Wanting what you can’t have makes it oh so much more desirable. Before you get the wrong idea, my lust is strictly reserved for seasonal produce. Now is the time of year where I start craving things that are nowhere to be found; warm weather, ripe tomatoes, and farmers market eats from trendy little busses.
Epicurious has a handy little seasonal ingredient map which will tell you what is in season in your area for every month of the year. I click on Colorado, and am greeted with the following message: “The growing season is currently dormant here; opt for items from storage, such as apples, pears, and root vegetables.” It’s like the voice on the phone that tells you “If you would like to make a call, please hang up and try again”, or, “We’re sorry, but all customer service representatives are busy. Your approximate wait time is….four months”. I hate that lady.
If I eat another root vegetable, or cold storage pear, I think I may lose it. Luckily, our wayward neighbors in California, Texas, and Florida are sending us vitamin C-filled grapefruit, oranges and tangerines, so at least we don’t have to add scurvy to our list of Winter woes (yarrr, maties).
Summer cooking is easy. It just happens between bites of sugar snaps and cherry tomatoes. Winter stretches my creativity. Luckily, Colorado is a sunny, albeit cold state, but on snowy days like this, I find myself trying to cheat winter by adapting my favorite summer foods to fit what is seasonal and available.
The subject of my Summer food craving last weekend was a Bricklayer Taco; from a taco stand with a highly inappropriate name, and ridiculously good street food (Hey, I’m a school teacher–we’re keeping it family friendly here). Kevin Morrison started his colorfully named taco truck just last summer at the Cherry Creek Farmers Market, and from the looks of it, will be back next summer.
The original “bricklayer” starts with a small, locally made corn tortilla. The bricklayer is formed with cotija, a salty Mexican crumbly cheese, which is griddled until it melts together and is speckled and golden on both sides. Morrison tops the cotija with scrambled eggs, house-made tomatillo salsa, and cilantro.
My version mimics the original, with a corn tortilla softened in hot oil, topped with a golden layer of cotija and scrambled eggs. I puzzled over the salsa. Although tempted to re-create the tomatillo salsa, I knew that any tomatillos I could find at this time of year would pale in comparison to those in-season. So, I set my sights on a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce–they’re readily available in winter, and have enough smokiness and heat to help me throw out all my notions of out of season produce (for now).
The grass is (literally) greener on the other side, but instead of whining for the next few months about things normal Denver-ites embrace, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. Last year, when my blog was just a wee one, I had Project Snow Globe to help me make it through to warmer days. This year, I’m feeling a little more feisty, so let’s all welcome a little acronym called P.O.W! (Project Outsmart Winter). The Mister has agreed to let me P.O.W! (yes, it can be a noun or a verb), so my next order of business will be to paint my living room wall a color called “kumquat”….how will you bridge the gap to warmer days?
“Bricklayer” Breakfast Tacos with Griddled Cotija and Chipotle-Lime Salsa
Inspired by a colorfully-named taco truck
Makes 8 tacos
- 12 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
- 8 large eggs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 corn tortillas
- Canola oil, to fill a small frying pan to 1/2 inch
- 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and sliced
- Chopped onion and cilantro for garnish
- Chipotle Lime Salsa (see below)
Griddle the Cotija:
Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Wait until the pan is hot, then place 1/4 cup crumbled cotija in the middle of the pan. Spread the cotija into a circle about 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Cover the pan and cook for one minute, or until the cotija is bound together, and the underside is speckled and golden. Press it down with a spatula for 10 seconds, then flip. Press down the other side and cook for an additional 30 seconds. If not using immediately, the cotija patties can be kept warm in an oven set to the lowest temperature for up to 10 minutes.
Soften the Tortillas:
Set a plate covered with paper towels beside the stove. Heat the oil in a small frying pan until hot and shimmering. Cook each corn tortilla until softened and just beginning to puff up in spots. Remove from the pan and set on the paper towels to drain. Blot any excess oil from the top with additional paper towels.
Scramble the Eggs:
Whisk the eggs, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Scramble them as per usual (I like Deb’s method, which you can find here).
Assemble the Tacos:
On top of each tortilla, layer the griddled cotija, scrambled eggs, salsa, avocado, chopped onions and cilantro. Devour while hot.
This salsa is smoky, tangy, and pretty spicy, so a little goes a long way!
2 tablespoons adobo sauce, from one small can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 chipotle chiles, from 1 small can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
In a food processor, puree the adobo sauce, chipotle chiles, lime juice and salt. Add the onion and cilantro, and pulse until everything is finely chopped.