The City of Fillmore, CA is known as the ‘Last, Best Small Town’. Small it is, as it only incorporates an area of 3.4 square miles. But small as it is, it is still an incorporated city since 1914. The city gets its name from J. A. Fillmore who was a general superintendent for the Southern Pacific Railroad which came to the Santa Clara River Valley in 1887.
Fillmore is located 39 minutes north of Thousand Oaks traveling on the 23 North. The 23 North ends at Moorpark, so you have to exit the Freeway and travel down Los Angeles Avenue to get to the roads taking you to the 23 North. (It is well signed, so you can’t miss it) (Google also gives you correct directions) It is a mountainous route with lots of turns (and this time lots of road work being done) One of the nice things about this drive is that you get to view the Orchards and farms that you thought had disappeared from the area. (Fortunately, only the obvious ones facing the Freeway have been the culprit of more and more condos and homes.) So the Santa Clara River Valley of which Fillmore is a part, still is well endowed with agriculture, fortunately.
As you enter the city limits the sign proclaims that the population is 14,000 and the elevation is 469 ft. The sign looked a little worn, so I am making an educated guess that the population is larger than 14,000. (According to the 2012 Census, the Popoulation was 15,002. The reason for this is that there are a lot of new home developments and people from outlying areas are probably taking advantage of this (home prices have got to be lower than the Conejo Valley or other nearby areas – it takes a little drive to get to Fillmore but it is a nice place to live and raise a family. The School District consists of two High Schools, one Middle School and four elementary schools.
Returning home, I decided to take the 126 to Ventura to avoid the road work and the twists and turns. It was quite a few miles longer but didn’t take any longer as you could go faster than 35 miles per hour and there were no twists and turns.
So much for particulars – Fillmore used to be a quaint little town that was fun to visit. On my recent visit there it looked entirely different than I remembered it from past visits. Fast Food and Big Block stores have invaded there as they have in almost every sector of this country. ‘Not so Good’. But if you go to the back streets and the area where the City Hall is located you will find remnants of the past. I went up one such street and found the water Tower with the name of the city well visible. I also found the rail tracks and loading docks for the freight trains that bring merchandise to the town and/or take it from the town.
The Train System is a big part of Fillmore – in addition to the freight trains bringing merchandise in and out of the town, there are also tourist trains which run to the orchards. There are event trains such as the ‘Mystery Dinner Train’ which I have been on. There are also other events such as the ‘Pumpkinliner’, ‘Christmas Tree Train’, ‘North Pole Train’, etc. The train system is Fillmore is also the scene for many movies and tv shows.
This last time that I was there it was lunchtime and I decided to try what looked like and was an authentic Mexican Restaurant, called El Taco Llama. The menu had a lot of variety – there were many, many items you could choose from and everything was made to order. My lunch was the two taco plate which came with rice and beans and salad and Guacamole. There were plenty of salsas on the side from the salsa buffet, both mild and spicy. Even though the tacos were the small authentic style, I could not finish the whole plate as the sides were plentiful.
For something to do and someplace to go that is different try taking a trip out here – park your car and walk around but stay away from the chain stores. These are not Fillmore, but everywhere USA.
Cinco de Mayo will be here in 2 hours or earlier for East Coasters. Here are a few recipes you can use for your Celebrations tomorrow.
We will start with Appetizers including Salsas and conclude with Rice, Empanadas and Lemonade.
Mango Salsa which makes use of fresh Mangoes, Limes, Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos if you wish.
Nachos – start with good quality chips, Cheese Sauce with Jalapenos (if desired) and serve with Salsa and Guacamole.
Salsa Cruda – incorporates diced fresh Tomatoes, Jalapenos or Serranos, Cilantro, Lime Juice and a little Salt.
Beef Empanadas are more traditionally an Argentine Dish but they can also be found in Mexican Cooking. The Empanada can be filled with whatever you please – diced Steak or Chicken or Ground Beef along with Tomatoes, Onions, Cheese and maybe some Chilies.
Sparkling Lemonade – we first had this in Acapulco and I have been making Lemonade this way every since. It is delicious, refreshing and a great accompaniment to any meal.
