Category Archives: Mexican Flavors

Black Bean Enfrijoladas

Today I’m here to offer you another version of my favorite black bean chilaquiles.  The original recipe gives you a riot of textures and bright flavors: the salty crunch of tortilla chips, lime, feta, chunky salsa, cilantro, a drizzle of crema, maybe even a few crisp radishes, all supported by a spicy puree of black beans, smoky chipotles, and garlic.  A bowl of those chilaquiles is one of my favorite foods.

But some days call for something a little simpler, a little healthier, and a heck of a lot less work.  On those days, lately, I’ve been making this version of the recipe instead.  The backbone of the dish, the spicy black bean puree, is unchanged from the earlier recipe.  But once the beans are ready, I don’t fuss with the little bowls of assorted toppings or with baking or frying the tortillas into chips.  Instead, I just dunk warm corn tortillas into the beans and then fold them into quarters right on our plates, topping them with a scoop of salsa, avocado, a handful of toasted pine nuts, and a dusting of cilantro.  With a salad alongside, dinner is served.Black Bean Enfrijoladas Continue reading

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Tomatillo Pizza with Cilantro Pesto

I don’t think of myself as a huge fan of fusion food, whatever that is.  I like a certain harmony in the flavors of a meal, and I think that can be harder to achieve when you bring wildly diverse cuisines onto the plate at once.  But every once in a while I go there.  And every once in a while it works.  Take this pizza.

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Five-Minute Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

Oh, school.  Its arrival is so bittersweet.  Even though I liked school as a kid, I was never quite ready for summer to end–who is?  And now that it’s my own kids heading happily back to class, a part of me is sorry to see them go.  (Another part of me is looking forward to a few mornings a week alone with my baby, of course, and to the single hour of silence in my day at her naptime.)

So yesterday we celebrated the Last Day of Summer Vacation with swimming, ice cream cones dripping onto the sidewalk, and an afternoon in the park.  Today dawned all business instead: breakfast, brushed hair, a stocked backpack, and then a bike ride to school to deliver our oldest to the rigors of first grade.  (It looked pretty fun, actually.)

And by the end of the day we were all exhausted.  Quesadillas, rice, beans from a can.  And this salsa.  This salsa!  It brightened everything right up.  Bring home a pound of tomatillos and a lime next time you’re out, and in five minutes you’ll be cheered right up.  Have the energy to go beyond quesadillas?  I love tomatillo salsa on black bean tacos, taco salads, huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles.  Especially chilaquiles.  Maybe it’s a good thing that the seasons are changing after all. Continue reading

Three Pepper Breakfast Burrito

I understand that school is starting again.  Like, this week.  Like, maybe tomorrow.  Soon.  I am so not ready.  Here’s how I like to start my mornings: slowly.  With a cup of coffee.  Here’s how I start my mornings on school days: “Put on your shoes!  Where are your shoes?  Where’s your other shoe?  Has anyone seen the other shoe?”  Times three.Yes, I understand that you have a better system for school mornings.  Which is why I’m giving you this recipe.  Continue reading

Layered Enchiladas with Potatoes, Onions, and Peppers, Hopefully with a Fried Egg on Top

Is it wrong to tell you, right off the bat, that these enchiladas–any enchiladas, really–are just an excuse to eat that sauce we made yesterday?  We loaded them up with good toppings, too–avocado, sour cream, a fried egg…what?  You don’t top your enchiladas with a fried egg?  It’s high time, I tell you.This dish has all the flavor of good Mexican food without the fussiness of individually-rolled enchiladas.  Continue reading

Red Chile Sauce, or, Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Roundabout late afternoon, while I’m (doing a million other things and) waiting for inspiration to strike in the kitchen, it’s usually safe to start with a sauce.  A pesto, a garlicky yogurt sauce, a lemony harissa number? It’s easy to take it from there: a pesto might lead to pasta, a yogurt sauce will inspire something to dunk in it, and that lemony harissa is a treat with eggs.Today, unable to stare down the mountain of gorgeous produce in my fridge, I retreated instead to a pantry shelf for a jar of dried guajillo chiles from our Tonnemaker’s CSA.  A spicy paste of red chiles is the answer to a number of questions at our house, such as: “What should I pour over rice and black beans and vegetables?” and “What would be good on this taco salad?” and “How should I sauce my enchiladas?”  And if there’s any of this sauce left over after dinner, the question immediately becomes, “How soon is morning so I can make huevos rancheros?”  Continue reading

Chipotle Baked Tofu

There’s no accounting for taste.  Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can see which posts are most popular among you, dear readers.  And I have this to say: zucchini fritters?  Really?  Aren’t you sick of zucchini yet?  (I mean, they’re great, but….)  And I also have this to say: you are missing out by passing over that Sloppy-Gloppy Crisp-and-Crunchy Tofu Reuben Sandwich.

