Tres Carnales Taqueria (Edmonton)

With a hankering for tacos, my brother and I headed to Tres Carnales Taqueria in downtown Edmonton (10119 100A Street) on a Thursday night.

We walked in around 7:30 p.m. and there were at least 10 people in front of us in line. Immediately we were greeted by a host who explained the flow of the restaurant: you order first and then wait to be seated when the next table becomes free. We shouldn’t be waiting any longer than 20 minutes, he said.

The place was pretty packed for a Thursday night so the line-up crawled. We were offered drinks by a second hostess, who also ensured we understood the menu and ordering. I had read some blog and Urbanspoon reviews about people being confused if the restaurant was cafeteria style or sit-down. I figured the double hosts was in response to that, which I thought was quite attentive.

That being said, it took us about an hour from when we entered the door to getting the trays of tacos plopped down before us. Two girls seated next to us came in the door at 8 p.m. and were eating by 8:20. Apparently it’s all about the timing, so come early if you don’t want to wait.

My brother and I decided on three entrées, all of which were tacos (you pick a filling and decide if you want it wrapped up in a taco, quesadilla or a torta – the later was described to us as “like a sandwich”).

Carne con chile – beef brisket slow cooked with beer, chocolate, chiles and tomatoes

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Delicious. The beef was juicy and flavourful with a nice chile kick. We devoured this one in minutes.

Pescado – lightly battered and fried fresh Pacific Red Snapper

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The favourite. Good helping of  fish, which was light and fluffy. Cabbage and radishes added great crunch.

Tinga mixta – Alberta pork shoulder, chorizo and potatoes

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Not a fan. Overcooked, so much so the pork was difficult to swallow.

Overall

Atmosphere: Good music, open kitchen, colourful decor (paper lanterns, spray paint, eclectic assortment of bric-a-brac).

Food: Tortillas were fresh, meats were braised nicely. Tasty and satisfying, but pork shoulder wasn’t up to muster.

Price: $10-15 depending on entrée (quesadilla or a torta cost more)

Would I come back: Yes, but not in a hurry. Wasn’t pleased about the wait time, but I understand it’s all depends on the day. Next time I would like to try the tortas and the papas fritas.

 

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Lettuce wraps with cauliflower rice

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Second day or third day stew often tastes better than when it is served fresh.

With my Moroccan lamb stew, the dried apricots sweetened the thick broth while the lamb became extra tender, but still created a nice contrast with the crunch of the sliced almonds.

The leftover stew also lent itself to be a perfect filling for crisp lettuce wraps I had for lunch the next day.

This recipe makes it easy to get your five to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables in; plus it’s dead simple.

Ingredients

  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1/2 head cauliflower

Wash and drive lettuce leaves.

Rinse cauliflower clean. Grate with a box grater. Cauliflower pieces should be about the size of a grain of rice.

Assemble: Put a spoonful of cauliflower rice on lettuce leaf. Add a spoonful of stew. Wrap, folding the leaf from steam to tip.

Done.

(Eat over a plate or napkin, these can be messy.)

Moroccan lamb stew with couscous salad

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Nothing says summer like fresh herbs. These are the perfect dishes to usher in a new season of lingering sunshine, cold drinks and life in bloom.

I couldn’t find a proper tagine, so the dutch oven had to suffice.

This recipe will make 4 servings.

Stew Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lamb chunks for stewing
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried dates
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups stock

Spices

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp saffron stamens, soaked in cold water
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh parley to garnish

Preheat oven to 300 F.

In a dutch oven (or other oven-safe pan) toast spice mixture with olive oil over medium heat. Add in diced onions and garlic. Sear lamb chunks in same pan.

Deglaze the pan with stock – I had chicken stock  leftover, but beef or lamb stock would be even better. Add in apricots, dates, almonds and honey. Put the lid on and slide the pot into the oven for 2.5 hours. Garnish with fresh parsley. During this time I went to the theatre and came back to a delicious smelling kitchen 🙂 My friend and I then prepared the salad together and heated up flatbread while the stew further reduced on the stove top  for about 20 minutes.

Couscous Salad Ingredients

  • 8 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 3 baby cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous (note the whimsical pearl grains)
  • 1 cup water (or stock)
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, bring water and couscous to a boil. Then turn down to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until water has evaporated and pearls are soft, but slightly al dente. Stir occasionally. Cut tomatoes and cukes into quarters. Roll mint leaves and slice into fine ribbons. Combine couscous, vegetables, mint, pine nuts in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to finish. (Serve with flat bread or rice, yogurt and a glass of red wine)

Moussaka with cauliflower béchamel

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I am a major lover of Greek comfort food and moussaka takes the top spot.

I wanted to make the traditional version a bit healthier, so I added cauliflower to the béchamel and used ground turkey instead of beef or lamb.

This recipe will make 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Béchamel

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic
  •  2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Slice eggplant lengthwise and place on baking tray. Salt both sides and roast for 30 minutes.

Dice onions and garlic and fry up with olive oil  in pan over medium heat. Add turkey and brown. Throw in tomato sauce and spices. Set aside when cooked through.

