gringo chicken tacos

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, spring, summerFieldandForestComment

The official first day of summer happened last weekend! It is now excusable for the sun to melt you into the sidewalk. As is tradition around this time of year, our air conditioner broke. We sort of weren't using it that much anyway to try and keep our energy bill on the lower end of ridiculous (old houses = lots of character, lots of character = no insulation, no insulation = lots of energy needed to keep the indoors from becoming devil's armpit hot), but as it turns out, not using air conditioning means that our house turns into a high-desert microclimate with temps averaging about 86˚F.

So now we are looking for every excuse to cook and eat our food outside, which led to the creation of these [likely inauthentic, but still super tasty] chicken tacos. Granted you can (and I did) cook the chicken breasts in a skillet, but they'd be just as good and probably more authentic if they were cooked outdoors on a grill. You can easily double/quadruple/quintuple this recipe to feed as many hungry people as you'd like, and as the only thing that really needs cooking is the chicken, you can prep all the accoutrements right before you grill and have quite possibly the easiest and least fussy dinner party ever.

So, yeah. These are really good tacos, made by a white lady in a cast-iron skillet in Utah. I doubt it gets much more gringo than that.

Tacos de Pollo Gringo (Gringo Chicken Tacos)
makes enough for 2-3 people, or 8-10 small (street) tacos

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder (I used this awesome stuff from Rancho Gordo)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the chicken in a container with a lid or a shallow bowl. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken. Use your hands to spread the marinade over the chicken so that each breast is evenly coated. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

To build/accessorize your tacos:
1 ripe (but not mushy) avocado, sliced
1/2 a white onion, finely chopped
a handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
small corn tortillas, about 4-5 inches in diameter (if you're in Utah, Rico makes nice, pliable corn tortillas in Salt Lake City, and sells them in most grocery stores)

About 30-45 minutes before you want to eat your tacos: Take the chicken out of the fridge and set aside (leaving it at room temperature for a bit helps it to cook more evenly and stay tender). If using a grill, now is a good time to begin heating your coals.

About 15 minutes before you want to eat your tacos: prep the avocado, onion, cilantro, and lime (we combined the onion and cilantro in the same bowl like a dry relish, but you can serve them separately depending on what you prefer). Set aside.

Place a grill over hot coals, or place a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Oil the grill with an olive oil-soaked paper towel, or drizzle a little oil around the inside of your cast iron skillet (just enough to lightly coat). Cook the chicken just until it is cooked through (no longer pink inside), but still tender, about 5-6 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is cooking, remove your tortillas from their bag/container and place them in a microwave-proof bowl. Put a plate on top of the bowl (covering the tortillas) to make a makeshift steamer. Microwave your bowl/plate contraption for 1-2 minutes to heat your tortillas and make them pliable (you may have to experiment with your tortillas to make sure you are heating them enough/not too much, since various brands can act differently when heated).

Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and place the chicken breasts on a cutting board. Let rest for a minute. Slice each breast across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices and place in a serving bowl. Pour any juices that end up on your cutting board over the chicken. Serve immediately with the hot tortillas, onion, cilantro, avocado, and lime.

pantry pea velouté with curry and lemon

autumn, soups, spring, summer, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

This week has been a flurry of travels, family time, dog adventures, stresses, cooking, and happiness.  And then, like that, we slowed things down for just a moment and I woke up sniffly and headachy and car-runneth-me-over-y.  I am not very good at caring for myself when I am sick; I am better at caring for others, by way of soup, tea, entertainment (in the form of 2nd grade-level jokes and/or interpretive dance moves), and collaborative movie-watching.  When I am sick, there is little I feel like doing other than couching-it hardcore, eating toast, and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.

Those kinds of things are cathartic, and they also help you forget that you are in a house which is lacking in groceries and general stuff that makes sick people better.  This makes for a sad 5 minutes of shuffling around the kitchen while wrapped babushka-style in a blanket. But, after a little scrounging, maybe you find a bag of frozen peas.  Some butter.  An old onion, and a little curry powder. Plus a lonely fridge lemon. And you think, hey, I could totally make soup with this.  So you do. And it kind of rocks.

And you feel better.

(And you call your soup "velouté" because it helps you to feel fancy in spite of your red nose and raging case of bedhead.)

Pantry Pea Velouté with Curry and Lemon
This recipe is very loosely based on an amazing soup that my Aunt Diane makes regularly.  Her version has half-and-half, but I've made it before with whole milk or coconut milk (so creamy, so vegan) and loved it just as much.  Dealer's choice on this one.  Also, apologies in advance for all the notes by the ingredients, though I hope they make you confident in your ability to make this soup since apparently you can forget almost 30% of the ingredients and have it still be awesome.

2 tablespoons butter, ghee, or coconut oil 1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (omit if making GF)
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water (I used water this time, which gives you a clean, bright soup, albeit with less depth)
1 large pinch kosher salt
1 large pinch sugar (optional; I forgot to add this, and I didn't really miss it... though keep in mind my nose is stopped up)
1 pound frozen peas (equivalent to 1 bag)
1/2 pound frozen spinach (again, I forgot this... whoops)
1/2-1 cup half-and-half, whole milk, or coconut milk (yup, didn't add this either)
lemon juice, to taste

Melt the butter, ghee, or coconut oil in a pot over medium-low heat.  Add the chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and becomes translucent (5-7 minutes).  Add the flour and curry powder to the onions, and stir continuously for a couple of minutes while the flour cooks.  Add a little stock or water and stir up any flour stuck to the bottom of your pan, then add the rest of the stock, the salt, and the sugar (if using), and let everything simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the frozen peas and spinach (if using) to the pot, and let everything simmer for 15 minutes.  Take the pot off of the heat, and purée the soup using a stand blender or immersion blender.  Add the half-and-half, whole milk, or coconut milk, and stir to combine.  Taste soup, and add lemon juice for brightness and additional salt if necessary.

Optional garnishes - I've had this with buttered croutons (amazing), creme fraîche (amazing), and lemon yogurt (yummmmmy).  The soup in the picture is topped with yogurt mixed with a little lemon juice and some piment d'Espelette for color and a smidge of heat (just in case you were wondering!).