Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leftovers with a South of the Border Twist

I feel like I’ve neglected my blog dreadfully as of late. Part of the blame lies in the fact that there have been more evenings than not lately where I’ve just flown home and quickly put something on the table. And most of the time when that happens, it’s either something I’ve already talked about here, or something I don’t find interesting enough to talk about here.

The other hitch in my usual cooking schedule has to do with warm weather. After a somewhat dreary Spring, Summer decided to make an appearance fairly recently. And I have a very low tolerance of hot weather. I did my ‘time’ in the South where the heat and humidity completely saps you of your strength and just don’t feel like I need to apologize for the fact that I’m a complete wimp now when the temperature tops 85º. I’m sure someone would find that a very endearing quality in me…

ANYWAY… Suffice it to say that standing over a hot stove and keeping an eye on 3 different pots of various brews just isn’t high on my list of things to do in warm weather.

But as I was wondering what to do with some leftover mashed potatoes I had on hand, O1 and O2 began to wax eloquent about the various times they had eaten what they referred to as ‘potato tacos’. I’m sure there’s a much more exciting name for these out there, but for now, we’ll just leave them at that. The great thing about these is that they cook up quickly and are very soul-satisfying without being overly heavy. I mean, unless you eat 6 of them, of course. Up to you.

I also put together a very quick, fresh salsa, because O1 is quite frankly, a salsa snob. Won’t eat store bought. And while there’s nothing fancy here, I’ll share what I did, if only to give her a recipe to look at when she’s off on her own again.

Basic Salsa

4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into a very fine dice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
½ small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley (or you could obviously use cilantro)
Juice from ½ of a lime
2 Tbs olive oil

Place chopped tomatoes, pepper and onion in a medium sized bowl. On a cutting board, roughly chop the garlic and then pour the salt over the top of it. Using the sides of a large knife, create a paste by mashing the garlic and salt together. Add to bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine. Allow to sit about 15 minutes to let the flavors marry.

* * If I happen to be grilling, I will sometimes grill my pepper, onion and garlic, allow them to cool, and then proceed with the recipe. This mellows out the flavor of the garlic and onions.

Papa Tacos

2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 package corn tortillas
Vegetable oil

Suggested toppings:

Mashed avocado mixed with lime juice
Sour cream
Queso fresco, crumbled (or use Feta)

Add shredded cheese to leftover potatoes and stir to combine.

In a heavy skillet, heat enough vegetable oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. While pan is heating, spread about ¼ cup of the mashed potatoes between two corn tortillas (or, if they’re fresh enough not to break, you can spread a couple of tablespoons over one tortilla and fold it in half). When oil is hot, add tortillas and cook on each side until browned. Drain on paper towels.

Accessorize as desired.

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