Does a taquito need to be rolled? If a taquito is flat, is it a true taquito? If childhood memory serves, taquitos are bought by the box from Costco and reheated with shredded cheddar mix in the oven for a delicious after school snack. Taquitos come in beef, pork, or chicken and are basically a taco cigar. What’s better for a grade-schooler than a food cigar? (Real talk: would totally still eat these cigar taquitos. If I had a Costco club membership…) These gluten-free local fish taquito’s from Sunny Isles Beach eating establishment Basil Park are more taquitos for adults in that they’re delicious, perfectly balanced mini-tacos. Pequeno tacos i.e. taquitos. The real revelation in this dish is the cashew “sour cream.” which with just cashews, liquid amino, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper is one of the most deliciously creamy taco-toppers ever. With a nice fermented funk, this cashew cream has the texture of ricotta and basically I ate it on everything and by the spoonful. Head over to the Miami Herald to give these taquitos a try. They certainly made my lunch and proved to me that gluten-free means full of fresh, spicy flavor.
Need a soup recipe? What about some spice-spiration? Head over to the Miami Herald for my spice alphabet, as well as the sweetest, spiciest and vegan Chipotle Carrot Soup. Carrots, chipotle, adobo, red pepper, cumin etc. all blended together and topped with crunchy, smokey chickpeas.
I’d enter it into my almost-vegan category…expect this time I did it! Vegan for the win.
(For a non-vegan plus, there’s also a delectable Mexican Chocolate Tart.)
Kitchen sink: the place where all the dirty dishes go?
Thankfully, the sink in the kitchen we use today is normally quite empty. Not because there is never any cooking, quite the opposite. There is a load of cooking but wouldn’t you know it, if dishes are done as the food is being prepared, there are left dishes leftover. It only took me 24 years to figure out.
This salad was yet another attempt at an appropriate work lunch. It started out as a faux-Niçoise. But then it lost the tuna, lost the egg, lost the olives…and gained every little bit of something left in the kitchen. Not the kitchen sink, more like the pantry, the refrigerator, the cheese box.
As far as lunch salads go, nothing works quite as well as a lentil salad, a sharp simple dressing, and various different odds and ends from around the kitchen. The key to making it all come together may actually be to cook everything separately. Roast the little potatoes with whole cloves of garlic and butter until toasty and soft. Sprout the lentils and cook until tender. Blanch the green beans separately. Thinly slice, thinly slice.
Toss it all together and there it is: a kitchen sink salad. And at the end, dishes clean and ready to be put away.
Going with yesterday’s theme (or apparent theme after giving that post a good re-read) is that food is a simple, great way to bring a place to you. If you can’t get on a plane, can’t hope on a boat, and certainly can’t drive (you haven’t seen me drive), then one of the best ways to bring back a vacation, or in the case of this mystikal Hot Green Sauce, bring back the place in which you grew up.
Some of you are saying, “Obviously. Have you even read a food memoir or literally any intro to any cookbook ever? That’s like the moral, ALWAYS.” To which I’d say, “Um. I should probably stop skimming things.”
Also, it’s particularly warm down here in South Florida, warm enough to make my brain go soft a little around the edges.
But this Hot Green Sauce from the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley is…tremendous. It’s the quickest way to bring home right down to Miami, and as always, isn’t that nice when it’s also delicious?
I’ll admit, I am a recent convert to the hot green sauce in that I never actually bought a pint until my last trip back home. For those of you who are sadly Cheese Board-less in life, let me break it down, slice by slice by asiago cheese disc by cherry almond cornmeal scone. Yes, all those things reside in this magical place. Also every cheese you never thought you needed, daily rotating freshly topped pizzas, the homiest of baked goods, and hummus. Coffee, of course.
The Cheese Board is a Bay institution, and it also doubles as one of the most remarkable business models. It’s a co-op, and owned by its employees. That care carries through to every product. Some go to Cheese Board for the perfect pizzas (which you can drizzle green sauce on), those daily rotating pizza pies of perfection that sometimes are topped with cauliflower and pistachios, sometimes with kale, sometimes just straight up with cheese. Grab a slice, sit on a median, and…yes.
Not possible in Miami. But that Hot Green Sauce is. It’s cilantro and spice and garlic and more, and while it sounds like just another salsa, it’s so. Much. More.
So get with it, and get a little Cheese Board, right at home.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise then 1) lucky you. I know cruises are the vacations most frequented by the AARP-crowd, and some *may* critique them as trips for those too lazy to book and make their own fun-filled vacation. Hm. But the truth is that the cruises like my family occasionally partakes in are phenomenal, food-filled trips through different parts of the world that can accommodate many different branches of extended family, cater to all physical abilities, and ensure that cousins have many and more corners of the ship to run around in.
Plus, boats are cool. So is having circular windows.
To be honest, we’ve only ever been on a few of cruises, and none were the multi-thousand behemoths that I frequently see leaving PortMiami. They were respectable cruises, small cruises, tasteful cruises that also had a lecture and educational component. (Coming from a family where math tests were sometimes administered on play dates, vacations with an attached lecturer is not strange.)
