Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bougie City Girl Enchiladas

Let me be clear about something. I'm a bougie city girl who has lived on the East Coat her entire life. What I'm about to describe for you is bastardized, bougetastic nonsense and is a probably a great distance from anything one might call authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex cooking. But god damn it is tasty. I've also stolen much of my gringa cooking knowledge below from my roommate

Both and I try to pack lunches for the work week. She has made many pans of enchiladas which were delicous, so I decided to get on the tasty train. This describes my basic enchilada process.

To begin I make "chile gravy" with Ancho, cascabel, and guajillo peppers. I use "Better Than Bouillon" soup base to make the stock in the recipe. This usually makes more sauce than I need, but the excess freezes well.

Then there are the beans. We've been using heirloom dried beans from Rancho Gordo. IA few months ago I demanded bring back from a trip to CA, so I didn't have to pay for shipping. The annoying thing is that these beans really do taste a lot better than the cheaper ones I get at the store. Darn it.

To cook the beans I start by soaking them in water overnight. In the morning they go in the crock pot with enough of soaking liquid so the beans are covered by about 2 inches. I also add 2 bay leaves, and a couple cloves of garlic that have been smashed, and had the paper removed. Adding a chopped onion that has been sauteed in some oil is nice, but not necessary. I don't add a ham bone or bacon, because then the porky/smoky flavor overwhelms the flavor of the beans. I leave this on low for 10 hours. When I get home, there are tasty cooked beans. Sweet.

City Girl Enchiladas, Basic Recipe
  • Chile gravy
  • 2 cups of cooked beans and 1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid (or broth).
  • Grated cheese, at least 2 cups. A mix of cheddar and monteray jack is my preference.
  • 2 cups of protein filling (shredded chicken, pork, chorizo, etc.)
  • About 12 tortillas (flour or corn)
  • vegetable oil
  • potato masher
  • tongs or metal spatula
  • a rectangular baking dish (13x9)
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350.
  2. In a large skillet, with the heat on low, add the beans and 1/4 cup of cooking liquid. Mash them with the potato masher. Add more liquid as needed to help the beans get to a creamy consistency. You can also use a stick blender to pulverize the beans. Once the beans are mashed up, let simmer until thickened up. Kill the heat, and stir 1 cup of cheese into the beans.
  3. Ladle 1 cup of chile sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. You want the bottom of the baking dish to be completely covered in sauce. Don't skimp, the sauce keeps the bottom from getting hard and dried out.
  4. Line a plate with paper towels and set it near the stove.
  5. In a frying pan heat about 1/4 cup of oil for a few minutes over medium high heat. If it smokes, lower the heat. It's the right temperature if, when you dip the edge of a tortilla in the oil, it bubbles vigorously.
  6. Gently slide a tortilla into the oil and let it cook about 5 seconds on each side. It should soften a little, but not get brown and hard.
  7. You need to use metal tongs or a metal spatula to get the tortilla out of the oil. Plastic will melt (trust me on this) After getting the tortilla out of the oil, put it on the paper towel lined plate.
  8. Once your tortillas are fried, start the assembly line. You want a bowl of beans, a bowl of protein filling, a pile of tortillas then the baking dish.
  9. Take a tortilla, and put along the center about one heaping TB of beans and one heaping TB of protein.
  10. Roll the tortilla up and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Keep on going until the dish is filled. You want to really pack the tortillas together.
  11. When your dish is full, ladle about 1 cup of chile gravy on top and then sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.
  12. Cover with tin foil (spray the underside of the tin foil with cooking spray so it doesn't stick) and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until everything looks bubbly and delicious.
  13. Devour.
A really tasty variation is to take roasted pumpkin and mix it with the chile sauce. I roasted a pumpkin from my farm share and used it, but you could also use a can of plain cooked pumpkin.

I've also used soy chorizo from Trader Joes as the protein portion of the filling to great success along with shredded pork. My roommate,, has used shredded chicken many times and other things I can't remember right now. If you want to make these gluten free, use 100% corn tortillas and thicken the gravy with a roux made from a mix of potato flour and sweet rice flour.

