Ribeye Lettuce Wraps with Salsa Criolla

Ribeye Lettuce Wraps | Cravings & Crumbs

With all the summer fun I’ve been having this year I’ve missed a few more weeks of posting here than I’d like.  After two years of saving up my vacation days, I told myself to say yes to any opportunities that came my way and to follow through on promises to visit friends that I’ve been putting off for years.  A partially off-the-grid trip to the mountains in Lassen County, followed by a girls getaway weekend to Pismo Beach has left me feeling relaxed and fulfilled in life, but definitely left this blog by the wayside.  So, before I jet off to New York to visit one of my oldest friends tomorrow I leave you with these grilled ribeye lettuce wraps with salsa criolla.

Ribeye Lettuce Wraps | Cravings & Crumbs

This recipe is a sort of California spin on Argentinian favorites and is, in my humble opinion, a perfect balance between the two.  In college I got to spend a month in Bueno Aires on a summer study abroad and ate and drank my weight in choripanes, steaks, french fries, and red wine.  Typical Argentine food is definitely not light or delicate in any way, but boy is it good if you like meat and potatoes.  The french fries there are beyond comparison by the way, but that’s a topic for another post (psst..I think the secret is sunflower oil).

Ribeye Lettuce Wraps | Cravings & Crumbs

This recipe takes a ribeye, a fattier cut you might save for a special occasion, and not only lightens it up, but stretches it further so you don’t feel so guilty dropping $15 on a good quality one.  Grilling a good steak is the way to go and most of the restaurants in Buenos Aires cook their beef over wood charcoal, providing intense heat and char.  We’ll stick with our normal home grills for this one…

Ribeye Lettuce Wraps | Cravings & Crumbs

These lettuce wraps have two sauces that you can mix and match.  The first is salsa criolla, Argentina’s answer to pico de gallo, made with tomatoes, onions, red wine vinegar, and oregano.  We let it marinate so that the tomatoes soften and release their juices and all the flavors meld.  The second is a california version of chimichurri.  Any porteño would be appalled that I’ve added cilantro, but it brightens the flavor and is a damn good addition if I do say so myself.  If you haven’t noticed, I love cilantro and add it to nearly everything, but if you’re a cilantro hater just use all parsley or a combination of parsley and fresh oregano.  Bonus points if you pick up a fresh baguette to dip in the chimichurri.  It’s highly addictive and you’re going to want to put it on everything, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ribeye Lettuce Wraps | Cravings & Crumbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dog agrees…

Ribeye Lettuce Wraps with Salsa Criolla
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb ribeye steak
  2. Lettuce, washed and leaves separated
  3. Flake salt to garnish (optional)
Marinade
  1. ¼ c. soy sauce
  2. 3 T. olive oil
  3. Juice of ½ large lemon
  4. 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  5. 2 t. red pepper flakes
  6. 2 t. dried oregano
  7. 2 t. black pepper
  8. Splash of red wine (optional)
Chimichurri
  1. ½ c. parsley, stems removed and chopped
  2. ½ c. cilantro, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  4. ⅓ c. red wine vinegar
  5. ½ c. olive oil
  6. Red pepper flakes
  7. Kosher salt & pepper
Salsa Criolla
  1. 2 tomatoes
  2. 1 shallot
  3. 3 T. chimichurri
  4. 1 T. red wine vinegar
  5. ¼ t. dried oregano
  6. Kosher salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by making the marinade. Add the soy sauce, olive oil and lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Using a microplane, grate the garlic into the liquids. Add the red pepper flakes, oregano and black pepper. Add the steak to a large ziploc bag and pour the marinade over, smooshing to coat. Allow to marinate at room temperature while you’re making the sauces, or refrigerate up to a day.
  2. To make the chimichurri add the parsley, cilantro, garlic, vinegar and olive oil to a blender or food processor. Blend until herbs and garlic are minced, about 30 seconds. If you're having any trouble blending add more olive oil or vinegar at your discretion. Remove to a bowl, add the red pepper flakes and season liberally with salt & pepper.
  3. To make the salsa dice the tomatoes, mince the shallot, and add both to a bowl. Season with chimichurri, vinegar, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have released some of their juices.
  4. When you’re ready to make the steak, heat your grill to high (or light a chimney of charcoal briquettes). Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place the steaks on the grill and cook to medium rare - about 4 minutes on each side, or until the internal temp reaches 130°. Of course, if you like your steak more done, feel free to cook it to your liking!
  5. Remove steaks to a cutting board and let rest ~10 minutes. Slice thinly and serve with lettuce and both sauces.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

