5.27.2017

Tacos, Hold the Truck

We walked leisurely through the Tucson Botanical Gardens today with our friend Alex; she is visiting from New York.

Painting by David Conklin, for the exhibit. Photo by Markipedia.
It's kind of funny, because the exhibit we saw at the gardens, Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life, is also visiting from New York (the New York Botanical Garden, where it originated). The exhibition examines Kahlo’s work, life and influence through the lens of the plants and nature with which she surrounded herself. The Tucson Botanical Gardens was selected as the only institution to receive this extraordinary exhibition designed by one of the world’s premier botanical gardens.

The exhibit has been extended through August 31, 2017. If you are in Tucson, and you haven't seen it yet, now is the time!

Photo by Markipedia.
It includes an evocation of Casa Azul (Blue House) - the home Frida Kahlo shared with Diego Rivera in México City. You will be delighted by the colors, textures, and creativity they had in this home.

Additionally, there is a gallery of photos by Nikolas Muray taken between 1931 and 1941, depicting a colorful and intimate glimpse into the life of the legendary artist. Elsewhere around the grounds you can see replicas of Kahlo’s paints, brushes, and pastels. So inspired was I that I imagined getting out my pastels and doing something with them.

But reality took hold. My talent might once have been in my drawing, but now it's in the kitchen.

Thus, to the kitchen I went, armed with Frida's Fiestas - Recipes, and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo, written by Kahlo's stepdaughter, Guadalupe Rivera with Marie-Pierre Colle. (The book is available to purchase in the Botanical Gardens' gift shop.)

I purchased the book several years ago because it had a recipe for Chiles en Nogada (chiles in walnut sauce), the dish served in México on el Día de la Independencia in September. The combination of the green chiles, creamy white walnut sauce, and pomegranate seeds on top mimic the colors of the méxicano flag.

Today, I reopened the book and decided to make two fillings for some fresh tortillas I had picked up from Tucson Tortilla at this morning's farmer’s market. Robert grinds his own blue, yellow, and white corn to make some of the best tortillas I've tasted.

Both recipes are from the book; the shrimp filling is intended for tacos. The Rajas con Crema was meant as a topping for a corn pudding, but I thought it might make a great taco filling.

I was right! Both fillings were beautiful, colorful and flavorful - and also approximated the colors of the méxicano flag. We served it with a bottle of 2016 Grenache Blanc from Acquiesce Winery and Vineyards in Lodi, California. Susan Tipton, co-proprietor of Acquiesce, told me that this wine goes really well with Mexican food – we all agreed. Next week, I will be reviewing a sister wine from Acquiesce - Belle Blanc. 

If you can't make it to the Tucson Botanical Gardens to see the exhibit before it closes on August 31st, I have put a pastiche of photos below the recipes to give you a virtual tour.

Buen provecho!

~ David

Rajas con Crema

4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, and seeded *
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup Mexican crema, or crème fraîche
fresh corn tortillas, for serving

Heat the butter in a large skillet and sauté the onion until transparent. While the onion is cooking, slice the poblano chiles into 1/4-inch strips. Add them to the onion and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the crema. Mix well and heat until it is bubbling. Serve in a bowl with fresh heated tortillas on the side.

Serves 4.

Shrimp Tacos

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 serrano chiles, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled **
fresh corn tortillas, for serving
lime wedges, for serving

Heat the butter in a medium skillet. Sauté the onion and chiles until soft, then add the chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes have created a sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked shrimp and heat for two minutes. Serve in a bowl with fresh warm tortillas on the side. Squeeze a little lime juice over each taco.

Serves 4.
        Notes: 
          * I used shishito peppers because I had them on hand. 
          ** I used steamed shrimp, but will try grilling them 
          next time for added flavor.


Frida's azure blue provided a wonderful backdrop for plants - and bugs!
Photos courtesy of Markipedia.

The smokey red gives good contrast to Diego's ceramics and green plants.
Photos courtesy of Markipedia.

Photos courtesy of Markipedia.


36 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos. and a great recipe. I always love cookbooks from museum gift shops!!!

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    1. Me, too, maybe! Some of my best cook books come from museums.

