One of the things I love the most about Italian Cuisine is Pesto. My favorite one is the Basil Pesto (Original name: Pesto Genovese). I'm going to show you how to make your own fresh Pesto, and you'll see how easy it is to make. I'm sure you'll switch from buying it to making it yourself.

There are two different ways for making Pesto: with the food processor or with 'the cooking mortar'. If you don't know, the cooking mortar is a bowl typically made of ceramic or stone and it's used for crushing and grinding. I think both options work pretty fine, but if you have a mortar, then use it. With the mortar you get a more consistent texture and I think it brings more out the flavor of the ingredients.

I have my own cooking mortar, so I decided to use it for this recipe. Of course, if you decide to use this method, you have to be very patient. With the food processor you're done in 2 minutes, but with the mortar you can take a good half an hour (and an intense arm workout haha), but I can promise you: is totally worth it!

I recommend you to use fresh ingredients, you'll really taste the difference.


I started first with the garlic because is the hardest ingredient to grind. I added the Basil leaves simultaneously, so it's easier to combine.


Then I added the roasted pine nuts, and made sure everything was as smooth as possible. You have to consider that it's impossible to get a completely even mix when you do it with the cooking mortar, but that's the trick, to have a rich crispy texture. 

After the pine nuts, I added the ground Parmesan, and simultaneously the olive oil, because at this point the mixture starts to get really dry. When everything was crushed, I incorporated the salt and the ground black pepper.


I finished my Pesto with a fresh Basil leave and it was AMAZING! After using it, I stored it in glass jars, like the ones you buy for storing marmalade.



I hope you enjoy this recipe and give it a try!


FRESH BASIL PESTO

Preparation Time: 20 minutes


Ingredients

2 cups  fresh basil leaves
1 to 2  garlic cloves (if you roast them, use 1 extra)
1/3 cup  pine nuts
1/2 cup  freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup  olive oil
Salt and black ground pepper to taste.
Splash of lemon.

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 170º C and roast the pine nuts for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
2. Add garlic cloves and basil leaves to food processor or cooking mortar until smooth. Continue adding the pine nuts, grind again. Add the Parmesan and olive oil for smoother texture. 
3. After everything is combined, incorporate the salt and black pepper and add a splash of lemon to taste.
4. Make sure to storage your pesto in glass jars or well sealed containers for longer durability.




I know I said this blog is not just about mexican food, because I have for you a lot of new recipes that have nothing to do with the mexican cuisine, but lately I've just been missing so much tacos...

In mexican cuisine, 'Carne Asada' is a red meat (usually beef) cooked on a charcoal grill and chopped in little pieces. The original recipe suggests that the meat shall not be too marinated or spiced, so you can really taste the natural beef-charcoal flavor, but there's a lot of people that love to excessively marinate it. Personally, I prefer to season my Carne Asada with a little bit of salt and ground black pepper, so it stays as natural as possible.


'Guajillo Potatoes' (in mexican cuisine known as 'Papitas en Salsa Roja' meaning 'Red Sauce Potatoes') are skinless-cubed potatoes cooked in a guajillo pepper-tomato based sauce. In México they work as a side dish or as a stuff for tacos. 

For this recipe, I used the german version of 'corn tortillas'. Personally, I think they tasted like flour tortillas with yellow food colouring, but I decided to give them a try. I was informed about a mexican provider, close to my city, that sells the original 'Maseca' flour for making my own tortillas. If you don't know, Maseca is the most popular mexican brand of corn flour for tortillas. So if I'm lucky to get them soon, I'll make sure to upload a post of how to make REAL corn tortillas with Maseca.



For my 'Carne Asada' I bought a nice beef steak and cut it into small cubes. Why small cubes? Because I don't like when the pieces are big enough to make swallowing them a struggle. 



