It’s been a little while since I did any weekend finds, hasn’t it? I figured I’d give you some posts you could sink your teeth into. But hey, sometimes you can sink your teeth into a list of cool stuff I found, right? Right. Halloween is around the corner (like, wow, two weeks away already). And that, to me, means that we are in the thick of fall, which in turn means we should be making all things squash. I have my old go to’s (like tofu and delicata with miso and molasses, root veggies with miso and harissa) but it’s always fun discovering new ones. Here are some I’m itching to try.
1. Pumpkin Muffins
I’m not sure what about these pumpkin muffins makes me feel like they’ll be different from pumpkin muffins I’ve made in the past – maybe it’s the face that they’re topped with whipped cream cheese? Yeah, that could be it.
2. Butternut Squash Pie
This Italian dessert sounds beautiful – somewhere between a custard and a pie and sprinkled with almonds.
3. Squash with Dates and Thyme
I love me some roasted squash, and acorn has become a recent favorite of mine. This acorn squash tossed with coconut oil and roasted with dates sounds perfect – I love the thought of the sweetness from the dates. I would throw the thyme in to roast with the squash, and maybe add a sprinkle of cayenne.
Mexican food and I are relatively new friends. Growing up, I loved a good plain quesadilla as much as the next kid (occasionally I would even put shredded chicken in it), but beans and tomatoes and onions? Gross. Hated it. Blech. The texture of beans in general is still something I’m working on. But Mexican food has slowly creeped in to my life in the past 6 years or so. In high school, I would’ve way rather gone to Vietnamese or Indian than Mexican.
Here in Portland we’ve got some killer Mexican food. You want a hole in the wall with the most amazing tacos you’ll ever have? Go to Tienda y Panaderia Santa Cruz in St. John’s. You want a line out the door for a delicious bowl of rice and beans and meat and some mystery amazing sauce? Go to Porque No. You want a crazy good Mexican style brunch? Definitely go to Autentica. But a relatively recent discovery has made my go to Mexican list: Que Pasa Cantina.
First let’s talk about the margaritas. Because, let’s be honest, margaritas (margs for short) are delicious, thirst-quenching, and I love the combo of salty and sour. The margs at Que Pasa were great – strong, sour, and just straight up good. Could you ask for more? Yes – at happy hour their house marg is only $5. Don’t want to go traditional? Don’t worry, they’ve got margs with jager, seasonal fruit, grapefruit juice, jalapeño, and of course all different kinds of tequila.
Before I get to the food, I want to tell you about one of my favorite parts of going to Que Pasa Cantina. Aside from the Potatoes Olé (you’ll read about them later), this restaurant also has possibly my favorite waiter in town. He has served us both times we’ve gone to the restaurant, and I don’t know his name, but he’s hilarious. He’s a little quiet, but very suave and with a stellar sense of humor. You can tell the guy is having a great time and doesn’t take anything too seriously. I want to be his friend.
The first time we went to Que Pasa, I had recently discovered pastor (thanks Eliza!), so I ordered their traditional pastor tacos. Pastor is thinly sliced pork that has been marinated in a spice rub of chilies, cumin, and other delicious herbs. The bonus is that these tacos came not only with pastor, but also with pineapple (not uncommonly served with pastor), which is a serious weakness of mine. I have a tendency to, if there’s pineapple around, eat so much that my tongue starts to get numb and little bumps appear. This may be because I have a geographic tongue… but we’re getting sidetracked. Anyway, these tacos were awesome. First, any good Mexican restaurant knows to double wrap their tacos – 2 tortillas please! That way if one ruptures, you’ve got a backup. Makes the whole affair far less messy. Second, the pastor was so packed with flavor and had the nice fruitiness from the pineapple – I was in heaven. My next trip I ordered some chorizo tacos, which were super tasty, very flavorful, and spicy. Loved it.
The first time we went to Que Pasa was with Peter, the producer of Jonah’s new album. Peter told us the greatest secret of Que Pasa. With your dish, don’t get the usual side of rice and beans. Why? Because you can choose to replace those beans and rice with their Potatoes Olé, mashed potatoes with carrots, sweet white corn, jalapeños, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and jack cheese. These potatoes are to die for. I know, they aren’t super healthy (potatoes, sour cream, and hella cheese), but hot damn. I now have bouts of serious cravings for these potatoes. They are so creamy, and I love the occasional crunch of the corn and carrots, and the little bit of spice from the jalapeño. These are definitely on my list of dishes to attempt to recreate.
