Taco Seasoning Packets

Here is the skinny.... or not so skinny!

The mother of all taco seasoning packets is Lawry's. They have been around forever and really make a decent product. They even removed the MSG which was definitely there for a while. See ingredients listed below. Also they now have a "HOT" version as well for those who like to bring the heat.  Here is what I learned about them...

In the early 1900s, Lawrence Frank and Theodore Van de Kamp turned a tiny Los Angeles potato chip shop into a multi-million dollar bakery empire. In the early 1920s, Lawrence and his brother-in-law Walter Van de Kamp went into the restaurant business together and opened a succession of acclaimed restaurants, including The Great Scot and the Tam O'Shanter.

In 1938, the brothers founded 'Lawry's The Prime Rib' restaurant in Beverly Hills. The restaurant was the birthplace of Lawry's Seasoned Salt, which was soon introduced to the marketplace in response to overwhelming demand. Innovators in the industry, Lawry's continued to introduce dehydrated sauce mixes, seasonings, marinades, and spice blends to households everywhere and have basically been kicking booty ever since.

I did not know the same people were Van de Kamp's. That is CRAZY level success. SHEESH.
Anywhoo... their spice packet is solid. But some people don't like the taste of it and would rather make from scratch. So here is an option to 'do-it-yourself'. You can always tweak to your taste... My favorite trick is pretty much toasting your seasonings by stirring them around in some hot oil before you add your beef (or ground turkey) and onions.
For 1lb of Meat (turkey, beef or ground pork even)
tsp. of salt (plus to taste)
2 Tbl. chili powder
1 Tsp. cumin
1/2 Tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch o Paprika
Pinco o cocoa powder (sweetened) no more than 1 tsp
I don't like garlic power or garlic salt but if you do.... add it!
1 onion diced super super finely
1 generous handful of cilantro, chopped finely
1 Tbl. of flour
a few shakes of tabasco
**** 1 diced jalapeno... but if you don't want to deal with a raw pepper I like to add 1 small can of Herdez brand Salsa Casera. You can get in in a 'mild' or 'hot' heat. You could drain out a little bit of the extra water/juice and then throw it in.
Stir your spices into oil... then add flour... then onions (until brown) then cilantro - crisp it up a bit... then beef... then can of salsa once beef is brown. Add a tiny bit of water... maybe 1/4 cup just to help it all swirl around etc. and then simmer for 30+ minutes. It may be a little juicy. If you let if sit for 15 min. before serving the juicy usually goes away but if it bugs you, use a spoon with holes for drainage as you serve it into your taco shell.

Ingredients of Lawry's Spice Packet  Spices (Paprika, Cumin, Oregano, Chili Peppers), Onion, Salt, Lactose (Milk), Sugar, Garlic Powder, Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Cocoa Powder, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor.


Another Taco Memory

When I was a kid living in Greenwich Village, I used to go to a Day Care Center every day after Elementary School from 3pm - 6pm until my mom could pick me up after work. One time, we had a field trip to one of the counselor's apartment. She had the taco filling mix ready. We helped her cut up the tomatoes, grate the cheese, shred the lettuce etc. She pulled out a box of shells and we made and ate tacos. I remember being fascinated by the box of shells. 'How do they DO that? Make them all u-shaped and everything... YUM!!!!!
Well... apparently we have this man to thank....Juvenico Maldonado, who in 1950 invented the contraption that would make the Taco Bell people and himself really really RICH. It's been a long time since I've bought a box of shells. I can make crispy ones at home myself, but I think it's cute that people still buy them and serve up tacos that way. I will never ever forget that trip to Rosalie's house back in '76. And apparently I will never stop loving or eating crispy tacos.


Taco Talk Episode #2 Cake Monkey and Taco Seasoning!


Show number two was awesome and featured Elizabeth Belkind talking about Kogi Tacos and Cake Monkey AND we had our first caller. Barry, from San Fran who needed some advice about making ground beef taco mix without the store bought over-salted spice packet!

I really could talk all day about tacos.



Fish Tacos at The Shore in Hermosa

I wanted to give some luv to my trusty sidekick 'side o rice'. He loves these tacos. He really loved them when they were 2 for $4 at Happy Hour everyday. What a deal that was with big chunks of fresh Mahi Mahi. Now they are 2 for $7.50 which is still a pretty good deal...

They were tasty, even the Teriyaki version which of course I balked at. I can hear Jonathan Gold scoffing at me that I am not a real Taco Maven if I could endorse such a taco. But it was fresh, high quality and artfully prepared, so there!

Check out our video!


Playing with Food!

This is the premiere show on the new Foodie Talk Network hosted by Dean Valentine. It's super fun and last week we did a drive-through taco taste test with some surprising results.

El Pollo Loco had a really wonderful crispy chicken taco! Who knew.

Check out the episode here!


Taco Talk Episode #1 - Tasting Tortilla Chips!

Our very first episode. We tasted tortilla chips and talked about the history of the taco but of course forgot to discuss Independence Day. DOH.

We also review Pacos Tacos which is one of my favorite places of ALL TIME especially for their flour tortillas.


