March 2012 Archives

Menu (as of March 23, 2012)

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STARTERS
Freshly Shucked Oysters A.Q.
Soups shot $4 / bowl $7  (we can add bacon at your request)
Winter Borscht (Beet), Broccoli-Cheddar, Mushroom, Split Pea-Sweet Potato, Black Bean, French Onion
Cheese Plate with acme bread $5.5 per oz
Selection of cheeses- CA: Tomme, France: D'Affinois, Bucherondin, Bleu D'Auvergne, Holland: Truffle Gouda, Aged Gouda, Sheep Gouda, Italy: Taleggio, Wisconsin: Cheddar (8 yr.), Spain: Manchego
Marinated Olives fresh herbs, lemon, garlic  $7
Oven Roasted Almonds & Golden Raisins olive oil, rosemary, crushed red pepper  $7
Brown Sugar-Glazed Sweet Potato Cheese Puffs $4
Smoked Fish Spread acme bread $9
Bacon-Wrapped Medjool Dates, chevre, apple  $9
Warmed Herb Goat Cheese Crostinis fresh herbs, garlic toast $8
Anchovy-Garlic Toast $7
Japanese Tobiko Caviar with Buckwheat Blinis crème fraiche, sieved eggs, sweet onion $10
Mediterranean Platter housemade pita bread & hummus $8
Sweet and Sour Pulled Pork Sliders $9
Chilled Cajun (Peel-it-Yourself) Shrimp Platter $15
Shrimp & Avocado Cocktail spicy cocktail sauce, tomatoes, sweet onion, cilantro, jalapeno $15
Grass-Fed Lamb Meatballs cuban mojo sauce  $12
Fish Sticks, wild halibut fingers wrapped in house-made puff pastry, tartar sauce $12
  
SALADS

Soup & Salad  (choice of soup and small market or caesar salad) $12
Farmer's Market Green Salad fresh fruit, roasted almonds, goat cheese, herbed citrus dressing  $8
Pear, Walnut, & Bleu Cheese Salad with endive, arugula & balsamic dressing $8
Greek Salad romaine lettuce, sheep feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, sweet onion, vinaigrette $10
Bread Salad lettuce, poached egg, bacon, garlic croutons, citrus dressing  $12
Nicoise Salad tuna, potato, onion, parsley, seasonal vegetables, lettuce, black olive dressing  $12
Grass-Fed Beef Carpaccio Salad beef tenderloin, watercress, caper dressing, grana cheese $15
Caesar Salad romaine lettuce, garlic bread $10 (add chicken $4) (add shellfish $6)

PIZZETTAS
Grass-fed beef flank steak, chimichurri sauce, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onions $16
Bacon, Spinach, Apple & Blue Cheese, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, blue cheese dressing $14
Prosciutto, Arugula, Tomato & Nicoise Olive, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, citrus dressing $14
Reuben, beef pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, fresh mozzarella, ketchup, mustard $14
Monte Cristo, ham, swiss cheese, fresh mozzarella, raspberry preserve, fried egg $14
Fresh Goat Cheese & Apple, lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, citrus dressing $14

BURGERS & SANDWICHES (CHOICE OF OUR SWEET POTATO FRIES OR SMALL GREEN SALAD)

Grass-Fed Burger with bacon & cheese, house-made bun $12 (add fried egg $2)
Salami-Caprese Sandwich, salami, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil (vegetarian available) $12
Sandwich Cubano (roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickle) $12
Wild Cod Fish Fry Sandwich arugula, lettuce, tomato, onion, thousand island dressing $14
Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Melt, mozzarella cheese, tomato, sourdough bread $12
Rustic Tuna Sandwich (Pan Bagna) tuna, hard-cooked egg, arugula, onions $12
Fried Egg Sandwich, bacon, collard greens, mozzarella, hollandaise sauce $10
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Sandwich, mozzarella, fresh tomato, ketchup $8
Goat Cheese & Apple Sandwich, lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, citrus dressing $10

PASTAS
Royal Mac & Cheese bacon, poached egg $12
Spaghetti & Grass-Fed Beef Meatballs (and Pork Sausage), spicy tomato sauce, garlic toast $15
Vegetarian Lasagna collard greens, caramelized onions, hard-cooked eggs, bechamel $15
Cheese Raviolis in dungeness crab-lemon-butter sauce $20, or spinach & mushroom in spicy tomato sauce  $15
Seafood Pasta in White Sauce rock cod, shrimp, clams, linguini $20
Grass-Fed Beef Stroganoff house-made pappardelle pasta  $20  
 
