Thursday, September 27, 2012

Football Season Love or Frito Pie for Football Lovers! or Texas Chili and Chips

So inspired by my previous Frito entry and how many people on google seemed to have picked this up, I will give you a little more Frito football season love.

So I can't take credit for this dish at all. Perhaps my friend Trisha Bastion can but even she good Texan that she is may shy away from the credit. Or my friend Daryl another Texan might also take credit for introducing me. But either way I cannot, nor would I pretend to take credit, because Frito Pie is as famous in Texas and Southwestern football as beer and tailgating.

Frito Pie, the very name conjours up all sort of interesting images. Not immediately gourmet ones and not ones directly about football perhaps, but who care's this is all about good eats we are talking about. I mean if you have ever been to to great fall football game? You know the deal. Nip in the air, crowds of excited onlookers and fans moving about. Colors and scents of Fall are everywhere. The cool air and sweater clad co-eds and boys in jerseys or sweaters and hoodies. Cars lined up in the parking lots with BBQ's going and beer beer beer! Yeah team!

Well in Texas and the southwestern parts of our nation a big part of high school football games and team fundraising for at those games I am told, centers around Mom's selling food at games. Frito Pie in particular is a big seller. It's not a fancy thing. It's basically a bag of fritos that gets opened up and they ladle chili and cheese all over inside the bag then they hand you the bag and a fork and you go to town! Yum right.  I mean what could be bad about that.

But who came up with this? Well the story goes it was invented at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There is even a recipe for the original chili online you can check out if you want. There is also a story that in the 1930's the wife of the President of the Frito Lay Corporation invented it. But either way we are all the winners cause someone came up with it.

So here's my take on the Frito Pie, it's a little more work than just opening up a can, but hey that's why we have recipes. This also includes my recipe for authentic Texas chili ( aka no tomatoes). Enjoy Yall.

Forrest's Authentic Texas Chili and Frito Pie Recipe

For the sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons Garlic powder
2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano
2 Tablespoons Dried Coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Red Chili Powder ( I used a mix of regular Store Brand Chili powder and ground Guajillo Pepper powder and Ancho Chili powder in equal amounts)
31/2 cups beef broth
1 bottle of lager beer

For the chili:
2 strips of bacon diced
1 pound Beef Brisket cut up into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large white onion diced finely
1 can green chilis
2 Tablespoons of hot Coco Mix with sugar added.
2 Tablespoons cornmeal baking mix or Masa


Cook the bacon add the onions over low heat until browned and the onion is soft then add the beef and cook till browned
salt to taste

In another pan:

Melt butter and stir in the flour
Let cook for a few moments then pour in the other dry ingredients
Cook till starts to smoke stirring constantly
Then add the beef broth slowly combining the mix
Add the cocoa 
Then add the beer
When combined let it come to a bubble and boil
Cook for 5 mins stirring often
At this point you are done but to get more combined complex flavor to can
reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 mins
If it gets too thick add more broth or just water
It should be thick and delicious
Add salt to taste if you like it more salty add it
Add the meat mixture to this and the can of chili's and the Masa
Cover and let cook over low heat for 3 hours together adding water if it gets too dry.

Frito Pie

In a 9 x 9 baking pan  or in individual gratin dishes layer about 2 cups of fritos on the bottom
Top with a layer of the chili ( as much as you want)
Add chopped raw onion and tomatoes
Top with a layer of grated cheese ( I like white cheddar)
Bake in a 350 degree oven till cheese is melted and everything is good
To serve place portion on plate and garnish with sour cream, chopped cilantro, jalapenos and radish sticks for crunch and color. Enjoy Ya'll and GO TEAM!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Waffle Iron Grilled Ham and Cheese

When I was growing up weekends meant big family breakfast on Saturday. And Breakfast on Saturday meant Pancakes or Waffles. For years my mother and grandmother carried on this tradition. We had a waffle iron older than my mother I think and it pumped out some amazing waffles meals. I mean who didn't love getting up in the morning on the weekend when you had no school and or work and having a great breakfast with all the accompaniments.

