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Wine Country Vineyard vs Beach Cantina

17 Aug

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A week in western Canadian wine country packed with vineyard touring, tastings and fabulous charcuterie offerings. Trust us to stumble upon a beach shack cantina and return to it within a day or two.

These al pastor tacos were perfect both times. Pork coated by a combination of dried chilies, spices and pineapple, then crisped almost like bacon with just-grilled white onion (maybe the effects from a quick trip under the broiler – look how crunchy!). Supple yet crunchy corn tortillas delivered the goods topped with lashings of thin sour cream and avocado sauce.


We’ve often pined to try making al pastor at home, but balked at the difficulty: we are not rotisserie-type people.

But huzzzah: here’s a cheat that looks uncompromising. A thick chili coating on sliced pork threaded onto skewers, resting on a bed of pineapple to slow cook for two to three hours in the oven. We are that kind of people!

The trick is slicing the meat as thinly into pieces about 3 inches by 3-inches, and ¼-inch thick. Thread onto two parallel skewers to hold in place, packing tightly so there are no gaps. (you’ll have enough to make three rows using six skewers.) Then it goes into a 250 degree oven for two to three hours.

Sounds as uncomplicated and delicious as our favourite carnitas recipe.

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
2 dried guajillo chilies, stems and seeds removed
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 dried avocado leaves (no idea if we can find these)
1/4 cup achiote paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 pineapple
12 corn tortillas, warmed





25 Jan


Brace yourselves…




And this treasure to wash it all down with:11836858_10152881018981566_8651046290023923223_n

From a 1977 menu under Mexican Specials: “three layers of corn tortillas filled with beef, melted cheese, lettuce and enchilada sauce.”

Here’s a super beautiful image to inspire you.

Using our fave Tres Marias corn tortillas, you could easily bake six stacks at once on a baking sheet.

From online recipe: “I buy ( 9 or 10″) aluminum foil pans to make these. Each person gets their own pan.”

For one serving:
4 oz. ground beef
Diced fresh tomatoes
Oregano, white and black pepper, salt and garlic powder
3 corn tortillas, blanched in hot oil
8 oz. heated enchilada sauce
1 1/2 oz. blended shredded cheese, 2 parts Cheddar and 1 part Monterey Jack

For Garnish:
shredded lettuce
sliced black olives
diced tomatoes

Cook ground beef; stir in tomatoes. Season with oregano, white and black pepper, salt and garlic powder.

Center the foil pan with one of the tortillas. Top with 1/3 of the ground beef, enchilada sauce and cheese; repeat step with the other tortilla, cheese, sauce and beef.

Place third tortilla over rest of the ingredients, covering torte completely with enchilada sauce. Sprinkle cheese over top for color. Bake in 450º oven until hot and cheese melts. Garnish with lettuce, olives, onions and tomatoes.

Ottawa Citizen, 1987
Recipe provided by Neil Prakash, general manager of GuadalaHarry’s

2 large, ripe avocadoes, peeled

1 small clove of garlic, peeled

1 or 2 small fresh green chilies

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 fresh lime

1 tablespoon sour cream

2 or 3 tablespoons of water

In a medium-sized bowl, mash the avocadoes. Mash the garlic, chilies, pepper and salt until it forms a paste. Mix into the mashed avocadoes and add the lime juice, sour cream and enough water to create the desired consistency. Chill and serve with tortilla chips.

Makes 4 servings.

Cowboy Happy Hour

2 Jul

Always on the lookout for Stampede recipes over here.

Here’s a quick barbecued nacho idea for a group, perfect with cold beer. Or bacon Caesars! IMG_2265

It’s a riff on retro Nachos Grande from Chi Chi’s. Each chip is covered with a thin smear of refried beans, cheese and a slice of jalepeno. Tidbits of sliced grilled steak or chicken can be added over top. Or seasoned ground beef can join the bean layer, but remember: it has to be thin!

In a large pan, brown ground sirloin and diced onion. Drain fat, and toss mixture with just a touch of smokey habernero barbecue sauce or your own mix of chili powder, cumin and oregano.

Then, start layering on fresh corn tortillas. Water down the refried bean layer so you are painting the tortilla rather than spreading a thick layer photoof mortar!

Then a spoonful of bbq beef or grilled beef or chicken tidbits. Sprinkle grated cheese over top, and top each quarter with a pickled jalepeno (or top with fresh after cooking).

Heat barbecue grill (we use mini pizza stones). When pizza stones are hot on the grill, slid the tortillas on and close lid. Check after a few minutes to see if tortilla bottom is crisp. When the tortillas are crisp, they’re ready.

Cut into quarters and serve with fire-roasted salsa, guacamole and sour cream presented on shredded lettuce.

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Retro: Chi Chi's natchos grande

Retro: Chi Chi’s nachos grande


Hot Dish

21 Oct

enchilada casserole

Tried and true, secret family shame. An heirloom recipe. Practically health food when served with Special Cool Salad, a.k.a. Dorothy Lynch Meatless Taco Salad of diced tomatoes, kidney beans, grated cheddar, scallions, black olives marinated for 8-24 hours with French dressing before tossing with half a bag of Fritos corn chips and iceberg lettuce. Ulp.


