Tag Archives: cilantro

Beet Down – A New Way to do Beets

4 May

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I’ve moved a lot, both growing up and now in my adult years.  More than occasionally I get the, “How do you do that?” round of questioning, mostly from people that consider a significant move an over-filled pick-up truck unloading across town.  Now, don’t get me wrong, a move is a move.  But some are more uprooting then others.

We’ve been in Jacksonville for about 3 years now, and I’m starting to get a tad bit antsy about where we’ll go next.  At night, Rob and I lie in bed perusing Zillow, dreaming of a possible destination for our next Coast Guard-led adventure.  Port Angeles, Detroit, Boston, not much is out of the running except for land locked areas, most of which we wouldn’t want to live in anyway (sorry, Oklahoma.  Been there, done that).  Of course we look at houses that are waaaaay beyond our means – with kitchens that just might make me famous – but it’s just a fun torturous game we play.  Like window shopping at Gucci.

Everywhere we go we try to squeeze everything we can out of the location, and we have only a year left in north Florida.  We’ve done a lot here, but definitely have a lot more to go, do, and see.  Though altogether we’ve found things we love (paddle boarding, the bird life, dolphins, good shopping), and really don’t love (the bugs, the heat, the bugs, the heat, oh and snakes.  Well, I don’t mind the snakes, but Rob runs away like a little girl).

In terms of one of the more important things in life – food – we’ve also found our regional likes and dislikes.  Sorry, Southern folk, we haven’t taken to the oddly-hairy-yet-slimy-at-the-same-time-omg-who-created-this-thing called okra, nor have some traditions (potato salad at Thanksgiving?) found a settled place in our hearts.  BBQ, however, that’s a love story.  So are the sweet onions.  Also, honey.  And so are the beets.

I’ve never actually documented the epic argument Rob and I had over beets.  Maybe one day.  But, beets!  Really?  Aren’t there better things to argue about, like sponges or spoons?

Well, we’ve grown in our relationship since arguing about beets (thank goodness) and now we can’t go a week without them.  Luckily, farms in Florida grow beets almost year round, and the months they don’t, the red roots keep for a long while in a crisper – if they last that long.  Thankfully, our CSA provides us with bunches regularly.  We eat them straight from the oven, or cold with a bit of vinegar and honey.  I’ve chopped them up into fancy tapenades and relishes, used their juice to dye Easter eggs, and have even infused vodka to make a fancy beet cocktail.  Beet options are endless.

So then why are restaurants only serving beets with the standard goat cheese and arugula?  I mean, some have pecans, some do a balsamic reduction drizzle, but really they are all the same.  It’s so sad!  Culinary monotony at its best.

So let’s turn the tables, shall we, and shake up the beet world.

With these: Beet Tacos.

Vegetarians, unite!  Meat Eaters, indulge!  Paleo folk, take a shower from your last CrossFit workout and pick up one of these tacos (sans cheese and crema)!

These are simple enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough for easy entertaining.  Having spent enough time in Mesa, Arizona, I prefer the small corn tacos to flour, and I feel their earthy flavor compliments the sweet beets wonderfully.  Chipotle crema is nothing more than 1 c Mexican cream (found now at most grocery stores), 3 chopped up chipotle peppers, lime zest and 1 tsp of agave Every Mex dish needs some beans, which are super simple to prepare.  Heat some canned black beans (drained and rinsed) in a pot over medium heat with ½ c water, 1 glove of garlic, and a sprig of mint.  Once boiling, remove from the heat, discard the herb and garlic, season the beans with s&p, and smash them with a fork.  For the star of the show: In a foil-lined baking dish, roast 4 peeled beets at 400 degrees with a dash of s&p, a drizzle of canola oil, 1 tsp cumin, and a whole jalapeno (sliced down the middle) until beets are tender, about an hour and a halfThe fresh topping of crisp cilantro (tear off stem) and soft shredded romaine (roll 2-4 leaves like a cigar then chop into thin strips) top off the bite with herby freshness For an optional creamy, salty indulgence, crumbled Queso Fresco tops the taco with ease.  Oh, and don’t forget the squeeze of that lime you zested earlier (it’s not just a margarita garnish, you know).

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When Rob and I were dating, tacos were our go-to dinner date.  Here in Jacksonville, we haven’t been able to find quite the same ole(!) experience as I we had in the South West.  Remembering those fresh flavors, I decided to create my own using one of Jacksonville’s finest produce, the bodacious beet.  Yes, bodacious.

With Cinco De Mayo coming up, enjoy these tacos with friends and maybe a marg or two.  You’ll get the best of two worlds, or at least the best of two regions of the U.S. (speaking from lots of moving – and eating – experience here, folks).

CinEnjoy!