So the other day I went out to brunch and I had a great sandwich. We tried this new French place on 7th Ave. The sandwich was a Croque Madame. It was amazing! So buttery and crunchy and crispy. It was awash in bechamel sauce and it was so yummy! I was immediately inspired!

But what do waffles and a croque Madame have in common. Well the answer is not exactly clear but I will try to explain.

As I have said before one of my summer jobs that left a culinary impression on me was my time spent at the Magic Pan. Now the Magic Pan for those of you who have not been following my blog was a chain in the 70's and 80's that had as it's main focus crepes and such. But was also known for a particular Sandwich, the Monte Christo.

Now there are sandwiches and there are sandwiches, but this was a SANDWICH! Let me explain. The Monte Christo as a sandwich is a turkey, ham and swiss cheese sandwich prepped on white bread. It is generally dipped in a egg batter like french toast and grilled. Well that was fine for most Monte Christo's but the Magic Pan had to do one better. So they not only put it together on texas toast but they deep fried it after it was dipped in an egg batter. The resulting sandwich was the stuff of legends, cause everyone loved that sandwich! I mean there are still people including my friend Fred Tessler of the Denver Tesslers, that proclaim it as the absolute best sandwich they ever had!

I mean the Pan made a lot of excellent foods and it was really the first place that many Americans came into contact with the foods Julia Child had been talking about on her TV. show all those years. Now granted it was somewhat americanized but that not withstanding the Pan really did inspire and educate people about foods they otherwise would have missed out on.

So that brings us up to speed. Now believe it or not I am in possession of the rare copy of the Magic Pan's kitchen handbook with all the recipes. So I can tell you exactly what went into the Monte Christo.  But It really was pretty much the sandwich I described earlier just deep fried. Today though I am not in the mood nor do I have the room and ventilation to fry a sandwich. However I did think up a great idea for cooking sandwiches a special way and that is on the waffle iron. My roommates in college did this a couple of times with plain grilled cheese but the idea never stuck till now. The French toasty sandwich gets pressed in the waffle iron instead of a panini press. Its a fun way to make your brunch at the table while people are snacking on nibbles before the main meal.

So I came up with many versions of the sandwich that would be really fun to make on the waffle iron. These are super simple to make and what is really fun is you just need to give people various ingredients and they can make their own "Sammy"

For my version you need the following

8 pieces of white toasting bread, can be Texas Toast bread if you want.
4 slices of Ham
4 slices of turkey
8 slices of swiss cheese
either homemade bechamel sauce cooled down to a thick paste or mayo
Melted butter
4 eggs mixed well with 1/4 cup of half and half 5 Tbls, flour and a pinch of salt

Layer the ham turkey and cheese
slather the bread with a tablespoon of bechamel or Mayo
a twist of nutmeg
a twist of black pepper
make a sandwich and secure with a toothpick or two
dip into the batter quickly on both sides and place on a lined tray
Place in the fridge for 30 mins at least
Heat waffle iron
When hot, take the sandwiches and brush with the melted butter and press then gently in the waffle iron. if you have large one you can do up to 4 at a time. Grill till golden.
Serve warm with dijon mustard and  raspberry preserves. Enjoy

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Football Snack Time, Sausage Balls and the RNC 2012

OK it's college Football season and the weekend after the Republican National Convention this year I found myself in Chicago and was blessed to behold the rigor and forethought that people put into their celebrating their team's efforts starting out the season! I mean we are talking adults and whole families made up in colored costumes and even makeup putting on a show in support of their favorite teams.

Now I am not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination. I like watching the occasional game, if it is on in the bar and I will always watch the Superbowl and party down. But tailgating with my favorite university team wasn't something I did in college let alone now. Like Bruce sings "Glory Days", some folks need to just let it go! But OK, I get excited over a biscuit recipe or an eating experience, so I give it to others to be passionate about "the game"! Why not, to each his or her own. It's what makes the world an interesting place.

