Quesadillas with Pico de Gallo, Chile-Rubbed Chicken and Avocado
[E here! As a bit of a preface, this trip came about because the truly lovely Kitchen Witch happened to be in town for BlogHer '10 a few months ago and I sent her a list of some of my favorite places to go in the city. Originally it was only meant to be a restaurant list, but as the months leading up to the event went by our ventures to restaurants were few and far between, and many were a hike from Midtown. So I also gave her a bunch of our favorite stores that would be within a reasonable subway/taxi ride for her, and she suggested meeting up on that Saturday at the Chelsea Market to wander around. We took her shopping at Buon Italia and the Manhattan Fruit Exchange; above is the result of that shopping trip. I know it seems wholly unseasonal to write about this now, but we wanted to give you guys a break from braises and stews and think happier, warmer thoughts of summertime--I know I can use them. Carry on!]
The summer is a great time to enter the Manhattan Fruit Exchange with an open mind and a pure heart and wait for the store to speak to you. The selection is constantly impressive and the prices are some of the best on the island. On a Saturday, I have no problem going there and just filling my basket with stuff until it gets too problematic to lug around. Cash only, so be prepared.
Árbol Chile and Peanut Salsa
Alright, here it is. I love antojitos. I think the term technically applies a certain type of fried Mexican fritter, but I have a book the wife bought for me last Christmas that extends the term to all Mexican small plates/snacky offerings. And I love them. Love love love them. Read More
Avocado and Jalapeno Salsa and Tuna and Avocado Ceviche
There are days when I really, really miss New Haven. Up until we found an amazing fish shop in Hell’s Kitchen I fiercely lamented not having a shop like #1 Fish Market in North Haven, and of course I longed for a nice glass of wine and some tapas at Barcelona. But Barcelona was not the only place that I missed; you see, New Haven is a little treasure trove of culinary delights, boasting more quality restaurants in its tiny footprint than one would ever expect. You want Cuban, Japanese, New American, French, Italian or Spanish food? New Haven got you. Want pizza? You better believe that New Haven got you. Want decadent, delicious, and gut-busting brunches? Well, do we see a pattern forming here? Read More
Feliz Cinco de Mayo a todo! Perhaps the authenticity of the holiday is a bit suspect as our friends at dinnercraft hint at in a recent post, but really–who doesn’t like an excuse to make delicious Mexican food? Read More
My company follows the holiday schedule of the NYSE, which meant that I had Good Friday off for the first time since college. Normally, a day off like this would mean that we’d be spending it in transit to visit our parents, but because Easter falls on a Sunday and therefore requires our presence at one of their houses that day for both church services and the traditional meal, our plans ranged from Saturday until Monday… Read More
Chicken Enchiladas with Piquillos and Tres Quesos
Elizabeth’s lovely photo makes my enchiladas look like they are nestling in bed on a lovely Saturday morning. In all seriousness, this was our idea for an enjoyable, simple dinner after travelling home following an Easter weekend with both parents and in-laws like. We got back to NYC around 1 and I had to go right to work, so I needed a meal composed of ingredients that could be delivered from Fresh Direct (more on this later).
Fast forward to enchiladas. I had chicken thighs, and we had leftover grated cheese from our Mexican celebration from the Friday before. The enchiladas were fast and absolutely, completely satisfying. Get pen and paper, recipe follows:
- 1-2 lbs chicken thighs
- One onion, chopped
- 1.5 cups enchilada sauce*
- 6-8 tortillas
- 20 piquillo pepper strips
- Lots of grated cheese (Australian cheddar, California cheddar, ricotta salata)
- Chopped cilantro
Salt the chicken or douse in soy sauce for 30 minutes then cook via grill or pan. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Sweat the onion for 3-5 minutes then add most of the sauce. Bring to a simmer, tear up and throw in the piquillo strips and let cool a bit. Add some saucy onion and chicken to each of the tortillas along with a nice handful of chicken and cheese. Array in a row in the pan and coat with the remaining sauce and save some cheese for the top. Cook at 400 F for 10-14 minutes until the cheese melts and everything looks irresistible.
Here our boys were topped with a lime cabbage salad and the cilantro instead of regular cole slaw. With the hot and crazy summer approaching, taking a few shortcuts is a far better thing than abandoning the kitchen altogether. So stay cool, readers, and until next time, cook on!
*Note, I have made my own enchilada sauce many times in the past, but after the harangue of traveling and having to still make two meetings at work once I got back, I gave myself a pass and reached for the can opener. You can find our green enchilada sauce recipe here.
Red Cabbage, Cheddar, Onion Relish and Chicken Thighs for Tacos
Pasta three posts in a row? Boo! I feel compelled to step in and break up the monotony. I love to make tacos- they are always so much fun to make and eat. I also am a fan because it’s so easy to change things up each time, and be they subtle or gross, the alterations keep the dishes interesting.
