Our April run to the border began last week for Semana Santa here in Mexico. Semana Santa is Holy Week in Mexico & people often take the entire week off for the holiday. In Northern Mexico much of that week is spent heading North of the Border to South Padre Island or seeking out relatives in Texas. Driving to Nuevo Laredo we kept uploading the government website for the bridge "wait times" hoping we were ahead of the rush of cars & buses seeking entry at one of several bridges. Smooth sailing at the bridges on the Mexican side looks much like the proverbial lemming rush with thousands of people crushing into too few lanes. Once across we drove several hours through familiar South Texas landmarks to our final destination of South Padre Island. The weather was blustery, the sun intermittent; however the relaxation & family time was premium. For our family the sounds of ocean waves crashing on the sand makes the cares of the world seem far away. For several blessed days we watched nothing more than the setting sun & drifting sands. (Oh there was a large rattlesnake on the sand as well...we gave him a wide berth!)
While in Port Aransas we hit Port A Seafood Company several times for incredible fish & oysters but ate so quickly no photos or recipes are forthcoming (better planning next trip)...So food wise I'll post a couple of Lenten favorites which make the cut even post Easter. Tortillas in Mexico are thought to date as far back as 10,000 B.C. According to a Mayan legend they were created by a peasant to feed a hungry king. Whatever the origin, no one can argue the importance of the Tortilla in Mexico or Mexican cuisine. While living in Mexico I have found that almost everyone who has kitchen help or has lived in Mexico very long has a favorite version of Chiliquiles either Rojo or Verde. I am particularly fond of the version favored by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. She enjoyed serving company Chiliquiles Verde. Frida loved to entertain & was fond of traditional Mexican dishes of which several are recorded in the book "Frida's Fiestas~Recipes & Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo". The other recipe I have included is a different twist on Pie Azteca which I first blogged in the traditional format in November 2008. I changed it up a bit deleting a few of the vegetables & staying with only chicken, mushrooms & white corn. These type dishes are frequently served with beans & salad of some type. The last of the Padre sand is being swept out of the car, I'm still hearing seabirds in my head but it's a comforting feeling to know my lifetime obsession of the Texas Gulf Coast keeps me anchored back home~
Chilaquiles in Green Sauce
24 medium Corn Tortillas, cut into triangles
1/2 cups. of Mexican Crema (Sour Cream can be substituted but needs to be thinned out with milk.)
1/2 lb. shredded Oaxaca Cheese
30 tomatillos, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
5 Serrano Chiles
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. Corn Oil
Fry tortilla triangles in hot oil until golden & drain on brown paper.Cover the bottom of an ovenproof casserole (8 X 13) with a small amount of sauce & cream after spraying the pan with cooking spray. Top with 1/2 of the remaining sauce, 1/2 of the remaining cream & half of the cheese. repeat this process ending with cheese. Bake @ 375* for about 20 minutes or till the sauce is hot & cheese is golden & bubbling. *To make the sauce, puree all the ingredients except the oil with salt to taste. Saute the puree in the 2 Tbsp. Corn Oil until the flavors blend & the sauce has thickened.
Pie Azteca con Pollo
18 Flour Tortillas, cut into triangles
1 cup Roasted Chicken Breast, diced
1 small can of fire roasted Green Chiles, (Roasted Poblanos can be used instead)
3 cups Sour Cream or Low Fat Sour Cream
2 Large Eggs, beaten
pinch of ground Cumin
12 oz. Manchego, Oaxaca Cheese or Monterrey Jack grated
1/4 onion, diced
8 oz. Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen or fresh white corn, thawed
1 clove garlic, diced
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 bunch of Green Onion tops, diced
salt, pepper to taste
Lightly bake tortillas @ 350 for 15 min. spread evenly on a cookie sheet, sprayed with vegetable spray.
Prepare the sauce by sauteing the onion, garlic, mushrooms & corn for 8-10 minutes, seasoning with salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Mix in sour cream & 1 beaten egg with pinch of cumin & green onion tops.
In an oven proof, greased 9 x 13 casserole: layer 1/2 of the tortillas, 1/2 of the chicken & green chilis, 1/2 sour cream mixture, top with 1/2 cheese. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Bake in 350* oven for 30 minutes or till bubbling at the edge & slight golden color to the edges. Remove from heat, cool for 10 minutes, cut into squares & serve.