What I’m Making this Week: Taco Torta and Blood Orange Curd, or, An Ode to Two Food Blogs

Fresh from the oven Taco Torte.
Fresh from the oven Taco Torte.

Last night, neither my husband nor I felt like cooking.  But as usual, we felt like eating — we very much felt like eating — and didn’t want to go out.  And I had purchased the ingredients to make the Taco Torta featured on Smitten Kitchen last week.

I adore Smitten Kitchen.  I have been making her recipes for more years than I care to count.  I think they are reliable and delicious.  She also simplifies a lot of recipes for home cooks.  I am far from being a professional chef, and as I am constantly learning, I appreciate trial and error she goes through on her readers’ behalf. As a home cook, I often don’t have time to experiment until something tastes good.  I also think she has impeccable taste.  So when this recipe came up this week, I knew I would make it.

Because my husband loves anything with beans. In fact, he would eat Mexican every day for breakfast if I let him.  There was no way this recipe was not going to make a trial run in our house.

From Smitten Kitchen:

Place 1 tortilla in the prepared cake pan. Spread one-sixth (just eyeball it) of the bean and vegetable mixture evenly over the tortilla, then sprinkle 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the shredded cheese evenly over the top. Repeat with 5 more layers, ending with the last of the bean mixture and shredded cheese.

I was afraid the torte would fall apart when I tried to cut it.  But since I baked the tortillas a little beforehand in my toaster oven, the torte held together amazingly well.  We both LOVED this and will make it again.  My husband calls it the taco tower. He wanted to eat the whole thing.  I dissuaded him, but barely.

However, I realized that we definitely wanted something spicier than what the recipe called for originally.  Spice is individual, and my husband and I both enjoy things on the spicier side.  When we get Indian, we will often order certain dishes “Indian hot.”  So I thought I would share how we kicked ours up – hint – with all of the spicy things!

You can read about this recipe online here.  I won’t repost it.  I’m just going to add my adaptations.

  • The recipe calls for one fresh chili pepper, chopped small.  I used two jalapeno peppers, then discovered they were on the milder side, so I threw in a diced poblano pepper as well.
  • The recipe calls for a teaspoon and a half of chili powder.  I upped it to 1 tablespoon, and also added two teaspoons of crushed red pepper, and 1 teaspoon of bourbon smoked paprika, because smoky and YUM.
  • I also added, just at the finish, two teaspoons of adobo sauce, and 1 -2 teaspoons of pepper sauce.  We used a Tennessee Cherry Chili sauce is a salt brine sauce that’s made locally by Rushy Springs Farms and is amazingly full of flavor without a big whollop of heat.  I can be generous with this sauce without taking a dish to five alarm level.  The farm offers a large selection of hot sauces, and I can recommend many.  The TCC though is a perennial favorite in our house!
Assembling the taco torte.
Assembling the taco torte.

All of these additions gave us a filling that packed a bit of heat, but was not overwhelming.  At least for us.  But as I said, everyone’s taste is individual, so adjust according to your desired level of heat.

Another adaptation I am thinking of making to the recipe are switching out two layers of mixture for scrambled eggs.  Like I may have said before, my husband LOVES Mexican for breakfast, and I think this would make a hearty start to the day, especially when combined with a grapefruit and jalapeno drink infusion we are working on.  Check back later this week for info on THAT.

So that’s recipe number one. Here’s the next: blood orange curd. It’s delicious.

Lately I’ve been suffering a bit of insomnia.  I am miserably awake between the hours of 2 am and 4 am most nights.  So what does one do between 2 am and 4 am?  Well, if you’re me, you read and check out Twitter.  Which is where I found this template recipe for five different kinds of citrus curd on The Kitchn.  And suddenly I am craving citrus curd at 3 am.  And there’s none in the house!  However, I do have a plethora of citrus in the house right now.  I love blood oranges.  I can’t get enough of pink grapefruit this time of year.  And the idea of making blood orange curd makes me HAPPY.  I also had promised to bring in some various jams and toppings for a birthday celebration at work, and thought this would be pretty perfect.

I don’t have any additions to this recipe to suggest, it’s pretty perfect as is.  Recipes from The Kitchn frequently are.

I adore blood oranges.
I adore blood oranges.

Frankly, I love The Kitchn.  Of course, I’ve named two food blogs in this post that everyone probably already knows about.  But that’s for a reason – they are reliable, delicious, innovative, and fun.  I appreciate The Kitchn, though, because they also have technical tips and cooking lessons, or hacks.  I said before I am not a chef, but what I would call a somewhat adventurous home cook.  If I have something delicious out, I want to make it at home.  If I see something delicious online that I want to eat, I believe that I can make it myself.  Hint: This MAY be foolish and result in many long hours and me frequently deciding that just because I CAN doesn’t mean I SHOULD.  But reliable sites like The Kitchn see me through to the finished product.

Blood orange curd, ready and waiting to fill crepes!
Blood orange curd, ready and waiting to fill crepes!

But I am especially grateful for these sites now, since I live in Knoxville, and there are few restaurants worth spending money at here, especially as we don’t eat barbecue.  We typically prefer to make our own food, and save our dining out dollars for when we travel.  Which is a thing I couldn’t do without the help of these blogs.  Without the inspiration of innovative menus around me, I rely on these blogs, and a few more, for ideas.  And that is also why I wanted to start this blog.

I’m nowhere near their caliber.  But maybe I can still add something to the conversation by being a copycat.  And imitation is, as they say, the sincerest form of flattery!

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