Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Gluten-free Enchilada Sauce. Poet Lauerate Nominations. Nature.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks: Roux-based Enchilada Sauce

Michael Sedano

Roux is a magical ingredient in sauces, as a recent La Bloga column noted. Starch, oil, heat, milk are the ingredients of some roux. For enchiladas, a chile-based roux, water-based thickened with corn starch, is the secret.

Making an enchilada sauce gluten-free is not a secret: use corn starch and water to thicken the sauce. Use more chili and water (or broth) to make as much sauce as you want. If you want to add more thickener during cooking, always mix the corn starch into cool liquid and add it in that form. Otherwise, the cornstarch lumps.

The Gluten-free Chicano likes the Gebhardt's brand of blended chili powder. Mild and non-picoso, it's the ideal base for children and gente who claim not to like to burn themselves. When I want a more lively enchilada, I use a 50-50 mix of pure New Mexico chili powder, and Gebhardt's.

Use a good olive oil and bring it to a boil. Add the chili powder. I add a sprinkling of powdered garlic, onion, comino, and coriander to the blend.

Stir the chili into the oil and keep stirring until the chili totally dissolves into the boiling oil.

The aroma will delight the cook and waft out into the house. Anyone who comes looking gets to grate cheese or chop onions.

In a cup of room-temperature water, dissolve a tablespoon of corn starch. Stir this into the toasted chili roux. You can experiment with heat by stirring more vigorously at higher flames to promote thickening. Use heat before adding more cornstarch. 

Stir until the liquid thickens and coats the spoon or whisk. Turn off the flame and let the enchilada sauce cool. The sauce thickens as it cools. 

Note there are no tomatoes in this sauce. Increase the amount of chili and water to make extra sauce. This basic red chili roux sauce is the basis of chile colorado. Sautéed thinly sliced meat, simmer in this sauce.

Chop a medium size onion, a pinch of cilantro. Drain a can of small or medium black olives. Grate sharp cheddar cheese to make at least two cups. Reserve some for topping.

Count out the tortillas and wrap them in a dishtowel. Microwave them for half a minute and leave covered. Test the heating by putting a finger in the middle of the stack. The center tortillas should be warm or hot. If not give them another 15 seconds.

Enchilada Assembly

Work on a greased cookie sheet. Spread the fixings in a row next to the cookie sheet. This is all hand work so wash your hands well. Work swiftly because the tortillas stick to each other when they cool too much.

Line up your ingredients starting with the trapo with the softened tortilla de maize.
The sartén with the warm chili roux sauce.
(Optional: a bowl of cooked picadillo or carne molida)
A bowl of olives.
The cutting board with the cheese and onions and cilantro.

Dip a tortilla in the chili sauce.
Place the tortilla on the cookie sheet.
A third off the way from the edge spread the (meat), big pinches of cheese and onion, a couple of olives.
Roll the filling and position the edges against the cookie sheet.
Make all ten or twelve the same size.

Use a spatula and drip unused enchilada sauce across the rows of unbaked enchiladas. 
Sprinkle reserved cheese and left-over fillings across the enchiladas.

Bake at 350º for ten or twelve minutes.

Serve with frijoles de la olla.

Left-over Enchiladas

Among the most elegant of the simple luxuries of life is left-over enchiladas. If enchiladas require a raison d'être beyond being enchiladas, left-over enchiladas are it. 

If you make ten or a dozen enchiladas, even with big eaters or unexpected company, you'll have a few enchiladas left over. Cover the sheet with aluminum foil and refrigerate just like that. That rich chili flavor builds up with time. Tomorrow's enchiladas taste better than last night's.

Breakfast the next morning can be microwave fast (3 to 5 minutes on a plate) or re-heated for fifteen minutes on the cookie sheet in a 350º oven and served topped with blanquillos over easy--que se salen, my grandmother used to say--or as you like your eggs. Add a scoop of beans and some tomato slices, aguacate if you have one, some of that extra sauce, and you're in gluten-free paradise.


