Every food blog has recipes worth trying, but my favorites are the "secret recipes" that have been created as a result of much trial and error, and then generously posted on the blog to share with the whole world. When it came to choosing a dish from PBE, a little bit of browsing led me to just such a post. It all concerns a Mexican snack called the taquito ("little taco"...isn't it the cutest name?) that consists of a rolled filled taco that is usually deep-fried. Moon, one of the PBE trio, writes about a Mexican food stand in downtown LA where her family has been buying taquitos for nearly half a century. She raves about the unique sauce that the taquitos are served in. Moon finally managed to replicate the recipe and you can sense her excitement in being able to come awfully close to that "restaurant taste" that is so elusive. I knew I had to try the recipe.
I love salsas of all persuasions, but I don't think I have ever tasted any salsa of this description- a tomatillo salsa blended with avocado and fresh cilantro and gently heated to cook it ever so slightly. It is supposed to be a very thin sauce, thinned with some stock. My sauce is a bit of an adaptation of Moon's recipe. I made the tomatillo salsa from scratch and did not thin down the salsa, preferring to leave it as a rather thick dipping sauce.
PBE's Taquito Sauce
For tomatillo salsa
4 medium tomatillos
½ C diced onion
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 fresh green chilli, diced
Salt to taste
1.5 C water
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 fresh green chilli, diced
½ packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1. Combine all ingredients for tomatillo salsa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tomatillos have cooked through and collapsed.
2. Turn off the heat, then add the rest of the ingredients (avocado, cilantro, chilli pepper) to the saucepan.
3. Using an immersion (stick) blender, combine all the ingredients together into a fairly smooth sauce.
4. Taste for salt and heat, and adjust the flavors if necessary. Check the consistency of the sauce and thin it with some vegetable stock if required.
5. Turn on the heat and simmer the sauce briefly (2-3 minutes).
Now that I have the taquito sauce, I need some taquitos to serve it with! I found this Cooking Light recipe that calls for the taquitos to be baked to a crisp finish instead of being deep-fried.
For the filling
1 small onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t olive oil
½ t cumin powder
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 pack veggie (soy) granules (see note)
1 small can mild diced green chiles, undrained
1 pack corn tortillas (I used blue corn tortillas)
1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese (could use Cheddar or other cheese; non-dairy cheese for vegan version)
Cooking spray/ oil for brushing
1. To make the filling, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until fragrant and translucent. Stir in the rest of the ingredients listed under "filling" and stir-fry until warmed through. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spray a baking sheet.
3. Sprinkle the tortillas with some water and microwave them for 15 seconds to make them warm and pliable.
4. Place 1-2 T of filling at one of each torilla, sprinkle with cheese, and roll it tightly into a cylinder. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet.
5. Spray/brush all the filled tortillas lightly and bake them for 15 minutes or so, until slightly brown and crisp. Serve with taquito sauce!
Note: Veggie ground round is a minced meat substitute found in the refrigerated section. But it can be replaced with re-hydrated TVP/Nutrela granules if that is what you have on hand. This filling is completely customizable; I can see a vegetable or bean filling working beautifully here.
Verdict: Holy Guacamole! This meal was such a treat. The baked taquitos are crisp and delightful, and pair wonderfully with the sauce. The sauce itself is a delight, to say the least. The avocado gives it an irresistible creaminess and a luscious flavor. I am sure my sauce tasted nothing like the original, but we loved it and will be making it often. I served it with some tortilla chips as a dip and it was a hit!
I'm sending the platter of taquitos to DK, who is AWED by Mexican Cuisine this month.
Baking update: Last week, I decided to make some crowd-pleasing chocolate cupcakes for a bake sale to raise some money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life (I walked part of it last night). The recipe was this one for this one for Easy Chocolate Cupcakes from Baking Bites. The joys of this recipe: it makes *24* cupcakes all at once (now that has Bake Sale written all over it), and uses basic pantry ingredients. I managed to mix up the batter in minutes, and used cupcake liners that do not need a muffin tin (I don't have muffin tins to make 24 muffins at once). Except for using powdered buttermilk and cutting down the sugar a bit, I followed Nic's recipe quite closely.
The frosting: my favorite chocolate-peanut butter frosting from Jugalbandi. In the face of stiff competition from such delights as oreo-white chocolate fudge and some adorable strawberry mini cupcakes, my cupcakes did not sell out (to V's relief, there were a couple left for him), but I absolutely enjoyed their deep chocolate taste and the fact that they are not cloyingly sweet. The recipe is a keeper!
My frosting skills sure need some work! I have a feeling it is going to be several decades before I produce any baked goods even remotely as adorable as Cathy's cupcakes or Namratha's cake. But meanwhile, these cupcakes tastes delicious if nothing else.
I'll be back in early May. See you then!