Monthly Archives: September 2014

Cheese Enchiladas, Tijuana Tilly style


I was looking at the menu plan for the week and saw that I’d written Cheese Enchiladas for our meal today.
And then I started reminiscing, to myself, silently, about the restaurant that we used to go to when I was first married.  I loved going there, we went there for special occasions and I always ordered the same thing.
Cheese Enchiladas, with rice and beans of course.   I loved their enchiladas, and mourned deeply when the restaurant was closed and then torn down and an Olive Garden was built there.  Tijuana Tilly’s will always be my favourite Mexican restaurant, sigh.  They’ve been gone for a very long time.  But I made do and got to know and love a couple of other restaurants along the way.

Then I moved.

And I now live in a place where I have to drive either 30 miles one way or 25 miles the other way to be able to eat Mexican food.

I make it myself now.

Now that you’ve read this far, and thank you for doing so,I thought I’d share how I make my version of Cheese Enchiladas, Tijuana Tilly style.

To start with, you need cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.  OK, maybe not that much, but get out the grater and start shredding.   I like a mixture of Colby Jack Cheese and Monterey Jack cheese, and luckily for me, I can get it already mixed, all I need to do is shred it.   I bet you can get it the same way too.  Just kidding here.  But you can use the cheese that’s already shredded, if you like.  I think it tastes best when you shred it yourself, but…

After shredding the cheese, divide it in half and add about 1/2 cup drained sliced black olives to half the cheese mixture along with a finely diced shallot, or 1/4 cup diced onion.   Either one will do.  I just happened to have a single, solitary shallot left from when I made the Caramelized Shallots for the tart a week or so ago.

Now for the fun part.    Assembling the enchiladas.  I usually warm the flour tortillas just a little, it makes them easier to roll up.

 

Get a good handful of cheese, place it on the flour tortilla and then either roll it up or make a burrito style roll up.  Which means folding the end over the cheese, then folding in the sides and rolling it the rest of the way.  I like doing it like that, cause I hate the cheese escaping out of the ends of the tortilla.  Place the rolled tortilla seam side down in a greased

baking pan, then proceed with the rest of the cheese and tortillas.  Pour some hot enchilada sauce over

top,and sprinkle with a little more cheese if you like, and put in the microwave for about 6 minutes at 70% power.  Or until the cheese has melted.   I’ve baked these in an oven in the past, but really don’t like how the tortillas get gummy.

Serve with some Refried Beans and Mexican Rice.

 

And serve the leftover beans rolled in a flour tortilla for breakfast.   Along with a little cheese, browned in a pan.  So good.

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Palak Paneer


I never realized you could actually make this at home.  I’m in trouble now.

Just kidding.

Now that I know how to make Paneer, I can indulge myself.  Well, not really, but how cool is this?  I can make it at home now, Woo Hoo!   I  have to say, you do need full fat milk for this, and no using ultra pasteurized milk or cream.  It doesn’t work, trust me on this.

Really.

Trust me.

I know whereof I speak, cause I tried making some with 2% milk and didn’t get hardly any cheese, and so I went to the store and bought some full fat milk, otherwise known as whole milk.   And the same night I made it with the 2% milk, I tried using some cream I had, and since it was ultra-pasteurized, it failed miserably.  In other words, no curd. That attempt turned into an offering to the Kitchen Goddess.

And of course you need Palak for Palak Paneer so I did a double.  Recipe that is.

So, here goes.  And for those who are interested, using 2 cups of 2 % milk got me 2 oz. of Paneer.
When I used the 4 cups of whole milk I got 5 oz. of cheese.   Just sayin…

Paneer Recipe
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt if you want, I choose not to use it

Bring the milk to a boil, remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes, stir again, you should have some lovely big curds, if not add just a skootch more of lemon juice, and stir again.

Pour into a cheesecloth lined colander or do like I did, cause I couldn’t find my cheesecloth, sigh.  I used an old (bleached clean) flour sack teacloth, and poured it into that.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes or long enough to eat your breakfast, then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth (flour sack) and expel more of the liquid by squeezing it gently.   Place the entire mass of cheese in a press to expel the rest of the liquid.  I used two small plates, on top of a larger lidded plate, and weighed it down with a bunch of cans inside a bowl.  Let sit like that for about hour or so, then peel the cloth off of the cheese and cut into chunks if you’re using it right away, otherwise wrap well, and place in fridge.

