Subway Spanish And Indulgent Chicken Enchiladas Suiza

enchilada cuida green chiles mexican cooking

Oven Ready

When I first moved to NYC I lived in Brooklyn and commuted each day on the subway to midtown. The :20+ minute ride on the subway each way gave me time to read all of the ads on the trains. Not only did I learn that Dr. Jonathan Zizmor could help with anal warts and fissures (uhm…ewww) but I also picked up a little subway spanish. See, back then a lot of stuff on the subway was translated from english to spanish.

I learned very important phrases like ‘No Se Apoye Contra La Puerta’ = ‘Do Not Lean Against The Door’

and ‘No Pasar Entre Los Cochas‘ = ‘Do Not Pass Between Cars’

Very good information to know in any language.

decision subway campaignBut, I think the best spanish language lessons I ever received were from Julio and Marisol, the main characters in a then AIDS awareness campaign, ‘The Decision’ / ‘La Decision’.

La Decision was a cartoon soap opera that ran in both english and spanish. Every few weeks a new episode was released and we followed Marisol, Julio and their family and friends through the challenges of protecting themselves against HIV/AIDS.

Because the english and spanish versions ran side by side, I was able to read and memorize the spanish while comparing it to the english translation.

In ‘The Decision: I’ the dialogue in spanish goes something like:

chicken enchiladas suiza

Good Choice, Marisol

Marisol: Te amo Julio, pero si tu me amas, tu usas un condon.

An infuriated Julio responds: Un condon!?! Un condon! No!

Ultimately, Marisol wisely determines that though she loves Julio, she doesn’t love him enough to die.

There aren’t as many spanish translations on the subway anymore. A shame because I feel like I’ve maxed out the use of the three or so phrases I do know. I mean how often can I tell people not to lean on something?

I miss those La Decision cartoon episodes whenever I ride the trains now.

One big decision I have to face is how often to make super fattening, indulgent foods…

Warning: the following recipe is more than fattening…use sparingly.

Chicken Enchiladas Suiza (serves 6-8)

Small Space Smarts:

  1. It’s fried….so, your apt will smell like fried, but the aroma dissipates and is worth it. Use a deep pot when frying the tortillas to minimize fry splatter
  2. Buy the Goya Salsa Verde – yes, you can make your own, but it’s labor intensive and means more dirty dishes, expensive ingredients and hassle
  3. Use a rotisserie chicken – even in NYC the rotisserie chickens are more cost effective than buying and roasting a whole chicken or chicken pieces. Not to mention the rotisserie chix are better than you can make at home and time saving.
  4. Bonus – the enchiladas can be prepared well ahead of time and baked off later. So the work will be out of the way and your kitchen can be clear and cleaned when your guests arrive.

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Cooked White Meat Chicken shredded (you can use dark as well – your call)
  • goya salsa verde enchiladas

    Let Goya do the work

    mild green chiles la preferida

    Roasted, Peeled and Diced

    1 4oz can La Preferida Mild Green Chiles – roasted, peeled and diced

  • 1 jar Goya Medium Salsa Verde
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Cups heavy whipping cream…you can use half/half as well, but not whole or skim milk
  • 12 Corn Tortillas – 8 inches in diameter – the medium sized ones from Mission work perfectly here
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying – do not use Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Monterrey Jack Cheese – shredded
  • 3-4 Green Onions – chopped
  • Sour Cream and Salsa as Condiments

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

1. Shred the rotisserie chicken and put into a bowl

Price Chopper rotisserie chicken enchilada

Carne de pollo blanco

2. Pour the chiles and salsa verde over the chicken and mix well. Your hands are your best tools here – so dig in and mix!

enchiladas suiza chiles le preferido brand

Add the Canned Chiles and Salsa Verde

mixing chicken enchiladas suiza

Mix with Las Manos (those are not my hands)

