Weeknight Taco Chili

Fall is my favorite season. A noticeable chill in the air, the leaves start to turn, it’s incredibly beautiful. It’s also the beginning of comfort food season! One of my top comfort foods is chili. Typically, this is a weekend effort for me – low, slow cooking for hours, and no beans!

However, I was looking for a weeknight chili that I could whip up with pantry ingredients that most of us have on hand. This came together in 20 minutes and simmered for an additional 30, spreading its wonderful aroma throughout the house. The chili has a bit of a taco flair with the addition of black olives, tomatoes with green chilies, and taco seasoning. I topped mine with tortilla chips, cheese, a dollop of sour cream, scallions and onions. Delicious!!

The seasoning I used for this is The Spice House’s Taco Seasoning. I usually buy most of my spices from Savory Spices, and they have a new Chicharron Salt that I’m going to pick up to try this week. However, The Spice House has some neat spice mixes. In addition to the Taco Seasoning, my other favorites are the Lake Shore Drive Seasoning and their powdered Porcini “Extra AA” Dried Mushrooms.

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Let’s cook! 😊

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass-fed, ground sirloin
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilis
  • 8 oz can sliced black olives, drained
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning (or a taco seasoning packet)

Recommended Toppings

  • shredded cheese
  • green onions
  • fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips
  • or serve over cooked rice

Directions – so simple!

Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and onion; and sauté until cooked through, breaking the sirloin up as it cooks. Add remaining ingredients (except toppings), turn heat up to high to bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, adjust seasonings if desired, and serve with toppings.

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European Dover Sole Meuniѐre

The first and only time I had Dover Sole, it was, for lack of a better word, magnificent. Sautéed to a golden brown, served with a lush and decadent butter sauce, accented with capers and lemon. Definitely not an everyday meal, to be enjoyed for a special occasion.

The very best European Dover Sole comes from Holland, and is not often found in the US. It should not be confused with Pacific Dover sole, which is not a true sole and is related more closely to flounder. Clean Catch advertised they had fourteen of these special European fish fresh out of the water in Holland and on the way via overnight this week, with the description:

‘The flesh has an exceptional density, with tightly packed flakes that are amazingly juicy. Their aroma when cooked will remind you of savory bacon, and the flavor has a hazelnut sweetness you won’t find in any other fish. There is a buttery richness on the mouth, with an ocean flavor that dissipates slowly with each bite. Dover sole is an indulgence, an experience one you will not experience with any other fish.’

I decided to indulge.

Where to start. The most prominent chef to profess her love for this special fish was Julia Child. In My Life in France, she wrote that eating Sole Meuniѐre on her arrival in France was ‘an epiphany’. I pulled out my copy of Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but much to my dismay Sole Meuniѐre was not included. A Bing search yielded her recipe from The Way to Cook; I tweaked it a bit to my liking. In this recipe, I use cilantro instead of parsley, sauté the fish in butter-infused olive oil, and add lemon and cilantro directly to the butter sauce.

1 European Dover Sole, filleted, skinned, with head removed
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 Tablespoons organic butter-infused olive oil (or other high quality olive oil)
4 tablespoons of clarified butter
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons capers
Juice of ½ lemon
Lemon wedges and cilantro

Layout and pat dry the fillets. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge in a light coating of flour, brushing off excess with your fingers.

Heat the clarified butter slowly on low-medium heat in a small saucepan.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil heats up, place filets in the pan, without overcrowding, about 3 to 4 to a skillet. Brown on one side about 1 to 2 minutes, and carefully flip over to brown the other side.

While the fish is finishing browning, add the capers and lemon to the butter. Be aware that these have a pretty violent reaction, and will spatter. Cover with foil if you like until the reaction stops. Add the chopped cilantro and stir gently.

Remove fish to a platter. Spoon the lemon-caper butter sauce over fish. Garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve immediately.

