Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My favorite thing to hear

I could've just as easily titled this: Should I go green or go red? I didn't have a clue when I started rustling through the fridge and lots of sauce bubbles began crowding my head.

Spinach! Use the spinach!
Chipotle in adobo! Mmmmm, yummy!
Green tomatoes! Ya got plenty!
Tomato sauce! Makes dinner saucy!

You're thinking: She's off her rocker (true, but you knew that already); Mix 'em together (er ... um, that idea wasn't coming together); What the heck are ya makin anyway? (Ah, my point exactly!)

Enchiladas! And for that I need two sauces: Red to mix with the filling and Green to pour over! WooHoo, way to bow to the bubbles!

As for the filling, I had already planned to 're-purpose' the leftover pork chops from a couple nights ago.

Leftovers are key to our weeknight meals as there's often an abundance in the fridge.
If anyone can accurately predict how much dinner two teenaged boys will eat on any given night, please let me know. (There's probably a formula that involves Partial Equivalence Relation, but that math's beyond me.)


Here goes:

Green sauce
-In a blender, whiz about a cup and a half frozen spinach with 4 large smashed garlic cloves, 1 roughly chopped
large green tomato, juice of 1 lime, 1 t olive oil, 1 t each ground coriander and cumin, a half t salt and freshly ground black pepper until you have a thinish pesto-like consistency.
-Pour into a bowl.

Red sauce
-In the same blender jar - no need to rinse - whiz 1 8oz-tin tomato sauce, 2 T chipolte chiles in adobo, 1 t taco seasoning, a half t allspice, a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper until smooth.

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Spread about a quarter cup of the Green sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
-In a bowl, combine diced pork chops with 1 15-oz tin drained black beans and the Red sauce.
-Using 12-inch flour tortillas, put about 2 to 2 and a half heaping soup spoons of filling into the middle and roll over once, tuck in the ends then roll again. Place in dish seam side down and continue until you're out of filling or tortillas. I think I got 11 out of this.
-Once all the enchiladas are nestled in the dish, pour the Green sauce along the center of the rows of enchiladas and top with shredded cheese (cheddar, taco blend, Mexican blend, even mozzarella if that's what you have).
-Bake uncovered for 25 to 35 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Oh, and what's my favorite thing to hear?
The boys say: It's really good!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Yup, almost as fun to say as Poggibonsi!

As many of you know, I recently returned from a week in glorious Chianti, Tuscany for my brother's wedding, and the food there lived up to its reputation: Clean flavors, fresh ingredients and simple preparations all used in vibrant, luscious combinations.

During the week, I often said that even the 'basic' food in Italy is better than ANYthing you can get here. Of course, that goes for the wine too...and I had a LOT! No need to contemplate vintages or varietals. Have the House wine, it's Wonderful; the pasta is toothy beyond compare; and every morsel is homemade.

Since coming home, I've looked at food in a different way, though I'm not quite sure what the difference is. Maybe I'm even more conscious of making the most of what food's at hand, be it leftovers or what's in the garden...I honestly don't know.

What I do know is spending a week in Lecchi in Chianti was a culinary gift and blessing. I've made pasta that, though still a novice's version, was much better than anything from a box; I've combined three nights' worth of leftovers into a crostata, so it was like a shepherd's pie in a pastry crust; and last night, I made ribolitta, the traditional Tuscan bean soup thickened with bread.

Here goes:

-In a large pot on low heat, render 4 or 5 slices applewood smoked bacon that you've cut into 1-inch pieces...remove lardons from the fat and reserve.
-Up the heat to medium, add a T olive oil and sweat 4 large minced garlic cloves, 1 medium diced onion, about a cup and a third diced green pepper and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a half t crushed red pepper flakes.
-When translucent, add 2 15-oz cans cannellini beans with the liquid, 1 and a half t each dried thyme and basil and 1 8-oz can tomato sauce.
-Add 1 quart boxed chicken stock and 2 cups diced (fresh) tomatoes.
-Simmer for 40 mins, check seasoning, then add about 8-inches worth stale french bread cut into small pieces.
-Simmer another 15 mins, add in the reserved lardons and just before serving, quickly stir in 1 beaten egg.

Spoon into deep bowls, drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil, sip some Chianti and enjoy!

If I had been at the villa in Lecchi (see pic above), I would've gone out the garden and plucked rosemary from the hedges instead of using dried thyme and I would've gotten kale or spinach at the Coop in Radda and I certainly would've had pecorino or parmesan to enrich the soup. But I didn't and it was still a delicious taste of Tuscan heaven.