This year right before I got to the weekend in Chicago where I was attending a wedding, I was sent to Tampa, Florida for the RNC. Well not exactly, a big corporate client of ours was hosting a big pavilion down there and the caterer they had hired was not really up to the task, so down we went to lend a hand and keep their events running smoothly. Well, it did not take long for these New Yorkers to conflict with the local Tampa chefs and managers from this catering company. Long story made short we saved these poor people from being eaten by their tough NYC corporate customers. but it was not easy. During the week we had to deal with staff not coming, food not coming, entire orders being missed, or parts of orders coming and we having to cover the rest.

This post is born out of that senario. One day there was to be a cocktail party, but the caterer did not send Hors D-ouevres for the cocktail reception. So off to the store we went and rustled up some HD's. Well there were several suggestions but mine was sort of cheeky and made a big hit. Years before when I lived with 2 roommates ( Christopher and CT) one of them made this dish as a snack. Well I actually think it was a meal but I digress. It's an old southern recipe that when we made it made the client so happy. They were sausage balls. Now not fancy although we made them really small and they looked like an elegant HD at a NYC party. And we called them "Saucisson" or French for Sausage! But what they were made out of had us in the back howling. Ready, OK they were Bisquick, a Bob Evans sausage roll, and cheddar cheese. Mushed together in equal parts and wet with a bit of water they were rolled into tiny little balls which puffed up to double the size when baked quickly. Served with a dijon dipping sauce they were a hit!

So I thought why not represent for game time what was good enough for the Republican National Convention! Sausage balls! So if you want to delight your friends watching football make these and think of me cause I probably won't be there, unless it's the Superbowl! Enjoy Ya'll!

Saucisson or Southern Sausage Ball Game Day Nibbles ( of course you could make them anytime)

2 cups Bisquick Baking Mix
16 oz or shredded cheddar cheese can be pre-shredded but works better if you do it yourself
1 Roll Sausage fresh or frozen thawed
2 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 375
In a bowl combine well all ingredients using your hands (wash them)
Add more water if too dry but don't make it really wet.
Place in the fridge for two hours
Remove from the fridge and roll into marble sized balls
Place on a non stick baking sheet
When you have the first pan done bake for 7 to 10 mins. or until puffed and golden
Remove and let cool slightly before you remove them from the baking sheet.
Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce

1/2 cup Dijon
1/2 cup mayo
1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon water

Place in mixing bowl and whip together serve with the Sausage Balls Enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Easy Roasted Olive Appetizer Plate using California Ripe Olives in the Can

I love an easy appetizer. Who doesn't. But sometimes we get in a rut and pull out the same old chips and dips and cheese and crackers we always do. Well I was recently at a gathering and thought I need to do something different. Something lighter and something tasty. Olives came to mind as one options. But how to make them more interesting than getting them from the deli olive bar and opening up a tub into a bowl? You know open a can! Well that got me thinking about olives in a can.

I really only knew there were 2 kinds of olives growning up. Green oilves that came in a jar with pimentos and California Black or Ripe olives that came in a can. Kalamata oilves and all the other varieties were just not on the tip of everyone's tongue in the US. when I was a kid. I didn't learn till much later the joy of the cultivated olive. When I did discover Greek Olives I was really blown away. The flavors and the textures were all so good and slowly I relegated the canned black olive to a culinary position which included mexican foods and salad recipes which called for them.

Recently I have been on a kick to try and reinvent uses for ingredients deemed old school or passe in the more modern kitchen. I used black olives for something the other day and thought they could be more interesting. I mean how is it that olives produced in the US. have this profile flavor-wise. Well I did some research and this is what I found out.

From the California Ripe Olive Producers:

The roots of the California Ripe Olive go way back. Wild olive (scientifically known as oleaster) once grew all over the Mediterranean, southeast Asia and other areas, but this unimpressive, straggly plant bore little resemblance to the graceful modern olive tree. That is, until about 5,000 years ago when it was first cultivated in Crete and Syria into the beauty as we now know it.

Once established, olive trees flourished in Spain, Tunisia, Morocco and other Mediterranean countries for thousands of years, featured in many of the regions culinary specialties. The Spaniards were the first to realize that this fabulous fruit could have international appeal and took the first cuttings to Peru in the mid-sixteenth century.
From there, Franciscan Monks took olives to the New World and moved north through the missions of Mexico. At last, in 1769, the first olive cuttings were planted in California at the San Diego Mission. As most transplants do, they responded quite well to the California climate-sunny days, cool nights, fresh air-and they set their roots.