Now for the Palak.    I found some spinach on sale (WOOHOO), sorry got excited there.

Palak Recipe
1 lb baby spinach, washed at least three times to remove the grit

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium tomato, diced

2 C homemade paneer

1/2  t cumin seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1/2 t ground turmeric

freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
lemon juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon ghee (I made some last January, so had some in the freezer)

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee and toast the cumin seeds and fennel . Once they are aromatic, add the onion and cook till translucent.

Stir in the tomato and cook until softened and beginning to break down. Season with turmeric.

Add the spinach at this point, and let it cook down for just a couple of minutes.  Cook it too long and it turns a shade of olive which doesn’t look all that great.   If you have an immersion blender, use it here and just buzz the spinach mixture a little.  You want it to break up, but not be too liquid.    Set it aside for a minute.

Take out your paneer and cut it into cubes and depending if you’re using the nice fresh-made warm paneer or using it from the fridge, you will need to warm it up a bit.
You can either brown it a little in some ghee or just warm it in the hot palak for a minute or so.
Serve with some warm Naan and enjoy.  Or do as I did and eat it for breakfast, and it was so good.  And I have enough for breakfast tomorrow, giggle.

Naan


Naan

I got this recipe from Aarti Sequaria and I figure it’s probably pretty authentic. I did put a couple of my own touches to this, cause gee, I’m the cook?
All I know is that they tasted so good.   And they went perfectly with the Palak Paneer I made for Tapas last week.  They were also a little fiddly to make.   I will make them again, but will tweak this a touch.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling,
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Melted butter for slathering on the finished naans
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

In a large glass, dissolve the dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar with 3/4 cup warm water, let sit until frothy, or the yeast has dissolved.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and baking powder into a large, deep bowl.

Once the yeast has dissolved and is frothy, add the yogurt and the olive oil into the glass, and stir it to combine. Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix the ingredients together with a Danish Dough Whisk.  This is a very sticky dough.  Mix together with your hands, and put into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit for a couple of hours.  I use my oven, as it’s draft free.

When you’re ready to roll, make sure you have two bowls on your counter: one with extra flour in it, and one with water. The dough will be extremely soft and sticky-this is good! Separate the dough into 6-12  equal portions and lightly roll each one in the bowl of extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other.

You need to shape the Naan.  Traditionally it’s in a tear drop shape.  This is because they used to roll out the naan, and then kinda throw it at the Tandoori oven which cooked it.  And when you kinda throw a round shape at a curved hot oven, it can become a tear drop shape, or so I’m told.  Shape the naan.  I formed mine into a rough teardrop shape using my fingers and then a rolling pin.

I know they should be about 8-9 inches long and about 4 inches wide, but my pan wasn’t big enough.  So I made them into very roughly shaped pieces of dough 4-5-inches long, 4-inches wide at its widest point and about 1/4-inch thick. Apparently once you’ve formed the general shape, you can also pick it up by one end and wiggle it a little  the dough’s own weight will stretch it out a little. Didn’t work for me though, at least not this time.  The dough was that soft. Next time I’ll try it.  Repeat this method with the rest of the dough.
Warm a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s nearly smoking, and if you do like me and oil the pan each time you use it, wipe out the excess oil.  It can make the smoke alarm go off when the oil gets too hot.  Of course I don’t know anything about that, personally.

Just have a lid ready that is large enough to fit the skillet and have the butter ready and waiting.  Melted butter is good.

You can either dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your naans, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it or pick up a naan, and brush it with a little water using a pastry brush. Which is what I did.

And my ‘teardrop’ shapes, umm, well, let me just say this, they weren’t, teardrop shapes that is.
sigh.

Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble.

After about 1 minute, and I used a timer for the first few, you then flip the naan.  If it’s a little blistered and blackened, that’s a good thing.  You want that little bit of char, cause  that’s typical of traditional naan. Cover the skillet with the lid and another 30 seconds or more.  This side will look more like a typical Naan.

Remove the naan from the skillet, brush with a bit of butter and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt.  Place the naan into a covered dish or wrap them in a clean tea towel, and continue until you’ve cooked all of them.

I used my tortilla warmer bowl, it’s insulated, and has a tight fitting lid.   And it worked, perfectly.

I did have a couple left from Tapas, and they along with some of the left over Palak Paneer are going to be my breakfast.
I will make these again, I think they’re a great quick bread to serve with a lot of different foods, but I think they do require me to make them a few times so I can get the technique down.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.