So there you have it, folks. If you want some bomb.com Mexican food with a side of probably the best mashed potatoes you’ll ever eat, do me a favor, and visit Que Pasa Cantina (just north of the Hawthorne food carts on 12th ave).
Fall is a perfect excuse to put squash in, oh, just about everything you make. Squash ravioli? Yes. Squash cake? Absolutely. Squash enchiladas? Of course.
The inspiration for this meal came from 1) the abundance of squash at the grocery store, 2) the fact that I’d had something similar (some kind of squash taco) at a restaurant here in Portland called Oba, 3) there were people coming for dinner, and I wanted to make something easy that was basically a meal in a dish. This was exactly that, a delicious, relatively easy meal in a dish. I’ll also say this: this was loosely based on a squash enchilada recipe I found, but I was quasi-doubling it. Also, I bought too big of a squash because it was pretty. So we had lots of extra filling, which I just threw in a pan, covered with enchilada sauce and cheese, and baked on it’s own, sans tortillas. But I’ll try adjusting amounts below so that you don’t have that same problem.
Butternut Squash Enchiladas
One ~2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
Olive oil & salt
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
mild green salsa (we used one of those little cans from the grocery store)
12 small corn tortillas
1-2 cans enchilada sauce (Carmelle made our enchilada sauce because she is a Mexican food guru… but I was prepping the filling, so I wasn’t paying attention. Dang!)
1 bag of mexican blend shredded cheese
For serving: sour cream and sliced avocado
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread your squash on a large baking sheet, toss with olive oil and salt, and bake for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before putting into a large mixing bowl. Add the black beans and onion and mix to combine. At this point, you can lower the temperature of your oven to 350 degrees.
Cover the bottom of a large casserole dish with a layer of enchilada sauce and about half the can of salsa. Warm the tortillas a little bit, one by one, in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, just so that they won’t break when you stuff them. Take a warm tortilla, fill it with the squash/bean/onion mixture, a sprinkle of the cheese, and roll it up. The ends don’t need to be all nice and tucked in, but you want the tortilla to overlap enough… Does that make sense? Fill the dish with filled, rolled tortillas, and cover with enchilada sauce, salsa, and the rest of the cheese (or just however much cheese you want).
Throw that dish in the oven (don’t throw it, actually… that would be bad) for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and a bit brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with sour cream and slices of avocado. Enjoy!
Hello all. Summer is tip-toeing out these days. And, while I’m sad that the warmth and long days are leaving, I must admit I’m excited to start wearing sweaters and scarves and boots – my fall uniform. The other nice thing about the very gradual transition this year – the temperature is slowly going from a high of 90 to a high of 72, and that’s great – is that it’s a gentle reminder to make all my favorite summer dishes I haven’t made yet.
These fish tacos are easily in my top 5 summer meals. They’re relatively easy and refreshing. I suppose they could be made year round, but to me they just seem to go with sunshine and shorts. I like to make some roasted corn for a side dish and wash it all down with a light summer ale.
2 Tbl fresh lime juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbl olive oil
2-2 1/2 cups roughly flaked cooked halibut (about 12 oz)
3 Tbl mayonnaise
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, minced
1/2 cup minced celery leaves and stalks
1/4 cup chopped green olives (optional… I don’t usually include these. Another option is to prep them and not add them to the mixture, but to serve as a garnish/possible topping)
1 cup arugula, roughly chopped (or other “peppery green”)
1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
6 small corn tortillas (the 4 inch ones)
other serving options: yogurt or sour cream, goat cheese, slices of avocado, and lime wedges
To make the vinaigrette, put the lime juice, mustard, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together, and while whisking, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Whisk until the dressing is well combined.
Now onto the filling. In a mixing bowl, combine the fish, 2 Tbl of the vinaigrette you just made, the mayonnaise, scallion, and celery and mix gently. You want to be sure to be gentle because you don’t want to break up the fish too much. If you’re using the olives, mix them in as well. In a separate bowl (I know, another bowl!) toss the arugula and cilantro with just enough of the vinaigrette so that it is lightly and evenly coated. Now the recipe leaves the fish and the greens separate, which you totally can, but for the sake of not having a thousand dishes on the table, I usually just lightly fold the greens in to the fish so it’s all one big mixture.
When you’re ready to eat, heat the tortillas however you’d like (the recipe recommends over a gas flame, but that sounds a little frightening to me, so I am a fan of a dry pan or, if need be, a microwave). Put the tortillas on plates, put on a layer of the fish and a layer of greens (if you’ve left them separate; if not, just heap it all on there). Then top your tacos with whatever garnishes you choose, and enjoy! Be sure there are napkins around, because there are juicy little buggers.