LATIN
Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo) plain, bacon, garlic, mushroom, or black truffle $4 (allow 20 min)
Chile Relleno mozzarella-jack cheese, beef, avocado, choice of veggies or rice & black beans $17
Black Truffle and Cheese Tamales with Sage and Brown Butter, choice of veggies or rice & black beans $17
Braised Lentil & Beef Burrito with Sweet Potato, choice of veggies or rice & black beans $15
Fried Fish Tacos, wild cod, cabbage, sweet-spicy sauce, choice of veggies or rice & black beans $14
Artichoke Heart & Cheese Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce with choice of veggies or rice & black beans $17
Chilaquiles (Tortilla Casserole), poached eggs, refried black beans, shredded beef (vegetarian available) $14
Sweet Potato Nachos black beans, cheese, tomato, onion, sour cream, avocado, jalapeno $12
Free-Range Chicken Tacos corn tortillas, bacon, collard greens (vegetarian available) $12
Feijoada (brazilian stewed beef, pork, black beans) rice, collard greens, farofa (toasted yucca meal) $17
Grass-Fed Beef Empanadas or Spinach & Egg Empanadas $9
Butternut Squash Cachapas (venezuelan griddle cakes with melted mozzarella cheese) $9
Arepas (shredded beef or avocado & fresh mozzarella) $9

ENTREES

Pot Pie (Chicken & Portobello Mushroom or Spinach & Goat Cheese) $15
Bacon, Beans, & Bird black beans, brown sugar bacon, chicken breast, collard greens, fried egg  $17
Shrimp Gumbo spicy gumbo sauce, shrimp, chicken, sausage, rice, lentils $17
Grilled Crispy-Skin Halibut Fillet, tomato sauce, choice of two sides $25
Wild Cod Fish Fry with Tartar Sauce, choice of two sides $19
Roast Pork Loin with Cranberry Relish, choice of two sides $19
Seared Peking Duck Breast with Sangria Reduction, choice of two sides $20
Grass-Fed Beef Pot Roast, red wine sauce, choice of two sides  $19
Grass-Fed Beef Strip Steak chimichurri sauce, choice of two sides A.Q.

SIDES $5

Creamy Polenta - Roasted Veggies - Rice & Black Beans - Collard Greens & Bacon - Mac & Cheese - Mashed Butternut Potatoes - Sweet Potato Fries-Cauliflower Gratin

DESSERTS $7
Strawberry Tres Leches Cake crème fraiche, evaporated & condensed milk, whipped cream
Apple Crumble house-made vanilla ice cream
Guava & Cream Cheese Empanadas house-made ice cream
Pear Upside-Down Cake house-made ice cream
Crepas de Dulce de Leche house-made vanilla Ice cream
Chilled Butterscotch Soup soft-baked meringue
Walnut Cake Roll whipped cream, crème anglaise, toasted walnuts
Sweet Potato Pie house-made ice cream
Peanut Butter Brownie house-made ice cream, peanut butter caramel
Bread Pudding crème anglaise, seasonal preserves
Banana Tart house-made vanilla ice cream, hot fudge
German Chocolate Souffle pecans, coconut (20 min)
Affogato shot of espresso, house-made vanilla ice cream

Food, Treats, and Garbage

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IMG00719-20100703-1931.jpg

I've seen a trend at Tucos over the past couple years- more and more of my customers are asking me for ideas on how to eat healthier.  The conversations usually start out by them mentioning that their doctor has put them on a diet. 

The first case I remember well.  It was the late Merce Cunningham who came to town each year with his world renown dance company.  Merce was on a very strict doctor prescribed diet. I worked up a simple dish of Portuguese-style grilled chicken breast (heavy on paprika and some good olive oil), quick cooked collard greens dressed in olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and rice and black beans.  He loved it and came every single night for it.

Around that same time a couple of my employees joined Weight Watchers and began asking me hilarious questions- "Pru, how many calories in the flan?", "Pru, how many calories in the Crab Raviolis".  After weeks of laughing these questions off, it struck me- as a chef, what contributions could I make to their world by making exciting, tasty dishes that happen to be healthy options for them?  I decided I would try creating a few things and that I would be guinea pig #1 for my new effort.

Confessions

I must confess to some embarrassing ideas I had until recently about food and healthy eating in general.  I'm hoping that some of you might see yourself in them and might consider looking at things differently, as I did.  Here are some of the crazy ideas I had about eating healthy:

-         I can eat whatever I want as long as I work it off

-         I need to learn to stick to a diet

-         Salads and soups are healthy things to eat

-         A calorie is a calorie.  I should be able to choose to eat whatever I want as long as calorie count is within my target

-         Fiber?  I'm not worried about how well I poop.  Not a concern.

-         Meat is not part of a healthy diet (unless its fish or chicken breast)

-         All vegetables and fruit are equally healthy

-         Fresh made fruit juice is healthy

-         Pizzas, pastas and sandwiches can be healthy options if I choose the right toppings/sauces/types

Realizations

-         As wonderful as exercise is for our bodies, it is not a substitute for healthy eating.  A simple example- it takes 1 hour of jogging for me to burn 600 calories.  It takes me only a few minutes to eat a couple slices of pizza and take in those same 600 calories.

-         Diets that have me feeling hunger pangs all day or have me eating things I don't like are unsustainable over the long haul.  Learning to eat healthier is sustainable.

-         Fiber and protein are our friends in healthy eating.  Foods high in fiber or protein fill us up and satiate our appetites throughout the day and allow us to eat less over all.

-         Fiber is not just about how well we poop, actually it's even more important in making us not feel hungry and not feeling hungry is the best way to eat less. 