Surrounded by such a cooperative climate, Californian’s started planting acres upon acres of olive trees in response to the high demand for olive oil in the 1800s. Then the market became saturated (with monounsaturated oil ironically) and prices dropped. Farmers who had used all of their land for olive oil were doomed if they didn’t come up with a new plan.

A resourceful German woman named Freda Ehmann and her son, Edwin, were part of this population. Who would’ve guessed that they would soon be the ones to figure out the solution? The Ehmann’s had trees that bore little fruit and selling pressed oil was not an option. After consulting with a Berkeley professor on processing methods, Freda began experimenting with 280 gallons of olives in barrels on her back porch. Thanks to her creative dreaming and stick-to-it-ness California Ripe Olives were created right then and there.
California Ripe Olives may not be prepared on the back porch anymore (in fact, we can assure you, they are always preserved in one of two state-of-the-art facilities), but they are made through the same exact process that Freda invented. This is what makes our olives taste decidedly American. Mild, versatile and meaty, they continue to add great flavor to everything from American country cooking to a melting pot of ethnic cuisines.

Who knew right? So obviously the flavor profile of these olives make them open to being used with other flavors to create something special. 
So having been to plenty of restaurants and events where a tasty olive bowl is available all mixed up with herbs some oil nuts and maybe garlic or citrus bits for flavor, I decided to make my own. However I would use the California Ripe olive out of the can!
So I did it. It was easy and it was well received. I used pearl onions, California Roasted Almonds ( staying with the state theme) some oilve oil, some garlic slices, fennel seeds, rosemary, sea salt  and of course California Ripe oilves. Stir it up. Saute lightly on the stove top then roast for 10 mins in the oven. Yum! So give this a try and mix up your nut bowl at the next party! Enjoy Ya'll!

Roasted California Ripe Olives with Almonds Onions and Herbs

preheat oven to 425 degrees

1 can 8oz California Ripe (black) oilves
4 tablespoons olive oil
10 pearl onions ( if frozen thaw)
1 large sprig rosemary leaves chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup roasted almonds whole
2 cloves garlic sliced thin
Sea salt

Place oil in oven proof pan and heat over medium heat
add spices and allow to bloom a few minutes
add onions and cook till a little brown on one side
add the other ingredients and stir
cook for 3 to 5 mins then place into oven for 10 mins
take out and let cool on the counter, serve with bread.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

7up Biscuits, Southern and No Joke Good!

Ok. I have to admit that sometimes I read the vast sea of recipes out on the internet and wonder, "who really cooks all of these"? I mean there are soooooo many out there. However, when I am researching a topic I try very hard to stick to classic ideas and recipe fornulas. In fact, I try to make up things myself, even if I find out later that my idea like so many things is hardly a new one or that someone has thought of before. Like they say there is nothing new under the sun!

But every now and then I stumble upon a recipe that I think, Really??? Oh come on, that's just ridiculous. And so it is with this one. I know it sounds crazy, but in this case it really is pretty AMAZING! No I mean could be the best biscuit I have ever made. I was just having a discussion with my friend Melissa at work and this came up. Well the subject of biscuits came up. She was telling me how she is a little bit obsessed with them and how she would like to make more of them. Well I said cool lets have a biscuit making day and we will experiment with all kinds of biscuits. Well that hasn't happened yet ( but it will and you all will get the full report when it does) but I found this recipe online while researching something random and decided last night for dinner to just try them out. Well let me tell you, they were so easy and stupid good, no I mean stupid good. So I can't take credit for them, but here is the well known recipe for 7up Biscuits. You can find them all over the internet but I thought I'd just write out the recipe for you. Enjoy Ya'll!!

