This week's Our Chef on a Shoestring, Scott Linquist of Dos Caminos, throws a special New Years Taco Fiesta on an entertaining budget of $80.
The menu includes mahi mahi tacos, steak tacos and crispy portobella tacos, along with plenty of garnishes and sides of rice and beans. For dessert? Chocolate tacos!
Linquist, born and reared in Los Angeles, has loved Mexican food since he was young. A graduate of the CIA, he has worked at Boulevard in San Francisco, and Lutece and Gotham in New York City. Eventually he returned to California to cook Mexican-influenced food at the Border Grill. He took a short break from the restaurant business to teach at the California School of Culinary Arts. But he says he realized that while he enjoyed teaching, he really missed working in a kitchen.
Steven Hanson tapped Linquist to open Dos Caminos in New York in 2002. The restaurant was so popular, a second location in the city was soon opened. Dos Caminos is part of the B.R. Guest Corporation which also runs Blue Fin, and Fiamma.
Here are Linquist's recipes:
Baja-Style Mahi Mahi Tacos
3 kirby cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into thin strips
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into thin strips
3 Roma tomatoes, cored and cut into thin strips
1 cup shredded white cabbage
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup purchased mayonnaise
1 canned chipotle in adobo
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1.5 pounds mahi mahi steaks , cut into four inch wide strips
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and mashed
12 corn or flour tortilla
1. Combine the cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes, cabbage, cilantro and chile in a non-reactive bowl. Blend the orange, grapefruit, and lime juices together and pour over the vegetables. Add the salt and toss to blend well. Set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Combine the mayonnaise, chipotle chile, and lime juice in the jar of an electric blender and purée until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
3. Preheat a gas or electric grill or turn the broiler on. Position the grill about 4 inches from the heat. Grill the mahi-mahi for 4 minutes on each side, turning once, or until just cooked through.
4. Quickly warm the tortillas on the grill and spread each one with a little of the mashed avocado. Place one piece of fish on each tortilla, garnish with a little of the cucumber-citrus relish, and drizzle each taco with a scant tablespoon of the chipotle mayonnaise. Fold the tortillas in half. Place two tacos on each plate and serve warm.
Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak
2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 6 serving pieces
1/4 cup toasted cumin seeds
4 jalapeno peppers stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 bunches cilantro leaves and stems
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
1. Lightly toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until their aroma is released. Place all ingredients except the cilantro into an electric blender and puree until smooth then add the cilantro and pulse until blended, it is important not to puree the cilantro too long - it will detract from the fresh flavor and dull the bright green color. Rub the meat generously with the marinade and refrigerate 24-48 hours.
2. Heat the grill so it is very hot and char the steaks until seared on both sides, 3-4 minutes each side, and let rest in a warm place for 5 minutes. Transfer the steaks to cutting board and slice across the grain, thinly into strips. Serve warm with frijoles borrachos and roasted tomato salsita or in the summer with fresh slices of tomato and Mexican corn on the cob.
Crispy Rellenos De Hongo (Tortilla-crusted Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms)
6 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and sliced in half to open like a sandwich.
2 poblano chiles, roasted, stem and seeds removed and peeled. Cut into strips.
4 ounces Chihuahua cheese, cut into 8 slices (cheddar or Monterrey Jack will work)
2 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups ground tortilla chips
2 cups vegetable oil for pan frying
1. Cut mushrooms so that they resemble a hamburger bun.
2. Place one slice of cheese and 2 or 3 strips of chile in between the two halves and sandwich together.
3. Dredge each stuffed mushroom in flour, then saturate with egg and then dredge with the ground tortilla chips. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Pan fry mushrooms for about 2 minutes on each side and let drain on paper towels.
4. Cut mushrooms into slices and serve in warm tortillas for tacos or serve them whole with salsa as an entrée.
1 cup maseca for tortillas (corn flour)
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
Tortilla press or a large book
Plastic wrap cut into circles
1. Mix all ingredients and knead until smooth. This mixture is called masa. Reserve ¼ of the water to adjust moisture as needed.
2. Roll masa into 1 ½ ounce balls, place between 2 layers of plastic and press with tortilla press. Cook on a Comal (iron griddle) for 1 minute and 20 seconds and turn over. Once it is flipped, tortilla should begin to puff. C cook for 1 minute, 20 seconds more. Keep warm and serve ASAP because they are best when fresh.
Mexican Red Rice
2 cups Uncle Bens converted rice
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 serrano chiles, cut in half lengthwise
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup salsa roja (recipe below)
1 cup water
2 table spoons salt
1. In a 4 quart sauce pan over medium heat add oil, onions, chilies and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add rice to toast the grains.
2. Add tomato paste and continue to sauté 2 more minutes. Add liquid and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce to very low heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes without stirring. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.
4 medium sized tomatoes, roasted
1 medium sized onion, roasted
4 cloves garlic, roasted
2 chipotle chilies (canned) Add more or less, as you like
2 chile de arbol, toasted in a dry hot skillet
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ bunch cilantro
pinch of dried Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise, cut onions in quarters, peel garlic and place all on a baking sheet and cook until brown and bubbling.
2. Toast chiles de arbol in a hot dry skillet until you can smell a toasty aroma. Be very careful not to burn.
3. Puree all ingredients in an electric blender until smooth and refrigerate for at least one hour prior to serving. Stir briskly before serving.
Black Bean And Chorizo Chili
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, skin removed and meat crumbled
1 medium onions, diced
1/8 cup garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin, toasted and ground
1/2 can chipotle in adobo, chopped
5 Tablespoons chile powder
2 plum tomatoes, roasted and chopped
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 can light beer, preferably Mexican (we use Tecate)
3 cups cooked black beans
1/2 quart water (or chicken stock)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
sliced scallions for garnish
1. Remove chorizo from its casings and crumble meat. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and brown chorizo, using a spoon to break up the meat. Drain fat and reserve.
2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, add vegetable oil, onions and garlic, cook until soft. Next add the chorizo, spices, chiles and chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Lastly, add the cooked black beans, the beer and the water or chicken stock, bring to simmer and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more salt as necessary.
Chocolate Tacos With Fresh Berry Salsita
Chocolate cookie shell
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound butter
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
8 egg whites
½ cup cocoa powder
1. In a mixer or with a whisk, cream together butter, sugar and flour. Then slowly pour in egg whites while constantly mixing. Then add cocoa powder and mix until smooth.
2. Refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 325
4. On a baking sheet covered with wax paper and coated with non-stick spray, spoon 1 ounce batter and spread into a circle using the back of the spoon. Repeat for as many as will fit on the sheet at one time. Bake at 325 for 7 minutes.
5. Remove pan from oven and while chocolate taco shells are still hot, place them over a round bar or dowel to form the shape of a taco and allow to cool. Remove them very carefully and reserve.
Mexican chocolate mousse
6 ounces semi sweet dark chocolate, cut into chunks
6 ounces Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra cut into chunks
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites beaten to soft peaks
3 cups heavy cream beaten to soft peaks
1. Over a double boiler, melt chocolate. Once melted, beat whole eggs yolks and whole eggs until smooth, and gently and slowly fold into chocolate over double boiler. (It is very important to add slowly and mix continuously).
2. Separately whisk egg whites and heavy cream to soft peaks. Then first gently fold in whipped egg whites to the chocolate mixture, and second gently fold in the whipped cream. Be very careful not to over mix. Cool rapidly.
3. Fill taco shells with chocolate mousse, and garnish with raspberries.