About a hundred years ago, when I was a bachelor, I took a gourmet cooking class at the local community college. I thought that would be a great way to meet women, and if I learned how to cook, I would be able to dazzle my dates when I invited them over for dinner. I wasn't all that successful at either objective. The women in the class were either married or much older, and the men were there to meet other like-minded men. As to learning to cook, I am a real klutz with a knife, and I soon learned I was more adept at dicing my fingers than onions. Fortunately, when I met Marcie, I didn't have to depend on my cooking skills to convince her to let me stick around.
I did manage to become proficient at a couple of recipes, however. I do enjoy making breads, and I have a focaccia bread recipe that isn't too bad. The nice thing about making bread is that it is quite difficult to injure myself with a mixing spoon.
Colorado has a strong Mexican influence, and I have a real fondness for Mexican food. Another of my favorite recipes is for a chicken enchilada casserole. (When I hear the word casserole, my Aunt Evelyn's infamous tuna and potato chip casserole comes to mind. Maybe I should call this my Mexican Lasagna?) This recipe has evolved over the years, and I can now call it my own. By substituting rice flour for the small amount of white flour, it is gluten-free. Serve it with the colorful Mexican bean salad.
( 4 servings)
1 medium onion, chopped (watch the fingers)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs (25g) oil
1/3 cup (32g) flour (use rice flour for a gluten-free version)
2 cups (.5L) chicken stock
8 oz (225g) chopped green chilies
1-2 Tbs (10g-25g) seeded and chopped jalapeños (to taste)
1 tsp (1g) cilantro
1 cup (120g) sour cream
8 corn tortillas
3 chicken breasts
½ tsp (2g) salt (to taste)
16 oz (450g) shredded cheese (Mexican blend or a mix of Mozzarella and medium cheddar)
Cut the chicken into 1” (25mm) wide strips and boil in chicken stock for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the stock and when cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers. Set aside.
Saute the onions and garlic in oil until transparent. Remove from oil and stir in a small amount of the flour. Slowly combine the chicken stock and remaining flour, stirring until smooth. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Add the onions, garlic and sour cream. Mix well, then add cilantro and salt to taste. Add chilies and jalapeños, and simmer until hot.
Microwave the tortillas for 1 minute, or heat ¼ cup (50g) oil and cook tortillas for 20 seconds on a side, and drain on paper towels. Fold and divide into quarters.
Preheat oven to 350º F (175º C). Lightly grease a 9”x13” (230mm x 330mm) dish. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of tortillas, a layer of chicken, a layer of cheese and a layer of sauce. Repeat the layers, then top with another layer of cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the broiler on for the last 5 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Mexican Bean Salad
This is a nice, colorful side dish to accompany the chicken enchilada.
16 oz. (450g) corn, canned and drained or frozen, defrosted
16 oz. (450g) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
1- 2 Tbs (10g-25g) seeded and diced jalapeños, (to taste)
3 green onions thinly sliced (or 1 small onion, diced)
2 Tbs (5g) fresh parsley, minced
¼ tsp (1g) salt
3 Tbs (35g) olive oil
3 Tbs (45g) fresh lime juice
1 tsp (10g) cumin
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and served chilled. Best if the flavors are allowed to meld for 2-3 hours.