Jonesin’ Chicken Enchiladas


While visiting the States for my sister’s wedding, I went to my favorite Taqueria (Spanish for Taco Shop), Taqueria Las Comadres II, to order a jumbo mouth-watering burrito.  As my burrito passed down an assembly line of little old Mexican ladies, I chose spicy grilled chicken, cheese, lettuce, pinto beans, sour cream, guacamole, and jalapenos from an array of fillings.  The last woman in line folded my burrito with perfection and handed it to her salivating customer.  My favorite part of the burrito eating experience is taking numerous trips to the salsa bar to fill small plastic containers with salsas of every kind (from pineapple to classic pico de gallo), diced jalapenos, and loads of coriander.  I always drown my burrito to create a hodgepodge sauce and a unique flavor for every bite.

Me eating a super burrito with my mom at Taqueria Las Comadres II before flying back to South Africa - And you can bet I ate the entire thing!

When I first arrived in South Africa to study abroad in 2008, I naively ordered “nachos” at Spur (mistake number 1), which to my dismay, were doritos chips (mistake number 2) covered with tomatoes, corn, beans that were not black nor pinto  (mistake number 3), feta cheese (mistake number 4), no jalapenos (mistake number 5), and subpar guacamole (mistake number 6).  This introduction to South African Mexican food was not happy making and after my Spur experience, I pretty much wrote it off.  However,  I have since tried and enjoyed the gourmet style Mexican food at El Burro and the tex-mex at Fat Cactus, but have yet to try San Julian, which apparently is as authentic as it comes in South Africa.

I got the jonesin’ for some good home-made Mexican food and came across a fabulous chicken enchilada recipe in Pink-Parsley, my favorite food blog by Josie, which was previously adapted from Tide and Thyme, and which I have adapted yet again to appeal to my tastebuds and cooking style.  This recipe has become one of my all time forever favorites that I constantly rave about and recommend to friends and family.

Jonesin’ Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)

Ingredients

For the enchiladas

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbl chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 tomatoes chopped
  • 4 pieces boneless chicken breast chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 julienned red pepper
  • 1/2 julienned yellow pepper
  • 1 cup white chedder
  • 1 cup gouda
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 6-8 medium flour tortillas
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1 small purple onion
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • a small handful of coriander chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp portuguese chicken spice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 218C (425F).  Saute the onions, jalapenos, and salt until softened and lightly brown.  Add the garlic, cumin, sugar, chili powder, paprika and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Next add the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and let thicken for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and peppers and let cook for about 15 minutes.  In a bowl, stir together half the cheese and half the coriander.  Using a slatted spoon, carefully spoon out the chicken and onions and mix together with the cheese and coriander.  Spice the remaining sauce with a few dashes of salt and pepper and set aside.  Microwave the tortillas for approximately 20 seconds so that they are pliable.  Lightly grease a large deep pan.  One at a time, flatten the tortillas on a cutting board, spoon a line-full of the filling down the center of the tortilla, fold into a flute, carefully turn upside down, and gently place in the pan.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the tortillas turn slightly golden.  Remove the enchiladas from the oven, pour the sauce all over them, and top with lots of cheese.  Put back in the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.  You do not need to serve them with anything because they are incredibly awesome all on their own, but if you want you can add fresh coriander, gaucamole, sour cream, and salsa.

Kristen made scrumptious guacamole to accompany the enchiladas.  In a bowl, she mixed together the avos, lemon juice, jalapenos, onion, tomatoes, coriander, salt and pepper until blended but still a bit chunky.  Also, to jazz up the guac, I sometimes add cumin, portuguese chicken spice, and paprika.

Ty, Kristen, and Thomas gettin' ready to chow down on my enchiladas

A Seafood Story


Although I grew up on the East Coast, my sister and I loathed seafood.  I blame my parents because they didn’t expose us, being Jewish because Jews don’t eat shell fish, and seafood itself because sometimes it is smelly and chewy.  All of these factors combined produced an unwarranted prejudice against creatures of the sea.

Dullstroom Trout 2010

When I first moved to Cape Town, I desperately needed a job and kharma landed me a job at a seafood restaurant.  On a daily basis I had to handle seafood, sell it, and hear my customers rave about it, which disgusted me at first but wore me down until I finally gave in and tried white fish.  Incorporating seafood into my eating repertoire is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my tastebuds; it is the ultimate food lover’s food-gasm!  In an attempt to make up for lost time, I eat seafood whenever I can, especially prawns, and still cannot believe I lived so long without it.

Recently I started exploring the joys of cooking seafood at home.  Last year Jacquie (my cooking buddy) and I made paella for Darren (her husband) and Ty.  Having never made it before, we clumsily went for it adding copious amounts of everything, and ended up with paella flowing out of our ears.  Luckily it was delicious because it proceeded to sustain us for quite a few days thereafter.

This year, we decided to refine our recipe and put a bit more finesse into it.

K&J’s Paella (serves 4 + some leftovers)

Ingredients

For the seafood

  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 tbl oil
  • 2 tbl margarine
  • 500g calamari
  • about 20-30 jumbo prawns (de-headed and de-vained)
  • 6 sliced crab sticks
  • 4 sliced chorizo sausages
  • 2 tsp salt
  • lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbl paprika
  • 1 tbl portugese chicken spice
  • 1 tbl garlic powder
  • 1-2 squeezed lemons
  • 2 cups white wine

For the veggies

  • 2 sliced onions
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 julienned red pepper
  • 1 julienned yellow pepper
  • 250g chopped brown mushrooms

For the rice

  • 1 ½ cup jasmine rice
  • 1 tbl turmeric
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • few dashes of salt

Instructions

Cook the jasmine rice in chicken stock, turmeric, and salt for about 25 minutes.  While the rice is cooking, in a large wok, sauté the garlic in margarine and oil.  Add the seafood, chorizo, and spices, and sauté on high for a few minutes until fragrant.  Next add the white wine and lemon juice.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to medium heat for about 10 minutes. At the same time while cooking the seafood, but in another pan, sauté the onions and garlic in oil until golden.  Then add the veggies and a dash of salt and pepper.  Once the veggies are partially cooked, add them to the seafood.  Stir and let the paella simmer for a few more minutes.  Spoon copious amounts of paella on top of the rice and enjoy with a glass of white wine and great company!

Our Yearly Paella Parties