NEWPORT BEACH, March, 2012 — SOL Cocina Chef Deborah Schneider shares recipes for two of her meatless dishes. A frequent visitor to Baja, she found inspiration for these in the farmers’ markets and small street stands.
Mushrooms con queso
This is a vegetarian version of a popular SOL Cocina appetizer, featuring exotic mushrooms sautéed with epazote and baked with 3 kinds of Mexican cheeses, green onions and serrano chiles.
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced shallot or scallion bulbs
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound flavorful mushrooms such as crimini, oyster, shiitakes, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon epazote leaves, minced
1 cup shredded Menonito, Chihuahua or jack cheese
1 cup shredded oaxaca cheese
1/4 cup green onion tops, sliced
1 large serrano chile, thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated cotixa cheese
Warm corn tortillas
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a 10-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
- Add the mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high. Season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir the mushrooms until they begin to give off their moisture. Increase heat , stir in the epazote and cook, stirring constantly, until all the moisture is driven off – about 2 minutes.
- Combine the menonito and oaxaca cheese and spread evenly in an 11-inch oval cast-iron fajita dish, 9-inch baking dish or 9-inch cast-iron frying pan. Scatter the mushrooms, green onions and serranos over the top. Sprinkle with the cotixa cheese and bake, uncovered, until bubble and beginning to brown slightly around the edges. Give everyone a spoon and serve hot from the baking dish with warm corn tortillas.
Veggie tacos recipe—mushroom, rajas, and corn taco with queso fresco
This recipe is from Amor y Tacos by Chef Deborah Schneider.
The earliest Mexican cuisine was vegetable-based, so in times past, before Spanish beef, chicken, and pork worked their way into every taco, there were no doubt plenty of satisfying vegetable taco recipes. Today most vegetables are consumed as salsas, in soups, or stuffed into quesadillas and empanadas, but there’s no reason why a vegetable taco shouldn’t be every bit as tasty and unusual as any other. This sumptuous vegetarian feast is based on the classic combination of roasted poblano chiles and mushrooms, with the addition of corn and mild-flavored, soft queso fresco. This taco is often favored by even the most committed carnivores. In other seasons, bits of diced cooked sweet potato, zucchini, chayote, squash blos- soms, or golden winter squash would be welcome additions.
Fresh epazote, used as a flavoring in this taco, has a minty-oregano taste and is often available at Mexican markets. (It is also hardy and easy to grow.) Fresh or dried mint or Mexican oregano may be substituted, but do not substitute dried epazote.
Mushroom, rajas, and corn tacos with queso fresco
(Makes 6 large tacos)
Rajas means ‘rags’ in Spanish, an offhand name for such a delicious preparation. Rajas are good with everything, even by themselves on warm, corn tortillas with a sprinkling of cotixa cheese. Use dark-green, shiny poblano chiles, which are loaded with vitamins as well as deep, rich taste. Mild, pale-green Anaheim chiles may be substituted, but they don’t have quite the same flavor.
2 poblano or Anaheim chiles
Char the chiles over a gas flame or on a very hot grill until blackened. While still hot, wrap in paper towels to steam and cool. Remove the stem and seeds and rub off all the blackened skin and clinging seeds with the edge of a spoon, or the paper towels. (don’t wash them- much of the flavor goes down the drain.) Don’t worry if a little skin remains. Dice into 1/2 inch cubes.
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
11⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 white onion, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
6 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
6 fresh epazote leaves, chopped (about 1 tablespoon, optional)
Fresh-ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup queso fresco, cut into small cubes
6 warm corn tortillas Salsa quemada (page 129) 1⁄4 cup grated cotixa or añejo cheese
- Heat a heavy pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until very hot.
- In a bowl, toss the corn with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Spread the corn in the hot pan and let it blacken slightly, without stirring, for 30 sec- onds. Have a lid ready in case the kernels begin to pop. Remove the roasted corn from the pan.
- In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and diced chiles and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown. Season lightly with salt and remove from the pan.
- Reduce the heat and add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the corn and chiles to the pan and stir to reheat.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the epazote, if using, black pepper, and queso fresco.
- To assemble the tacos, spoon some vegetables onto a tortilla. Top with a generous tablespoon of salsa and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cotixa cheese over all. Top with a cilantro sprig.
SALSA QUEMADA (Roasted Tomato Salsa)
A terrific all-purpose salsa. If you like, add 1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles to the blender for a smoky flavor.
4 roma tomatoes
1 clove garlic, in the skin
1 large serrano chile, whole
1/4 small white onion, peeled and diced
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Line a heavy frying pan (preferably cast iron) with a piece of foil and set over medium-high heat. Roast the tomatoes, serrano chile and garlic until blackened and soft. Peel the garlic and stem the chile. Place in a blender or food processor along with the tomatoes, onion, cilantro and salt. Pulse until smooth. Taste and add more salt if necessary
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