Weekly Winner: Oooey Gooey Cheesy Mexican Goodness

I know, I know… it has been more than a week since my last post.  But honestly, once you declare something “The Best Thing You’ve Ever Made”, it’s kind of hard to know where to go from there.

Thankfully, the most recent issue of Saveur Magazine arrived about that time and was dedicated to Mexican cuisine.  It just so happens that  I have a Mexican food-obsessed husband, so I practically tore out every recipe in the issue.  This recipe for Enchiladas Suizas was the first one I tried.  It was fabulous.  Relatively easy and straightforward.  The only changes I made were with the chiles.  I got the poblanos from our Green City Market and well, let’s just say they are not your average run-of-the-mill grocery store chiles.  Luckily I tried them long before adding them to the recipe and wound up only adding about a third of the amount.  I also halved the serranos just to be sure.  The sauce had a great zing to it and a nice heat level without blowing our heads off.  The recipe here is as it was written.  If you’re brave — follow it to the letter.

Also, a brief note on the pictures.  The first one came from the magazine.  It is much prettier and gives you a better idea of what the dish should look like.  The second is the reality shot of my enchiladas right out of the oven.  Just as tasty — not as pretty.

ENCHILADAS SUIZAS

Serves  4–6

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ lb. tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed

2 serrano chiles, stemmed
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup sour cream
½ tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup canola oil
8 6″ corn tortillas
3 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 ½ cups shredded queso Oaxaca or mozzarella

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Arrange an oven rack 4″ from the broiler and heat broiler to high. Place tomatillos and serranos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and then peel and discard skins. Transfer to a blender along with cilantro, sour cream, cumin, garlic, poblanos, and 1 cup boiling water; season with salt and pepper, and purée until smooth. Set enchilada sauce aside.

2. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, grasp tortillas with tongs and fry in oil until pliable, about 1 minute. Transfer tortillas to a work surface. Place chicken in a bowl and toss with 1 cup enchilada sauce until evenly coated. Divide sauced chicken evenly among tortillas, and roll tortillas tightly around chicken. Pour about 1 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, and place tortilla rolls in dish, seam side down, creating one row down the center of the dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolls, and cover evenly with cheese.

3. Heat oven to 375°. Bake enchiladas until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted on top, 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with plenty of sauce.

Weekly Winner – The Best Thing I Ever Made… Period.

So this was an incredibly busy week.  I, like many people, decided that I must celebrate Julia Child‘s 100th birthday with a dinner party made up of Julia’s favorite recipes.  I did that and it was fabulous.  However, nothing that I made that night compared with last Sunday’s dinner.  To date … without a doubt … this was the best creation that ever came out of my kitchen.

Once again, the recipe came from Food & Wine Magazine.  It seems I’ve been having fabulous luck with those recipes lately.  Try it. You’ll adore it.  Anything that can beat out a Julia Child celebration dinner deserves a post.  So here it is.

Slow-Cooked Sweet & Sour Pork Shoulder with Pineapple

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

One 7-pound trimmed boneless pork shoulder, at room temperature

1/4 cup Sriracha

One 2-pound ripe pineapple—peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

Procedure:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika and onion and garlic powders. Set the pork fat side down on a work surface. Using a boning knife, cut between the natural separations in the meat in about 4 places. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the pork, then rub all over with the Sriracha. Roll up the roast and tie it at 1-inch intervals with kitchen twine; let marinate at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a roasting pan, toss the pineapple with the brown sugar and vinegar. Spread the pineapple in the pan and set the pork roast on top, fat side up. Roast for 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 165°. Transfer to a carving board to rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Set the roasting pan with the pineapple over high heat and boil the pan juices until slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Remove the strings from the pork, carve into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on a platter. Add carving juices to the pan and season with salt. Serve the pork with the pineapple and pan juices.

The Intuitive Playlist – or lack thereof

I recently got a new phone.  Now, for many this is not a big deal, but you have to understand that I have had my previous cell phone for approximately 7 years!  In no way, shape or form was this a “smart” phone.  But I loved it anyway, with all of its faults and limitations.  It served me well.  So off I go and get myself a shiny new iPhone.  An entire new world opened up to me with that phone.  Not least of which was the fact that I no longer needed my iPod when I ran or walked.  I could just take my phone as all my music magically appeared on my phone courtesy of “The Cloud”.

The only problem is that I have certain playlists that I had created for my walks and runs.  Apparently when all my music magically transferred over to the phone, the playlists did not.  (Hubby assures me he can fix this problem easily for me).  But the point is, sometimes the perfect song comes to you at the perfect time.  When you least expect it and when you totally forgot that said song existed.

As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I’ve changed direction a bit with my work and my life goals.  Things haven’t turned out the way I envisioned, but that certainly does not mean I am not happy with the end results.  It’s just a turn and a change that was not planned.  And you know I’m a planner! 

So fast forward to earlier this week as I’m out for an early morning jog before heading into my new part-time job that I’m thoroughly enjoying but never imagined I’d be doing.  Here I am, jogging and walking through the neighborhood that I have come to dearly love when what pops into my ears but Natalie Imbruglia’s “Intuition”. http://youtu.be/s__B4XMgulU

“Could have turned left,

Could have turned right,

But I ended up here —

Bang in the middle of a real life”

And I couldn’t be happier about it!

Weekly Winner – Sometimes You Just Need a Burger

There comes a time in everyone’s life (well, at least mine and hubby’s) when all that will do is a burger.  A big, juicy, luscious, burger.  We don’t make a lot of burgers at home simply because we are surrounded by amazing burger joints that offer instant gratification.  But this recipe for Bacon Hamburgers with Catalina Dressing intrigued me.  OK, I’ll admit it – it was the bacon.  And not bacon on the burger, but bacon IN the burger!

And then there’s the sauce.  They call it Catalina, but it tasted more interesting than that.  It was deep and earthy — and worth the extra steps.  Do not be tempted to add anything else to this burger than what is called for.  It truly does not need it!  I got the recipe from Food & Wine magazine and yes, we will be making it again!

Bacon Hamburgers with Catalina Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large beefsteak tomato, halved crosswise and seeded

1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for rubbing

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 small garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hot sauce

1/2 pound sliced bacon, coarsely chopped and frozen for 15 minutes

1 pound ground beef chuck

Butter, for spreading

4 sesame-topped hamburger buns, split and toasted

4 thick slices of sweet onion

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Put the tomato in a small baking dish and rub with oil. Turn the halves cut side down and bake for 20 minutes, until they start to soften. Let cool, then peel and chop the tomato. Transfer to a blender; add the vinegar, paprika, tomato paste, garlic, sugar and the 1/4 cup of oil and blend. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the bacon until very finely chopped. In a large bowl, using your hands, blend the ground chuck with the bacon. Form the mixture into 4 patties.
  3. Heat a large skillet. Season the burgers with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until well-browned on the outside and barely pink in the center, 4 minutes per side. Butter the buns and place an onion slice on the bottom halves. Top with the burgers and some dressing, close the burgers and serve.