C’est magnifique! 🙂

European Dover Sole Meuniere

Shrimp Tacos with a Citrus Twist

My favorite fish market, Clean Catch, had some amazing tiger shrimp in the case yesterday, so I picked up a pound (eight shrimp in this instance) and decided to try a different take on shrimp tacos. While a peppery, smoky spice shines in tacos, citrus also works very well. I use orange, lemon, and lime in this version; and a sour cream sauce with more of a kick. Also added some honey in the marinade for a slight kiss of sweet.

I did these in a skillet on medium-high heat, but the shrimp are definitely great for grilling. Unfortunately it’s raining tonight in Charlotte so grilling was out for me. 🙂

Spicy Citrus Shrimp Tacos

Spicy Citrus Shrimp Tacos
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
2 Tbsp chipotle-fused olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

Southwestern Cream Sauce
1/2 cup light sour cream (or fat-free greek yogurt)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

4 flour or corn tortillas
Shredded lettuce
Shredded Mexican cheese
Salsa or Pico de Gallo
Guacamole
Cilantro and quartered limes for garnish

Whisk together the orange, lemon and lime juices, olive oil, honey, spices and garlic for the marinade. Toss the shrimp in the marinade to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, but not more than 30. Any longer than 30 and the shrimp will start to ‘cook’ in the acid of the citrus juices.

Waiting for the shrimp to marinade, whisk together all the ingredients for the southwest cream sauce and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If grilling, thread the shrimp onto skewers, and grill 1-3 minutes per side, until opaque and cooked through. Use the grill to heat the tortillas as well. If cooking indoors, cook the shrimp in a skillet on medium-high heat for 1-3 minutes per side; warm the tortillas in the microwave.

Sprinkle shredded lettuce and cheese on the tortillas and divide the shrimp among the tortillas. Drizzle the cream sauce over the shrimp and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges. Serve guacamole and salsa/pico on the side. Serves 2 (2 tacos each). Enjoy!

Spicy Citrus Tacos and Beer

Summer Spicy Shrimp Tacos: Muy Delicioso!

Summer is the perfect time for spicy tacos with an ice cold Corona. Occasionally I like a crunchy taco shell, but most often prefer a soft flour or corn tortilla. I picked up some pico de gallo at Whole Foods, and whipped up some quick guacamole. Whole Foods usually has good store-made guacamole as well if you’d prefer to not make your own.

Olive oil, olive oil, olive oil! I use olive oil frequently in my cooking, and am crazy about the new stores opening in Charlotte that sell fused/infused oils and vinegars. I have two favorite stores – Pour Olive and New World Olive Oil. I’ve found I like New World’s fused oils and Pour Olive’s vinegars best, but they both offer top notch products. Fused means fresh ingredients are added at the time the olives are crushed, making it integral to the oil itself. Infused is flavoring added after the oil has been milled. Today’s recipe features New World’s Jalapeno-fused olive oil – it has a clean, bright peppery taste.

The combination of spices and jalapeno-fused olive oil make these shrimp tacos quite spicy. If you prefer a milder taste, use regular olive oil and omit the regular chili powder. The chipotle chili powder adds a smoky, spicy kick by itself and is an excellent compliment to the cumin, found in a lot of Mexican cooking.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Sour Cream
Serves 2

1 lb white shrimp (12 per pound), peeled and deveined
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Sprinkling of salt (I used Red Hawaiian)
1 tablespoon jalapeno-fused olive oil

Lime-Cilantro Sour Cream
¼ cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼ teaspoon cumin
Zest and juice from a lime
Sprinkling of salt

4 soft flour tortillas
Guacamole
Pico de Gallo
Shredded Mexican Cheese

Whisk the garlic, chili powders, cumin, salt and olive oil together in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss well to make sure all are covered in marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Mix together all ingredients for the lime-cilantro sour cream. The sauce will be runny, which is good for drizzling over the tacos. Store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the tacos.

Heat a medium-large skillet on medium heat and cook the shrimp until pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds. Place two on each plate, and sprinkle some shredded Mexican cheese across the center; add a couple dollops of guacamole. Put three shrimp on each taco; top with pico de gallo and drizzle some lime-cilantro sour cream across the top.

Garnish with limes wedges and cilantro sprigs. Enjoy! 🙂