If you’ve been following this blog for any time at all, you’ll know that plain old boring stick-to-your-country’s-traditions cooking just isn’t our thing – mostly because choosing what to call “your country” isn’t always quite as easy as it seems. As I mentioned in this post, having multiple cultural backgrounds and dual nationalities is both an extraordinary gift and a bit of a pain in the backside, since being the eternal foreigner can be fairly taxing at times. All the time, really. You’ll find yourself thinking, please, someone, anyone, accept me into the fold of your people and, for once, stop looking dumbstruck when I am able to speak your language fluently. Please let me blend in, and be invisible, just this once.
I guess it is futile for people like me to wish for such a thing. We need to face the fact that we are ultimately too much of everything to ever truly be anything else. And I won’t lie to you: growing up, my life was hell because of it. But neither failure to understand what made me so different, nor loneliness, nor pretending to be what I was not, ever managed to change what I am. And it killed me inside, until one day I woke up and found that I didn’t want to change what I am. That I am blessed, after all. Because these people, those who smiled and turned away, these people taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, who your parents are, your ancestors, your language, your blood, your roots. That it does not matter who you are when you are born. All that ultimately matters is who you grow up to be.
A blessing in disguise, indeed. To be honest, I think it’s time for blessings that are not in disguise.
While we wait for that to happen, I dip my German lebkuchen in Irish black tea, while the smell of TexMex enchiladas made with virgin olive oil and Edam cheese wafts from the oven.
Adapted from the lovely Julie from Table for Two
Servings: 8 to 10 enchiladas
Prep time: about 1 hour
You will need:
- 1 pound, or 500 gr, ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 or 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 2 jalapeños, seeds removed and chopped, optional
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 1 cup monterey jack cheese, if you can find – otherwise subtitute with Edam cheese
- 8 to 10 corn tortillas
- olive oil
Preheat your oven to high and grease an oven-safe casserole dish.
We will begin with the enchilada sauce. Sauté the onion and jalapeños, if using any (it will make your enchiladas that much more hot – go for it if you like really spicy food!) until soft and translucent, then quickly stir in the garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and sugar, sauteing for another 30 seconds.
Add the tomato sauce and water, give it a good whisk and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until slightly thickened.
While the sauce is bubbling away, cook your ground beef in olive oil until no pink bits remain, then mix in about half the enchilada sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Microwave the tortillas for about 30 seconds, until they are nice and warm. Place them on a flat surface, one at a time.
Sprinkle some of both cheeses along the middle of the tortilla, top with the enchilada beef mixture and roll up tightly.
Place in the casserole dish with the seam facing down. Repeat these steps until all your tortillas are used up and the casserole dish is full.
Paint the top of the enchiladas with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the tops begin to brown nicely.
Pour the reserved enchilada sauce over the top, along with any leftover beef.
Top with the remaining grated cheeses, then cover the dish with aluminium foil and place back in the oven for another 20 minutes. If you want to brown your cheeses, remove foil once the 20 minutes are up, and place the dish back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
They don’t look pretty, but they sure are good.
Give it a few minutes to cool and settle.