Chili and Cheese Nachos Platter

After the marathon effort of my last Famous Chocolate Nutella Babka post, I thought I would do something simpler this time- hence my recipe for Chili and Cheese Nacho Platter. I was able to use some leftover chili con carne for this recipe, plus some other ingredients that I already had on hand. The only thing I had to buy was the tortilla chips!

This makes a great appetizer for guests that drop by or could even be turned into a main meal. My husband asked me to add a fried egg on top of his serving and he considered that to be his dinner!

The amount of ingredients you use for this recipe depends on the size of your serving dish, hence I have left some of the measurements ‘open.’ This dish requires layering the tortilla chips with the chili and cheese, then finishing off with the salsa, avocado, cilantro and sour cream on top. Feel free to add your other favorite ingredients to this dish as well.

Note: To cook and serve my Nachos dish, I used a Comal, a flat griddle used in Mexico to cook tortillas and prepare food.

Chili and Cheese Nacho Platter
Serves 4
Tortilla chips layered with chili and cheese and topped with salsa and other goodies!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
17 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 13-oz bag of tortilla chips
  2. 1 ½ - 2 cups chili
  3. 4 cups coarsely shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  4. Fresh salsa mixture (diced tomatoes, red onion, coriander, lime juice)
  5. Spring onion
  6. 1 avocado, sliced
  7. 1 fire-roasted red pepper, sliced
  8. Pickled sweet peppers (optional)
  9. Hot sauce and sour cream
  10. Chopped cilantro (coriander) for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Lightly oil a round baking sheet (I used a Comal). Spread ½ of the tortilla chips on the baking sheet, then top with ½ each of the chili and shredded cheese. Repeat the layering with the remaining tortilla chips, chili and cheese. Bake for several minutes until the cheese melts.
  2. Remove from oven and top with some of the fresh salsa, diced spring onion, pickled peppers and fire-roasted red pepper and sliced avocado. Sprinkle some hot sauce and chopped cilantro around the platter, and then place a dab of sour cream in the middle.
  3. To make a main meal of it, fry several eggs in a fry pan, then place on top of the Nacho Platter.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

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Esquites – Mexican street food at its best!

Esquites

I was recently introduced to Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad) by my daughter who was visiting from New York. One evening, she agreed to make a side dish for dinner, and while I was preparing the salmon for the main course, I couldn’t help but be wowed by the colorful corn salad she was preparing.

Esquites are kernals of corn slathered with mayonnaise, crumbled cheese, lemon juice, chili powder and cilantro – usually served in cups by Mexican street vendors. “Spicy, crunchy, creamy” are words that can be used to best describe this dish. It worked perfectly with my salmon, but would also be great as a side for a barbeque.

You can use either fresh or frozen corn for this dish, but I can tell you right up front that using fresh corn is the best. I like to char my corn a bit as I cook in on the stovetop, however you can just cook it normally.

For part of the year, I live very close to the Mexican border, in fact, so close that if I’m not careful heading south on the freeway, I might wind up crossing over into Tijuana! Due to my love of Mexican food, I recently took a tour of various Tijuana street food vendors- I tasted tacos stuffed with mariscos (sea food), tostadas topped with ceviche, tortas stuffed with cheese and finely sliced roast beef (and even ice cream served at a shop next to a Sam’s Club) but no Esquites! However, it doesn’t matter since I am now able to make my own!

Interviewing an owner of a Tijuana street food outlet: “What, no esquites for sale?”

