Thursday, July 22, 2010


I've never much liked Mexican food. Until a few years ago, I'd only ever had Mexican food at restaurants in Canada and north of the Mason-Dixon line -- and rarely at that, thank goodness, given the quality. Then I visited my brother in Dallas. Several times. And I discovered the joys of good Mexican food. And good TexMex. And good SalvaTex. And I mean very good Latin American-inspired cuisine. Tamales, bean salsa, chuck steak, ceviche, mole and more. But to make it at home? And, in my case, to make at home in Budapest, where the search for fresh cilantro can take a full day?

Yesterday, I finally gave into the enchilada recipe in my new cookbook. I hit four stores and one market, and came back with all the ingredients except enchilada sauce. Don't ask what I had to pay for cheddar cheese.

Here's what came out of the oven: a bubbling, gooey, beautiful mess of ground beef, cheese, tortillas, green onions, black olives, enchilada sauce and cilantro.

These enchiladas are divine, full of all the tastes and flavors of good Mexican cooking. We will make them again. And again and again. (Serve with rice or beans or a bit of salad. Sour cream, too, if you have some and you went overboard with the chili powder.)

The full recipe is at Pioneer Woman. Here are my enchilada sauce and chili powder recipes:

Enchilada sauce

What you need:
  • 2 cups thick tomato purée
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock or white wine
  • 2-3 tbsp homemade chili powder*
What you do:
  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until flavors are thoroughly blended.

* Homemade chili powder (~1/2 cup)

What you need:
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
What you do:
  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Use as required; stored in a cool, dry place, it will keep for months.

Tip: when you go to assemble the enchiladas, make sure you have plenty of counter space. This is always a challenge at our house, in part because of the size of the kitchen and in part because of Richard's espresso paraphernalia. Look at this -- the corner of my counter is populated by no fewer than five espresso-related items (bean grinder, step up/step down transformer, espresso machine + bits, tamper, and tamper box). Don't ask about the transformers. We hide them under furniture and in corners like other people hide dust bunnies.

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