3. Mix together the whipping cream and tsp of salt in a round baking dish – pie plate or similar would work nicely here

chicken enchiladas suiza

La Crema

4. Fry the tortillas in 1 inch of very hot oil just until blistered and limp. Try not to over-fry because the tortillas will then be hard to roll

fried flour tortillas for enchiladas

Tortillas Frita

5. Drain the fried tortillas on paper towels and blot to remove excess oil

6. Dip the fried tortillas into the cream/salt mixture

7. Place the fried and cream dipped tortilla onto a flat work surface and add about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in a line to the center of the tortilla

chicken enchiladas suiza

Enchiladas Del Balanceo

8. Roll fairly tightly

9. Place the enchilada into an ungreased 9×13″ pan, flap side down

chicken enchiladas suiza nestling

Nestle the enchiladas

10. Repeat until all 12 tortillas are stuffed and rolled and nestled into the pan – depending on thickness, you may have to use two pans

nestled enchiladas suiza

Final Nesting Place

12. Pour the remaining cream/salt mixture over the rolled and nestled tortillas

13. Sprinkle the cheese over all of the enchiladas

14. Sprinkle the sliced green onions over the cheese

enchilada cuida green chiles mexican cooking

Oven Ready Enchiladas Suiza

15. Bake in the oven for :20 mins…until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are well heated and bubbly

chicken enchiladas suiza out of the oven

Del Horno

16. Serve with a garnish of tomato salsa and sour cream…and refried beans and spanish rice on the side

I know this recipe says ‘serves 6’….but they really are rich, creamy and delicious and each of our dinner guests needed just one or one and a half. It depends how much chicken you put in each enchilada.

La Decision Uno here might be to make these enchiladas just once or twice a year. I wish I spoke more Spanish, because all I can tell you is that if you eat these enchiladas too frequently, you may not want to apoye contra la puerta – or against anything else.

When Fabulous People Are Coming to Dinner: Ina’s Beef Short Ribs

scott's short ribs ina garten

Fall Off the Bone Tender Goodness

I’m about to be butchered by Ina Garten lovers everywhere. So I’ll just start by saying, I love to cook her recipes and I even watch her show(s).

She makes her own chicken stock and never fails to mention it when including it in any recipe: “2 cups of home made chicken stock. It’s really the best.”

She grinds her own spices.

She uses only “really good olive oil”.

She grows her own herbs. “This is rosemary right from my garden.”

She’s a master of the kitchen and all things kitchen related.

That said….She’s a bit of a name dropper.

Each time I tune in she’s about to host a luncheon/dinner/beach party for every fabulous gay person east of Nassau County. I honestly think I recently I heard her say: “Truman Capote and Liberace are coming for lunch, so I’m making cornish game hens and apple turnovers.”

Or maybe it was more like: “Andy Warhol agreed to paint my hallway so I’m making him salmon with lentils!”

Ina garten short ribs jeffrey

Ah…Jeffrey

 And, then there’s Jeffrey. Jeffrey (for the non-Ina aficionado) is Ina’s husband. They’ve been married for like a gazillion years. Jeffrey works and lives in Manhattan Mon – Fri – venturing out to Ina’s Hampton’s home only on weekends. And, when he arrives, Ina kills the fatted calf – or in her case – chicken.

Friday shows always start something like: “It’s Friday and Jeffrey’s coming home from the City tonight so I’m making his favorite chicken. My perfect roasted whole chicken in fact.”

Ina gives the impression that Jeffrey is unable to do anything by himself – except live in NYC. So, Ina gets busy in the kitchen making all of Jeffrey’s favorite meals whenever she has to leave town. And, seriously, sometimes she’s planning to be gone for a just a few hours. “I’ve been invited to go skating with Brian Boitano tonight, so I’m making Jeffrey’s favorite cappuccino ice cream for him while I’m away.”

OK. I feel better. So, back to the fact that I love her recipes (‘How Easy Is that?”), I’ve made her Scott’s Short Ribs a half dozen times and they are easy and delicious.