One of the great parts about cruises though, are the tours through different cuisines afforded by the frequent jumping from one port to another. On our first, we made our way through Italy and Greece, which meant everything from pastas on the piazza to baklava at breakfast and dessert. And snack time.
There was one dish however, that really stuck out. Fava. While its favorable review may have been affected by the location (cliff-side in Santori, blue seas, whites houses. Donkeys.) the multiple times its showed up on the dinner or lunch table stateside more than reaffirms its tastiness. Even though it was seemingly plain, it’s still a standout. Fava, which is essentially a loose hummus served warm, is made with yellow split peas. (Not those green fresh fava beans, which would also make a similarly delish dish.)
Making it is easy. Boil, simmer, blend. Maybe drizzle. Something magic happens when you process warm mushy peas with a stream of olive oil. (It may be emulsification which lends that creaminess, but I’ll stick with food processor magic, thank you.)
It’s a dish that is forever tied to the place where I first ate it, and sure, it helps that it was a trip through Greece. But there’s nothing wrong with bringing a little Greece along to your kitchen, wherever that may be.
A lot of the best things you can eat are remarkably simple. Beer, bread, cheese, that perfectly grilled piece of fish. All require few ingredients, a lot of patience, but very little doing in the manner of stirring, whipping, and tenderizing. (Let’s hope no tenderizing…)
But for things that are remarkably simple, yet fantastically delicious, chances are there’s one or two tricks required to yield the perfect result.
With gravlax, there are no tricks, unless of course, you count faith in your refrigerator. But with faith, there really isn’t any trick. Just forget about the piece of fish hopefully not rotting on your bottom shelf, and wait for breakfast a day and a half away.
Smoked salmon, or lox, are undeniably one of the true pleasure of the breakfast/brunch canon. Don’t even try to argue that a lox benedict isn’t the supreme, the queen of all Bennies.
Because you’d be wrong.
Gravlax, or lox’s fresh, slightly more delicate sister, may subvertly challenge lox as the premier bagel topping. (May. I’ll have to do a thorough round of testing before I can present you with any sort of accurate conclusion). Lox really is just gravlax, or cured salmon, that’s been taken a step further down preservative lane and been smoked. Slightly more stable, but a little more work.
Gravlax as it turns out, requires little to no work. If you can successfully wrap something in plastic wrap, you can make gravlax. And in the realm of impressive cooking techniques, whipping out homemade, freshly cured gravlax on a Sunday morning surely ranks.
Gravlax has appeared as an appetizer on the family table before, and it was always very impressive. It is after all, a full filet of fish, ready to be eaten straight from the knife. On a hot New York City night out in a backyard, are you really going to opt for too-ripe creamy cheese over chilled, dill-laced salmon? (Thanks to Irene, and the best Upper West Side backyard.)
No, because you’d be an idiot to. And ten years later, displaced in Miami, a slice of gravlax on homemade sourdough is just as perfect as it sounds.
Even better than perfect, because it’s so goddamn simple.
Recipe on the following page.
Sometimes when you’ve been knowingly slacking, say when you’ve been gone from the interwebs for way too (not like that’s me or anything…), you have to do something big. And “do something big” can really only mean one thing.
Hello! I’m back. After a little venture to New York where I gained an appreciation for things that aren’t necessarily rolled and smothered with pork (only to return, clearly, once again to my natural state), followed by a trip down to Miami where sourdough really was the way of life. And goats. In mini SUVs. (That’s a story for another time, when a bit about getting a male goat, horns and all, into the back seat of a car is appropriate. Maybe when it’s a goat taco recipe.) By sourdough, I mean kilos of the stuff, hours in a pseudo bakery, time spent in the back of a delivery truck, and more than a fare share of goofing around and trying different pastry recipes in our downtime. (Which let’s be honest, wasn’t downtime, we really should’ve been doing other things like cleaning, cleaning, cleaning…prepping? But who cares about efficiency when there are sticky buns to be had? Come on.)
I find it most appropriate to re-enter any situation whether it’s blogging or you know, a room, with bacon. While off for a lovely weekend in South Carolina, I was reminded– really, my bad for ever forgetting– of the wonders of a bacon sausage scone. And as luck would have it, the next weekend there was “downtime” enough to try a batch of bacon sausage cheddar scones ourselves. While some would say that bacon and sausage fat, butter, cheese, and sour cream is excessive…wait. Why would you listen to someone that talks like that?
The key to these scones, and I really think you should follow through, for your own sconely-benefit (real word), is the pizza stone. This recipe was first tested in a deck oven with a nice stone bottom, but at home a hot pizza stone (I used a couple leftover kitchen floor tiles) creates the perfect bottom crust. With the saltly bacon, punch from a chive, and a nice added flavor from the masa harina, I pretty sure you’ll agree that they were worth wasting downtime.
Because really, how can anyone waste time when a bacon sausage cheese scone is the result?