Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tucking into Taquitos

Myamii's Taste and Create event pairs up participating food bloggers randomly and they get to taste-test one recipe from each other's blog. This month, I was paired up with a blog that bears the intriguing name of Peanut Butter Etoufee. PBE is written by three gals who say that, "food is the axis on which our family turns"- now that is something I can certainly relate to.

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

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(adapted from Peanut Butter Etoufee, makes 1-2 cups)
Ingredients:
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
Other ingredients
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 fresh green chilli, diced
½ packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Method:
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.

Taquitos

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(adapted from this CL recipe)
Ingredients:
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
Other ingredients
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

Method:
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.
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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!
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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!

43 comments:

  1. those cupcakes look so yummy!

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  2. Boy Nupur, you really pack a lot into one post!! Everything looks delicious and I think I've found a way to try cooking with avocado :) I love the tanginess of tomatillos and have been curious to try taquitos (I've noticed them many times in the frozen food case). Your cupcakes are beautiful and that frosting sounds incredible. I followed the link to the frosting recipe and discovered Bee and Jai's beautiful blog... between your recipes and links you're keeping me very busy!

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  3. I recently had a tomatillo salsa and thought it was a nice twist... Now the addition of avocado can only make it better! Looks delicious Nupur...

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  4. everything looks delish... when I took the cupcakes for the kids from the NGO, S was hoping he'd get to taste at least one... I know the feeling. Yours look beautiful!

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  5. Those are really cute. Don't get the real stuff here, so no tacos. Only, tortillas :D err...roti.
    Where you off to for your vacation? Not these shores?!

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  6. The cupcakes look so good and even more delicious in the close up pic! You always have such good ideas, and your cupcakes are for such a good cause. Oh Nupur why did you have to stay so far away? This gives me a great idea for the bake sale in my son's kindergarten event. Thanks!!

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  7. Nupur, those taquitos are going to get the kids in a tizzy well I am sure the adults too, looks delicious. And those cup cakes well they will vanish in a jiffy.

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  8. One thing which I have been trying to make for a long time now but not gotten down to do it was anything with tomatillos yet! This recipe is perfect for me to start off the plethora of recipes with this ingredient.

    This is such a simple and interesting recipe. I am luving it already. Thanks a bunch for sending it across :)

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  9. YUMMY! Taquitos look DELISH! and i am all for tomatillo salsa. And avacados sure have added such a creamy texture to it! Btw, the blue corn tortillas are a gorgeous touch :)

    And look at those cupcakes!! Perfect weekend treat!

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  10. I've got a lot of experimenting to do with tomatillos...I've always been intrigued, but never just picked up a few and made something...I will now...thanks!

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  11. I love tomatillo salsa, though I've never tried it warm -- so that's something new to me.

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  12. Sounds a lot like your famous salsa verde :). Your taquitos are in top of my list.

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  13. Nupur thanks for doing the taquitos.....and so glad you liked this method. Moon, my sister, was the brilliance behind this method. And yes adding avacado to tomatillos make it extra special. We love making this dish. Once again thanks!!!

    We are trying one of your taste treats look for it in a couple a days......Doodles from PBE

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  14. Nupur, that platter sure looks splendid n tasteful wt lovely colors! I m more inclined towards the lovely cupcakes- tks for- 1. sharing idea of muffins w/o tray!time saver,24 at one go! 2.Powdered buttermilk! my GK has increased,never knew it existed, 3. loved ur chocolatey cc!they hv me drooling! Love to sweet Dale!

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  15. Nags, thanks!

    Cathy, LOL you have to try avocados, Cathy! If you are anything like me, you will be hooked :)
    I'm betting that the taquitos in the frozen food case are deep-fried and quite calorie-heavy; these bakes ones are easy to make and just as crispy!
    If I had marzipan turtles on my cupcakes, I bet they would have been sold out :D

    Sig, this salsa verde (with tomatillos) has been a favorite in my home. The addition of avocado makes it creamy and even more delicious!

    Raaga, thanks :) they tasted better than they looked!

    Anita, corn tortillas might be easy to make with "makka" flour...I should experiment with it. Rotis would make great taquitos as well, I am sure.
    No vacation for me; the reason I need a blog break is because I have very busy times ahead (the exact opposite of a vacation...sigh)!

