Monday, December 21, 2009

A Mini Fiesta

We had friends over for dinner on Saturday night, and the menu has a bit of Tex-Mex flair. I made vegetable-bean enchiladas smothered in a thick spicy sauce, an all-natural queso (cheese) sauce to be scooped up with crisp tortilla chips, and some colorful Spanish rice as an accompaniment. These were all recipes that had been long bookmarked and were just just waiting to be cooked up for the right occasion.

Here's a look at a plate I fixed up for myself the next day for lunch; these tasty leftovers were my sweet reward for a Saturday afternoon's cooking.

Recipe #13 is Enchilada Sauce, inspired by this post on Feasting on Art. This is a beautiful blog where recipes are often juxtaposed with classic works of art- a true feast for the eyes.

For this recipe, I added one more spice to my pantry: Mexican chili powder, which is a mixture of dried peppers, garlic, cumin etc. It is a very versatile seasoning.

The recipe bowled me over with its simplicity. You simply combine ingredients in a pot and simmer them down to a thick sauce.

Here's how I made it.
1. Place the following in a saucepan:
1 28 oz. can tomatoes
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
Mexican chili powder (to taste)
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. oregano
salt to taste
2 cups water

2. Use an immersion blender to mix up everything smoothly.

3. Bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced.

Wow. This resulted in a thick, red, rich sauce. As the sauce was cooking, I made a quick enchilada filling with sauteed onions and red and green peppers, cooked kidney beans and some seasoning. To assemble the casserole, I spread some enchilada sauce in a 9x13 inch baking pan, folded the filling into whole wheat flour tortillas and arranged them in the pan, spooned more sauce on top (I did not need the whole amount of sauce), sprinkled some cheese and baked it until bubbly.

Recipe #12 is Spanish Rice, inspired by this recipe on Alosha's Kitchen. It is so very similar to the endless varieties of pulaos in Indian cuisine, only you start by toasting raw rice in hot oil until it is very well browned and nutty. Then some minced vegetables are added in (onions, pepper, garlic) and some seasoning (oregano, cumin powder) and vegetable stock to cook the rice in. The recipe has detailed step by step pictures and gave me great results.

Recipe #11 is Chile con Queso, inspired by this recipe on Homesick Texan. I've longed to try this recipe for months; it looked so good. A few years ago, I went through a regrettable food phase where I was buying jars of tostitos salsa con queso and eating it cold straight out of the fridge. This recipe is a much more civilized way to enjoy cheesy goodness on a chip. I followed the original recipe very closely, only substituting dried chipotle flakes for the serrano and jalapeno peppers. This recipe is a keeper, but I going to exercise my willpower and make it only very occasionally as a special treat.

*** *** ***

We had a canine house-guest this weekend, a friend's little dog who stayed over while his people were out of town. I was hoping Dale would be a good host and share his beds and toys with our little guest, but here's what he did instead: squeezed himself onto the guest's tiny bed. Sigh.

Have a great week; see you tomorrow.


  1. I am laughing bigtime at Dale stealing the guest's bed! :)

    Mexican supper looks fantastic. I am going to try that enchilada sauce -- cocoa would make it super-rich and tasty!

  2. Dale at least looks sheepish :) Exactly what kids would do too.

    I watched Spanish rice on TV with pigeon peas and wanted to cook that one. Will do soon.

  3. Dale doesn't look too happy :) Did they play together at least ?

    Spanish Rice is the one I want to try, the plate looks very inviting

  4. The Spanish Rice is very tempting and now my bookmark folder is growing!!

    Dale looks like he knows what he is doing is not right (those eyes say it all)... nevertheless, unwilling to budge.

  5. Dale isn't impressed with the house guest sharing his toys! Nice pic, it captures his expressions so well :)

    Love the mexican flavors! Enchilada and spanish rice are looking so delicious.. got to try this soon!

  6. Dale has his innocent puppy eyes look here,maybe he was just being a good host and making sure his friend was comfortable :)
    The platter looks so delicious, you are doing so well on your end-of-year resolution. Way to go Nupur!

  7. Linda- The cocoa did add such a wonderful richness!

    indosungod- Yes, these dogs are exactly like trouble-making kids who will never grow up! Rice with pigeon peas sounds so good.

    Bong Mom- No, they ignored each other but I guess I should be happy that they did get into fights at the very least!

    Manasi- LOL yes, I was saying things like, "seriously, Dalu?" and making stern eyes at him hence the guilty look!

    notyet100- Thanks

    PJ- No, Dale is never amused when we let other dogs stay over- we have managed to raise a most spoilt and selfish dog here!

    Nupur- Oh, a namesake! Trust me, he did not go out of his way to make the guest feel comfortable! He was miffed the whole time :)

    Rekha shoban- Thanks

  8. Hi dear Nupur,
    sorry for being out of touch for so long, finally settled in new city - so many amazing posts in your blog that it will take a while to go thru all of them- looks like i can copy your idea for a Mexican feast when I have ppl over for dinner next time.
    Very funny to see Dale taking over the guest's bed :)
    Loved your little dressed up wine corks
    Just baked first batch of fruit cake today.

  9. I think this is Dale's way of letting you know what he'd like his Christmas gift to be! That expression on his face is priceless.
    The Mexican fiesta looks yummy. I've been on the look out for a homemade enchilada sauce - and voila! Here it is! Thanks.

  10. Nandita- Hello! Hope all is well :) How nice to see you here and I can imagine how busy you must be settling into a new city.

    Kamini- Oh, if I buy another bed for Dalu, I'll have to move to a bigger home! This enchilada sauce is terrific- I hope you get a chance to try it.


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