October 27, 2011

Tecate Skirt Steak Tacos

tecate skirt steak tacos

I’m not sure if I’ve ever talked about my love for Mexican food on this blog or not…. (The majority of you reading this blog know me personally, but my goal is to reach an audience who has never met me. So sharing some personal details is imperative). I believe my passion for chips and salsa, tacos and a cheesy enchilada was instilled in me at birth. My mom craves Mexican food unlike any other person I’ve ever met. She has always said that she could eat Tex-Mex food morning, noon and night, every day of the week. I, without a doubt, believe that statement to be true. Therefore, I’d like to think that my need for Mexican cuisine is genetic; an inherited trait passed on from my mother.

AZ Taco Festival Taco #1

Luckily, for me, Jon shares the same passion. He too, can eat Mexican food every day of the week. One of our greatest commonalities is our shared love of food, whether it be cooking, eating, dining out or ordering in, I can always count on him to share a good meal. However, when it comes to Mexican food, Jon likes things just a tad bit spicier than I do. A tad bit spicier might be an understatement… This guy can swallow an extraordinary amount of spice, and I thought I liked things spicy!

AZ Taco Festival Taco #2

You can imagine our delight when we found out about the 2nd Annual Arizona Taco Festival. It was almost as if this festival was created with the two of us in mind. A whole day of sampling tacos… after tacos… after tacos. Oh yeah, and lots of tequila. It was a day of pure bliss.

mustache anyone

I tried to prepare myself in advance. I studied the taco vendors that would be peddling their incarnation of the ideal street taco. I wanted to have a plan of which taco stands were an absolute must to try out. Did I mention there were 42 of them? I had to use my time (and money) wisely.

AZ Taco Festival Taco #3

Ok… So here is the point where I was going to, oh so eloquently, describe the “best of the best” tacos I consumed on that glorious day. But, as it just so happens, I am, at this very moment, sitting on a plane on my way to Chicago, trying to use my time wisely by writing this blog post and I just realized I forgot my Taco Festival notes at home… I knew, standing in that security line, that I had most definitely left something behind. Damn. I guess I’ll just have to describe what I can from memory…

AZ Taco Festival Taco #4

There are two tacos that stand out in my mind. I’d have to assume that those are the two I’d consider to be the “best” or at least most memorable…

golf ball sized tortilla rounds

#1: The Duck Confit Tacos from El Hefe
The flavor of the duck was exceptional, with a delicious cherry compote reduction.

tortilla tortilla

#2: The Wild Mushroom Tacos from T. Cook’s
Not exactly the biggest fan of vegetarian tacos, I’d have to say these were the most original in my opinion. The flavor was earthy and complex. Bonus: amazing corn tortillas, thick with an almost “al dente” like texture.

smoky chipotle salsa

From here, the plan was to recreate my favorite taco from the festival for this blog, however, out of the 20 plus tacos I tried, the duck tacos from El Hefe won me over. Sorry, but at this point in my life, I don’t exactly have the time to confit anything. So, instead, I decided to create a taco that I would have served if given the opportunity to auction off tacos from a humble tent in the Arizona heat. I present to you a Tecate Skirt Steak Taco. The Arizona Taco Festival, in my opinion, was lacking steak tacos, so I thought I’d fill that void. I tried my best at some homemade tortillas, marinated the steak for 24 hours and made a chipotle salsa. I was pretty pleased with the results, especially the flavor of the steak, which was the only component of the taco that I completely came up with myself, thank you very much. Overall though, it is a pretty tasty taco. Jon even gave his approval, and considering his taste for tacos, I’d have to say my Tecate Skirt Steak Tacos are a winner. Try ‘em for yourself, and let me know what you think!

taco, burrito, what's comin' out of...

