foodie thoughts, and chilaquiles

Last year I did the dark days challenge for the first time, and it was a good boost for me. I was in winter 2 of more serious food preservation, and it pushed me into better habits of using up that food, and seeking additional ingredients more diligently from local sources.  This year, I'm a little less enthused. Not that I'm cooking less locally, it's just that homegrown and/or local food has crept into most of our meals, and it doesn't feel like much of a stretch to cook this way. 

I realized over the last few weeks that I'm at somewhat of a stasis.  Which is really okay with me.  We're still expanding the garden, building a hoop this spring, growing more food, so it's not like we're slacking off.  I'm super pleased with finding a great source of flour this year too.  It's just that I'm pretty content with the quality of food we are producing and purchasing here.  Most of it's local or regional and/or organic, some of it's not.  And I'm having more fun taking a look at the pantry, getting an idea, and creating something tasty for dinner. 

Case in point:  chilaquiles

I stewed a chicken the other day, and have stock left to use up this week.  We were thinking something soup-y, and maybe to work on our stash of corn we had frozen from last summer.  I started leaning towards a tortilla or black bean soup, when I was browsing Flatbreads & Flavors, a pretty awesome bread book which includes recipes for accompanying dishes as well.  Opposite of the tortilla soup page was chilaquiles.  Even better.  We hit the neighborhood Mexican grocery for some corn tortillas and dried chiles, and what the heck, an avocado too.  The rest was on hand and mostly local or homegrown.  I didn't use my precious stash of homegrown black beans, because a) new recipe risk, and b) sometimes a can of beans is just convenient. 

 Chilaquiles, adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors

6 or so dried chiles, I used a combo of pasillas and guajillo, stems and seeds removed
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
9 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
1-2 cups frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed slightly under running water
1 medium or 2 small onions, chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
16 ounce jar crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried oregano
1 can (~ 2 cups) black beans

shredded cheese, avocado, and yogurt for garnish

Bring the stock to a boil, and add chiles, let simmer gently for a half hour or so, then puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender.  In the meantime, fry up the tortillas in a skillet with a 1/4 cup of oil, in batches as needed.  They should be puffed and golden but not necessarily crispy.  (You could probably get away with just toasting these if you prefer).  After the tortillas were done, I also caramelized the corn in the pan, then set it aside.  Next the garlic and onions go in (add a little more oil if you need it at this point), and once browned add the blended chiles, tomatoes, and oregano.  Let this simmer for 10 minutes.  Finally, add the beans and corn, bring back to a simmer, and add the tortillas for a final 5 minutes or so.  Serve topped with cheese, avocados, and yogurt.

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  1. Very appetizing! Those sun-baked flavors are so appealing at this time of year.

    It's so true, what you say about local sourcing becoming second nature over time--and such a good thing that it does. It isn't less wonderful, just less remarkable.

    What's your local flour source? Here in MN we're lucky to have Whole Grain Milling products available at all the co-ops.


  2. Thanks! I liked your post on "not too local" about similar things. Sometimes mid-winter you have to indulge a little, and oftentimes, most of the ingredients turn out to be nearby anyway!

    As for flour, we have an area business (Cress Springs Bakery) that grinds their own from organic wheat sourced as close as they can get it. It's great stuff, very reasonable, and they'll even deliver on their bakery route. It's awesome!

  3. I've heard a lot about Cress Spring. Inspiring. I hope to get down to the Madison market this summer to check them out--them and the rest of that amazing scene. That's wonderful that you're getting your flour that close to the source.


  4. I visited their bakery years ago, BIG Alan Scott oven, and the mill is impressive too.

    Definitely let me know if you're in the area :)

  5. Yum, I love Mexican/Southwester regional flavors. Odd in Maine, but it keeps me going through a long winter.

    I am growing a LOT more peppers and chiles next summer.

  6. Nothing weird about northerners liking Southern food :) We eat Mexican *almost* as religiously as pizza here, ha! And it's so flexible for using up produce or leftovers.

    We grow more peppers (and eggplant) every year, and we always need more. I haven't had much luck with the larger types for drying, but I suppose I could remake this with poblanos and jalapenos, those I have a ton of! Frozen at least.


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