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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas with Ventana Chardonnay

One of my favorite recipes to make for my vegetarian friends are these Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas served with Not Refried “Refried” Beans. It is great for company because you can assemble the enchiladas and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake. The enchiladas are smothered in a creamy cilantro sauce, and are fantastic for vegetarians and omnivores alike. It’s been awhile since I made this recipe so when I invited my non-meat eating friend, Jean, to dinner, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to resurrect it. Unfortunately, I did not know that Jean’s brother, also invited, hates mushrooms. He concealed what I am sure was his vast disappointment at the dinner menu until after he tried the enchiladas. After a couple bites, he revealed his true feelings about the mushroom. I tried to hide my embarrassment at serving such a poor choice to him when he continued that this was the first time he’d ever enjoyed mushrooms. I wondered if he was just being polite. However, several hours and several glasses of wine, beer, moonshine etc. Joe told me again how much he enjoyed dinner and wanted to try to make the enchiladas himself. He also suggested incorporating shrimp into the dish. If you do, Joe, let us know how it turns out.

WINE: 2008 Ventana Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco (Monterey)

A half cup of white wine goes into this recipe. I cannot in good conscience recommend “cooking wine” (though I will often recommend cooking with something cheaper if a large quantity goes into the recipe and you want something special with dinner). Anyway this pairing is easy, drink what you put into the recipe. In this case, Ventana is having an awesome sale on their Chardonnay ($60 a case), so you can put something cheap and yummy into your dish. This Chardonnay is lightly oaked so has a nice creamy mouthfeel balanced with some wonderful tropical fruit flavors. A terrific pairing for the enchiladas. In addition, my husband opened a bottle of Kukkula’s IPO, which is a Cab/Syrah/Zinfandel blend. I only had a sip, but the berry and cola notes paired fine with the dish. If you want to go red with the enchiladas, I do think a Zinfandel would be a good bet.

RECIPE: Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas
Servings 4 (2 big enchiladas per person)

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 small onion, minced
• 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided (or more…I love garlic)
• 1 lb baby bella mushrooms, chopped (or whatever mushrooms you like)
• 1/2 cup white wine, divided
• 1 lb fresh spinach
• 11/2 tsp season salt or season salt, divided
• 8 flour tortillas (you can use corn but may need more, I find corn tortillas are often smaller)
• 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
• 3/4 cup chicken broth
• 1 clove minced garlic
• 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
• 1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9’ x 13’ pan.
2. Begin the filling. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onions, 2 garlic cloves and mushrooms until onions are translucent and mushrooms are cooked. I cover skillet so mushrooms steam allowing me to use less oil.
3. Remove half of the mushroom, onion, garlic mixture and set aside for the sauce.
4. Add ¼ cup wine and cook for about two more minutes.
5. Add spinach and 1 tsp season salt/salt. Cook and toss spinach in pan until spinach is wilted and liquid has evaporated.
6. At this point, I assemble the enchiladas first as the sauce comes together very quickly. You can warm tortillas in microwave. I however, like to heat them one at time on a flat skillet. This is just a personal preference so I can control how warm each one gets. It is also easy to heat one tortilla while assembling another enchilada.
7. Divide filling into eights. Put one eighth into warm tortilla. Sprinkle with a little cheese, roll and place seam side down in 9” x 13” dish. Repeat eight times. (Adjust as needed if using small corn tortillas).
8. Make the sauce. In a small sauce pan combine chicken broth, wine, ½ tsp salt or seasoned salt, and 1 minced garlic clove.
9. Stir to dissolve before adding sour cream and cilantro. Stir to combine.
10. Add the rest of mushrooms etc. Reduce heat to simmer until sauce just begins to thicken. This will happen pretty quickly. I recommend stirring throughout this process.
11. Pour sauce over enchiladas, top with the rest of shredded cheese and bake 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and beginning to turn brown.

Not Refried “Refried” Black BeansServings 4-6

• 2 tsp olive oil
• 1 finely chopped jalapenos (2 if you want it spicier)
• 2 medium finely chopped onions
• 4 minced garlic cloves
• 2 (14 ounce) cans black beans
• 1 can/bottle beer (You can play with different types of beer to see what you like best. My favorites are Dos Equis Amber and Honey Brown. Of course, you want to buy beer that you or, in my case, my husband likes.)
• 1 tbsp lime juice
• Salt, to taste

1. In a medium pan, sauté the onions, jalapenos and garlic over medium heat until soft.
2. Rinse one can of beans, but leave one with juice. Add to pan.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least ½ hour up to an hour and a half. If you have time to babysit this, the longer it simmers the better the flavors. You stir in a little beer at a time as it simmers to prevent beans from drying out. How much beer you use will depend on
4. OPTIONAL: You can use a potato masher to mash some or all of the beans if you want a creamier texture.
5. When done stir in 1 tbsp of lime and salt as needed. The beer will add salt, so only salt when beans are finished

Monday, January 10, 2011

Paella and Kukkula Pas de Deux

To my imaginary fans: I have not been keeping up with this. Maybe it doesn’t matter, as I am not sure anyone is reading this. Regardless part of the problem is I have been having too much fun to write. The other part is (although I believe I have been cooking some yummy things), I don’t think I am always pairing it with the perfect wine. I can be a bit of a perfection, so I have several recipes lined up to try again with a different wine. Who knows when I will get it just right. Therefore, I have decided this blog should be amended to be more along the lines of this is what I cooked and what I drank with it. The reality is that I drink a lot if small production wine, so they are often hard to find. Instead I’ll tell you what I drank and what are things that should go well with the dish and you can create your own adventure. And then let me know what you drank. I think that sounds like more fun anyway.
PS. My current two followers don’t even drink wine, so I believe the recipe is the most important part.

