When we moved into this Edmonton neighborhood it was because the house wasn’t hideous, it was convenient to my sister, it had a garage, and the landlady was enthusiastic about us ripping up some lawn and planting a food garden. The bonus, the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, if you will, was that we also got a couple of wonderful neighbors!
You know the kind – willing to water the garden for you when you go on a two-week vacation (or worry about shutting off the irrigation when it rains every day you’re gone);driving you to the airport 20 minutes away and then offering to (no matter the day or time) pick you up again; invite you over for backyard barbeques that last well into the night even though y’all have to get up and go to work the next day but you don’t care because this, eating and laughing with friends, is what life is all about; offering seedlings and transplants and vegetables and preserves…
Which is how I got around to making enchiladas the other night.
Mirka and Chris, the aforementioned icing on the cake, and newbie gardeners, decided to try growing tomatilloes, a Tex-Mex staple, by the way. Despite their inexperience and unfamiliarity with this fruit/vegetable, they had such success that it turned into their own version of zucchini – as in, they were beginning to think they’d have to leave anonymous bags of the stuff on doorways around the ‘hood. Eventually, as winter approached, the harvest tapered off and they were left with a lovely collection of canned tomatillo salsa to tide them over until spring.
Again, because they are the cherry on top, we received a jar of the salsa – which I hoarded for several weeks before deciding what to do with it. Finally, in a moment of homesickness, missing my favorite dish of enchiladas verde at El Sol y la Luna in Austin, I decided to whip up my own version.
Because all the store-bought versions of tortillas I can find seem to have dough conditioners and perservatives, I decided to make my own version. Using the Yellow Cornmeal Crepes recipe in my 1976 Better Homes and Gardens Crepes Cookbook, that I’ve had so long I don’t know where I got it from, I created my own facsimile of tortillas. (Sorry, but I don’t want to do copyright infringement and post the recipe so maybe this will be a good substitute.)
Next, I sauteed half of a diced onion, a minced garlic clove, and half of a diced red pepper until soft in a cast iron frying pan with a little oil over medium heat. Then I added about a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of ground cumin, a quarter of a cup of chopped cilantro, and a tablespoon of chopped pickled jalapenos. While those ingredients had been cooking, I’d shredded about a cup of meat from a chicken I’d roasted the night before and I added that to the vegetables until the chicken was warm and coated with spices. I guessed that the amount of filling would be enough for 7 crepes/tortillas.
I took a casserole dish, big enough to accommodate the rolled enchiladas in a single layer, and popped the top off the jar of tomatillo salsa. A little taste of the tangy green sauce told me whether I’d need to add more heat (I didn’t) or more spice (nope) – it was good right out of the jar. I spread a thin layer on the bottom of the casserole dish and then assembled my enchiladas – a tablespoon or so of filling spread in a line in the center of the crepe/tortilla, roll, place seam side down in dish. Once the enchiladas were all in, I smothered them with the tomatillo salsa and a cup and a half of grated Monterey Jack cheese, and put them into a 350 deg. F. oven until the cheese melted.
If you want to be really authentic a la El Sol y la Luna, you serve the enchiladas with Spanish rice, black or refried beans, and chopped tomatoes.
My apologies for not having a picture of the finished dish but we were so hungry and it smelled so good that I’d dished it out and eaten it before I thought to take a picture! And the embarrassing thing was that we didn’t even share with the neighbors who’d been so generous to us! But I’ll remedy that soon; when Mirka found out that I hadn’t taken a picture, she gave me another jar of salsa so I could make it again – next time I’ll be sure to call over the fence and invite the cherries over.