When this past weekend began, I was wanting some pasta and so was my husband. I was leaning towards spaghetti and meatballs, but then a recipe caught my eye. It was completely different from spaghetti and meatballs, and so worth testing out for the blog.
The recipe came from Spork or Foon. It's a simple combination of tagliatelle, white truffle oil, cheese, and mushrooms and topped with a poached egg. The idea was that the egg on top would give a carbonara-like texture to the pasta without the fuss of timing the mixing of your raw eggs into the dish properly (or cheating and using cream). It was a radical change from my usual pasta dishes, and it would dirty far fewer dishes than spaghetti and meatballs would - a plus on a casual Friday night.
I stuck to the recipe for the most part. I tossed cooked tagliatelle with white truffle oil and parmesan. I didn't just sprinkle the truffle-like shavings of portobello mushrooms on top. I mixed them in with the oil and the cheese.
I made one other change to my portion of the dish as well.
I added some prosciutto that I crisped in a pan and crumbled on top. This recipe is supposed to be carbonara-like after all and carbonara REQUIRES PORK (unless you're my husband).
Anyway, on to a new week, and a more original recipe.
Have you noticed lately that tacos have become upscale?
Tacos were my first introduction to "Mexican" food. I remember as a small child loving those taco kits where you had seasoned ground beef (seasoned via the enclosed packet) in a hard shell that always broke and decorated your shirt when you bit into it. As I grew older I discovered Tex-Mex restaurants and learned about burritos and chimichangas and nachos. Tacos seemed somewhat pedestrian - unless they were tacos de conchita pibil that were a staple at most local Mexican restaurants. I had a recipe from one of my beloved Frugal Gourmet cookbooks that used a ropa-vieja-like beef recipe wrapped in a flour tortilla, but it bore little resemblance to what I thought of as tacos (which I suppose was Jeff Smith's point).
Now it seems like tacos are everywhere. They're not the crunchy things from a kit that I grew up with. They're not the bulky tortilla-encased cooking experiment from former PBS stars. These are fresh and light creations, using just a few simple ingredients, wrapped in a corn tortilla - and yes, they are Mexican.
These days tacos are everywhere. There are taco trucks in every city. Little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall taco joints are cropping up in my neighborhood and other nearby communities. Tacos aren't just pile of seasoned group beef with iceberg lettuce and bottled salsa, but now also contain chorizo, pork, tongue, and in the case of one restaurant I know of in the city, grasshoppers.
This month both food magazines I subscribe to, Eating Well and Food and Wine both had taco recipes in them.
Combine that with certain blogs that keep the taco craving going (when she's not making me crave pie), I was really thinking I needed some tacos, fast. I was originally going to make my chipotle chicken and pinto bean tacos, but I decided I needed a change.
I thought pork tacos* would be a nice idea with chunks of avocado and tomato. The key would be how I would season them. I thought citrus juice would be tasty with maybe some red onion and cilantro.
There was just one problem. When I arrived at the store, I found no cilantro! I didn't know what else to use. Then I spotted some greenery in the produce case.
I went a little crazy and bought some mint. I love fresh mint. I combined it with red onion, a jalapeno pepper, fresh orange juice, and fresh lime juice. I used some of this to marinate my pork and the rest I used as a dressing for my tomato and avocado.
The suckers would not stay closed for the photo! They were delicious though.
Slightly Loco Tacos
1 pound pork loin, cut into small chunks
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbl chopped fresh mint
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 avocado, diced
Combine juices, zest, onion, pepper, mint, salt and oil. Reserve 1/2 cup. Place pork chunks in remaining marinade and let sit for an hour in the refrigerator.
Take a dance break. Your tap teacher will thank you.
Remove pork from marinade, place in a pan, cook the pork chunks for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.
Mix avocado and tomato with remaining 1/2 cup of dressing. Mix in cooked pork.
Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about 15 seconds each. Place the pork mixture in as many tortillas as you can stuff into your face, roll up and enjoy!
*So this is where you ask, "What about Sir Pickypants?" For him I reserved another 2 Tbl of the dressing and tossed it with some thawed frozen, pre-cooked shrimp in a pan just to warm them a bit. The shrimp were mixed with the tomato mixture.