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Vegetable Taco Fillings A Mexican love letter to Vegetables

Vegetable Taco Fillings_Ideas_ recipes _Yes, more please!

Feelings…. nothing more than Fillings”… Hello friends, we’re back.We have been on a roller coaster; from a vacation in Mexico, to Slow Wine Festival, meeting new people, giving cooking classes, Ian giving lots of photography classes…we have been busy, but you have always been on our minds.

Visiting my Mexico after more than eight years was reinvigorating. Being back in my birth country was very fulfilling and I felt my roots strongly. We were welcomed at the airport with a big familiar smile and , thankfully, we did not have to get in the long customs line. During the visit we could eat and breathe the delicious in-season ingredients that Baja produces; from papayas, to avocados, chiles, lettuce, pineapples, limes, guanabanas, tomatoes, chard, radishes, you name it!. I just felt like a fish back in the water, especially walking along the pristine coastline. Now I’m melancholic… its hard to forget the people, the laughs, the air and the sea… and the food. From freshness, flavor, aroma, ingredients, preparations, sazones… can you imagine? Good thing we just visited one little town…Phew!

I have harnessed the melancholy and channeled it into a love letter to every Vegan and Vegetarian who has felt neglected by the Taco Love. Yes baby, not one, not two, but EIGHT vegetable fillings that will add vitamin “V” (vegetable) on any Taco night!

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Braised Short Ribs in Pomegranate and Tempranillo

Pomegranate-Tempranillo-Braised-Short-Ribs_Holidays_easy-braising_Yes,-more-please!

Perhaps you are the kind of person, like myself, that loves and cherishes the wonder that is a cut of perfectly braised beef. If you have inhaled the Parisian air in October and experienced the fragrance of succulent Beef Bourbignon from the plate resting on your table then you know it can surely be counted as one of the great culinary blessings in life. If you have not yet had a truly fine plate of braised beef or if , in fact, you simply must prepare it for yourself then this recipe shall more than satisfy. Short ribs provide a fantastic cut to which this treatment can justly be applied, having a sufficient richness and flavor.

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Yankee-Mex Bison Chili

Yankee-Mex-Bison-Chili_Warm-up!_Yes,-more-please!

Probably this recipe may offend a few of our Texas cooks. Please don’t let the title of this recipe scare you away… Bare with me, you, dear Texans.

This chili with beans recipe is what results of a marriage, between a South Mexican girl and a Northern Michigan boy. My chili has to have beans. As you know we live in Texas, which I believe there must be a written law somewhere about no beans in chili. We hope we don’t get into trouble, but if we do, with all your respect, heck yeah!, I want a pot of this trouble for any given Texan winter night.

I’m using Ground Bison full of rich meaty flavor, lots of character and the right amount of fat. To complement the ground bison, I used a type of black bean called Rio Zape. They are a bit larger than black beans, meatier, creamy and with a very earthy flavor, than when cook it produces the most delicious cloudy broth. I love this bean flavor win combination with all the chili spices. A dash of Apple cider vinegar to brighten up the chili powders it’s must. Garnish with sour cream, onions, and Colby cheese. A side of freshly baked cornbread is the perfect accomplice. This Yankee-Mex chili has a great depth of flavor, from the ancho chile, a bright mild spiciness from New Mexico chili powder and a hint of lingering spice from a dash of cayenne pepper. Its well balanced flavors and the right consistency will warm up your inside out. Let’s cook!

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French Onion Bagel Soup

French-Onion-Bagel-Soup_Make-soup_Yes,-more-please!

Soup season it’s here and the soup I’m craving: French Onion Soup, a classic of classics, deep mahogany broth, soft sweet onions, and that crusty bread soaking all the juices and keeping afloat the most amazing crusty cheesy cloud on top of the soup. A wintery elixir. There is something cosmic about a cold day and simmering pot of soup on the stove. The House is warm with a cozy smell, a sweater, some crusty bread, warming your hands by holding the cup is just one of the best feelings…wiiihkkk…Now can you hear the wicked record on the back?… I just remembered we live in Texas.

This “El Niño” is driving me crazy. Almost 6 months of summer here in Austin to much Summer for me I wish I could be in Yakutsk for the weekend and then come back to be able to appreciate this Texas weather… But for now I’m just in need of cool down so I can make soup, lots of soup.