Categories: Beverages, Condiments, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Family Fun, Food Festivals, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Main, Mexican, Tropical, Tropical Food Tags: Appetizers, Avocadoes, Chlies, Cinco de Mayo, family dinner, holiday recipes, kids cooking, Limes, Mexican, National Food Days, Rice, Tomatoes
Summer weather is ideal for treating your family to Mexican Food and what tastes better than Grilled Shrimp nestling inside a Quesadilla? Add to that freshly made Guacamole and Salsa Cruda. A little salad and some Mexican Rice and you are set for the evening. Sound like too much work – well maybe a little but it is also fun if you love to cook and simple enough for those of you who do not love to cook. Follow the directions and photos below and you will be able to cook up a wonderful meal for your family or even for your next party! Okay, let’s get busy!
The first thing you need to do is check up on the items that you have in your kitchen and then make a list of those that you will need to purchase. Follow the simple suggestions below or create your own list.
Garlic & Cilantro
Shrimp (preferably large ones – they have more flavor)
Tomatoes & Avocadoes
Cheese for Quesadillas (your preference)
Sour Cream or Mexican Crema
Here are the links for the recipes for the Grilled Shrimp,
Once you have your ingredients on hand and know when you are going to be serving the Quesadillas you can plan your preparation. The Salsa can be prepared hours ahead of time, unlike the Guacamole which tends to oxidize and become unappetizing in appearance. The Shrimp can be shelled and de-veined, but you do NOT WANT TO MARINATE them for more than 20 minutes before grilling, otherwise they will become mealy, mushy and not appetizing at all.
Probably Quesadillas are not going to be the only thing on your menu so you can prepare the other items ahead. Re-fried Beans can be prepared hours ahead and reheated as can Mexican Rice. If you are planning on having a salad, the components can be washed, dried and sliced and then refrigerated until just before serving time.
Shown below is a suggested timetable for preparation and serving. To prepare this meal and have everything come together at the proposed time, I would start the preparations no later than two hours before serving time.
1. Wash, dry and slice, grate or dice Salad Ingredients.
2. Prepare Salsa and refrigerate.
3. Cook the re-fried Beans and set aside. If you are using canned re-fried beans, saute some diced onion in a little Olive Oil before adding the beans. Also, if you are using canned beans, prepared just before serving. Home-made re-fried beans take hours to prepare, especially if you are using dried beans that have to be soaked and cooked. Actually, the canned ones are very good, especially if you doctor them up a little bit with the sauteed onions and anything else that you may wish, like maybe cilantro.
4. Make the Mexican Rice and set aside. Mexican Rice
5. Shred your Cheese or Cheeses, depending on whether you use one or more varieties.
6. About 30 minutes before serving time, prepare your Guacamole. To prevent it from oxidizing squeeze a thin layer of Lime Juice on the surface and then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until serving time.
7. Prepare the Shrimp – remove the Shrimp Shells and save to make Seafood Stock. If using medium size Shrimp, slit down the back and remove the vein. Wash and dry. If using large Shrimp, slice in half lengthwise. Be sure to remove the vein. Wash and dry.
8. Prepare the marinade per the directions in the Grilled Shrimp Recipe. Allow the Shrimp to marinate for at least 15 minutes but no longer than 20. (Marinating the Shrimp too long will make them mushy and mealy.)
9. Before grilling the shrimp, make sure you have all your other dishes ready to serve. Grill the Shrimp per the recipe directions.
10. Place 2-3 Tablespoons of shredded Cheese in the middle of a Flour Tortilla; top with 3-4 pieces of Shrimp 2-3 Tbsps. more Cheese and a few sliced Scallions. Add a second Tortilla on top.
11. Place the filled Tortillas on a lightly greased skillet or comal (griddle) and cook on each side until golden in color and the Cheese begins to melt. (If you have trouble keeping the two tortillas together, secure them with wooden sandwich picks – remove the picks before serving.
