Monday, September 12, 2011

Three Pepper and Mushroom Tacos

Since I last posted I've been pretty busy, but not too busy to cook new meals. As a result, I now have a bunch of recipes stockpiled and photographed, just waiting to be written about. So, what kept me from posting since the month started, you ask?
  • Austin and I continued unpacking and otherwise putting the house together. Yes, we moved over a month ago and while the place is 90% set up we still haven't found a home for some things. For instance, our pictures and other wall hangings still haven't made it off the floor. So sue us. 
  • I've been accepted to the OM Yoga 200 hour Teacher Training program, which starts this weekend. That means that for one weekend a month for the next 8 months I'll be totally immersed in all things yoga, not to mention the independent work I need to do in between the instructional weekends. I don't know if I'm more excited, scared, or intimidated. In preparation for the start of the program I've been doing lots of reading and practicing.
  • Austin and I went to our friends' Steve and Brianne's wedding. They planned a beautiful event in the Outer Banks, here in NC and we made a long weekend out of it. We were so happy they chose to share such an important day with us. Congratulations to the beautiful couple! 
  • I started doing P90X. During the week, I wake up at 6am to get the workout in before the day starts. Am I loving every minute of it? Absolutely not! Am I getting my ass kicked? You bet. Do I think I'll be in better shape after I'm done with it? Most definitely. 
Amidst the craziness of the last week and half, I've developed a new obsession -- mushroom tacos. I think the seed was planted when I fell in love with the portobello tacos they make at Chubby's Tacos in Durham.  I thought I'd make my own version using cremini mushrooms (which are just small portobellos) and all I can say is mmmmmmmmm, delicious. Ok, I lied. I'm going to say more. I'm so infatuated with these tacos that I've made them 3 times in less 10 days. Yes, they're that good. They do take a bit more effort and time than my go-to bean tacos but they're absolutely worth it. The key their amazingness? Nicely browned, umami rich mushrooms, which, as a bonus, will make your kitchen smell seriously amazing. As Austin said the second time we had them "You can't not like these, I mean, how could you possibly miss the meat?"*.

 Three Pepper and Mushroom Tacos
 Makes about 10 tacos
Inspired by the Portobello Mushroom Tacos at Chubby's Tacos
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb / 455 g cremini mushrooms, wiped clean with a slightly damp towel (please do not wash them, they'll never brown) and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 poblano peppers or 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded if you don't like heat and minced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, seeded if you'd like and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the chipotles
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • About 10 corn tortillas
  • A large handful of cilantro, chopped
  • One batch of roasted tomatillo salsa or your favorite store-bought kind
1.  In a medium skillet, heat 3/4 of a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add half of the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally,  until brown, which should take about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the other half of the mushrooms. 

2.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the poblanos, jalapeño, chipotle and garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

3.  Add the mushrooms to the onion and pepper mix. Toss in the salt and spices and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Serve immediately over warmed corn tortillas, topped with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and some of your favorite salsa.

*As wonderful as I think these tacos are, I understand if you're averse to some of the ingredients or the preparation and therefore don't like them. We tend to be a bit hyperbolic around here. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Panzanella (Bread and Tomato Salad)

In my last post, I vowed to give quick simple dishes some love. Well, it doesn't really get any faster or easier than panzanella.  I've been meaning to make it about a month now, since I've come across a couple panzanella-esque recipes recently -- at El Comidista and Smitten Kitchen -- and now I'm upset I waited so long.

While other vegetables are sometimes added, the staple ingredients of this Tuscan salad are bread, tomatoes, and good quality olive oil. The preparation is about as minimalist as it gets so it's very important to start with fresh produce. 'Tis the end season for tomatoes and peppers, so hit up your local farmer's markets while you can. The bread also needs to be high quality -- think hearty and crusty -- and preferably a day old, to prevent it from getting too soggy. Once toasted, it soaks up the dressing and tomato juices without falling apart, basically doing the dunking for you. This combination of ingredients is seasonal perfection, but I couldn't resist adding some navy beans for a complete, albeit light, meal.

So the question shouldn't be why to make this salad, but why to wait another minute. After all it's September, and therefore time to start savoring the last of our summer meals.

Panzanella (Bread and Tomato Salad)
Makes 4 generous servings
  • 1/2 lb / 225 g good crusty bread, preferably a day old
  • 2 pints / 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (you could also use any other tomato variety)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider, white or sherry vinegar (I like my dressing pretty strong so I added 2 additional tablespoons of vinegar)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1/2 freshly ground black pepper
1.  Cut the bread into about 1/2 inch / 1 cm thick slices and toast it until it's golden brown. Cut it into bite-sized cubes and toss into a large salad bowl.

2.  Add the tomatoes, onion and green pepper to the bowl with the toasted bread. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and pour over the salad. Give the salad a good toss and let it sit for about 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the veggie juices and dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or store for up to a day.