Dreaming with cold weather while the thermometer reads 80 F… I’m making soup anyway…We will crank down the AC just for tonight and pretend it’s cold outside… Adjust your AC accordingly.  Now with the right temperature (thermometer reads 70F), Lets cook!…

Well, here we are revamping the unrevampable, and I thought about giving this classic French onion soup a little twist. I used a bagel instead of the crusty bread. Yes, a crusty chewy pumpernickel bagel toasted, with a bellybutton that helps the steam escape from the soup and let’s the oozing cheese talk to the soft onions below. The good thing about using a bagel is that stays crunchy for longer and it madly absorbs the oniony broth.  It is ridiculously good and satisfying.

Through out the recipe you will find a couple of tips and tricks that I’ve learned to use when making onion soup. I know they will help you make the best onion soup you can make, or to improve the one you already make.

For now, this is all what I can tell you about one of my favorite soups…

Just relax and cook. I promise all your efforts will be rewarded on the first spoonful, and there will be no words just slurps.

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Grilled Lamb and Autumn Chimichurri

Grilled-Lamb-Chops-with-Fall-Herbs-Chimichuri_Yes,-more-please!

This recipe is one from our grill. It was inspired by that fire kiss char flavor one gets from cooking over coals. Francis Mallmann, one of my culinary heroes, discovered his true culinary craft in his birthplace, Argentina. He embraced his roots, and cooks from the primal force: Fire. Taming this element is what he does best, his instincts and knowledge based on French disciplinary techniques gives him the perfect alibi to be one with fire. It’s his passion, intuition, and adventurousness that make him the king of char. I had the opportunity to meet him at the presentation of his book “Seven Fires” here in Austin, Texas. Its a cookbook I can recommend to anyone who wants to explore and understand open fire cooking.

It wasn’t until I tried his technique on my own little grill that I experienced Mallmann’s big flavor world. Besides discovering and loving the char flavor, one of my favorite recipes from his book is the Chimichurri. It is made, gaucho style with fresh herbs married to the extra virgin olive oil and a salt solution called salmuera. This kind of chimichurri is not the one that resembles pesto, the herbs are finely chopped transforming the oil and brine into a magical loose herbed infusion in which you can taste all the herbs in harmony and discord at the same time.

Fall-Herbs-Chimichuri_chopped-Herbs_Rosemary,-Thyme,-Oregano

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Mariana’s Pipian Verde

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_Pumpkin-seeds_Yes,-more-please!

One of the most iconic and traditional Mexican dishes, Mole Poblano, gets all the fame and glory, but what about the rest of the Moles? There are at least another 7 moles from Oaxaca, imagine that is just one state… equally delicious, easier, different chiles and seeds combinations, seasonal, upon what is available in different regions and Grandmas’, Moms’, and Aunts’ taste. Each family has their own traditions, style and way to prepare them. Which one is more authentic?.. The one that is more you-er than you. I do not like to refer to a dish as authentic, I believe its more about tradition. Unless we go authenticating Grandmas, Moms and Aunts out there…unless it’s a Picasso painting.

Tradition is what a dish should reflect. The way and manner it was prepared in your family, at a place in time and history that has carry on within. That’s what resonates more with a recipe, like that yellowish piece of paper that has butter spots and crunchy edges, you can barely read from your grandmas handwriting, and that you have slightly adapted because of personal preferences but its done and evokes you memories and flavors that ground you, and hold a spot in your family history.

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_ingredients

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Bonanza Bowl

Bonanza-Bowl_shake-up-your-fridge-Yes,-more-please!

One Zucchini, one sweet potato, 1/3 of avocado, 11 cherry tomatoes, some spinach, the heel of a red onion and 2 pieces left from different cabbages, that was what I had in my fridge.
It happens to every fridge. These lonely rangers, the forgotten vegetables that get a little sad and tired looking. You really do not have a plan for them but you know you better eat them before you reload your fridge. All this bits and ends not enough for a complete recipe, you know how it feels when you have potatoes, but not butter, you have pasta but no sauce, or garlic but not oil sometimes your cooking just gets stuck. Some times you have to shake up your fridge and pantry to see what comes out of it.

This is the kind of Non-recipe that saves you. Sometimes if your fridge feels like this, its contagious and you’ll find that your Pantry has the same dilemma. But when your cooking bulb goes on, this bits and ends can be transformed on a blink of an eye and will turn into, perhaps the best dinner of the week.

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Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_ingredients_Yes, more please!

Sweet peppers are what you can find at the markets in Austin, Texas right now. Beautiful varieties, colorful, different shapes and sizes. Perhaps one or two sassy ones among the bunch, but mostly they are fleshy, sweet and flavorful.

For me, grilling these kind of sweet peppers bring the best flavors in them. The sweet mild flesh with the charred pieces of skin are what inspired me to make this salad. We love to grill at this time of the year when it does not feel like you are grilling your self over, September its a better Grilling Time for us.

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Grilling-Sweet-peppers

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