Friday, April 1, 2011

An Italian Take on Mexican Food (updated, with more pics)


...wherein I pay homage to my two favorite types of cuisine.

The above picture was taken waaaaay back (relatively speaking) in the 2008-2009 era of my life, back in the apartment north of Greenlake when I was living with Laurel. It's Mexican Lasagna! I used Pastor Ryan's recipe from the Pioneer Woman's website as the base concept, and changed it a little to suit my needs (mostly so that it would fit in my very-short-and-not-really-meant-for-huge-casseroles glass 9x13 pan).

I've made this dish a total of 3 times now, for various ravaging crowds, with great success and feedback. The first time, it was just me and my friend Dion. Despite the fact that the recipe was shrunken by about 1/3, and the fact that we each had at least 2 huge servings that night, there were still enough leftovers to last me a week's worth of meals.

100_1730 Danksauce.

The second time was for band practice at my friend Scot's house, which is full of stoney male musicians. I hazily (through the remember it taking a REALLY LONG TIME to prep all the ingredients. We snacked our way through a few bags of chips and a big bowl of pico de gallo during the 1-2 hrs between me arriving with my bags of groceries and the "lasagna" coming out of the oven.


And the last time I made it, I got all fancy (with the food, not with the picture-taking, clearly) and garnished it with sliced avocados and olives and cilantro. As you can see, I was smart about it that time and split it into two pans, which allowed for more mouths to be fed.

Lately, I've been inspired by the concept of taking the regional tastes (vegetables, seasonings, cheeses, bread products) of one geographic area and applying them to a regional dish/concept of a dish of a different geographical area. It's worked out pretty well so far.


For example: a week or two ago, we (mah luvuh and I) made geek nachos. We substituted pita chips for tortilla chips, feta & chevre for cheddar, and added diced red onion, diced fennel bulb, sundried & fresh tomatoes, and olives.


It ended up a little dry, and neither the feta nor the chevre (Bee-tee-dubs, I'm totally aware that chevre is French, not Greek. But if we want to get technical, cheddar is originally English, so clearly, we don't want to get technical because that would entail questioning one of the best combinations of cheese and crunchy corn products ever.)--


*exhale*, anyway, the chevre and feta didn't get all melty-stretchy like cheddar does (which I should have predicted), and the whole thing ended up kind of dry, and didn't really hold together at all. If I were to try it again, I'd use some mozz or some other kind of melty cheese in addition to the feta, and I might toss the chips in some olive oil before adding everything on top.

And then, last night...

(insert photo of delectable food here)

...I made Mexican pizza. The idea was born out of my desire to try out my recently-acquired pizza stone (which is actually just being lent to me by my parents) and my desire to use up some of the large amount of leftover enchilada sauce in the fridge.

Disclaimer: The gods of sangria and hunger kept me from remembering to take a picture of the pizza I made (and the amazing pre-packaged sliced chorizo I found at Trader Joe's), but it's definitely something I'm going to make (and probably rework a bit) in the future, so there will be a photo! Eventually!

Anywho, as you can probably imagine, I used the basic concept of pizza (thin-ish round of dough, topped with some kind of sauce, then cheese, then meat and veggies and maybe herbs), and just substituted the typical Italian or Americanized-Italian ingredients with Mexican/Spanish/Americanized-Mexican ones. For last night's rendition, that meant enchilada sauce as a base, then jalepeno-jack and mozz (for strechy-/melty-ness) cheeses, sliced chorizo and Spanish salami, sliced red onions, and then topped with fresh diced tomatoes and cilantro once it was out of the oven.

It was heavenly. Granted, the crust was a bit thicker than I would've liked, which led to me piling on copious amounts of everything to balance out the bread-to-topping ratio. Next time, I'll do a thinner crust and less toppings, so the flavors aren't vying for attention and overwhelming any unsuspecting mouths.

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