Beet Tacos
(serves 4)
*ingredients and instructions above. 

To assemble:
Put the corn tortilla on a plate.  Spread some of the smashed black beans on the tortilla.  Top the beans with some roughly chopped beets.  Then Top the beets with the lettuce, cilantro, queso fresco, and a drizzle or two of the crema.  Squeeze the juice of a lime slice over the top, and you’ve got seriously one of the best tacos you’ll ever eat.

Enjoy!

An Aftertaste
If you like beets, check out these and these.  

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And… We’re Back

5 Jun

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There are many reasons I can provide for my lack of stories, pictures, recipes, and overall blog-o-sphere absence.  Like:

  • My students took over the classroom and forced 5 hours of homework a night on me for retaliation of years of self-diagnosed assignment abuse.
  • The computer broke only when I tried to blog.  It was the weirdest thing.
  • I got a new camera and the user instructions were in Swahili.
  • My left foot hurt.
  • Oregon, just simply, ran out of food!
  • We won the lottery and spent the last 6 months in Tuscan wine caves (it was like the beer cask scene from the movie, “Strange Brew”)
  • My dog ate my computer.

Can you tell I work in a middle school?

While I could keep going (and going) with absurd excuses, to be perfectly honest, time, life, and my pre-teen educational environment have taken over.

Every morning, the baby robin’s nest next door croons beautiful give-me-worms melodies – sounding more like a scene from “Cinderella” than real-life nature – making it a struggle to put on clothes and shoes and make-up and face the day.  Even though Rob and I are generally in bed by 9:00 at night, we would much rather spend the next 2 ½ days lying in bed, listening to the birds, and enjoying the last gorgeous Spring the state of Oregon has to offer us.

That is right, as the Coast Guard’s bell tolls, we are leaving this emerald wonderland and are bound for the converse of cold and dampness: Jacksonville, Florida.  Thus, our days have been filled with house hunting, house buying, paperwork, paperwork, decorating, wondering, movers, packers, plans, plans, plans, and inventory.  All on top of our current respective daily careers, of course.

Let’s take a jaunt back 3 years ago, shall we?  The belly-aching was insurmountable moving from sunny Southern California to cold, gray Oregon.  But like moss on the north side of a tree, Oregon and stuck to me and engulfed me with a soft, squidgy, comforting – albeit a bit damp – hug.  I love this place!  Now we have to leave.  Remember the berries?  Oh, so many berries?  And the fish – the cold Pacific water fish is unbelievable.  And the greens.  Grassy, earthy greens that even the freshest grocery store products can’t prove justice.  While I might not miss 30 straight days of rain in March, I will miss almost everything else.

But on to the next challenge: life in Florida.  Jacksonville, Florida, no less, close to the border of Georgia and true to traditional Southern roots.  Can this Southwest, SoCal, Pacific Northwest, Scandi of a girl be transformed into a Southern Belle, AND find roots in new agriculture?  Well, even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.

But until then, we are going through our pantry, freezer, and fridge and coming up with some great use-them-all-up dishes.  One of which was my enchilada green salad.

After a week (yes, a week) of this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations (seriously. good. food.), one is, shall I say (in a polite and correct oration), no longer craving the heavy, cheesy, spicy goodness that is Mexican food.  But what to do with all the extra homemade enchilada sauce?  Sweet, tangy, smoky and real, to sit in the back of the fridge it was not its fortunes fate.

So to alleviate the too-many-beans bloat, and keep the fresh enchilada sauce alive and well, the Enchilada Green Salad was born.  Light, green, crunchy, fresh, with the hint of smoke and creaminess, combined with a subtly onion brightness.  It was simply divine.

As life will continue to keep me crazy at the moment, I found it best to return to my blog roots, deeply seeded in food, fun, and stories.  But for now, please be patient with me, and revisit the last few years of Oregon recipes – as we have.  Wish us luck on the long-haul (with Siglet in tow!).  Jacksonville – and a soon-to-be sweet southern accent – or BUST!

Enchilada Sauce
(makes 1 pt)

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 10 oz tomato paste
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Ancho chili powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp crushed, dried oregano
  • s&p

Over medium heat melt butter and add the flour to create a roux.  Mix well, stirring until the flour is golden brown and smells like popcorn.  Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and mix well.  Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking the whole time to ensure no lumps.  Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  The sauce should be smooth and thickly coat the back of a spoon.  Season to taste with s&p.

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Enchilada Green Salad
(serves 2)

  • 1 head chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped, or julienned, baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, packed and roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Queso Fresco cheese
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • s&p
  • 2 tbsp Enchilada Sauce

In a large bowl, toss the romaine, spinach, cilantro, and green onions together, and set aside.  To make the dressing, mix 2 tbsp of the Enchilada Sauce with ½ tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  The dressing should resemble the texture of a creamy dressing and have a silky feeling in the mouth.