Because it's middle of the winter here in Germany, of course it was not possible for me to take the grill outside and make a nice barbecue day in the sun… How much I miss the sun haha … I'm not saying that here we don't have summers, cause we have them and really beautiful ones, but at the moment it's winter season, so this is why I made my 'Carne Asada' on a pan. What's my opinion? If you can make it on a charcoal grill, do it, the meat gets way more juicy and the charcoal gives the meat a different flavor. So, I just seasoned my cubbed meat with salt and ground pepper and straight to the pan with some oil. Make sure to cook it well, so you can get it as brown and grilled as the traditional.



As a topping for my Carne Asada tacos, I chopped some white onion and fresh cilantro and stirred it together with a squeeze of lime. This is the most common way to serve these tacos.



The Guajillo Pepper is a mexican dried pepper with a medium heat. This chili is commonly used in pastes or as a meat seasoning. I like this pepper very much because it brings a really strong (but not spicy) flavor, very traditional in the mexican cuisine and it gives the food a unique red color. 



For the 'Guajillo Potatoes' I used baby yellow potatoes, because they were the ones available in my market, but you can use the type you like. (Except for sweet potatoes).  Then I peeled them, cut them in small/medium sized cubes and cooked them on a boiling pan until tender.



I blended peeled red tomatoes and the seedless-veinless guajillo peppers with some chicken broth and garlic cloves. (You can also grill the guajillo peppers in the pan before you blend them with the tomatoes, but it's not necessary because they'll cook anyway all together on the pan). I placed the mix on a pan and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat, then I added the cooked potatoes and mashed them just a little, making sure to keep the 'chunky' texture.



People here go crazy for Guacamole, they just love it, especially when it's not too spicy… So, I decided to make some as a complement to my tacos, and also just as a previous snack. I was lucky enough to find fresh avocados in the market, they came from Chile and they were great!




I finished my 'Carne Asada' tacos with a spoon of the onion-cilantro mix. For my 'Guajillo Potato' tacos, I cooked on the pan some sweet pepper slices and just added them on top. I putted a lime slice on the side and sprinkled the tacos with salt. 



I hope you give this recipe a try and I also wish you're able to find the guajillo peppers. If you can't find guajillo peppers, you can just blend the tomatoes and add a spoon of red hot sauce for the spicy flavor. It won't taste the same, but it's a pretty good improvisation. Good luck and 'Buen Provecho'.


CARNE ASADA & GUAJILLO POTATO TACOS


Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 big tacos. (4 and 4) or a little extra.


For the Carne Asada

450 to 500 g  Good quality beef
1  tbs salt
1  tbs ground black pepper

For the Guajillo Potatoes

10 to 12  baby yellow potatoes
1  (15-ounce) can of peeled red tomatoes
3 to 4  guajillo peppers
1 cup  chicken broth
2  garlic cloves
1  salt
1  tsp ground black pepper

For the Guacamole

2  medium avocados
1/2  medium onion
1  small tomato
1  jalapeño pepper (without seeds and veins)
2  tsp salt
1  tsp ground black pepper
Cilantro
Lime or lemon

Onion-Cilantro Topping

1/2  medium white onion
Cilantro
1  tsp salt
Lime or lemon

Other ingredients

8  medium/large corn or flour tortillas
Slices of sweet peppers (for flavour or decoration)
Cilantro
Lime or lemon

Preparation

1. Chop the meat in small cubes and season it with the salt and pepper. On an oiled skillet, cook the meat until brown. About 10-15 minutes on medium/high heat.
2. Peal the baby potatoes and cut them in small cubes. Boil them until tender. On a blender, mix the peeled tomatoes, guajillo peppers, garlic cloves, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. On a deep pan with a little bit of oil, pour the mix and cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Add the potato cubes and with a potato masher tool (or a fork) start breaking the cubes, making sure to keep the 'chunky' texture. Never completely mashed.
3. For the Guacamole, mash the avocados with a fork until smooth. Cut the onion, the tomato and the seedless-veinless jalapeño into small sized cubes and add them to the mashed avocados. Stir together and sprinkle with salt, pepper, lime and fresh cilantro.
4. For the Onion-Cilantro topping, chop the onion and the cilantro. Stir them together and sprinkle with salt and lime.
5. On a pan, start heating the tortillas on medium heat, about 1 minute per side. Fill them with the Carne Asada or Guajillo Potatoes. Finish them with the Onion-Cilantro topping and a splash of lime. You can add your favorite salsa.
6. Buen Provecho!

