I’ve never really understood celebrity crushes. Sure, I had a poster of Chris O’Donnell tacked to my wall when I was thirteen, but I just really liked Batman. In any case, it never made much sense to me to get all mushy about a made-up character.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my share of unrequited pining. Perhaps most memorable was my highschool philosophy teacher, who had a sort of Hugh Grant-meets-Dartmouth thing going. I’m a sucker for fleece. And brooding. With all of that Descartes and Sartre and Camus, it certainly wasn’t little old Madame Sbarge who inspired me to major in French in college. And years later there was the do-gooding surfer. I had clearly moved on from fleece to flowing locks and from existentialism to fighting malaria.
But lately, my crushes have moved in a culinary direction. Technically, I suppose that Rick Bayless is a celebrity, and that I have a celebrity crush. But when I flip open one of his books (two of which my wonderful husband gave me for my birthday) and make salsa, I actually feel a bit like he’s in my kitchen. OK, not really, but that doesn’t stop me from talking to him. “Rick, is this enough cilantro?” “Are these cascabels toasted enough?” I’m not sure that he would totally approve of my results but he certainly could not fault my efforts. Salsa-making has become my new obsession. Poor Jeff has endured everything from an overly smoky chipotle version to a too-salty tomatillo salsa. But I’ve finally got the hang of it. I’m loving roasted tomato salsa and chipotle-roasted tomatillo salsa. You can find a few great recipes here on Rick Bayless’ website. And with so much salsa hanging around the house, I’ve discovered that it’s awesome as a marinade, great on roasts, tasty in corn chowder, terrific in mac and cheese, and it even makes a spectacular salad dressing.
But most often I’ve actually just been making these quick, easy, and healthy tostadas. With the weather finally warmer (please don’t let this be a tease) I love grilling the steak here, although you can just as easily use a grill pan on the stove top. These are a little messy, but that is part of the fun.
1 lb flank steak
1 cup roasted tomato salsa (if you choose store-bought salsa, Fronterra brand is my favorite!)
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
salt and pepper
8 corn tortillas
6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1/4 cup sour cream
Marinate the steak in a mixture of 1/2 cup salsa and the cider vinegar for 30 minutes. Season the steak with salt and pepper. Preheat the grill or a grill-pan. Grill the steak until desired doneness. Allow to rest for a minute or two and then slice thinly. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat and saute the poblano and onion until soft, about 5 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper. Toast corn tortillas until crisp. Arrange two tortillas on each of four plates. Top with cheese, steak, pepper mixture, and finally cabbage. Serve with remaining salsa and sour cream. And lots of napkins!