Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Braised Pork Belly

Oh hey guys, it's been a while. Well, I'm prepping this post while I wait for my office holiday party to start, so I'll keep this short and sweet. This was the first recipe I tried in my fancy new Lagostina cookware (my early Christmas present to my favourite person - me). And it did not go well. I majorly underestimated how hot it would get and burned the crap out of it. But I bounced back and tried again. Though my clothes now permanently smell like burning. Great. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Seared Scallop

Here on Tee's Taqueria, I welcome all kinds of tacos. From your traditional pork carnitas to "I've never cooked this before, let's see what happens" duck, I'm all about cooking with new and exciting fillings. So when a friend of mine came to visit me in Halifax, she requested something a little East Coast-y. And since I was too afraid to cook a lobster in my tiny apartment (what if he escaped and started living under my bed and using my Netflix subscription?), the obvious choice was fresh Digby scallops.

Now I really don't know how easy or difficult it is to find these guys outside of Nova Scotia. They're a staple of our grocery stores and roadside stands, so my cooking instructions are catered to fresh scallops rather than frozen. But a little Google-fu will surely teach you how to get frozen scallops prepped for this delicious taco treat.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Things that I have: a job with long hours and a passion for travel. Things that I don't have: the money to make all my wildest travel dreams come true. Pardon my tiny violin, but I just wanted to illustrate how I often use this blog as a means of "traveling" - without all that pesky cost that's associated with real traveling.

I like to make international foods I've never tried before, so when I came across a recipe for Filipino Chicken Adobo I was intrigued. Way back in the day my father worked on a cruise ship and many of his coworkers were Filipino - but I never got the chance to sample their wares. And boy, what a missed opportunity that was. This chicken is flipping delicious - tangy, peppery, loaded with flavour and easy above all! The Philippines is now on my travel radar. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Pineapple Salsa

This week, I had a bit of a conundrum. I made a crazy delicious, crazy easy taco - but a key component was pineapple salsa. Confession: I'm not a huge fan of the texture of pineapple. It's stringy and crunchy, but also gooey and slippery. It's like, make up your mind pineapple, am I right? As such, I didn't feel like making a salsa with chunks of pineapple in it.

Instead, I created a blended pineapple salsa that turned out pretty great if I do say so myself. So great, in fact, that I felt it deserved its own post. So I must beg your indulgence, all two dear readers - make this salsa now and get it ready to throw on the taco I've got coming your way next week.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Steak Arrachera

On today's episode of Learning By Doing, I'm going to teach you a little bit about how to make a tough steak into a melt in your mouth taco. Now, if you're a real cook who doesn't get their basic food prep instructions from the Food Network you might already know this. But for the rest of us, I've got a few tips to keep in mind when you want to prepare a cut of beef like the flank steak. 

Now, this recipe is pretty basic. It's just a classic technique for preparing a flank or skirt steak for maximum taco enjoyment - I've seen it called Tacos Nortenos (Northern Tacos) but it seems to be more commonly know as Arrachera. 

The key here is to not Charlie Chaplin it and end up eating shoe leather. It's super important to a) tenderize the steak, b) marinate it in something acidic and c) keep it nice and medium rare. Once it's all cooked and chopped, you can serve it with basically anything you want - salsa, cheese, guacamole, a marathon of Breaking Bad. The sky's the limit!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Doro Wat

I'm going to keep my little intro here short and sweet - because this recipe is neither of those things. I had a craving for Ethiopian food, so I set about making the delicious Doro Wat - a kind of curry + stew, + delicious dish. Then I thought - this has all the makings of a taco. So rather than creating giant injera (crepe-like bread that you pull apart to use as a "utensil"), I made smaller taco-size bread and complimented it with some vegetable toppings. So it looks like a taco, tastes like Ethiopian and is literally the tastiest thing I have EVER made. No joke. You gotta make this now, it's worth the time investment. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Red Lentil

I've been having one of those weeks where I feel like I'm spending entirely too much money. I'm eating out, buying stuff I don't need and have to spring for my biannual hair appointment. And as such, I started trying to save money in the weirdest ways. Like refusing to buy meat because it's just too darn expensive. Instead, I looked into my cupboards to whip up a low-cost taco - and found red lentils. These guys are a protein-rich meat replacement for vegetarians...and a component of fat-rich Indian food for me. Nonetheless, I decided to give them a shot in a taco.

Taking inspiration from the refried bean/rice pairing of a burrito, I mixed the lentils with basmati rice (though any rice you have will do) and added a mix of vegetables and spices. The mix came out spicy and flavourful, but the toppings are what really made the lentils sing. A salty cheese and tart crema play off the lentils perfectly, while the avocado and cilantro round out the team. Not bad for a new recipe!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Seared Tuna

On the scale of difficult jobs, writing a blog about tacos is pretty low on the list - somewhere between finishing a paint-by-number and explaining the plot of a movie starring Kate Hudson (synopsis: "it was terrible"). But somehow after my last recipe post I was a little burnt out. I took some time away to make Indian food, pastas and eat out more than I should, but now I'm back and ready to bring you some more taco goodness.