Ina Garten’s Scott’s Short Ribs (Serves 8 – hers serves 6, but I was having 8 to dinner)

Important to note:

  1. The entire process of making this meal, including chopping…takes about 4 hours
  2. In a small apartment like mine…If you can close your bedroom and bathroom doors while the meat is in the oven…do it. The beefy winey aroma is lovely on the evening it’s made…Not so much the next day on your linens or towels
  3. There’s a bit of chopping…so, make Anne Burrell proud and mise en place if you can
ina garten short ribs mise en place

Pretty Mise En Place

Ingredients:

  • fennel whole foods vegetables

    This is Fennel I’m sure of it

    8 Beef Short Ribs, trimmed as best you can of the fat. Ina’s butcher does it for her…but that might not be what happens to you….or, me.

  • 1/4 Cup Good Olive Oil – whatever you do, do NOT use shitty olive oil! That would really piss Ina off!
  • 2 Medium Sized Onions Chopped
  • 4 Cups Large-Diced Celery – Ina says that’s 6 stalks, but only if the stalks are from her magical giant celery growing garden….It’s more like 10 stalks of celery
  • 2 Carrots peeled and large diced
  • 1 Small Fennel – fronds, stems and core removed and large diced
  • beef broth Whole Foods

    WF Owner is a Vegan, But this is good beef broth

    1 Leek, cleaned large diced, white part only – (to clean it best…chop and submerge pieces in ice water then fish out with a spider…the dirt/grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl)

  • 3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 750ml bottle of Burgundy or Pinot Noir or other dry red wine – plus 14 bottles for your thirsty friends who are coming to dinner
  • Fresh Rosemary – from your garden…Or, Whole Foods or other
  • Fresh Thyme Sprigs
  • 6 Cups of Beef Stock or Broth – I use the 365 Brand at Whole Foods and 6 Cups is a box and a half
  • 1 TBSP Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper – Ina prefers Kosher Salt, of course

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

1. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper

short ribs whole foods

Try to get the same size short ribs…

2. Put the ribs in the oven and roast undisturbed for :15 minutes (go to step 4) – remove from oven and set aside

3. Reduce heat to 300 degrees

4. While the ribs are roasting, heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven (I use my pretty blue Le Creuset, of course) over medium low heat

blue le creuset short ribs williams-sonoma

Pretty Blue Le Creuset

5. Add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel and leek and cook for about :20 minutes stirring occasionally

le creuset short ribs ina garten jeffrey

Vegetable Softening Nicely

6. After :20, add the garlic and cook for another :02 minutes – or until you can smell the garlic goodness

7. Pour the wine over the veggies and bring to a boil

ina garten short ribs add wine

I heart cooking with wine

8. Continue to cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by about 1/2

9. Add a TBSP of salt and 1 TSP of pepper

10. Make a bundle of several sprigs of rosemary and several sprigs of thyme and throw them in the pot

Herb Bundle

Herb Bundle of rosemary and thyme

11. Nestle the ribs into the winey vegetables and pour the beef broth over them – the ribs should be totally submerged

ina garten short ribs scott's

The beef ribs all nestled

ina garten short ribs 365 brand stock broth

And totally covered with broth

12. Throw in the brown sugar

13. Bring to a simmer over high heat….Once simmering, put the lid on the dutch oven and carefully put it into the oven for 2 hours. The meat will be very tender.

14. After 2 hours, remove the pot from the oven and the ribs from the pot. Set ribs aside keeping them warm if possible

scott's short ribs ina garten

Fall Off the Bone Tender Goodness

15. Discard the herbs and skim off the excess fat

16. Over medium, cook the vegetables and sauce for :20 minutes until reduced slightly

ina garten short ribs recipe

Ribs  and herb bundle removed- sauce a-simmer

17. Plate the ribs and pour some of the sauce and veggies over them

18. Plate the veggies separately

ina garten short ribs recipe veggies

Drunken veggies plated

19. Serve

20. Ask yourself: How easy is that?

This is a great meal for groups because it’s delicious and impressive. And also because all of the work will be done hours before your guests arrive.

