Batter Licker

November 16, 2010

pico de gallo

Filed under: appetizer,mexican,salad,vegan,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 12:17 pm

As a teenager, I was fortunate to attend one of the few high schools that still had an open-campus lunch. When the bell sounded to announce the beginning of the break, we would pile into someone’s hand-me-down vehicle and dash off to Golden Spoon for a pile of gummy bear-studded, fro yo heaven, or roll on down to the beach for amazing, cheap Mexican fare at Cessy’s. And I’ll be honest: sometimes we didn’t return to campus after that. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a surprise when, during senior year, there was talk of closing the campus during lunch, perhaps because even the honors students weren’t inclined to head back to class after lunchtime burrito-beach trips.

It was during those trips to Cessy’s that I really fell for pico de gallo. So fresh and flavorful, it was the perfect condiment to brighten up my then-favorite bean, cheese, and rice burrito. While Cessy’s version wasn’t the freshest ever, as it used canned tomatoes, they were on to something by skipping bad tomatoes and going straight for the canned, flavor-packed ones; and at least they were being realistic. (more…)

June 13, 2010

open-faced quesadilla with steak, roasted red peppers, summer squash, and blue cheese

Here in law-law land, discrimination is frowned on. So if the sandwich can be open faced or crostini-fied and the pizza can be stuffed or calzoned, then it’s only fair that the quesadilla have an alternative, more revealing serving method of its own. The open-faced quesadilla proudly showcases its ingredients by allowing meats and veggies that are normally trapped in tortilla to parade around in their vibrant colors, which makes for a more appetizing dish. And it’s healthier too.

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One less tortilla means two things: less calories in your quesadilla without eliminating any of the good stuff inside; and less concern about indulging in a second round. To make it even healthier but no less flavorful, you can use a stronger cheese but much less of it (hello, blue cheese!), and then spread a layer of Greek yogurt on the tortilla. As it bakes, the yogurt develops a texture that’s firmer than normal but still creamy like a soft cheese, and retains a subdued tang that goes well with the sweet smokiness of roasted peppers and caramelized onions and the buttery sweetness of summer squash.

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The blue cheese puts a twist on the otherwise more traditional steak-peppers-onions combination. Just a few crumbles of the sharp, salty, yet creamy cheese bring much more flavor than handfuls of cheddar can muster. Bonus: it allows you to use up the sad little clump of blue cheese that’s been sitting – unloved – in the corner of your fridge from that one time several weeks ago, when you splurged on off-season pears because you just had to have a gorgonzola and pear salad … five days in a row … and then, having tired of blue-veined cheeses, you relegated the poor chunk to the back of the fridge. (more…)

May 5, 2010

fish tacos w/mango-radish salsa & pink chipotle sauce

Filed under: fish,fruit,mexican,sauces, marinades, dressings,seafood — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 4:33 pm

“Best fish tacos ever.” And that’s not a groundless claim. You can trust me because I grew up in San Diego with exposure to more than my fair share of freshly-made-by-immigrants-who-successfully-crossed-the-border-and-got-us-hooked-on-their-amazing-cuisine Mexican food. But even so, that statement has been uttered (and, therefore, certified) by a real Mexican who would know even better than a native San Diegan would: SeƱor Brian Griego.

Just a couple weeks after the Griegos’ cutie pie daughter was born, I made fish tacos at their lovely home (mostly as an excuse to see the little princess, but also to catch up with her fun parents). Everyone enjoyed them so much (except baby Kameron, who was still on a milk-drinking binge at the time) that we actually ran out of fish a little early – a huge compliment to the chef (ahem!) but also horrifying because this chef thinks running out of food when she’s serving others is just so embarrassing!

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Anyway, I first got the idea on board a late JetBlue flight from Boston to San Francisco, where I watched Food Network for (no kidding) six hours straight. Tyler Florence was presenting his “ultimate” fish tacos, and I was drawn in by the mango salsa (I love spicy-sweet) and the pink mayonnaise. Yes, pink chipotle mayonnaise is that “special sauce” that makes fish tacos so addictively delicious when you’re eating at a restaurant. (more…)

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