-         Salads and Soups are often horrible categories of foods in that we rely on them being healthy options for us yet they are often full of calories from fat and offer little protein or fiber. We end up taking in a large number of calories and feeling hungry much sooner than had we eaten a high fiber, high protein meal. 

-         Any meal low in fiber, low in protien is not a meal.  It's a treat.  Think dessert.  We're talking sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, most salads, many soups... all my favorite things

-         Not all fruits and vegetable are created equal if you see them from a fiber/protein perspective.  And if we juice them we're throwing away the fiber!

Eating Healthy Simplified

Here's what I've ended up doing and suggesting to my customers and friends:

1)      I divide up the food world into three categories: Food, Treats, Garbage.  It amazes me how often I used to have entire meals that were from the treat category.

a.      Food (things high in fiber or high in protein)

                                                               i.      Lean meats including poultry, fish, pork, and grass-fed beef

                                                             ii.      Beans,Lentils, Peas and such

                                                            iii.      All things whole wheat (5g+ fiber per serving)

                                                           iv.      Avocados

                                                             v.      Sweet potatoes

                                                           vi.      Figs, Bananas, Asian Pears

                                                          vii.     Sweet Corn, Cauliflower

                                                        viii.      Berries

                                                           ix.      Greek Style non-fat yogurt

                                                             x.      Non-Tropical Nuts- Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Pistachios

                                                           xi.      Raisins, Dried Figs

b.      Treats

                                                               i.      Desserts and Ice Cream

                                                             ii.      Pasta (non whole wheat)

                                                            iii.      Pizza (non whole wheat dough)

                                                           iv.      Sandwiches (non whole wheat bread)

                                                             v.      Bread (non whole wheat)

                                                           vi.      Beer, Wine

                                                          vii.      Rice

                                                        viii.      Potatoes

                                                           ix.      Salads low in fiber or protein

                                                             x.      Soups low in fiber or protein

c.      Garbage

                                                               i.      Sugary Drinks

                                                             ii.      Candy

                                                            iii.      Snack Foods low in fiber or protein         

2)      I try to average around 1500 calories or less a day and I prefer to eat most of those calories in one real sized high protein, high fiber meal a day. And I indulge in a treat each day.  My treats are usually some sort of dessert, so I forfeit breads, pastas, sandwiches so that I can enjoy my desserts.

3)   My body reflects how many calories I've been eating versus burning over recent months.  I look in the mirror, I don't step on a scale, to see if I've been eating too many calories.

Tucos' Menu, Recipes and Beyond    

Since realizing how far off my eating habits were from healthy eating habits, I've looked to make the menu at Tucos healthier.  From our very beginning we we've based most recipes on olive oil versus butter and on fresh, wholesome ingredients, but I now want to be proactive about bumping up the fiber and protein in our dishes and do this while keeping our menu, textures, and flavors exciting and irresistible.  The first product from my new view of the world was our Sweet Potato Nachos.  (The dish is unique to Tucos, it's wonderfully delicious and it's one of our more popular dishes.  It also happens to deliver a full day's worth of fiber!)  The black bean and split pea soups were added.  Garbanzos and lentils began to appear on the menu.  Sweet Potatoes became a standard offering. Our soups, which in the past were based on a potato stock for thickness were switched to a garbanzo base to deliver both protein and fiber in most of our soups.  Our new Mediterranean Platter with our homemade Hummus is delicious and delivers 25% of a day's fiber and our new Braised lentil & Beef Burrito delivers a full day's worth of fiber and protein! More healthy changes and additions to come....

Now our mission is to convince others to do the same with their menus.  Eating out after all should be not just about sharing a good time with friends and family with creative dishes and precise service, it should also be about delivering healthy nutrition to our bodies. It's one thing to create something beautiful, creative, and tasty on a plate, but can we also make it something healthy?  That's our mission here at Tucos and we hope to make it the mission at many more restaurants!                               

Asian Pear.JPGAt the risk of possibly creating a supply/demand issue at the Sunday Sacramento Farmer's Market, I feel compelled to tell the world about my recent Asian Pear addiction.  Not those flaccid, tasteless ones we've all likely tried at some point in our lives.   I've become addicted to the ones grown in the foothills, near Placerville, at Hooverville Orchards.  To best imagine these pears, think of them as a cross between a crunchy apple, a deliciously fragrant pineapple, and a super juicy watermelon. I'm not exaggerating in the least! These pears also deliver an impressive 4 grams of fiber per pear (16% of a day's fiber), which makes these one of nature's perfect packaging of deliciousness.   I'm an addict.  And I hope to make some more addicts of these pears!

Where to find them? You'll find me leaving the Sunday Sacramento Farmer's Market with two loaded grocery bags of them each week- one bag for Tucos and one for my house.  You'll also find them featured on our menu in our Pear Upside Down Cake (yes, they bake down wonderfully) and in our latest salad, our Pear, Walnut, Bleu Cheese Salad.

To those of you to decide to take action and hit the Sac Market, leave a few dozen for me, pleeeeease...

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