The enchiladas reheat well and freeze fantastically.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Grandma's Sweet Potato Pie

My father's mother didn't like to cook. When she did cook, it always came out good, but she didn't really like to do it. She had a full time job outside of the home, and she had to go all the way across Indianapolis to get to work (either in a ride share on a bus). It makes sense that she didn’t always come home filled with energy to cook up a big meal.

Everyone agrees she made delicious fried chicken (not too greasy), and cooked up a great cup of coffee. On Fridays the special treat was either cold cuts for dinner. Everyone in my father’s family loves sweets, and my grandmother was known for her sweet potato pie. None of her children were particularly into baking, so my mom (her daughter-in-law) was the one ended up learning the family recipe for sweet potato pie. It's a required item for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whenever we visit my father's relatives we have to bring one.

This sweet potato pie isn’t sweet like candy, and there are never marshmallows on top.

1 1/2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (see note at end)
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
2/3 c. milk

One 10” deep dish pie pan lined with a raw pie crust. If you have smaller pie pans, this may make enough for two pies.

Heat the oven to 400°

Using a hand mixer or a whisk and some muscles, beat the eggs and sugar together in large mixing bowl. Beat in the mashed sweet potatoes. Add the rest of ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined. The contents of the mixing bowl will be quite liquidy, but don’t worry.

Pour into the pie plate. (gluten free pie crust recipe). Bake for 10 minutes at 400°, then lower the oven to 350° and bake for 35 minutes. When you take the pie out of the oven, it will still be a little jiggly. That’s OK. It will coast to solidness out of the oven.

Note Use 4-5 small sweet potatoes or 2-3 medium size ones. The small ones with a reddish tint to the skin are delicious (sometimes they’re labeled garnet sweet potatoes). Big sweet potatoes tend to be woody and less flavorful. My mom boils them whole in the skin, lets them cool and then peels and mashes. Alton Brown suggests peeling and slicing the sweet potatoes and then steaming them. I’ve sometimes baked the sweet potato in the oven. Honestly, the pie is always delicious so cook them whatever way you want

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE Cake!

My roommate ran across a recipe for a molten/lava chocolate cake. First she decided to make them as individual cakes in ramekins. Later on she put frozen berries at the bottom of the ramekins for additional numminess. It has a delicious crust, and a moist brownie layer without any excessive egginess/soupiness. Also, this recipe doesn't require a bazillion eggs like most lava cakes.

Because it is easy to make and delicious, this cake happens regularly in my home. It is now known as The Cake.


1/2 c (heaping) chocolate chips or 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 ramekins or custard cups. Alternatively, grease 2 ramekins and put the rest of the batter in the fridge for the next night.

Set up a double boiler by bringing about 1 cup of water to the boil in a smallish sauce pan. Put a heat proof bowl on top, add the chocolate and butter. Stir gently until everything is melted together.

Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Then stir in the flour until completely incorporated.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the mixture is set on top and there is a soft, gooey layer at the bottom. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt if you desire. Let cool for a few minutes and devour while sitting on the sofa and watching TV. Holding the ramekin with a hot pad or napkin may be useful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Delicata Squash Stuffed with Quinoa

I had some delicata squash to cook up from my organic box, but since I rarely cook with them I was feeling stumped. My friend Bonnie came up with a quinoa stuffing idea which, as we bounced ideas off each other, became more fantastic. This came out *amazing*.

One thing that is great about delicata squash is that the skins are thin enough that you can eat them skin and all. I sliced these into thirds and brought them to a pot luck birthday party. The entire platter was demolished and everyone loved them.

Delicata Squash w/ Quinoa Stuffing

This filled two average sized delicatas, and one teeny tiny one.

2-3 delicata squashes
1 cup quinoa
1/2 onion or 1/3 c. caramelized onions
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp 5 spice powder
1/3 cup of dried cranberries (I used craisins)
1/2 cup apple cider (or apple juice or whatever)
1/2 cup pecans
2-4 TB cider vinegar
1 tsp pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)
1/3-1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 400.

