food, but don’t want to give up flavor.  You can always serve jalapenos and/or hot sauce for folks who like a little kick.

There’s nothing spectacular about this dinner, but it’s a solid meal with very little fat.  Tostadas are something you can put together quickly in any of a million different ways and this one is worth a try. 

Good? Yeah, it’s pretty good.
Easy? Definitely.
Good for company? A make your own tostada bar is a thought for a casual party.
Special shopping? Nope.