    Namita, the cupcakes are wonderfully chocolatey- for kids, you might want to use milk chocolate in the frosting (I used bittersweet), perhaps, to make it more kid-friendly. I'm sorry you live far way :( but you know you can come and visit me anytime! :)

    Indosungod, you are so right- the taquitos would be extremely popular with kids, being crispy and portable. And you could sneak in just about anything into the filling :D

    DK, ah, I have a feeling you will enjoy cooking with tomatillos. They are mouth-puckeringly tangy so they make for such flavorful salsas. Thanks for hosting, and in May, I might have a couple more entries for you...

    Musical, the avocado did add such a great creamy texture to the salsa...very unusual to me! I have a fondness for blue corn tortillas and tortilla chips, probably because it is fun to eat blue food :D

    Laura, I have to confess I have yet to make anything with tomatillos other than variations of salsas! But they are wonderful to cook with; give them a try :)

    Lydia, when I first served this salsa, it was warm but later I served it with chips right out of the fridge too...and either works. But it is unusual for sure :)

    Suganya, you are right- it is a variation of my favorite salsa verde - from *Molly Katzen* :) But the avocado gives it a different spin. You will love these taquitos, I think.

    Doodles, oh, Moon is brilliant for being able to replicate that coveted food-stand taste! Reading her posts, I wished I could be in LA right that minute :D
    I hope you enjoy whatever you make from this blog!

    Purnima, thanks :) powdered buttermilk is a concept much like powdered milk- a way to keep it shelf-stable so a little can be used at a time.

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  16. Hi Nupur, I was thinking about taquitos after watching Guy Fieri make Chicken taquitos, but wasnt sure how to vegetarianize it. Thanks for the recipe. They look like purple cigars and I love veggie ground round.. Will definitely try them soon. Great looking cupcakes. Have a great week ahead.

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  17. Thanks for the recipe of Taquitos! I agree Taquitos sounds very cute… you know my little niece and nephew have named their doggy Taquito (they call in “to-ki-to” in Marathi :-)

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  18. fantastic salsa. i'd love to try it. nupur, try this frosting next time too - jai's creation. equal parts mascarpone cheese and melted dark chocolate. add some powdered sugar if you want it sweeter. it's smooth, creamy and sets well.

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  19. What a cute happy miniature lunch ;-) Lil cupcakes and small taquitos....
    Nupur, I am hosting a new fun event dedicated to appreciation of other bloggers. I would love to see you signing up for the challenge as a laboratory rat.

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  20. The combination of blue tortillas and green salsa looks beautiful! I like the baked version in your recipe also as opposed to fried taquitos.

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  21. Cooks, they do look like big fat cigars! But unlike cigars, they won't kill you ;)
    The ground round tastes great in this recipe, but to tell you the truth, I think you could vegetarianize it with just about anything- perhaps a bean and cheese filling, or sauteed peppers and zucchini. You have a great week too!

    Sharvari, Taquito (or tokito!) is such a cute name for a doggy :)

    Bee, mmm...the chocolate mascarpone cheese frosting sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing it- I will try it next time I make these.

    Zlamushka, oh, the taquitos and cupcakes were both quite normal-sized :)
    Your event sounds like fun and I will participate for sure!

    Lisa, this baked version was so light yet crispy and fun to eat- I was delighted to get these results without the mess, oily fumes and calories of deep-frying.

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  22. Nupur, what I like so much about your blog is that I always find something different every time! Indian to Mexican to Baking...You are very versatile and that is the sign of a great cook!

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  23. Hey Nupur, I just love visiting your blog every day and this has prompted me to start my own blog....indian-flavours.blogspot.com.

    Do visit my site....and post ur comments...will really appreciate

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  24. Lovely cupcakes Nupur......they are one of my several weaknesses..especially chocolate.

    The taquitos with the sauce is something new to me. Looks very colorful and delicious.

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  25. Beautiful taquitos!! You are so making me hungry with this post! Cupcakes look awesome, too. :)

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  26. Taquitos look amazing with that sauce, and the cup cakes look yummy....hope your break is not a long one

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  27. Dear Nupur, Quite a range of activities covered in one post...now who can resist trying out a salsa which has the promise of being the yummiest...thank you for the recipe. I really enjoy visiting your blog and seeing your alphabetical culinary adventures.