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  2. Looks like a fun place. And I like that recipe for fish tacos. The ones you usually find around here are packed with coleslaw, more like a lobster roll than anything Mexican. And the Frida's Fiestas book is great. I purchased it years ago—when I was living in Rome, no less—and have cooked many delicious meals from it.

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    1. More than packed with coleslaw, they usually come fried, Frank! I much prefer the fresh taste of either grilled or quickly sautéed. That's so funny that you got this book in Rome! Who knew?

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  3. Beautiful, David. The Exhibit was indoors at the NYBG;it's even brighter and more colorful outdoors. By the way, the kids want to know if that's a glass cork with the "A" on it. If so...

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    1. Thanks, Lee. Unfortunately, you need to tell the kids that there was no glass stopper – just to cork.

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  4. Two fabulous recipes that I wouldn't definitely enjoy. Love the flavours. The colours in the gardens are absolutely stunning and vibrant and I can see why you wanted to break out the pastels!

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    1. A lot of the color reminds me of what you were saying in South America, John! It's quite beautiful – and inspiring!

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  5. Am just back from Mexico and am missing it so. Your posting brings it all back on this gray, rainy day and
    makes my heart sing! Muchas Gracias from Colorado...

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    1. I'm so glad the post brought back good memories! If you're not – the sunshine will retire!

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  6. Gorgeous photos as always, David! The exhibit looks amazing, as does your dishes.

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  7. Oh my goodness, both taco fillings sound wonderful. I wish I could eat those shrimp right now because they look amazing! As always you have the most beautiful photos in this post, David!

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    1. Thanks, Marcelle – you are so sweet to say that about my photos! I think you'll like both recipes – especially the rajas con crema!

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  8. Yes please! One more reason to visit (ok two)...the Tucson Botanical Gardens and Tacos.

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    1. You know that you and Andrew are always welcome, Carolyne!

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  9. Amazing location! We also visited an exhibition of Frida Kalo famous portraits in ROme , two years ago. It was awesome. Love recipe and pictures as usual, David. Ciao da ANna e Giovanna :)

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    1. Thanks Anna e Giovanna! I really love the color in her work!

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  10. That Rajas con Crema is a delight! As are your colorful photos. GREG

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    1. Thanks Greg - I could eat a ton of the rajas!

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  11. Hi David, I first saw this on IG which did not give it complete justice. AMAZING is all I can say as usual you have thought of everything and all the final exquisite touches. We have to get together when we get back. Lovely post!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Cheri - I really appreciate your kind words! Can't wait till you get back to Arizona.

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  12. Markipedia's photos are great, especially appreciated since I won't be able to see it garden in person. I know I would enjoy tacos made with those delicious fillings.

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    1. Thanks Karen! The exhibit is so beautiful! Markipdia apprecited your kind words!

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  13. Gorgeous photos, Mark, bringing to life the exhibit and experience. (Alex told us she thoroughly enjoyed it, too!) As for the food, the two fillings look fantastic (and I also heard they were indeed delicious!). I know the tortillas are wonderful! And I know the wine is wonderful! A beautiful post!

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    1. It was a really fun post to do, Susan. And I am glad Alex got to be here to share it with us!

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  14. What wonderful photos, I am sorry I will miss this exhibit but I will try to make your Rajas con Crema .

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    1. Thanks, Gerlinde - definitely the rajas were our favorite!

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  15. Stunning photos, David. Would whip this up in a New York second but stymied by dearth of chilis and tortillas here in France. Having food envy flashes.

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    1. I really think you could make this with any kind of pepper - maybe even bell peppers and add some piment d'Esplette, then use crème fraîche. I shoudl send some ground corn with Susan so you can make your own tacos!

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  16. Gorgeous photos David! I think the shrimp tacos would go over well in my family!

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    1. Thanks, Inger - I hope you all like them. This recipe lends itself to lots of variations, too!

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  17. Hi David! This post is simply beautiful! And colourful - a feast for the senses. I love it. I love Frida's works - thanks for sharing pics of the exhibition and glimpses of her life. Very inspiring. And it would be wonderful to see your pastel works! Both of these tortilla fillings look so scrumptious. The tortillas look so lovely. And I love the peppers.

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    1. Thanks, Ngeun - maybe I will do an entire post of drawings of the food instead of photos!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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