But don’t even think of making the short ribs for Jeffrey and Ina on a friday. They’re having chicken with Jodie Foster and Neil Patrick Harris.

Bacon Makes It Better: Bacon-Y Bean Bundles

french green beans bacon evoo

Nestled and Oven Ready

Everyone’s family has different rules about what and how much a child must eat at any given meal. Some families go with praise cheering their kids who are members of the ‘clean your plate club’. Others threaten punishment if kids didn’t finish every morsel on their plates.

Salisbury steak

Salisbury Steak ’70’s Style

In our house, we just had to try what was served. I’m not saying that if we hated it that something else would be served. I’m just saying that even the most detestable of dishes had to be at least sampled. Once taste tested, we could decide whether to eat on or go hungry. There were a few key dishes in the dinner rotation at our house – your basic chicken, fancier chicken and dumplings, Salisbury steak, breakfast for dinner – all easy and kind to the pickiest of kids. But, for the most part, we were pretty easy to feed. OK my type-A brother had to change forks and plates between courses, cuz like one food can’t touch another – but that was probably the biggest challenge.

There was really only one staple in my mother’s dinner table rotation that killed us….Liver. Like pan fried liver ’70’s style. It was dry and sorta smelly and chewy and….Hated it.

So, charged with having ‘at least one bite’, my brothers and I had a strategy. Cut the tiniest of tiny pieces of the stuff, wrap it in 4-5 pieces of bacon, fill a large cup with water and swallow the bacon wrapped ickiness whole.

Since then I’ve known that I can eat almost anything if it’s wrapped in bacon. Bacon makes the worst things tolerable and the best things even better. I like green beans and have noticed that they tend to go unfinished when served alongside other sides like potatoes. One way to ensure that your beans are consumed is to wrap them in bacon.

Bacon-Y French Bean Bundles (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • green beans pricechopper

    Pre-Washed is the way to go

    1 bag of prewashed french beans – yes, you can use regular green beans, but I like the smaller more delicate taste of the French beans – they sell these bags everywhere now. Ours were from Price Chopper upstate.

  • 9-10 pieces of bacon cut in half
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TSP of freshly grated parmesan cheese

You can also sub out the EVOO + Parmesan Cheese and use an Italian Parmesan Salad Dressing instead….

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Wrap 5-6 beans in one half-slice of bacon and lay in a baking dish

green beans and bacon

Wrapped and Ready

2. Repeat until 2-3 bundles per person are created and the bundles are nestled in the pan

3. Sprinkle the bacon-y bean bundles with the olive oil and parmesan cheese

side dish bacon wrapped beans

Gently Sprinkled with EVOO and Parm

4. Bake for :45 mins to 1 hour – until beans are well roasted and bacon is fully cooked

french beans in bacon recipe

Beans & Bacon Well Crisped

5. Serve 2 – 3 bundles per person

That’s really it.

In my own apartment, I do subscribe to the ‘just try one bite’ philosophy. Doesn’t always work. But if I can eat ’70’s style pan fried liver, the toughest of taste buds can certainly give bundles of bacon-y beans a try.

Not The Inauguration Dinner: Elegant Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon

filet mignon with bleu cheese and bread crumbs

Table Ready

No one invited me to the Inaugural Dinner tonight. And, truth be told, I’m not sure I could have made it as my car is sick – so $$$$$ad 😦

Michelle Obama American Grown

I heart FLOTUS

I thought I should see what I’m missing and searched for the Obama Part Deux Dinner Menu online. Tonight, his guests will (according to several online sources) be enjoying Mahi-Mahi ceviche with jalapeños and coconut, seared salmon on baby spinach with red potatoes, and pineapple upside-down cake. The menu reflects Barack’s Hawaiian heritage and gives a nod to Michelle’s fight against American obesity. Though I don’t know if the potatoes or spinach come from the White House garden. (As an aside, FLOTUS’ book “American Grown” is worth a perusal.)

This past weekend we enjoyed an inaugural dinner of our own. A gaggle of girls had traveled from far and wide and we were upstate in the town of Catskill – not The Catskills. Our host upstate wanted to prepare, in his own words, an elegant dinner for his guests.