 

 

 

 

 

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)
Serves 4
A spicy, crunch and creamy corn salad- from south of the border!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  2. 2 tbsp cooking oil
  3. 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  4. 1-2 garlic cloves, diced
  5. ½ cup scallion greens (green part of spring onions)
  6. Juice from 1 lime
  7. ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced
  8. ½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  9. 2 oz cotija cheese (or feta cheese)
  10. 2 tsp chili powder, to taste
  11. chili flakes, to taste
  12. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. If using fresh corn, remove the corn kernels from the cobs (using about 4 cobs). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the corn kernels and stir occasionally until the corn turns golden brown or slightly charred. Alternatively, prepare frozen corn according to directions on package.
  2. Transfer corn to a large bowl, add remaining ingredients and adjust seasoning according to taste. Garnish with a slice of lime and several pieces of whole cilantro (coriander). Serve warm or cold.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Cauliflower Gratin with Bacon and Shallots

 

I was recently walking in the California Anza Borrego Desert, when I came across a road that was named Frying Pan Road. I am not usually inspired by road signs but this one ignited a fire in me. What should I cook next, another mouth-watering dessert? No, it’s time to make a mouth-watering side dish like Cauliflower Gratin.

Frying Pan

Comfort food at its best! Tender morsels of cauliflower, draped in a cheesy, buttery sauce with a hint of bacon and shallots. Cauliflower Gratin is typically a French recipe made with gruyère cheese, but you could also use other cheeses, such as a mixture of Mozzarella, Provolone and Parmesan.

To make my dish more flavorful, I added shallots and diced bacon pieces. Some recipes call for using breadcrumbs, but other chefs like Jacques Pepin don’t use them in their Cauliflower Gratin recipes. Like Pepin, (dare I compare myself with him?) I’ve left out the breadcrumbs since I felt that the diced bacon pieces already give a bit of crunch to the dish.

 Before I give you my recipe for Cauliflower Gratin, I would like to tell you about the 15 Big-horned sheep that I saw grazing on a hillside overlooking one of the desert canyons. There is no grass for them to eat in the desert so I saw them knock over a barrel cactus with their horns and eat the insides of the cactus. Now that’s being adaptable – no frying pan required!

 

Cauliflower Gratin with Bacon and Shallots
Serves 5
Cauliflower flavoured with bacon and shallots and topped with a cheesy white sauce.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cauliflower head (approximately 1 lb or 500 g)
  2. 3 tbsp shallots, finely diced
  3. 2 slices of bacon, cooked and finely diced
  4. 4 tbsp butter
  5. 4 tbsp flour
  6. 1 ½ cups milk
  7. ¾ cups gruyère cheese (or mixture of other white cheeses, such as mozzarella, provolone, etc)
  8. Salt/pepper to taste
  9. ½ cup additional gruyere cheese for the topping
  10. Sprinkle of parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut the cauliflower into smaller florets, and steam them over a large pot of boiling water fitted with a steamer basket for 5-7 minutes until they are just tender. Place the cauliflower pieces in a shallow baking dish, with the ‘heads’ facing upwards.
  2. Soften the diced shallots in a little butter on the stovetop; microwave the bacon slices on high for several minutes until crisp (but not over-cooked), or alternatively fry the bacon on the stovetop. Dry the bacon pieces on a paper towel and then ‘blitz’ in a food processor for 30 seconds until the bacon is finely diced; set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, stir in the flour until it forms a thick paste. Over medium heat, gradually whisk in the milk until the mixture thickens. Add the ¾ cup gruyère cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the sauce on top of the cauliflower pieces, top with ½ cup of additional gruyère cheese and then sprinkle with a handful of parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese topping turns a golden brown.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Southwest Corn Pudding

 

Corn Pudding 2

On a recent trip to Borrego Springs in the California desert, I was inspired to try some rustic Southwestern cooking. ‘Southwest cuisine’ is a blend of Spanish, Mexican and Native American food and is popular in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Utah. It is similar to Mexican cuisine and is known for its use of spices, such as chile peppers.

Although this recipe is called ‘Corn Pudding’ it is not a sweet dish. Creamed corn is blended with cream, eggs, cheese and green chiles to form a firm pudding. This dish pairs beautifully with chilli con carne or any other spicy meat dish.

Some corn pudding recipes call for white flour, but I think that yellow cornmeal gives a richer texture. I’ve used one can of creamed corn for my recipe, but you can use a can of ordinary corn or fresh corn, if desired.