7up Biscuits

3 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup 7-up
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 450.
Cut sour cream into biscuit mix, add 7-Up. Makes a very soft wet dough.( I had to flour the board and add more mix to the top to smooth out)
Sprinkle additional biscuit mix on board or table and pat dough out. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch square pan.  Place cut biscuits in pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New American Cooking,Tortilla Sauce

So this sauce came about because I wanted a white or non red or green sauce for my food and did not want a direct sour cream sauce. I found this reference to a tortilla sauce from Emeril's Website and looked at it and thought, eh what the hay! Give it a try. Well it is amazing, so not what you think. It's kinda like a pureed Tortilla soup and it's really good. I have to credit the Big Guy for this one but of course I put my own touches on it. Give it a try. You'll like it!

Tortilla Sauce

32 Tortilla chips white corn crushed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 can green chili's mild
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup celery
4 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon finely diced pickled Jalapenos
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated white jack cheese or white cheddar cheese


Place butter in a hot skillet and melt
Cook onion,celery,and carrots till soft add garlic and cilantro and peppers and chili's
Add salt and pepper and seasoning
Pour in the chicken broth and let simmer over medium heat for 20 mins.
Add the crushed corn chips reduce heat and add the cream
Stir in the cheese and combine
Place sauce into a blender and blend till smooth
Hold warm or you can refrigerate for later use. Warm over low heat.


New American Cooking: Mexican Gravy or Red Chili Sauce so Easy and so Good!

OK here is one of the sauces for the Enchiladas in the previous post, but it is such an awesome sauce it could just be my new favorite thing. I mean it is so tasty and so versatile that you could find a lot of uses for it. I think it's so good I should bottle it!

Anyway lets get down to the story. So Mexican Gravy, what is that? Well I did some research and found that this sauce is basically the basis for all foods Tex Mex. It's kinda like the Mexican or Tex Mex version of an Italian Sunday sauce or Sunday Gravy. It's red sauce with a whole lot of chili's in it. It's actually very simple. Chili, stock, flour, fat, some tomato sauce (though not a requirement), and spices. That's it. But it's how you put it together I think that matters. For me I decided not to roast the peppers boil them puree them and use them in the sauce. Although that might have been fun to do it seemed like a lot of work. So I found home recipes and they all seemed to use chili powder and basically one form or another of the elements described above. I found one that also added some Cacao.  It seemed like a good idea. So I threw that idea in there too. I also saw vast discrepancies between how much chili powder to use. I went wit the more is more camp on that one. So I am telling you this so easy it's crazy but if you make it you will never go back to bottled sauce again. So enjoy Ya'll!

Forrest's Mexican Red Chili Gravy

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons Garlic powder
2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Red Chili Powder ( I used a mix of regular Store Brand Chili powder and ground Guajillo Pepper powder 30/70 blend ( but you can try other peppers like Ancho)
3 1/2 cups beef broth
1 15oz can of Store Brand tomato sauce ( no High Fructose Corn Syrup)
2 Tablespoons of hot Coco Mix with sugar added.


Melt butter and stir in the flour
Let cook for a few moments then pour in the other dry ingredients
Cook till starts to smoke stirring constantly
Then add the beef broth slowly combining the mix
When combine let it come to a bubble and boil
Then add the tomato sauce
Cook for 5 mins stirring often
At this point you are done but to get more combined complex flavor to can
reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 mins
If it gets too thick add more broth or just water
It should be thick and delicious
Add salt to taste if you like it more salty add it
Done. Done Done!

Enjoy on Enchiladas, as a flavor base for Taco meat ( good by little envelopes of salty seasoning), or on steak or braised beef or chicken. You could even use it as a sauce base for shrimp.
 Ya'll Enjoy this!

New American Cooking: Gourmet Enchiladas with Two Sauces, Tortilla Sauce and Chili Sauce

I absolutely adore Mexican Cuisine. It's one of the easiest, most accessible and tastiest cuisines by far. And one of my favorite dinners growing up was always Taco night or Enchilada night at home.