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  28. Love taquitos. Those cupcakes look yum, you would have run out of them if we were there at the bake sale

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  29. Hi Nupur
    I have been following your blog for a while now and can only say: "thanks, and keep up the good work".
    But today I have a questions about something else. I remember reading that you have a prestige handi cooker. My mother in law got the same one for me last week, and I am trying to use it. However, it takes a long time to build pressre and give a whistle. The resettable yellow plastic valve assembly keeps on leaking steam. After a while I opened the cooker to see that most of the water had evaporated and some of my dal was sticking to the bottom! Am I doing something wrong? Has this happened with you too?

    Thanks
    Chinmay

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  30. Those look so good!! And I must, must try the tomatillo salsa YUMMMM!!
    Those cupcakes look soooooo good!!! Oooh!!!!

    How is Dale? And if u are on a holiday... HAVE FUUUUUUUN!!!!

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  31. Hi Nupur, my goodness after my own heart with avocado in salsa... yum!! Taquitos look really delicious and I love the idea of using soy, and baking them.

    Cupcakes without tins... do share that secret when you get a minute free! Hope the break is for pleasure -- see you soon :)

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  32. Jamie, oh, I am the jack of all recipes and the master of none ;) It really is fun trying all kinds of different things and keeping mealtimes interesting!

    Ruchi, Good luck! Wishing you the best with your new blog.

    Priyanka, I don't have a sweet tooth really, but I think chocolate cupcakes are a bit of a weakness with me too! The taquitos and sauce make for a really fun meal :)

    Kalai, thanks :) glad you like the meal and the dessert!

    Bhags, no, I'll be back in early May and look forward to "cooking a book" for you.

    Pritya, Thank you for stopping by! I look forward to reading more of your brand new blog :)

    Sandeepa, LOL next time, I will make sure to invite you to the bake sale ;)

    Chinmay, you might have a faulty valve that needs replacing. I have never encountered such problems with my handi cooker.

    Manasi, hope all is well with you, girl. Try the salsa for sure, and step away from the cupcakes :D no holiday, just busy at work.

    Linda, how are you doing? Cupcakes without tins is no secret...some cupcake liners are designed for being used without muffin tins. I found these foil baking cups that said on the package that they can be placed directly on the baking sheet. And it worked very well indeed.
    The break is for a busy time at work :D but I'll be back next week!

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  33. Wow - a full range of flavors, from fiery to sweet! Every taste sensation. Those cupcakes look irresistable!

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  34. Such a great idea to toast the taquitos instead of frying them!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    I LOVE your blog:)

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  35. Yum, glad I followed the link to your blog...everything looks awesome!

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  36. hey there.... i have something waiting for u in my blog.... check it out

    http://chutkibharpyar.blogspot.com/2008/04/kudos-to-me-showing-off-my-first-award.html

    enjoy! have a nice day

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  37. Everything looks delicious!!!!!!!!

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  38. Way to go Nupur, you are an adventurous cook. Love those cupcakes. I am taking part in the Race for Life to raise money for Cancer Research here in UK

    BTW would you like to come over to celebrate the Sandwich festival at my blog?

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  39. Nupur, if you would, please stop by my blog, Flavor Pantry. I have left something for you there.

    http://flavorpantry.blogspot.com/

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  40. the cupcakes look gorgeous and for a good cause too, great job Nupur!

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  41. hey nice blog,and yummy cupcakes too!!Recently i started my food blog,would love to see u ther and get ur comments.

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  42. Little late on my comment but thanks for trying this recipe. You did a great job and the pix are wonderful. I love when someone can adapt the recipes to fit their tastes.

    Thanks

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  43. Holy guacamole, indeed! This whole taquito thing really takes me back; I grew up in CA, and I adored taquitos. We used to have a stand near us that sold them. It's funny that I'm seeing this right now, because I'd been thinking lately about trying to make some, but I had no idea about the sauce; must try the version on that blog you referenced. It sounds just as I remember the sauce to have been. I could never figure out how they got an avocado sauce that thin.

    And—not being as pure as you are, I will be deep-frying my taquitos! :)

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