Get on a Roll with Enchiladas!

nina | July 7th, 2011 - 9:00 am

Encliladas started out as a street food, a portable snack that brought together two standard staples of Mexican cuisine – the corn tortilla and chile sauce.  This is the enchilada in its purest form – translation:  “in chile.”

The enchilada as most people know it today is many things.  Thanks to cooks in Mexico and the United States, the enchilada has grown into a meal that looks mighty appealing in these times.  It’s economical (usually leftovers), it’s hearty (everyone likes a bubbly cheese meal that’s packing a little heat) and it easily lends itself to innovation.

Some think you can add whatever you want to an enchilada and top with the sauce.  That’s the theory anyway, although many traditionalists have their opinions about the sauce and more.

A traditional enchilada sauce is a red mole with chiles.  And a “just cheese” enchilada is considered traditional by most.  But most enjoy theirs with chicken, beef, steak, or seafood.

Recipe for Chicken Enchiladas
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Directions:
Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.

Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Source:  FoodNetwork.com; courtesy Tyler Florence; JSonline; 2009

The Perfect, Just Right, Small Bites!

nina | July 6th, 2011 - 9:00 am

When it comes to food, it’s now hip to be small. From mini-ice creams to cake pops, restaurants are rolling out bite-sized offerings in hopes of reaching the taste buds of fickle diners who increasingly are watching their waistlines and wallets.  The trend isn’t limited to desserts. In 2010, one of the the hottest new industry trend was mini-sizing. Creative chefs are shrinking everything from pizzas and hot dogs to lasagnas and burritos.  Small is big at the grocery store, too. Food manufacturers have jumped on the trend by introducing a variety of miniaturized product versions such as the 100 calorie packs of cookies and even-less-than-pint-sized, 3.6-ounce ice cream cartons.  And in the bread section, the bagel has been cut down to size along with the mini bagels. 

The advantages of going mini are multiple. Small sizes help diners manage their budgets, caloric intake and tastebuds.  Diners get to sample. They get to try a lot of different things, so they don’t get bored.

Like most trends, mini sizing isn’t entirely new. Tapas, or small plates, have been in Spanish cuisine for centuries. And mini sizing has long been popular in the catering business, where it’s important that food be easy to hold and

easy to eat. With the popularity of sliders and tapas bars, American restaurants and chefs are seizing the opportunity to take mini mainstream.  Now, we’re finding mini is something people like in regular meals, too, because they are counting calories.  People used to think the more volume you had, the more value, but people are getting tired of oversized everything — desserts, cookies, cream puffs as big as your head. You can’t finish it, and you feel wasteful throwing it away.

Many industry experts said the mini-sizing trend is being driven, in part, by backlash against years of restaurant “supersizing.”   That backlash combined with the economic downturn of recent years and diners’ increased concern about their waistlines made the market ripe for mini-sizing. 

Marketing is responding to the negative side of super-sized portions leading to increasing incidence of overweight individuals. Smaller sizes mean the consumer may not have to forgo the item. They can choose to keep it, just as long as the portion is within what they perceive as reasonable.  The visual appeal of mini-sized food also is an important aspect of its increasing popularity. Many chefs agree . . . in the eyes of consumers, tiny equals adorable.  It’s kind of like loving babies and puppies. Everything is cuter when it’s smaller.  Given the popularity of mini-foods, it’s no surprise that beverages are going mini, too.  Miniature and half bottles of wine also are a popular option because they give budget-conscious diners more flexibility.  

Restaurant owners and caterers are finding the mini-sizing trend has advantages for their bottom line. While mini-sized food can be more labor-intensive to prepare, many said the extra effort is worth it because smaller sizes entice diners to try items they otherwise might not.  The size of one’s wallet and the size of one’s hunger really varies. It’s a treat not to be forced into one size. You don’t necessarily think of burritos for catering a business meeting. But the mini size makes them more approachable.  Mini-sizing is catching on for at-home entertaining as well. 

Kitchen and home stores have responded with lines of lilliputian-sized dishes and glassware specifically designed for mini-sized food. For example, mini casserole dishes, spoons and martini glasses.   More than just cute, mini sends a positive message, and if you make food well, a small bite can be very pleasing.

Pasta Price May Jump as North Dakota Floods Continue

nina | July 5th, 2011 - 9:00 am

Pasta Price May Jump as North Dakota Durum Floods Boost Campbell’s Costs

Unrelenting rainfall may have slashed U.S. planting of durum wheat to the lowest level in more than 50 years, fueling a surge in the price of pasta and noodles as mills scramble for supply of the grain.