I have a thing for summer food.  What do I mean by “a thing”?  Well soups, stews, and roasts are great, but what I really want year round is to be able to eat something light, flavorful, and that hopefully was grilled outside.  This summer salad hits all the marks.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

This is no wimpy salad with greens so underdressed they choke you on the way down.  This is a crisp and filling salad that uses up the leftovers from your summer barbeque so well you’ll start making extra just so you can have it.  It has all the good parts of a salad – flavor, fresh veggies, croutons, and an awesome homemade dressing (!) and none of the bad.  For those that don’t like salads, this is how to make one you’ll actually enjoy eating!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

The dressing is made with roasted poblano peppers for a slightly smoky and spicy kick and blended with cilantro and garlic to keep with the southwestern/mexican flair.  It’s made creamy with a little mayo, but mostly greek yogurt to keep it on the healthier side.  Let me just tell you – this stuff is good.  The recipe makes more than you’ll need for one salad, but that’s a good thing.  If I leave this out I find myself dipping all sorts of things in it – tortilla chips, veggies, a piece of popcorn…seriously…

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

The second best part of this salad (besides the dressing) is that it’s chock full of contrasting flavors and textures.  Crisp lettuce, crunchy croutons, salty parmesan, sweet corn, sharp onion, tender chicken, and of course creamy avocado.  There’s nothing worse than eating an unsatisfying salad and so when I make one I put all the toppings.  And, you know, if you’re looking for a great homemade crouton recipe, I happen to have one right over here.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing
Serves 2
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For the dressing
  1. 2 medium poblano peppers
  2. Small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  3. 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  4. 1 green onion, roughly chopped
  5. ½ c. whole milk plain greek yogurt
  6. ¼ c. mayo
  7. 1 T. lime juice
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad
  1. Sturdy lettuce (romaine, red leaf, butter, etc.)
  2. 1 ear corn on the cob
  3. Leftover barbecue chicken
  4. Cherry tomatoes
  5. Red onion
  6. ½ avocado
  7. Parmesan or other salty cheese
  8. Croutons
Instructions
  1. If you have a gas stove turn your burner to high and balance the peppers right over the flames. Allow to roast, turning as needed, until the skins are almost completely blackened. If you don’t have a gas stove you can achieve the same effect by using your oven’s broiler. Remove to a plastic bag or covered bowl to allow to steam as they cool down.
  2. Once poblanos have been resting for about 15 minutes, remove to a cutting board. Remove as much of the charred skin as you can (if you’re having trouble use a paper towel to help you get better grip) as well as the seeds and stem. Roughly chop the peppers and add them to the base of a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Bring a shallow pan of water large enough to lay the corn in to a simmer. Remove husk and silk from corn and add to the pan. Simmer for about 2 minutes, flipping so all sides get cooked. Remove and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Shred or slice chicken, halve cherry tomatoes, cube avocado, and use a vegetable peeler to shave strips of parmesan. Halve red onion through the end, then cut thin slices crosswise. Slice kernels off of corn cob.
  5. Assemble the salad using as much of each ingredients as you like and toss with the dressing.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Fig and Arugula Grilled Cheese

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

I was recently perusing the online menus of restaurants near my work, trying to quiet my hunger, when something jumped out at me – “best ever slow-cooked grilled cheese”.  Ummm, what?  What in the world is a slow cooked grilled cheese, how does it differ from how I normally make grilled cheese, and why had nobody ever told me about this?

