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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Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

A couple weeks ago I finally got the opportunity to try a spicy shrimp taco that I had read about in Saveur over 2 years ago.  The article was about a taco eating trip down highway 99 in California with stops mostly in agricultural areas with larger mexican populations.  I was busy with school and too far away from the restaurants at the time, but I love Mexican food so the article sat in the back of my mind, added onto the running list of food anecdotes and meal ideas I keep in a dark corner somewhere in there.  When I found myself in Fresno recently I somehow unearthed the article from the depths of my subconscious and hopped on Yelp to make sure they were still open.

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

The tacos.  Were.  Great.  There’s no shortage of delicious tacos in California, and especially not in Fresno, but these stood out as different than what I would usually get.  A flour tortilla holds rice, cheese, guacamole and shrimp bathed in a hot sauce.  They were so filling I could barely finish my second one, but I wanted more of those shrimp.  

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites
For my own adaptation I kept the best parts of the taco and ditched the rice and cheese.  These shrimp nacho bites are crunchy and loaded with freshly made guacamole and shrimp.  Avocados and shrimp can be what I call “quiet” flavors in their plain state, but with so many other fresh flavors and spices, the end product is super flavorful and the perfect combination of crunchy, creamy, fresh and spicy.

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 3 6” corn tortillas or 12 thick tortilla chips
  2. 12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  3. 1 t. garlic powder
  4. ¼ t. smoked paprika
  5. ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  6. ⅛ red onion
  7. 2 avocados
  8. ½ serrano pepper
  9. 2 T chopped cilantro
  10. 2-3 limes
  11. 2 ½ t. kosher salt, divided
  12. 12 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
  13. Salt
  14. Vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Begin heating ½” of vegetable or other neutral tasting oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Stack your tortillas and cut them into quarters. Check the heat by dipping a corner of the tortilla into the oil and if it begins bubbling rapidly the oil is ready. Add as many of the chips as can fit in the pan without any of them overlapping and cook, flipping occasionally until golden brown and bubbling has nearly subsided. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle immediately with salt. Continue to cook the rest of the chips in the same manner. If making ahead, allow to completely cool and then store in an airtight container.
  2. Chop the shrimp into bite sized pieces and combine in a bowl with the garlic, paprika, cayenne, 2 t. salt, and 1 t. oil. Slice the red onion thinly lengthwise and set aside. Cut 1 lime into wedges.
  3. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash slightly with a fork, adding ½ t. kosher salt. Dice the serrano pepper and add to the avocado along with the cilantro and the juice of 1 lime. Continue to mash the guacamole to the consistency you prefer, then taste to see if it needs more salt or lime juice and adjust as needed.
  4. Heat 2 T. vegetable oil over medium heat in a skillet large enough to hold all the shrimp in a single layer. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, until the shrimp has just turned pink. Remove from heat and begin assembling nachos. Add a dollop of guacamole on top of each chip, followed by a spoonful of shrimp a few slices of red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Garnish with an extra squeeze of lime juice from the wedges you cut earlier.
Notes
  1. While you can make some components of this dish ahead of time, they must be assembled right before serving to avoid sogginess. If you're making these for a party and want to make as much ahead of time as possible, I would suggest making the chips and chopping and marinating the shrimp 1-2 days ahead of time. The guacamole can be made in the morning and stored in a bowl in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed directly on top so that it doesn't have contact with any air.
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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Chile Lime Popcorn

Chile Lime Popcorn | Cravings & Crumbs

Congratulations, you made it to the weekend! If you’re absolutely nothing like me, maybe you went out yesterday for St. Patrick’s day and drank too much at a bar packed with too many people. I’m much older in my heart than my true age, so my idea of a good time is a relaxed cocktail hour with close friends or family, and of course good snacks. Read More

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Peruvian Chicken Wings with Green Sauce

Peruvian Chicken Wings | Cravings & Crumbs

The summer before our last year of college J and I took a summer study abroad trip to Argentina.  In between many choripanes and bondiolas from street vendors, we ate at some really good restaurants.  One that was recommended by our teacher was Chan Chan, a little peruvian restaurant in an alleyway that was supposed to be the best in the city.  Come to think of it, there were a few restaurants that he praised as being lo mas bueno, but Chan Chan really did deserve it.  We had never tried peruvian food before, but between the free cancha (a toasted corn snack) and bistec encebollado we fell in love with the cuisine.

Peruvian Chicken Wings | Cravings & Crumbs

One common peruvian dish that Chan Chan didn’t have was whole roasted or grilled chicken.  Maybe it was just my experience in Buenos Aires, but I only remember having chicken once or twice the whole month – restaurants had all beef and a little pork.  It wasn’t until a little peruvian restaurant opened up near our apartment last year that we discovered peruvian chicken and the cilantro jalapeño “green sauce” they served it with.  The chicken was flavored with paprika, cumin, and garlic, and was tender enough to pull apart into shreds to dip into the sauce that was cool and spicy. 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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