Every so often people who've been around Madison for awhile start waxing poetic about city restaurants that are no more, as in this recent discussion on TDPF.
One mourned frequently is Taqueria Gila Monster, a local produce and sustainable-agriculture-supporting high-quality Mexican venture on King Street in the later 1990s (currently the location of Restaurant Muramoto). The Monster was the brainchild of Jill Watson, who apprenticed, as so many in Madison have, at L'Etoile -- which certainly kept it from being just another taqueria.
Watson is now out of the restaurant world altogether -- she's a Director of External Relations and Development for the UW Foundation. Years ago, Watson suggested casually that the recipes from the restaurant were for sale... but no one ever came calling. Are they still for sale? "Well, yeah, in theory," says Watson, via phone. "I mean, I still have them, and I'm not doing anything with them." How very sad.
Lodged in my culinary memory is a particularly vivid enchilada filling of lamb and raisin, but my favorite diet-buster was the chile relleno burrito -- yes, a burrito stuffed with delectable chile rellenos. While Watson's recipe for red cabbage slaw and salsa verde live on via the ether, one that has not yet traversed the beloved series of tubes is Wild Mushroom Cactus Stew, which appeared courtesy of Watson in an Isthmus' food article on April 25, 1997.
Here is that recipe:
Taqueria Gila Monster's Wild Mushroom Cactus Stew
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 serrano or jalapeno chiles, stemmed and finely chopped
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
1 lb. crimini (or button) mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. portobello mushroom caps, halved and sliced
1 15-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbs. lime juice
3 oz. nopalitos (canned pickled cactus paddles) rinsed and sliced
1 cup canned white hominy, rinsed
1 tbs. salt
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add onions and saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic and chiles and saute about one minute until aromatic. Add all the mushrooms and stir thoroughly. Lower heat to medium, stir occasionally, and cook until mushrooms soften slightly and give off their liquid.
Add tomatoes, lime juice, cactus, hominy, and salt, and simmer over medium-low heat about 20 minutes. Taste and adjst seasonings to your preference. Serve with warm corn tortillas, rice, beans and salsa. Serves six.
Now, can anybody get me a lead on the recipe for the house salad dressing from the old Deb and Lola's?