Enjoy! Because life is too short to deprive the palate!


Steak Tacos, Habanero & Mango Salsas, & Strawberry Mint Margaritas!

After living on both coasts I can now say with full confidence that Tucson, AZ has *THE* very best Mexican food I have yet to come across in the U.S. Before anyone gets defensive, New York and California do dish up some delicious Latin-flavored feasts, but when it comes to authentic, "As-Close-to-Actually-Dining-in-Mexico-Style" cuisine on a consistent level, Southern Arizona is the whole enchilada! Hey, they have to have something good there to ease the pain of 108 degree summer days, right? :] Oh, and did I mention, not only does Tucson have the best Mexican food, they also like to serve it up 24 hours a day, no matter the holiday? Now there's a reason to endure the heat!

Since the move I've had to do my best to bring the taste of the Southwest to our table, and although the following recipes may not beat the real thing, they are still pretty damn delish! 

Warning! The following recipes are wickedly spicy! Use discretion, if you can't handle the heat add the peppers a little at a time.

Fresh Mango Pico de Gallo 
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion
  • 1 red Guajillo Pepper (look like red jalapeno)
  • 2 Hot Cherry Peppers
  • 1 Yellow Hot Wax Pepper
  • 1 green Jalapeno
  • 1 cup Fresh Mango
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • Juice from 2 Limes
  • 2 tsp. Pico de Gallo (the spice!)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
*Brunoise the tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Toss them with the sugar, lime juice, pico de gallo, salt and pepper. More salt will make the tomatoes and onions sweat, which will create a juicier salsa. Stir in the Cilantro. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

I love to make a Salsa Fresca for topping tacos, burritos, and even eggs but my boyfriend recently requested a more "thick and saucy" style dip for dunking his chips. A food processor, or "Ultimate Chopper" in my case, was the perfect fix for just such a request. 

Hot & Hearty Habanero Salsa
-In a Food Processor, mildly puree: 
  • 5 Mini Bell peppers, red, orange, yellow 
  • 1/2 of a large Onion
  • 3 Celery Stalks, halved
  • 1 Roma Tomato
  • 1 Hot House Tomato
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 orange Habaneros
  • 2 Serranos
  • 2 green Jalapenos
*Be sure to cut down into pieces your chopper can handle! You can blend these separately and then mix them together in a large bowl.

Next brunoise and add:
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes
  • The other half of the large Yellow Onion
  • 1 Orange Habanero Pepper
  • 1 green Jalapeno Pepper
  • 1 Serrano Pepper
  • 4 Mini Bell Peppers, red, orange, and yellow
Stir everything together and season with:
  • ½ cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp Seasoned Salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp Himalayan Crystal Salt (or regular sea salt)
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Cane Sugar
*Refrigerate before serving. 

If there is one trick I've learned from watching and indulging in my father's salsas my whole life is that, the best way to make hot salsa manageable is to trick the taste buds with sweetness. The mini bells add a nice sugary taste (as does the Tbsp. of sugar!) that allows the first bite of this salsa to be deliciously dulcet while the after taste sparks up the spice. The taste buds are able to temper between each bite, the sweet providing a much needed cushion before the heat sets in (and after, since you can't stop eating it!). 

Steak Tacos
  • 2 thinly cut Skirt or Flank Steaks, sliced into strips
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (or butter if you prefer)
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Lemon Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • Juice from 1/2 of a Lime
  • 1/4 cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Avocado, freshly sliced
  • Soft or Crunchy Corn Tortillas (I like soft, The Boyfriend likes crunchy, so I make both!)
*After you have sliced the steak, toss it with all of the spices in a medium size bowl. Squeeze the lime on top and let sit. In a skillet heat the oil over Medium-high. Add the onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add the jalapeno and garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Toss in the marinated steak and turn the heat to High. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is no longer pink, approximately 1 minute. Salt and Pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and cover, allowing the meat to simmer in its juices for 2 more minutes. Remove the steak from the heat and transfer to a bowl, cover. 
*Heat the tortillas over the burner, flipping every 10 seconds until heated through. 

To Serve: Pile the tortillas full with the steak, cheddar cheese, and Salsa. If you don't make a salsa fresca top the tacos with chopped tomatoes and onions and garnish with cilantro. Finish with the Avocado Slices and sprinkle the Cotija over the entire plate. 

I also enjoy pairing my Steak Tacos with some cheesy refried beans, guacamole and to make the event complete, a quick and easy twist on a Strawberry Margarita!

Strawberry Mint Margaritas
  • 2 oz Tequila (I'm not saying use Patron, but for the love of all things good and decent stay away from Jose Cuervo and Sauza!)
  • Sprite, or Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Agave Nectar
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime
  • Freshly Sliced Strawberries
  • Mint Leaves
  • Martini Shaker
  • Glass of Ice
*In a martini shaker muddle 3-4 mint leaves with several strawberry slices. Add 1 oz (a standard US shot is 1.5 oz) of tequila and approximately 1/2 cup of Sprite and juice from 2-3 lime slices. In a glass filled with ice, pour the agave nectar down the sides of the glass, twirl to coat all sides. Shake the mixture in the martini shaker and pour over the ice in the glass. Add a splash of orange juice. Finish by floating the final oz of tequila on top; this is done by pouring the shot slowly through a lime slice. Garnish with said lime and a straw. 

Cheers! And Happy feasting!

<3 Marea 

1 comment:

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