12. Remove from the griddle with a spatula; remove the sandwich picks and serve.
13. Serve Guacamole, Salsa and Sour Cream on the side.
Funny that November is recognized as the following Food Month –
- Georgia Pecan Month
- Good Nutrition Month
- National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month
- National Pepper Month
- National Pomegranate Month
- Raisin Bread Month
- Vegan Month
Honoring many types of food, but not of all things the Turkey. Why not? November is Thanksgiving and Turkey is the main highlight of most families dinners on Thanksgiving. So like October which I have declared ‘The Month of the Pumpkin’ I am now declaring November as Turkey Month. Everywhere you go, there are turkeys for sale, Frozen Turkeys, Fresh Turkeys, Heritage Turkeys, already prepared Turkey Dinners, etc.
Before we go any further does anyone know why the Turkey is called the Turkey? What did the Indians call the Wild Turkey that was prevalent when the first Pilgrims came over? Does anyone know? And why did the Europeans call Turkeys, Turkeys? Well it seems that the Europeans thought the Turkeys were related to Guinea Fowl which were transported to Europe via Turkey. Therefore, they called the Wild Bird they found in the New World, Turkeys. That name has stuck to this day.
Benjamin Franklin thought that the Turkey should be the National Bird but the Bald Eagle has and probably always will be the Bird Symbol for the United States. However, three States including Massachusetts have adopted the Turkey as their State Bird.
Most of us will be making or Eating Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. There are many ways to cook Turkey; Smoking, Frying, Barbecuing but the traditional and most ways to cook Turkey is still to roast it fully packed with Stuffing. But preparing Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner is not the problem. It’s what to do with the leftovers that presents challenges. The best and probably favorite way is the ‘Turkey Sandwich’. My preference is with Mayonnaise, Pickles and Lettuce. Some like to put Stuffing and Cranberries on their Sandwiches, but whichever way you make it, I would venture to say that the Sandwich is the favorite way to use Turkey Leftovers.
Another use, though probably not usually thought by most people is a Turkey Frittata turkey-frittata/. The Frittata can be made for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and is a good way to use up those little pieces of Turkey that fall off the bone or crumble from the slices. The Frittata is an omelet with Meat, (Turkey) Vegetables and usually some kind of Cheese. The Frittata is very tasty and a great use for leftover anything, including Turkey.
Another good use for Turkey leftovers are Turkey Croquettes. /turkey-croquettes/ Great for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner the Croquette can be varied to suit your individual taste palette. Either good old American, Italian, Mexican or even Asian. With just one or two additional ingredients the flavors can be easily varied.
One more use for leftover Turkey is the Turkey Pot Pie. turkey-pot-pie/ Delicious and warming in the cooler weather of Fall!
The above are just a few of the things that can be done with Turkey Leftovers. You can probably come up with more ideas on your own.
And don’t forget! November is ‘Turkey Month’!!
Categories: Asian, Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Italian, Leftovers, Lunch Ideas, Main, Mexican, National Food Days Tags: Appetizers, family dinner, holiday recipes, Leftovers, National Food Days, turkey, Turkey Leftovers, Vegetables
The second Friday in October is ‘World Egg Day’. This is certainly fitting, because Eggs are probably the one major food that is consumed by people all over this planet. The majority of Eggs consumed are Chicken Eggs, but Duck Eggs are very popular in China and the South Eastern Asian Countries. The photo below was taken at an outdoor market in Thailand.
Also popular in Asia are un-hatched Eggs. As kids we used to love them in Chicken Soup but health laws forbid the sale of them here in the States, at least in California.
Quail Eggs are used in Gourmet Cooking, more for looks and ‘Eye Appeal’ than for nutrition as they are so small. In the picture below Quail Eggs were baked in Mini- Pate Choux Cups (Cream Puff Shells) by the Teen and Pre/Teen students in our Summer ‘Basics Culinary Camp’ at Let’s Get Cookin’ in Westlake Village, CA.
Turkey Eggs are probably consumed too as well as Ostrich Eggs which definitely top off the list of ‘large’ Eggs. One Ostrich Egg would probably feed a dozen people, if not more. Since this is World Egg Day, there will follow a short list of Egg Dishes consumed Globally by people all over the world. By far, the most popular use for Eggs is for Breakfast, but Eggs are one of those foods that can be consumed for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. The Egg is probably my all-around most favorite food. I can eat it any time of the day.
