every day is a good day for tacos

since the shelter-in-place order began in the Bay Area, i have been cooking a lot. more than usual? hard to say, i always cook nearly all of my own food as i’ve worked remotely over three years now. but now, it feels a bit more forced and panicked. though i think that’s becoming less-so, yayyyy…

at first i thought OHMYGOD what do i have to cook? but then i realized i can chill, there are still groceries, and there’s even takeout! not to mention i have a ton of food. if Tamar Adler’s enlightening cookbook, An Everlasting Meal, taught me anything, it’s that if you have some dried beans and rice… you’re golden. even more, if you have some parsley and lemon to serve with that, then you’re really cooking with fire.

so… this is mainly how i balance my meals. i keep the following ready to go in the pantry: grains like brown rice and rolled oats, dried beans, bananas, and nuts.

in the fridge, i keep: citrus fruits (lemons and limes), herbs (cilantro, parsley, and dill), fresh vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), and lettuces (romaine, chicories), almond milk, plain greek yogurt, eggs, and some sort of protein. protein for me is typically tofu and tempeh.

in the freezer i keep mainly: frozen fruit and a loaf (or five) of sliced bread.

and then that bring us to, the tortillas. tortilla-style items have been a hot-button item for us lately. tortillas for breakfast, tortillas for lunch, tortillas for dinner — WHO CARES? it’s lockdown season, baby.

so, with the ingredients listed above… you know what i can always make?? TACOS. i can make salads, rice bowls, even traditional ‘recipes’ like a cheesy bean bake or chickpea bolognese (both things i’ve recently cooked). the bean bake was actually really beautiful so here it is:

cheesy bean bake

okay back to the tacos. tacos are a glorious food item to have handy. and all you need are a few crucial elements, the likes of which can be swapped out every time you make a taco so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating the same thing over and over again. that would be torture. to me, this is what constitutes a solid taco: good tortilla (heat on pan!) + deliciously cooked protein + accompaniments. my favorite accompaniments for a taco are: rice, beans, cilantro, hot sauce, mashed sweet potato (idk why!), shredded lettuce, avocado, and salsa. the wonderful thing about a taco is that you really only need the tortilla plus a couple of more elements to create a MEAL. if you don’t have a traditional protein, you can use beans + rice as the workhorse, or whatever! get creative, ya know?

i am obsessed with tofu chorizo though, which is a recipe by mark bittman, my dad. not really. but i’m going to share my version of it here. i like it because you don’t have to do anything fussy with the tofu other than take it out of its packaging and cook it. no wrapping it up in paper towels and pressing it, the water cooks right off of it in the pan.

TOFU CHORIZO

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
2 packages firm tofu
2 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

To prepare:

  • Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Using your hands, crumble tofu into the pan. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet occasionally and adjusting heat as necessary, until tofu browns and crisps as much or as little as you like, about 10 to 30 minutes.
    • NOTE: Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, I cook mine closer to about 20 minutes until it has a similar texture to chorizo.
  • Add the chili powder, cumin and cinnamon. Stir and cook, continuing to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan until the mixture is fragrant, a minute or two. Stir in apple cider vinegar and adjust the seasoning taste.
    • NOTE: Taste and adjust seasonings until you love it. I often add more apple cider vinegar for that tangy-tang and kosher salt. This is your new tofu chorizo, so make sure you like it on its own. Taste and adjust til you can’t stop eating it by itself. That’s my rule of thumb.

that’s it! let me know if you have any questions about the recipe or tacos in general. this will keep in the fridge for about 3-4 days, maybe longer. my food-going-bad philosophy is that you’ll know when it’s bad because it will smell like it’s gone bad.

here is the final product (also seen on taco above!)

until next time, happy cooking and stay safe friends! i am always here to talk about food, so hit me up!

Flat omelet with spinach and herbs

This is a no-recipe recipe, in that you can basically make this if you have eggs on hand. I often make this when it’s the end of the week, and I only have odds and ends of cooked or uncooked vegetables around. I usually add in a shallot or onion to sauté with the olive oil to start, too. But that could be omitted. You could really pull this off with just a few eggs, olive oil, and salt. The addition of leeks, sautéed in lieu of the onions or in addition to the onions, would also be an excellent idea. Too bad I didn’t have any on hand.

The idea of a flat omelet is from my personal cooking bible An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. She suggests adding a teaspoon of white wine to three eggs before adding them to the pan to liven things up. I have used champagne vinegar and lemon too, and it definitely adds the extra zing needed.

I happen to have a bunch of herbs right now leftover from making green goddess dressing last week, so I used tarragon, basil, chives, and parsley. Side note: adding herbs to nearly any dish will add a new depth of flavor, so I always try to add as many as possible (from the same family) if I have them on hand. If you’re not sure if they’ll go together, google it like I do. 🙂

Chopped yellow onion, a few handfuls of spinach, three eggs, tarragon leaves, an herb mix of tarragon, chives, basil, & parsley, parmesan cheese, and a lemon

Ingredients list for today’s flat omelet: 3 eggs, champagne vinegar, herbs, spinach, a yellow onion, parmesan, and a lemon.

To start, I heated the sauté pan and added the olive oil once heated, using more olive oil than I normally would for a regular omelet so that the top cooks too. I added the onions to sauté with some salt, to taste. Then, I added in the spinach until it’s slightly wilted. Next, add in the herbs and then the whisked eggs. Cook over medium-high heat (or lower if it seems like it’s cooking unevenly) until the egg mixture is set. Grate parmesan all over the top and more salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste.

Note: Substitute any vegetable with or in addition to the spinach. If I have roasted or uncooked vegetables that haven’t been eaten, or especially if they need to be eaten soon, I’ll throw them in too.

Flat omelet in all its glory

It’s not pictured, but I ended up adding plain full-fat greek yogurt on the side, because I felt like it needed some fat, creamy goodness! I like to sub plain greek yogurt for sour cream and sometimes mayonnaise because it has a high protein content and probiotics!

Lemon verbena tisane

The first time I tasted lemon verbena tisane, I was at Chez Panisse with my love, Charlie. During this phase of my life, I was not drinking. I am so glad that I wasn’t, or I certainly would have completed my dining experience with a dessert wine over the lemon verbena tisane.

I thought I had never tried tisane before; but in reality we have probably all tried tisane, only called it herbal tea. Tisanes are simply an herbal infusion. Tea is technically only made with tea leaves (black, green, etc.).

The lemon verbena tisane was out of this world. Not only that, but I noticed that it had an overall calming effect similar to chamomile, which I always love. I later researched to find that it is a stomachic, which helps aid in digestion and in toning the digestive organs. Additionally, it helps to soothe anxiety and has a slightly sedative effect. I left Chez Panisse on a cloud.

When I came across fresh lemon verbena at the farmer’s market on Saturday, I knew I would be in for a treat making fresh lemon verbena tisane for at least a week.

I brew it just like tea in my tea pot. I strip the leaves from a couple of stems (though you can add the stem if you’d like), and add them to the tea basket. Then, heat your water to almost boiling, and pour over the leaves. Let sit a few minutes. The longer the leaves steep, the more flavorful the tisane will be. After a few minutes, you’ll likely become intoxicated by the scent and need to pour yourself a cup!