Tecate Skirt Steak Tacos 
Recipe by Karlie (with the help of others) 

Basic Ingredients:
Tortillas (see recipe below)
Tecate marinated skirt steak (see recipe below)
Smoky chipotle salsa (see recipe below)
1 avocado
1 fresno chili
¼ cup crumbled cotija cheese
¼ cup cilantro leaves
lime wedges

1. Make sure the tortillas are warm and ready to use. Top each tortilla with a few slices of warm skirt steak, a spoonful of chipotle salsa, a slice of avocado, a slice or two of Fresno chili, cotija cheese, cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

Enough for about 10-12 tacos

Flour Tortillas (Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
¾ cup (plus the optional addition of 1-2 tbsp) shortening
¾ cup hot water (just under boiling)

1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Drop the shortening, in small clumps, into the bowl and rub into the flour mixture by hand until the mixture looks crumbly. At this point, if the mixture does not resemble course corn meal, add 1-2 tablespoons of shortening. Add the hot water, so that the mixture is moist.

2. Using the dough hook of a stand mixture (or your hands) knead the dough until it all comes together and forms a soft round shape. If the dough is still to crumbly, or won’t come together at this point, add 1-2 more tablespoons of flour.

3. Separate the dough into about 15-18 golf ball sized balls. Place on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

4. Lightly flour a work space, and roll each ball with a rolling pin to about 1/8 inch thickness. The edges will be rough. You can use the top of a round glass, coffee mug or Tupperware to cut out a perfectly round tortilla if you like.

5. Using a cast iron skillet on medium heat, cook each tortilla for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until the tortilla starts to brown slightly. Keep the tortillas warm until ready to use.

Makes about 15-18 4 inch tortillas

Marinated Skirt Steak (Recipe by Karlie Kiser)

1 lb skirt steak
1, 12oz can Tecate beer
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp liquid smoke
½ lime, juiced
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1. Lay the skirt steak on a cutting board, or flat surface. Using a meat tenderizer (I used a potato masher) pound the meat on both sides several times to break down the tissue. Place steak in a small casserole dish or large Ziplock bag if you like.

2. Mix the Tecate beer, soy sauce, liquid smoke, lime juice, garlic, brown sugar and ginger in a medium sized bowl until combined. Pour over the steak and let marinate for at least 12 hours, or up to 1 day. If using a casserole dish, be sure to flip the steak half way through the marinating process.

3. Heat either an outside grill or stove top grill to medium high heat. Cook the steak for about 5-6 min on each side for medium rare. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain.

Smoky Chipotle Salsa (Recipe adapted from Men’s Health, September 2011)

3 canned chipotle chilies in adobo, plus 1 ½ tbsp adobo sauce
2 cups canned fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
½ cup sliced sweet Vidalia onion
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp honey
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp grated orange zest, plus 2 tbsp of juice from the orange
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
½ jalapeno sliced
½ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a blender or food processor, puree all the ingredients until smooth.

2. In a medium sized saucepan, bring the puree to a boil; lower the heat and simmer until it no longer tastes raw, about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce into a large, freshly washed jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Makes about 2 cups

October 19, 2011

Citrus Marinated Olives- Via Tempe, Arizona

Olive You

I know what you've been thinking.  Where is she?  Where has she gone?  I know, too, that you've missed me dearly, assuming only that I had abandoned this blog without even so much as a warning or farewell.  Well, that is simply not the case.  I never had the intention of ignoring my small audience of Crumbs followers, and I can only assume that I have pushed some of you away.  But sometimes "life" happens.  It steps in and throws you a curve ball or two, interrupting plans, routines and the way of living one has become accustomed to.  That is certainly what has happened to me.  Luckily, my curve balls have been blessings.  Life, standing unannounced on that pitcher's mound, has thrown me some well deserved (or at least I'd like to think so) opportunities and happiness.

welcome to Arizona

Since my last post (NINE MONTHS AGO!!), I've started a "promising" job, purchased a puppy, fallen in love, quit that job once believed to be promising and moved 1,000 miles away from Dallas to my new home in Tempe, Arizona.  As you can see, I've been a little preoccupied with adjusting to some new life changes.  In the beginning, I was determined to continue with this blog, even expand on it.  All too soon, however, writing a new blog post just became one more thing on my much too long To Do List.  I was feeling stressed, pressured even.  When am I going to find the time to write on my blog?!  Weeks passed and the time that had lapsed became overwhelming.  I felt like a failure.  Why had I let so much time go by without posting to Culinary Crumbs?  The answer: there was simply too much going on in my life at the time.  60+ hour work weeks, taking care of a whimpering puppy at all hours of the night, traveling back and forth from Dallas to Phoenix... I had to consign to the fact that, for the time being, my blog would have to be placed on the back burner until I had figured out how to juggle all the new aspects of my life.