Cut squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Put in a foil roasting pan or cookie sheet and bake until just tender, about 30-45 mins. Leave the squash in the pan, and set aside when done.

Cook the quinoa. Bring 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to the boil in a sauce pan, add 1 cup of quinoa, cover and simmer for 15 mins until done. Leave covered for 5 minutes.

Chop pecans roughly, and put in the oven to toast (about 10 mins). They'll burn if you're not careful. If you smell the nuts, pull them out immediately.

I happened to have caramelized onions in my fridge, and I reheated about 1/3 c in a frying pan. If you are not so fortunate chop a small onion or 1/2 a regular one, and sautee in oil until translucent. Lower the heat. Add 2-4 cloves of garlic run through a garlic press, cumin and five-spice. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add salt.

Chop up the dried cranberries roughly. Put in a bowl with the cider, and microwave for 30 seconds. This will plump them up. Add the cranberries and liquid to the frying pan, stir gently.

Add about 1 tsp of pomegranate molasses to the pan along with 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.

Mix in the cooked quinoa, and toasted nuts. Taste the stuffing. Sprinkle on more cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses if needed. It should have some tang, but not taste like you dumped a vinaigrette on it.

Stir in the crumbled goat cheese. Taste again. Is it delicious? Adjust seasoning to make it so.

Spoon the filling into the squash halves. Reduce oven to 350 and bake about 20 minutes or until the stuffing is hot and the squash are completely tender.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pork, Cherries and Fava Beans = JOY!

Dear internet, let me tell you about tonight's fucking delicious dinner.

Pork Tenderloin with cherry balsamic reduction.

1 pork tenderloin
1 sm. onion or 2 shallots
3 cloves garlic
cherry balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic)
1/2 c. pitted cherries (divided into two portions)
1 cup of polenta
grated parmesan
fresh fava beans

First thing. Make polenta in your desired fashion (on the stove or in the oven). When it was done, I stirred in about 1/3 c of grated parmesan and some roasted garlic and roasted shallots.

Next pre-heat the oven the oven to 300.

Take a pork tenderloin and slice it into 1" thick medallions. Pat them dry, and sprinkle with salt on both sides.

Heat up a large frying pan (NOT non stick) and add about 1 TB of oil. I added the pork medallions, and let them brown on one side. I flipped the pieces and browned the other side. Then I loosely covered the pan with tin foil and put in the oven for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.

I chopped 1/2 small onion (1-2 shallots would also work) and a few cloves of garlic.

When the pork tenderloin isjust done, put it on a plate and tent with tin foil.

Add chopped onion and garlic to pan and sautee scraping up browned bits. When they're softened, add 2 TB of cherry balsamic vinegar. Reduce heat to medium and start to reduce the liquid in the pan. After a few minutes, add 1/4 cup of cherries and mash them gently. Uncover the plate of pork tenderloin. If there is any liquid, tip it into the frying pan. You want to reduce the liquid in the pan until it is thick and syrupy. made this delicious fava bean and cherry salad with plain butter, regular sea salt and no preserved lemon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More on Grits: Nassau Style

Kassie says:

This is (unknown to me until, like, when I tried looked for the recipe for Julia) a recipe particular to my home town. This is our family recipe for it. If I could find the one the old ladies at First Methodist had, I would share that one with you because it's legendary.

Where I come from we eat white grits, I'm sure if you wanted to do it with yellow grits, you could adapt it (I like stone ground grits myself, so I wouldn't blame you if you did).
  • Bacon--this is to taste, do you really like bacon? Then cook a lot of bacon (from a half pound to a pound),
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper (lots of people hate green pepper, so figure this bit out--if you hate it, try to substitute a colored pepper!)
  • 1 cup of ham (or, as above, however much you want) [we always had home baked ham laying around or at least in the freezer, so I assume the taste will vary greatly depending on the kind of ham you use. I would never buy that shrink wrapped ham slab that I've seen at the grocery--what is that thing FOR? anyway, a lot of people have ham at the holidays and wonder what to do with all of it--freeze the shit and thaw it out for tastiness later)
  • 1 smaller can of tomatoes (not the big honking one, the normal to vegetables sized one) OR 1 can Rotel (do it this way, for real)
  • garlic (this you will have to determine yourself as I have no idea how much you personally like garlic) from 1 clove to three
  • 3/4-1 cup uncooked grits

