Monthly Archives: June 2010

Green Chili Steak Fajitas

Sometimes, all I want to eat is Mexican food–for days. Rice, beans, cheese–who doesn’t want to eat that all the time? It is true, once in a while, I wear myself out on it. However, the past week, it has been all I have wanted.

I decided to try a new spin on the “fajita”. I don’t care for bell peppers at all (truth be told I think their flavor ruins everything it touches). So, most of the time, fajitas for me are simply meat and onions. I have to say, if you enjoy green chiles, then this recipe is one you will enjoy. The green chiles make a great supplementary flavor in pace of the bell peppers. Also, you can make this with any type of meat or meat substitute. On this particular day, I had steak I wanted to use.

I started with thinly cut, grain-fed, organic sirloin. I sliced it even thinner and into strips so that it would be light and easy to cook quickly. I used about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and threw the steak on. *sizzle*

After browning the steak for only a few short minutes, I added the green chiles and some basic fajita seasoning. The smell was amazing; fresh and a little spicy.

While I was browning the steak and seasonings, I decided to make some homemade guacamole, which is one of my favorite things. People make guacamole all sorts of different ways, and I don’t have special tricks except for one: I use lemon in place of lime. Lemon keeps the green color alive and vibrant for a longer period of time, and also, it gives the guacamole more of a zing than the limes do. I also use a local and fresh pico de gallo that I get from our Whole Foods market if I don’t have time to make my own. This can add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions right away. For seasonings, I use a lot of sea salt, onion powder, garlic (fresh or dried both work), pepper, and garlic salt. Of course, a major key is to pick the right kind of avocado–not too soft and not too hard and you don’t want the skin to be too pebbled. Fairly simple, and much better than anything prepackaged.

Black beans are one of my favorite things, but sometimes just cooking them from the can leaves them unflavorful. Try adding some fresh tomatoes and onions and a little sea salt for more flavor!

All you need now is some cheese, some sour cream, and some corn tortillas. If you microwave the corn tortillas, be sure that you put a damp paper towel over them so they don’t crack.

My suggestion? Add two cans of green chiles…they were an wonderful flavor on an old favorite. Oh, and make sure you have a lot of napkins on hand! This is also a great meal to cook for a lot of people. Everyone enjoys a good Mexican dish, and it is quite easy and fast to cook. The majority of what you need is a well seasoned meat (or wheat meat) and all the good condiments–but make sure you don’t skimp on the homemade guac–never EVER by the neon green stuff. EVER.

Vertical Diner–Fresh Veggie Fare Accompanied by Delicious Music

I love The Vertical Diner. This is by far, one of my most favorite vegetarian restaurants in Salt Lake City. The Vertical Diner understands the reasons I try to eat organic and natural foods as much as possible. They are health conscious and earth friendly, which is important to me. However, even more important than that, in the end, is how the food tastes. And I can guarantee you that if you are a vegetarian eater (and even if you are a carnivore), your senses will not be disappointed.

Vertical Diner offers a wide variety of textures and fresh ingredients which makes it a bit more exciting than other vegetarian options in Salt Lake City. They cook up some of the best wheat meat I have had (also knows as seitan) and even their vegetables themselves appear to have more color and flavor than other places I have eaten. For example, I am not a big fan of carrots, cooked or raw. However, the carrots that come on the side of most sandwich dishes at Vertical Diner, are so amazingly savory, that I enjoy every bit.

On this occasion, I ordered the Avocado Sandwich with the carrots on the side as well as one of my favorite beers, Lev. Vertical Diner has a wide array of beers of the local variety, as well as some of my traditional favorites. They even boost several organic beers for your enjoyment. My good friend Sara got the “chicken” sandwich (wheat meat breaded like a chicken cutlet) with french fries, fry sauce, and also their vegan cheese sauce on the side. Both sandwiches came on our choice of their seven grain bread, which is basically to die for. Everything tastes like it just came from the garden and in addition, fills you right up and satisfies your hunger pains.