we're not in Texas anymore

Well I think that time has come.  I'm still trying to find my groove here in Arizona, but maintaining this blog is going to be part of my new routine.  This blog makes me happy and it has become a project that I truly enjoy.  So why would I want to give that up completely?  Before I fill you in on my plans for the future of this blog, let's take a step back in time so I can spill the dirty details on the last 9 months of my life...

wide open spaces

2011 started off with a bang.  At the end of January, I started a new gig working as the Web Manager for an upscale jewelry company based at NorthPark Mall in Dallas.  I had every ounce of energy and creativity sucked out of me over the course of the next 6 months; being ruled over by an evil, bipolar dictator.  However, I somehow managed to find time to raise a delightful, albeit delinquent, puppy, Dexter.

world's cutest puppy

Now, how cute is he?  I wish he still looked like that.  I wish he was still that tiny.  I wish he was simply small enough to take for a leisurely stroll.  You'd be surprised at how strong and how much power an 85 pound puppy can muster up.  At 10 months old, my not so tiny puppy has more energy than I know what to do with sometimes.  He tests my patience and keeps me on my toes on a daily basis, but it's hard to stay angry at something as cute as he is.

10 months old and growing

Job, puppy... oh, yes.  Boyfriend.  Jonathon and I met on a ski trip sponsored by a mutual friend.  Jessie, a close friend of mine since middle school, had gone to college at Arizona State with Jon and invited a large group of friends from both Plano and Arizona to spend a weekend at her family's house in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  I guess our romance could be summed up with "love at first sight."  I knew almost immediately that this guy was someone special.

love at first sight

Over the next 6 months, Jon and I traveled back and forth from Dallas to Phoenix, and vise versa, visiting each other and getting to know one another.  We opened up Southwest Airlines credit cards and committed to making the long distance thing work for as long as we could.  But, and I'm sure anyone who has been in a long distance relationship can attest, a weekend together here, and weekend together there, can't quite make up for all those weeks and weekends in between spent apart.

Jon and Karlie sitting in a tree...

So, with the support of family and friends (along with the disapproval from a few others) I packed up my belongings into boxes (a vast majority of them being labeled "kitchen stuff"), crammed them into a Uhaul and drove the 1,000 plus miles from Plano to Tempe, Arizona in mid-August.  I've since settled in, found a temporary job and rediscovered my need to blog.

on top of Camelback

And so here we are.  At the present.  It's taken me so long to get this blog back up and running but I'm determined to keep it going this time around.  I've learned that it's all about the baby steps when trying to adjust to new surroundings and tackle a daunting To Do List.  Which is exactly why I've selected such an easy recipe to write about for my first time back from my blogging hiatus.  I knew that there would be a plethora of information I would want to share with you regarding my life.  And I knew that I would be a little rusty on the more technical aspects of blogging.  So in order to not overwhelm myself, I chose a simple recipe of marinated olives.  A visually stunning recipe, yes, but a breeze in the kitchen.  Exactly what I was looking for.

olive prep

You see, I have a plan for this blog.  I plan on starting off somewhat slow: one post per week, with every week of each month being dedicated to a different category of recipes.  Restaurant inspired recipes, sugar centered recipes (ie: desserts, baked goods, perhaps an ice cream), health conscious recipes and, finally, a wild card (read: "whatever the hell I feel like making" recipe).  Of course, there will be some special posts correlating to holidays and travels, but this is the general formula I intend to follow.  Hold me to it, will you?

how 'bout them olives

Citrus Marinated Olives
Recipe Courtesy of Bon Appetit, September 2011

2 cups mixed oil-packed olives
1/2 orange, quartered, then thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
1 small red chile (I used two dried chiles, you could use a fresh Fresno chile, halved lengthwise)

1. Place the olives in a medium sized bowl with the sliced oranges.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the olive oil, garlic cloves, coriander, bay leaves and red chile.  Cook until fragrant and garlic begins to brown, about 20 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and let steep for 1 hour.

3. Pour oil mixture over olives and stir to coat.  Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours or cover and chill up to 4 days.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 2 cups