Wednesday, January 27, 2010

stress relief=cooking+organizing

When I am feeling stressed out, I cook. A lot. I cooked and baked to the point that I had cooked and baked it out of myself. So I moved onto organizing. When all else in my life seems to be careening out of control, I look to my kitchen. THAT is my domain, my control center, my comfort place. I take a perverse pleasure in having clean, bare counters. In immediately cleaning and putting away the dishes to maintain the pristine atmosphere. Joel got home from work and said, "Wow. It looks...GREAT in here." Yeah. I KNOW.

I've updated Quicken, filed four months of documents that have been sitting in my "to file" folder, rearranged the children's closets, decluttered decluttered decluttered. All it takes is for me to walk into a room and slowly eye my surroundings for the kids to spring into action, wailing, "I want to keeeeeeeep this!" I think I've run out of things to throw away. Or file. Or shred.

I guess I'll go bake cookies. Oh who am I kidding, that's not so much a product of stress as it is a necessity. I'm all out! How can this be?! My freezer is sad when not populated by chocolate chip cookies. And we don't like sad! Plus, if I bake, it will give me something to clean up. Everyone wins.

A couple weeks ago, when our refrigerator was on the verge of overflowing with leftovers, I made a recipe I received from a cooking class I took last year. I hadn't made it since because it's a bit time-intensive. But, in this current situation, cheesy meaty saucy time-consuming goodness is just the balm for my stressed soul. Interested?

Start by making your own salsa verde. I *suppose* (accompany that with an eyeroll) you could purchase some. But where's the fun in THAT?

2 pounds tomatillos, husked and washed
2 jalapenos stems removed
3 small garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bunch cilantro, thick bottom stems removed, washed and shaken dry
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste

1. Put the tomatillos and the jalapenos in a medium saucepan, pour in enough cold water to barely cover (about 3 1/2 cups), and bring to a boil. Cook until the jalapenos are soft and the tomatillos are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes to finish cooking the inside of the tomatillos.
2. Drain gently in a colander.
3. Put tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and cumin in a blender and blend for a few seconds, until coarsely chopped. Add the cilantro (still in a bunch, stems first) and blend until smooth. Be careful not to over blend. If you grind the tomatillo seeds you will have a pasty sauce rather than smooth and shiny.
4. Heat the oil in a clean pan over medium heat. Pour in the salsa; bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt.
5. This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and is ready for enchiladas.
6. To serve this salsa on the table: add two jalapenos (fresh or roasted and peeled) chopped fine with a large pinch of salt, 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro. Salt to taste and let stand 1 hour before serving.

It really isn't that hard. And it's delicious. It's supposed to make 4 cups, but I think mine was around 3-3.5. No worries, I just upped the cream in the next part. You can't really go wrong with that. Now you can make the enchiladas suizas. Wait, do you know how to roast chiles in your kitchen if you don't have a gas stove? Throw them into the oven (oh, not LITERALLY) under a broiler, turning occasionally until they are blistery and blackish. Remove and put into a paper bag for a few minutes. The skin will slide right off. Proceed with seeding/chopping. Oh, and poblanos also run around under the name pasilla:

4 cups tomatillo salsa Verde
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
12 corn tortillas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups cooked shredded chicken
2 cups shredded queso Chihuahua (about 6 ounces)
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Pour half the tomatillo salsa into a blender, add the poblanos, and blend at low speed until smooth. Pour into a medium saucepan, add the remaining salsa and the cream, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Do not boil. Remove from heat.
3. In a bowl, mix chicken with onion and salt to taste and set aside.
4. To soften store-bought tortillas: In a small skillet add oil and heat over medium-low. Oil is ready when a piece of tortilla sizzles in it. Lay a tortilla in the pan about 15 seconds on each side, until it starts to blister. Drain on paper towels and spoon with 1 tablespoon of sauce on each one. Repeat until the remaining tortillas are finished.
5. Prepare a 9 x13-inch baking dish by drizzling 3 tablespoons sauce across the bottom.
6. Fill and roll the tortillas, using 1/3 cup of chicken and 1 tablespoons of cheese for each one. Place the enchiladas seam side down in baking dish.
7. The enchiladas can be prepared to this point up to 4 hours in advance covered with plastic and refrigerated. Remove 30 minutes before baking.
8. Pour the remaining sauce and sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top.
9. Bake until the sauce around the edges is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
10. Scatter cilantro over the enchiladas and serve.

Ok, actually I used more cream and a LOT more cheese. Also, they were out of the chihuahua cheese, but the fromage lady said she recommended a Muenster. It was on clearance (?? who clearances cheese??), so I opted in. I think I'll try using Muenster for all my melty-cheesy needs from now on. Also, I did not put sauce in each tortilla. That's a lot of steps. I stirred about a cup of the sauce into the shredded chicken, plopped that and some cheese in each one before rolling it up, and then poured the rest over the top. With more cheese. And I used 18-20 tortillas. But other than THAT, I totally followed the recipe.

Serve with spiced black beans and some mexican rice and you have a dinner for champions. My three little champions proclaimed it delicious (well, maybe they didn't proclaim it, but when Ainsleigh licked her plate, I figured that's what she meant). And my big champion wanted to know why it had taken me a year to make it. He would have eaten it every night for the next several days, except I was on a roll, making Pad Thai and Chicken Curry and Tom Kha Gai and... I *will* say that substituting quinoa for rice in rice pudding was not a success. At least not yet...

ps - can anyone give me a heads-up as to when I can expect this parenting thing to get easy? just wondering.


wanda said...

I'll be over for dinner. I don't know where you get that penchant for making messes in the kitchen, certainly not from me. I love a clean kitchen, just don't ask me to mess it up.

Oh, and that parenting thing? I dunno, I'm not there yet.

Lisa said...

I get the stressed-out cleaning, but not so much the stressed-out cooking. I think John would enjoy that... that is, if I cooked as well as you.

That sounds super yummy, by the way.

Nataluscious said...

I like this recipe because it allows you to sauce up the tortillas and then come back to them for rolling, allowing them to cool. My fingertips are always a little tender after I get to enchilada #7 or so.

And wait, hold the phone, parenting ISN'T easier for you yet? What are you doing wrong? (ahhh hahahahahaha)

Nataluscious said...

oh, and speaking of new recipes, I've been trying all kinds of things this month. Here's what's on tap for tonight's dinner - it sounds intriguing - I hope I'm not disappointed!

Jess said...

Ugh. Can you come live at our house for a week!? I am the same way about stress = time to clean, so I am here, stressed at work, thinking about my kitchen/dining/bathroom/bedroom and all the millions of things that need to be done. Not to mention the fact that we have NO FOOD. Also if you could bring your small humans to cheer me up, that would also be greatly appreciated.