Ringing in 2014 in the Deep Freeze: What to Eat

2 Jan

The high in Ottawa, Canada today was – 24C with a wind chill factor that made it feel like – 34C. We were actually colder than Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, but not colder than other parts of our incredible country. This is Day 3 of a 5-day stretch of extremely cold weather.

"Baby, it's cold outside."

“Baby, it’s cold outside.”

For those who measure temperature on the Farenheit scale that is – 11F, windchill of – 29F. The health department issued warnings that exposed skin can freeze in 10 minutes.

Wise humans (and one canine I know), stayed indoors with only the briefest sorties for essential business. Hot chocolate and good novels were our activities of choice. Uber-Canuks suited up in layers or pulled on their bison mitts and Balaklava and went out-of-doors. Some skaters even braved the Rideau Canal Skateway.

Experiencing the lung-rattling cold has helped me to understand how the Inuit in the Arctic region of Canada can eat such fatty foods as seal. I am absolutely craving high-fat meals . . . particularly beef and cheese. A number of people I know prepared macaroni & cheese today.

To help you cope with winter’s blistering cold, I hope to post a few hearty dishes I made in December. Meals with beef and starches and meal-worthy soups.

Beef & Mushroom Pie

Beef & Mushroom Pie

Tonight I cooked the first meal for myself in over ten days. I have feasted at family holiday tables, consumed copious left-overs, eaten a catered gourmet dinner for New Year’s Eve and been a guest at friends’ tables. Here are the recipes I plan to make for the coming week:

Tomato and Seafood Penne (Canadian Living, Dec. 2013, pg 174)

Hearty Meatball and Fennel Soup (CL, Nov. 2013, pg 146)

Hearty Meatball and Fennel Soup

Hearty Meatball and Fennel Soup

The Ultimate Lasagna (Canadian Living, September 2013, pg. 135)

. . . and if I tire of the “care packages” of Christmas baking lurking in my freezer, I may decide to make Rustic Apple Cake (CL, Sept 13, pg 187).

Chilaquiles — Mexican ‘Lasagna’? Ole!

4 Sep

I stumbled across this recipe looking for a way to use up a can of red kidney beans opened in error. I like beans, so finding new ways to cook with them is a fun culinary quest. Chilaquiles [tchee/lah/KEE/lehs] is a novel dish I found in Quick Vegetarian Pleasures [QVP] (Jeanne Lemlin, Harper Collins, 1992, page 163). Their description calls Chilaquiles a Mexican lasagna-like dish.

Chilaques: Made as a Mexican-style lasagna.

Chilaquiles: Made as a Mexican-style lasagna.

However, in researching the proper pronunciation of the word, I discovered this recipe bears little resemblance to the authentic Mexican breakfast/brunch dish of the same name. The more traditional Mexican dish uses the same layers of corn tortilla strips (but fried), salsa and grated cheese and/or cream but includes cooked eggs.

The QVP recipe makes a great evening meal and easily reheats for subsequent servings. Individual portions of this recipe can also be frozen, unlike the traditional Mexican dish which appears to resemble a breakfast fry-up.

I found the Chilaquiles a hearty, tasty meal with just the tiniest bit of zip (akin to a tingle of your lips). It’s great to have a new dish to add to my vegetarian repertoire. Uncertain whether I’d like it well enough to eat the four servings of the original recipe, I made a full batch of the chile sauce. I used only half of it to make a smaller casserole dish for my meal and I still ended up with three large servings. The rest of the chile sauce made a great dip for tortillas chips as a snack. Or make the full recipe (increased amounts given inside square brackets) in a 10 x 10 x 2″ or 12 x 7 x 2″ casserole dish and take it to a potluck dinner.

Garlic, onion, corn tortillas, EVOO, green chies, MOnterey Jack cheese, canned tomatoes, red kidney beans and sour cream.

Garlic, onion, canned tomatoes, corn tortillas, EVOO, green chiles, Monterey Jack cheese, red kidney beans and sour cream.

CHILAQUILES                                                            Makes: 3 large servings

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Tbsp                                 olive oil
  • 2                                              onions, finely diced
  • 2                                              garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 28 oz (796 mL) can        tomatoes, finely chopped plus the liquid
  • 1 – 16 oz (540 mL) can        kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 – 4 oz (118 mL) can           mild green chiles, minced and drained
  • 6 [12] small                           corn tortillas, cut into 1 – 2″ strips
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) [1 cup]     sour cream
  • 1.25 cups (284 mL) [2.5 cups/568 mL]   grated Monterey Jack cheese  about 4 [8] oz or 113 [227] g.
  • If you can’t find Monterey Jack, substitute a mild cheddar.

Instructions:

1.     Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 5 x 2″ casserole dish with oil.

2.     In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes or until the onions are tender.

Saute onions and garlic until tender.

Saute onions and garlic until tender.

3.     Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, the chiles and the red kidney beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the juices begin to thicken. Remove from  heat.

Add tomatoes, green chiles and kidney beans. Boil to reduce liquid.

Add tomatoes, green chiles and kidney beans. Boil to reduce liquid.

4.     Reserve 1/3 to half of the chile sauce for another use. (Serve with tortilla chips as a snack.) Of the remaining sauce, spread half of it evenly over the bottom of your lasagna pan.

One layer of sauce on bottom of baking pan.

One layer of sauce on bottom of baking pan.

5.     Top the sauce with half of the corn tortillas strips, laying them like lasagna noodles, first in one direction and then the other. Spread half the sour cream over the tortilla layer and half the cheese.

Create a layer with strips of corn tortillas.

Create a layer with strips of corn tortillas.

A layer of sour cream and then grated Monterey Jack cheese.

A layer of sour cream and then grated Monterey Jack cheese.

6.     Create the next layer with the second half of the corn tortilla strips, the remaining sauce, sour cream and cheese.

Repeat layers and bake in 350 F oven for 35 minutes.

Repeat layers and bake in 350 F oven for 35 minutes.

7.     Bake in pre-heated 350 F oven for 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. The cheese layer will be golden and a little crusty.

. . . until hot and bubbly and cheese is crusty.

. . . until hot and bubbly and cheese is crusty.

I prepared a quick guacamole with a chopped avocado, diced tomato, garlic, salt and pepper and a squirt of cilantro (from a tube). It was a great complement to Chilaquiles along with a frosty lager.

A hearty, zippy dish paired with fresh guacamole.

A hearty, zippy dish paired with fresh guacamole.

Subsequent servings are best reheated covered with foil in a 350 F oven. If frozen, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight or in the microwave on 60% power for 3.5 – 4 minutes before re-heating in the oven.

A great addition to the vegetarian entrees section of your recipe box.

A great addition to the vegetarian entrees section of your recipe box.

 

 

 

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