Cook the bacon. Chop the stuff that needs it. Drain bacon and set aside. Drain most of the bacon grease off. Cook the onion and bell pepper in the bacon grease. When the onion looks done enough, dump in tomatoes (with juice), garlic (I cut up whole canned tomatoes with a kitchen knife, my Aunt Nora mushed them with her fingers), and ham. Cook that down while you cook the grits according to the package directions. When the grits are creamy (I pity people who don't already know how to cook grits on the stove because I'm not about to explain that right now), dump in the tomato-ham mixture.

Douse this with hot sauce, stir, crumble bacon over the top when you dish it up. (I'm sure we could find a way to add cheese and at least one more pork product if we tried, but it's great as is, trust me).

Julia says: SO DELICIOUS. When I made it in the picture above, I ended up spooning the tomato-ham mixture on top. My cat almost ripped my face off to get at it.

Grits Two Ways: Yankee and Redneck (with bonus notes on Kraft Garlic Cheese)

Grits is not something I grew up eating. I didn't really know what it was other than some exotic dish mentioned in books set in the South. Eventually I met Southerners who would wax poetic about grits, but also insist you couldn't get the real thing above the Mason-Dixon line. Since I avoid traveling down South, I didn't taste them until a couple years ago when I visited a friend in Atlanta, GA. I had grits with cheese several times and found out I loved it. When I returned from my trip I decided to try making them at home. Alton Brown did an episode of "Good Eats" about grits, and well. My evil plan came together

Alton Brown's "Yankee" Grits

2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded

Place the milk, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot when whisking. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.

Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, and whisk to combine. Once the butter is melted, gradually whisk in the cheese a little at a time.

I *love* these grits. Strangely my cat also adores them will all but claw off my face to get herself some. I like having grits for breakfast with scrambled eggs and hot sauce on top.

Kassie was born and raised in the South and insists that the Alton Brown's recipe is yankee nonsense and grits are supposed to be baked and shouldn't be made with milk. I've pointed out that Alton Brown is from Georgia, but Kassie countered that she is a redneck and clearly knows best. This is her recipe for grits.

Kassie's Southern Grits

Cook a cup of stone ground grits in three cups chicken broth. As needed, add more broth. You need to cook it at least a half hour, but you can keep adding broth and stirring for a long time. If you're cooking something else just add broth by the half cup as you're cooking other things.

When you're finished with everything else, add either garlic powder to taste (this is the authentic redneck method) or a pulped clove of fresh garlic. If you add fresh garlic, cook about ten minutes more (adding broth and stirring) to cook the garlic a bit. Remove from heat and add two tablespoons of butter.

Return to heat and add an asston of cheese (this is a real measurement). You don't have to use cheddar (but usually people do), you can use pepper jack or farmer's cheese or combos--go buck wild (sorry but no Kraft Garlic Cheese*, though)! When the cheese is melted, add another half cup of liquid (you can use water or milk or broth, to taste) and some hot sauce (to taste), and dump the whole shebang in a greased (here I will admit to buttering the dish not Paming it) and bake at 400F for like a half hour or until browned or until you can stand it.

Be prepared to fight people off your plate.

*My mom said she couldn't find Kraft Garlic Cheese and told me to go online and order it. Yeah, how about I go on the internet and investigate? [Does so.] Holy shit, they stopped making it and there's a riot all over the internet! WHAT THE FUCK????????? How could they just stop making this stuff? If you aren't Southern (and here I'm being American-centric as usual) you probably have no idea what discontinuation of this product means, but this is disastrous for tons and tons of family recipes. *weeps* Cheese balls are like my treasured most favorite holiday food! (It's disgusting, I know, but I'm sure you have some crap food you love, too.)