Here, I had grabbed a piece of cave-aged American cheddar from Whole Foods that I was eager to use. I wanted to do something other than standard grilled/sauted chicken, so I bought a jar of Goya pico de gallo on the cheap from the corner store. It’s like salsa but a bit more watery, but that makes it perfect for cooking and reductions. I counter-top grilled some chicken thighs then added them to a skillet with the pico until I had something that mildly resembled some authentic saucy chicken.
Keeping in the spicy vein, I whipped up a bunch of my caramelized onion relish. I like to add jalapeno normally, but they were selling them by the half dozen at the store downstairs, so nuts to that. I just used red pepper flakes instead and it was fine. I have yet to mess with my red slaw, maybe next time. and until then, friends, cook on!
Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
I’ve been dying to try my hand at green enchiladas for a long time. Most of the recipes I found were either very ingredient-intensive or of the following genre:
- cook chicken
- roll in tortillas
- open a can of green sauce
- pour on top
I don’t consider myself a perfectionist and I try not be a snob, but I felt I could do better. I had found some poblano peppers at the grocery store, a rare occurrence to say the least, and decided that it was a sign. I also remembered from the recipe hunting I’d been doing before that I needed to get some tomatillos also. Luckily, I remembered that a local market usually had them in the springy months.
I guess the message here is that just because you’re daunted by a recipe at first, don’t just write it off. Keep it in the back of your head, or better yet, keep a little book or journal on hand to jot down ideas, inspiration or cool things you see in the store. The opportunity will eventually present itself: be it an opportune time, event or appearance of a rare ingredient and when it does, you’ll be ready to take the plunge.
In case you were wondering…
- 3 poblanos: quartered and roasted under the broiler until charred
- 4 medium tomatillos, paper removed and roasted for 6-8 minutes at 425 F
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-5 garlic gloves, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 bunch parsely
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- juice of 1-2 limes
- salt/pepper/red pepper or dried chipotle powder
Remove the poblano skins once cooled, just like roasted red peppers and chop roughly. Remove the green tomatillo skins once they’ve cooled. Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant and softened, 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Remove stems from the herbs (I used leftover chimichurri instead of fresh herbs, but that’s another post).
Add everything to the blender and swirl until smooth. Use this instead of canned sauce on your enchiladas. Also, I recommend Monterrey jack cheese for these guys, but use whatever you like. Also, if you’re using our old enchilada preparation, save yourself the trouble and omit the peppers and onions and just stick to chicken and cheese for this guy. (Standard enchilada recipe can be referenced right here)
Viti Verde Vici!
Fajitas awaiting final assembly...
Fajitas! I am a big fajita fan and making them yourself is way cheaper than stealing out to your local Chili’s and less likely to result in in gastro-turmoil. I like keeping all the accessories separate and allowing each user freedom of assembly. The veggies are just sauteed with a little lime juice and cumin for 5 minutes and topped with a bit of cilantro. The (cab or flank) steak is coated with a dry rub of salt, sugar, paprika and chipotle pepper and left overnight, then cooked in a grill pan until medium rare.
I like to serve these guys with a little red bean salad or corn salsa to give them just a bit of backing. Cheesy mushrooms, chicken or roast pork also play well with these veggies. Honestly, you could skip the meat all together if you wanted- the peppers and onions are great on their own. Enjoy!
This is a recipe I started messing with when I lived with a pair of fellas after I had first moved to CT. This is one of those great meals that is very simple in its most basic form but can be punched-up on the fly or lovingly embellished depending on how much time/effort/money you care to invest.
The basic enchilada recipe:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 14 oz enchilada sauce (canned or fresh, more on this later)
- 1 cup of cooked chicken (about 4 thighs or 2 breasts or a combination)
- 8 tortillas, warmed in the microwave (check package directions, but usually it’s 10 seconds per tortilla when covered in damp paper towels)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (a mix is usually best)
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onion and pepper with a good pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Next, add enough sauce (if using canned I like Embasa) to just cover the veggies and increase heat, bringing to a bubble, then reduce (medium-low) and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
Cook the chicken all the way through using a pan, electric grill, grill pan, whatever’s convenient. Cool and chop the chicken into cubes. Add a generous spoonfull of the veggie mix to a tortilla, then one of chicken and finally cover with some cheese and roll the tortilla. It should be full but not overflowing or stuffed. Place it in a foil-lined baking dish (make sure you lube up the foil before inserting the rolled tortillas), repeat until dish is full.
Cover the rolled tortillas with the remainder of the sauce and cheese and bake for 10 minutes.
On this particular day, I had a large container of Romesco Sauce leftover from our ‘Evening in Barcelona‘ and thought, isn’t Red Enchilada sauce very similar to a bell pepper sauce? Isn’t my Romesco mainly roasted red bell peppers? So I covered these particular guys with the Romesco instead of extra canned stuff and it was *amazing*. I will post the Romesco sauce recipe here at a later date. My point is that, as with all things, a little effort one night can turn into effortless creativity the next as long as you keep an open mind and a lot of tupperware on hand.