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

According to my research, all that makes it a “slow-cooked” grilled cheese is that it takes 15 minutes to come to the table.  Generally when I make grilled cheese at home I take about 10 to 12 minutes, so really no revelation there. They use three cheeses (and a lot of them), including one called “dry jack”.  Back to feeling out of the loop.  Apparently dry jack was created in the 50’s, before the proliferation of modern refrigeration, as an alternative to monterey jack that could stand to be left out in the summer.  It has a texture like parmesan and a sweet flavor.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

They also include a seasonal fruit mostarda on the sandwich, which intrigued me.  I haven’t ever been one to really love fruit condiments on savory food, but ever since I tried the duck and pork belly sausage from SF Cajun Co. that they serve with fig preserves and whole grain mustard I haven’t been able to get that combo out of the back of my mind.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

All of this is just a long winded way of explaining how I got to this delicious grilled cheese sandwich.  Using fresh levain bread, we spread some fig butter on one side and whole grain mustard on the other.  We’re using syrah-soaked toscano and a gouda/parmesan blend as the cheese here and adding a layer of arugula to the middle, which will wilt as we cook the sandwich.  In a cast iron skillet (for even heat distribution) we grill the sandwich over medium-low heat, hopefully getting about 7 minutes per side without burning.  Cut it diagonally and you have perfection.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

What we end up with isn’t the “best ever” grilled cheese – that’s far too subjective – but I’ll be damned if it isn’t in the top 3.  The bread has a perfectly buttery and crunchy exterior.  Inside, the cheeses are salty and gooey with a nutty flavor profile which pairs perfectly with the deep flavor of the fig butter and sharpness of the mustard.  I preferred mine with an extra dollop of mustard on the side to pick up the flavor a bit more.

Fig Arugula Grilled Cheese | Cravings & Crumbs

Fig and Arugula Grilled Cheese
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Ingredients
  1. Butter, room temperature
  2. Good bread, such as pain au levain
  3. Fig butter or preserves
  4. Whole grain mustard
  5. Toscano cheese
  6. Gouda/parmesan blend cheese, or both separately
  7. Baby arugula
Instructions
  1. Slice your bread and grate the cheese. You want to grate enough to have an even proportion of each type.
  2. Preheat a heavy cast iron pan over medium heat. We don’t want it too hot since we want to grill the sandwich slowly to get it evenly browned all across.
  3. Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Then smear a layer of mustard on one of the insides and a layer of fig butter on the other inside.
  4. Put one slice of bread in the pan, butter side down. Sprinkle half the cheese over the bread, then add a handful of arugula and then sprinkle the other half of the cheese and top with the other slice of bread, butter side up. Cook the sandwich for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown, turning down the heat if it seems to be cooking too fast. Flip and toast the other side until golden brown.
Notes
  1. Feel free to use any combination of cheese that you like. Just be sure that there's one that will melt well to hold it all together.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Sambal Chicken Skewers

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

These sambal chicken skewers are somewhat of a triple threat – spicy, sweet, and satisfying.  Yeah, I know I’m corny, but it’s true!  These skewers were originally published in Bon Appétit in 2013 and they’ve become a favorite of tons of people for good reason!  The marinade is salty, spicy, sweet, and complex, and better yet it takes less than 10 minutes to put together.  That’s what I love about cooking asian cuisines – many of them rely on condiments that are often fermented or a mix of many different ingredients so that you can get deep, layered flavors with nearly instant gratification.

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

It was sunny here in the Bay Area last weekend with temperatures in the 70s, which had me itching to grill something.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in my parent’s backyard recently, reading in a lounge chair that sits near our barbeque, and the grill has been calling out to me, begging me to come up with something good.  

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

Obviously, I set my sights on these babies, and they were just as good as I imagined.  These skewers have a classic thai flavor profile – fish sauce, garlic and chiles, with brown sugar to add to the caramelization and acids to help with tenderization.  Many commenters noted that the recipe as originally written is spicy and they weren’t kidding.  Eaten without extra basting these probably wouldn’t be too hot, but I wanted a good layer of the sauce basted on as I grilled them and by the end of skewer #1 my mouth was on fire!  I’ve adjusted the recipe to make the sriracha optional.  You’ve been warned…

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & CrumbsI chose to serve these with rice, cilantro, thai basil, and lettuce to create a lettuce wrap situation, but these would be equally great just in a rice bowl with some sort of pickled vegetable to brighten everything up.  I also grilled some pineapple spears alongside the skewers as a sweet and juicy accompaniment to tame the fiery chicken.  If you’ve never tried grilled pineapple before please give it a go!  It’s surprisingly delicious!

