This is the last Monday of August. We are about to say goodbye to Summer, and I cannot stand the thought of it. Only Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club can bring me some joy under the circumstances. My assignment this month was Flying on Jess Fuel, and I had a blast stalking it and making a list of possibilities to blog about today. Jess met her husband Nick at a Mexican restaurant, and apparently he went nuts over her jalapeno-eating skills. What a great way to fall in love! They lived in many different places while Nick went to flying school for the Navy, including Enid, a location quite close to Norman, our former home in Oklahoma.
For some reason, I usually pick sweets for my Secret Recipe assignments, but this time I took the road less traveled and went with her Taco Salad, considering that Mexican food would be a fun way to celebrate the way they met. I find it amusing that some recipes that I order in restaurants on a regular basis are never part of my own cooking at home. Taco Salad is one of those. For the most part, Tex-Mex restaurants offer dishes over-loaded with cheese, and served with a humongous portion of rice, beans, plus a few flour tortillas for good measure. Taco Salad is my default request to avoid feeling like a bloated whale as I leave the restaurant. I made just a few changes in her recipe, and decided to pump up the presentation by making my own tortilla bowls. Now, that was a ton of fun, but some unexpected problems were encountered. As I was frantically trying to figure out which cups would be appropriate to shape the tortillas, one of my custard cups fell from the cabinet and crashed on the granite (yes, glass flew everywhere), but not without first hitting my head. OUCH! And, going on with my usual modus operandi in the kitchen, I burned myself not once, but twice baking those tortilla bowls. Sometimes I even amaze myself… However, I can tell you it was all worth it! This recipe rocks, my friends….
JESS’ TACO SALAD
(slightly modified from Flying on Jess Fuel)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons bulk taco seasoning mix (or 1 packet)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large head romaine, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Black kalamata olives, chopped (to taste)
Shredded Mexican blend cheese (to taste
To make the dressing, combine sour cream, yogurt and salsa in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat the oil on a skillet and cook the meat for a few minutes. Season with salt (in case your taco seasoning doesn’t have salt already), then add either a packet of store-bought taco seasoning or 2 Tbs of a bulk product such as Penzey’s. Cook for a couple of minutes, add the amount of water recommended by the mix, and cook further just to thicken it slightly. Add the beans to the pan in the last 2 minutes of cooking.
If serving cold, let the meat and bean mixture cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, place half the lettuce, half the tomatoes, half the scallions and half the olives. Top with half the dressing. Top with the meat and bean mixture (you can reserve a little bit for decorating the top, if you want to be fancy). Sprinkle half the cheese on top. Add the rest of the veggies, dressing, and cheese (and meat mix if you reserved some). You can also serve it warm, adding the cold ingredients to the hot meat/beans mixture.
to print the recipe, click here
Here you can see some photos of my burning adventure with tortilla cups. You can do this in several ways, but I recommend the muffin tin + custard cup combo. Using the two custard cups nested together requires that they both fit just right not to tear the tortilla, and also makes it a lot harder to remove the top cup to brown the tortilla in the final moments of baking.
MAKING TACO BOWLS: Warm a corn tortilla very quickly over an open flame on your stove (I heard you can also use the microwave, but I haven’t tried it). Spray both sides of the warm tortilla very lightly with canola or olive oil spray. Immediately place in the muffin tin (or over a custard cup), and place another container on top to keep the shape. Bake in a 375 F for about 15 minutes, removing the custard cup in the final 5 minutes. Let cool over a rack.
We loved this recipe! Actually, Phil was raving about it non-stop, and begging me to make it again, and do it soon. The tortilla cups make it very festive, but the taco stands on its own without any problem, it is fresh, bright, the dressing mixing sour cream and salsa was incredibly tasty! I used a home-made salsa given to us by Mr. and Mrs. K (thank you, guys!), and it had just the right amount of heat. Use any store-bought salsa you are fond of, or make your own if you have a chance.
Jess, I loved being assigned to your blog! This has been one super busy month for us, but I made sure to compose this post within one week of getting the email notification. I fell in love with this recipe right away, and you can bet this will be in a regular rotation in our Bewitching Kitchen!
To my readers: if you want to see what the other members of my group cooked up this month, poke the blue frog at the end of the post.
ONE YEAR AGO: Semolina Sourdough Boule
TWO YEARS AGO: Forgive me, for I have sinned
THREE YEARS AGO: Cracked Wheat Sandwich Bread
FOUR YEARS AGO: Au Revoir, my Bewitching Kitchen
FIVE YEARS AGO: French Bread