Holy hot sauce, what a crazy month! Things have been moving here at the FFF headquarters, and tomorrow I’m venturing off to Montreal for a few days…Did someone say bagels?!
Before I go, I wanted to welcome the first day of fall on here together, and since I’m not ready for any sort of cool weather just yet, I’m bring you something a little fiery instead.
Whip a batch of this up with the last of the summer season’s jalapeños, and pull it out on the first real cool day. They say warm climates call for spicy foods, but I’m telling you, a spoonful of this is bound to make you feel all warm inside. At the very least, your tongue will feel the fire.
Perfect for fish tacos, breakfast tacos, portobello tacos, any kind of tacos…this recipe lends itself to a wide range of uses, as long as you like spicy. It’ll make about 16 ounces, so be prepared to enter a lot of hot sauce eating competitions with your friends. Or just pull out some small freezer containers like I did, and divide it on up.
P.S. You can expect more squash-filled, appley, autumn-inspired recipes soon. In the meantime, I’m still hanging onto summer.
Homemade Jalapeno Hot Sauce
- 1 tsp. vegetable oil
- 20 fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup minced onion
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- In a medium glass or enamel lined sauce pan over high heat, combine oil, peppers, garlic, onion and salt; sauté for 4 minutes. Add the water and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée until smooth. With the processor running, slowly add the vinegar. Pour into a sterilized jar with a tight lid. This sauce will keep for 6 months when stored in the refrigerator.
Two days till Cinco de Mayo – that leaves plenty of time to plan for tacos, right? Ample time to switch up prevailing plans of a standard Mexican meal, too.
Outside of the corn tortilla, this recipe isn’t the typical celebration piece. But the roasted carrot + spiced lentil combo that lays within it makes the recipe certainly worth veering away from traditional.
If you’re in the market for something new, give it a go. These tacos will still pair perfectly with a classic margarita and side bowl of guac., so don’t think you need to entirely ship your Cinco de Mayo plans outside of the box. I mean, avocados are pretty much a must…
Here, cumin seeds get flashed in a hot skillet and then ground into a notably aromatic, fresh powder. This extra step really makes the lentils shine without requiring much further effort to make them stand out. I.e., don’t skip this step if you can help it.
The toasty flavor of the cumin pairs perfectly with the sweet and earthy carrots that are placed beside the lentils. Creamy goat cheese seals the deal before the taco gets wrapped. If you want, you can amp up the buttery factor by pureeing some of the roasted carrots prior to adding them to your taco. Layer this onto the tortillas as a sauce, and proceed as the recipe instructs. Yum-o. That’s a celebration I’m ready to have on my plate this Tuesday. You with me?!
Ever feel like if you eat another spoonful of tahini or drizzle of toasted sesame oil, you’ll turn into the seed its made from? Or that you eat so much coconut curry there’s no way you shouldn’t already be sitting on the next plane to Thailand? Maybe for you it’s cumin and chili powder. Rice and beans. Turmeric and chickpeas.
Perhaps it’s none of things – but all I know is that as a vegetarian, it’s rare I’m cooking something other than ethnic cuisine. Usually it’s Asian-inspired. Usually there’s tahini involved. Usually I’m a happy camper.
Sometimes, however, I just crave something more, I don’t know, American? After maple-tahini on my oatmeal, and soy sauce/tahini/sesame oil on my lunchtime beans and grains, I have to tell myself to step away from the tahini jar. I’m telling you – lately it’s been going on everything, and dare I say, might just be outcompeting peanut butter in my diet.
I can’t tell you how American tempeh is, but I’m fairly certain Old Bay is the country’s seasoning of the summer. So forget pizza, forget pasta. My non-Asian oriented meal is going to have tempeh, and I’m going to label it American. You can call it otherwise, I really don’t care. (In this case, perhaps an American flag would’ve made a better table setting than the Mexican blanket I used…)
Come summertime, throw some corn cobs on the grill, this tempeh on the stove, a beer in your hand, and a fresh tomato salad onto the side section of your plate, and then you can give me your answer. I’m already dreaming of this day as I type. Count me in for summer seasonings and garden-fresh sides all season long. (We’ll see if this can kick my tahini habit to a once-per-day max.)