Next week we will have Elizabeth Belkind of Cake Monkey and a review of fish tacos at The Shore in Hermosa Beach.


El Paisa

El Paisa in San Diego

I have not been to this place down in San Diego, but they give good yelp. Apparently there are two and you could get lost so I will post the YELP link too.

My 'Taco Talk' co-host, Side of Rice, went down there and had what he said was one of the best fish tacos he ever had. No small claim. Did he take any pictures or bring back a menu? No. He's learning too.

El Paisa is equilvalent to Paisano in Italian. Sort of means 'countryman' I guess....

The food looks very very GOOOOOOOOOD.   http://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-el-paisa-san-diego


Pacos Tacos, LAX

I have loved Pacos for a very long time. Since 1988 or something like that. Their crispy chicken taco defined all others for me, and their translucent (yes, fat laden... shhhhhhhhh) flour tortillas draw chefs in ecstacy from miles around.

Here is our first little remote. Editing is a challenge with the wimpy softwear I am using. I will upgrade and it will be better next time. We promise!!!!!

Taco Talk Art

My friend Chelsea Hadley is an incredible artist. I asked her for a little sketch/drawing. Nothing fancy because I know how busy she is with a full-time job and raising two fairy children. Really... a black and white doodle I could play with.

This is what she gave me in 2 days. Holy Guacamole!!!!!

I am going to make t-shirts I think. Let me know if you would like one!


Taco Talk!

Taco Talk Intro from Rima Lyn on Vimeo.

New show I will be hosting. Streamed live on ustream, Thursdays at 2:30 pm. I will provide links to shows after they are created.

Should be fun.

Check it out because you can call in with questions while we are live.


Tacos Gobenador Style (like Fajitas) at Mazatlan

I don't even know her name but I would like to have her on the show so I'd better find out. I only ate here the first time because they are next door to my office downtown. No frills, no decor, nada. But delicious food. Everything is fresh, authentic, clean and she takes special orders! (all neurotic gringas on a diet need apply)

Recently, they moved across the street... They are on Broadway between 8th & 9th in a place called Mazatlan. That's just what the place was called before and they grabbed it so they could stay open later to cater to the Orpheum crowd. They didn't bother to change the name, the sign, furniture, colors etc.
The decor is still meh but now it's really loud and shiny. No matter. Just eat the food! My current favorite items are shrimp tacos in a flour tortilla. A little bit fajita-ish they have shrimp, peppers, onions, cheese, lettuce, avodaco and salsa. You can get two with rice/beans for about $9 and they are pretty big and filling.

I also love their chicken burrito because it's so white and clean (the meat). Also they have weekly specials like Picadillo, Seafood Soup and a bunch of other stuff... whatever she feels like. They have no website and no Yelp entry except one from when they were in the tiny spot across the street.

Please go! Apurate!


Malo Ground Beef Pickle Taco


The amazing artist Brian Wills (he of the geometrics) hipped me to this taco. When he told me about it, I was like GROSS. You're kidding me. A taco with a sliced hamburger pickle inside it. EEEEIIIIWWWWW.

But then I tried it. And I wasn't drunk yet either. Why it's so good I don't know. Is it authentically Mexican? Heck no, but it's tasty and in the end, I am an American enjoying a hybrid mix of culture clash in a Latino infused city.

Very simple ingredients... nice seasoned ground beef mixture, a few pickles, a pinch of cheddar cheese and a mild-ish smooth lightly cooked tomato salsa. No lettuce, no raw tomatoes. They are not missed.

Sure, their awesome Angelina Margarita with hibiscus and a chili spice rim makes them taste about 10x better, but they're pretty good to begin with.

You can get them at a daily 5pm happy hour or the crazy Monday night taco special all night or at Sunday brunch one at a time. Otherwise you have to get them 2 @ a time for more money and I always want 3!

Thank you Brian, you changed my taco life!



Taco Memories

The first taco I ever ate was at a tiny restaurant on the corner of Bleecker and Christopher in 1975. Yes, it was indeed a crispy taco with ground beef. The lighting was very dark but I remember loving the salsa and the hard thick crunch of both the chips and the taco shell. Up until that point, it was all Ray's pizza and NY style Chinese food.

I begged to go to that place at least once a week but my mom has never been a lover of Mexican cuisine and so I think we ate there only a handful of times before it either went out of business or we moved West.

I can almost remember the name... it tickles my brain and then vanishes, but the memory of the taco is very very CLEAR.


Welcome to My Taco!

I am a lover of tacos. I know I am not alone. I am very specifically a lover of the crispy taco. I love a good crunch that is freshly fried and not too oily. NEVER BOXED. I love a delicious filling, the perfect salsa, lots of fresh lettuce and orange or white shredded cheese. When done poorly, this is as trashy as it gets. When done right, it's heaven.

I will not descriminate against the soft taco. My goal is to provide taco insight, recipes, advice, whatever I can do to further the cause of the crispy and other more common forms of the taco. The taco is one of the most perfect food items every created. The taco is perhaps proof that God is Mexican.

A taco a day keeps the blues away!