Being a navy family had some upsides and some downsides. My family lived in military housing when I was little and when we were stationed in Hawaii. Life on the base was pretty livable. There were playgrounds and ballfields, pool halls and bowling alleys, and clubs for both the enlisted and the officers. One of the downsides was facilities were not always near where you lived.  For example we would go shopping at the Military Commissary (Grocery) on the main base. It became a tradition that on shopping night we would have either "Taco night" or "Kielbasa, potatoes and kraut night "for dinner. It was a monthly tradition as my Mother and Grandmother would go shopping normally once a month for a"big shop"! I mean they would take a list of all the food needed to cook all the meals we would have for the month. It would end up being three grocery carts full of food. My brother and I would sometimes help but mostly just got dropped off to play or hang with my Dad. It sounds funny but everyone did that back then. Everyone was on a budget and a lot of people did not have the time or the transportation to go to the store regularly.

It is kind of interesting that we used to live like that. I mean in our world today, especially Mine in NYC. , where one can get anything by walking two blocks one would ever need, that we had to shop once a month for both convenience and budgetary issues. I mean it was a trek to the base where the store was and then there was all the planning that went into it. I mean those ladies in my family did a great job of keeping us happy and well taken care of. And it was a lot of hard work. We are so lucky today to live in a world where food is so easy to get. And most people don't even cook as much anymore, with the advent of "eating out" as the norm.  Thank goodness more are starting and many for the same reason's my Mom and Grandmother cooked, Money!

But back to Mexican food. My love of tacos and enchiladas began in the grocery isle with the advent of "Old El Paso" Mexican food products. They became widely available when I was little and our home kitchen jumped right onto that taco wagon. Refried Beans right out of the can mixed with spices and sour cream, red rice, taco shells, a packet of seasonings and ground beef filling was enough to turn our dinner table into a fiesta!  I still love a good taco night to this day as it's still a fun dinner. However, my vision of Mexican food, like the rest of the US, has grown up since then.

In the last 10 years chefs have been creating delicious and gourmet versions of the simple peasant foods of Mexico and South America. And Tex Mex which is different from other types of Mexican foods has taken a direction all it's own. Mexican cooking especially Tex Mex is real American Cooking. It is original and indigenous and takes from the cooking and food traditions of the peoples who came before us and whose traditions were older than the trees. Chef's like Rick Bayless show us the purity and simplicity of the mexican kitchen as well as the deep flavors and different authentic ingredients that make that cuisine soar.

So as I approach Mexican food these days I too find appeal in finding new ways to present "the same old things". I mean an Enchilada is an Enchilada. But I think we all know not all enchiladas are created equally! So as I was thinking about making an enchilada that would be unique I stumbled upon the concept of the Enchilada Banderas. Basically the idea behind this style of Enchilada plate is that it combines different colored sauces and fillings in a trio. The sauces were a red sauce (chili), a green sauce (verde), and a white sauce ( Suiza). All put together on one plate they represent the colors of the Mexican flag. It's a fun a tasty combo.

Well not wanting to make three different kinds of Enchiladas I settled on the idea that I would make two different sauces for one stella Enchilada. I also got the idea that the two sauces should be somewhat contrasting. Namely one creamy and one Spicy. I had recently read about so called Mexican Gravy or the red chili sauce that serves as the basis for all good Tex Mex. And wanting a different "creamy sauce" I stumbled upon and Emeril Lagasse recipe for a Tortilla sauce. So I thought lets combine the two and come up with a filling for the enchilada which is very tasty and different. Potato was a Rick Bayless idea and spinach or cooked Kale also sounded interesting.

So I worked on it and It really came together nicely. I added butternut squash and potatoes with sauteed greens, some white cheddar cheese and some salty crumbly Mexican cheese in a simple sauce of green chili's and  a little sour cream. Just enough to bind things together in the corn tortilla. Made the two sauces which were each a singular sensation and work of labor and love. But put together on the plate, amazing. So this recipe takes some time and effort. You could short cut an use a canned sauce for the red and figure out how to make the white sauce but the effort is worth it. Believe me it's good. So next time you want to kick your Mexican meal up a notch, try this Enjoy Ya'll!

