I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Mi casa es su casa

My little casa is coming along quite nicely as far as unpacking, arranging and finding things is concerned and after sniffing alot of cleaning chemicals and nearly throwing my shoulder out of socket from scrubbing, I've finally deemed the kitchen open for business. Having never really cooked alot with a gas oven and stove, I wasn't sure how, if any, differently I would need to adjust my recipes and cooking times so I've been preparing a few test meals for myself this past week. I didn't want to suffer the horror and shame of inviting someone over for dinner and serving Entree' a la Flambe because I didn't know how to operate that thing in my kitchen called a stove (and to think I used to call myself a caterer!). So far, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference except maybe shorting the cooking/baking times by just a bit to account for the more intense, even heat that gas provides. So, after having passed the test, I decided to have my friend T. over as my first dinner guest.

I've had a hankering for chicken enchiladas for the last few days, so it was decided that the the menu would definitely have a Mexican flair with margaritas, chips, salsa and guacamole, chicken enchiladas, black beans, and chocolate flan for dessert.

The Martha Stewart side of me wanted to play bartender with homemade margaritas whizzing in my blender garnished with artfully carved lime wedges and multi-colored salts and sugars, but I'm getting older, folks, and I can't be bothered with trying to pretend that I'm somebody that I'm not. When I retired from the catering business, I swore I'd never be stressed over entertaining again. So, I did what I do best and left the rest to convenience. Pre-mixed margaritas and salsa and guacamole from the deli left me to focus on the parts of the meal that I wanted to have fun with.

Holy sombrero! Based on the looks of this nearly empty 2 liter bottle of pre-mixed margaritas that I found on my counter the next morning, it was some party! Was there a pinata involved somewhere????

My chicken enchiladas are muy bien, but I can't take full credit for the recipe. It is one of the many recipes that I use from my personal chef days and was created by Candy Wallace, who pioneered the whole personal chef concept. I love the sour cream based sauce and the fact that is incorporates my favorite combination of spices - cumin and coriander. Here are my little amigos before they went into the oven. Actually, I mocked these up for the photo because I felt silly having someone new over and snapping photos of his food from various angles. Might be misconstrued as a little weird, no?

I served these alongside a generous helping of Art Smith's recipe for black beans. Again, the combination of cumin and coriander makes it a no-brainer side dish for anything Mexican or Southwestern. Art Smith used to work as Oprah's personal chef and his cookbook, Back To The Table, has quite a few good recipes in it. He actually pairs these black beans with a pork roast.

There aren't many Mexican inspired desserts that I'm fond of, but this chocolate flan fits the bill for the finishing touch on a great dinner. I've actually blogged about this particular recipe before,but doesn't this make you want to have a mucho grande bite right now??

Enjoy the recipes mi amigas!!

Enchiladas de Pollo y Queso

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
5 tablespoons butter -- divided
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup large bell peppers -- chopped
2 cups cooked chicken -- chopped
4 ounces green chili peppers -- chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese -- shredded
12 6 inch tortillas

Melt two tablespoons butter and cook onions and green pepper in it until softened. Remove to a bowl. Stir chopped chicken and green chilis into onion-pepper mixture. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Blend in flour, chili powder, cumin, & coriander. Whisk in chicken broth. Cook, stirring, until sauce boils. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup cheese. Stir 1/2 cup sauce into chicken mixture.
Spoon enough sauce into bottom of pan to cover. Spoon chicken mixture into center of tortilla. Roll up and arrange in 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan; repeat with all tortillas (heat tortillas in microwave for about 15 seconds to make them easier to roll). Pour remaining sauce over tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 350degrees for about 25 minutes.


Black Beans

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup Chicken Broth or canned low-sodium broth
3 Roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
3 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the black beans and cook until the flavors are combined, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

"from Tropical Pork Roast with Black Beans/Back to the Table"
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gina said...