Friday, November 17, 2017

Beef Enchiladas Verde with Peppers, Corn & Beans

Powered devices rudely announced that our power went out at 4:41 a.m. After that annoying chorus of beeps, clicks, chirps and alarms woke us up, we wandered through the house to address their status with taps and resets. Then we tried to ignore the rattling screens and gusting winds and fall back asleep. Hah! good luck with that. Power was restored about four hours later, but the winds continued to howl mightily. The lights flickered intermittently all day; it was going to be one of those days. Hello, Fall.

I turned to enchiladas, a favorite Tex-Mex comfort food, to help improve my outlook and attitude later in the day. Enchiladas are always welcome lunch fare, so I rummaged through fridge and cabinets to concoct this version of rolled enchiladas. With beef, beans, corn, peppers, and a peppy melting cheese rolled inside a tortilla, what's not to love?! My beef enchiladas typically feature a homemade red sauce, but substituting an available can of green sauce proved to be a successful swap. 

A more traditional recipe would call for 1) dipping a fresh tortilla in sauce and frying it before filling, or 2) frying a fresh tortilla in hot oil for a few seconds to soften it, then dipping it in sauce before filling. This isn't that. My naked flour tortillas were rolled around a loose filling, placed atop a bed of sauce, and topped with more sauce. Covering the dish with foil kept the tortillas soft while they baked; then an uncovered finish crisped them up just enough. Less mess, slightly faster preparation, but still delicious. Win! 

Beef Enchiladas Verde with Peppers, Corn & Beans

yields 8 enchiladas.

1 can (15+ oz) mild green enchilada sauce, divided (Hatch, Old El Paso, Las Palmas, etc.)
1 scant Tablespoon canola oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 large poblano pepper, diced  (or 1 can diced Anaheim chiles)
1 Tablespoon chile powder (I used Penzey's Chili 3000)
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups mixed corn, red peppers, black beans & onions (I used 1/2  package of frozen SW mix)
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
8 medium-size soft flour tortillas

Optional toppings:
additional shredded cheese, diced tomato, diced avocado,  fresh cilantro, sliced radish... and your favorite hot sauce (Green Tabasco here)

  1. Spread a scant cup of enchilada sauce across the bottom of a 9x11 baking dish. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 f.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Brown the beef, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the oil in the pan. Add onion and poblano to the heated oil and cook until softened. Spoon off the accumulated oils. 
  3. Add the seasonings, chile powder to paprika, and cook for a minute or two until fragrant; stirring occasionally. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cooked beef and mixed SW vegetables to the pan; toss and stir to combine.
  4. Place a flour tortilla on a flat plate; spread a generous 1/4 cup of the filling and 1/4 cup of cheese in a line across the bottom third of the tortilla. Roll to enclose and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  5. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the rolled enchiladas, scatter and extra filling and some cheese over everything. Cover with foil and bake for at least 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 or 20 minutes until the cheese melts and the tortillas just begin to crisp and brown.
  6. Remove, top with desired items and serve, or plate individually and offer toppings separately.
Note: leftovers covered with plasticwrap and reheated the next day in the microwave were soft, moist, and still darned good!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Stovetop Apples with a Crunchy Topping

Too many apples? No way, that's not happening in this galley. I slice a lot apples for snacks, add them to salads, and bake scores of applicious breads and desserts. But... there hasn't been much baking happening this month since the galley oven died. While I'm searching for a suitable replacement this quick, skillet-on-the-stovetop version of apple crisp took care of recent dessert cravings. Good? oh yes, it even scored a two-thumbs-up rating from chief taster, Capt. Ron.

Read on for some rambling notes on apples, or skip to the end for the recipe that follows. I won't judge.

Ever since a chance tasting, a sample handed out by a vendor at Seattle’s Pike Place Market many years ago, Honeycrisp apples have been our favorite eating apple. Developed at the University of Minnesota in their search for new cold-hardy cultivars with high flavor, the Honeycrisp were first released in 1991. The sweet-tart balance and distinctive crunch brought early, widespread acceptance. Known for an “explosively crisp and juicy texture”, Honeycrisp quickly nudged aside the iconic Red Delicious, Washington State’s long-standing classic and traditional favorite. While we love Honeycrisps, they are typically the most expensive apples available, so I opt to use cheaper varieties for baking.

And then in October, while shopping at the marina's grocery, we happened upon a worthy Canadian competitor, the Ambrosia. Named after the “food of the gods” in mythology, this amazing apple delights multiple senses. It's unique appearance features a glossy, bi-coloured skin with a bright pink splash on a creamy-yellow background. Then there's its distinct perfumed aroma. Bite into an Ambrosia and revel its sweet, juicy and crisp-textured flesh. Mmmmm, no wonder this delicious, low-acid apple rates high in taste tests. Born from a chance seedling and finally registered in 1993, the Ambrosia has grown in popularity and is now available worldwide. Ambrosia is a low-acid apple making it easier to digest, is slow to brown and is great fresh or baked. 

Stovetop Apples with a Crunchy Topping

Streusel Topping:
1 stick (8 TBS or 4 oz) butter
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are favorites)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice* (or ground cinnamon)

Fruit Filling:

2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar (more if using tart apples)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
3 to 4 large apples; peeled, seeded & sliced

For the topping:
  1. Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet (cast iron or nonstick) over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine until the mixture is moist and "clumps".
  2. Place the skillet back on the burner and cook over low heat until the mixture is golden brown and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning! 
  3. Remove the streusel to a large plate or cookie sheet to cool; it will crisp up as it cools. Set aside if using soon, or store in an airtight container at room temperature if making a day or two ahead.

For the fruit:
  1. Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar, cornstarch and spice; heat and stir continuously until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the apples, tossing carefully to coat each slice.
  3. Cover the skillet and cook over medium to medium-low heat until apples soften, roughly 7 or 8 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices. Uncover and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes more. Don't overcook the apples into applesauce!

To serve:
Top with streusel and offer ice cream or softly whipped cream to accompany, OR dish up individual parfait-style servings, alternating fruit with toppings.
Delicious served warm, this is also quite tasty at room temperature.

 *Penzey's Apple Pie Spice contains a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves (link)

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