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.
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!