Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another Tex-Mex Extravaganza

It's been five months since I was in Texas and to say I'm starting to miss/crave Tex-Mex again is putting it mildly.  I decided it was time to fix that and what better way than cooking a lot and having people over?  Initially, I had a grand plan of making chile rellenos.  Then, I scaled back and decided on something easier, but classic ... fajitas.

The only problem with fajitas is that they should be grilled and (1) rain is not ideal weather for grilling and (2) I don't have a grill!  Back-up plans for cooking fajitas?  Broil?  No thank you, I don't want to overheat my kitchen.  Fry?  Too much work for a dinner party ... works well for cooking for 1 or 2.  Slow cooker?  Ding, ding, ding ... we have a winner.

I decided to go with the widely published Ninfa's fajita recipe since it is a Houston institution.  I made a few substitutions, but nothing too crazy.  I substituted Chardonnay for the sherry/Zinfandel because that's what I had and used fresh squeezed orange juice in place of pineapple juice, which I'll blame on my Metro still being closed.  I also added a little extra water since I was cooking it in the slow-cooker.  I roughly doubled the recipe because I was cooking 1.6 kg of meat ... that's a lot of steak!  Finally, maison du roti doesn't seem to have skirt steak or flank steak.  When I told them I was making fajitas they suggested, Boston steak.   Oooookay.  Not exactly what I was going for, but I guess it works.  The recipe below is un-doubled.

Ninfa's Showcase Fajitas (from The Tex-Mex Cookbook)

zest of 1 large orange (1 tbsp)
juice of 2 lemons (1/4 cup) plus 2 tsp zest
1/4 cup orange juice (or pineapple if you're feeling fancy)
1/4 cup sherry or Zinfandel (or Chardonnay)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 glove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground black pepper
3 dried whole chiles de arbol, crushed
3 tbsp clarified butter
2 skirt steaks, cut into thin strips (0.75 - 1 kg)
2 - 3 red bell peppers, sliced
12 warm flour tortillas
sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo (see recipe below) 

1. Combine citrus, wine, soy sauce, garlic, pepper, chiles, and butter.  Place steak in the slow cooker and cover with sauce.  Cook on low for 6 - 7 hours (or marinate at room temperature for 2 hours and then grill).
2. Add bell pepper to slow cooker and cook for an hour or so (I did not submerge them so they would stay somewhat crispier).
3. Serve with tortillas and condiments.

Pico de Gallo (from The Tex-Mex Cookbook)

3 tbsp lime juice (ideally key lime, but it's impossible to get here)
1/2 cup chopped onion (ideally Texas 1015, Vidalia, or Maui)
2 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp jalapeno, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Combine onion and lime juice and marinate for 20 minutes or more.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl just before serving and mix well.

Blackberry White Wine Sangria
I surprised myself by not having much to do before people arrived and getting bored, so I decided to try making some sangria with what I had on hand.  This could be enhanced with additional fruit ... maybe peaches?

1 bottle white wine
170g blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup creme de cassis
2 tbsp lemon juice

1. In a small sauce pan, combine berries, sugar, and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. In a pitcher, combine white wine, creme de cassis, lemon juice, and sliced fruit if you have some.
3. Allow the sugar mixture to cool slightly, then strain into the wine mixture.  Discard the berries.
4. Mix and chill for 4 - 24 hours (or less if you're impatient to try it!).

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