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

Sambal Chicken Skewers
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Chicken
  1. ½ c. brown sugar
  2. ¼ c. unseasoned rice vinegar
  3. ¼ c. lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  4. ⅓ c. sambal oelek
  5. 2 ½ T. fish sauce
  6. 2 t. finely grated ginger
  7. 2 large garlic cloves, grated, pressed, or minced
  8. 2 T. sriracha (optional)
  9. 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  10. 1-2 bunches green/spring onions
Optional Accompaniments
  1. Rice
  2. Herbs such as thai basil and cilantro
  3. 1 pineapple, rind removed and cut into spears
  4. Small head of lettuce such as bibb, gem, or romaine
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients (brown sugar to sriracha) in a bowl to create marinade. Chop chicken into pieces about 1” in size and mix with marinade. Refrigerate for 30 mins or overnight.
  2. At least 2 hours before you’re ready to grill soak wooden skewers in water to prevent burning as you cook the skewers.
  3. To assemble skewers, first chop green onions into 1” chunks, white parts only. Then thread chicken pieces onto the skewer, alternating with onion pieces. Set aside in a tray, covered in saran wrap, until ready to grill.
  4. Add leftover marinade to a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced by about half.
  5. Cook skewers and pineapple over medium-high heat on the grill for about 10 minutes, turning and basting the chicken with the reserved sauce throughout.
Notes
  1. If you’re worried about using the leftover marinade as a sauce, just reserve half the marinade in the beginning, or make double.
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

It’s Thursday which means you’ve made it over the hump and are sailing towards the weekend.  It also means you’re still two days away from leisurely cooking and cocktail hours – enter this ridiculously fast, cheap, vegetarian dinner to sustain you until you reach weekend indulgence.

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

These tostadas are simple, but still so satisfying.  They start with shallow fried corn tortillas (you can bake them if you prefer, they’ll just be a little bit drier), then you top them with refried black beans, a cilantro and lime slaw, cotija cheese, and a chipotle crema.  They are all at once crunchy, creamy, salty, refreshing, and satisfying.  Trust me – they seem basic, but you’re going to love them.

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

Here I’ve used the smaller street taco size tortillas to make them more of a snack meal.  I have a thing about that – making my food amusing to me.  I’m entertained by anything that has a dip or topping or is otherwise interactive, and snack dinners check a lot of those boxes.  You’ve got to keep life interesting somehow!

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

The other great thing about these tostadas, besides how delicious they are, is how economical they are to make.  I usually cook my black beans from scratch on the weekend or after work for the next day.  With black beans there’s no need to soak them, in fact you end up with a thicker and richer bean broth if you don’t.  You don’t have to cook them from scratch, but if you do they are literally cents on the dollar and have so much more flavor.  Other than that, tortillas, cabbage, the tiniest sprinkling of cotija and the greek yogurt “crema” are all so cheap you could probably feed 10 people for a dollar each.  Just goes to show good food doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy.

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema

All ingredients below are approximate, as this recipe is easily scaled up or down, depending on how many you’re feeding.  This recipe is also just a canvas – you can add any number of other toppings, including meat – may I suggest a chopped achiote chicken breast?

