If you look back at my blog so far you’ll see a fairly long stretch of infrequent updates. While it’s true that the chance to sit down and just let my brain unload doesn’t come around too often, I also really struggle to come up with an infinite bucketload of ‘interesting’ topics to cover. So in order to update this space with increasing regularity, I’ve been making a conscious effort to stop over-thinking it and just include little snippets from our lives alongside the odd passion post.
And since it’s Cinco de Mayo, it felt timely to lead in with one of our foodie favourites. We eat Mexican a lot but this version is a fairly recent addition inspired by a meal we had on our recent trip to California. Succulent chipotle steak tacos with pickled radish, red onion and a Sriracha sauce served with guac-stacked sweet potato rounds.
One of my favourite things about food, other than the stuffing of it in my face, is its ability to take you to another place, conjuring memories with just the waft of a familiar scent or that first mouthful. Sometimes making a connection you didn’t even know existed. If I’m ever particularly enjoying a meal or a moment somewhere I always try to take a mental snapshot of what we’re eating so I can recreate it at home later.
If you know us, you’ll know how much we love California and we took the boys on their first trip there last month. Before we go, Mark and I have this ridiculous ritual of rhyming off all the places we ate on our last visit and start salivating in advance.
This trip we managed to add a few more places to our list including the incredible Taco Asylum, set in the middle of the bohemian Anti Mall in Costa Mesa. Serving up craft beers with a rolling selection of speciality tacos we were fortunate enough to make two trips during our stay.
The first was a post-beach wind down with my Yorkshire sister who’d flown from the East Coast to spend some time with us. Our hair was salty, the tacos kept rolling, the chat was easy and my heart was full. The second was a late-night dinner with a dear friend I’ve known for fourteen years. We met his sweet fiancee for the first time and the boys went mental. Each time is engrained in my mind (and I’m sure theirs though for entirely different reasons) as treasured moments with special people and, of course, amazing food.
As soon as we got home I made it my mission to recreate those flavours to the best of my ability. Thankfully, not a lot of faffing was needed. A great cut of steak, spicy chipotle marinade and a simple lime and coriander infused dressing are the guts of this simple dinner. With the addition of some roast sweet potato rounds loaded with flavour this is transformed into both an easy but filling mid-week feed or a new dinner party classic.
Also, if you’re thinking, wow, Katty, you have very manly hands then, well, you wouldn’t be wrong, but the hands in question are those of my rather glamorous assistant and resident hand model Papa P. He was giving extreme Salt Bae vibes with some extravagant coriander sprinkling that didn’t quite make the cut. As the non-cook of the house he was revelling in the opportunity to look a bit cheffy.
Which coincidently leads me on to my next point – or rather, a disclaimer – that I am by no means a chef. I cook reasonably well for our own tastes and I have always found it hugely therapeutic after a day with the kids or at work. My real life chef bestie, however, despairs at my inability to efficiently boil rice and my haphazard herb placement.
I wasn’t even sure about including a recipe with this to be honest since everything is so simple, but I’ll add it at the bottom anyway just in case anyone’s interested.
CHIPOTLE STEAK TACOS
Serves 2 – 4
Prep. time: 1 hr
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hrs 40 mins
2 aged rump steaks
1 small red onion, finely sliced
6 small radishes
Handful of green leaves (optional)
Chipotle sauce or marinade
3 -4 tbsps of Aspall Cyder Vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
8 small tortillas
Sweet Potato Rounds
2 large sweet potatoes
Sea salt and black pepper
300 ml crème fraîche
2 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 pinch paprika
Freshly ground pepper
2 ripe avocados
1 garlic clove, minced
½ small red onion, finely diced
Juice of ½ a lime
1 pinch paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare the sweet potato. Preheat the oven to 280C / 400F / Gas 6. Cut your potato into inch-thick slices and lay flat in a non-stick oven tray. Lightly brush each slice, front back & sides, with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 – 40 minutes, turning once and keeping an eye in case any pieces start to blacken too quickly.
2. Prepare the steak. Set your meat on a plate and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with your choice of chipotle sauce and set aside until you’re ready to cook.
3. Pickle the red onion and radishes. With a sharp knife cut your red onion and radishes into very fine slices and mix into a large bottomed bowl. Add a few glugs of your pickling agent – in my case, Aspall’s Cyder Vinegar – until all the pieces are coated. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into the bowl, add the sea salt to taste and mix with your hand to combine.
4. Make the guacamole. Everyone has their own special recipe and I don’t always do it the same way. Sometimes it depends what I have on hand. Because the tacos are relatively simplistic, this time I added a garlic clove to give the whole meal a rounded, more robust flavour. Mix all your ingredients together except the salt and pepper in a dish and combine to your preferred consistency. Once achieved season to taste.
5. Make your sriracha mayo. Combine crème fraîche, sriracha, paprika & pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Use more or less spice as per your taste.
6. Cook the steak. Again, this step is purely down to preference, but a nice medium rare is better here. Any more and the meat will toughen up and make the tacos hard work to eat. I cook on gas which runs quite hot even on the lowest setting, so for me searing the steak and 2 – 2½ minutes either side on a medium temperature works well. In addition to the sauce the meat has been marinading in, I also continue to add more to the pan as the steak cooks, allow it to char a little. It gives a really nice added fired chipotle flavour. Remove the steak from the pan and allow it to rest for a few minutes while the juices settle and it finishes cooking.
7. Dress the sweet potato. While the steak rests, lay your sweet potato slices on your serving tray and top with a dollop of crème fraîche, a spoonful of guacamole and a grind of black pepper. Top with a garnish of fresh coriander.
8. Slice and serve. Warm your tortillas in the hot oven for a minute or two while you slice your steak into thin ribbons. Line each tortilla with your sriracha ‘mayo’, any greens of your choice, a few ribbons of steak and top with your pickled radishes and red onion mixture. Repeat and fill your boots!