Corn Pudding (1 of 1) (1 of 1)

 

Here are some photos from my recent trip to Borrego Springs, located in the Anza Borrego desert in California. The brilliant sunrises and sunsets, the red mountains jutting up from the desert floor, the feeling of solitude within the vast expanse of the desert, all gave me inspiration to try conjuring up some new Southwest recipes.

 Borrego 1 (2)Borrego 2Borrego 4Borrego 5

 

Southwest Corn Pudding
Serves 6
A creamy corn pudding beautifully paired with chili or any spicy meat dish
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Ingredients
  1. ¾ cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. ½ tsp salt
  4. Pinch of ground black pepper
  5. 1 (15-ounce) can creamed corn or regular corn
  6. ½ cup chopped green onions (spring onions)
  7. ½ cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
  8. 1 roasted green or red chile, peeled, seeded and diced
  9. 1 cup cheddar cheese
  10. 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  11. ½ cup melted butter
  12. 1 cup heavy cream
  13. 2 eggs, beaten
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Lightly brush the inside of a Dutch oven or casserole dish with melted butter or vegetable oil.
  3. Combine the cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  4. In order to roast the green or red chile pepper, slice it in half and remove the seeds. Rub the skin with olive oil and bake in oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the skin blisters. Remove from oven and let cool; peel the skin off and dice into small pieces.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the corn, green onions, roasted red bell pepper, diced chile and cheeses. Stir in the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter, cream and eggs and mix well.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the Dutch oven or casserole dish, cover and bake for around 30 minutes. Remove the cover from the dish and let bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until the mixture firms and turns golden on top. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. You can use a can of ordinary corn instead of creamed corn, if desired.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

Maple- Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans

Yams 2 of 2) (1 of 1)

Looking for that perfect Sweet Potato side dish for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? Look no further – this recipe for Maple- Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans provides that perfect combination of starchy sweet potatoes,  cranberry tartness and maple flavored yumminess.

Sweet potatoes (or yams) were cultivated in Central America at least 5,000 year ago and are grown all over the world in tropical or temperate climates. One town in the USA has gone ‘absolutely bananas’ over sweet potatoes: for the past 65 years, the town of Opelousas, Louisiana has held a Yambilee Festival, combining music, rides and yam pie-baking contests and crowns a yam queen and king (last year’s Yam King was named ‘Willyam‘).

You can tell that Opelousas citizens take their sweet potatoes (AKA Yams) seriously, when they promise that “You’ll have a Yam-Good time” when you attend their annual festival. Why, even Popeye has given up his beloved spinach in favor of yams, as seen in this Yambilee poster:

Yambilee larger

The Method

Enough of yam jokes- let’s get back to this easy recipe. First, peel the yams and cook in boiling salted water for about 15 minutes until the outer flesh softens. Let cool and slice the yams cross-wise into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Arrange in a dish with the slices overlapping each other.

 Overlapping yams

Next, heat the maple syrup, butter and cranberries together until the cranberries soften. Pour the mixture over the yams and add the chopped pecans. Bake for about 10 minutes and there you have it!

 Yams (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

 (P.S. I’d love it if you would ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!)

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans
Serves 6
A perfect sweet potato side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas or anytime
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Ingredients
  1. 2 - 3 yellow sweet potatoes or yams
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 1 cup Maple Syrup
  4. 2 tablespoons real butter
  5. 1 cup fresh cranberries
  6. 2 tbsp. chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 350 F.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes, slice in half cross-wise and place in boiling salted water. Reduce heat and simmer until the outer flesh can be easily pierced by a fork (about 15 minutes). Remove from water and let cool.
  3. Slice the sweet potatoes cross-wise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange in overlapping slices in a casserole dish.
  4. Heat the maple syrup and butter on medium heat until the butter melts. Add the fresh cranberries and heat until the cranberries 'pop' and become soft (about 5 - 6 minutes).
  5. Pour the mixture over the sweet potato slices. Add the chopped pecans on top and bake uncovered for 10 minutes at 350 F. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. Be careful not to over-sweeten the sweet potatoes with the maple syrup mixture. Adjust the maple syrup mixture accordingly.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/