For our first taco back, I chose a seared tuna taco. I'm not well versed in the preparation of fish, so I wanted a simple recipe that would be ready in a flash. Literally - you want to keep the centre of this fish raw, so you're only cooking on each side for about a minute. Ask your butcher for a tuna steak that will be okay to eat very rare. Some other recipes suggest you need sashimi grade fish, but I guess it depends on how fresh the fish is. Since I'm in Halifax, mine was basically still moving.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Guava Duck

Even though I write a blog about cooking, I was never really much of a chef. Until I graduated university, I mostly subsisted on pasta with canned tomato sauce and grilled cheese sandwiches. But then I fell in love with tacos and started on the path to being a capable adult. Being forced to come up with new recipes every week has really helped me grow as a cook. I was so confident in my abilities that I decided to take on a challenge I'd never before attempted - cooking duck. After loads of research into cooking methods and a trip to the grocery store for the most expensive meat I've ever purchased, I rolled the dice on a recipe for a tropical fruit-inspired duck taco. Using guava jelly as a glaze base, I whipped up this recipe and surprisingly it worked out! The duck was perfectly cooked and let me assure you that if this idiot can do it, you can too.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Yucatan Chicken

You know when you have that one "thing" that you love - so everyone buys you gifts themed around it? That's me and tacos. I'm not complaining, because this Christmas I had the good fortune of getting a bunch of Mexican cookbooks - including Tacos by Mark Miller. I was already pretty familiar with some of his recipes and had my own way of doing them, but I came across Yucatan Chicken and thought it might be interesting to adapt. We tend to lump "Mexican Food" into one overarching category, but there are actually many different regional styles - all the better for me to crib recipes from! Yucatan is best known for Lime Soup and Pibil (which I've previously made here). They often use a bright red spice paste called Achiote - which I found at my specialty grocery store and stained my counter with.

So this recipe is close to a Pollo Pibil, with a few adjustments to ratchet up the full bodied spiciness. It's hot, but not in a "ouch it burns, why are you doing this to me?" way - more like a nice warm feeling in your belly. I topped it with a xnipec salsa that goes easy on the habaneros - so it's almost more of a pico de gallo. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Buffalo Chicken

Greetings sports fans and ambivalent friends - it was a big weekend! Not for me, because I'm a person with no TV and no friends who are interest in football. But for many, the weekend was devoted to watching [insert team A] beat [insert team B]. So in honour of you fine folks, I decided to whip up a Superbowl themed taco, using the wing-inspired ingredient of true American football fans: Buffalo Chicken.

Now, if I'd been smart I would have posted this last week. But (spoiler alert) this was actually the failed recipe I mentioned a couple weeks ago. The first time I made this I thought I could just bake the chicken, but we all know that good Buffalo Chicken requires some deep fried, crispy goodness. It gives the sauce something to hold onto. So I went back and revamped this recipe with deep fried chicken strips. The sauce and chicken are a little tart together on their own, but with the toppings and tortilla this is a can't-miss meal (or should I say...touchdown?)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Cajun Shrimp

In my travels I've been to a lot of interesting places and done a lot of stupid things that probably should have landed me as the opening credits victim on one of the Law & Orders. But I've never been down south to Louisiana. I've always wanted to go, as it seems like it would be right up my alley - jazz, booze, art and history are some of my favourite things, after all. And I would love the food most of all.

In honour of the trip I've yet to take, I decided to craft a Cajun-inspired taco. I found some recipes that gave me a sense of what spices I'd need, but I also discovered the key to most Cajun cooking - mirepoix. It's a simple mix of carrots, celery and onion that forms the flavour base for many dishes. So I gave it a Mexican twist, subbing out carrots for jalapenos. It gives these tacos a great depth to offset the heat, because these tacos are HOT. If you can't handle food that will literally make you sweat, than stay away from these tacos. They made me cry, and my insides are basically cast iron at this point.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Rajas Con Queso

Guys. GUYS. If you're one of those people who relishes an scorching sunburn for the sweet satisfaction you get peeling it - have I got a recipe for you. I went into the process of making this dish not knowing too much about it, other than the fact that it was structured around the poblano pepper. I'd seen poblano peppers at the specialty grocery store in town, so I did a little research and found a recipe that would make them sing: Raja Con Queso (aka veggie strips in a boatload of dairy).

To prep the peppers for this dish, you need to broil them until the skin gets black and bubbly (pro tip: brush them with vegetable oil to get the skin extra bubbly). Right before you throw them in the sauce, you've got to peel away the blackened skin - which was so much like peeling a sunburn I got a weird shudder of satisfaction and there's no need to judge I get how weird that is.

The dish itself was good, but here in Canada we don't often have queso fresco, so I subbed in goat cheese which was a little too tart. I'd recommend cutting it with something milder like mozzarella or ricotta. With these warnings in place, let's get cooking!

Friday, 18 January 2013


Sorry for skipping Taco Tuesday this week, but I had a pretty big first happen - I tried out a new recipe and it failed miserably. But with a few tweaks, I'm sure you'll see it back here again (perhaps even for a theme week of sorts!). In the meantime, pull up a chair and let me tell you the tales of my Christmas vacation - where I went to more Mexican restaurants in two weeks than most people go to in a year. First up was Milagro on Queen Street in Toronto.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Chimichurri Beef

Welcome to a new year and a whole new chance to sample delicious tacos courtesy of Tee's Taqueria!

Over the holidays I spent almost two weeks visiting my hometown, hanging out with my mother and her big screen TV with cable. In my current abode I don't actually have a TV, so the chance to go full couch potato was embraced wholeheartedly. Shockingly, my favourite channel is the Food Network - especially Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. About 5 hours into a Triple D marathon, I caught an episode about Camille's on Wheels. This food truck serves up "global tacos" - including chimichurri beef. 

Intrigued, I did a little research into this method and found it is a traditional Argentinian pesto-type sauce. It tastes better the longer it marinates and pairs well with a fattier cut of beef, like short ribs. After a little testing (and some improvised butchering), I came up with my own taco take...then went back to watch at least 10 more hours of cooking shows.