Archive for August, 2009

Tacoritos Colorado

August 6, 2009

taco1This might look like a mess but boy is it a tasty mess! Tacoritos are 10-inch flour tortillas filled with taco meat, frijoles (refried beans), cheddar cheese, and green chili gravy. Then they are topped with more green chili gravy, lettuce, guacamole, salsa picante, sour cream and black olives. Of-course this size is meant for super-heros who work hard or play hard all day and love firy hot Mexican food. You can make these with 6-inch tortillas and tone down the chili heat by omitting the jalapenos and just use poblanos or Anaheim green chilies in the gravy. I’ve used chipotle chilies in the meat to add a little smoky flavor and used some of the picante salsa in the guacamole. There’s plenty of cilantro in the green chile gravy for earthy flavor and color plus a good heaping teaspoon of cumin for the authentic Spanish flavor.

This was a Tuesday lunch special at my restaurant in Tonga and the Peace Corp always made a good showing for this Tex-Mex dish. The recipe is my version of a popular dish served in Mexican restaurants in Fort Collins, Colorado. Tacoritos have a lot of components but they’re not difficult to make. You can substitute pulled pork or chicken for the beef and whole wheat tortillas for the flour tortillas. Friends always rave when we serve these so invite the gang over for tacoritos and have a party.

Ingredients for 4 10-inch tacoritos or 8 6-inch tacoritos:

The taco meat:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of diced onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 beef steak tomatoes, diced
  • 2 chipotle chiles diced
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

The green chili gravy:

  • 3 poblano chilies, charred, peeled, seeded and deveined
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of beef stock or juices from pulled pork or chicken stock
  • 2 corn tortillas for thickening

The salsa picante:

  • 5 or 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (add juice and seeds to taco meat)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 serrano chile, finely chopped (or jalapeno, seeded and deveined)
  • juice of one large lime
  • 2 Tbsp oil (olive or vegetable)
  • sea salt to taste

Other ingredients:

  • Tortillas warmed, your choice of size and grain
  • 2 cans of frijoles (refried beans) warmed with 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated for filling
  • 3 or 4 avocados for guacamole topping
  • juice of 1 lime or lemon for guacamole
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded or chopped for topping
  • Sour cream for topping
  • Black olive slices for garnish


  1. To prepare the taco meat: Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove meat and saute onions and garlic until wilted. Return meat to skillet.
  2. Add remaining taco meat ingredients and stir. Lower heat so mixture barely simmers.
  3. To prepare the green chili gravy: Rub olive oil on the poblano chilies. Char the chilies under the broiler until blistered all over the surface. Cover chilies with foil or a bowl for 10 minutes. Peel off skins, remove veins and seeds.
  4. Place prepared chilies in a blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients for green chili gravy and puree until almost smooth.
  5. Place gravy in a sauce pan and heat through. Cover and keep warm.
  6. To prepare frijoles (refried beans): Place beans in an oven proof pan, top with 1/2 of cheddar cheese and cover with foil. Heat in oven at 300° F. until ready to assemble.
  7. Wrap tortillas in a clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel in foil or place in an oven proof pan and seal with foil. Heat in oven at 300° F. until ready to assemble.
  8. To prepare the salsa picante: Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill until ready for service.
  9. To prepare the guacamole: Remove avocado flesh from shells, mash with a fork until almost smooth. Add heaping tablespoon of picante salsa and adjust salt to taste.
  10. To assemble the tacoritos: On a warm tortilla, spread 2 spoonfuls of refried beans down the middle of the tortilla, top with 2 spoonfuls of taco meat mixture, sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese on top of meat and ladle green chili gravy over all.
  11. Roll tortilla so ends are on bottom of plate. Ladle green chili gravy over filled tortilla. Top with chopped lettuce, a spoonful of salsa picante, a spoonful of guacamole and a spoonful of sour cream. Sprinkle sliced black olives on top.

Fricasseé D’ Escargots

August 2, 2009

snailsIn the previous recipe for Lumache di Mare, Italian snails in tomato sauce, I outlined the steps to clean and prepare sea snails. This Fricasseé recipe is from the Caribbean island of Martinque where sea snails have been prepared with this classic French method for over 150 years. It may be served as a main dish with potato puree or offered as an entree in mushrooms or as a tapas selection. The Maison Martinque in Vera Beach is the place to go for dinner and celebrations a la francais. You can have your own French inspired dinner party with this Fricasseé d’escargot. Simply duplicate this rich and flavorful dish with canned imported escargot snails.


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 lb. sliced mushrooms, crimini if possible
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and fresh ground white pepper
  • Dash of Tabasco or pepper sauce of choice
  • 4 dozen snails (2 cans imported escargot snails)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cooked and mashed with butter and cream, salt and pepper


  1. Sauté mushrooms, onion, and garlic in butter. Add salt and pepper, Tabasco and parsley.
  2. Cut snails in half or quarters if they are large, add to sauté and cook over low heat for 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add heavy cream and stir gently for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve over mashed potatoes, garnish with additional parsley.

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Lumache di Mare – Sea Snails in Italian Sauce

August 2, 2009


Escargot is not for everyone but lumache made with sea snails is a gourmand’s delight. This Italian dish is marvelous made with canned snails which are a garden variety and have an earthy flavor. The sea snail is larger than a whelk, more meaty and similar in flavor to a whelk or conch. If you’re lucky enough to live where sea snails obode, its well worth the effort to clean and pressure cook these beauties for lumache di mare.

To prepare 50 sea snails, rinse and scrub the shells under cold water. Place snails in a pan with 1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup vinegar and water to cover. The snails will belch out any sand. Drain and repeat until water is clear. Cover with boiling water and cook 5 minutes. Drain and cool. The snails’ doors will have opened so you need only give the shell a shake to remove the snail. Remove stomachs and trim tough filament surrounding dark side of snail. Place the snail meat in a pressure cooker, add 1 cup water, 1/2 cup white wine. Cook for 30 minutes under pressure. Remove from heat, allow pressure to dissapate completely, open pot and remove snails. Snails may now be cooked or frozen for future use.

The tomato sauce for this lumache di mare is robust with garlic, red chile, anchovies, fresh sage and rosemary. Serve lumache for lunch in a rustic bread bowl along with a Caesar’s salad and a glass of wine. Lumache also makes marvelous tapas.


  • 50 snails (2 cans imported escargot snails)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1 Tbsp anchovies
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 can (28oz) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, reserve liquid
  • 3-1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 3-1/2 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • dash or two of Tabasco


  1. Saute garlic and chile in oil, add anchovy and cook 5 minutes.
  2. Add wine and reduce for 5 more minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and reserved liquid, simmer 45 minutes.
  4. Add rosemary, sage and snails last 5 minutes.
  5. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste with a dash of Tabasco.
  6. Serve 9-12 snails per person in rustic bread bowls.

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