My food and drink page...

Folks who know me at all know I love to cook, and celebrate fine wines. I've come to relish tequila, but also have a soft spot for a (very) good bourbon, and a rye cocktail named the Manhattan. Here in MX, I've met several who are Tequila aficionados , and a neighbor down the street - takes his interest to a whole new level. He buys newly distilled blanco tequila, gets a barrel [both easy and amazingly complex at the same time]... and ages his own tequila. Last spring he & his wife invited us over;  we had a wonderful dinner, and several Margaritas/shots of different tequilas... A few weeks later, he shows up at my door with a 20 liter barrel filled with blanco -- Happy Birthday.

Now, almost 9 months later, I have a delightful Reposado tequila, and put 5 liters into a smaller barrel to age another 3 years [Extra Anejo!]. So I've just started my 2nd generation of Ken's tequila -- and it's been a blast. My "home" made margaritas [literally!] are quite excellent, too.

Entomatadas - last night's dinner

When we lived in Cave Creek, AZ, a favorite restaurant was Hacienda's. We had good friends on staff there (Hola, Angel!), and had the restaurant cater one of Lucky's birthday parties. In the last few years we were there, they added Entomatada to their Enchilada section of the menu. After trying it, I rarely ordered anything else. Moving south, I had no recipe, but I certainly had a lingering appetite for this wonderful dish. Entomatada essentially means "Tomato" enchilada. One day I tried Youtube... and 30 recipe/preparation videos later (over half in Espanol) -- I had an orientation to the dish. And... three tries later, I finally got it RIGHT.

This isn't a 10 minute prep meal... there are short cuts... but you have to prepare the beef properly - and that's about 15 - 20 minutes itself. I like to prep the onion and garlic myself, so there's another 10 - 15 minutes. The short-cut I developed: the traditional Mexican prep boils tomatoes, a quarter slice of onion, and a pepper [jalapeno or serrano] together for about 10 minutes - then blends that mixture. I've replaced this with 2 cans of fire-roasted organic tomatoes, briefly blended, with the sautéed onions and garlic added to the tomato sauce. I then add the juice from canned hot chiles. So... recipe time:

Ingredients

  • 2 cans organic fire-roasted tomatoes

  • 1/4 white onion - medium to fine dice

  • 2 garlic cloves - finely diced

  • 3/4 to 1 pound good grade ground beef - I use ground sirloin

  • 1 dozen fresh corn tortillas - from the 'grandma' store on main street [good luck in the U.S.]

  • equal parts of Oxacaco cheese [MX mozzarella], ranchero cheese, and sharp cheddar - I usually have about 1/2 lb. total

Spices

  • Salt - to taste. I salt the tomato sauce slightly, the meat more substantially

  • chili powder - to taste in the beef

  • cumin - to taste in the beef

  • teaspoon of green chili juice [I use HOT Hatch chiles] for tomatoes

the Cream paste

  • Mix together La Costena Salsa Casera con Haberno with Crema [I use regular cream opposed to Sour Cream]. Careful... this salsa is SPICY!! This should start "wow", with a picante finish.

Preparation

  • blend the tomatoes - stir setting... 30 seconds. Place in a shallow pan where tortillas can be dipped and coated.

  • sauté the onion and garlic until onions begin to 'clear' - drain any oil used - set aside

  • cook the ground beef until browned - you don't want rare centers in larger chunks - don't over-cook. Set aside

  • heat tomato sauce until a slight boil, add onions and garlic, then reduce to simmer

  • prepare a casserole dish [see photo] - evenly coat the bottom of the dish with tomato sauce

  • turn on oven to 300F

  • apply cream paste lightly to one side of a tortilla, then dip the tortilla in the tomato sauce. Evenly coat both sides lightly 

  • place the tortilla in the casserole dish - leaving room for another tortilla to one side of it. Spread the cheese mixture over the tortilla, then spread the beef over the tortilla. Repeat these last two steps, creating side-by-side stacks in the casserole dish.

You want two 'stacks 'of tortillas 5 to 6 high... all with same ingredients' between'. The top tortilla receives the last of the tomato sauce on top [see above photo right]. Also use the remaining cheese to dress the top of the tortilla stacks.

Cook in oven 15 - 20 minutes. When you see the tomato sauce bubbling on the bottom, turn the oven to 'broil' for the last 5 minutes.

My wife, when she finished this meal, called it "Mexican Lasagna." I can't argue with that... and it is remarkably tasty.

the finished product

tortillas stacked, ready for cheese topping

Chilaquiles - Mexican desayuno (breakfast)

When I lived in Santa Barbara, CA, a favorite restaurant was la Super-Rica. Favorite really doesn't do justice; if we'd lived closer we'd have eaten there daily... and been blimp-sized quickly. We all loved this place, but my daughter Shannon simply relished the food, and found herself especially enamored of one dish - their Chilaquiles. She literally worked for years in her own kitchen getting this dish "right" - and today is internationally famous [we have family in Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, California, Oregon & Mexico] for this dish. That's fantastic -- the bummer? She won't say a peep about "the recipe."

So... today I gave the dish a swing. The essential ingredient in Chilaquiles is tortilla chips... but I warn you against the extra thin, Dorito styled ones. Find a thicker, meatier chip - like Santitas. The second essential ingredient: the salsa for soaking the chips. Shannon labors for hours over tomatillos, diced onions, chiles [you can go for very spicy [serrano], to milder versions]. I like the medium to hot flavored Hatch chiles. You also need cilantro, cumin, epazote, and... a touch of cayenne... unless you're completely 'gringo.'

Here in Mexico, I've found a green salsa that I simply love - and when you read the ingredients, it has all those things Shannon spends an hour or so cooking... so, I took a short cut. I also prepped some black beans, and fried an egg... more on that below.

the Salsa - La Costeña Verde

Tortillas - soak in Salsa

Black Beans - add cumin & salsa

soaked tortillas should be slightly limp... not pasta soft

When cooked on both sides for 3-4 min, fry an egg

<  the finished dish... ​

add a few slices of avocado, cilantro leaves, sprinkled cheese... and ... imagine breakfast in Mexico.  Delicioso!

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