Monday, April 23, 2007

La Verdad Joins "Dice-Kay" as Newcomer to Fenway

Pictured above: Chile Relleno Tacos - roasted poblano peppers with Monterey Jack cheese, batter fried. Muy bueno! Pictured below: Passion Fruit Margarita. Tart and tasty!

Inside Fenway Park, the buzz might be all about Daisuke, the Red Sox's hot new pitcher. But outside on Landsdowne Street, everyone will soon be talking about the tasty tacos at La Verdad. There are 10 mouth watering open-faced options to choose from, at a mere $2.50 each! Flavor combinations range from Carne Asada (grilled skirt steak, carmelized onions, guacamole and salsa ranchero) to Pescado (Encenita style fried fish with avocado purée, marinated cabbage, crema, salsa cruso and chipotle mayonesa), my personal favorite. You can sit down in the restaurant and have a nice cold Mango or Passion Fruit Frozen Margarita with your dinner or walk up to the taqueria take-out window and get your order to go.

There are a couple items that must be mentioned aside from the tacos - the creamy Guacamole and super crunchy Tortilla chips and the Maiz Asado - grilled corn, mayonesa, cotija cheese and chile spice. It's the most delicious corn on the cob you will ever have - unless you've been to Toro, one of co-owner Ken Oringer's other restaurants in the South End. It's on the menu there as well although intended for this Mexican "street food" restaurant he and partner, Michael Ginor, have been dreaming of opening for years. Ken Oringer is known for his upscale, award-winning culinary creations at Clio while Michael is the owner of Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Both have been involved in the high-end food scene for many years, however they love street food and wanted to try something different. And we're thankful. Their passion shines through in the food. And the reasonable prices make great food accessible for any budget. You can easily fill up for less than $25. 3 tacos, corn and a drink will do you just fine. Let's hope Daisuke does as well as La Verdad this season.

La Verdad
1 Landsdown Street, Boston

Monday, April 02, 2007

Turkey Meatloaf & Twice Baked Potatoes

Okay, spring is upon us but there's still a little chill in the air. Or at least that's my excuse to squeeze in one more comfort food dinner before it really starts warming up along with my menus. This Turkey Meatloaf recipe is actually healthy but the Twice Baked Potatoes, well, not so much. But they're pretty fabulous and worth the calories in my opinion.

I've been perfecting this turkey meatloaf for years and I think I have it where I want it. What makes it special is the pine nuts, the raisins and spices. Really unique and smells amazing. The Twice Baked Potatoes is another stellar recipe from Bea. Thanks Mom! It is killer and can be made several hours ahead and warmed up when the meatloaf is finishing up.

Turkey Meatloaf with Pine Nuts and Raisins

For meatloaf mixture:
• Canola oil to oil the pan lightly
• 1 lb ground turkey
• 1 medium onion, grated or finely chopped
• 1 cup applesauce
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs (start with 1/2 cup; if mixture too wet, add a bit more in)
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 3 tbsp raisins, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained
• 2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted on the stove in olive oil
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
• Pinch of ground nutmeg
• Pince of ground allspice
• 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For meatloaf topping (optional but HIGHLY recommended):
• 1 cup ground peeled canned tomatoes
• 2 tbsp brown sugar
• 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Oil a loaf pan (8.5 x 4.5 or around that size)

How to:
For the meatloaf topping:
If you want to make the optional topping above (I think it adds a nice zip to the dish), do that first. Takes just a minute or so.
- In a saucepan, combine the tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and Dijon mustard. Heat the mixture over medium heat just until the brown sugar dissolves (couple minutes). Set it aside to cool.

For the meatloaf:
- In a bowl, combine the ground turkey, onion, apple sauce, bread crumbs, egg, raisins, pine nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, thyme, salt and pepper.

Assemble the meatloaf:
- In a lightly oiled loaf pan, place and press the meatloaf into the pan so it's even
- Top with the meatloaf topping

Bake for 50 - 55 minutes or until the juices are bubbling at the edges and the top is brown.
NOTE: if you're making the Twice Baked Potatoes and made them earlier in the day, place them in the oven about 30-35 minutes into baking the meatloaf. If the Potatoes were just made, you'll just need to reheat them about 15 minutes.

Twice Baked Potatoes recipe

- 4-6 baking potatoes (make sure you get potatoes with a substantial skin - not Yukon Golds - because you will need to scoop out the insides and put the mixed potatoes back in)
- 3 oz cream cheese
- 1/4 cup milk (you may need a little more but start here and add if the mixture is not creamy enough)
- 1/3 cup of butter (again, you might need a bit more but start here and add more if needed)
- 4-6 cloves of roasted garlic (optional)
- Paprika for spinkling on top of potatoes (optional)
- Chopped chives for garnish - about 1/2 tsp per potato (optional)

How to:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Pierce potatoes a few times on top with a fork so they don't explode when they're baking.
2. Bake potatoes for 50 - 60 minutes depending on their size
3. Put the garlic in the oven to roast 25 minutes before the potatoes are done. (Simply chop off the top of a head of garlic, rub olive oil in it, wrap in tin foil and throw in the oven).
3. Remove the baked potatoes from the oven and cut down the middle of each potato without cutting all the way through - just enough to squeeze it open so you can scoop the potato insides out.
4. Put the potato "guts" in a bowl and add the butter, cream cheese, milk, salt & pepper. Mix at high speed with a blender until the mixture is nice and smooth.
5. Spoon the potato mixture back into each of the potato skins. I find it helpful to anchor the potato skins by putting tin foil around each one.
6. Spinkle paprika and chives on top of each potato.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes (or if you made them earlier in the day, bake them another 15 minutes or so).

Not many meals more comforting than this one. And the meatloaf is great in a sandwich the next day - or two!!