Friday, August 12, 2011

TBIR: Mexico

This little Texan city of Corpus Christi, where I find myself biding Navy-mandated time for another year, has one, and only one, style of cuisine that it does right, and that's Mexican. If you want good food, don't bother with a restaurant. Instead, go to one of the hundreds of taco stands. Why am I telling you all this? Only to make clear where I'm coming from. I've grown quite fond of the cheese enchiladas at my favorite taco stand--Nano's Taco Run. They are now the gold standard by which I judge all enchiladas. They're understated and not heavily sauced (though the homemade hot sauce they give in teeny cups is smokey, complex, and amazing), allowing the corny goodness of the homemade tortillas and the actual flavor of the cheese to stand out.

I don't know why I expected the Cheese Enchiladas (pg 21) in The Best International Recipe to follow in that vein. I guess because they claim to be the best, and the best, to me, equals Nano's Taco Run. To be totally honest, these tasted almost exactly like the Lean Cuisine enchilada dinner, only lots spicier. As far as frozen dinners go, the LC enchiladas are pretty good. Would I ever call them the best enchiladas out there? Absolutely not.
"Give me a three day bellyache." Yeah, that's right. I'm quoting the musical Oklahoma. What of it?
The sauce was too spicy for me, and there's way too much of it. My biggest problem, though, is with how stale and heavy this whole thing tasted. There's a bit of fresh cilantro mixed in with the cheese, but not enough to add any fresh flavor.
 The one benefit of this recipe is that it introduced me to queso fresco, which I'd never knowingly had before. It reminds me of a tastier version of that cheese I made for the Indian dish. It would be great in a salad. Yum. I'm glad I know about it now. 

Conclusion: Just okay. I'm not impressed, but it wasn't bad. Maybe before I moved here, when I didn't know better and thought that enchiladas had to be drowned in sauce and cheese, I would have liked these more.

On a side note, inspired by Rose over at One Expat's Life, I've decided to backtrack and complete the recipes previously covered by French Fridays With Dorie before I joined up. Since the point of the group is to cook every recipe in Around My French Table, it makes sense to tick off all the boxes. It shouldn't be too bad. There are only 16 recipes that I haven't already done on my own, and a lot of them appear to be desserts, soups, and side dishes, so they shouldn't interfere too much with my regularly scheduled programming.

In that light, I made Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts (pg 18) for a treat for myself, since Matt went out with friends for a guy's night. These are spiced with sugar, cinnamon, salt, and chili powder. They're good, but they're not as good as David Lebovitz's mix, which is posted on his website here. I single-handedly ate three batches of Lebovitz's mix last winter. With Dorie's recipe, I was able to stop eating after a few nuts. On second thought, maybe I should stick to Dorie's in the future.
Conclusion: Liked it, though it's not as crave-able as Lebovitz's.


  1. Any one who quotes from 'Oklahoma' is, in my humble opinion - FABULOUS!
    ... off now, to check Lebovitz's nuts.... oh - wait a minute... that didn't sound right...

  2. Ooh, I like the sweet and spicy cocktail nuts. When I made them, I went a bit overboard on the spice variations. Yours look tasty. Sorry the Mexican dish didn't work out so well.

  3. You should always be leery of recipes called 'the best' anything! Now, those yummy nuts might be 'best worthy :)...

  4. I agree, and suppose I should have been leery of the entire book, then. Woops.

  5. Well really, considering where you live there is no need for you to attempt Mexican food at home. And you should know that I am insanely jealous of that because the very little ''mexican'' food which is to be found over here is nothing short of terrible. Even finding the ingredients to make it at home is a challenge. Ok, I'm done ranting now.