“And can you hear the sound of hysteria? The subliminal mind fuck America.”
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This is the second Green Day-inspired recipe for Music & Food and probably my favorite Green Day song. As a matter of fact, while it may make me an incredibly Midwest Pedestrian Fan, I think American Idiot is their best album. Nothing before or since holds together as an album. Nothing else is as well-written or cohesive. Sure, I’m not crazy about it being turned into a Broadway musical, but bands have to make money somehow.
This also represents the second Midwest nostalgia recipe tied to a Green Day theme song. I’ve already stated why I think Green Day triggers Midwest Vibes for me despite their California roots. In short, they remind me of many “punk” bands I saw at house parties in the ’80s in Michigan. This leads me to think of the food of my youth which leads to the kind of middle-American cuisine that, while not specifically referenced, likely permeates the dysfunctional world of Green Day’s America.
Nothing sums up Middle American Dysfunctional Cuisine more than the Ortega Taco Night. In my youth, it was my favorite meal and a fairly regular (like maybe every other week regular) occurrence. It felt cool to be able to assemble my own “authentic tacos” from a spread laid out on the table. It was tasty, “exotic” and a welcome change of pace from Salisbury steaks, hamburgers, and “goulash.” (Of course, it would be years before I understood why “authentic tacos” are in quotes.)
Could I have set out to make Ortega Taco Night better with closer to an authentic deeply researched recipe? Sure. Did I? Nope. I swapped out the cheap, usually on-sale ground beef of my youth with a vegetarian mix of cauliflower and mushroom, but I made knockoffs of the Ortega seasoning and sauce. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia filter kicking in, but these pretty much hit the mark. And now that I’ve made them, I’ll return to my usual programming of making real tacos.
AMERICAN IDIOT TACOS
Cauliflower mushroom taco filling, cheddar, tomato, iceberg lettuce, & No-tega taco sauce in a crispy corn shell
Makes 10 tacos
Cauliflower mushroom taco filling (see recipe below)
No-tega taco sauce (see recipe below)
2 tomatoes, cored and diced fine
1 red onion, diced
1/2 of a small head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 package of Ortega taco shells
To be honest, if one needs instructions on assembling a Midwest-style taco, it might be best to stay out of the kitchen. That said, begin by toasting the taco shells according to the package directions. Once you have your toasted shells, place a couple of spoonfuls of taco filling in the shell. Add a bit of sauce then top with your desired amount of tomato, lettuce, and cheese. Finish with a bit more sauce.
CAULIFLOWER MUSHROOM TACO FILLING
1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 1/2 cups)
8-ounces fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350° degrees F
Lightly pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until you have a rice-like consistency. Remove the core and leaves of your cauliflower. Cut it into small pieces. Pulse the cauliflower to the same consistency and add to the bowl. Stir in soy sauce and mix. Stir in spices and mix well, making sure everything is mixed thoroughly.
Spread mixture onto a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Stir lightly and continue baking for an additional 10-12 minutes. Let the filling rest 10 minutes before using.
NO-TEGA TACO SAUCE
Makes about a pint
1 15-ounce can of diced tomato
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.