A Multicultural Week

                                                    The whole enchilada

After a fun day at Siclovia, Sophie's choice for dinner this past Sunday was enchiladas.  I must admit to purchasing the enchilada sauce and not making it myself.  Luckily when you live in Texas, store bought sauce doesn't mean Old El Paso.  We had some leftover butternut squash so I threw that in--basically you can roll whatever you want up into a tortilla, cover with sauce and cheese and call it a day.

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken/turkey/what have you

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 large bell pepper

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

Fresh herbs--you could use cilantro, but I used Mexican oregano because a certain coworker hates cilantro

1 can enchilada sauce (I used La Victoria--you know when the label is in Spanish it's got to be good)

corn tortillas, and no, you cannot substitute flour tortillas because we are not making burritos

2 cups cubed butternut or other winter squash, roasted and cooled

2 cups queso fresco, crumbled

olive oil

Cut pepper and onion into 1/2" dice and saute until onion is translucent and the pepper is softened but not mushy.  Add minced garlic and saute briefly until garlic is aromatic but not burnt.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I made these very mild in deference to my audience, but you could always add a poblano or jalepeno to the vegetable saute to increase the heat.  Remove from heat and place in large bowl.  Add chicken/squash/2 TBS chopped fresh herbs/beans/and 1/2 of the cheese.  Mix well.  In a saute pan heat enchilada sauce until hot but not boiling.

Spray a 9X13" pan with cooking spray.  Dredge your corn tortilla briefly in sauce, fill and roll.  Place seam side down in prepared pan.  Continue in this fashion, packing enchiladas close together.  Top with remaining sauce and cheese.  At this point you can wrap pan with foil and freeze.  If you are ready to eat immediately bake at 350F until lightly browned and bubbling.  You can also bake them directly from the freezer--Just bake x 45 min with foil on top, then remove foil and bake an additional 15-25 minutes. 

Sophie's second request was "some kind of noodle dish." We made japchae and pad Thai.

                                           Just like Thailand, minus the $5 foot massage

Sophie's first trip to Thailand involved her eating a lot of spaghetti Marinara.  She did try a coconut drink, and spent the last day of the trip close to a toilet.  Thank goodness for the corner pharmacy where you can buy some nice broad spectrum antibiotics over the counter.  This pad Thai, while possibly safer than the street food version, only begins to approach its deliciousness.  You will need some obscure ingredients which you can find at a good Asian food market

1/2 cup fish sauce--yes, it smells like fish, but don't worry it mellows out with the addition of other ingredients.  Do no substitute or you will be disappointed

1/2 cup palm sugar

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup tamarind concentrate

1 small Thai chili, sliced (if you want it hot)

3 cloves garlic, minced

Combine in a saucepan and cook until sugar dissolves.  This is your sauce.  You can put in a glass jar in refrigerator and use as needed.  This makes enough for about 4 oz. rice noodles.

3 scallions, sliced into 1" pieces, including green part

2 cloves garlic

3 large carrots cut into thin matchsticks,  I used a julienne peeler which was perfect

2 shallots, thinly sliced

oil for frying

cooked meat of your choice (I used leftover beef from jap chae)

one egg

4 oz. flat rice noodles

for garnish: sliced limes/cukes/cilantro; crushed peanuts

Boil noodles for ~5 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water and use scissors to cut into manageable lengths--you will be stir frying which will cook the noodles a bit more. 

In a wok or large frying pan heat oil over medium heat.  Stir fry shallots until translucent, then add carrots and garlic, cooking til carrots are softened but not mushy.  Add green onions and cook ~ 1 minute.  Add noodles and cook for ~ 1 minute--you may need to add a little oil at this point to prevent them from sticking.  Add 4 TBS sauce and cook til noodles are coated.  Add you meat and cook til heated through.  If you are using uncooked meat, begin by cooking meat in wok, then proceed to shallot step.  Push noodles to side and crack one egg into pan, scrambling with your spoon.  Mix well and add more sauce if necessary.  Garnish.  Squeeze lime over all and enjoy.

Photos and recipe for jap chae, we used baby bok choy instead of spinach and it was excellent.