Can I at least convince you to try the tofu part?

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Easy Nectarine Salsa

I don’t make my own salsa that often.  It’s a fiddly job, with lots of chopping involved, and although a homemade salsa is a fine, fine thing, I often settle for the store-bought stuff.  I’d rather focus my attention on making guacamole.

But one of the things I love about cooking with a crowd is that it frees you up.  Tonight making salsa was my only job.  My mom made rice and salad and heated tortillas; my brother made a tasty pot of black beans and the guacamole, and I chopped nectarines.

My mom brought a brimming box of nectarines and apricots home from the farmers market this morning (you can just do that in June when you don’t live in Seattle, apparently).  They were on the small side, which my kids always love–they fit perfectly into my middle daughter’s three-year-old hand and she munched through a couple right away.  My one-year-old tried to emulate her older sister and did manage to eat quite a bit of one, while also managing to smear nectarine everywhere.  My five-year-old has a very (very!) loose front tooth and needs her fruit cut into slices.  There’s a story in there about the passage of time told in nectarine-management.  I like being on vacation with nothing to do but observe and enjoy these things.

You want sweet but firm nectarines for this salsa, in my opinion.  (I sometimes think a crisp peach is as good as a meltingly juicy one, though.  You might disagree.)  Like most recipes, this one is all about tasting and balancing the flavors as you go until the salsa is perfect for the occasion.  We ate ours on black bean tacos, but it could equally well stand as a savory little salad on its own in any summer meal. Continue reading Easy Nectarine Salsa (click for recipe)

Eggs with Chiles, Chips and Cheese

This is a five-minute breakfast or dinner that is worth knowing about.  It’s a quickie version of my favorite migas.  (I can’t believe that recipe isn’t on this site yet.  I owe you!)  I like it party because, as you can imagine, scrambled eggs with tortilla chips and cheese is alwlays an easy sell with the kids.  But mostly I like it because the adult version features roasted green chiles, a magical food.

My brother, provider of magical roasted green chiles, passed through town yesterday and brought little container of them.  If there had been more I would have made that queso fundido again, but under the circumstances we just tossed them into our breakfast.  I love how just a little bit of an excellent ingredient can elevate an ordinary dish like scrambled eggs.  I know that the world has accepted scrambled eggs with truffles or caviar as luxury food.  I submit that roasted green chiles belong in the same category. Continue reading Eggs with Chiles, Chips and Cheese (click for recipe)

Butternut Squash Tacos with Chipotle and Feta

In a different life, I used to live in LA.  I mean, it was this life, but it was a long time ago.  After more than a decade, those LA years have receded into a happy, ephemeral recollection of palm trees, of 72-and-sunny, of riding my bike to the beach and farmers market.  (I think I was supposed to be have been studying.)  They were lovely years.

Now I live in evergreens, in 50s-and-drizzling, in walking at a snail’s pace with three beautiful children who cannot be hurried as they collect sticks and rocks.  These are lovely years as well.

Not much endures in my life from that time in LA, except for the most important thing: a few good friendships.  I had the good fortune of spending last weekend with some of those old friends.  It was so nice to see them, to catch up, to laugh really hard and spend the day together.  And, just as nice, to cook together.

We made tacos, of course.  You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take California out of the girl…is that how it goes?  What a silly saying.  These tacos make no claim to authenticity of any kind, anyway.  They come from the opposite of California, the New York Times (specifically the Recipes for Health series).  They’re good.  Serve them alone or as part of a taco spread (with fish tacos, maybe, or tempeh or black bean tacos, or even breakfast tacos).  A side of seasoned black beans wouldn’t be amiss, either. Continue reading Butternut Squash Tacos with Chipotle and Feta (click for recipe)