Arugula and Beef Tacos

imageThere is no food in the house.

The sound of my favorite challenge. I grew up in the middle of five kids, and while my mother doesn’t claim to be a great cook, she is a master at remaking leftovers or finding a meal where the contents of the fridge would suggest otherwise.  I have inherited her ingenuity and now love a good dinnertime puzzle. I also hate generic grocery stores as much as I love food, so we find ourselves in this dilemma often.

I think Adam has learned that he should no longer say “there is no food in the house” unless he is ready to start cooking something ambitious with me. Flour is my favorite food, so I am convinced we can make something simple and satisfying if we have have flour + 2 more things, and that is where tonight’s dinner began.

Garlic, red onion, 2 jalapeno peppers, a little arugula, and half a head of romaine is what’s in the fridge. [if you remember from a previous post, I generally don’t consider lettuce a food.] Garlic, however I consider a vegetable, so between that and the jalapeno we are on to something! I’m also on a serious arugula kick [how did I not know about this stuff for the first 27 years of life?!] I find some ground beef in the freezer and Adam starts googling ideas for a homemade taco sauce. Now I’m excited….homemade tortillas on a summer night with Adam’s limey ginger beer on the deck sounds like a perfect way to end one of the few hot days we’ve had all summer. [Ginger beer recipe coming soon!]

imageAdam gets started chopping while I start on tortilla dough. This recipe creates a lovely soft dough that puffs slightly while it bakes. But just like making pancakes, the first several don’t turn out well until the griddle decides to cooperate. [Or I’m just the most impatient person on the planet and can never let things preheat like they are supposed to….but I’d rather blame the griddle.] I have very fond memories of a older Hispanic women coming to our house as a child and baking tortillas with my mom all day long. I have tried on so many occasions to make them Rosie’s way, but nothing compares to a warm memory, right off the griddle topped with my parents fresh strawberry jam.

These however, are getting close. Especially  by cheating and using my pasta machine to roll the dough extra thin. [No idea how she ever did it with a rolling pin!].  After multiple taste tests as we cooked; the thinner the better and don’t flip them too soon! Again, not something I have enough self-restraint for, so after Adam made the taco sauce he quickly took over the grill as well.   Once we had 4 perfect tortillas [out of 15 or so] we added the taco meat, romaine, arugula and sour cream and headed outside.

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Fresh Tortillas

2 cups flour (recipe calls for cake flour, but all purpose worked fine)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons shortening

3/4 cups warm water

Mix together dry ingredients, then cut in shortening with a knife or pastry blender. Once incorporated squish/ mix with your hands, adding water slowly so it doesn’t become to sticky.  On a floured surface knead for a couple minutes. Wrap in plastic and let rest for 15 minutes. Divide into 12-ish small balls (a little less than golf ball size). Preheat a griddle, roll out with pasta machine or rolling pin one at a time and then place directly onto griddle. We used the oven to keep them warm while continuing to roll and bake.  Fill and enjoy!

[Nearly] Fresh Taco Sauce

Today I used ground sirloin, but generally also use a blend of pork and beef, medium grind. Toss the meat with black pepper, cumin, paprika (spanish sweet paprika), and salt. Cook at pretty high heat in a saute pan, until browned; while you get the vegetables together.
In a food processor, blend a mixture of onion, garlic, salt, and serrano or jalapeno pepper. Add a couple of vine ripe tomatoes, although any tomato will do [we’ll admit we used canned in this case – it’s not tomato season in Michigan yet]. Blend all until smooth.
Add the vegetable mixture to the meat in a hot saute pan, with a bay leaf or two….cook until the liquid is consumed.
The quantities of the salt, cumin, black pepper and paprika will vary depending on the meat used so just season to taste. If you prefer the not-so-authentic Taco Bell experience – add a ton of cumin. Otherwise, hold back a little for a more authentic and fresh tasting seasoned beef taco.

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Enjoy with ginger beer or a Corona. Tomorrow we might have to grocery shop. Maybe.

Kate & Adam

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