Farmers who normally are finished planting by now had completed just 44 percent as of June 19 in North Dakota, which produces more than two-thirds of U.S. durum, government data show. It’s too late to sow more without delaying the harvest to the winter-frost period, said Frayne Olson, an agricultural economist at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

Planting may drop 47 percent this year to 1.365 million acres, the lowest since 1959, Olson said. In the past month, parts of North Dakota and Montana, the second-biggest grower, had triple the normal rainfall, National Weather Service data show. North Dakota durum prices are up 52 percent in the past month, and U.S. pasta in May was the most expensive on record.

Basically, the selling has shut off in the U.S., because if you’re a holder of durum, there’s no point in selling it.  If you’re holding durum wheat, it’s like gold. So why would you sell it?

While durum accounted for less than 5 percent of total U.S. wheat output last year, it is the primary source of grain used in pastas. Varieties including soft, red and hard, red winter wheat are baked into pastries, cookies and bread.

The The U.S. Department of Agriculture will update its durum- acreage estimate on June 30. In March, the agency said farmers would plant 2.365 million acres this year.

Tighter Supplies
Durum in the U.S. is getting scarce, and the Canadian prices jumped 46 percent since late May, boosting costs for Philadelphia Macaroni’s mill in Minot, North Dakota.

Flooding on the Souris River broke a 130-year-old record today in Minot, according to the National Weather Service. About 12,000 people have evacuated the city. Philadelphia Macaroni’s plant is still running and is far enough away from the river to avoid damage.

Too much rain in Canada, the world’s largest durum exporter, also may erode North American supplies. At the same time, increasing demand and adverse weather — from floods in the U.S. Midwest to a drought in Europe — has tightened global crop inventories of corn, wheat and soybeans.

Fewer Acres
Statistics Canada said yesterday that durum planting may total 4.375 million acres this year, less than the 5.05 million projected in April. Seeding still is expected to be up from 3.15 million in 2010, when excessive rains also curbed output, the government agency said.

“Canada, they’re the ones that are going to have to make up the shortfall in the U.S.,” said Charles Soule, a market analyst with Country Hedging Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota. “No doubt, it’s going to be a tight situation.”

As of March 31, Canadian durum-wheat stockpiles totaled 2.871 million tons, or 40 percent less than a year earlier, according to Statistics Canada.

Grain elevators in North Dakota are paying farmers about $14.40 a bushel for durum on average, up from $9.50 a month ago, North Dakota State’s Olson said. The price may top the record of $23 reached in February 2008 if additional weather problems hurt crops this growing season, he said.

The price of durum is rising faster than wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade, which primarily track the soft-red winter variety grown in the Midwest. Wheat futures have climbed 38 percent in the past year to $6.61 a bushel.

Food-Price Inflation
“Higher durum prices are going to work their way through the system to higher pasta prices,” Olson said. “The cost of durum in the total cost of manufacturing pasta is fairly significant. There’s a limited amount the pasta manufacturer can do to absorb that cost differential. This will eventually have to be passed on to consumers.”

Pasta at U.S. supermarkets climbed to $1.231 a pound in May, the highest on records going back to 1980, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The USDA affirmed an estimate today that the cost of domestic cereal and bakery products will rise 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent this year, faster than overall food costs. Global food prices reached a record in February, and are up 37 percent in the past year, the United Nations says.

Campbell’s Soup Costs
B. Craig Owens, the chief financial officer of Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell, said during a conference call in May that the company would raise soup prices this month because of higher commodity costs.

“We are beginning to see higher rates of inflation, particularly in grain-based commodities, packaging and other ingredients,” Owens said.

Campbell spokesman John Faulkner declined to comment further on the price increases.

Louis Kuster, a fifth-generation farmer in Stanley, North Dakota, said he’s only planted about 15 percent of his usual 2,000 acres of durum, with fields only dry enough on three days this season. He’ll collect crop insurance on the remaining 85 percent of land left fallow because it’s too late to plant now.

“Everybody has pretty much put their planting equipment away,” said Kuster, who’s been farming all his life and has owned his own operation since 1972. “I’ve never seen it ever be as wet as this.”

Source:  Bloomberg, June 24, 2011

The Celebrity Delly

nina | July 1st, 2011 - 9:00 am

The Celebrity Delly 7263-A Arlington Blvd Falls Church, VA  22042 www.celebritydeliva.com 703.573.9002 Location:  Loehmann’s Plaza – Falls Church, VA Specialty:  Deli & Breakfast; The Celebrity Delly was founded by Chuck Rossler in 1975.  Chuck was and is a perfectionist and he never settled for second-best when it came to food quality, preparation, presentation & service.  He […]

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