Brown a package of lean hamburger (up to 2 lbs), add 1 chopped white onion & 1 chopped green pepper.

Season with chilli, cumin, oregano leaves, salt & Montreal Steak Spice/pepper.  (A squirt of beef bouvril and a bit of water to the pan once everything is well on its way and the onions are translucent doesn’t hurt) Uncle Bob used to add a can of green chiles.

Add 1 can of chopped tomatoes (398 ml size) or salsa, or a can of enchilada sauce or Rotel, 2 cans of full fat/full salt/gross cream of chicken soup & 1 can of romano beans.  Let it bubble away for 5-10 minutes.

Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with half a bag of Frito corn chips (or enough to cover).

Pour hamburger mixture on top of chips.

Top with remaining corn chips, and shredded tex-mex cheese. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, but watch to make sure top doesn’t get too brown.)

Let cool for a bit so it firms up, then serve.


DOROTHY LYNCH Meatless Taco Salad
3-4 scallions or green onions, chopped
1 300-can kidney beans, drained
(Retain 1/4 cup juice)
Black olives, sliced
1 head lettuce, torn into small pieces
2-4 tomatoes, chopped
Shredded cheddar cheese
One-half package large corn chips (chips may be broken and tossed into salad or used as garnish)

Combine dressing, scallions, beans and olives. Refrigerate 8-24 hours to marinate. Before tossing with lettuce, pour off liquid and set aside. Toss lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and corn chips with kidney beans, onion and olive mixture. Pour dressing marinade over salad just before serving.

From the Best of Bridge


Quick and dirty

7 Sep

No one should need to write this down.

We have been experimenting with different ratios, most recently 1 can of refried beans and 1 can of rotel to 1 litre of chicken stock. It produces a much thinner soup, but with crushed tortillas chips and a spoonful of sour cream, makes a beautiful consistency.

Dad remarked “it tastes like a chimichanga!”

We’ve changed it so often the Mister is bound to ask, helplessly: “how do you make that again?”

And I will say, like this:

2 cans (398 ml or 14 fl oz) refried beans
24 fl oz or more of chicken stock
1/2 cup salsa
1 tsp or more cumin
1 tsp or more chili powder
Shredded cheese
Tortilla chips
Cooked, shredded chicken
(any toppings on hand: diced avocado, shredded cheese chopped onion, lime wedges, corn, cilantro, sour cream)

In a stockpot, heat refried beans, chicken stock, salsa, and spices on medium heat. When the mixture is melted and cohesive, lower heat and add crushed tortilla chips (use a tablespoon of dried cornmeal if no chips).
While stirring, add a handful of shredded cheese and stir in a figure 8 to melt.

Serve in bowls and top with more chips and other toppings.
This thickens up, so keep extra stock handy or just water to thin if it gets too thick.


Tommy Bahama Tropical Café

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped (about 2½ cups)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
5 small (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into small pieces (about 1¼ cups)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 quarts (8 cups) low sodium chicken stock or broth (I like Swanson organic)
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if you don’t like heat)

Heat olive oil and butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and green pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes.

Add diced corn tortillas, chili powder and cumin; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, a few minutes more. Add chicken stock, salt and cayenne pepper and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Cool, and use hand-held blender to puree until completely smooth. Stir in chicken if using, then ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chips, cheese, avocado, lime wedges, cilantro and sour cream.

Lucky Peas

1 Jan

New Year’s Day is fast becoming our preference over boozy eve.

We like the idea of greeting the new year with an outdoor adventure, and a celebration with friends and family.

We also just managed to snag our dear friend’s super scrumptious hot bean dip. Although the ingredients are similar to most, she combines beans, cream cheese and sour cream, and then spreads it thinly in a 9 by 13 pan. Gooey, melty bites of yum.

Thinner layers make all the difference. I have seen this called Texas Trash on Pinterest, but don’t let that dissuade you. This is a go-to hot bean dip that everybody loves.

2 cans of re-fried beans, one cup of sour cream, one package of cream cheese, some parsley and chives and 10 drops of Tabasco. (some recipes call for a packet of taco mix)
You spread that into a 9 by 13 pan and sprinkle liberally with your favourite chili powder. Cover with at least two cups of shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and then sprinkle liberally with chili powder. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes and serve immediately with crackers sturdy enough to get through the cheese.


2 8-oz) block of cream cheese, softened
Old El Paso Taco seasoning packet or homemade
4oz cans of Old El Paso diced green chiles, divided
¼ cup Old El Paso green enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Using a stand mixer, mix cream cheese, taco seasoning and diced green chilies (reserve 2 Tablespoons for top)
Place cream cheese mixture in a medium sized baking dish (about 8X8). I used a medium sized cast iron pan. Smooth until you have an even layer.
Next top with ¼ cup of green enchilada sauce. Place in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with shredded cheese, and green chiles. Place back in the oven and bake for 5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve with your favorite tortillas