Olé by the Bay

Tequila Lime Flank Steak Tostadas with Avocado Crema

Flavorful and tender beef strips are piled atop crispy corn tortillas and crunchy purple cabbage with the finishing touch, a tangy, smooth and cool white crema sauce.

1 1/2 – 2 pound flank steak 
Tequila Lime Marinade (see below)
8 corn tortillas 
1/2 cup chopped purple cabbage
1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
lime wedges, for garnish
Avocado Cilantro Crema (see below)

1. Place flank steak in a large glass baking dish. Pour Tequila Lime Marinade over top. Allow to marinate overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
3. Place marinated steak into a pan coated with olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes until meat reaches desired doneness. 
4. Meanwhile, spray tortillas with nonstick spray and spread out on cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
5. Once meat is done to liking, remove from heat. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice into strips, diagonally against the grain.
6. Layer steak strips over tostadas. Add cabbage, cheese and cilantro on top. Garnish with lime wedges and Avocado CIlantro Crema. Makes 8 tostadas.

Tequila Lime Marinade

2 tablespoons tequila
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste

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1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Avocado Cilantro Crema

1/2 cup sour cream
1 avocado, peeled,  pitted and diced
1 garlic clove, minced 
large handful of cilantro
juice of 1 lime 
pinch red pepper flakes

1. In the bowl of a blender, add all ingredients. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 1 cup.

Mexican Grilled Silver Queen Corn

As spring and summer temperatures begin to soar, Baldwin County’s picturesque cornfields rise to great heights. Pick up a few ears of fresh silver king or silver queen at your favorite roadside produce stand or farmers market for this authentic favorite.

6 ears corn
cold water
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Cotija cheese or queso fresco,  finely crumbled
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
chili powder, to taste
3 limes, cut into wedges

1. Peel back corn husks down to the base and remove all silk. Fold husks back into place and secure tops with kitchen twine. 
2. Place corn in a large bowl of salted cold water. Allow to soak for 10 – 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium. Dry corn well with paper towels. 
4. Place corn on grill. Cook for 25 – 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until corn is tender and slightly charred in spots.
5. Remove corn from grill and peel back husks. While still warm, slather corn with butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cheese and parsley. Lightly dust with chili powder. Serve warm with a side of fresh lime wedges. Serves 6. 

Rainbow Salsa

This colorful and flavorful starter takes minutes to prepare, and it is simply addictive! Adjust the heat level with more or less jalapeño seeds and lime juice. 

3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
1 – 2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt
blue corn tortilla chips  

1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except chips.
Toss until well combined. Adjust seasonings. Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 10 – 12. 

Crunchy Taco Pick-up Cups

Kids will love this quick, easy and festive finger food. 

1 pound lean ground beef 
1 (10-ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes
2 – 2 1/2 tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning (see below) or store bought
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
24 wonton wrappers (found in the produce refrigerator section)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
diced green onions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a skillet, brown ground beef until cooked through. Add in Rotel tomatoes, taco seasoning and black beans. 
3. Stack 2 wonton wrappers in a “star.” Press into muffin tin. 
4. Once meat mixture is done, scoop 1 – 2 spoonfuls into each wonton cup. Top with cheese. 
5. Bake 12 – 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and wonton edges are crispy. Garnish with green onion. Makes 12 individual cups.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Add all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Makes 2 1/2 tablespoons (1 seasoning packet). 

Duck Quesadillas with Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa 

Fear not the duck! This game bird is easier to cook than you might think. Here, rich, tender breast meat with crispy skin pairs beautifully with a sweet and spicy salsa and creamy goat cheese, all layered between warm flour tortillas.