Brazilian Omelet -this Omelet is made with Cream Cheese, Bacon, Pineapple and Avocado. Different, but tasty. The Brazilian Omelet is good for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner.
Denver Omelet (USA) – made with Bell Pepper, Ham and Cheese. A popular Southwestern Dish.
Egg Foo Young (Chinese) – a popular dish in Chinese Restaurants – made with Vegetables, Bean Sprouts, and occasionally Shrimp. Sometimes served with a Brown Sauce.
French Omelet – usually folded in half and somewhat moist inside.
Frittata (Italian) – started in the pan and finished in the oven – the amount of ingredients in the Frittata make it difficult to turn so the top side is baked or broiled.
Thai Omelet – similar to Egg Foo Young – contains Vegetables and sometimes meat – fried in oil in a Wok or pan. Results in a thin, crispy, tasty omelet.
Salami Eggs (Jewish Deli Food) – salami cooked into the Omelet
Salami Eggs Cooking
Tortilla (Spanish Omelet)– in Spain, the Omelet is called a Tortilla – usually cooked with sliced Potatoes in it – the American version with Tomatoes and Peppers is not really a Spanish Omelet. The Spanish Explorers probably named the Flat Bread ‘Tortilla’ because it looked like a Spanish Omelet.
Whichever way you enjoy your Eggs or whatever kind of Eggs you like, do indulge. Eggs are a healthy food, which contain the best complete protein. Even though the yolks may contain cholesterol, they also contain lecithin which helps to reduce cholesterol.
Lastly, don’t forget that Eggs are essential in most baked goods. For more info about Eggs see ‘The Versatility of Eggs’ under Archives June 2013.
Garlic is an absolute essential in many Cuisines. It is an aromatic vegetable which creates wonderful flavor, but can easily be over-used. Too much garlic and you will scare away your friends, not just the ‘vampires’. It is also good for your health – it helps to keep the blood pressure down, among other things.
In the photo above, you see Garlic that has been slightly pounded so that the papery skins will come right off. To separate the cloves from the head, just give it a slight whack with your pestle (if you have one) or the bottom of a heavy jar or your rolling pin. The Cloves will instantly split apart. To separate the skin from the cloves, do the same thing. Then you are free to use the Garlic whichever way you please.
You can rub it on the bottom of your salad bowl with a little salt and it will practically melt and season your salad beautifully. In fact, this is the way a true Caesar Salad is made and what would it be without that Garlic!
In the photo above, you see Garlic that has been chopped in a Mini-Mate. This is the easiest way to do it, although many Chefs just prefer to mince it by hand. The Mini-Mate method saves your hands from getting too smelly! If you are going to do a lot of Garlic, this is definitely the way to do it. The chopped Garlic can be Sauteed. Sauteed Garlic goes well with most meats and poultry and even seafood, especially shellfish.
In the photo above, you see Garlic that has been chopped with fresh herbs. Just make sure that your herbs are completely dry after you wash them. Use a clean dish towel or paper towels to dry them. Herbs do not chop well if they are wet.
Add some Saffron or Paprika to your Garlic, Herb Mixture. The Saffro or Paprika becomes a browning agent and gives nice color to your food, especially those that are going to be browned or seared before cooking. In the photo above, not only has Saffron been added to the Garlic herb mixture, but Olive Oil has well. Add a little lemon juice or white wine and you have the perfect marinade for most anything!
In the photo above, is a chicken that has been coated with the Garlic, Herb Marinade. In this photo additional Paprika has been added to the chicken. After it has marinated for a couple of hours (in the refrigerator). If you want to use it sooner, leave it out at room temperature for about half an hour. Then it can be broiled, grilled or baked.
Just remember that Garlic adds wonderful flavor to most food and of course should be used sparingly or with moderation!