Black Bean Tostadas with Chipotle Crema
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Ingredients
  1. 5-6 small corn tortillas
  2. 2 cups homemade or 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  3. Pinch of ground cumin
  4. 3 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
  5. 2-3 limes
  6. Small handful of cilantro
  7. Cotija cheese
For the chipotle crema
  1. ¾ cup plain greek yogurt
  2. 1 garlic clove, sliced
  3. 1-2 chipotle in adobo
  4. Juice of ½ lime
Instructions
  1. First, make the crema. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined. Feel free to add a tablespoon or so of water to get the blender running, if needed. Making the crema first allows all the flavors to meld as we do the rest of the cooking.
  2. Add the shredded cabbage to a bowl and top with a small drizzle of oil, a pinch of salt, and the juice from about 2 limes - give it a taste to know how many. Chop the cilantro and toss with the slaw.
  3. Next, add a tablespoon of oil to a small frying pan or saucepan over medium heat. Add the beans (with liquid), a pinch of ground cumin, and a big pinch of salt and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. You want the beans to be heated first to get a smooth mash.
  4. Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash the bean until they are as smooth or chunky as you want them. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn heat to low and allow to continue cooking, adding more water if they start to get dry.
  5. Heat a small amount of neutral oil (about ¼ cup) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the tortillas until crispy, flipping halfway through. You’ll know they’re done when the oil has all but stopped bubbling around them. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat until all the tortillas are fried.
  6. Finally, assemble! Spread a few spoonfuls of refried beans on a tortilla, add some slaw, crema, crumbled cotija, and a squeeze of lime.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado

On paper Peruvian cuisine is confusing.  The Incas cultivated potatoes, quinoa, and dried beef (yes, beef jerky); the Spanish brought olives and rice; Africans made frying foods more popular;  Chinese immigrants brought soy sauce, ginger, and stir-frying methods; Italians brought pasta…the list goes on.  What you end up with are dishes like aji de gallina (a creamy chicken stew made with walnuts, hard boiled eggs and black olives), tallarines verde (spaghetti with a pesto sauce made with basil, spinach, and queso fresco) with a side of pollo saltado (a chinese chicken stir fry dish), and of course Lomo Saltado, a beef stir fry with french fries mixed in.

Lomo Saltado

Like I said, these dishes don’t sound cohesive, but there’s just something about Peruvian food, that however strange the dishes sound on the menu, once you take the first bite you’re blown away.  Somehow the flavors just work together, as if you took your favorite elements from each cuisine and mashed them up into something amazing.   Read More

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Chile Braised Pork Tacos with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

Chile Braised Pork Tacos | Cravings & Crumbs

It’s been fairly cold and rainy here in the Bay Area recently, which is exciting after years of predictions of el niño with barely a drop to show for it.  But with all this wet weather, I’ve been wanting dinners that are comforting, rich, and full of flavor.  These chile braised pork tacos hit the spot perfectly last friday.  Armed with my pressure cooker and a few hours before a starving boyfriend barged through the front door i attempted to recreate a recipe I had found years ago on the internet that has since been removed.  A few different types of chiles, onion and garlic, and some country style ribs from the freezer and an hour or so later I had an incredibly tender, full flavored taco filling.

Chile Braised Pork Tacos | Cravings & Crumbs

The trio of chiles do most of the work here, flavor-wise.  The chipotles are smokey and spicy, the anchos have a deep, complex sweetness, and the guajillos bring color, body  and a brighter sweetness.  Once the pork is shredded the sauce clings to every morsel, keeping the meat super juicy.  Yes, you definitely want to eat these tacos over a plate.  To add freshness I topped them with an avocado tomatillo salsa and a bit of shredded cabbage for crunch.  Everything in the salsa is raw, keeping the flavor very light.  Just chop the ingredients, dump them in a blender, and they’re good to go. Read More

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Spiced Pita Burgers with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Spiced Pita Burgers

Ah, finally, something on this blog that can actually be called dinner…

These pita burgers are absolutely delicious and a perfectly unambitious weeknight dinner with flavor that will make people think you worked hard.  With essentially 4 steps (mix the meat, mix the sauce, stuff the pitas, and cook) you can pull this one off in about 40 minutes or less if you play your cards right. The best part, though?  You can make these ahead through any step and save them for later.  You can mix the meat and/or the sauce the night before and stuff and cook when you get home from work the next day.  These even reheat really well in the toaster oven so you could make the whole recipe ahead and heat them up later. Read More

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