Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mexican Week

My husband (Craig) came up with an idea a couple of weeks ago to do themed meal plans—i.e.—Thai one week, Italian the next week, etc.

Last week was our first run through and the theme was “Mexican”. I kept forgetting to take pictures until after the food was already halfway eaten. Sorry.

We started off with tacos—boring but cheap and Craig loves ‘em. Then we had…

Chiles Rellenos. This was probably my favorite meal of the week. They were pretty time consuming, but TOTALLY worth the time.
Chiles Rellenos Recipe Courtesy of Ann Hazard

Recipe Ingredients:

6 Ancho, Pasilla or Anaheim Chiles - or - 27 oz. can Poblano Peppers or Mild Whole Green Chiles
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Flour
6 Raw eggs (separated)
2 cups salsa verde
2 cups Homestyle Mexican Salsa
1 cup Corn oil

Recipe Instructions:

1. Rinse the chiles.
2. Preheat your oven to broil.
3. Place the chiles in a 9 x 14 baking dish and place on the top shelf of your oven.
4. Watch and listen closely. When the skins start to make popping sounds and to char and turn black in places, take the chiles out and flip them over. Be sure and use a potholder so you don't burn your hands!
5. When both sides are fairly evenly charred, remove them from the oven.
6. Wrap each chile in a moist paper towel or place in a sealed plastic bag to steam.
7. After a few minutes, check them. Once the skin comes off easily, peel each chile.
8. Cut a slit almost the full length of each chile. Make a small "t" across the top, by the stem. Pull out fibers and seeds (this is where the heat is) and replace with a slice of cheese. You can set these aside, for a few minutes or a few hours if you put them in the refrigerator.
9. Whip the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks have formed.
10. Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the pan.
11. Beat the egg yolks with one tablespoon flour and salt. Mix the yolks into egg whites and stir until you have a thick paste.
12. Roll the chiles in 1/4 cup flour and dip each one in the egg batter. Coat evenly. Fry, seam side down on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain.
13. Meanwhile, heat the salsa in a medium saucepan (either one or some of each). Place one or two Rellenos on each plate and pour salsa over them. Serve them immediately!

Enchiladas. I used meat in some and also made a black bean variety which turned out well. I didn’t eat the chicken variety, but I heard they were good.


1 whole chicken (makes 15 - 18 enchiladas) or
5-6 thighs (9 - 12 enchiladas)
Corn tortillas
vegetable oil
12 oz. of mild cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
enchilada sauce (recipe below)
sour cream optional
guacamole optional

Enchilada Sauce:

2 cups chicken broth
4 tsp. Gebhardt Chili Powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 heaping tsp. garlic powder (with no salt added)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon (less than 1/16 tsp.)
1/3 tsp. sugar
5 Tbs. cold water
5 Tbs. white flour


In a 2 quart sauce pan add the chicken broth, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, cinnamon and sugar (the sugar is a little secret to eliminate any bitter taste from the chili powder).
Use a whisk to mix everything well. Heat to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 3 minutes.
Whisk frequently to make sure all spices dissolve. This is important for flavor and a nice smooth sauce.
While the sauce is on a slow simmer/boil, add 5 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl.
With another whisk mix 1 tablespoon at a time of flour. Whisk vigorously to avoid lumps. If you have lumps here, you will definitely have lumps in your sauce.
After 3 minutes of cooking sauce, turn the heat up to high. Very slowly, pour the flour mixture into the boiling sauce. Here you must whisk the sauce vigorously while adding the flour to avoid lumps.
After all the flour is added, continue to whisk for one minute. You can turn the heat down to medium during this time. Just make sure the sauce is boiling.
Turn off the heat, this enchilada sauce recipe is done.
You will notice that as this sauce sits it will form a "skin" on the surface. This is normal and in fact the longer the sauce sits the thicker this skin becomes. All you have to do is peel the skin off and throw it away.

Enchilada instructions:

Rinse your chickens in cold water and place them in a pot and fill with water. You are going to boil the chicken for 1/2 hour.
Always test your chicken to make sure it is done. You don't want to see any red juices coming out of the chicken.
When done, remove the chicken to a dish to cool off.
When the chicken is cool enough to touch, you will debone the chicken. Discard the skin, bones, grisle, and any other parts you don't want to eat!
Try not to leave your chicken out at room temperature too long. You don't want to encourage bacterial growth.
Place your deboned chicken on a clean cutting board and cut the chicken into approximately 1 inch chunks. If you have ever considered buying one good knife for your kitchen, here is one I have been happy with. I use it all the time and love it. It's razor sharp and lightweight.
At this point you can start assembling your chicken enchiladas. If you want to keep your chicken warm just put it in a pot on the stove in the juice it was cooked in.
Heat the vegetable oil on medium high heat in a pan big enough to fit the tortillas in.