Saturday, January 20th is ‘National Cheese Lover’s Day. How many different kinds of cheese can you think of? There is at least one cheese for every letter of the Alphabet, but most letters have multiple cheeses, many more than I could ever thnk of. I could only come up with about 45 different cheeses without having to look them up. I was flabbergasted when I did look them and came up with 613. There are probably even more than the ones I found. Granted, many of these cheese are variations on a theme. That is, there are several different types of Cheddars – it seems that each of the English speaking countries have their own. Then there are the variations on Bleu Cheeses, Brie, Swiss and on and on.
Cheese is usually made from Cow’s Milk but there are cheeses made from Goat’s Milk and from Sheep’s Milk. If you want to count them as Cheese, then there those made from Tofu – a product that is supposed to resemble cheese, but certainly does not possess all of the qualities of ‘real’ cheese.
I was going to write this blog on all the different types of cheese and the uses that we have for them, but upon second thought, I am going to limit it to America’s favorite Cheese and i am guessing that would be Cheddar. Unfortunately, some of our Cheese Producer’s have taken a really good Cheddar Cheese and then turned it into something that may or may not be considered Cheese by an afficionado.
Cheddar Cheese is usually a firm Cheese, dark Yellow in color. The color certainly has to be added and hopefully it is from natural sources. There is also White Cheddar and if I am not mistaken Irish Cheddar is usually white. Cheddar Cheese also comes in many taste variations. There is Mild, Medium, Sharp and Extra Sharp. The Sharper the Cheese the firmer it usually is and the reason for this is that to be sharp a cheese is aged longer and when it is aged longer, it becomes drier and therefore, harder.
American Cheese, which is made from Cheddar Cheese is a version of Cheddar that is ground up and has gum arabic added to it to give it the consistency that some of us are familiar with. Cheese Spreads are also variations on Cheddar.
Cheddar Cheese makes great sandwiches and toppings for Hamburgers. It is also the basis for one of our most popular dishes and that Is Macaroni and Cheese. Cheddar Cheese is also a popular cheese for omelets, biscuits, breads and one of our most popular and succesful snack products – Cheese Puffs.
I was going to write this blog on cheese which I did. But after finding out how many different cheeses there are, I have decided that I will do a weekly Cheese Blog on either one type of cheese and its variations and/or once having finished the variants, will concentrate on the alphabet starting with A or Z? Please let me know. Would be much easier to start with Z as there are only 3 different types of cheese that I could find starting with the letter Z.
Happy ‘National Cheese Day’ everyone!
On Monday we had Tacos for Dinner. There are just certain things that cannot be made in amounts small enough for two people, therefore there are leftovers. Not wanting to throw out the leftovers, I decided to turn them into a new dish. The items that were left over was the cooked Ground Beef Mixture that we used for the Tacos along with Salsa and diced Tomatoes. In the freezer I had some Basil Pasta that I had made at a previous meal.
The Basil Pasta was homemade and even though it was a very small amount, it was so good (I make very thin pasta which we love) I just couldn’t throw it away. In addition, I had another type of pasta in the freezer. The second pasta was completely different from the Basil Pasta, but that didn’t matter. In addition, there was some shredded Mozzarella Cheese and Corn Kernels. I added some Enchilada Sauce (also in the freezer) to the Salsa and diced Tomatoes.
I thinly sliced some Green Onions (Scallions) and Olives. These two items were used as a garnish on top of the finished dish.
So here is what I did to create the Mexican Lasagna.
- I took my 9 x9 glass baking dish and lightly coated the bottom with a small amount of Olive Oil.
- The Basil Pasta was laid out on the bottom of the dish. (Coincidentally, there was just enough to cover the bottom.
- Next, I added part of the Enchilada Sauce/Salsa/Tomato Mixture to the cooked Ground Beef and tossed it all together. Then the Beef was placed on top of the Basil Pasta.
- Next came a layer of Corn Kernels. ( No need to cook – this gets done when you bake the Lasagna)
- On top of the Corn I placed the other Pasta that I had leftover and then added some more of the Sauce.
- On top of the Sauce went the shredded Cheese and on top of this went the Green Onions and Sliced Olives. Since I put this together in the morning it had to be refrigerated until dinner time.
