Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beef enchiladas with chipotle-pasilla chili gravy

For Lent, I gave up beef. Now, I wouldn’t say that I necessarily have a beef-eating problem, but there was a period right before Ash Wednesday when I found myself eating beef at least twice a day. My body urged me to take a break, and so I did.

Actually, after a while I didn’t miss it that much—there are plenty of other satisfying foods to eat in the world. That said, a reader over on my Facebook page asked for a beef enchilada recipe. Her request took root and grew throughout my abstention, and as soon as Easter arrived I decided to make beef enchiladas my first order of business.

I have to admit that I seldom order beef enchiladas when I eat Tex-Mex. Nope, I’m more a cheese enchilada or sour-cream enchilada gal. I was trying to remember the last time I even ate beef enchiladas, and the best I could deduce was that it was several years ago when a couple was added to a combination platter.

In my recollection, however, it was a fine specimen of the enchilada genre. The tortillas were drowning in a soulful and smooth chili gravy, while the ground beef filling was peppery and bright. I mixed each bite with some beans and rice, and the iceberg lettuce garnish added a cooling contrast to the richness of the beef. Yep, it was an excellent Tex-Mex meal.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

jalapeƱo egg salad recipe

This week, I’ve been plowing through my book’s page proofs, making corrections and cuts where needed. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and when I turn in the proofs next week, I know that I’ll want more time.

But then I saw this Chinese proverb, “Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished,” and I laughed because this is so true.

So what does this have to do with egg salad? Not a lot, except that it’s spring, which for me always signals a time for fresh beginnings and an opportunity to throw out the old to make room for the new.

That’s how I feel about my book right now—it’s time to send it along to make room for a new project in my life. And yes, eggs are a symbol of rebirth, which is why they’re so closely associated with my favorite spring holiday, Easter.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blue cheese scalloped potatoes with chipotle and bacon

Blue cheese scalloped potatoes chipotle bacon

Now, if you’re watching your weight you should stop reading right now, as these blue cheese scalloped potatoes with chipotle and bacon are not exactly waistline friendly. But believe you me—they are luxuriously good.

The inspiration for these came from a quick trip to Texas last week. It had been a few years since I’d seen the bluebonnets, and when a cheap, last minute fare to Austin presented itself to me, I immediately booked a flight.

My vague notion was that I would drive around Central Texas, and would be blown away by all the wildflowers. The reality, however, was a bit less spectacular as the weather had been dry and not many flowers had popped out of the ground just yet.

As I spoke to people in the various small towns I visited, I heard that the best bluebonnets were to be found in North Texas, with an exceptionally fine showing in Ennis. So even though my plan had been to spend my brief time in Texas in the Hill Country, I changed course and headed north.

After a night’s rest, I woke up before dawn and drove to Ennis, arriving just as the sun was rising. I’d found a map of the bluebonnet trail, and began to make my way to the areas marked as being especially lush. The reports did not lie—I’d never seen such a spectacular showing of bluebonnets.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pastoral tacos

tacos al pastor, pastoral tacos

A friend was in town visiting from Mexico City last week, and we’d planned to get together and cook. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented us from hanging out, and so she said to me, “You need to come to Mexico!”

Indeed, I do.

My last trip to Mexico City was a couple of years ago, and while I ate myself silly all over town, my favorite meals were held at El Califa, a taqueria that was close to where I was staying. I had both my first and last meals at El Califa—along with a couple more in between—as their tacos are fresh and wonderful.

El Califa is a taqueria that specializes in tacos made with tender pieces of grilled steak or thin, juicy slices of al pastor pork. I love al pastor tacos but recreating them in my own kitchen has eluded me, primarily because they’re traditionally made with pork that’s been cooked on a vertical rotisserie, which is a tool I have not been able to recreate in my home.

pineapple salsa

So imagine my pleasure when I saw El Califa’s al pastor tacos get a shout out in Joe Yonan’s new book, Serve Yourself. Now, if you don’t know Joe Yonan, you should. He’s the food editor of the Washington Post who’s won many James Beard awards. His writing is heartfelt and charming, and his recipes are always inviting. But perhaps more importantly, Joe is a homesick Texan who grew up in San Angelo and went to school at the University of Texas.

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