Posts Tagged chilis
Kyle has been away again, and I thought that would mean I’d be on here posting up a storm; trying to keep myself busy. But this is the first post since he left – and he’s back tomorrow, so I guess those promises to myself didn’t quite pan out. Oh well. Instead I enjoyed some time spent with my family, as my aunt and uncle were in town from Sherwood Park, AB to help out with packing up my grandmother’s apartment for her upcoming move. It was a great week spent catching up.
It can be so hard to pack up your life for a move, and especially when family is involved. So I give kudos to my grandmother for being a trooper through the entire process. She looked exhausted every night; after a long days of people asking her what she was would give away and what she would be keeping to bring into her new, smaller digs. Luckily, her emotionally hard work was rewarded each night by a home-cooked meal and some quality time spent with family. And the bonus is that the rest of us got to enjoy the family time and great food as well!
But I suppose this has nothing to do with today’s recipe. On to the enchiladas! A tasty dish of filled and rolled corn tortillas, smothered in sauce and cheese. These were devoured by Kyle and I with frosty Mexican beers on a night that was just cool enough to crank up the heat on the oven. So we took full advantage of it to prepare this comforting meal. My easy interpretation involves zero meat (sorry carnivores), a prepared tomato sauce, some beans and chiles, and lots of cheesiness. Because we all need some cheesiness in our lives. Although I can’t wait for you to try this, part of me secretly hopes it’ll be a while still before the mercury dips back down – I’m digging the heat!
Spicy Black Bean & Cheese Enchiladas
Be careful not to walk away while you’re frying the corn tortillas; otherwise you will end up with a few crunchy ones – which aren’t as easy to roll. All you’re looking for is for the tortilla to cook and soften up – you don’t want taco chips. Is this step necessary? I would say yes. Corn tortillas need to be softened in order to curl them up around a filling, and the best way to accomplish this is by giving them a nice oil batch. Feel free to share your “healthier” methods if you prepare your tortillas in a different way. And please no flour tortillas. To make this a super simple dish to prepare, we cheated and used a canned enchilada sauce, but of course you can go ahead and make your own.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
10 – 12 6″ corn tortillas (whatever amount is in the pack you buy)
2 1/2 cups cheese, shredded (I used mix of cheddar and monterey jack cheese) – divided
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if from a can
1/2 cup white onion, shredded
1/2 cup sour cream (full fat to ensure it’s gluten-free)
1 4 oz can of green chilis
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup red enchilada sauce
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 red chili, sliced
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Cook one tortilla at a time in the oil for about 20-30 seconds per side or until softened. Drain on paper towel-lined plate.
Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of the cheese, plus the next 10 ingredients (black beans through pepper) in large bowl – mix well. Spoon out about 1/4 cup of the black bean mixture onto each corn tortilla and roll up. Line the prepared baking dish with the rolled corn tortillas. If there is any left over black bean and cheese mixture, spread it out over the tortillas. Once all the tortillas are filled and rolled, pour over the enchilada sauce then top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
Bake the enchiladas for 15 minutes in the prepared oven. Remove from oven, and sprinkle over the lime juice; let sit for 5 minutes. Top with the cilantro and sliced chili pepper. Serve hot.
A frustrating fact about going gluten free is the insane amount of food that contains gluten. I’ve discovered that wheat is used in so many products as filler; and many of my favourite condiments contain some form of gluten, whether it be barley, wheat, spelt or rye. Some main offenders are soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and many pre-made chicken and beef stocks. So now I’ve become one of those obsessive people who looks at every label; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can sense the sneers I get at the grocery store from carefree shoppers.
Luckily grocery stores are wising up to the prevalence of gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease, so it’s much easier to find gluten-free goods – even up here in the Great White North. It’s funny how I’ve never noticed them until I started rooting around the aisles for various products. My mother even thought that there was some sort of “special” on the gluten-free products because she noticed that one local store had tons of “Gluten-Free” labels up the week I informed her of my upcoming diet change. I told her I had also, just noticed them, but that I suspected they were there all along. This was indeed the case because 3 weeks later the store still has the signs up.
Enough with this babbling though. I’m sure everyone who has gone gluten-free is bored by the above paragraphs, as you’ve already done your research, and now you’re just here for the food. So here’s a gluten-free & peanut-free take on Kung Pao Chicken (which I am sure to get lots of flack about for omitting the peanuts & fresh chilis). It’s not unlike other recipes for Kung Pao Chicken, I’m just being cognizant of the products in Asian cooking that typically contain gluten (and there’s a lot…so beware).
