A Fast & Easy Recipe for a Busy Weekend

Things continue to be hectic around here.  We are closing on our first house next week, and we plan to do some renovations right away.  So you can bet this weekend is going to be a whirlwind of getting things ready for the closing, shopping around for things like tile and bathroom vanities, and researching things like wood floor refinishing… all the while trying not to freak out.  This kind of crazy weekend calls for a speedy, simple recipe idea.  Also, when things are busy, I like the idea of making a component that can be used in many ways to jazz up otherwise simple dishes.  Fortunately, I’ve come up with something that fits the bill.

I really like Pinterest, a lot.  I’ve created a bunch of boards for recipes (of course), but also decorating , gardening, entertaining, personal style, and travel ideas/inspiration.  Recently I came across this pin for “taco pickles” – the photo of brightly colored veggies grabbed my attention immediately, and reminded me of all the fresh veggies I’ve been eyeing up at Farmers @ Firehouse.  I had to make these!  They’re a great addition to a taco or taco-salad, and also would be great on burgers or a sandwich, as a garnish for grilled fish, or just for a little snack.

My version is a twist on the original recipe, with the addition of scallions, lime, and garlic – some other veggies that you could experiment with would be bell pepper, crisp fresh peas in their shells, onion, zucchini, or red cabbage.  Any sort of fresh, crunchy veggie would be great – get some inspiration from your garden or local Farmers’ Market!

Here’s the recipe I used, which filled two pint jars.

Quick Taco Pickles

1 bunch of radishes
3 carrots, peeled
1 jalapeño (or more if you’d like more heat), seeds and stem removed
3 scallions
1 clove garlic
1/2 lime
A handful of chopped cilantro
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

1.  Thinly slice all of the vegetables and lime.  I used a mandoline to make sure everything was evenly sliced.  (This is the one I have – it’s inexpensive, but it does a great job.)

Taco Pickle Vegetables

2.  Bring the sugar and vinegars to a slow boil and whisk until all the sugar is dissolve.  Place in the fridge to cool it to room temperature.

3.  Combine the radishes, carrots, jalapeño, scallions, garlic, lime slices, and cilantro.  Pour the cooled pickling liquid over them.  Store in the fridge in jars or any sealeable container.  Let them sit for at least an hour before digging in.  The original recipe said they would keep for a couple weeks, but I found they were best within the first week.

Taco Pickles

Click here for a printable PDF of this recipe.


Tacos de Cabra

Tacos de Cabra

With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I felt inspired to create a recipe appropriate for this holiday.  What could be more classically Mexican than tacos?  I’m sure Pinterest and the rest of the internet are being flooded with recipes of your typical chicken or beef tacos, so I wanted to try something a little different.  Instead of the usual meat fillings, these tacos are made with underrated-but-oh-so-tasty goat!  I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of you are maybe not entirely on board with this idea, so if you’re not yet sold, I recommend you check out this 2009 article from the New York Times.   A few interesting highlights:  While it may not yet be very popular in the US, goat is the most widely consumed meat in the world – a staple of Mexican cuisine (of course) but also Indian, Greek and southern Italian.    And from a health and nutrition standpoint, I was surprised to learn that the meat is lower in fat than chicken but higher in protein than beef.  I’d also agree with the author’s description of the meat tasting like a cross between beef and lamb.  I encourage you to give it a try!  The flavorful marinade in this recipe will easily mask the ever-so-slight “gamey” taste the meat may have.  

You may now be thinking “Where on earth can I buy goat meat?”  Given the theme of this blog, the obvious answer would be “The Strip District!” but to be more specific, you can find it at Strip District Meats, or at Salem’s Market.  For this recipe, I purchased the meat from Salem’s, which is at the far end of the Strip between 29th and 30th Streets – you cannot miss their building completely covered in vibrant murals. At the back of the “market half” of the building (the other half is a delicious and wildly affordable grill/buffet), they have a fantastic butcher counter that sells halal meats, cut to order.  The butcher suggested the front leg of the goat because it would be more tender than the rear leg, and I had him cut it up into 6 pieces so it would fit in my dutch oven for roasting.

If you’re not interested in trying the goat meat, you could substitute beef chuck, or a leg of lamb with very similar results.  The meat in this recipe is marinated overnight before being slow roasted.  This being a Mexican recipe, you can probably guess that I picked up my spices, chiles, tortillas, and taco garnishes at Reyna Foods.  I’m no chile expert, but the massive variety of dried chiles in the back of their store makes me want to explore the many varieties.  The anchos and guajillos in this recipe are more mild, so don’t worry about this recipe being too spicy.  I served the tacos with mango and tomato salsas, cilantro, avocado, radishes, and queso fresco.  You could substitute or add other garnishes as well:  scallions, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, shredded carrots, roasted corn or sour cream might be fun to try.

The amount below makes approximately 16 tacos for about 8 people.

For the meat
1 leg of goat (about 6-7 pounds)
2 cups chicken stock (approximately)
1 dried guajillo chile*
4 dried ancho chiles*
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
5 whole allspice berries
5 whole cloves
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed
1 Spanish onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper

*If you’d like a little more heat, you could use more guajillo chiles, and fewer ancho chiles because – as this chart indicates – the guajillos are slightly more spicy.

Tacos de Cabra

Corn (or flour) tortillas
Queso fresco
Radishes, thinly sliced
Avocado, sliced
Lime wedges
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Mango and peach salsa
‘Table’ salsa

Tacos de Cabra

1.  Toast the dried chiles in a dry skillet until fragrant.  Then place them into boiling water, remove from the heat, and set aside for 20 minutes.

Tacos de Cabra

2.  Grind the whole cloves and allspice berries with a mortar and pestle, or spice/coffee grinder.

Tacos de Cabra

3.  Drain the soaked chiles – remove the stems and seeds.  Add the chiles, ground spices, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, onion, vinegar and tomato paste in a blender or food processor and puree.

Tacos de Cabra

4.  Season the goat leg pieces generously with salt and pepper.  Rub the pureed paste all over the meat.  Cover and refrigerate to marinate overnight.

5.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

6.  Drizzle some olive oil into a dutch oven or roasting pan, add the marinated meat and pour in the chicken stock.  You can decide how much stock you might like to add.  Some of the recipes I read called for no liquid, but because the meat is so lean, I chose to add some to keep it from getting to dry.  Place in the oven to roast for about 4 hours.  Check on the meat every hour or so to make sure it doesn’t get to dry (in which case, simply add more stock or water), or overcook.

Tacos de Cabra

7.  Once the meat is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly.  Remove the meat from the bone, and pull it apart into small pieces using a fork and tongs.

Tacos de Cabra

8.  Warm the tortillas in an oven or skillet, place the shredded meat in a serving bowl, arrange the cheese, vegetables, herbs and salsa in small serving bowls.

9.  Serve family-style so that each person can assemble their own taco with whichever extras and garnishes they choose.

Tacos de Cabra

Tacos de Cabra

Click here to download a printable PDF of this recipe.