The following is a screen capture from a Pasadena Now webpage. Please click link to read the whole story. Below the screenshot, you'll find a link to the nomination details.

Nature Photography Facebook Challenge

Rosalio Muñoz is an early-morning hiker and avid photographer. Recently, he joined a social media game where a poster invites individuals to post a poem or a photograph for seven consecutive days. Rosalio challenged me to join in, with the theme of Nature.

Here are the seven fotos I selected. I found insects, birds, weather, and sunrise that illustrated Nature.

Brown Widow Spider and Egg Sac

Macrophotography uses a lens to magnify small detail, the pistils of a blossom, an abstraction of a common object seen out-of-scale, an insect. A quality lens with a steady hand are essential. At high magnification a slight hand tremor or sudden gust can throw a framing off and fuzz the focus.

This spider has taken over where the Black Widow ruled. Turn over a patio chair, or a stick, or a leaf in the garden and a strong silken web alerts the presence of a widow. Leave them alone they leave you alone. Probably not if they've taken residence under a chair.

Metonymy of a Curlew
The sandpit at Morro Bay remains largely untouched. Wind surfers and birders make up the majority of people traipsing about the wildlife preserve. Hiring a boat is the only way to get there and back.

Snakes, mice, birds, surface and submarine critters leave their mark in the wet margin between sand and estuary. It's a birder's paradise but a hiker's nightmare. Marching in the sand was never my idea of a good time.

The tide leaves a ripple across the sand and while it's wet, shore birds wander looking for food leaving the memory of their passing.

Curlew Wading

I hold the Curlew in a special place of my heart. As a young reader I devoured The Last of the Curlews, about the extinction of one species of the bird. Other Curlews are thriving along the California coast. In Morro Bay the Curlew and dozens of species, thrive in the protected area.

California Quail Covey
The California State Bird is the California Quail. When developers razed the hills behind my family home in Redlands, the abundance of Quail disappeared within months. Ground dwellers, coyotes and foxes devoured their eggs and hatchlings. Ironically, the monstrous homes that stole the wild habitat stand empty on starkly barren land, the rolling hills paved with asphalt and criss-crossed with unused cement sidewalks and gutters. A few small coveys now visit the old homestead. When this covey emerged from cover at Montaña de Oro state park sweet nostalgia kept me smiling as I caught the leader taking the first bold steps into the open.

Swallowtail XCU
Macrophotography magnifies small objects to life-sized or closer. Photoshop lets the photographer scale the image to ever closer range. Ordinarily a flitter, this recently-hatched giant rested on a flower. I was able to lean in closely with the 100mm lens to focus a few inches from the beauty.

Foggy Ridge in Crystal Springs Pass, Redlands California

Photographing amorphousness, fog, challenges the ability of the camera to approximate detail one's eye constructs in the physical moment confronted by the roiling mass. The fog moves during the long exposure, the camera wishes it had more light to snap faster. 

Here fog infiltrates the air above the 10 freeway where Redlands borders Yucaipa. This vista has a special memory for me. My grandmother herded sheep in this valley when she was a girl

Sunrise and Three Sisters
A photograph at dawn means the photographer has to be up well before dawn to get the equipment set up in the dark. The Morro Bay estuary has a few choice spots to pull over and not have to schlepp the equipment too far. It's rugged terrain here, wetlands teeming with birds. A few minutes after sunrise the marsh comes alive with birds.

A tripod and remote are essential to capture the motionless landscape at f/32. This is the moment the sun breaks the near ridgeline. The three domes from center to left edge are eroded volcanic cores, part of the "nine sisters" set of basaltic megaliths that  run from Morro Rock to San Luis Obispo. The sisters erupted millions of years ago when the Pacific plate shoved under the North American plate and made volcanoes. Right at this moment it's the most peaceful spot on earth.

1 comment:

Elena said...

Your photo essay on enchiladas made my mouth water, so today for lunch I'm making some! You're right about leftover enchiladas.

Beautiful nature photos!