Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Suisse Enchiladas

My Mom is a fantastic home cook. I have many fond food memories from my childhood: thickly frosted homemade chocolate birthday cakes, apricot bars, meatloaf, beef stroganoff, turkey tetrazzini, sweet and sour meatballs and creamy enchiladas. I have fond memories of frozen Weaver chicken too but that’s another entry for another day.

She was self taught and learned by trial and error. Most of her recipes are very reflective of the 70’s back when my brothers and I were still mighty young. By the time I was off to college, she had added salmon and healthier food to the mix and even used such exotic spices as cilantro.

I think many of us long for the foods of our childhood but lately my craving for my Mom’s enchiladas was getting a little out of hand.

So this past Sunday, I called my Mom intent on getting the recipe for the enchiladas of my childhood. Little did I know that E was listening as I was getting the recipe and was starting to get a little alarmed.

“Whipping cream? Do you think I can use half and half and milk instead?”

Yeah. So since I grew up with these enchiladas, I never once thought they might be “odd”. But as Mom went thru the ingredients which included whipping cream, tomato sauce, I realized that perhaps this dish might be only delicious to me and was hardly “authentic:.

Nevermind that E might find my enchiladas repulsive at least she’d get a taste of what 7 year old Leah liked.

The dish took a bit of time because I decided to use chicken quarters and I needed to roast those. I used my beloved Goya adobe seasoning and generously sprinkled it on the tops and bottoms of my chicken. Once cooked, E and I skinned and shredded the meat so it could get combined with the chopped spinach.

Once the enchiladas were assembled and popped back into the hot oven, the dish was quickly done!

But how did it taste? Awesome! No, really, it was good. Rich and creamy and just like I remember as a kid. I think E liked them too but I doubt that they are crave worthy for her. But they are delicious. Sure, they are fat filled and kinda decedent but perfect for a chilly day dinner. I think pairing it with a crisp light salad would be lovely and very complimentary.

When I called my Mom back to give her the full report on how the enchiladas, she mentioned that the original recipe is a James Beard creation called “Suisse Enchiladas”.
I don’t know about the original recipe but here is the one I got from my Mom, enjoy!

8 Flour tortillas (I used 12)
3 Chicken Breast or a whole roasted Chicken (I used 5 chicken quarters)
Tomato sauce, enough to moisten (I used tomato paste thinned out with water b/c it’s what I had on hand)
1 package chopped Frozen Spinach
1 medium onion, chopped (I omitted b/c E doesn’t like onion)
3 cups whipping cream (I used half &half and 2% milk again b/c it’s what I had on hand)
3 chicken teaspoons of chicken granules
A generous slice of jack cheese for every whole enchilada

Step by Step
1) Sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add chicken, spinach and just enough tomato sauce to moist but not be wet and simmer 20 minutes.
2) Heat cream gently; dissolve chicken granules in cream.
3) Fill tortillas with chicken mixture, roll and place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick coating.
4) Pour cream over.
5) 375 degrees for 20 minutes or less.
6.) Put cheese slices on top and bake until golden and bubbly.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

'Zza: October Daring Baker's Challenge

I had a friend who called pizza, "zza". It took me a while to figure out what she was talking about but once I did, I was glad to have a friend who's deep love of pizza meant that she had a pet nickname for the food.

One of my absolute favorite foods, all my childhood memories is a moving evolution of pizza. My family moved every two years and so every move meant a new pizza supplier had to be found! Stouffers French Bread to Pizza Hut to Little Caesars and finally to Bertucci's, I loved it all! When I was 14 I found a wonderfully simple recipe for homemade pizza dough in the back of seventeen magazine. I still use the recipe and have the ripped out pages to refer back to.

So when I learned that this month's Daring Baker Challenge was pizza, I was over the moon! I couldn't wait to try a new recipe for dough. I looked over the recipe but was a little bummed by one small issue. It was a two day deal, which was okay, I could do all the work one day but the issue was timing. The second day's instructions said to pull the dough out of the refrigerator two hours before it needed to be ready. Sadly, with my schedule the way it is with the store and all, I'm lucky to get even an hour to prep before guest arrive for dinner! Luckily, E was doing the challenge with me and had the day off so she was able to come over to the apartment and pull out the dough.

Yay! But back to the actual process. I followed the directions and kneaded the dough a bit more than the 5-7 minutes instructed. I was concerned about the consistency of the dough. It seemed a bit tough to me and I was wondered it would turn out too hard (like the Ina Gartener pizza dough had done on me). I kneaded for more like 10-15 minutes and crossed my fingers that the resting time would allow the dough to really get soft and tender.

The Challenge this month also called for sauce. Didn't matter what kind of sauce but I like a simple pizza and so I thought if we made a tomato and cheese pizza well, a jar sauce wasn't gonna be very tasty. I decided to make a simple tomato sauce from scratch. It was so simple. I simmered a can of crush tomatoes and a couple of cups of red wine with a spoonful of tomato paste, a bit of chicken broth, a handful of dried and fresh basil, dried oregano and two cloves of garlic, Later, I added a slug of olive oil and pat of butter and tasted. It was good but something was missing. I sprinkled in some crush red pepper and tasted again. Still good but missing something still! I stood around and pondered, "hmm..."

I added freshly ground nutmeg and the tasted again, the sauce was awesome! Simple but yet complex. The nutmeg seemed to amplify all the other flavors in the sauce. It was quite lovely. Seriously, why is nutmeg not used in more recipes? Hmm... anyway, I highly recommended it for fall soups and sauces!

On Day 2, I came home to E prepping the toppings. A lovely sight indeed :) She had been kind enough to take out the dough and we were ready to rock and roll. I started to follow the instructions on how to toss the dough but I chickened out. I also chickened out on turning the oven up to 500 and left the oven at 485. (I've been a little scared since my oven door glass shattered due to roasted cauliflower). Luckily, E was kind enough to toss the dough for us. I did notice how tender the dough had become. It was perfectly stretchy and soft. Perfect!

E topped it with my homemade sauce and locally made fresh mozerella and slipped it on the pizza stone.

The final product? Awesome! It was a very, very, very simple pizza all made from scratch, but it might have been the best pizza I've eaten in a long time! The sauce was fantastic but the crust was really quite delicious. It was crisp and light and it cooked perfectly with no soggy edges anywhere!

For pictures and more detail, you should check out E's blog entry...here.

I've very pleased with this Challenge and will definitely keep this recipe handy! However, in the future I'll need to play around with the 2 hour ahead of time step. I'm thinking more like 1 hour or 30 minutes before instead ;)

Thanks for letting me play again Daring Bakers!!!!!!