Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Chicken" a.k.a. tempeh enchiladas

That's tempeh the food, not a mispelling of the city in Arizona. 

I've introduced M to Mexican food and while he doesn't quite get the difference between enchilada, fajita, burrito, etc., he loves it all. His favorite is still tostada night when I make some refried beans, salsa and guacamole, cut up some tomatoes & lettuce, grate some cheese, and put out sour cream.  This time I thought I try something new - enchiladas. And while I love cheese enchiladas, sometimes you need something a bit heartier and so when a friend pointed out a chicken enchilada recipe, I decided to change it up a bit.

To replace the chicken, I used tempeh, which is a fantastic substitute for chicken in most recipes and for people who just don't like tofu. It's originally from Indonesia and is made with soy beans instead of curd like tofu. It has it's own taste, unlike tofu, and is firm, sort of chewy and has kernels of soybean in it. You'll want to boil tempeh for 10 15 minutes before including it in most recipes.

You'll need a few ingredients that aren't that easy to find in Austria. For one, soft corn tortillas. I have yet to find a place that sells them. I make them from scratch. A corn tortilla recipe is coming soon; I promise! You'll also need green chilis. Luckily, I've found the pointy bell peppers from Hungary or even, in a pinch, the jarred, whole green chilis are a decent substitute.

I managed this whole thing in one evening including making tortillas and the sauce, but I would recommend making the sauce and tortillas ahead of time. Both can be frozen and can be used as the basis of many different Mexican recipes.

"Chicken" a.k.a. tempeh enchiladas

Adapted from:  Green-Sauced Chicken Enchiladas
Notes: Make the tortillas and sauce first if you haven't already. You can chop the onions and shred the cheese while the sauce is simmering. If you can at all find them or make them, corn tortillas will turn out much better than flour tortillas. Flour tortillas will tend to get a bit mushy. Please try to find a good quality cheddar cheese - from Ireland if you're in Europe. Most of the cheddar cheese that's sold in Austrian grocery stores is a poor cousin to good cheddar cheese. You can substitute however a mix of Vorarlberger Bergkäse and Emmental.
Prep time: 10 min (not including time for the sauce)
Cooking time: 15 min; in the oven.
Servings: 4


Tempeh enchiladas
8 6-inch or 10 5-inch corn tortillas

green enchilada sauce (see below for recipe)

1 1/2 cup / 200 g / 7 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
200 g / 7 oz. of tempeh

olive oil or similar to grease your cooking pan

Preheat your oven to 177°C / 350°F.

Chop tempeh into dice sized cubes. Bring a small pot of water with the tempeh to boil and boil for 10 to 15 min. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile on a very hot, dry cast iron griddle or non-stick pan, heat the tortillas on each side until warm and pliable; about 1 min.

Spread about 1 to 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce, enough to cover each tortillas completely. On top of that add about 1 tablespoon of shredded cheeses. Roll up the tortilla and place it, seam side down, into the corner of a greased casserole dish. Repeat until all of the tortillas are used up. You should have approx. half of the cheese and a bit more than half of the sauce left over.

Crumble the drained tempeh with your fingers over the top of the rolled up enchiladas. Spread the remaining sauce over the tempeh. Cover with the remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake at 177°C/350°F for 15 min.

Green-chili enchilada sauce
Adapted from:  Green Enchilada Sauce
Notes: The original recipe called for roasting fresh green chilis in the oven and removing their skins. While that probably tastes delish, it takes forever and fresh chilis weren't available in the grocery store. I replaced it with jarred peppers that I drained and quickly browned on a dry non-stick pan. It worked out just fine and saved me a lot of time. 
Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 20 min; simmering on the stove.
Servings: 3 cups / 700 ml


600 g jarred green chilis
2 small or 1 large onions
2 medium tomatoes
6 garlic cloves

1/2 cup / 120 ml water
3/4 teaspoon salt

InstructionsDrain the jarred chilis. On a dry non-stick pan over medium high heat, brown the chilis. Set aside to cool. Finely slice or chop the onions. Chop the tomatoes.  Mince the garlic. Chop the cooled chilis.
Place all of the ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 min. Using a stand mixer, blend until it is a thick sauce.
© 2010 Nicole

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tomato Provençale

I served these tomatoes with my spoon bread I made other day. They are really easy, but need a while to sit around and soak up seasoning and drain. It worked out well as spoon bread needs an hour in the oven, but I might be tempted in the future to skip the whole draining thing or at least shorten it. 