(Gluten Free) Kung Pao Chicken
I’ve been making Kung Pao Chicken for years, so I don’t really remember where I originally got the recipe from. I’m going to guess Company’s Coming if I think back on the time of my life when I started making this dish. Since those were the books my mom had lining her kitchen shelf while I was growing up, my cookbook collection started out the same. Feel free to add roasted peanuts or cashews to your dish if you like. And no, this isn’t a traditional Kung Pao Chicken, but it’s a great version of it, so don’t be a hater until you try it.
1 lb chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs (and/or breast)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp chicken stock (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp sambal oelek
1 galic clove, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 cups chopped vegetables – peppers, onions, mushrooms (I cheat here and just buy the pre-chopped packs at the store)
4 green onions, sliced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium bowl. Stir in the cornstarch, soy sauce, 5-spice powder and garlic – ensure all the chicken is evenly coated. Set Aside.
To prepare the sauce (so it’s ready when you begin stir-frying) combine the chicken stock, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, corn starch, and sambal oelek in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat up a wok (or large sauté pan) over medium-high heat (but more on the high side). Pour 1 tsp of peanut oil in the wok; when it is hot, stir in a third of the chicken and sauté until cooked – about 3-4 minutes. Scoop the chicken into a clean bowl and repeat with the remaining chicken (you want to cook the chicken in batches in order to saute it rather than steam it).
When all the chicken is cooked, heat up another 1 tbsp of peanut oil. Add the garlic, chili flakes and fennel seeds and saute for 30 seconds (careful! The garlic will burn quickly). Toss in the chopped peppers, onion, and mushrooms and saute for another 3-4 minutes until the veggies are cooked, but still crisp. Add the cooked chicken to the wok, then stir the sauce and pour it over the entire dish. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir everything to combine.
Serve hot or at room temperature with rice. Top with cilantro and onions to serve or let people top their own dishes.
Kyle is away for an extended period of time again. This time it’s for training for a new job! He’s very excited about this great new opportunity, but unfortunately he begins employment with a 2.5 week trip away from home. I tend to get a bit grumpy as the time goes on while Kyle is gone, but in the beginning of these long trip I take advantage of cooking up some stuff he is not big on and catching up on reading and TV shows. So it’s basically been a Criminal Minds marathon here at our apartment the last few days. I’ve finally busted into this current season…3 episodes down.
Okay, back to eating. One dish I typically make whenever Kyle is away is Babah – a Cambodian Rice Soup. It’s not that Kyle doesn’t like it, but I recall him saying he’d prefer other dishes (like this or this) over this one. The recipe I have for it is from Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid’s Hot Sour Salty Sweet. They discuss Babah’s similarities to Cantonese juk or Thai khao tom soups, and how the whole dish can come together in little over 1/2 hour. While this is intended to be a soup, I prefer mine to be on the thicker side, resembling a stew or porridge. This way, the stiffer texture holds onto the condiments I sprinkle on top; plus I can serve up some sauteed greens right along side the stew without them getting bogged down by broth.
The taste of the soup is good on it’s own, but I’m pretty sure the reason I enjoy this so much is that it can be used as a vessel to eat prik nam pla. I douse this stew in it – so much so that my mouth is ablaze from the intense heat of the chilis…but it’s so good. As with most South East Asian dishes (and as the name of the book suggests), this dish starts out salty and sweet (from the addition of the pork cooked with fish sauce and sugar) and then you add hot and sour condiments to balance the dish. I prefer to only add green onions, a sprinkle of lime juice, and some prik nam pla; however Naomi & Jeffrey make a few other suggestions in their book. I also enjoy the addition of a teeny bit of mushroom soy sauce – totally non-traditional (and unneccessary, since the dish is salty enough), but it tastes really good with the spicy rice and tender greens.
Babah (Cambodian Rice Stew)
Adapated from Hot Sour Salty Sweet, by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid
1/4 lb ground pork
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
6 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed flat
1 Tbsp dried shrimp
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and smashed flat
3/4 cup long grain rice (I use scented rice – use jasmine or basmati if you have it)
1 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
prik nam pla
4 green onions, sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
1-2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed in very hot water (optional)
12 leaves Thai basil, roughly torn (optional)
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
In a small bowl, mix together the pork, fish sauce and sugar. Set aside.
Bring the water, lemongrass, dried shrimp, and ginger to a boil in a large heavy pot. Boil vigorously for 5-10 minutes, then stir in the rice with a wooden spoon. Bring the water back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high and boil gently for an additional 15-25 minutes – until the rice is tender and the soup is at your desired degree of thickness. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the lemongrass and ginger.
Meanwhile, heat the peanut oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds, until beginning to turn golden (be careful not to let it burn). Add the pork mixture and saute for another 2-4 minutes, until cooked through. Add the pork mixture to the rice stew, and stir to combine.
Divide the stew into 4 bowls and top with whatever condiments you prefer.