- About 45 minutes before dinner I placed the dish of Lasagna in a cold oven. (Do not put cold glass in a hot oven – the sudden temperature differential will cause the glass to expand too rapidly and break)
- I then turned the oven to 350 degrees and allowed the Lasagna to cook until it was heated through and the cheese on top had melted. (You can tell when it is done because not only will the cheese melt, but the sauce will start steaming when it becomes heated)
Thursday, October 4th is ‘National Taco Day’. Like many other ethnic foods, Tacos have become as American as Apple Pie, although Apple Pie actually originated in England. Just like people, there are many variations of tacos. If you want authentic tacos, try going to Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles where there are many Mexican Restaurants. Here in Newbury Park, we have a taco place that is as authentic as I have ever eaten here in the States. It is called ‘Taco Sanchez’ and it is situated in the old Taco Bell building by Roma’s Italian Deli right off of Borchard Road.
Pictured are Carne Asado Tacos
with Mango Salsa and Guacamole
Since Thursday is ‘National Taco Day’, it would be fun to make tacos for your family and/or your friends for dinner. Tacos are one of those dishes that can be turned into party food very easily and what is more fun than to have a Taco Bar Party. To make a Taco Bar Party or just Tacos for dinner you will need some important ingredients and you will have to decide what fillings your Tacos should have.
MEAT FILLINGS ACCOMPANIMENTS
- Carne Asada (Beef) Salsa Cruda
- Carnitas (Pork) Guacamole
- Chicken Shredded Cabbage or Lettuce
- Shrimp Diced Tomatoes
- Lobster Shredded Cheese
- Ahi Green Onions
- Tofu Sliced Radishes
Crema (Mexican version of Creme Fraiche)
Grilled Scallions (Green Onions)
To make your Tacos, it is best to prep all the items ahead of time, except maybe for the Meat Fillings which should be hot when served. Some items can be reheated, but most are best right after being origianlly cooked.
Prepare your Garnishes or Accompaniments first and refrigerate if there is going to be a lot of time between prep and serving.
salsa-cruda/ is an uncooked Tomato Salsa usually made with Tomatoes, Chilies, Garlic and Cilantro along with a little Salt and the Juice of a Lime or two.
Guacamole is a wonderful condiment made from Avocadoes, Garlic, Jalapenos (optional), Salt, Cilantro and Lime Juice. The Guacamole we were served in Guadlajara was simply mashed Avocadoes and Lime Juice, but I like it with the additional ingredients listed above. Mole refers to ‘sauce’ and the name guaca as told to me by one of my Hispanic Students just means crazy, mixed, so therefore,Guacamole is just a sauce of ‘mixed up’ Avocadoes. Hence, the mashed Avocadoes and Lime in Guadalajara. The lime wasn’t even in it – just served on the side. For the recipe go to chunky-guacamole/
Shredded Lettuce and Diced Tomaotes
The filling that I recently used was Ground Beef cooked with Garlic, diced Onions and diced Red Bell Pepper or Pimiento in Spanish. The Garlic and Onions were sauteed first and then the Beef was added. The Bell Peppers were added just at the end to avoid being overcooked.
Keep the Meat warm while frying your Taco Shells. You can also do the Taco Shells ahead and keep warm in the oven. Tacos are usually made from Corn Tortillas, but you can also use Flour Tortillas, especially if you want soft tacos. Corn Tortillas are usually fried crisp but you can also cook them so that they will be soft. When frying your Tortillas in Oil, be sure to either drain them on a rack set over a baking pan or drain on paper towels. The rack method is best in that the oil drips down. With the paper towels, the Taco Shells will be sitting on the oil that drains off of them. First fry them on each side, flat then use a wooden spoon to help fold them and leave a space for the filling to be put into.
Mexican Fruit Salad is a nice accompaniment to a Taco Meal. Use Tropical Fruit such as Papaya, Pineapple, Mango and Melons.
To complete the meal, add Mexican Rice mexican-rice/ or refried Beans.
Whichever way you make your Tacos, enjoy them or if you don’t feel like cooking, just go to your local Tacqueria!