After poring through the 8-10 options I sent him for main courses, he settled on maybe the most elegant. I helped him with the menu and guided him through – he did all the work – and I got to be bossy: all was right with the world.

Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 6   1 1/4 inch filets – shameless pitch here for Price Chopper, his grocery store upstate – great meats and where Rachael Ray got her start…just sayin’
  • 1 Cup crumbled Bleu Cheese – we bought a block and he crumbled it by hand – better than buying pre-crumbled stuff
  • 1 Cup Progresso Panko Style bread crumbs – love
  • Butter
  • 1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the Oven to 425 degrees

1. In a small fry pan, melt 1 TBSP of butter over medium heat

2. Add the bread crumbs and toast until browned. Flip ’em around occasionally to brown well. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool

progresso bread crumbs panko

Don’t Be Shy About Browning the Panko

3. Salt and Pepper the filets on one side

filet mignon bleu cheese

Salted and Peppered

4. In a second medium/large fry pan, melt 2 TBSP of butter over med/high heat

5. Add the filets salted/peppered side down to the melted butter. This is your chance to salt/pepper the other side

filet mignon with bleu cheese

Searing One Side S/P The Other

6. Sear the filets for 2-3 mins per side. They should be well browned

filet mignon price chopper bleu cheese

Well browned searing in taste and juices

7. Remove from the pan and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined parchment paper side up with Reynolds Wrap Pan Lining paper – the mullet of cooking papers tin foil one side, parchment on the other

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon

Worth the price

8. Mix together the crumbled bleu cheese, olive oil and toasted panko bread crumbs

bleu cheese mixture for filet

Bleu Cheese Crumbled by Hand

9. Carefully top each filet with a heaping spoonful of the cheese/bread crumb mix. You can gently press the topping into each filet

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon

Layer on the Cheese, Bread Crumb Mixture

10. Place the topped filets into the oven and bake for :06 – :08 mins for Medium-Rare

11. Let rest for :05, then plate and serve

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon dinner

The one with the Stick was for our rarest of rare meat eater friend

Barack Obama Swearing In inauguration

Barack’s 3rd Swearing In Yesterday

Interesting fact about today’s Inauguration…This will be the fourth time that Barack Obama will be sworn in as president. He flubbed the words at the first one and had to have a redo four years ago – could happen to anyone. Then, because the 20th was on a Sunday, he was sworn in yesterday and will be re-sworn in today as part of the inauguration celebration. The only other person to be sworn in 4 times is FDR, because he was elected four times.

There’s a lunch today too. And the Obamas honored more than just healthy foods and Hawaii today. For lunch they served lobster and bison – the presidential seal of approval for all from Maine to Colorado.

But as far as the big dinner tonight, I liked our elegant meal better than the inaugural double fish fest. And, our bananas flambe dessert tops pineapple upside down cake any day.

Well done, my upstate friend. A truly elegant and more than inauguration worthy meal.

Appropriately Sized and Served on the Side: Lil’ Savory Cheddar Dill Scones

ina garten cheddar dill scones

Savory Smaller Cheddar Dill Scones

One of the things that drives me most crazy is the size of portions at restaurants. And, I’m not just talking about at The Cheesecake Factory. I’m not averse to the giant drinks at the bar there – but, that’s a different story.

The other night I was out to dinner at one of my fave Mexican restaurants in the West Village. I ordered the Baja (read ‘fried’) fish tacos. In a totally wrong way in my head, ordering the fish tacos vs the chicken chimichangas, would be ‘better’ for me. I realize that’s wrong.

mole fish taco

Giant Portion

When the tacos arrived, the plate – probably 10 inches in diameter – was completely covered. It was literally a portion that could serve a family of four if Melissa D’Arabian had anything to say about it. Seriously, there were no fewer than 8 big pieces of Baja fried fish smothered in tomatoes, onions, cilantro, topped with avocado slices and sitting atop 7, yes 7, soft tacos. Ridiculous. Delicious, but ridiculous.