Basically this is breadless garlic bread. So if you're still trying to go low-carb, this might be for you. I don't have any amounts listed because it really depends on how many tomatoes you are making and your individual taste buds. I LOVE garlic. I probably eat too much of it, so unless you're off fighting off vampires, you'd never probably put as much in as I would.  It's also heading to the end of basil season around here so I was very generous in how much basil I used just so that I use up everything on my plant before the winter kicks in.

Tomatoes Provençale

Prep time: 10 min + up to 1 hour draining
Cooking time: 15 min

Big, ripe tomatoes
Fresh Provençale herbs - basil is a must, then maybe rosemary, lavender, thyme, etc.
Dried Oregano

Olive oil or melted butter
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, press the garlic, add a pinch or two of oregano and enough olive oil to brush on all of your tomatoes. Set aside for a moment. 

Wash and cut your tomatoes into thick, horizontal slices. Set them on a rack to drain; salt and pepper both sides generously.

Wash, remove from the stems, and finely chop the fresh herbs.

Brush each tomato slice on both sides with the olive oil mixture. The on one side, add a layer of herbs on each slice. Top with any remaining garlic or olive oil. Let the tomatoes drain on the rack for up to one hour, at room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 177°C/350°F. Place the tomatoes under the broiler for a few minutes until brown, turn the heat back down to 177°C/350°F and bake for 15 min on the middle rack. Serve immediately.
© 2010 Nicole

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spoon bread à la Nicole with tomato provençale

On Sunday mornings in Harlem, New York lines wind around several street corners for those waiting to get into the Abyssinian Gospel Church. One of the times my friends and I lined up to go to this church, the church filled up before we got in. So what did we do?  We went to a great little restaurant serving Southern brunch. Despite having lived in Texas, that was my first taste of spoon bread - not at all a bread, but a cross somewhere between a soufflé and cornbread and polenta.

Spoon bread is one of those home-cooking recipes that has as many variations as there are families living in the South. It seems everyone has their secret ingredient or method of turning out a truly fantastic crusty, yet soft spoon bread. I didn't grow up in a spoon bread eating family, but after last night. M's & my family will be.

At its most basic, spoon bread is cornmeal, milk and eggs. However, there are lots of variations with things like buttermilk, corn, or onions and cheese thrown in. Besides being easy, this is the great thing about this recipe. It's a great way to use up leftovers. In fact the original recipe, called for 1 cup of cooked rice or millet. It seems I always have at least a cup of rice left over after I cook and I never know what to do with it. Now I do!


I really encourage you to be creative with this recipe. Make it à la Mexican, à la Italian, make it plain & serve with a green salad for hot summer days, pour a hearty mushroom sauce on top in the winter, fry some in a pan for breakfast the next morning. I think some green chilies, Monterrey jack cheese and a salsa poured on top would be delish!

I served mine with Tomato Provençale--otherwise known as breadless garlic bread. That'll be the recipe for the next post.

Spoon bread à la Nicole

Inspired by:  Joy of Cooking, 1975 ed., Rice or millet spoon bread, p. 629, and the little voices in my own head.
Notes: This is a very flexible batter; add to it as you want or leave it plain with just corn and cornmeal.  Feel free to substitute other cooked grains than rice or millet. If you use buttermilk instead of regular milk, add in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
Prep time: 5 - 10 min; depending on if you want to chop some veggies and onions
Cooking time: 1 hour; in the oven.
Servings: 6


Basic spoon bread & cooked grains
1-2 cups / ~200-400g of cooked rice or millet
1/4 cup / ~40 g cornmeal
2 cups / 0.5 L milk
1 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons of melted butter or olive oil
spoon bread à la Nicole
1 bunch of green onions
1 medium red bell pepper
~1/4 cup / 50g mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 177°C / 350°F.

Wash the vegetables. Chop off the roots of the green onions and coarsely chop the remainder along the diagonal. Remove the top of the bell pepper and clean out the ribs and seed inside, discard. Chop the pepper into small pieces. Shred or dice the mozzarella. Combine vegetables and cheese with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to combine well. Pour into a large oven-safe dish. (I found the 2 tablespoons of olive oil enough to not have it stick to my glass dish, but you may want to lightly grease it first.) Stir again so that the ingredients are evenly spread.  

Place in oven, uncovered for 50-60 minutes until the top is crispy and brown. Cool slightly before serving.

Serve with Tomato Provençale, a mushroom sauce, a green or tomato salad.
© 2010 Nicole


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