Assembly Time

When the oil is hot, take two tortillas with tongs and hold them in the oil until they bubble. The tortillas should bubble right away. If they don't, your oil is not hot enough.
Lift and dip the tortillas in and out of the oil 3 times fairly quickly.
The goal is to make the tortillas soft so they are easy to roll. If you leave them in the oil too long, the tortillas get stiff and are hard to roll. Toss those aside and try again. If you make these chicken enchilada recipes enough times, you will get good at it.
Now dip the tortillas in hot enchilada sauce to coat them. Transfer the coated tortillas to a plate or tray. The tortillas will be hot, so be careful.
You might want to wait 1 minute to let the tortillas cool.
Now add a large spoonful of chicken on top of the coated tortilla. Lay it right down the middle from end to end.
Grab one end of the tortilla (closest to you) and bring it over 3/4 of the way to the other end. Place your fingers on top near the chicken. Tuck and roll the enchilada over so that the opening is now on the bottom.
Pick up the enchilada and place it on a oven-proof dish. When you pick it up, make sure you grab the seam on the bottom with your fore fingers and let your pinky fingers cover the ends of the enchilada so the chicken doesn't fall out.
After a little practice you'll realize that making these chicken enchilada recipes is a breeze.
After you have placed your chicken enchiladas in the dish, use a ladle to spoon the enchilada sauce over the top of all the enchiladas. Spoon plenty of sauce to completely cover the enchiladas and the bottom of the dish.
Sprinkle grated mild cheddar cheese over the top of the chicken enchiladas. Use a much or as little as you desire.
Then sprinkle finely chopped yellow onions on top or not.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place the chicken enchiladas in the oven. You don't need to cover them.
Since all of your ingredients are warm, you will only need to leave them in the oven a few minutes.
When you see that the cheese has completely melted and the sauce is bubbling around the edges, you know it's hot enough.
Take the chicken enchiladas out of the oven and serve immediately.

Guacamole. Hard (even for me) to screw up guacamole. Yummm.


4 Hass avocados
2 home-grown or vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
1 whole chile ortega (canned)
1/8 cup finely chopped yellow onion
salt to taste
hot sauce to taste

Combine the tomatoes, chile, and onion on a cutting board and chop until the ingredients are fine. Scoop out the avocadoes and place in a bowl and add the tomatoe mixture. Mash with a potato masher. Add salt and hot sauce to taste.

Empanadas. Pretty good, but the dough was a bit dry. We slathered them with sour cream and salsa which fixed the problem.

Serves 8


2 pounds ground pork or beef
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 jalapeno chiles, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tomatoes, diced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water (do not beat until ready to bake)


1. Make the filling: In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, cook meat until no longer pink, breaking it up into small pieces, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Add onion and jalapenos; cook until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and tomatoes. Cook over medium until mixture has thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in cilantro. Let cool.
3. Make the dough: In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add just enough cold water so dough comes together.
4. Form empanadas. If desired, freeze on a baking sheet until firm, 2 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic; freeze in plastic bags.
5. To bake fresh or frozen empanadas, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash, avoiding crimped edges. Bake until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 30 to 40 minutes.

Tres Leches Cake. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Serves 8 to 10


4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
7 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups whole milk
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
Whipped cream, for serving


1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
2. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until butter browns, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
3. Whisk egg whites, baking soda, and salt with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Add yolks, and whisk until combined. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar in a slow, steady stream, and mix until combined. Using a rubber spatula, quickly and gently fold butter mixture into egg mixture.
4. Combine flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sift 1/3 cup flour-cinnamon mixture over egg mixture, and gently fold to combine. Working quickly, sift remaining flour-cinnamon mixture over egg mixture in 2 additions, and gently fold to combine. Pour batter into prepared dish, and bake until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, whisk together the 3 milks in a medium bowl. Pour over cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Transfer cake in dish to a wire rack to cool completely. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. (I only refigerated mine for about an hour.)

Up next—Italian week!

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