It's generally easier to eat in than out when you are toting around small children. That was my thinking when I grabbed a package of ground beef from the freezer on my way out the door on a recent visit to my sister's place . Although her downtown apartment is just up the street from the oh-so-dangerous Bofinger, I vowed to cook our supper, rather than order take-out.
I'd forgotten what it's like to cook in a tiny apartment kitchen and the challenges it brings: minimal counter space, über-high cupboards, many many stairs to climb with groceries...Oh, and don't forget the two (of four) furry friends waiting for you to drop something just outside the kitchen. I am totally not used to cooking under such scrutiny.
Lazy Salsa Cruda
4 medium tomatoes, washed and quartered
1/2 large white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Serrano or jalapeno chilies, quartered and seeded
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed and stemmed
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 lime
Combine tomatoes, onion, chilies, cilantro, water, and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt in a food processor. Pulse until the salsa is chunky and well mixed. Add lime juice and pulse again. Season with more salt to taste.
OK, so around here we eat a lot of tacos. For some odd reason, Noah will eat pretty much anything as long as it is wrapped in a tortilla, so I stock up on corn tortillas from my favorite Mexican shop (Tortilleria Maya for you locals) and freeze them for dishing up later with re-fried beans, shredded chicken or spiced beef. Tacos are our cheap, fast and easy weeknight dinner and not really something I'd think of blogging about, but I'm committed to chronicling our local beef; hence this post!
Spiced Taco Filling
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 teaspoon dried garlic
2 tablespoons water
For spice blend:
Heat a large cast iron on medium heat until quite hot but not smoking. add cumin seed and toast gently for a minute or two. Remove cumin from pan and cool. In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, combine cumin, black peppercorn, dried oregano and dried garlic. Grind to a powder. Add chili powder and pulse just to combine. Set aside.
Heat the same skillet again and add oil. When oil is hot, add onions and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño-if using- and spice blend. Cook another minute or so.
Add meat to the pan, crumble with a wooden spoon and stir well to combine with onion mixture. Stir the meat while it is cooking to help it brown evenly, breaking up any large chunks.
After meat is well browned and sticking to the bottom of the pan a little bit, add the water and scrape the pan vigorously to remove all the browned bits. Turn heat to low and simmer until liquid has evaporated. Season well with salt.
Serve with flour or corn tortillas, plenty of shredded cheese and salsa cruda.
Margaritas are optional.
Just so I don't get into trouble, I better add that my sister's high-ceiling-ed, creaky hardwood floored apartment is actually pretty awesome. I miss those days--even if the storage is atrocious.
And look, she was even able to pull together a peach & ginger pie while I was preparing the tacos, so the kitchen is somewhat workable.
Gosh it was good; we must be related.
More Beef Chronicles:
In Which we Buy A Cow
Rib Steak With Red-Wine Butter
Rosemary-Garlic Marinated T-Bone
Sesame-Beef Lettuce Wraps