Last night I made an enchilada casserole, Spanish rice, and a chocolate swirl cheesecake for dessert. The casserole bit came from of a friend of mine, & an authentic Mexican (by blood only), Mr. Oropeza. He has given up on trying to roll our organic, preservative free corn tortillas into an enchilada shape, they always just crack, and make one incredibly frustrated. So he recommends just piling the pan up, much like a lasagna & it works quite well.
I didn’t do the chicken quite right, but it was my first stab at making the dish in years… many months, at least, so what can I say. The rice simply came from a box…I did however make an old favorite avocado sauce.
This recipe comes from El Barracho, in Reno, they serve it much like guac, but they don’t charge you two bucks for it, since you are only getting a small dipping tray of the stuff, along with a variety of salsas. The recipe is simple enough, but then it is a matter of proportions that seals the deal. It is, avocado, mayo ( I use Grapeseed Veganaise, which quickly flips that bit of the equation from disturbingly unhealthy, to decadently good-for-you) and honey! And then a dash of spice, I just use a taco mix, which one could safely assume to be chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and a bit of onion or garlic. Then blend it up in the processor or with a mixer – it has to be blended smooth. No one else in my family even tried it…which only hurts my feelings the tiniest bit, since it only means all the more for me (lunch!).
I suppose the cheesecake was the height of accomplishment for me. It was the greatest learning experience, in that I discovered that it is just as much the eggs as it is the cheese that makes the bulk and the texture of the pie. Most of my ingredients were New Moon castaways; carob and chocolate chips that had gotten mixed up in the bulk bin – gluten free cookie samples that dinna make the grade, but were assorted in chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, so they made a fine mix of crumbs to crumble up, mix with melted butter and bake into a crust. I used a quiche pan, the kind with a removable ring, and I melted the chips in yet more butter, and then knifed the melted chocolate into the cheese and egg mix, so that the resulting cake is freestanding and swirled. The top cracked a bit since I was watching the Colbert Report and spaced out at the end of the baking time, but oh well, it only browned a bit, not burned.
The night before, I made shrimp gumbo, from my Gramma’s old copy of Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook – an old plaid covered binder from the 50’s that is positively rife with recipes of all stripes. They are packed onto each crumbling page, and the pages are (mostly) organized by the binder’s dividers, Meats, Breads, Desserts, Canning, even…
This is the heart of true Americana cooking – and for some reason I feel compelled to re-record the recipes of this book, for posterity – copyright laws be dammed! & they only apply oh-so-loosely to recipes anyhow…The book, aside from it’s strong fabric bound exterior, is literally disintegrating by the day now. Each page is dry and brittle, ripped at the three punch holes on the side, and even the dividers – made of a light cardboard – are tattered and folded.
The recipes are laid out in a no-nonsense manner, using the space of the page as conservatively as possible, no cute pictures, no reminiscing backstory of this recipe, where I got it and who I once made it for.
But that shrimp gumbo, turned out easily and deliciously. As have the baked-good recipes that I have recently tried before that – & we all know that a bread recipe is the true measure of worth for a cook book (something that instills confidence in my own book to come, after wresting Calvin’s elusive baguette recipe from his grip)!
So anyhow, there is much cooking to be done, as well as baking and study…But first, the (not so) small matter of getting the New Moon kitchen up and running – and what new tricks of the trade wait for me there?
We shall see!