Kathy' s Little Cakery

Serving Sacramento Area

Carne Asada Enchilada Bake

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’ve had many crises in the kitchen – ones that make me want to throw up my hands, walk away from the stove and head to the nearest Chipotle. It’s not often that it happens, but it certainly does happen. I’ve found that I’m much less critical of what I’m eating if I’m the one who made it, so it takes a lot for me to completely give up. Not giving up usually leads to a little improv and obscene amounts of cheese, which can mask the greatest of errors.Putting down a couple beers can also make near disasters seem not so disastrous. The following recipe is the result of one such averted crisis.

Carne Asada Enchilada Bake
What was initially going to be carne asada enchiladas turned into carne asada enchilada bake, thanks to the unworkability of my defrosted tortillas? I realize that the jump from enchiladas to enchilada bake is not a huge one, but believe me, it was a frustrating one. I know from experience that, while maybe not ideal, it is possible to freeze tortillas, defrost them, and use them as you would normally. I’m not sure if it was the specific brand of tortillas I was using, the length of time they’d been in my freezer, or just bad luck, but I was only able to separate a few of them without ripping them in half. And, oh my god, you know what?

Sometimes I don’t realize why things didn’t go according to plan until I am writing about it on here. Here I am whining about the stupid, unworkable tortillas, and then it dawned on me that I am a complete bonehead. I was about to say that the tortillas ended up brittle when I realized that I was preparing them for the wrong dish. Have you ever made migas before? You know the part where you fry the tortillas in a little hot oil to crisp them up before mixing them with the eggs? That’s what I did with my tortillas, except I wasn’t making migas! When you make enchiladas you are supposed to soften the tortillas by quickly warming them in the oven, not by crisping them up in hot oil. Sometimes I wonder how I got into law school. Or even college.

In hindsight, I guess I could have made enchiladas with the tortillas that I had, although few of them remained intact after defrosting. Had I made enchiladas, however, I would not have realized that I could make a lazy man’s version of them, bypassing the wrapping process and creating a lasagna-like dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lbs. carne asada or marinated skirt steak
  • 2 cups grated cheese (Monterey jack, cheddar, chihuahua…)
  • 1-1/2 cups corn
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 1-1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • Guacamole/sour cream/salsa for serving

I’m usually not a fan of buying pre-seasoned meats, but for some reason, I grabbed this carne asada from Trader Joe’s. Hey, at least it’s authentic.

Grill over high heat until the internal temperature hits 160. Do not overcook it for the sake of your jaw.

You don’t even want to know how many times my smoke alarm went off while cooking this. My arms got a good workout from the amount of towel-waving I was doing.

Slice the meat into thin strips.

Trim the strips down so they’re about an inch long.

Shred the cheese. I used a combination of Monterey Jack and Colby Jack.

I’d guess this is about 1/4 cup of cilantro. Chop it well. Thanks to Matt’s mom for the bounty of cilantro!

Combine the carne asada, corn, cilantro, and about 1 cup of the cheese.

How well does that look?

Lightly coat the bottom of an 8″x8″ baking dish with enchilada sauce. Cover with a layer of tortillas, and then add a layer of the meat mixture.

Spoon some enchilada sauce over the meat.

Repeat the layers of tortillas, filling, and enchilada sauce.

Add another layer of tortillas topped off with a liberal dose of enchilada sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

I guess it wasn’t a failure after all. And you can bet I’ll never again forget the proper way to prepare tortillas for enchiladas.

If you have any queries regarding the recipe, please contact us here.…

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Boiled Lobster Tails

When you get a piece of truly spectacular cookware, it only makes sense that you break it in with truly spectacular food. So what better way to use my new Le Creuset Dutch oven than to cook lobster? You can definitely try this recipe with macaroni and cheese recipe as both complements each other taste.

After reading the instructions on how to properly use my new pot about fifty times and reading about how to boil lobster about twenty times, our two lobster tails were cooking away and I was squealing with glee.

