This time of year we sweep the patio, bring out a few more tables, make sure the outdoor lights work, drag a few more umbrellas out of the shed, polish up the bar and hope it doesn’t rain. I think Spring is finally here. With all the warm weather we’ve been having, who can tell? We have lost a few plants during this weird weather, and Dr. A is playing catch-up with them trying to replace.
The last big party we had was the 65th Anniversary. I must admit it becomes harder and harder to cook for a crowd as we age, but the good intentions remain and since we still like good food, I make smaller amounts. I refuse to see a good recipe and not try to cook it.
Mexican food is always top of my party list for a crowd. It’s easy, you can make it early and put it in the freezer, most people like it, and after all, it’s California! Trays of enchiladas, a big pot of beans, rice, and a really big salad are all you need. Sometimes I will do a tray or two of baked chilis relleno as well. Normally, I fry the chilis, but for a crowd you can coat them with bread crumbs and bake them. A pitcher of Margaritas or Sangria and a tub of ice with cold beer and soft drinks for the kids make it a party. Dr. Advice loves my carrot cake so there is dessert, and it too can be put into the freezer to wait for the big occasion. This cake has chopped macadamia nuts, coconut and pineapple in it and trust me, it will knock your socks off. I made three large cakes for our 65th anniversary when there were 65 people.
I am a great fan of freezers, and there are very few things you can’t store in the freezer—one friend of mine always answered her husband’s query of “What’s for dinner?” by saying “Whatever falls out of the freezer.”
A big thank you to chef Josef Centeno and his great-grandmother Ama for whom he named his restaurant, Bar Ama, in Los Angeles.
Don’t wrinkle your noses and decide you would hate the mashed peas in this recipe. Josef Centeno’s great-grandmother knew what she was talking about. I made it and gave it a gold star.
CHICKEN AND PEA ENCHILADAS
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, roasted and shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken)
Heat 2 Tbs. oil in saute pan over medium heat. Saute 1 large carrot, diced small
1/4 med. onion diced small, and 1 med. potato peeled and finely diced, till fork tender. Stir in 2 minced garlic and cook abut 2 min. Turn off heat and stir in 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro, juice from 1 lime and salt to taste. Set aside. In a small pot of boiling water, blanch 1 1/2 cups frozen peas 2-3 min. Transfer immediately to colander and run cold water over to stop cooking. drain well and pat dry. Using a potato masher or fork, lightly crush peas. Stir in 20 chopped mint leaves, shredded chicken and 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco. Salt and pepper to taste.
Gently warm 1/4 cup oil and dip a corn tortilla and cook until puffy. Repeat with 8-10 tortillas.
Assemble enchiladas: Spoon 1-2 Tbs. chicken-pea filling down center of each tortilla. Roll tortillas up around filling to form tight cigars, then transfer enchiladas to a serving platter and top with sauteed carrots, onions and potatoes. Top with garnish of chopped cilantro and 1/2 small red onion finely diced, and more queso fresco. Serve with sour cream on side.
You can make however many you need of this recipe. I found that this amount served 8-10.