2 duck breasts (available at Mosley’s Meat Market)
salt and pepper, to taste
4 – 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas 
2 tablespoons Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa (see below)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature (We used Henrietta’s Goat Cheese, available at Virginia’s Health Foods, Allegri Farm Market and Food Pak International.)
extra cheese, for garnish
extra cilantro, for garnish

1. Use paper towels to pat duck dry. Using a sharp knife, score the skin side in a crosshatch pattern. (This will help release the fat.) Season both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Place duck skin side down in a completely cool, dry skillet. Place on eye and turn heat to medium high. Allow to sear until skin becomes medium brown and crispy, about 6 – 8 minutes. Flip and cook until desired doneness is reached — about 5 minutes more for rare to medium-rare. 
3. Remove duck from pan. Set aside. Allow to rest, skin side up, for about 5 minutes. Chop into bite-sized pieces. 
4. In the same pan over medium heat, leave 1 tablespoon or so of the duck fat. Place a tortilla in the pan. Allow to heat in pan; then set aside. Repeat until all tortillas are warmed.
5. To assemble quesadilla, sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese onto one hot tortilla. Add chopped duck. Spoon Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa over top. Sprinkle green onion and goat cheese over top. Cover with a second tortilla.
6. Return assembled quesadilla to the pan and cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Repeat assembly and cooking with each quesadilla.
7. Cut each quesadilla into slices. Serve with an extra cheese and cilantro for garnish. Makes 2 – 4 quesadillas. 

Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa

Strawberry season is upon us! (Be sure to stop by the Baldwin County Strawberry Festival on April 9 – 10.) In this unexpected salsa, the juicy, red, ripe fruit and smooth, sweet honey perfectly balance the hot and robust flavor of jalapeño and red onion. Leave in a few of the jalapeño seeds to add even more heat.

1 pint Baldwin County strawberries, hulled and diced 
1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed, finely minced
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey 
kosher salt and pepper,  to taste

1. In a bowl, toss all ingredients together until well combined. Adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Mexican-style West Indies Salad

Fresh-from-the-Gulf crabmeat gets a spicy kick in this twist on the classic Lower Alabama app.

2 Roma tomatoes,  seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced 
3/4 cup diced red onion 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
3/4 teaspoon chili powder 
juice of 2 limes
12 ounces fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, drained (may substitute claw meat)
extra lime slices, for garnish
tortilla chips

1. In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder. Squeeze lime juice over top. Stir to combine. Gently fold in crabmeat. Adjust seasonings.
2. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 1 – 2 hours. Garnish with lime slices. Serve with chips. Serves 4.

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Pineapple Salsa 

This light, fresh recipe is ideal for any wharf gathering. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound large Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
1/2 teaspoon cumin
flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Mango Pineapple Salsa (see below)
Avocado Cilantro Crema (see above)

1. Heat a pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to hot pan. (It should sizzle when you add it.) Season shrimp with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. Sauté 4 – 5 minutes until opaque. Keep warm. 
2. In a dry skillet over medium-high heat, warm tortillas for 1 minute.
3. Top each tortilla with shrimp, cheese and Mango Pineapple Salsa. Drizzle Avocado Cilantro Crema over top or serve on the side for dipping. Serves 2 – 4. 

Mango Pineapple Salsa

This sweet and sassy salsa can easily be doubled for a crowd. It is delicious all by itself or an excellent addition to any variation of seafood tacos. 

2 mangoes, peeled and diced 
1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/3 cup minced green onion
juice of 1 lime
honey, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. Toss with lime juice and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Satsuma Lime Margaritas

Blend this frozen toddy using juicy L.A. satsumas or you can substitute any other mandarin available to enjoy this treat all year long. 

1 teaspoon satsuma orange zest
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt 
2 limes 
3 ounces frozen diced mango
3 ounces frozen or fresh pineapple
ice, for blending
6 ounces tequila 
8 ounces satsuma orange juice (about 9 oranges) 
4 ounces Cointreau
sugar, to taste, if necessary

1. To rim glasses, combine orange zest, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt together on a small plate. Juice limes and reserve juice. Use lime hull to rub the rims of the glasses. Then dip rims into sugar mixture and twist. 
2. Add mango and pineapple to the blender. Cover with ice. Pour in reserved lime juice, tequila, satsuma juice and Cointreau. Blend until smooth. Add ice and/or sugar to achieve desired consistency and sweetness. Pour into rimmed glasses. Serve immediately. Makes 4 cocktails.

photos by elizabeth gelineau

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