Boiled Lobster Tails

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt. Add the lobsters/lobster tails.
When the water returns to a boil, set a timer. For one pound of lobster, cook it for about 8 minutes. Add 3-4 minutes for each additional pound. You can also use a meat thermometer to check doneness; it will be done at 140 degrees.
Drain the lobster, and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Notes:

Because we had to postpone our lobster cooking, we had frozen our lobsters in a sealed freezer bag the day we bought them and transferred them to the refrigerator the day before cooking so that they could slowly thaw out.
While the lobster was boiling I melted some ghee to use for dipping. You could clarify your own butter, but since I had a jar of ghee I thought I’d save myself the work.…

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MACARONI AND CHEESE

As much as I love cheese, I’m not a huge macaroni and cheese person. Sure, I ate my fair share of it when I was a kid, treasured shipments of Easy Mac when I was abroad, and still occasionally buy a box to keep in the cupboard, but to give you an idea of how infrequently I eat it I will tell you that a box of macaroni and cheese is good for at least two years beyond its expiration date. Slightly disturbing, but true.

My indifference to macaroni and cheese applies to eating it in restaurants as well as eating it from a box. I’ve had a few bites of Matt’s mac and cheese from Joe’s Garage, but I would never order it for myself because I would much rather blow calories on their fries with basil aioli. The same goes for Yum – I would choose their crispy fries with red pepper aioli over their mac and cheese any day. A few weeks ago, though, my mom, Matt, and I were eating at Nick and Eddie, and it turned out to be one of those rare occasions when mac and cheese sounded really good. To be completely honest it was the lobster that was mixed in with it more than the cheesy noodles themselves that prompted me to order it, but the bottom line is I picked mac and cheese over fish and chips. So basically, fries with good dipping sauces trump macaroni and cheese, but lobster trumps fries.

MACARONI AND CHEESE

Although I have no problem going long periods of time without a dose of cheesy noodles, sometimes I do eat it more often than once a year. When I was home over Thanksgiving I went through the collection of old magazines that had been accumulating in the rack next to my bed, pitching a couple old copies of Vanity Fair and W before stumbling upon an issue of Saveur. It dated back to April 2005 (vintage!) and the theme was “American Artisanal Cheese.” I still can’t figure out how I had the good sense to buy it back then, but then I let it sit around for four and a half years before making use of it. When I saw the recipe for macaroni and cheese I knew I had to make up for lost time. It was my call to duty.

Ingredients:

1 lb. tube-shaped pasta
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. flour
3 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 lb. aged cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp. coarse breadcrumbs

Although the recipe calls for a pound of aged cheddar, I couldn’t get myself to spring for an entire pound of pricey cheese. I went with a little less than half a pound of Dubliner and supplemented that with cheaper stuff. In hindsight, it would have only set me back a few more bucks to just stick with the aged variety, but the combination of the two produced a perfectly acceptable result so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.
On a side note, I heard on NPR last week that most of the cheddar you buy at the store (like the variety on the left) is only a few months old at most. It came up in a discussion of a 15-year-old cheddar from Wisconsin that’s selling for $50/pound.

Start by cooking your pasta until it’s not quite cooked through. The recipe suggests cooking it for 6-7 minutes, the box of rigatoni I used said 14 minutes until al dente, and I cooked this for about 8-10 minutes. After cooking the pasta, drain it, rinse it with cold water, and drain it again. Set it aside while you work on the sauce.
As far as types of pasta go you can use penne, rigatoni, macaroni or any other tube-shaped pasta you like.

While the pasta is boiling, grate the cheese. I just kind of guessed with amounts. You need about 4 1/2 cups, and I probably had a generous 4 1/2 cups.

Have your onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme ready.

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Cook for several minutes until the onion softens.

While that’s cooking, get the remaining ingredients ready. The only white-ish wine I had was a bottle of vinho verde that had been opened in my fridge for long enough that it had lost its fizz, and I don’t think it hurt the quality of the dish.

Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Discard the herbs and the garlic, and add the flour. Cook for one minute. I’m not sure if I overestimated the amount of time the wine was cooking or not, but most of the liquid had cooked off by the time I added the flour.
Slowly add the milk and then the mustard. The recipe tells you to reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, but I didn’t have any kind of simmer to maintain after I added the milk. I guess I added it too quickly, so if you run into the same problem bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce the heat.

Now we get to the exciting part – constantly stirring the mixture for 30 minutes! I suggest timing the cooking so this part coincides with an episode of Jeopardy. That way you can learn fun(ny) things while stirring. Did you know that another name for chewing tobacco is West Virginia coleslaw?
Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 at some point in here.

After 30 minutes or so the mixture should be thick and creamy and will coat the back of a spoon. Here’s a little tip: slippery rubber spatulas are not as good of a tester as an actual spoon.

Remove the mixture from the heat, and mix in …

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