Friday, 1 April 2011

Taco-Palooza! Summer's Perfect Food

Artichoke and Spinach Tacos
Seriously, is there any food more perfect for warm weather noshing than tacos? They are low in carbs, so you can watch your summer figure, and your options on fillings are seemingly limitless!

Grilled meats, fresh produce, exciting and zesty sauces... Make sure to have plenty of napkins, we are heading into taco season!

300 Best Taco Recipes
From Tantalizing Tacos to Authentic Tortillas, Sauces, Cocktails and Salsas
Kelley Cleary Coffeen 
Paperback, 384 pages

If you are going to be the king or queen of tacos this year, you are going to want the book. 300 Best Taco Recipes. Not only is there huge selection of Chicken and Turkey, Beef, Pork and Lamb, Fish and Seafood, and Vegetarian tacos, but also Salsas, Relishes and Sauces, Cocktails, and even Dessert Tacos!

From the traditional to the truly creative, there are taco ideas for every taste to last you all year long. You can mix and match and get your taco on with stylings from all over the world. They are fresh and healthy and seriously tasty. And they are budget friendly too!

So, next time you are serving up Grilled Jerk Chicken Tacos with Hot Pineapple Sauce, Chardonnay Margaritas, and Cinnamon Taquitos with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream - I'll be right over!

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen, we whipped up the delicious salad-like Artichoke and Spinach Tacos, and the wonderful, more traditional, Grilled Fajita Steak and Shrimp Tacos. Absolutely delicious. Try them yourself this weekend!
Artichoke and Spinach Tacos
Artichoke and Spinach Tacos
Makes 8 tacos
This salad-style taco is fresh and inviting. Enjoy amazing textures accented with tangy lemon and creamy sauce spiked with chile.

Rinse and pat dry all vegetables with paper towel before chopping to prevent a soggy texture.
If you are short on time, use store-bought taco shells. There are a variety of brands to choose from. Check with your local grocer to see if and when they make them fresh.

1 cup spinach leaves, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces 250 mL
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce 250 mL (see Tips)
1 cup chopped drained canned artichoke hearts  250 mL
1⁄4 cup thinly sliced red onion  60 mL
1⁄4 cup    chopped drained canned water chestnuts 60 mL
Juice of 1 lemon
Jalapeño Cream Sauce (page 323)
8    taco shells, warmed (see Tips, left)   
1⁄2 cup    crumbled Cotija cheese 125 mL (see Tip, page 245)

1.    In a bowl, combine spinach, lettuce, artichoke hearts, red onion and water chestnuts. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

2.    Just before serving, toss spinach mixture with lemon juice and Jalapeño Cream Sauce.

3.    To build tacos, divide spinach mixture equally among taco shells. Top with cheese. Fold tortillas in half.

Excerpted from 300 Best Taco Recipes by Kelley Cleary Coffeen © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Grilled Fajita Steak and Shrimp Tacos
Grilled Fajita Steak and Shrimp Tacos
Makes 8 tacos
This is my favorite surf ’n’ turf taco. Tender shrimp sautéed with sweet peppers and onions complement the grilled beefy taste of this taco. Cooked shrimp speeds up the prep time.  

Instead of grilling the steak, place it on a broiler pan and broil 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) away from the heat or sear in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Preheat greased barbecue grill to medium-high (see Variation)

1 lb    beef skirt steak    500 g
2 tbsp    olive oil, divided    30 mL
Kosher salt
12    medium shrimp, cooked, peeled,  deveined and coarsely chopped
1    onion, sliced into 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm) thick rings
1    red bell pepper, julienned 
1    orange bell pepper, julienned    
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8    6- to 8-inch (15 to 20 cm) corn or flour tortillas
2    limes, cut into 6 wedges

1.    Brush meat with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil. Season with salt to taste. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steak, until medium-rare and well browned on surface. Let stand for 5 minutes. Thinly slice meat across the grain.

2.    In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) of oil over medium heat. Sauté shrimp, onion, red and orange bell peppers and salt and pepper to taste until peppers are tender-crisp, vegetables are slightly charred and shrimp is heated through, 10 to 12 minutes.

3.    To build tacos, skillet warm tortillas (page 15). Divide meat and shrimp mixture equally among tortillas and fold tortillas in half. Serve with lime wedges.

Excerpted from 300 Best Taco Recipes by Kelley Cleary Coffeen © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Grilled Fajita Steak and Shrimp Tacos
Author Kelley Coffeen grew up on the American/Mexican border where she fell in love with the flavours of Mexico and the Southwest. She lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico with her family and promotes New Mexico's agriculture, as well as developing healthy, ethnic recipes for Diabetics with the Joslen Center at Harvard Medical School and New Mexico State University.