Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Enchiladas Verdes

Back in the land of grey buildings and personal injury lawsuits, I am missing Mexican food. I am relearning to discard toilet paper in the toilet bowl, and enjoying the calmness of traffic and taxicabs, and going unnoticed on the street as a guera/whitey. I learned this recipe from various Mexican mothers and grandmothers but like any good oral tradition, this likely inadvertently includes my own toque especial. My favourite thing about enchiladas is that they can be enjoyed at any time of day: breakfast, lunch, dinner or as drunkfood.

Serves 4.

You will need:
- corn tortillas (12?)
- oil for frying
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot (or was it garlic? luckily this is not very important)

For the salsa verde:
If you are a lazy person you can buy this pre-made. I think Herdez and La Costeña make good ones. But it's not as good as homemade! It may however, be cheaper.
- 10? tomatillos (these are the green tomatoes that come with a papery covering, generally found at Mexican specialty stores like at Bloor and Dufferin. If you don't have one near you, you can buy a tin of them), papery covering removed
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 6? serrano or jalapeño chillies (green and hot are the two key characteristics)
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt?

- iceberg lettuce, chopped
- crema (Mexican specialty store again, or just use sour cream)
- a mild shredded or crumbled white cheese

Prepare the chicken:
Put it in a pot with the onion and carrot and/or garlic and cover with water. Boil until cooked (no red juices emerge, and it's not creepily tender), about 30 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the water and pull off the meat into small pieces with your hands. [Unrelated to this recipe but a happy byproduct: Throw the chicken carcass and skin and ligaments (mm!) back into the water, add some veggies and herbs, simmer uncovered for 3 hours and you have delicious chicken stock!]

Prepare the salsa (unless you are lazier than a Mexican and bought it in a store):
Blanch the tomatillos in as little water as possible. In the same water, boil the chillies until tender (about 10 minutes). Do not discard the water. In a food processor or blender, blend the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chillies to taste. Add cilantro to taste and blend. It should be very very liquid so add the chilly water as necessary. Transfer to a deep frying pan or pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

Prepare the tortillas:
Heat some oil in a frying pan. Fry each tortilla in the oil for about 30 seconds. You don't want them to brown, you just want them to take up some of the oil so they don't get soggy in the salsa, and be hot so they are easier to fold. Keep warm in paper towl, plastic, or between two plates.

Place chicken meat onto one half of each tortilla and fold over. One at a time, place the stuffed tortilla in the frying pan with the salsa verde and submerge it for a few seconds. Remove to each individual's plate. Top with extra salsa verde. Give to your guest to add toppings.

Put on some cumbia and sit down to eat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

wanna be startin' something

friends, i have been contemplating this post for many months, but every time i step up to put fingers to keys, i am overwhelmed with the power and immensity that is sourdough starter, and cannot find the strength to continue. luckily, my sourdough starter is in a state of hibernation (very likely the deepest of comas) in the fridge and it can't sneak up on me. but from what i've learned, it can do almost everything else.

sourdough starter fun/terrifying fact one:
it doubles as a building material! some industrious settlers, when not driving indigenous peoples westward or shooting buffalo herds from trains, filled the holes between the logs in their log cabins with sourdough starter. true story. you'll see this is true when you try and wash the jar you've been storing it in and find yourself grappling with a concrete-like substance.

so, sourdough starter is the base of sourdough bread, and it gives it its delectable sour quality. the way sourdough starter works is that it is either inherited or made, if you are gifted some by a friend, you can feed it and it will grow, or you can create a yeast trap and try and catch some delicious bacteria to make your own starter.

the joy of cooking describes a few processes for making your own starter, depending on whether you think there are magical yeast particles floating around your kitchen from past baking endeavors. i opted to use commercial yeast. essentially, you mix flour and water and yeast in a bowl, (or if you are trying to catch yeast, then just flour and water), and keep it in a warm place for days, stirring occasionally. in an ideal world what results, besides some very hard crusts (see fun/terrifying fact one), is a brand new sourdough starter that you can place in a jar, and then put in the fridge. (the image is of my jar of starter next to the loaf it spawned. note the warm locale.)

sourdough starter fun/terrifying fact two: it eats! and grows! after removing it from the fridge, and pouring off the "hooch," the clearish, alcoholy liquid that may have collected on the surface, you can feed your starter. sourdough starter is "fed" by adding equal parts flour and lukewarm water to the original, and allowing the mixture to sit out in a warm place. your starter is healthy if it begins to bubble after a few hours, after which you now have more starter then you had before. this can be used to bake bread, or placed back in the fridge to hang out until you need it, or until you want to feed it again. my rookie mistake was using all of my starter to bake the pictured loaf, after which i was out of starter and had to begin the whole starter-making process all over again. you always want to have enough starter for your recipe AND to leave in the jar to feed and regenerate. which brings us to...

sourdough starter fun/terrifying fact three: it remembers! they suggest you put your starter on a regular feeding schedule because it has the capacity to remember when it was last fed and expect similarly spaced feedings in the future. this is just little shop of horrors all over again. fear not, if starved, the starter goes into a state of hibernation, and can usually be revived by following the regular feeding instructions.

you and your starter are now poised on the threshold of a crusty and magical world of bread-baking, many aromas and buttering opportunities await you.

perhaps also armpit hair.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Egg Drop Soup with Noodles

Hey Kitchenettes,
Loved this one because I never end up cooking these tastes and was frankly surprised I could reproduce them in my (dirty, dirty) kitchen. Simple comfort food at its best. Think you could add some light veggies in too, if you're looking to beef up the veggie content (that's right).

You need
  • 5 cups chicken stock, or 4 cups chicken broth plus 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 cup dried fine egg noodles (1 oz)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 to 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil, or to taste

You do

Bring stock, soy sauce, Sherry, ginger, and garlic to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Remove ginger and garlic with a slotted spoon and discard. Stir in noodles and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 4 minutes. Stirring soup in a circular motion, add eggs in a slow, steady stream. Simmer, undisturbed, until strands of egg are cooked, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in scallions (to taste) and sesame oil. Season with salt.

With thanks to Gourmet/Epicurious

Love, Prof. TT

Guest post: Nadine's multilingual summer cocktail

Here's a terrific summer drink for you and your loved ones:

-freshly squeezed juice of 1 Pampelmuse
-gin (1 -2 shots)
-a splash of whiskey (optional)
-ice wuerfel

xox nads

Friday, June 10, 2011

the hard truth

dear friends,

i know that in the past (sadly i know less about the present for many of you), most of us have orbited, if not entered, the vegetarian universe. why you ask? my personal reasons include living next door to madeleine cohen whilst i was learning to cook, the general grossness of raw chicken skins, and wild fears of "bad meat." however, as i learned the other day, in a sense all meat is "bad meat."

this judgment call of badness is related to the ratio of foodstuffs required to produce meat. it takes approx. 16 pounds of edibles (i'd say mostly grain) to produce 1 pound of meat. those are 16 pounds of food that could be consumed by other human beings on our rapidly populating, overheating, justin bieber-crazed planet. (did you know justin bieber is canadian?) instead, we feed perfectly good food to cows to produce less food in the form of meat.

don't think i don't have the bacon cravings, or that i don't eagerly give in to them. but just as an informative, fact-spreading, non-coercive, apolitical discussion of ideas, i thought i'd trot out the ratios and give us a little food for thought.

justin is clearly contemplating the ramifications of a meat-based diet.

-the statistics mentioned are accessible through mark bittman's new york times column: