Chile Rellenos Casserole and Green Rice

For those of us who love our chile rellenos, but cannot handle actually making them (gringos), I’ve concocted my own recipe.  In my version, I put this together with the intent of staying as true to the original dish as possible.  Of course, since we’re talking about a casserole here, there are elements that would feel more at home in a Yorkshire pudding than your favorite Mexican restaurant, but I think this captures the spirit.  Do not be discouraged by the detailed instructions!  That’s mostly the chile handling and preparation.

I’ve also thrown in a newly discovered favorite of mine, green rice.  This is a variation on the more common red Mexican rice that for some reason I’ve just really taken to.

Will feed about 4 people with lunch leftovers!

Chile Rellenos Casserole

9            Poblano, Anaheim or pasilla chiles

10 oz.    casera cheese (queso fresco)

2              cups shredded cheddar cheese

6              eggs

1              tsp. baking powder

¼             tsp. salt

¾             cup flour

½             cup milk

  1.  Char your chiles on a comal, or in a cast iron frying pan or over an open flame.  Do not be afraid to toast these suckers good.  What you are doing here is giving the chile flavor and making it possible for you to skin the chile with ease.  When they are burnt to your liking, put them in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let them sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. During this rest time, grate the cheddar cheese and make the batter for pouring over the peppers.  Get your favorite 9 x 13″ pan and spray it with oil or grease it down, then turn on the oven to 350F.
  3. Now that the chiles have sat, they should be ready for prepping.  Important:  If you are not accustomed to handling peppers, BE CAREFUL.  I’ve handled peppers all my adult life and by and large, they don’t bother me, but they may bother you.  To be on the safe side, get yourself some medical gloves or rubber gloves or whatever and make sure you DO NOT rub your eyes with the gloves still on!  It hurts!!!  I know, this may seem a bit basic for some, but having to flush your eyes with water and possibly damaging your cornea is not worth it.  Granted, these are mild peppers, but you’ll notice as you’re seeding and skinning, you’ll need to sneeze, or you’ll feel it in the back of your throat, so there is some heat there.
  4. The chiles will be limp and require no special paring tools, especially if you’ve given them a good char.  Because they can be fragile, carefully remove the skin – I like doing it over a clean sink under some cool, running water.  They can be very slippery! – with your hands, and then, if you need to, make a slit in the pepper using your finger and remove the seeds and any fascia.  This is when you’re going to notice the burn, if any.
  5. Now comes the easy part.  Bring out your casera cheese and cut into sticks to fit in your chile.  That’s why I didn’t have you do it earlier. Each chile will be different, and you want it to wrap around and completely cover the cheese.  This may not be 100% possible, as there will most likely be some tearing in the earlier cleaning process, but do what you can.  They’ll be covered up anyway!  Arrange them in the baking dish and cover with the batter.  Top with the cheese and put them in the oven for 30 minutes.

For an extra kick, I like using El Pato Mexican tomato sauce.  I didn’t have any at the time, or the pictures would have looked different!  Also, just to let you know, the casera cheese will not be melty – it’s fresh, so it won’t melt.  But there, I was being true to the spirit.  If you must have melty cheese, use a decent Monterey Jack.

Green Rice

2              cups chicken broth

2              cups water

2              tsps. salt

2              cups medium grain rice, if possible

½             bunch of fresh cilantro

3              cloves of garlic, peeled

½             of a medium onion, peeled and wedged

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, water and salt to a boil.  Stir in the rice, and wait for the water to boil again.  Reduce the heat to low, stir one more time, and cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Toss your cilantro, garlic and onion into a food processor and puree to your heart’s desire.  I actually pureed some  more after taking the picture because I noticed a little chunk of onion.
  3. After the 15 minutes is up, remove the rice from the heat and let set for another 10 minutes – do not lift the lid!
  4. When the rice has set, you may remove the lid!  Fluff the rice, and put in your puree at that time.  I used maybe 1/4 cup.  You may want more or less – it’s up to you.

Serve!

Huevos Rancheros…mostly

So much more to do - !

So much more to do – !

