Dinner with Kirsten

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Taco Night

May 4th, 2008 · 82 Comments

Tortilla Main

Ole! My infatuation with Mexican food and Spanish culture has led me down a rocky culinary path. The disastrous mini flans I made for my 8th grade Spanish class come to mind, as well as the oily churros I fed to my Mom’s Bunco group. That being said, I make great sopapillas (a hollow doughnut that is by far my favorite Mexican dessert), I’m always ready to whip up my stand-by Midwestern-style enchiladas, and, most of all, I make a mean taco.

My philosophy is, “Where there’s a taco there’s a party.” My go-to dinner party equation includes ground beef, taco seasoning, a box of shells and plenty of chopped veggies. Oh, and if my guest are lucky, I’ll buy sour cream and grate some sharp cheddar. When I was in graduate school I hosted taco and poker parties about once a month, and I’ve tried to keep the tradition going since then—mixers, with new and old friends bonding over tacos.

Taco folded

Geoff and I have our own taco nights every few weeks. I sometime experiment with different meats and sauces, but too often I fall back on beef with a spice packet. I recently hit bottom—I bought a Taco Bell kit for double-decker tacos, complete with glue-like nacho cheese in a foil tear-off-the-corner packet. As Geoff rolled his eyes and filled his plate, I had to admit that I was in a taco rut.

This week I was determined to make up for it. But, of course, I was busy. I remembered a tortilla recipe I once saw on Cookiemag.com (a parenting magazine), so I tracked it down and printed it out. I decided that if they’re recommending this recipe for mothers with little “helpers,” I was sure I could manage on my own after a long day at work.

I was amazed when the flour and oil mixture I kneaded together rolled out and toasted up easily, elevating Taco Night to an almost indecent sophistication in a matter of minutes. I’m adding tortillas to the list of foods I’d rather make than buy. It really is worth the effort.

Tortilla overview

Shrimp Tacos on Homemade Tortillas
Adapted from CookieMag.com

For tortillas:

3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for flouring the board)
1/3 cup vegetable oil, with extra for coating
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 to 1 cup warm (not hot) water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Add vegetable oil and mix lightly, then add warm water gradually, kneading until you have a soft dough.

Divide the dough into 12 equal balls, coat them lightly in vegetable oil, then cover with a dish towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll each ball into the familiar tortilla size and shape. Stack them out of the way, separating layers with wax paper or plastic wrap.

Preheat an ungreased griddle (I used a cast iron pan). Throw a tortilla on and cook until it begins to puff and the bottom is brown in a few spots.

Flip the tortilla and press down on the top, squeezing out air pockets. After about a minute, remove the tortilla and keep warm in the oven or wrap them in a cloth.

For tacos:

2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
juice of half a lime

1 pound frozen pre-cooked shrimp (thawed and dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 avocado, cubed
grape tomatoes, halved
lettuce, shredded

Combine the sour cream, sugar, cilantro and lime juice to make a cream sauce. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Toss the shrimp in. Add salt and pepper and sauté until just heated through.

Wrap in the tortillas and serve with avocado, tomatoes and lettuce.

Tags: dinner · mexican food · recipes · seafood

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