It’s shameful. A complete disgrace. A food blogger in Kentucky without one post about the Derby or related food traditions. How could I?
Yes, I realize I have let you down. My excuse is that other than watching it on Saturday night there were no celebrations around here for the event. We didn’t even know the favorite horses this year which is uncommon for us. The reason? Well, it was also marathon weekend for my husband which I will recap later this week.
No pies with sugar or juleps with bourbon could be found in the house for several weeks before this event. We’ve vowed to do better next year. Fortunately, Derby should fall the weekend after the Flying Pig marathon events in 2011 so we are all good
I decided that I could not let another special day pass without a celebration in the form of a post and, as you know, tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. Lucky for me, I received a new cookbook to review for the occasion!
Mexican food has become of interest to me recently. I mean real Mexican, not the version we get here in Kentucky. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever had real Mexican since I haven’t been to Mexico or to many places in the southwestern part of the U.S. I just tend to watch it explained on television as my mouth waters.
So I was thrilled to check out the brand new cookbook, Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos by Deborah Schneider. The author is the executive chef and partner in SOL Cocina in Newport Beach, California and was also a nominee for the 2009 James Beard Award. She has written Baja! Cooking on the Edge and Cooking with the Seasons, neither of which I have checked out, but I plan to now.
This cookbook though small in height compared to others on my book shelf makes up for it by being tall on flavor and creative recipes. Its focus on tacos and antojitos (little bites, sometimes referred to as the Mexico version of tapas) makes you want to throw taco-tasting bash!
It is full of recipes using fresh ingredients from margaritas with a homemade sweet and sour mix and fruit juice blends to salsas and guacamoles with everything from pineapple to chipotle. There is one minor hiccup that doesn’t go along with my eating plan, the beef simmered in soda, but I can overlook that to see all the other great options the book has to offer.
I made the Shrimp Taco Dorado. It combines tender shrimp with smoky chipotles on corn tortillas with jack cheese. Simple, yet incredible flavor! The ingredient list suggests toppings of chipotle salsa, guacamole and mango habanero salsa all homemade from recipes in the book. I chose to go with only the chipotle salsa, a mix of chipotle peppers in adobo, mayonnaise and lime juice blended into a sauce. It alone was perfect on the tacos so I can only imagine how much better they would be with the additional toppings.
I’m thinking this is just the start of a taco and margarita summer!
Shrimp Taco Dorado
From Amor y Tacos by Deborah Schneider reprinted with permission from Abrams Books
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, tails removed and cut in half if large
1 teaspoon finely chopped chipotles in adobo
¼ teaspoon salt
Large corn tortillas
1 ½ cups grated Jack cheese
Suggested toppings: Chipotle salsa, Guacamole and Mango habanero salsa (recipes provided in cookbook)
1. In an 8-inch sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter or oil over medium heat. When it is heated, but not brown, add the garlic and shrimp, and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink. Stir in the chipotles and salt and remove from heat.
2. Preheat a heavy pan or griddle over medium heat and brush it lightly with some of the remaining butter or olive oil. Set a corn tortilla on the griddle and scatter 2 tablespoons of shredded Jack cheese evenly over the tortilla. Set 3 or 4 shrimp on one side of the tortilla. When the cheese starts to melt, fold the tortilla in half over the shrimp, and continue to cook on both sides until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is lightly crisped and golden brown.
3. Open the taco. Dollop 1 teaspoon of the chipotle salsa on top of the shrimp (or drizzle from a squeeze bottle) and follow with the remaining toppings. Tuck a couple of cilantro sprigs into the opening and serve right away.