After a great dinner with a delightful beer, it was time for dessert. On this occasion we got two different selections: Shoofly Cake, a traditional Dutch crumb cake with real molasses and also the Hot Brownie Sundae with Peanut butter. Both were served with Soy Delicious ice cream. The Hot Brownie Sundae with PB was probably one for the most heavenly, lucious desserts that I have eaten in a long time. The rich chocolate and PB flavors were intense and went down perfect with the soy ice cream. The Shoofly Cake was ok. I found the cake to be a bit dry, and probably wouldn’t have cared for it much without the ice cream ala mode. I did enjoy the molasses flavor and the bitterness of the dessert–I just found the dryness to be a bit unappealing.

In addition to the lovely and healthy food we were consuming, we were also enjoying the music dazzlings of one of my favorite local bands, Highway 6. This band is made of a father/daughter duo, Tom and Heidi Nedreberg. Highway 6 writes and records original music written by both Heidi and Tom which bring soul and rock together in perfect harmony. They are also known to cover some of your favorite rock and roll hits–with a little bit of an edge or twist on the original. Heidi’s vocal talents are incredible and range from soft and high to raspy and low. Everything she sings she belts with heart and passion and you can tell in every performance. Vertical Diner doesn’t have a spacious venue, but the intimacy of this diner is perfect for the music of this local talent. The food and the music made for a perfect evening out.

I highly recommend that you try out this amazing place, even if you aren’t a vegetarian. I eat meat, but sometimes I really want something light, healthy, and filling. This is a great place to branch out and try some of the wonderful flavors that vegetarian fare can offer and in the meantime, check out some of the local music they get to play on their small stage. I promise the atmosphere, food quality, and entertainment won’t be a let down.

Vertical Diner on Urbanspoon

Ahh Sushi–Mellow, Bar Atmosphere has Fresh Sushi

I am always looking for a new sushi place in the city. It seems like they are popping up all of the time and naturally I wonder how many of them can be that amazing. Salt Lake City isn’t a port town and we aren’t known for our amazingly fresh seafood. However, we do have some really great sushi bars downtown. On this particular evening, I wasn’t the one choosing the sushi restaurant, so I ended up trying something new.

I met a friend at Ahh Sushi, which shares the basement with a local bar called O’Shucks. I had been to O’Shucks once, pretty late at night, and really paid no attention to the fact that there was a sushi bar just through the brick wall. When you enter Ahh Sushi, you basically can enter one side to the O’Shucks bar, or the other for Ahh Sushi. They check your ID, so make sure you don’t forget it (and that you are 21) if you are trying out this very unique joint. When I got there, my date had already ordered a Japanese beer as well as some edamame to snack on. Is there anything better than arriving at a table that already has food on it? I think not. We went over and over the menu containing the sushi rolls and finally settled on two pretty traditional and simple rolls (I never get bizzare with sashimi or rolls that sound too crazy at a new sushi restaurant, they have to pass the simple sushi test first). Although, you will see by the menu, most of their rolls are pretty basic.

I asked for a recommendation from the server and decided on the Sunset Roll; crab, cucumber, and avocado topped with fresh salmon and a slice of thinly cut lemon wedge. John, my date, ordered the Funky Vegas Roll; salmon, cream cheese and crab with tobiko (fish eggs) and spicy eel sauce. Both of these rolls were pretty amazing. The Sunset Roll was creamy, a testament that the salmon was very fresh, and the lemon on top finished the flavor off with a very refreshing and summery citrus flair. Additionally, the Funky Vegas roll was a perfect partner to this light and flavorful roll. The Funky Vegas roll is rich and a bit heavy, with so many amazing flavors of rich seafood and cream cheese. The tobiko on top is lovely as a brilliant accent of saltiness and zing. With one roll that evoked summer and one that evoked a soulful taste, they made a great pair. And I have to say, the extra dry, cold (not hot, never hot) sake was the perfect way to wash down these two amazing sushi rolls.

If you want to check out Ahh Sushi, you can find it down the stairs off of 100 South and 22 East. The parking situation isn’t that great, but the atmosphere and the prices are worth it. I will be back to try more fresh flavors that this sushi bar has to offer!

Ahh Sushi on Urbanspoon