It’s just too much. I mean, does the restaurant think that food for four should be served to just one? And, are they promoting eating that much just by serving it? Does the restaurant have a responsibility for controlling the portions they serve? I think so. And….Don’t get me started on giant sodas, because, sorry, I agree with the mayor here.

In a city where space is at a premium – and our kitchens are tiny – the giant restaurant portions amaze me.

sur la table nyc

It’s like crack for a cook

My niece and nephew sent me a gift certificate to Sur La Table for Christmas. Whenever I shop for kitchen stuff, I have to take into account my tiny kitchen. I have to make choices – I want, but don’t need, another 6qt Le Creuset pot, another All-Clad grill pan, 7 more spatulas, the pasta attachment to my KitchenAid mixer, more wine glasses etc etc etc, ….And, I sort of do want a Scone cutter….But, where would I put any of these things?

Bottom line, is there isn’t room. And, a scone cutter, cuts out big scones. As the boss of my test kitchen, I have a responsibility to serve reasonably sized portions. So instead of a scone cutter, I bought a set of biscuit cutters. Better choice for a few reasons:

  1. They nest like Russian Dolls – one inside the other
  2. You get 5 sizes, not just one – more versatile
  3. They’re a lot smaller than a single scone cutter – controlling your portions and saving you space
  4. They come with a ring that connects them to one another – don’t throw out the ring as it will help you keep them organized in your tiny kitchen

I’m a savory, not a sweet eater. I heart savory scones – rarely a breakfast entree like their sugary cousins, but rather a side dish, an accoutrement to the main course. So, why should we make giant ones?

Lil’ Savory Cheddar Dill Scones (makes 24 baby scones)

Ingredients

  • scones recipe ina garten

    Scone Mise En Place

    2 Cups + 1TBSP Gold Medal all purpose flour

  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 TBSP) unsalted COLD butter, diced – dice the butter, then put it in the freezer for :10mins
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream chilled – measure out the cream and then put it back in the fridge until you’re ready to add it
  • 1/4lb extra-sharp Irish Cheddar cheese – small dice
  • 1/2 Cup minced fresh Dill

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

1. In the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer, combine 2 Cups of flour, the baking powder and salt

kitchenAid mixer scones

Use the Paddle Attachment – and just mix :05

2. Add the cold butter dices and mix on low until the butter is in pea sized pieces

3. In a separate bowl (or, I used a water glass, whatever works) mix together the eggs and heavy cream

4. Add the creamy-egg mix to the buttery flour mix and combine until just blended and a dough forms

cheddar dill scones

Don’t Over Mix!

5. In a separate bowl, toss the dill and cheddar dices with 1 TBSP of flour just to coat

cheddar dill scones

Tossed with Flour

6. Add the coated cheddar and dill to the dough and mix to combine

cheddar dill scones recipe

Mix for just :05 seconds

7. Put the dough on a well-floured surface and knead for about a minute to get all of the cheddar dices and dill-iness well incorporated

8. Roll out the dough to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick – if you were making a traditional scone, you might want them thicker…but again, too much food!

cheddar dill scones

Don’t roll too thin…

9. Using the two inch biscuit cutter I just got from Sur La Table – cut into circles

sur la table biscuit cutters

Space Saving Nesting Biscuit Cutters

10. Place the savory scone circles onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper and brush them with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 TBSP water)

cheddar dill scones

Oven Ready Lil’ Scones

11. Into the oven for :16-:18 mins if you used the 2 inch biscuit cutter, :20 – :25 mins if you used a traditional scone cutter. Just watch the scones – when the outside is browned and crusty and the inside is fully baked, they’re done

scones ina garten recipe

Lil’ Cheddar Dill Scones

These scones are good. Like really good. And, my tiny apartment still smells a little like butter from the baking process. They are in no way low-cal….But, rather a more responsible way to give my guests a little savory delicious indulgence appropriately sized and served on the side.