Monday, February 3, 2014

Eating Omily: The Perfect End to a Snowy Day...

I just can't relate to people who whine about snowy weather. Such scrooges! it's beautiful outside, and inside, it's the perfect time for BAKING!!!  Yay!!!  I'm sitting here typing away with a hearty helping of apple-rhubarb crisp at my elbow...mmmmm...nothing like butter, sugar, and flower, flavored with cinamon, baked on top of luscious fruit, and you know it wouldn't taste nearly as good if I hadn't gone tromping all over the city today, hanging my socks over the radiator at every stop! Thank goodness for the shoe-free yoga teacher/aerialist lifestyle...maybe that's why people are cranky! They haven't been able to properly thaw out their feet, and dry out their footwear throughout the day! Hmm...I may have just cracked the code...well, they should still bake themselves something scrumptious.

Anyway, I'm not going to write about making a crisp because for heaven's sake, all you need is fruit, flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and a pastry blender! I just know you can manage it without me. :-)

I actually want to write about one of my all-time favourite Winter-season savory recipes: chilaquiles! I had never heard of these before stumbling upon the recipe in a "Fast Vegetarian Recipes" cook book I picked up from a free box in a yoga studio years ago, but I knew right away I wanted to try them: "these are basically Mexican lasagna: layers of tortillas, tomatoes, beans, cheese, and sour cream." Um...yes, please! I break these out a couple times a month as long as our quarts of tomatoes hold out. The leftovers only get better and better as they sit, not that they get to sit long!

For these, you'll need:

A baking pan, roughly 11x17"

1-28 oz can of tomatoes, whole, crushed, diced, whatever. If you canned your own tomatoes in quart jars, those are what I use. They work out to about 28 oz when you account  for the head space you left in the jar.

1-16 oz can of beans (or better yet, beans you made yourself in the slow cooker!)

A couple garlic cloves

1 onion, or half an onion...whatever you have will be fine.

2 cups (about half a pound) mild, shredded cheese. Relax, and use what you have. Don't panic if you don't have quite that much.
I used a couple different left-over ends of cheeses in our fridge, all grated and tossed together. There's my empty quart jar; the sauce is bubbling away!

1 cup sour cream. Theoretically you could skip this ingredient, but why would you?? And don't buy the reduced fat stuff. The texture's all wrong, and I wouldn't trust it in the oven. Plus it's probably got creepy ingredients in it.

8 (give or take) taco-sized tortillas. If these are a bit dried out (or a lot dried out), don't worry! Cut the whole stack of tortillas in half.

Preheat your oven to around 400 degrees, and put a very big skillet or sauce pan over medium-low heat with butter in it to preheat. Dice your onion, and slice your garlic. Get the onion going first, then when it's most of the way translucent and delicious, add the garlic. After a couple more minutes, add the tomatoes, crushing them up into small pieces if they aren't already, and the beans with their liquid. Add salt, pepper, and whatever else you fancy, bring the mixture to a boil, then let it boil gently for ten minutes.
The boiling step is important, because it reduces down the tomato juices, and activates the starches in the bean liquid, giving the sauce a head start thickening. Don't worry if it doesn't seem thick to you; it will be fine.

Now, these layering directions are going to sound impossible. Just trust me. Layer it up exactly as I say, bake it, let it sit a bit, and it will come out perfectly every time!

Pour half the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.

Top the sauce with half the tortilla halves. You don't have to cover all the sauce with tortilla; you're just providing a kind of scaffolding. I do two tortillas on one long side of the plan, flat side against the side of the pan, then one tortilla at each end, flat side facing the pan, then one tortilla half with it's flat side against the other long side of the pan, and one more oriented the same way in the center of the pan. There's a bit of overlap with that last one, and there are uncovered areas in between the others, which is fine.

Top the tortillas with half the cheese, and half the sour cream. Don't try to spread the sour cream. Just blob it on.

Do the last layer of tortillas, starting with the opposite side you did last time, then pour on the rest of the sauce, then do the rest of the cheese, and the rest of the sour cream.
Slide that bad boy into your preheated oven, and give it about half an hour. Stop by frequently to enjoy the smell.  Mmmmm...
Oh man, so good!!! I'm going to have to make this for dinner this week. No question. Let it sit and cool a bit before you attack it, and prepare to be amazed. There won't be any sauce on the bottom. I know. I don't get it, either. Obviously the tortillas absorb some sauce, but...seriously? Half the sauce? And the beans and tomato chunks just magically move up through that bottom tortilla layer, too? No idea. It's black magic. Tasty, tasty black magic...

Will you give this a try this week? Will you source some of the ingredients from your Farmer's Market? If you can't get them all there, the rest should be in your neighborhood bodega! The leftovers are perfect to bring for lunch: delicious at room temperature, or reheated.

Nom nom nom...

2 comments:

  1. Wow! I really want to try this! Thanks for sharing it Emily! We made a black bean pie that was to die for recently and this looks as good or even better!

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  2. It is really yummy!!! To make sure it thickens up for you, don't skimp on the baking time: half an hour, or five to ten minutes longer if it's not very browned yet, and let it sit and cool for ten minutes before you slice into it. I think you guys will love it!

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