I have a confession to make. I’ve had a lot of time on my hands since our move, a lot of time to spend puttering around in the kitchen, working on photos and putting together meals. I haven’t been working, you see. And by the time I start my new job next Monday, I will have had an entire month off from working, more time off than I have had since I was a teenager.
It drove me crazy, at first, the time off, the vast stretch of hours ahead of me in any given day in which I could choose to do anything or nothing. I took advantage, sure, taking the time to set up our kitchen, going out to explore our new city, hanging out with friends, but no job means no paycheck, and as you can imagine, that has been a bit limiting.
Though I had questioned the wisdom of moving so much food from our Brooklyn freezer and pantry to our new home in Providence, I’m glad I did, as it has made it far easier to prepare interesting and tasty meals without having to shell out a ton of money for fresh ingredients. I’ve also been able to really stretch the things we have bought fresh, using them in two or three different dishes.
These enchiladas were built almost entirely on pantry staples, leftovers, and odds and ends. Diced potatoes, sautéed until golden with lots of red onion, provided the base of the filling, and reconstituted dried mushrooms added an earthy, meaty bite. The sauce was a smoky combination of grape tomatoes, garlic and more onion, roasted until meltingly soft, then pureed in a blender with the last roasted red pepper lingering in a jar in the fridge, ground chipotle and ground cumin.
The tortillas, left over from a couple of earlier meals, had gotten a little stale, but a quick fry in olive oil and a dip in the enchilada sauce softened them up nicely. I crumbled the rest of a chunk of Narragansett Creamery Queso Blanco over the top of the stuffed enchiladas and baked them until the cheese was soft and burnished. They got a squirt of fresh lime juice at the end, as well as a drizzle of thinned crème fraiche, some chopped radish and fresh cilantro.
And then there were the beans – oh, those beans. Rancho Gordo, of course. Vaquero beans, simmered gently with onion and garlic and bay leaf and oregano until soft, seasoned toward the end with salt and cumin, and then mashed and fried with a little fat until super-creamy. I could marry those beans.
Speaking of marriage, as I’ve mentioned before I usually leave the stunt cooking to my husband, but unlike me Mike has been working very hard since we arrived here and hasn’t had much time for it. I think I’ll take advantage of the time I have left before going back to work to have some labor-intensive fun in the kitchen. Time to put all our fabulous counter space to use, right?