Something Fun and Yummy

Torchy's Tacos Breakfast Taco (Monk) - Austin, TX

Torchy’s Tacos Breakfast Taco (Monk) – Austin, TX

In pursuit of some non-political thinking, submitted for your pleasure.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being in Austin and having another encounter with their famous breakfast tacos. The sublime experience was delivered by Torchy’s Tacos and their sauces. I brought some extra sauces home and am now trying to recreate something like them before they go bad and I no longer have reference tastes.

And so of course I thought to mention them here, in case anyone’s cracked the code(s). My understanding is that it would take 24 or more hours to make their sauces because of many secret ingredients that take time to prepare such as special pepper sauces. So it’s not truly possible to recreate them at home, but getting close is more than enough reward.

But let me back up a step or two.

For those not in the know, Austin has a fantastic tradition of breakfast tacos; they are enjoyed throughout central Texas, including Dallas, but reach their pinnacle in Austin. They are a mix of eggs/cheese/chilies/veggies/meats and are served on a toasted corn or flour tortilla, and accompanied by sauces. Truly, this type of breakfast food is more than just eggs and stuff on a tortilla; there’s an art to these things, and every aspect contributes to the final result, especially those sauces.

Austin’s standard sauce is a creamy jalapeno-based sauce that is much milder than you might think. Some places fry or roast peppers before adding them and a neutral oil to make a creamy emulsion. As for Torchy’s, I enjoyed their chipotle and advocado sauces and those are what I am trying to recreate. They are both moderately spicy, and the chipotle sauce is white, and has a hint of the tang of ranch dressing, so that may be one secret. But the avocado sauce is a mystery though I expect its base is the standard Austin green sauce with some extras, including some avocado. It’s so good it hurts.

Having spent my early childhood in Texas, and almost a decade recently in Southern Colorado, I’ve grown to relish this type of Southwestern breakfast fare and make such things more than once a week. My signature ingredients include home-canned sliced jalapenos and frozen New Mexico or Pueblo (Colorado) green chilies I procure, process, pack, and freeze for individual thawing. I also make a mean green chile and am perfecting my posole this winter.

With my greatly-increased knowledge and skill in cooking and love of DIY sauces, trying to nail these sauces down is a new passion. They’re that good, and I’m hoping to share the love and perhaps get some much-needed help!

Basic Austin Green Sauce
Clean, slice, seed, and remove white veins from 6 jalapenos
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3-6 cloves garlic
4 tbs lime juice
3/4 tsp salt

Process all ingredients except oil in food processor until smooth.
Then gradually add oil until the mixture emulsifies.

I like to put in fridge to let it set before eating, but that’s purely texture-aesthetic.

Please feel free to offer any tips, to discuss other delicious treats, and to otherwise offer something that goes good on the table to block out tension, second-guessing, and endless agitation. 8 more days until we make history…again.

Spatchcockalypse Now!!!


(a spatchcocked chicken preparing to rest)

Actually several hours ago for dinner. Since we’ve not had a recipe post for a while (cough, no pressure TaMara, cough), I’ve broken out the frilly apron, the tiara, and got to work. For dinner tonight I roasted a chicken. Specifically I spatchcocked it. For those not up on all the hip, culinary terms to spatchcock is to butterfly a chicken, game bird, or other type of poultry by removing the backbone and then grilling or roasting it. This is done so that the bird has a more uniform shape and the white meat won’t get dried out while you’re waiting for the dark meat to cook all the way through.

I preheated the over to 500 fahrenheit and cut the backbone out. Then I rubbed it all over with olive oil, then kosher salted, freshly cracked black peppered, and paprikaed liberally. I then placed the chicken onto my broiler pan, which has very nice drainage slits over the foil wrapped bottom catch pan. I inserted my probe cooking thermometer into the meatiest portion of one of the breasts, set the thermometer to go off at 150 degrees fahrenheit, and into the oven it went. You will want to keep an eye on it in case the skin darkens too fast you can lower the oven to 400 degrees, which is what I did with about 15 minutes to go. All told you’re looking at no more than 1 hour cooking time for a 7 lbs chicken.

When the thermometer measured the internal temp at 150 I took it out, put it on the lovely platter above, tented it with foil, and let it rest for ten minutes before slicing. I then finished off preparing the mashed potatoes and the lightly sauteed veggies. After ten minutes I drained the pan drippings/au jus into a gravy cup, sliced the chicken, took some more pictures, and took everything to the table. All in all an easy and tasty Sunday supper!



Open Thread: Trump Thinks E coli Gets Too Much Attention

In a fact sheet posted online Thursday, the campaign highlighted a number of “specific regulations to be eliminated” under the GOP nominee’s economic plan, including what they called the “FDA Food Police.”

