There are some days in the Corporate world that make you wonder if it might just be easier to hang up your high waisted skirts and put away your pumps, give up bathing, and pick a street corner in the city and write a funny sign and live off people’s change from Starbucks. Yesterday was one of those days. The majority of the day was spent comparing columns in a seemingly endless spreadsheet, which, I would eventually be told at 4:00pm, would have to be redone as the numbers were incorrect. To add to this, my precious lunch hour was consumed with a 2 hour meeting. Lunch was provided, but even my giant salad was not enough to shake the sourpuss out of my system. But as I gazed back and forth from my Excel spreadsheets to the clock, my mind wandered to the magical land of Mexican food. It’s safe to say that the promise of k1tchen b1tches’ maiden voyage was enough to get me through the day.
Now, living in the city and relying only on public transportation and my own two feet (unless drinking is involved and then cabs come into play), grocery shopping is often a hit or miss expedition. Not being as flexible or innovative as Kimberly, this did cause a bit of concern for me. (You’ll soon find that although I thoroughly enjoy it, cooking often comes hand in hand with stress in the kitchen of Kelsey). My only shopping option was the Real Foods store on Polk St. This is a small and painfully hipster market with extremely overpriced organic food and complete with beards, dreadlocks, Toms, and yuppie Marina couples to whom eating organic is as important as buying a second Longchamp bag. That being said, I was surprisingly able to find almost everything on the list there! There was a bit of a panicked moment when I couldn’t find canned tomatillos, but after several laps around the store, there they were between the Amy’s Organic Black Bean Soup and the Kimchee.
Considering it’s limited selections, Real Foods had a variety of greens to choose from. Now, saying the decision-making is not my strong suit would be the understatement of the century, so needless to say it was not easy to choose between the 2 types of kale. One was, for lack of a better word, fluffier than the other, and the one was darker, thicker, and appeared to be tougher. So after putting one in my bag, changing my mind, taking it out, and putting the other one in, I decided on the greener, leafier one. To spare you the anticipation of waiting until later in this post to find out if I made the right kale decision, I’ll tell you right now that it was a good choice.
Much to my dismay, Real Foods really shit the bed in the pepper department. Being one of the members of the Spicy Food Training Program of 2005 – 2009 (thanks for leaving me out of that one in your post, Justine), I was really looking forward to getting bitch slapped by the daunting Habanero pepper. Unfortunately, I conceded and bought an extra jalapeno. After reading Sam’s and Justine’s posts, however, this may have been a blessing in disguise.
I picked up the rest of my ingredients without any trouble and made one last stop at the liquor store because who can eat Mexican food without Mexican beer? So I made my way home with all of my organic goodies and a 6 pack of Corona light.
The metaphorical thorn in my side of this whole ordeal was the fact that my stove has been acting up and needs to be manually lit every time I want to use a burner. So after verbally berating it several times, I decided to light all 4 burners and keep them on in case they were needed. I put the onion and the pepper in the oven right away, and then got started on the rice. It was relatively easy to make, which was both a blessing and a curse because it was done ahead of time and sat and got cold. Nothing a little nuke in the micro couldn’t fix, though.
On one of the other “eternal flame” burners, I got started on the filling. It’s always fascinating to me how a giant, overflowing pan full of greens cooks down to a measly, wilted mess in the bottom of a pan. Plus, I forgot to do a rough chop on my Kale after removing the thick stem, so my filling resembled the gillyweed that Harry Potter eats during the Triwizard Tournament in order to breathe underwater, thus saving Ron (and, heroically, Fleur Delacour’s sister) from the depths of the Great Lake. But I digress. I’m a firm believer that sauteed mushrooms will make any dish taste great, and so I wasn’t worried in the slightest about my gillyweed concoction.
The completion of the filling coincided almost perfectly with the timer ringing for the roasted onion/pepper (I only had crushed garlic so I put that in the saute pan for the filling instead). I instructed my trusty sous chef Chelsie to de-seed the pepper and combine the sauce ingredients in a blender. Of course, Lactaid milk took the place of heavy cream, and we gave an extra dose of Ta Kill Ya for good measure. An interesting side note for our readers – said tequila is leftover from New Year’s 2011, despite my best efforts to drink it whenever the occasion calls for it and to pass it off to others. In my house, it is lovingly referred to as The Never Ending Tequila.
When the sauce was done, I bathed all of my organic corn tortillas in olive oil until they reached a bubbly brown perfection, arranged them in my pan, filled them with generous portions of the filling, and smothered them in sauce. For Chelsie’s finicky boyfriend Alex, I also included one enchilada with only shredded chicken. The finishing touch was the cheese (I went with Monterey Jack) which my loyal sous chef painstakingly cut by hand, as I could not locate a shredder.
We cracked our Coronas, heated up the rice, and scooped the beautiful and bubbly sleeping enchilada babies from their warm cheesy nest and onto our plates. My review is as follows:
Sauce: I too sampled the tomatillo before it was mixed with the rest of the sauce and cooked, so I was a bit skeptical. However, mixed with the milk, onion, garlic, and tequila and then in combination with the enchilada, the tomatillas transformed into a perfectly tart and fresh accessory for the salty, hearty filling. Next time, I’d like to make it a bit spicier, but I think that playing it safe on the heat level was preferable to my guests.
Enchilada: I would eat dog shit if it was wrapped in a corn tortilla (especially one drenched in oil), so filling them with the Kale/Spinach/Mushroom mixture brought them to a whole new level. I’m also a huge fan of vegetarian-izing foods that traditionally have meat, so I was overall a fan. My only complaint was that the mass quantities of cheese and oil seemed to negate the extreme health benefits of the kale and spinach.
Rice: I must agree that the rice was a bit anticlimactic, but I think it worked as an accompaniment to the flavorful enchiladas. Like Kim, I agree that cilantro is the world’s best herb, and it really got its chance to shine when it was coupled with the bland white rice. With a little extra salt and some of the sauce that wandered astray on my plate, I thoroughly enjoyed the rice dish. Next time, though, bring on the habanero. Watch and learn, pussies.
Overall, I think the dish as a whole measured up to the excitement that I know we all felt to make it. Personally, I’ve gotten more satisfaction, entertainment, and happiness even after Round 1 that only in my wildest dreams can I imagine what’s in store for K1tchenB1tches in the future. I’d like to commend everyone’s dedication, innovation, and participation (Callie and Jenna, as I’ve already told you, my heart grew at least 3 sizes on account of how proud you’ve made me.) This venture was such a success that I’m going to humbly recommend that we make this a more than once a month project.
Yours in service,
PS: I lost my camera to drinking, so bear with me while my pictures are scarce and of low quality. If for no other reason, this blog will motivate me to save up for a new one.