Michael Gartenlaub Teaches Us About His Mexican Cuisine

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Michael Gartenlaub has learned so much about food from his day job – after all, he works as a food publicist at Benvenuti PR in New York!

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On Tuesdays, Michael cooks tacos. Doing theme nights for Mexican cuisine was his roommates’ idea.

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“Basically, my housemates and I use a taco kit when making tacos, but really it’s just for the shells and the soft tortillas, and the seasoning mix.  It really helps save time, especially when you work a full day and are in a bit of a rush to get dinner prepared.  But we use our own ground meat (usually ground turkey, but sometimes we use ground beef or sliced grilled chicken) that we cook in a skillet until brown, and then add the seasoning mix, and we get creative with the other fixings.”
Michael’s suggested ingredients:
  • shredded Mexican cheese
  • diced fresh scallions
  • diced tomatoes
  • shredded lettuce
  • salsa (we use medium/mild)
  • sour cream
  • taco sauce (from kit)
  • diced avocado

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“We heat the hard taco shells in the oven for a few minutes so they get warm and extra crispy. The soft tortillas are usually heated up as well to get them warm, but for less time than the hard shells. Once everything is prepped, we usually lay everything out in individual bowls and dishes, which makes for a neat presentation (it’s kind of like a taco bar), and then everyone digs in and builds their own tacos as they please. I like a nice variety but I try not to overstuff the tacos.  They’re a little messy and they’re not always the prettiest, but they’re so good!”

“We always try to switch things up when we’re cooking at home.  Sometimes we’ll make baked ziti, or balsamic grilled chicken with various sides, like couscous or quinoa, corn, or grilled vegetables.  I also recently made a pot of stuffed peppers, which is one of my all-time favorite dishes to make, and I’ve been eating it ever since I can remember.  I learned the recipe from my mom, but it’s a pretty common dish and it’s an easy one-pot meal.  Next week, we’ll be making homemade tidbits (they’re a classic pub/bar dish) consisting of garlic bread topped with grilled chicken, steak, etc. and melted cheese.  Ours will be buffalo chicken with melted mozzarella cheese (I’ll take pictures of this meal too).”
“I usually like to go all-out, and make more challenging meals during the holidays.  Last Thanksgiving, for instance, my family and I were hosting around 10 people for dinner and my mom and I divided the meal.  She took the turkey and stuffing, and I took the hors d’oeuvres, soup, and sides, and we both made the dessert together.  We found various recipes to try out, which I always like to do.  I’m always looking through magazines or online for inspiration.  First, I made Mediterranean Lamb meatballs with homemade spinach/basil pesto.  The recipe came from The Meatball Shop Cookbook, which is probably the most amazing cookbook I’ve ever owned!  Then for the soup, we tried a roasted butternut squash and apple soup, which was really simple to make.  Sides included carrots spiced with ginger and cardamom and brussels sprouts.  And for dessert, we made a lemon bundt cake with lemon icing.  It was all really good and a little different from the norm.”

“Come summer, I’m all about grilling.  My favorite thing to grill is skirt steak, which I either marinate in chimichurri sauce (it’s amazing!!!!!), or I’ve even tried ginger sauce, and a lime/cilantro/chili sauce.  I love to throw salmon on the grill too, and I flavor that different ways, especially with dijon mustard, lemon, garlic, oil, and other spices.”

“My family and I love key lime pie too, and I found this really awesome looking recipe for a key lime pie with lime meringue that I’m going to tackle in a few weeks for my mom’s birthday.”

Delicious!

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