Monday, November 21, 2011

Chicken Taquitos with Salsa Verdé

So it seems that I`m in the mood lately for recreating my favourite appetizers from my favourite Ottawa restaurants. This one is a spin-off from Poncho Villa`s flautas (or the equally deep fried version slowly rolling away at your local 7-11 ... depending on who you ask ...).  In searching for `taquito` recipes, I also discovered that "Taquito" was also the name of a Star War's character (thank you Wookiepedia): Taquito (pronounced /ʈaqɪʈo/) a male Rodian pilot who lived during the last years of the Galactic Republic on the Outer Rimplanet Iego. Apparently Taquito died trying to breacbck through the laser grid system left by the Separatists.  Poor Taquito.

All that aside, the mexican appetizer version of these little guys are uber yummy. Kids would adore them, I'm certain of that. To deep fry the taquitos at home (not having a deep-fryer of course), we heated oil in a soup pot to the point that it was shimmering. We made sure to have enough oil to just cover the taquitos. I should note too that we had a lot of fun making up the salsa verdé too. The salsa lasted for a few days and was the perfect accompaniment to tortilla chips. Olé y buen appetito!

For the chicken taquitos:
2 large chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
4-6 white corn tortillas
Oil for frying

For the salsa verdé:
1 1/2 cups yellow tomatoes
1/4 a small purple onion
a big bunch of cilantro
3 tablespoons vinegar
salt to taste

For the taquitos:
Mix the chicken with the cumin, chili powder, onion powder, salt, and cheese until well mixed. Press 3-4 tablespoons of the chicken mixture together to form a "snake" that is then rolled tightly into a corn tortilla. To get really great taquitos, I placing the corn tortillas one at a time in very hot water for 3-5 seconds, then removing them quicky, rolling them around your chicken mixture, and allowing them to air dry for a few minutes before placing in a saucepan filled with an inch or so of oil heated to medium heat for frying. Fry the taquitos 2-3 at a time on all sides just until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with salsa.

For the salsa verdé:
In a blender, puree all ingredients together. Serve with warm, fresh taquitos. Enjoy.

- Recipe cred Cheeky Kitchen

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Last night I got to eat out with some of my most favourite people at one of my most favourite restaurants in Ottawa: the Coconut Lagoon. If you've never been, go.  It's freakin' delicious and I once saw Adrian Harwood eating dinner there with his wife (local newscaster ... he's big time here!). The Coconut Lagoon serves papadums as yummy pre-dinner appetizers. Papadums are those giant, round, bubbly, deep-fried crackery things that you get at Indian restaurants ... usually served up with some kind of delicious chutney. They are made from lentils and come in a variety of different flavours. It turns out that you can actually make these guys at home with a minimal amount of effort. You will feel like a super star - that is if you`re able to escape without searing your forearms in hot, burning oil. Warning: your first papadum will most probably fail. Don`t worry - you`ll get the hang of it! I should warn you as well that this is not a recipe for making papadums from scratch (I`m not that awesome) - check out your local T&T or 'international' aisle at the grocery store for a box of em'. Finally, you'll need a pair of tongs and quick reflexes -- these cook quickly. Bon appétit!

One package of papadums
Mango Chutney

Read the instructions on the package. We make ours up by heating up an inch or two of oil in a frying pan. To see if the oil is ready, crack off a small piece of papadum and drop it in the oil. If it fries up quickly it is ready to go. Do not put your papdums in the oil until it is good and ready and hot. Serve up with some nice mango chutney. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mixed Tomato Salsa

There's nothing better than making your own salsa. It's a perfect way to use up all of those huge, left-over, gnarly looking tomatoes that litter your garden at the end of summer. Our little Giles` garden was  positively overflowing with these guys so it was into the salsa pot with them. You can mix this recipe up by adding fresh mango or a big handful of black beans. Store-bought just doesn't compare when you've made your own! YUM. Bon appétit!

1 plum or regular tomato, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
12 yellow cherry tomatoes, cut into sixths
1 very small sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 serrano chile or 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, serrano, cilantro, lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.

Chicken Puxa Vida

This dish is definitely a Giles' dish (hola' to all of the Giles' out there... you've got to try this one!). It is freakin' delicious. It was a lot of fun to make and is really different from standard everyday dinner fare. It could easily be done with tilapia as well (I have seen lots of recipes for this and, in fact, this recipe started out as a tilapia puxa vida recipe from Brooke from Cheeky Kitchen, I love her blog and look forward to every new post.) The sauce is a slightly sweet tomato sauce with coconut milk, lime, and cilantro. It is rich and flavourful and light at the same time. By the way, "Puxa Vida" means WOW in Portuguese, and you'll likely find that this recipe makes you feel wowalicious all over. Mmmmm. Bon appétit!

1 red pepper
1/2 onion
1 jalapeno seeded
5 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
2 (15 ounce) cans roasted tomatoes
2 Tablespoons honey
juice of one lime
2 pounds chicken (or possibly tilapia?)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
rice for serving
black beans

1. Pulse together the red pepper, onion, jalapeno, and garlic until finely chopped.

2. Add the onion mixture to a saute pan coated with olive oil. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, and honey to the pan.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the lime juice and check for seasonings. You might need to add a little more honey or lime juice.

5. Add the chicken to the pan and cover with the sauce.

6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. To know that it is cooked through, it will be opaque.

7. Garnish with chopped cilantro and additional lime wedges. These are great served with baked rice and favorite black beans.

- recipe cred to