How much I love and miss real tacos, especially my favourite ones: Street Tacos! There's a really popular place in the city I was born that is famous for its shrimp tacos. The first time I tried them, I didn't love them because I was not so used to the idea of seafood inside a taco (And also because I'm not the biggest fan of seafood).  The thing is, I gave it a second try, and then a third one… and now these are one of my favourite ones.
 


The original recipe of these tacos is with corn tortillas (And personally, I suggest them too), but here in Germany they're so hard to get. There's a latin-speciality store near by where sometimes I find traditional mexican tortillas, but only the flour ones. I'll always go for the corn tortillas in this recipe because the shrimps inside the taco are fried, and flour tortillas are usually a little bit thicker and heavier than the corn ones, so it's too dense. So, in this case I used the flour ones, but the result still was delicious!



Usually I accompany these tacos with a creamy chipotle pepper salsa, but you can have them with any other you like. I suggest a creamy one, because the fried shrimps are not too juicy so the taco might feel a little bit dry.




For the batter I used a simple method with flour, buttermilk and eggs, but I decided to add a little bit of Panko for that extra crunchiness. (In case you don't know it, Panko is the japanese-flaky version of bread crumbs and it's way crunchier).



Instead of deep-frying the shrimps, I preferred to use a pan with a little bit of oil and cook them from both sides. I know it's easier and more practical to deep-fry them but I tried to keep it 'the healthiest way I could' (...Aaaand that would be not to fry them at all haha).




I finished my tacos with some slices of fresh avocado, Pico de Gallo, sweet pepper slices and the creamy salsa. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this recipe and give it a try! ;)



FRIED SHRIMP TACOS

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 big tacos

For the Fried Shrimps

18  medium shrimps
1  cup buttermilk
2  eggs
1  cup flour
1  tbs salt
1  tbs ground black pepper
1  tsp chilli powder
3/4  cup panko or bread crumbs

For the Creamy Chipotle Salsa

250 g.  sour cream
1  tbs chipotle pepper concentrate or salsa
1  tsp salt
1  tsp ground black pepper

For the Pico de Gallo

1  medium onion
1  small red tomato
1  jalapeño pepper (without seeds and veins)
1  tsp salt
1  tsp ground black pepper
Cilantro
Lime or lemon

Other ingredients

6  medium/large corn or flour tortillas
3/4  cup shredded cheese (Monterrey Jack, Gouda…)
1  ripped acovado
Slices of sweet peppers (for flavour and decoration)
Lime or lemon

Preparation
  1. In a bowl, place the flour, salt, pepper, chilli powder and stir. In another bowl, add the eggs and the buttermilk, mix until even. Start dipping the medium shrimps first in the buttermilk mixture and then in the flour. After covering them completely with the flour, dip them once again in the buttermilk mixture and then cover them with the panko or breadcrumbs.
  2. On a frying pan place enough oil to cover completely the surface and a little bit more. Start frying the shrimps on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. When done, place them on a napkin platter so the extra fat goes out.
  3. On a pan, start heating the tortillas on medium heat, about 1 minute per side. Start adding a generous amount of the shredded cheese, meanwhile the tortilla is on the pan so it melts. Take the tortilla out of the heat and add 3 fried shrimps on it.
  4. To the open taco, add avocado and sweet pepper slices, pico de gallo, a spoon of the creamy salsa and lime to taste.
  5. Enjoy!
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