Yelp and Repentance

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How many of us are lucky enough to receive not one but TWO hand-written thank-you notes in the mail on the same day?  And both those thank-you notes are on cards created by the folks doing the thanking!

I’d give our guests very, very positive reviews on Yelp – if only they made being house guests their business: FIVE stars!!!!!!!!!!!! Cleaned up after themselves!!!!  Appreciated our cooking!!!!  Good conversationalists!!!!  Stayed LESS than 5 nights!!!  Wrote and snail-mailed thank-you’s!!!!

My positive Yelping would not be typical of what seems to be the norm on Yelp.  The definition of “yelp” is a short, sharp cry of pain or alarm.  Those who created Yelp reviews must have known that this was not going to be a necessarily positive kind of thing.  And, judging from our kids’ experience with their restaurant(s), Tacolicious, Yelp can definitely cause a sharp cry of pain or alarm.

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“Tacolicious is AWESOME and the manager is the BEST!” “Great tacos.”  “Yummy tacos.” “Prime location; good vibes and good food!” “God, this place is good.” Yes, there are lots and lots of positive Yelp reviews about Tacolicious, but then…….

Well, you’ll just have to read our daughter Sara’s recent article in online Bon Appétit:  10 Lessons on Opening a Restaurant.  It’s not all about Yelp; it’s about the restaurant business in general.  And it’s about repentance.   It’s pretty funny, even if her mama is the one saying it.

In case you’re interested, a little Googling comes up with the following info re how the name Yelp was selected by its co-founders:  it was short, memorable, easy to spell, and connected “the help” and “yellow pages.”

Andy, meanwhile, can’t help thinking about his on-going angst resulting from  A little like Yelp – but for the world of academia.  Check out Andy’s Corner.

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Guacamole – and more from Tacolicious

I’ve got four recipes from Tacolicious for your review.  One – D-lish T-lish Guacamole – we blogged about before; it’s SO perfect.  I just KNOW your reviews will be stellar. 🙂

Three other recipes are for dishes which are all currently on the menu at the restaurants, if you’d like to eat out in San Francisco (or Palo Alto or San Jose) and Yelp about it.  Just remember that restaurant owners have feelings too.

Also – just so you know – I am not exactly unrepentant.  Wikipedia says that “repentance is the activity of reviewing ones actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to change for the better.”  I hereby promise to send out hand-written thank-you notes post-holiday – which will be a first since email was invented (but I hope my family doesn’t hold me to it!)

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Chicken Pozole Verde

Chicken Pozole Verde

This is a delicious, easy use for leftover cooked chicken. Recipe adapted from a Sara Deseran recipe.

  • ½ lb poblano chiles, halved and seeded
  • 1 lb tomatillos (about 9 medium), dehusked
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 cup loosely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups shredded or chopped chicken
  • 1 15-ounce can white hominy, drained and rinsed
  • Shredded green cabbage, sliced radishes and fried tortilla strips (or crumbled tortilla chips) for garnish
  • slices of lime – for squeezing over the pozole

Turn the oven to 450 degrees. Place the poblanos, tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic on a sheet pan. Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until slightly charred and softened.

Remove and place everything except the jalapeno in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth, leaving a little texture. Add the jalapeno a bit at a time and taste until it suits your spiciness level.  Add the cilantro and and pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped.

Pour this mixture into a large pot and add the chicken stock. Season generously with sugar and kosher salt to taste. Add the chicken and hominy and cook for 15 minutes to marry the flavors. Garnish with the cabbages, radishes, and tortilla strips and serve with a wedge of lime for squeezing over it.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.
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Butternut squash and kale ready for tacos

Butternut Squash and Kale Tacos

It’s vegetarian and it’s easy and delish! Recipe adapted from Tacolicious (the cookbook) by Sara Deseran.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced, peeled butternut squash (or do as I do and substitute sweet potatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder (I used ground ancho chile; it’s milder than other chiles)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale (or other greens of your choice – such as chard or even arugula)
  • 1 T lime juice
  • Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
  • 1/2 c roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema, chopped white onion, chopped fresh cilantro, and salsa of choice, for serving (optional)

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute more. Add the squash and sauté for 6 to 7 minutes, just until the squash begins to soften. Season with the chile powder, cumin, and salt.

Add the kale and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until it begins to wilt. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.

Serve with the tortillas, crema, pumpkin seeds, onion, cilantro, and salsa.

If you want to add meat, thinly-cut strips of grilled beef would be delicious. Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.
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Tacolicious Carnitas – with cabbage, onion, and cilantro slaw – over rice and with salsa

Tacolicious Carnitas

The Tacolicious cookbook calls for cooking the pork mixture in lard, but I’ve simplified this by using the more-readily available vegetable oil. To help with the final browning, I suggest adding a little butter – a trick my mother taught me.   Also, we often serve taco meat over rice, instead of in a taco. Recipe adapted from Tacolicious (the cookbook) by Sara Deseran

  • 2 1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-2″ cubes
  • 1 c sliced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T orange juice
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 T vegetable oil – divided
  • 2 T butter (optional)
  • corn or flour tortillas, warmed – or rice
  • chopped onion, cilantro, salsa, and lime wedges for serving

In a medium bowl combine the pork with the onion, garlic, sugar, salt, oregano, bay leaf, orange juice and lemon juice and toss to coat the meat evenly.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours – or up to 24 hours.

Bring the pork to room temperature.  Add 3 T oil to a large, heavy pot with a lid and heat to medium high.  Add the pork mixture, stir a bit, cover the pot, turn down the heat to low and cook the pork for about 3 hours – or until the pork pulls apart easily with forks.

Remove from the heat.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a bowl and shred, using two forks.

Return the pot to the stove over high heat, add the remaining 3 T of oil – and the butter, if you’re using it; when the oil begins to smoke add about 1/2 of the meat and cook, stirring, for about 4-6 minutes or until crispy.  Repeat with the remaining meat.

Serve with tortillas, onion, cilantro, salsa, and lime.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

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