Sunday, March 28, 2010
The other day, I had lunch with my father, after which we went book store browsing in the Annex. My father lovingly proceeded to buy me a stack of books that had been on my Amazon wish list for ages (Thanks, Dad!) I put them by my bedroom window so that I can look at them when I wake up in the morning. If this sounds odd, then you aren't a book lover. I love having books around me, I love their presence, their smell, the way new worlds are only a few pages away from me at any given moment. Seeing them waiting for me in their haphazard pile compels me to make the time to curl up with a mug of tea and meet the characters who will fill my head for the next few weeks.
I've always had this weird aversion to re-reading books I've loved. I guess I'd always felt that there were gazillions of great stories to read, why waste time on one you'd already gotten through? I'd had the same resistance with movies and recipes too. With so many creative possibilities out there, my restless nature had always itched for the undiscovered. Recently though, I've been questioning the soundness of this logic. Is this a healthy thirst for new experiences? Or is it simply impatience, a 'been there, done that' sort of attitude?
Why go back to something a second time? Because maybe sometimes, the second or third or even fourth time around can be sublime. I only need look at Almost Husband and me, in the throes of our 5th or 6th love affair, to know that some things truly do get better with age. With books, you cast a different eye on the story because your maturity level has changed, or your day-to-day life makes the content more personal or relevant. And with recipes, you get a chance to tweak the original and put your own stamp on it, or enjoy it exactly the way it was because it was just right the first time. Without revisiting things in the past, nothing would stand out. Nothing would be exceptional or memorable. Nothing would hold any value. I can't imagine such a life.
The other night, I was running low on groceries and I thought back to these awesome Pumpkin Enchiladas I'd made with a friend a couple of weeks back, from Martha's 'Great Food Fast' book (of course, who else? I'm obsessed with her lately.) They were really good and I had most of the ingredients on hand. I made a few changes to the original recipe, substituting the pumpkin with oven-roasted tomatoes and adding black beans and corn to the chicken filling.
Then I assembled the tortillas, doused them in the tomato sauce and baked them in Demonic Oven till the cheese was all melty.
And the finished product, while extremely unphotogenic (hence the pictures of them uncooked) was well worth it - slightly spicy and tangy, and oh so comforting on a cold, rainy night. And you know what? I'll be making a variation of these again and again, because they're awesome.
And because it's never a waste of time going back to something you love.
Variation on Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Enchiladas From "Great Food Fast"
3 large ripe tomatoes
1 onion (I'd recommend using scallions instead; much nicer flavour with this - you'd need about 5-6)
1 tbsp oil
2 cooked chicken breasts
1 cup canned black beans
1 cup canned or frozen corn
2 tbsp olive oil
zest and juice of 2 limes
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, core and seeds taken out, cut into 4 pieces
5-6 tortillas (I could only fit 5 in my roasting pan)
1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella and cheddar
1. Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees, depending on your oven. Cut the tomatoes in halves, cut the onion in half and slice into rings. Add both tomatoes and onions to roasting pan and drizzle with the oil. Roast till softened, about 20 minutes.
2. While the tomatoes are roasting, cook the chicken breasts over medium heat, if using raw - this should take about 20-25 minutes (alternately, you could use a rotisserie chicken to save time) Put the rinsed black beans and the corn and the rest of the onion, coarsely chopped, into a bowl. Once the chicken is cooked, cut it into smallish pieces and add to the bowl. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl or glass jar, combine the olive oil, lime juice and zest, chili powder, smoked paprika and cayenne. Shake/mix till well combined. Add this to the chicken-corn-bean filling and stir till everything is well coated.
4. Once the tomatoes are roasted, pull out your blender and dump the tomatoes and onions in, along with the jalapeno pepper and blend till well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste, if you like.
5. In large rectangular roasting pan or glass dish, pour half the tomato sauce over the bottom. Assemble the tortillas, one by one, putting in a medium amount of the chicken-corn-bean mixture and topping it with a bit of cheese. Place the rolled tortillas seam side down in the roasting pan on top of the tomato sauce. When you've finished rolling all the tortillas, pour the remainder of tomato sauce over them and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
6. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then eat!