Bloggers all across North America are featuring spicy Tex-Mex foods and tequila drinks in honor of this Mexican holiday.
Since I already offered up Thyme Tequila Lemonade to Mother Nature as a peace offering, it's only reasonable that I also heat things up with some flavorful tostadas to serve along side.
Crisply fried corn tortillas are piled high with all the best fish taco makings. Cilantro-lime slaw is bright and fresh and topped with mild tilapia and a hearty, earthy corn salsa. Squeeze a lime over it all to spark just a hint of acidity and you won't want to wait for the celebrations of Cinco de Mayo for Tilapia Tostadas with Roasted Corn Salsa to be on your plate.
1 cup corn kernels (freshly cut from cob, or defrosted frozen)
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chipped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
freshly ground black pepper
Whisk the mayonnaise and lime juice together in a medium bowl. Toss the cabbage, cilantro, green onions, and jalapeno with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. Heat about 1/2-3/4 inch of canola oil in a large heavy skillet. One at a time, fry the corn tortillas, turning as needed, until browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside. In a seperate skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the corn, red pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper and saute until onion is tender and translucent; set aside. Combine flour, corn meal and chile powder in a shallow dish. Dip the tilapia fillets in milk and then dredge in flour/corn meal mixture. Fry the tilapia fillets in the oil used for the tortillas until flesh is tender and breading is golden. Drain on paper towels. To serve, arrange fried tortillas on plates, spoon on cilantro-lime slaw, layer the fried fish, top with the roasted corn salsa. Add crumbled queso fresco and serve with lime wedges. (Serves 4)
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Drizzle in melted butter and stir with a fork until crumbly. Set aside. Combine wine and sugar in a large skillet; bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar is dissolved and reduce heat. Add zest, cinnamon, allspice, and pears to the pan and toss to coat. Simmer about 15 minutes until pears are tender. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish or coat with cooking spray. Spoon pear mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with streusel mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream. (Serves 6)
This past week, a spring snow storm of proportions most only associate with Laura Ingalls Wilder stories pummeled through our state. Our area was hit first with a day of pea soup fog so dense that it was impossible at times to see the neighbors across the street.This turned to rain and sleet through the night that froze as a base for snow that fell for 3 days with accumulations of over a foot of heavy, wet white stuff. Of course, this being South Dakota, the wind also blew. Drifts, anyone?
The western part of the state saw snow fall totaling over 20 inches and in some places closer to 30. Eastern populations were tested with an ice storm that coated trees and power lines and crippled both. Mature trees toppled under the weight of the moisture and as I write this post, thousands of people haven't had electricity for 5 days.
No travel was advised, and interstates were closed. Power crews, snow plows, and farmers with cows calving had no choice but to weather the elements, but everyone else basically hunkered down to wait out Mother Nature's temper tantrum.
Watching my social media feeds, I saw most enjoy the first day of being house bound. Those that had power watched movies, made pot roasts and chili, and caught up on neglected home projects. Even without electricity the early storm hours were treated as a novelty with creative candle and flashlight arrangements and reading *gasp* actual books when their Kindle batteries died. Everyone gave updates on snowfall totals and broken branches in backyards.
As time wore on, the updates were less cheery. Fingers and noses were cold. Movies were old. They craved a food not in their fridge or pantry, and wanted coffee desperately. Many ventured out and shoveled as they waited for maintenance crews to clear roads and/or restore power. People had cabin fever.
Not me. Not really. I am, for the most part, a homebody. The never ending snow was a valid excuse for me to stay home just like I wanted. I did shovel a path for the pups. That is a necessity with my low-to-the-ground dachshunds. But, it wasn't until my car seriously looked stranded by a drift that I began to feel even a twinge of needing to get out. Although, even then, I didn't want to leave. I just wanted to be able to, if I should decide to do so.
This spring snow storm was terribly destructive for the eastern part of the state, but out here on the prairie, it was much needed moisture. Last summer's drought conditions hadn't been helped much by a fairly dry winter. We need the heavy, wet snow on the fields and pastures.
I also needed an excuse to dig back into my winter arsenal of recipes. 70-degree temps the week before had me looking at salads and grilling, but 3 days of snowfall brought the Easter ham bone from the freezer for a big pot of ham and beans. Snow equals comfort food, and as fresh and lovely as a spring salad might be, nothing is more nourishing for the soul on a cold day like comfort food.
Beef Filets with Pomegranate Wine Sauce are a decidedly winter food for me. Sure, pomegranate juice is available year round, but the fruit is seasonally winter. The sauce is rich and comforting and just the thing to enjoy on a snow day. It might even console those with cabin fever.
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
Heat olive oil a large, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Add steaks to pan and cook 3 minutes on each side, or until well seared and cooked to desired doneness. Remove steaks from the pan; keep warm. Add shallots to the pan and saute. Season with pepper and add wine, juice, broth, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Cook about 7 minutes or until reduced. Remove from heat and discard thyme springs. Add butter to the sauce, stirring until melted. Serve sauce over steaks.
Social media has informed me that today is National Grilled Cheese Day. Yummy. Who doesn't like melty cheese sandwiched between 2 slices of bread? It is a great meal or snack. Eat it alone or dunk it in soup. Dress it up with bacon, spinach, and "fancy" cheeses, or go for the gold with classic yellow American slices.
I would have said that even the most culinary challenged among us can make a grilled cheese, but I witnessed the grilling episode of Worst Cooks in America where one contestant with an aversion to meat put a block of cheese directly on the grill and was amazed that instead of searing, it melted. I guess I shouldn't take grilled cheese making for granted.
Mozzarella and Caper Grilled Cheese might not be a recipe for those without basic cooking skills, but it isn't difficult. The egg dip is similar to preparations for French toast and provides a rich, heartiness. However, I must warn to use firm bread for this grilled delicacy. Soft white sandwich bread won't hold up to the egg bath and dense, fresh mozzarella. If you like salty, you will agree that capers are a perfect pairing for the mild, creamy cheese and add a delicious tang to the sandwich.
At the farm, the fences have to be strong, have woven wire at the bottom, and be multi-strand in order to keep the sheep from getting out of their pens.
At home, I think we might have to implement the same fencing process. The girls, Tabby and Jenn, have managed to dig and push under our chain-link fence twice in the two months since they have joined our home.
I think their hobby is to break out like a lamb.
Don't they know that outside the fence their chance of getting a home-cooked meal is limited? Of course, there are more squirrels and rabbits to chase, but what about yummy lamb burgers topped with sweet caramelized onions and tangy bleu cheese? Surely, these juicy hunks of lamb would keep them from wanting out?
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sugar to the pan; cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook about 8 more minutes, or until tender and caramelized, stirring occasionally. Keep warm. Preheat broiler. Combine remaining salt, pepper, ground lamb, minced onion, and parsley in a large bowl. Divide lamb mixture into 4 patties, about 1/2-inch thick. Arrange patties on the rack of a broiler pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes; flip patties. Broil 3 additional minutes until browned on both sides. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 3 more minutes. Broil buns, cut sides up for about 2 minutes, until toasted. Place lamb burgers on the bottom halves of the buns. Top with caramelized onions and sprinkle with crumbled bleu cheese. Cover with top halves of the buns. (Serves 4.)