“The FDA Food Police, which dictate how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food,” it read…

The fact sheet was later removed from the website and a new fact sheet detailing Trump’s economic agenda did not include mention of the FDA.

The FDA recently completed an overhaul of the food safety system with seven rules to better protect consumers from food-borne illnesses. Manufacturers of both animal and human food are now required to implement preventive controls to minimize the risk of contaminating food when it’s manufactured, processed, packed or held by a facility.

Trump’s economic policy plan also calls for “an immediate halt to new federal regulations and a very thorough agency-level review of previous regulations to see which need to be scrapped.”…

This from a notorious germophobe. Of course, what that ‘float’ was really about is the usual Republican aversion to being “forced” to spend money just to keep other people safe. Because spending a few extra pennies on providing sanitary facilities for those lettuce-pickers is just like being forced to pray to Allah — it’s a religious issue, really!

Standing Up By Sitting Down To Eat: Salsa Justice Warriors Unite!

In response to Marco Gutierrez’s remarks expressing concerns about an invasion of Taco Trucks I decided to strike a blow for Salsa (Verde, also Roja and Crema and guacamole) Justice and went for Mexican food tonight. Never has standing in solidarity, by sitting and eating, tasted so good. Also, the corners of my neighborhood are still clear of taco trucks, so I’m going to keep Balloon Juice set at TacoCon 5 for the time being. So grab your forks my Salsa Justice Warriors and head for the comments – open thread!


(Guacamole Mexicano)


(Beef Tacos)


(El Paso Burrito with Salsa Roja, Crema, and Verde)

Sunday Evening Open Thread

I love to cook, but I don’t usually bake — it requires too much precision. But I made some blueberry scones today that turned out pretty well:


I used a recipe from Epicurious, modified slightly to account for the dearth of Meyer lemons (had to use regular instead).

My kiddo is on a road trip, which makes me nervous as hell. So I’m cooking and baking up a storm as if that will keep the forces of evil luck at bay. It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s that or Xanax.

Next on the menu: fish tacos. What are you up to?

Late Night/Early Morning Open Thread: All You Can Eat Buffet

Thanks to commenter JCJ for the recommendation, here’s the Brook’s Falls live feed bear cam from Katmai National Park in Alaska. So tune in and watch the grizzlies eat all the salmon they can eat!

A Late Night Snack

With TaMara’s move it seems like forever since we’ve had a recipe post. So I’ve broken out the emergency tiara, frilly apron, and matching oven mitts and we’re under way!

We’re keeping it light tonight because of the summer heat. First up is a broccoli quiche.


And here’s the recipe:


1 9 inch pie crust

5 eggs

1 ½ cups 1 % milk

2 cups of shredded cheese (officially the recipe calls for Swiss, but I like to use the six cheese Mexican blend)

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp cayenne red pepper

¼ tsp sugar

Broccoli cut into tiny florets

1/3 cup minced scallions

(This is a vegetarian quiche, but if you want to add ham or bacon or crab or shrimp just toss it on in)

Heat oven to 425 degrees, Prepare a nine inch pie crust. Grease a deep pie pan/quiche pan, place the pie crust in it, and crimp the crust.

Sprinkle cheese and broccoli and onion in pastry lined pan. First cover the bottom of the crust with a layer of cheese. Then cover that with the minced scallions. Then cover those with another layer of the shredded cheese. Cover this with the broccoli florets and then a final layer of the shredded cheese. If adding a meat or seafood product, put 1/2 of it with the scallions and 1/2 with the broccoli.

In a separate bowl beat the remaining ingredients together and pour over the quiche filling in the pie pan.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce oven temp to 300 degrees. Bake for 30 min longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Let stand 10 min before cutting.

Next up a cool, refreshing, and simple mixed melon and pineapple salad.


This really doesn’t require much of a recipe. I balled out 1/4 of a watermelon and 1 cantaloupe. I then chunked up one fresh pineapple and mixed it all together. Then into the fridge to chill before serving. I wasn’t going for anything fancy here, but use whatever fruit combinations you like the most.

And for the dessert, something light(er) and summery: Lemon layer cake with lemon buttercream frosting.

Curd_Crumb_Coat Cake_Side Cake_Top

The first picture is of the cake crumb coated with lemon curd. An important note: I did not candy the lemon wedges; they are purely for decoration unless you’re channeling Stonewall Jackson and like sucking on lemon wedges. In which case, knock yourself out, enjoy your forced march up the Shenandoah Valley, and DUCK!!!!

This isn’t my recipe, nor one that I’ve been using for years and don’t remember where I got it. So I’m just going to link to where I got it from rather than post it. It is very, very easy to make. I did not, however, make the cream cheese lemon frosting that is at the link. Instead I just made a basic buttercream and added the zest and juice of one lemon and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to make a lemon buttercream.

Enjoy and open thread!