Monday, April 5, 2010

Tex-Mex Comfort Food

I didn't get much cooking done over the weekend because I had a friend in town.  Instead of cooking, we explored the deliciousness that is Montreal ... poutine, brunch, chocolate shops, ice cream, baguette and cheese, and croissants.  On his last night here though, I had to prove to him that I could cook, so I made a Tex-Mex feast and had a few friends over.  I changed a few of my recipes to be vegetarian for the vegetarian guests (unfortunately I'd forgotten to see if I still had vegetable broth and the grocery store was closed for Easter, so I had to use water instead!) ... cheese enchiladas with chili gravy and Mexican rice.  I also made enchiladas with tomatillo sauce so I could put those head to head with the chili gravy ... the tomatillo sauce won.

I tried some new recipes for the night too which are included below.  For the beans, I left out the salt pork and bacon because I wanted to be vegetarian friendly.  I think it would've enhanced the flavour quite a bit though, so I'm including the original recipe below.  For the queso, I got distracted mid-way through cooking when my first guest arrived (whoops!).  It nearly ruined the queso, but luckily my guest saved it.  I'm including the vegetarian version below, but it would also be excellent with the chorizo.  Finally, I borrowed a friend's margarita recipe.  Yes, beer is odd to put in a margarita, but you won't taste it.  I was unable to find limeade here, so I used frozen lemonade ... it was perfect.

Note: If you end up with some leftover beans, they make a great brunch.  Fry up some bacon, simmer some beans with it, and top with poached eggs.  I'm sure you could add a little cheese to it as well for even more flavour.

 Frijoles a la charra (from Homesick Texan)

1 pound of pinto beans (2 cups)
1/4 tablespoons of minced garlic (3 large cloves)
1 cup diced onion (1/2 of a medium-sized onion)
1/4 cup of jalapeno juice (from canned jalapenos)
1/4 pound of salt pork (I find this near the bacon at my grocery store)
Salt to taste

4 slices of bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes or one 14 oz. canned, diced tomatoes with sauce
3 jalapenos, chopped
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
1 cup of chopped cilantro

1. Rinse and sort your beans
2. First soak the beans. You can either cover the beans with one inch of water and soak overnight or bring water to a boil, remove from heat and cover for one hour.
3. Drain the beans and cover with seven cups of fresh water.
4. Add to the pot the garlic, onion, jalapeno juice and salt pork.
5. Bring pot to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer, stir occasionally.
6. After about an hour, beans should be tender enough to eat (depending on the freshness of the beans). If not tender enough, continue cooking, checking on the beans every 15 minutes until desired texture.
7. Remove salt pork.

8. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp.
9. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, chipotles and cilantro to the skillet, and cook on medium for 10 minutes.
10. Let tomato-bacon mixture cool, add one cup of bean juice (or water) and then puree.
11. Stir puree into beans and let simmer together for 20 minutes.

Chile Con Queso (from Homesick Texan)

1/4 cup diced onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Serrano peppers diced
1 jalapeno peppers diced
1 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup of milk
3 cups of shredded cheese, can use any combination of Longhorn cheddar and Monterrey Jack
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
1 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup, can use canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)
1/4 cup of sour cream
Salt to taste

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat, and then cook the onions and peppers for about five minutes or until onions are translucent.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Whisk the flour into the butter, vegetable mix and cook for about 30 seconds.
4. Add the milk to the pot, and cook on medium, whisking constantly until sauce is thick, about five minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.
5. Turn heat down to low, and a 1/4-cup at a time, slowly add the shredded cheese stirring into the white sauce until completely melted. Repeat.
6. Stir in the sour cream.
7. Add salt to taste.
Notes: You can vary which chiles you use to control how hot you want the queso to be. Also, if the sauce is too thick, feel free to add a bit more milk a tablespoon at a time. The key, however, to a smooth sauce is adding the cheese very slowly and not adding any more cheese until the previous addition is completely integrated into the sauce.

Gary's Frozen Margaritas


1 shot Grand Marnier or Cointreau (I used Cointreau) 
3 shots tequila
1/3 of a beer (Corona is great)
1 can of frozen lemonade
1/2 lime, juiced

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Fill with ice mostly to the top.  Blend.  If it's too liquidy, add more ice.  If it's too icy, add some water.  Enjoy!

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