Friday, February 13, 2009

Candied Carrots and Beets in Red Currant Sauce

As I've said, I'm a sucker for a bargain. What I haven't said is that I'm a sucker for unique berries. I've always been a fan of huckleberries and boysenberries since I picked them from the bushes at my grandmother's house. I saw these small, ruby red berries on special and saw that they were red currants. I immediately thought of black currants and threw them in my cart.

When I got home I tasted them and was unprepared for the tart flavor. It wasn't as bad as a raw cranberry, but still sour. I also had these beautiful beets and carrots waiting to be used, and thought it might be a good alternative to the sour flavor of lemon in a more sweet dish. Thus, this was born.


2 large beets, about the size of a softball each
6 small carrots or 4 medium ones, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/3c sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 box red currants, about 6 oz

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the beets and slice them into quarters. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes, then add the carrots to the boiling water. Boil for 15-20 minutes longer. Drain and allow to cool. Running under cold water, pull the skin off the beets. Slice them into bite sized pieces as well.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pull the currants off of their stems and rinse well. Combine with the sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat until it becomes syrupy, toss with the beets and carrots in a casserole dish. Bake for around 20 minutes or until it bubbles. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve with chilled sour cream.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Veggie Enchiladas

I love enchiladas, and I tend to be a purist when it comes to what I enjoy -- a slightly spicy sauce, melted cheese with beans and maybe some onion wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla served piping hot. However, I know most people prefer a bit more punch to theirs so in this recipe I've added some more vegetables, feel free to omit them or add your own. I should also add that this is one of the few recipes that has turned out phenomenal on the first try; it is traditional but it's also hard to go wrong.

It's interesting to note that this is essentially one of the oldest foods in existence in the Western hemisphere. Way before the colonization and eventual invasion of North, South and Central America by the Europeans one of the staple crops was maize. They also heavily utilized various potatoes in regions of South America, but that's another entry. Corn has a complex nutritional structure and needs to be crushed to "activate" these -- the minerals the Native Americans (referring to all 3 Americas) in the stones used to do the crushing couldn't have hurt either. The practice of wrapping corn tortillas around fish originated in Mexico; the recipe for enchiladas also appeared in the first Mexican cookbook: El cocinero mexicano ("The Mexican Chef"). With basic staple ingredients and simple preparation, this traditional food has undergone very few changes since its invention centuries ago.


3 tbsp vegetable oil
6 corn tortillas
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/3c finely chopped mushrooms
1c enchilada sauce (you can make your own or get it from a jar, I get mine from the jar. Frontero mild to be exact!)
~1 1/2 c shredded monterrey jack cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using tongs, put a corn tortilla in and allow to heat for 2-3 seconds, then flip. Move to a paper towel and do the same with the rest of the tortillas. Mop up any extra grease with a paper towel. Do not turn off the heat.

Put the chili powder, mushrooms and onions in the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the surfaces begin to brown (5-10 minutes). Take off the heat and set aside.

Holding a tortilla in your hand, put some of the cheese and veggie mixture in the center of it. Fold one side 3/4 of the way over and roll it up. After a few tries this will come naturally. Transfer to a baking dish, repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Top with enchilada sauce and sprinkle with leftover cheese, if desired. Bake at 450 degrees until the cheese melts, around 5-10 minutes. Serve hot!