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Spicy Steak Burritos

Friday, September 9, 2011

As mentioned before, we love spicy food. And once one's palate becomes accustomed to to the slow, growing burning of the taste of hot peppers, it becomes a never-ending quest of trying to recapture that sensation one experiences when taking the first bite, where the lines between pleasure and pain are blurred, and which acts as a fierce reminder of being very much alive. But with taste buds developing more tolerance with each sprinkle of chili seeds, each drop of hot sauce, it leaves one craving for more.

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Which brings me to this recipe. We use chili flakes in the marinade, in addition to fresh serrano or jalapeno peppers which are cooked until they've just begun to soften but still retain their crunchiness and much of their spice. They are added to the meat and wrapped snugly inside a giant burrito wrap. Sour cream is recommended. Eat at your own risk, as the burritos will be quite spicy. For a gentle palate, follow the asterisks to a milder or a non-spicy option.

We've did not use  rice in this recipe as we find that tortilla wraps provide sufficient amount of starch. Use corn tortillas for a gluten-free option, or replace flour tortillas with whole-grain tortillas for a healthier option. We love these burritos with refried beans, sour cream, fresh salsa and guacamole.

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Note on the peppers: Poblano pepper has a mild heat (among the mildest of all the hot peppers). Serrano chiles are hotter than jalapenos (about twice as hot according to the Scoville scale), so use one or the other depending on the level of hotness you want. Both serranos and jalapenos vary in their spiciness. You may get a batch that adds plenty of flavor to your dish accompanied by a mild heat, or you may get a batch that burns your tongue. When cutting fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers, I recommend using latex gloves; if you do get a hot batch, your fingers will burn for hours if they are not used to the heat of the peppers.

Spicy Steak Burritos
(Serves 4)

For burritos you will need:
1 to 1 1/2 lb steak, such as flank or London Broil, cut into thin strips
1 Poblano pepper, cored and julienned*
1 red bell pepper, cored and julienned
2 serrano chiles or jalapenos, cored and julienned*
1 tbsp canola oil
4 burrito wraps

For steak marinade you will need:
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dry oregano (or 1/2 tsp fresh)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry chili pepper flakes (optional)*

*These ingredients are optional; use them only if you prefer a "hot" option as the dish will be quite spicy. For a medium option, omit serranos or jalapenos and simply use poblano and red bell peppers, using chili pepper flakes at your discretion in the marinade. For a mild option, omit serranos or jalapenos and the poblano pepper, substitute with sweet bell peppers in different colors (green, red, and yellow); omit the chili pepper flakes from the marinade.

Directions
1. Place steak strips into a medium bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk together vinegar, canola oil, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and chili flakes (if using). Pour over the steak strips and mix well. Let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Heat canola oil on medium-high heat in a large pan. With tongs, cook the steak strips in small batches, flipping constantly until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes per batch. Remove the meat from pan and place into a bowl, retaining the juices in the pan . In the meat juices, sauté the peppers until you can break one down with a wooden spatula, but before they turn soft, about 5-6 minutes.

3. Serving suggestion: Place the steak and peppers on a burrito wrap, add refried beans and sour cream as additional toppings, wrap and serve. You can also try our guacamole and fresh tomato salsa recipes as toppings or tasty sides.

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Fresh Tomato Salsa

Thursday, September 8, 2011

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This fresh tomato salsa is extremely easy to make and goes well with our guacamole recipe. I love using on-the-vine tomatoes in this recipe, as they are just bursting with flavor (even if they are a bit too juicy).

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Onion and vinegar provide the requisite piquant kick. If you want the salsa spicy, use a fresh jalapeno pepper, otherwise adjust to your own palate with a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes.

Everything should be finely chopped so you can easily scoop up all the goodness with a tortilla chip. For salsa, an efficient way to finely chop tomatoes is to slice each tomato in half, then slice each half into thin slices lengthwise, then repeat cross-wise, to form small cubes.

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Fresh Tomato Salsa
(Serves 4)

You will need:
2-3 on-the-vine or plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, cored and finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp white vinegar
Salt, to taste
Chili pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

Directions:
Place tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper (if using) into a medium bowl and mix. Add vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper flakes (if using). Mix well. Place into a serving bowl; chill until ready to serve. Enjoy with tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos.

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Guacamole

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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This is our favorite guacamole recipe, which has evolved over the years in our kitchen. We started out with adding lots of spices and garlic but over time decided that simpler is better. Fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice and coarse salt is all the seasoning this mole requires. I also like a sprinkle of chili powder.

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Make sure the avocados are ripe: if they are too hard, you won't be able to mash them; too soft means they are rotten. They are just ripe when they give in a little when pressed with a thumb.

Guacamole
(Serves 4)

You will need:
2 ripe avocados
1/2 plum or on-the-vine tomato, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, cored and finely chopped (optional)
1/2 lime
1/8 tsp chili powder
Salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Slice each avocado in half, lengthwise. Remove the pit. Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon into a medium bowl, discard the peel. With a potato masher or a fork, mash the avocados to a consistency of a puree.

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2. Add tomato, onion, cilantro and jalapeno pepper (if using). Squeeze juice from 1/2 lime and season with chili powder and salt. Mix well. Place into a serving bowl and serve with tortilla chips as an appetizer or as a topping for tacos.
 

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