Friday, June 26, 2009

Summertime Veggie Tacos

Gads, has it really been two weeks since my last post? Bad food blogger, bad! I've been cooking, at least a little, I promise. Fact is, the missus and I haven't been home at the same time much these last two weeks, and I don't really like just cooking for myself. We've been trying to make the best of our bountiful CSA subscription from Eatwell Farms, and I am nurturing our (slightly smaller) rooftop garden. More on that soon. But really, I've just been putting off writing all together for a variety of badly thought out excuses, and sadly it is you, gentle reader, that suffers.

Gladly, that writing drought is over, (at least temporarily), and I would like to share with you now a dashing little dish inspired by Chef Rick Bayless and incorporating many of the edibles from our CSA box or a recent jaunt to the farmers market. These veggie tacos will obviously appeal to my herbivore friends, but you carnivores should not dismiss this out of hand; the mushrooms offer a meaty counterpoint to the leafy greens, onion and pepper, so much so that I really didn't miss having meat in there at all. And if was even better than tofu.

We grabbed some crumbly Mexican cheese at the store along with some limes, porcini mushrooms and corn tortillas and got to work. It's pretty quick and easy, if you think about it; you just have to chop up the veggies toss them in the pan with some seasoning, and you're ready to go. Here is what we did:

Summertime Veggie Tacos

1 package of crimini mushrooms, sliced (Or whatever is in season, or if you have a favorite. Don't let me tell you what to do)
1 lime
1 bell or wax pepper, cleaned & sliced into long fingers
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 lb of hearty greens like kale or chard, chopped into strips
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoky paprika
1 avacado, pitted and sliced
6 small corn tortillas
1 can of black beans
2 - 4 Tbs. crumbly Mexican cheese, like Cotija
1 tsp vegetable oil
salt to taste

Heat a skillet on medium high. Add the oil, and allow to heat up. Add the garlic, onion and pepper, seasoning with salt. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the mushrooms and stir for a minute. Add your chili powder, cumin, and paprika, stirring so it covers the veggies. Squeeze 1/2 of a lime over the mixture, picking up the spices from the bottom of the pan as you stir.

While this is all happening, drain the beans and throw them into a bowl, which you will then put into the microwave. Once the vegetable mixture is done, heat the beans for about 2 mins.

Add the greens, and stir in with the other veggies. Throw in a pinch of salt. As the greens begin to wilt, remove the pan from the heat, and squeeze the other 1/2 of lime over the mix. Stir veggies until the greens are completely wilted and coated with the spices.

Serve on warm corn tortillas and topped with crumbled cheese. Throw some cheese on top of those black beans you heated up in the microwave. We cheated a little with the rice, I have to admit. That, my friends, is box rice, courtesy of Near East. ( I know, shame shame.)

The veggies do take on the spices very well, and manage to hang onto their own individual flavors in the bargain. It is a tasty, and relatively quick alternative to ground-beef tacos, and a perfect early summer meal. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Not Just Another Frittata Recipe

I realize I seem to post about frittatas pretty frequently.  Maybe I'm getting lazy.  Maybe I need to expand my culinary repertoire a bit and prepare something a little more challenging.  Or maybe I need to open up my own little cafe that serves homemade cheesecakes and frittatas.

Truth is, the frittata has come up more than once because they are relatively easy, and they lend themselves to being a clearing house for leftover ingredients hanging out in your fridge.  Usually, I chop a bunch of veggies and throw them into a skillet with some eggs and hope for the best.  (Which, lets be honest, is way more fun than following a recipe.)  This time around, I spotted an interesting recipe while cruising around Foodbuzz, and decided to give it a go, if for no other reason than it would be a great way of using up the bundles of asparagus occupying shelf space in the refrigerator.

The recipe I found comes from fellow foodie Ryan at The Gourmet Foodie Blog, which was adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe.  Here in the Tiny Kitchen, we have modified it yet again to eliminate that pesky (and painfully expensive) frittata pan and by changing a couple of ingredients to suit our tastes.  This frittata caught my eye because of the grilled asparagus spears nestled into the top of the egg, straight in a row like a little picket fence made of asparagus.  Plus, putting the words "goat cheese" in the title is an easy way to get my attention.

Instead of using the fancy frittata pan (which is basically a large skillet that locks together with a slightly smaller skillet), I used the standard non-stick skillet, which prevented me from being able to flip the frittata over half way through cooking in a epic display of hand/eye coordination, but whatever.  I don't need to show off.  Just keep an eye on it while it's in the oven to make sure the top doesn't burn, and you're golden.  

Here's how you get it done:

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

12 eggs
3 Tbs. finely chopped chives 
1/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon
3 - 5 oz. cubed bacon or turkey bacon
1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste
fresh ground pepper
6 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
2 bundles of asparagus, tough ends trimmed
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 - 3  tsp. olive oil

With one bunch of asparagus, saute the whole spears in 1 tsp. olive oil, until they are tender and a little charred.  Drain on a plate with a paper towel and set to the side.  Chop the other bunch of asparagus into 1/2 inch chunks.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, chives, tarragon, turkey bacon, salt and pepper.  Add the goat cheese and mix gently.  At this point, do not whisk because you want the cheese to remain chunky.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In your large skillet, saute the onion or leek with another 1 tsp. of olive oil.  remove from heat and add to egg mixture.  Pour all of the egg mixture into your large skillet and allow it to settle.  Place skillet into the pre-heated oven.  After about 15 - 20 minutes, the top of the frittata should be set, but not cooked through.  Settle the cooked asparagus spears parallel to one another in a row across the top of the frittata.  Return to the oven for another 10 - 15 minutes.  It will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the sides are golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

For a tasty salad like the one I made to accompany this new frittata, you'll need lettuce, strawberries, 2 oz. of goat cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Slice the strawberries into rounds.  After washing the lettuce leaves, tear in half or slice into manageable pieces, say 1 to 1 1/2 inches or so.  In a salad bowl mix 1 Tbs. of olive oil with 1 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar.  (Use more dressing, if you like.  The ratio for oil to vinegar is about 1 to 1.)  Toss the lettuce and strawberries in with the dressing, and top with crumbled goat cheese.