Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beef Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I hope you all have a fun and safe day, but if you wanted to stay home... make some tacos... I've got a recipe for you.

Today's beef taco's recipe comes courtesy of Cooks Illustrated.  I probably saved it from one of the various weekly ATK emails I receive - sign up for them, some GREAT recipes are emailed to you, all seasonal and holiday appropriate!

This recipe is very simple, you should have most of the items on hand, and takes just minutes.  As for the toppings, top it with whatever floats your taco boat - tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, avocado, onion, salsa, or ATK's suggestion of lettuce.  I think lettuce in tacos are gross... unless it's a delicious fish taco and you're adding a delicious slaw.  But I digress.

I also always recommend corn tortillas with tacos.  Flour tastes better, but corn tastes more authentic.

I went with just sour cream, tomatoes, and cheese.  We want tacos...

By the way, I ate this over the course of three days, and the flavor was still intense after three days.  Of course, eat it as soon as possible.  The flavor seemed to intensify a bit - it felt a bit bland when I first tried it, but that was after I realized... oops I used two teaspoons of chili powder instead of two tablespoons.  

Beef Tacos from Cooks Illustrated, March 2002

Ingredients - Beef Filling:

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable or corn oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped small (about 2/3 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used just a dash)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (I used 80/20)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (sold in 8 ounce cans)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth (I did not have this, I used water instead)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (preferably cider, I used white)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 8 taco shells or white corn tortillas
1.  Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes.  Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.

2.  Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat and scraping pan bottom to avoid scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about five minutes.  

3.  Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking up any remaining chunks, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes.  Taste, and add salt and pepper to your liking. 

4.  Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon.  Serve with your desired toppings.

Rolled up delicious goodness.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones

I'm still on a high from the Royal Wedding - I love weddings, and it's 1000x better when the Royal Family is involved!  Especially when I dragged myself out of bed at 2:10am Pacific time, I'm going to savor every single moment!

I wanted to make scones for the occasion, but ran into a few problems:
1.  No cream (or even half and half) on hand.
2.  No fruit on hand (i.e. no blueberries, no currants, etc.)


As I continued googling, I came across Simply Recipes again and noticed Elise posted a recipe in honor of the Royal Wedding.  The recipe was for Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones.  A quick glance at the ingredients told me I had everything on hand.  As I looked closer, I realized the "scones" were really more like pancakes, but light, fluffy, airy pancakes.

I also had a hard time believing Queen Elizabeth actually whipped these up for President Eisenhower, but, that's how the story goes.

On Elise's original recipe, she provided the substitute for the cream of tartar and baking soda - just baking powder - which is what I used, since I never have cream of tartar.

Pancakes?  Scones?  English Muffins?  

Serve with butter and syrup.  Eat like a pancake.  They're so light, which I appreciate - it doesn't feel like a brick in my stomach after eating.  I'd definitely make these again.

A note on the batter - it seems really thick.  I didn't follow the instructions perfectly, so my batter may have been a bit too gluten-y, but I still managed to make a light, fluffy pancake.

Queen Elizabeth's Drop Scones from Simply Recipes

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda + 3 teaspoons cream of tartar OR 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar or 1/4 heaping cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted.
1.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar (or just baking powder), and salt in a large bowl.

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar.  Add most of the milk.

3.  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the egg/milk/sugar mixture.  Whisk until smooth, adding more milk until you get the right consistency - thin enough to spread in a pan, but not so thin that it would run.  Fold in melted butter.

4.  Heat a griddle or pan.  Lightly grease (I use cooking spray.)  Drop batter by the tablespoon to form pancakes.  When bubbles start to appear, about 2-3 minutes, flip over and cook the other side for about a minute, or lightly browned.

5.  Keep warm in the oven or eat as soon as possible.