Hey everybody!  Has this ever happened to you?  You’re trying to beat the clock, getting all your young nieces and nephews set up with gifts they’ll actually want for Christmas, and you’re also working on a side project for a restaurant to include pictures of the food at the same time when suddenly, you’re hungry.  And you’re not only hungry for food, you’re hungry for the food you’ve been photoediting.  Problem:  they closed hours ago.  So what do you?

You can almost feel the lightbulb coming on as it rests just inches above your head.  Let’s make something!  Leftover black beans from earlier in the week, the ever present corn tortillas and salsa, eggs, cheese…sounds like huevos rancheros to me!  Since I don’t really care to cook so much as I like to eat, any foray into the kitchen is an adventure for me.  I was so proud of myself for creating something edible.  Just had to share!

Making My Own Job

I know that a lot of you spend a significant amount of time online, mostly checking on your social media. I mean, who doesn’t like to spend hours on Pinterest, getting new ideas for your next big project, after you purchased all the goods needed for the last big project, which you haven’t started yet, before going back on Pinterest and discover new ideas for that next big project!  Uh, wait – Am I the only one who does this?

With the onset of cooler weather, business at the cannabis clinic has slowed down, so I’ve been able to spend even that much more time online, and it’s driving me crazy!  So with that in mind, I approached the owners of my favorite Mexican eatery, Cafe Luna, and asked if we could do a trade in kind.  As their Facebook page was seriously neglected, I offered to do their social media in exchange for their wonderful food….and they accepted!  It’s been a whole week, and I think I’ve upped their game.  I’ve also had two free meals there %-D.   One happy camper here.  Seriously, if you’re in the NorCal area, you need to check this out.  Wonderful, excellent food.  But don’t take my word for it; check them out on Yelp!, the reviews on their FB page and Trip Advisor

One minuscule step for mankind, a big step for me

DSC_0028 cheap camera vignetteIt must grow exponentially from generation to generation.  My oldest living antecedents that I personally knew were my maternal grandmother and grandfather.  In particular, my grandfather was 50 when my mother was born in 1937.  Late baby.  He was raised on a farm and his tastebuds developed before the proliferation of pizza and Italian food in general after WWII and could never bring himself to eat it.  I couldn’t imagine my life without Italian food!

As children we were raised in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it for what it was: a barrio.  This gave my sister and I leg up on expanded palates.  Our favorite food then, and still is, Mexican; in particular, CaliMexi food.  Also, as a young single parent, my mother would foray into the culinary unknown with Helen Gurley Brown’s “Single Girl’s Cookbook” and some highly inappropriate erotic cookbooks, one that featured phallus shaped cookies which I remember helping my mother bake when I was around 7 or 8 years old.  It was the late 60’s and early 70’s rife with free love and self-expression, yada-yada.  My mother finally settled on meatballs.  Swedish meatballs, Italian meatballs, German meatballs (they even had raisins!) as her darlings of the kitchen.

As a young woman, I joined the military and was sent to Europe.  I discovered Greek food on the beach in Leiston, Indonesian food and Indian food in Amsterdam and Spanish (NOT MEXICAN) food in London.  Since I’ve been, England’s food scene has been revived. but while I was there, it was slim pickings.  I do feel compelled, though, to mention the wonderful pork pies and sausage rolls and high tea with wonderful pastries and lunch at the local pub featuring big hunks of Cheddar served with fresh crusty bread and Branston pickle on the side.

My daughter, who I always encouraged to try anything when it comes to food, went to the California Culinary Academy and furthered her gastronomic experience way beyond anything I’d ever thought of it.  Since then, I’ve tried mussels, savory jams,  more root veggies than I had known existed, while she’s eaten foods that I wouldn’t have thought were considered food, such as sea cucumber.  Well, someone must have though it was food to name it that, but yikes!   So finally, four years after her graduation, I allowed her to make me…cold soup.  Inspired by Food Follower’s blog entry, I turned to her and said, “Let’s have gazpacho.”  She almost fell out of her chair.  She used the same recipe she had made while working for a very nice restaurant in Loomis.  We took beautiful pictures of the soup and accompanying bruschetta and my mouth watered in anticipation.

And…it was okay.  I lived.  I’ll eat it again if it’s made, but I won’t be requesting it.  However, it does make me wonder, with the world becoming smaller, what’s on the culinary horizon for my grandchildren (if I ever have any!).  What will their traditional Sunday dinner be?