Cook’s Corner

Author Sandra Gutierrez’s cookbook includes spicy Taco Truck Sauce

 

Sauce

Avocado-Tomatillo Taco Truck Sauce

4 or 5 medium tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and chopped (a bout 1 cup)

2 serrano chiles, stems removed (seeded and deveined if less heat is desired)

1 cup packed cilantro (leaves and tender stems), chopped

1/4 cup minced white onion

1/4 cup water

1 Hass avocado

Lime juice, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a blender, combine the tomatillos, chiles, cilantro, onions and water; blend until smooth. Slice the avocado in half and remove and discard the pit. Scoop out the flesh and add it to the blender; blend until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl; season with lime juice, salt and pepper. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Per tablespoon: 8 calories, 57 percent calories from fat, 0.6 g fat, (0.1 g sat fat, 0.3g mono fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 0.2 g protein, 0.8 g carbohydrate, 0.3 g fiber, 1 mg sodium.


Appetizer

The Federal’s Smoked Fish Dip

2 cups smoked white fish

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sour cream

3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 pinch Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce, or to taste

3 drops Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 lemon, zest and juiced

Measure all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until well blended and consistency reaches a spread. Refrigerate to allow flavors to meld before serving. Makes about 2 cups, 16 servings.

Per serving: 115 calories, 41 percent calories from fat, 5.3 g fat, (2.0 g sat fat, 1.2 g mono fat), 17.0 mg cholesterol, 2.0 g protein, 15.5 g carbohydrate, 0.9 g fiber, 59 mg sodium.


Main dish

Savory Squash Bread Pudding

3 cups butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)

Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

1 teaspoon butter

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 eggs plus 2 egg whites

2 cups milk

1 cup grated cheese, divided (Parmesan works well, but whatever you have on hand is OK)

9 cups day-old bread cubes

Butter a baking pan and arrange the squash in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Bake in a 400-degree oven on the middle rack until the squash is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Take the squash out and turn the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is clear and tender,about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and whites until light in a big bowl. Add the milk, most of the cheese and an additional dose of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the onions and garlic, then the squash. Add the bread cubes and let the mix stand for about 10 minutes, till the bread has taken up most of the liquid. Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the custard sets, about 50 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 337 calories, 29 percent calories from fat, 10.9 g fat, (5.2 g sat fat, 3.3 g mono fat), 109 mg cholesterol, 17.0g protein, 42.5 g carbohydrate, 3.1 g fiber, 570 mg sodium.


Sleuth’s Corner

Q. My grandmother used to bake Finger Bread. I enjoy working with yeast, and would like to make this, but can't find her recipe. Can anyone help? The closest product I can find is a supermarket bakery loaf with pull-apart sections.

Ronald Robelia


It’s hard to believe Miami Book Fair International is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Remember when it was simply a street fair? Now there’s a heaping helping of culinary events alone. Besides cookbook presentations by authors there will be a VIP dinner and a roster of cooking demonstrations next week at Miami Dade College’s Miami Culinary Institute (see today’s Nibbles & Bits column for details).

The taco truck recipe here is from Latin American Street Food: The Best Flavors of Markets, Beaches and Roadside Stands from Mexico to Argentina by Sandra Gutierrez (University of North Carolina Press, $35). This is a wonderfully different cookbook, with expected recipes like guava and cream cheese pastries and Cuban sandwiches along with street foods that are less familiar to most Americans, such as Brazilian avocado ice cream, Peruvian fried squid ceviche, Salvadoran pupusas and Guatamalan Christmas tamales.

Gutierrez, whose Book Fair presentation will be at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 23, says of the sauce, “This is perhaps the most popular avocado sauce used by taco truck vendors in Mexico. A little sour and very creamy, it’s used to top everything from totopos (fried tortilla chips) to tacos and chilaquiles. The acidity of the tomatillos keeps the avocado fresh and vibrantly green for up to three days, if properly refrigerated. You can put it in a squirt bottle or spoon it directly onto your food. This recipe has a spicy kick, so if you desire a milder flavor, seed and devein the chiles.”

Q. I love the fish dip appetizer at The Federal on Biscayne. Can you find out how to make it?

Thanks to chef Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold, who identifies herself as “Bar Wench, Pot Stirrer and Co-Conspirator,” we now know that the heat comes from sriracha hot sauce and the creaminess from a combination of mayonnaise, sour cream and Greek yogurt. They smoke their own fish at The Federal, over applewood, and marlin is preferred. But I simply relied on my favorite seafood market’s smoked fish and the dip was creamy and delicious with just enough punch. By the way, Food & Wine magazine recently declared The Federal’s Rocky Road Moon Pies with Salted Caramel and Bourbon Pecan Milk one of the best gluten-free desserts in America.

Savory pudding

Rosie, of Hazleton, Pa., asked if anyone knew of a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe for a savory bread pudding, made with vegetables. It was her grandmother’s favorite way to use up leftover vegetables or a too-bountiful harvest.

Betty H. of Hanover, Pa. sent the recipe here, which she said was a favorite of her own grandmother’s. “We come from a long line of thrifty farm people,” she said.

“We would never waste a thing. So this pudding would be made with the stale bread, the too-soft-to-put-up vegetables, or whatever was in the larder. It usually had no meat, but if there was some bits of bacon or ham or pork chop we’d stir it in before baking. My favorite way to make this is with butternut or delicate squash, but I’ve made it with zucchini and tomatoes or with pumpkin or even corn and peppers. This is an old, old recipe.”

I am always charmed by recipes that have a story, and I can imagine this one evolving one day when the bread was stale and the squash was ripening too fast. I think it makes a grand main dish, but if you see it as a side, pair it with something plain to offset its richness.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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