Pour desired amount of dressing over salad, and top with a sprinkling of Queso Fresco, and a touch of s&p to taste.

Enjoy!

Vitamin D and Civilization

20 Jul

It’s amazing what Vitamin D and civilization will do for a girl.  While there are many things I love about Coos Bay, the Southern California sun and, yes, a Starbucks on every corner, does add to an already wonderful vacation.

We started off with a night camping in Napa.  It was a beautiful campsite with a view of Clear Lake and vineyards off in the distance.  Sig showed his guard-dog nature lowly growling at the nearby treacherous wildlife (most likely a squirrel, chipmunk, or maybe a frog).  Dinner consisted of a rack of lamb, quinoa, and sautéed kale with fennel and scallions all cooked over a Coleman stove.

Overboard, yes.  Ridiculous, slightly, but – and here comes the whiney voice – I kind of had a high bar to meet hearing my Eagle Scout husband’s campfire cooking stories of bacon-wrapped game hens and baked beans cooked in a hollowed out pineapple.  To quote my mom, “Where were the hotdogs?!”

After a grueling 111-degree drive through the central valley I-5 corridor, we arrived at my parents’ house for a long, and well-needed vacation.

We partook in a fabulous birthday jaunt to Hollywood to celebrate in style, including personalized fusion drinks at the Library Bar, and antique bowling next to Zach Braff and Donald Faison (yes, I just name-dropped).  I ate lamb belly for the first time; it had the soft, buttery texture of braised pork belly with the lamb grassiness that is so unique yet specific.  It was fantastic paired with couscous, but was certainly trumped by chatting with Zach Braff (yep, did it again).  The next day we drove through Rodeo Drive, but for Rob’s fear of immediate bankruptcy, we didn’t stop, and then spent the rest of the day lazily lying around from having stayed up late partying with Zach Braff (third time’s the charm).  The weekend ended with homemade birthday rib-eye steaks, Mom’s grilled onions, and scalloped potatoes, all favorites in the Tamminen and O’Donnell household.

Movie stars, I mean, Mom, Jenn, and me at the Library Bar in Hollywood.

After such a crazy school year, right now, I am mostly enjoying long walks around the lake with Sig, casually sitting on the kitchen counters chatting with Mom, reconnecting with great friends, and comfortably wearing tank tops.  My mom and I have taken turns cooking, and I think we make a great team.  The heat has lent to lighter dishes, such as seared Ahi, tortellini salad, and one of which I’ve included below.  You can’t come to California without eating a fish taco, and I’ve tried my hand at many versions, never really getting it perfectly right.  The SoCal inspiration worked – I think I did it this time.  You be the judge.

There’s still another week left in my vacation; I’m sure there’s more relaxing times, and more delicious dishes to come.  I’m off to work on my tan with a Starbucks in hand!  Happy summer!

Halibut Tacos (serves 4-6)…. sorry, in all the cooking fun I forgot to take a picture.  But I promise it still tastes amazing!  

  • 2 lbs fresh Halibut (1/8-1/4 lb for each taco)
  • 1 head green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp good mayo
  • juice 2 limes
  • about 1 tsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp Agave
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • few tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • few dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • s&p
  • Corn or flour tortillas (or both!)
  • Extra limes and cilantro for garnish

 To cook the halibut, heat the grill to med-high heat.  Put the halibut on aluminum foil, and prepare with a few tablespoons of olive oil (because halibut can dry out), juice of 1 lime, the white whine, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, a few springs of cilantro (no need to chop them) and s&p. 

Fold over the sides of the aluminum to make a vented pouch for the fish.  Put on the grill – no need to flip – until just cooked (fish should flake easily, but still show shininess and moisture), about 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the aioli sauce.  Mix the mayo, juice of 1 lime, garlic, cilantro, paprika, and s&p to taste.  Make sure the mixture combines smoothly, and remember, the longer it sits, the better it tastes.

If you wish, heat up the tortillas in the oven. 

When the fish is done, slice it into chunks that easily fit in the tortilla, about 1 inch by 4 inches.  Put a healthy shmear of the sauce on the tortilla, then place the fish on the sauce.  Top with the cabbage, and a tiny sprinkling of cinnamon (it is AMAZING what the cinnamon adds to this dish – may sound strange, but trust me, it’s fantastic).  Garnish with whole cilantro leaves, and lime wedges.

Enjoy with margaritas!!!

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If anyone wants a the lamb-dish recipe, just let me know… it’s a rough recipe (meaning not precise due to camping circumstances), but it, too, was very tasty.  Maybe even better than a hot dog. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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