Texas Toasted

Texas Toasted: Buffalo Bill Tacos

We’re happy as clams to introduce our newest guestblogger, Grace Steinel Jones, who will be sharing some hot new recipes from her new home in Austin, Texas. We love this lady, not just because she’s been one of our besties for nearly 7 years and was the matron-of-honor at our wedding, but because she’s really good at lots of things, including cooking! 

Lately I’ve been going through a bit of a taco phase. This is strange for me, because I rarely go through food phases. I love the novelty of an untried recipe, and I seldom make the same dish twice. Nevertheless, tacos seem to be what I want for dinner all the time now. I’m sure it has a little to do with the fact that my husband and I spent the last 2 years in Japan (where the tacos are usually served like this) and everything to do with the fact that we now live within walking distance of my new favorite taco place. I love tacos, because they’re versatile and generally make for a pretty cheap meal. Case in point: chicken skin tacos.

Okay, I know. The idea is a little creepy. I don’t prepare a ton of meat at home, and I’m still getting used to handling a whole chicken without getting grossed out. Once I started cooking the skin, though, I realized it’s a lot like bacon, really. And you’d never be grossed out by bacon would you? (Okay, maybe you would. Sorry vegetarian folks).

These tacos started, as many good things do, with Tom Colicchio. I wanted to make his white chicken stock (from this book) and the directions called for removing the skin from 4lbs of chicken parts. I know Tom knows what he’s doing, but surely I would not just throw away what is arguably the best part of the chicken? I could fry it, but what would I do with it then? Tacos, duh! I like this recipe because I get to feel self righteous for using something that might have otherwise been wasted. I used queso fresco, but I think I would actually have preferred my new favorite cheese for tacos—blue cheese. Unusual, I know, but trust me.

This recipe is based on one of my favorite fish taco recipes from Poppytalk.

Fried Chicken Skin

skin from 4 or 5 chicken legs and thighs (a butcher may be able to sell you just the skins)

  • 1t cumin
  • 1t oregano
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1/8 t cayenne
  • large pinch of salt

Tapatio Crema

  • 5 T greek yogurt
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • hot sauce such as Tapatio
  • salt


  • 6 corn tortillas
  • shredded cabbage
  • avocado, sliced
  • queso fresco or feta (or blue cheese, seriously, try it)
  • cilantro
  • lime, quartered

Mix together spices in a small bowl. Cut each piece of skin in half and toss in the spices.

Heat a pan over low-medium heat ( the fat from the chicken will melt in the pan, so you won’t need to oil it ).

Working in batches, place chicken skin pieces into the pan. Be careful as the skin will crackle and pop for the first few minutes. Flip the pieces often with tongs, pressing down any places that might not be cooking as quickly. Once the pieces are golden brown and crispy ( about 10 minutes), set them aside on a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. You may need to pour off some grease from the pan between batches. (Pour fat into a disposable container, not down the drain).

When all of your chicken is cooked, you can keep it warm in an oven on very low heat while you prepare your tortillas, or have a partner help you. Toast the tortillas for less than a minute over a gas flame, or in a lightly oiled pan.

Assemble and enjoy, with a mexican coke, if you like.

Serves 2


Who Are You Pairing?

Who Are You Pairing: 2012 Oscars

Michelle Williams at the 2012 Oscars red carpet

{ Michelle Williams }  { Victoria Ulrikke Iles }

Rooney Mara at the 2012 Oscars red carpet

{ Rooney Mara }  { Kate MccGwire (via My Love For You) }

Missi Pyle at the 2012 Oscars red carpet

{ Missi Pyle }  { Callen Thompson }

Kate Mara at the 2012 Oscars red carpet

{ Kate Mara }  { Cassia Beck }

Kelly Rippa at the 2012 Oscars red carpet

{ Kelly Ripa }  { Margaux Kent }

Kristen Wiig at the 2012 Oscars red carpet

{ Kristen Wiig }  { David Welch }

Week Links

Week Links: First Edition

Week Links: First Edition

A Pretty Pair

A Pretty Pair: Crab Leg Confetti

drawing by Cristina B; photograph by Emily Cross

{ Pom granin by Cristina B. }  { Untitled by Emily Cross (via Daniel River) }

A Fine Design

A Fine Design: Manual Inspiration

Sarah and I have been thinking a lot about the future of Westervin lately, and one aspect of that is thinking about how this blog should look. Recently we searched around Flickr for some vintage manuals to find inspiration from their color palettes and overall look and feel. Here’s what we’ve found so far…

{ Westinghouse }

{ Radio Constructors }

{ Your Rugs }

{ A Place for Everything }

{ Introducing . . . }

{ American Red Cross }

{ Operating Manual }

{ Food Freezer }

A Pretty Pair

A Pretty Pair: Stuff

art by Martin Creed; painting by Esther Pearl Watson

{ Work No. 843 (THINGS) by Martin Creed }  { Marco Polo by Esther Pearl Watson }

A Pretty Pair

A Pretty Pair: Pieced Together

photography by Eleazar Lázaro Guerra; painting by Sabine Finkenauer

{ Spanish Guitar Maker by Eleazar Lázaro Guerra }  { Dolls by Sabine Finkenauer (via Kate Singleton) }

Fine Fixin's

Fine Fixins: Garden In A Pot

garden noodle soup bowl

Despite this relatively mild winter that we seem to be enjoying, it’s still winter, and it’s still cold. Nothing combats the winter blues like soup. Usually we reach for something hearty, like a meaty chili, or stew. However, it is possible to take on winter with vegetables alone! Here’s another recipe from the Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, which is mighty tasty.

At this point it’s possible you think we’re trying to trick you: “That’s no soup! That’s a bowl of noodley-bits.” Well, in a sense, you’d be right. You are in fact looking at a bunch of noodles, but if you look closely you can see some vegetables, too. We decided to add some egg noodles to our garden soup, but we may have gone a little bit too far. It might be worth cooking your egg noodles separately, and adding what you need if you are wanting more of a soup with noodles, and not some noodles with soup.

garden noodle bowl with saltines

Garden-In-A-Pot Soup

3 tbsp. of olive oil
2 each of medium onions and carrots, thinly sliced
top third of 2 stalks of celery with their leaves, thinly sliced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
generous pinch of hot red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. each of dry basil and sweet paprika
2 tbsp. of tomato paste
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
handful of washed, fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 big portobello mushroom, cap and stem washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 of a large head of green cabbage, finely chopped
1 cup of dry white wine
6 to 8 cups of broth (low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth)
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) of shredded Asiago or sharp cheddar cheese
Egg noodles, or any kind of pasta if you’d like a little something extra.


In a heavy 6-quart pot, combine the olive oil, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook over medium-low heat 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted and aromatic. Stir often to prevent burning.

Uncover, raise heat to medium-high, stir in the tomato paste, basil and paprika. Cook about 2 minutes. Add remaining vegetables, wine and broth. Bring to a simmer, partially cover pot, and cook 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soup is full-flavored.

from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.