Forrest's New American Enchiladas ( Potato, Butternut Squash, Greens, Green Chili and Cheese) with Tortilla Sauce and Mexican Red Chili Gravy

New American Enchiladas with duo of sauces

Serves 6

6 large 8 inch Corn Tortillas
1 small onion chopped
1 large Potato cubed and cooked ( in Microwave)
1 cup cubed butternut squash cooked ( in Microwave)
2 cups chopped greens kale or swiss chard sauteed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 can green chili's (mild)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 T milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp oil plus 1/2 cup oil
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
1/2 cup Hard White Queso Fresca crumbled ( or Feta Cheese)

3 cups Tortilla sauce ( recipe to follow on this blog) held very warm on the stove top
2 cups Mexican Red Chili Gravy ( recipe to follow on this blog) held very warm on the stove top


Place onion in a large skillet with oil and over medium heat soften
Add potatoes and squash and spices and salt and pepper to taste
Cook till spices bloom but don't over stir and break up the potatoes
Add the green chili's and sour cream and milk and make sauce
Hold warm. You may have a little extra more than you need for 6 servings.

To make the Enchiladas:

Heat 1/4 cup of oil till hot and fry the tortillas till soft and not yet crispy.
Pull off and place 2 spoonfuls of the filling inside add some of the greens and then some of both cheeses and roll ( make sure you don't overstuff ) then place seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat till all the Enchiladas are done. Hold in warm oven.

To Serve:

Place a enchilada with spatula into a flat bottomed serving bowl or pasta bowl.
Cover with both sauces first with the tortilla sauce on one end and the gravy on the other end.
sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. and garnish with a parsley sprig or cilantro leaf. Enjoy Ya'll!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Trofie Wife! Trofie Pasta with Fresh Basil Cream and Green Beans

One of my favorite flavors is basil pesto on a noodle. It is so overbearingly delicious. I mean pesto dominates everything it touches but also leaves room from shouts of flavor from beneath it's green delicious blanket. My friend Todd once made a homemade pesto that was to die for. But being from Wisconsin he also added some cream to the sauce which I took as brilliant.

I recently returned from a trip to the Midwest for a wedding and I was reminded once again of the Midwest's love for cheese. Wisconsin, especially, is a place where they take dairy to the extreme. They basically add dairy to everything except Sushi. Although, it has been done before, believe me. Wisconsin broadly described is a cheese and dairy lovers paradise. I mean even the burgers there are called "butter burgers" for heaven's sake! While I was working in Wisconsin at the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atikison, Wisconsin, I had the pleasure of seeing a lot of dishes during our potluck sundays which involved the locals bringing in the dairy goodness. My post about my White Enchiladas comes from that time. and if those aren't cheesy goodness i don't know what is!

So I thought about making a pasta dish that would be a little more sophisticated than just pesto and cream. I thought about a basil infused cream and I thought about my love of monochromatic dishes. So to stay along the green lines and stay with summer's bounty I thought why not add some fresh green beans to the dish and to add more flavor some smoked cheese as an accent. I suppose in the fall and winter you could add asparagus tips instead of the beans, but summer seemed a good time for the grean beans. Also I have learned that cooking fresh basil can be tricky. You have to get the green to set up in hot water by blanching it quickly and if you over cook it it will turn brown. The same principle applies if you saute it, so I knew I would have to work on keeping it green.

This recipe is so simple yet comes out so elegantly. If you want to impress people, even Italians, with your pasta proneness, this is a good recipe to start with. I also love the the fresh green color and the vibrant monochromatic simplicity of the dish. So try it and keep a little of summer's green with you into the fall. Enjoy ya'll.

Trofie Pasta with Basil Cream and Green Beans
makes 4 to 6 portions


1 pound dried trofie pasta
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 pounds of fresh skinny green beans
1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated smoked Mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt and some white pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. reduce to simmer and add green beans. Let cook till al dente about 7 mins.
Remove from the hot water and plunge into ice cold water to stop the cooking
When cool cut the beans into thirds.
Bring water back to a boil add pasta and cook for 7 to 9 mins or till pasta is done.
Meanwhile saute 1 cup of the basil till soft in the butter ( about 2 mins.) add the cream and the remaining basil and cook two more mins. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree till smooth.Add salt if desired.
Place the sauce in a large bowl
Add the beans and the hot pasta and toss till coated.
Add the cheese and toss serve it with chives and parsley leaves.