Taco Tuesday – my favorite night of the week! Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Things are quiet here at the cove this week so I’ve been doing a fair amount of deck sitting and novel reading. Since this current book is set in Mexico, I decided to spice up my self-imposed solitude with, what else? Taco Tuesday! I invited my oldest daughter along with her three teenagers over for an impromptu porch fiesta in honor of her recent birthday.

I’ve come a long way since I ate my first taco back in the ’70s and am now quite prone to experimenting. Lime-pickled jalapeños are a new favorite thing. Please handle the peppers carefully; I wear kitchen-prep gloves as a precaution.

I used to always fry the tortillas, but I’ve found that I like them even better when I carefully hold them over the gas-stove flame with a pair of tongs for half a minute on each side to warm them.

For dessert there is decadent “Three Milks” cake, the original “poke cake.” This lusciousness is for vanilla fans, like my granddaughter, Anna. Fold the ingredients together ever so gently and resist the urge to serve it with a side of chocolate. Fresh berries, or nothing at all, do nicely.

As for me, I could eat tacos (and Tres Leches Cake) every day of the week. You certainly don’t need to wait until Tuesday!

Tacos

1 pound cooked, shredded chicken or cooked ground beef
1/3 cup salsa verde (if using chicken) or 1/3 cup red salsa (if using beef)
1 large tomato, finely diced
2 cups corn and bean salsa (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos (recipe follows)
12 tortillas, warmed
Guacamole, sour cream and cilantro for garnish

In a bowl, combine the meat and salsa. Spoon a tablespoon or two of the mixture onto a tortilla, followed by corn and bean salsa, tomato, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pickled jalapenos and cilantro. Yield: 12 tacos

Corn & Bean Salsa

6 ears fresh corn or thawed frozen corn, enough to make 2 cups
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 scallions, diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Char the corn on the cob over a hot grill or stir kernels in a dry non-stick pan over medium-low heat, covered, but stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. (Be careful when employing the hot skillet and lifting the lid. The corn will start to pop around and that’s when you need to turn the burner off.) Place corn in a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.

Pickled Jalapeños

1/2 cup jalapeños, seeded and diced
1/4 cup shallots, diced
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and allow to set for at least 30 minutes.

Tres Leches Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In another large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together egg yolks and 1 cup sugar until silky. Beat in vanilla and set aside.

In a third large bowl using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients and beat together. Add milk and melted butter and beat until combined. Gently fold in egg whites until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into middle of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Filling

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl whisk together sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk and vanilla. Using a fork, poke holes all over cake, then pour milk mixture evenly over cake. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

Topping

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar
Berries for garnish, optional

Just before serving, in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Frost cake with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Garnish with berries. Yield: 12 servings

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