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October 3, 2012

Weeknight Fish Tacos

My history with Mexican food was always a heart stopper.  Laden with gooey cheese and covered in sour cream, in my younger years, Mexican cuisine was a haven for excessive calories. Overeating mediocre nachos in college after one too many cocktails, long after the clock struck midnight, I thought that was real Mexican. You know those massive plates of nachos? A mountain of chips covered with a host of toppings. They’re still sinfully good, especially with a cold beer, but I’ve come to realize that most authentic Mexican recipes don’t even include melted cheese in their list of ingredients.

Time spent in southern California introduced me to the Mexican food I’ve come to crave. Full of fresh fish and lean meats, piled high with vegetables and absent the volcanic mess of cheese. Real Mexican food is an explosion of flavors and one of the healthiest meals I cook for my family.

I always serve these fish tacos with the same sides: warm corn tortillas, fresh sliced avocado, cilantro slaw, chipotle cream and wedges of fresh lime. This is an easy dinner to throw together during the week.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 or so)


  • 1 1/2 lbs firm white fish like halibut or tilapia (about 3 or so filets depending on size)
  • 2-3 tbsp of your favorite BBQ rub (here’s mine)
  • Light drizzle of canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the fish filets and pat them dry. Liberally sprinkle the BBQ rub on both sides of the fish. Lay them on a foil lined baking sheet (for easy clean-up). Drizzle the tops of the fish lightly with just a little canola oil before they go in the preheated oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until properly cooked through.


  • Juice of one fresh lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper from can of chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 14oz package shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To make the slaw, whisk together the first 5 ingredients in the bottom of a salad bowl. Add the shredded cabbage and chopped cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss together.


  • 2 fresh avocados, sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • 1 package small corn tortillas

Slice the avocados and place on a plate. Squeeze one of the lime wedges over the slices to prevent them from turning brown.

Heat the tortillas according to the package directions. I usually wrap a small stack in damp paper towels, put them on a plate and microwave for 30 seconds. Flip them over and zap for another 30 seconds. In reality, a proper serving should probably be 2 per person, but in our house it’s more like 3-4.

Place everything on the table and let everyone make their own tacos. You could serve  fresh corn and charred pepper sauté as a side dish, and of course, some chips and salsa, too.


August 7, 2012

Fresh Corn & Charred Pepper Saute

We’re in the middle of summer which means lots of fresh vegetables. Hopefully everyone is taking advantage of the summer’s bounty. Support your local farmers! I haven’t been picking at our farms this season, just buying. People come from near and far to visit our historic little town and its beautiful farms. They come to pick-their-own and will do so joyfully regardless of the temperature. Like them, I relish the splendor of it all. I come home proud of my overflowing baskets of local goodness and stare in bewilderment, thinking – whose going to eat all this? Like last year when I picked 8 quarts of strawberries or the time I picked 13 pounds of apples. This summer you can call me lazy. Schlepping into the fields in the summer heat has just seemed like punishment.

So in the spirit of laziness… I bought some fresh corn at the farm stand and wanted to make something flavorful, healthy and a little more exciting than just plain corn on the cob. There was a nice assortment of fresh peppers at the farmer’s market, so I grabbed a bunch to make this perfect-for-summer side dish. I know 8-10 peppers may seem like a lot, but the peppers I used were small. After they were charred, cleaned and diced, I probably had less than 2 cups.

I made this Mexican style, to serve with fish tacos (recipe coming soon). This would be equally delicious using fresh basil in place of cilantro, omitting the cumin and chili powder. Remember, if you’re using hot peppers the heat is in the seeds and membrane. Keep them if you like it super spicy or stick to bell peppers for a milder flavor.


  • 8-10 assorted peppers (green, red, poblano, jalapeño… your choice) – charred, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ears fresh corn on the cob, schucked and kernels cut off the cob
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • Juice 1/2 fresh lime
  • Handful of chopped fresh cilantro

The first step is charring the peppers…

Fresh from the farm assorted peppers

I used our outdoor grill… Place the whole peppers, no oil needed, directly on the grill, preheated on medium-high. Turn the peppers occasionally until the outsides are nicely blackened and charred. No worries, when you peel them they will be perfect. Once black all over, place the whole peppers in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in the bowl until they are cool enough to touch.

Not so pretty, but perfectly charred peppers.

On a cutting board, remove the black exterior of each pepper – they will peel very easily if you rub them gently with your fingers. Remove the seeds and core, then dice. For this recipe I cut the red pepper into thin strips and diced the others. I thought it looked pretty.

Charred peppers ready to enjoy.

That’s it. If you don’t use all the peppers at once, you can store them covered in olive oil in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Yummy!


Heat a little oil in a large sauté pan, and add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic, cook until fragrant, and toss in the corn kernels and diced charred peppers. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin and chipotle chili powder. Stir until combined. Add the chopped tomatoes, stir and allow to simmer. The tomatoes will release their juices.

After about 10-15 minutes, taste the corn for seasoning and adjust as needed. Once the corn is tender, add the lime juice, toss in the fresh cilantro and serve. It’s even good cold the next day.

* Feeling lazy or corn on the cob is out of season? Use frozen corn : )

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