Sunday, December 30, 2012

Green Chile Enchiladas

You know I don't normally care about making things easy, unless of course we're talking about all of the screw-top wines out of Britain, in which case--I'm sorry the puns are too easy here--let's toast to another year behind us.

Tonight I made these awesome green chile enchiladas with queso fresco and scallions. Seriously, I don't even need to give you the recipe; that's it. But, I will anyway.

Serves 4

1  package queso fresco
1 package corn tortillas
28 ounces chile verde enchilada sauce
3 green onions, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Ladle about 1 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish.

Crumble the queso fresco and combine with the green onions and cilantro. Fill each tortilla with the cheese mixture and snuggle them down into the casserole dish, with the seam side down.

Top with the remaining sauce and a few tablespoons of queso fresco. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cauliflower Fritters with Port Reduction

Have you ever cooked with Port? I used it in an an award-winning recipe I submitted to Bare Chicken recently for Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Port, Mushrooms and Cream. It was one of the best things I've ever made. The judges concurred. 

I had about a third of a bottle of Ruby Port left over after I cooked and tested the chicken recipe a few times (read: gorged myself). So when I read Deb Perelman's recent recipe for Cauliflower-Feta Fritters with Pomegranate, I knew what to do. First, make a port wine reduction. Second, order a copy of her cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  

With both satisfactorily accomplished, Rich and I sat down to dinner last night with candles lit and the kids in bed and indulged in absolute food heaven. In all my years of vegetarian cooking, this is most definitely in my top ten recipes. It's right up there with my Creamy Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas, one of the favorites from my own cookbook, Modern Family Table

I did not follow the original recipe exactly. Do I ever? So here's my take on Smitten Kitchen's version.  

serves two 

1 head cauliflower
6-8 ounces Greek feta
2 shallots, minced
zest of one lemon 
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup flour (we used a gluten-free flour) 
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup ruby port

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt to taste

pomegranate arils to serve
baby greens to serve 

Blanche the cauliflower in salted water until it is fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and then shock in cold water. Pat dry and set aside. 

Meanwhile, pulse the feta, shallots and lemon zest in your food processor a few times. Add them to the cauliflower and mash with a potato masher or a wooden spoon. Season to taste with sea salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add the flour, baking powder, stirring to combing. Finally, incorporate the egg to bring everything together. It should have a pasty consistency, somewhere in between cookie dough and cake batter. 

In a clean small pot, cook the port over low heat just below simmering. Swirl the pan often until it thickens and coats a spoon. This will take about 10 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve. You can certainly do this ahead of time if you wish. 

In a small container, whisk together the plain yogurt and cumin. Season to taste with sea salt. Cover and set aside until you're ready to serve. Again, you can certainly do this ahead of time. 

Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until it's good and hot. Form small patties--at the most 1/4 cup volume--with your hands and place them in the pan for about 2-3 minutes on each side. The process reminded me of making pancakes far more than making fish cakes insofar as the fritter mixture is more viscous.

Set the fritters on a pan in your oven to stay warm if you need to fry them up in batches. 

To serve, drizzle each plate with the port reduction and a dollop of cumin-scented yogurt. Stack the fritters and top with baby greens and pomegranate arils. 

P.S. Normally, I do all of my own food photography, but last night, my husband had just come from a shoot and offered to do these for me. As usual, his work floors me. Check out his other work here.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chilaquiles Verdes

I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have ordered the Chilaquiles Verdes at Gallo Blanco around the corner from where I live. Stephen, a server there, knows the truth. Lots. Each time I order it, I casually ask the servers about its preparation. "Sooo, what kinds of peppers do you use in the salsa verde?" I kept asking until I had a good approximation of how they prepared it. After several weeks, I had built it up so much in my mind, I was afraid I would be disappointed. But no. It is absolutely amazing! I know you'll love it.

serves four

12 tostadas*
16 ounces queso fresco
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 scallions, roughly chopped
8 fresh eggs
8 ounces roasted chicken or turkey, roughly chopped (optional)

Salsa Verde
1 Poblano pepper
2 Anaheim peppers
1 Jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon oil
3 cloves garlic
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
sea salt

*You can either buy tostadas in the Mexican foods section of your grocery store or make your own by frying fresh corn tortillas in about 1 inch of 375 degree oil for about 2 minutes, then draining on a cooling rack. 

Halve the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds. Coat the skin side with oil using a paper towel and place them on a pan under your broiler until they are charred and blistered. Remove to a separate container and cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Allow to steam for at least ten minutes.

When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and discard. Place the peppers and all of the remaining salsa ingredients into a blender and pulse until somewhat smooth. Season to taste with sea salt.

Combine the queso fresco with the cilantro and scallions.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place four tostadas on a large cookie sheet. Top each with a spoon full of salsa verde and spread it to the edges. Top with about 2 ounces of queso fresco. Top with another tostada, salsa and queso fresco. Reserve the third tostada. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese softens.

While they're baking, fry the eggs to your liking. I prefer over easy because that tends to yield a nice runny yolk without under cooking the whites. And a runny yolk is key to this dish. I'm supposed to tell you that eating raw or under cooked eggs is dangerous, so I will. But, what can I say, I like to live dangerously.

Remove each stack to a plate and top with the remaining tostada, a generous scoop of salsa verde and two fried eggs. Enjoy immediately.
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