A lot, a lot of taco nights go down in my house. Tacos are easy. Beans are cheap. And it’s hard to go wrong with a bunch of flavors wrapped up into one. Plus, any excuse to pull out a few avocados is a welcomed one. The phrase “holy guacamole” didn’t come from nowhere. I mean, we all know guacamole is holy in every sense of its being.
Generally I make my own guac, but on very rare occasions I’ll just pick some up at the store. However, I always make my beans from scratch, if that is what’s to be at the center of the night’s tacos. (Sometimes I opt for ingredients like butternut and goat cheese instead.) Refried beans are incredibly simple to whip up and are truly better than any pre-made versions at the store. There’s something about the freshness you get from doing it yourself…kind of like most things you do yourself. But with refried beans, it’s particularly noticeable.
If you want to really take the homemade superiority to the next level, start with dried beans.
As opposed to pre-cooked ones in a can, dried beans let you go through a simmering process that really cooks them down and makes them all creamy inside. Then, you get their juices to pull back into your saute process, which makes the whole refried bean mixture that much creamier. The two steps required for this are painless and are totally worth the bit of waiting time required. (Don’t tell anyone, i.e. my landlord, but I let my beans slowly simmer on the stove while I jetted out for a run. My apartment survived.)
Last weekend I hosted a taco night, which is where this was born. This year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations looked more like Cinco De Mayo, and I’m 100% okay with that. The sentiment of cooking up a huge pot of beans for a night with friends is always a warm one. And I mean really, what’s better than a taco night with your pals or your family, especially when everyone’s put in charge with crafting their favorite ingredient? Add fresh mint mojitos (not the Tecate that we were surviving off of) and a few board games to the table, and it’s hard to think of a place I’d rather be. I’m already ready for the next one.
Given this was for taco night, the following recipe is designed to serve a crowd. However, it could easily be cut in half for taco nights with less people. Just whatever you do, don’t cut the guacamole from your topping list!
The taco — is there anything greater? Aside from avocado on everything and the invention of Sriracha, I think not. Good thing those two items pair incredibly well inside a tortilla.
You don’t need to be an Iron Chef to create a mind-blowing taco. What you do need: quality, warm tortillas, beans, cumin, garlic and/or onion (preferably both) and salsa. Bonus points if you’ve got a ripe avocado, unless making the recipe you see here. From there, the rest is really up to you — sautéed veggies, cheese, herbs, coriander, other forms of protein, etc.
It’s not rocket science. Yet there’s nothing greater! Except avocado. And maybe Sriracha. Which are both beside the point…
…Let’s get to the point. It was a long week. Which means I’m bringing you a recipe that anyone can make. I don’t care if you pronounce “milk” like “melk”. I don’t care if you’re Einstein. You can make this recipe, no matter how smart you are or where your skill level of cooking lays. You can make this after a really long day of work (if you can wait the 40 minutes of oven time). YOU can make this. Did I mention you can make this even if you insist on pronouncing “milk” as “melk”?
Yeah. It’s been a long week. But aside from all that nonsense written above, trust in me that these tacos are awesome. And not just because they’re tacos. Rather because buttery winter squash roasts so well with caramelized onions, and thrown together with goat cheese and cilantro, I’d have to say they’re hard to beat — especially given how easy they come together. Not even by avocado, which I didn’t bother to add to this. Why? Because these tacos don’t even need it. Although, as I said, nothing’s greater than avocado on everything, so if you’re heart’s set on it, go ahead and throw a few cubes of avo. in here too.
Oh…and I don’t think you’re dumb if you say “melk”. I have a few friends who insist on it, no matter how many times I correct them. I have faith that they too can make this recipe.