In a sauce pan, simmer milk  with chopped garlic and cauliflower until florets are soft. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. The cauliflower does make the texture of the béchamel a bit mealy, but also heartier.

Once the béchamel has cooled a bit, pour back into saucepan and whisk in eggs.

Assemble moussaka: layer of eggplant, ground turkey, béchamel and repeat.

Bake for 30 min.

(Top with cheese of your choice)

Cauliflower soup

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Came up with this recipe because I had some goat milk. I thought the rich, creamy and slight muskiness of the milk (like goat cheese) would go well in a vegetable soup. This recipe will make 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic (I really, really like garlic)
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups goat milk
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • dash of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sweat the onions, garlic, diced carrot and celery in a pot with some oil on medium heat. Sautee until soft. Add in diced potato. I found the potato is a nice addition because it draws out some of the sweetness from the cauliflower and milk.

Once the vegetables have had a bit of time to caramelize, pour in vegetable stock. Add in chopped cauliflower and herbs.

In a bowl, whisk flour into 2 cups of goat milk to thicken it up. Pour mixture into pot.

Simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Done.

(Serve with prosciutto shavings and crumbled goat cheese on top)

Scotch egg

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I had a bit of meat leftover from the chili apricot meatball recipe so I made scotch eggs. Considering it was my first attempt, they turned out brilliantly!

Ingredients

Put eggs in a pot of water. Bring to a boil on the stove, turn off heat, then let sit for 3 minutes. This will be just enough time for a perfect soft boiled egg.

Run eggs under cool water. Cool down for a couple minutes then peel.

Take a fist full of the ground pork mixture. Flatten in the palm of  your hand. This will have to completely envelope the egg, so be generous!

Place egg in the centre of flattened mass and wrap.

Heat oil in a pot, or wok, something that has good depth for frying. A trick to make sure oil is hot enough is to throw in a grain of rice or piece of potato, if it sizzles, you are good to go!

Gently drop the scotch egg into the oil. Fry until outside is crispy and brown (you might have to turn it over for even cooking). Might take about five minutes, depending on how thick the layer of pork is.

Set on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

Cut into it with a sharp knife. Await the beautiful golden yolk that oozes out.

Done.

(Eat with HP sauce or hot sauce. Enjoy!)

 

Chili apricot meatballs

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Came across this recipe on Mennonite Girls Can Cook and I couldn’t help myself! This is my variation using the items I had in my pantry.

Meatball Ingredients

  • 500g ground pork
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices of toast, pulverized (or breadcrumbs)
  • dash of salt and pepper

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup ground chili paste (I used Sambal Oelek, a popular Asian chili paste)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a bowl, combine meatball ingredients. To make this a bit less messy, I wrapped my hand in a produce bag (like a glove) and mixed everything together. Using an ice cream scoop (great tip from Mennonite Girls Can Cook ), form into balls and place in oven safe casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, mix together sauce. Pour over meatballs.

Cook (covered) for about 1 hour.

The Sambal Oelek – basically chili, salt and vinegar – which you can buy at your local Asian grocery store (red jar, green lid), gives it a nice concentrated chili kick!

Done.

(Serve with rice and steamed asparagus)

Blueberry banana pancakes

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When is breakfast for dinner not a good idea?

Plus it’s “Våffeldagen” or Waffle Day in Sweden to mark the start of spring! I know, not the same thing, but I don’t have a waffle iron.

My roommate whipped up these fluffy pancakes from her grandmother’s recipe. Thanks Mrs. Plunkie!

Dry ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar (for browning)
  • pinch of salt

Wet ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 banana, mashed

Combine wet and dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix. It’s ok if it’s a bit lumpy!

In a hot pan, melt a small slab of butter. Turn heat down to low.

Ladle batter in. When bubbles in the batter pop and stay open, the pancake is ready to be flipped.

Done.

(Slather with butter and maple syrup – or marmalade, if you’re in the mood)

Cilantro shrimp tortilla (for two)

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A bunch of leftover cilantro and a blender obsession…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 4 corn tortillas (small)
  • 1 cup shrimp, thawed and peeled
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

In a blender, pulse together cilantro, juice of one lime and ginger. I added about 1/3 cup of water since it was quite thick.

Pour over shrimp and set aside to marinate.

In a frying pan, heat fresh tortillas (no oil necessary), 3o to 45 seconds each side on high. Set aside when finished.

Next, fry up sliced red pepper in coconut oil until slightly charred. Remove from pan and add shrimp, which have probably turned a bit green by this point. Cook until shrimp are opaque, turning every so often.

Pile peppers and shrimp on tortilla.

Done.

(Add some chili mayo for a nice kick. Would also be excellent with sliced avocado – if only mine were ready)

Broccoli, barley and beans

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I had loads of broccoli and a recipe I only had one ingredient for. This is what happened.

Ingredients

  • 1 crown of broccoli
  • 1 can fava beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil. Add barley. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Pile the fava beans, cumin and coriander into a frying pan with some oil. Add in chopped broccoli and a splash of water (or dry white wine). Heat on medium, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes so the broccoli is still crunchy.

Add in cooked barley and dried cherries.

Done.

(Good hot or cold – salad style. The fava beans add a really nice nuttiness to the dish)