WINE: N/V Kukkula Pas de Deux, Paso Robles

What you should drink: I used up the last glass of an open bottle of Chardonnay for the white wine in this recipe. If you are opening a bottle of white wine, you can easily drink that with this recipe. I haven’t tried it but I think Pinot Grigio or an off-dry Riesling would work well with this. If you are a red fan like me a Tempranillo (or Rioja if from Spain) would be your best bet.
What we drank: I wasn’t in the mood for white (I’m usually not unless it is hot). I also didn’t have any Tempranillo or other Spanish wines. Last week, my husband, some friends and I went to Paso Robles. Kevin, the owner of Kukkula, graciously opened his new tasting room to us on a Monday (they are open weekends). We loved their wines and brought several bottles including a 50/50 Grenache Syrah blend. A nice smooth medium body with cheery cola and subtle spice notes, it finishes with soft tannins. It probably didn’t add anything to the meal, but definitely didn’t take anything away. And I am really enjoying it finishing it while I write.

RECIPE: Paella
Servings: 3-4 (I think we got three, my husband ate a lot)

My husband asked me about a year ago to make Paella. For some reason it intimidated me. I combed recipes, printed a template and bought the saffron, but never actually made the paella. Sifting through recipes today, I rediscovered this and decided to make it this week. After locking myself out of the house this morning and feeling like an idiot, I hoped to redeem myself by cooking a special Monday night dinner. After rereading the original recipe, I decided to make some modifications, which if I do say so myself resulted in a great dinner. It was also one that I should not have been fearful of. The recipe is a little time consuming and requires quite a bit of vigilance but is not technically difficult. I have successfully made risotto several times this year, so that did help.

A couple thoughts and tips. First, I planned on using chorizo to get some spice. However, I could only find andouille sausage today. I think chorizo would work nicely too. Red peppers flakes can add spice notes if you don’t use chorizo or if you want more spice. I can’t handle really spicy dishes, but I think a little spice (at the minimum) is a necessary flavor component. Second, heating the broth and slowly adding and STIRRING are important to develop a nice, somewhat creamy sauce. It also prevents the rice from burning. If you have to step away from the pot, reduce the heat first and turn it back up when you return. When you have used about 1 ½ cups of the broth, start tasting the rice. I used about 2 cups of the broth, but know from making risotto in the past that it is hard to plan exactly how much to use. I always heat at least a cup more than I think I will use.

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
1 tsp dried rosemary, divided
1 ½ tsp salt, divided
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 links andouille sausage or chorizo, crumbled or sliced
½ pound shrimp
1 small onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (if using a spicy chorizo add as desired)
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp paprika
A pinch of saffron thread, chopped finely
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken broth (you may only use 2, but heat three just in case)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
OPTIONAL: ½ cup peas. I don’t like peas that much (except snow peas) so I left out even though they are in most paella recipes I read before concocting this one).

1. Chop all veggies and heat chicken broth on medium high in a small pot.
2. Chop chicken and sausage and clean shrimp.
3. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a large pot. Medium heat.
4. Add onions and red pepper to pot. Cook until tender. Then start cooking chicken.
5. Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet. Medium heat.
6. Season chicken with ½ tsp salt, pepper and ½ tsp of rosemary. Add to skillet. Add sausage too. Cook until both are done. Remove from pan and keep warm when done.
7. When onions and red pepper are tender, add garlic and red pepper flakes to pot, cook for one minute.
8. Add Arborio rice, tomato, paprika, ½ tsp rosemary, 1 tsp salt, and saffron to pot. Stir for 1-2 minutes so rice can begin to release starch.
9. Add one cup of white wine. Turn heat up to medium-high. Stir rice as often as possible.
10. When almost all the wine has been absorbed. Add a ladle of hot chicken broth. Stir as continually as possible. When almost absorbed, add another.
11. Repeat until rice is al dente. By stirring, this will create a nice sauce. This should take about 20 minutes. You also probably won’t use all the broth. That is OK.
12. When chicken and sausage is out of pan, cook shrimp and asparagus in skillet for 4-5 minutes until shrimp is pink. Remove from heat and keep warm. Hopefully rice will just be finishing when you get to this stage.
13. When rice is finished, stir in cooked chicken, sausage, shrimp and asparagus. Stir for a minute or two if the chicken etc, needs reheating. Serve and enjoy.

I just realized I should have taken a picture. This came out really pretty too.