Fellow TMC contributer Barrett gave me a cookbook by Deborah Madison for my birthday last year, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. As you will have gathered if you read any of my items here, I am an enthusiastic meat eater. I'm also an enthusiastic vegetable eater, although I do have a tendency to feel that a meal without meat is somehow only half a meal. The exception to this is the recipe for Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Corn and Mole Sauce from Deborah Madison's book. It's filling, really tasty and a wonderful mix of ingredients. Every time I make it (usually when I know a vegetarian is coming to dinner) it gets rave reviews from all, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. If you are more organized than I usually am, you can also make it up well in advance so that it makes the perfect dish when friends are coming to dinner.
The first time I made the recipe, I didn't know where to find the Mexican chocolate or anise seeds called for in the mole sauce recipe so I bought a mole preparation in the wonderful Mexican grocery store Mexi & Co. Luckily, our friend Jonathan, who was a diplomat in the Embassy of the UK to Mexico, was around that time and was able to translate the directions from the Spanish for me. This time, the elusive mole sauce hid in the back of the cabinet defying me to find it. I looked everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except where it sat coyly in the corner of the cabinet in a jar slightly taller than I remembered it being. I gave up on the anise seeds, bought some Chilean chocolate (nearly the right continent, right?) and followed the recipe as described in the book. It still turned out delicious, although I have to say (heresy!) that I preferred the store-bought mole mixture to the home-made variety. Jonathan tells me that in Mexico no one makes home made mole sauce unless they have a full day to devote to it, which means that effectively no one makes it home made. They buy a preparation or just go to their favourite restaurants. So that is a relief to the cook in me! I leave it to you whether to buy a sauce or try Madison's:
Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Corn and Red Mole
1/4 cup golden raisins (Sultanas, in Brit-speak)
1/4 cup pine nuts (the first time, I substituted almond slivers which worked well too)
2 Tbs corn or olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic (well, two large cloves in my case)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 1/2 cups grated Jack or Muenster cheese (I used Fromage des Pyrenées)
2 cups soft goat cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
12 corn tortillas
Red Chile Mole (recipe below or use a preparation)
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Cover the raisins with warm water and set aside. Brown the pine nuts in a medium dry skillet, then remove. Add the 2 Tbs oil to the same skillet and cook the onion with the garlic over medium heat to soften, about three minutes, then add teh corn and cook for one minute more. Drain the raisins and put in a bowl with the pine nuts, onion/corn mixture, 1 cup of the Jack cheese, the goat cheese and the cilantro. Mix everything well together and taste for salt and pepper.
Fry the tortillas briefly in olive oil, drain them and fill them with the above mixture. Roll them and place them seam side down in a baking dish. Make the mole. (To this point, you can make them well in advance and refrigerate, covered.) When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F (about 190 c). Pour mole sauce over the enchiladas, sprinkle with the rest of the Jack cheese and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve with the rème fraîche spooned over the top.
Red Chile Mole Sauce
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons each anise seeds, cumin and dried Mexican oregano (omitted the anise and used normal oregano)
2 /12 Tbs vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove, pressed)
1/3 cup ground mild red chile
1 oz Mexican chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tsp sherry vinegar
Toast the seeds and oregano in a dry skillet, then remove to a plate as soon as they smell fragrant. Grind in a mortar. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently for about for minutes, or until onion is brown on the edgets, then add garlic and ground spices and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat, let the pan cool for a minute, then stir the ground chile into the onions along with 1 1/2 cups water. REturn to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring slowly but constantly so that the chile doesn't burn. It will thicken as it cooks, so plan to add another 1/4 cup water to thin it out a little. (Mine didn't...) Add the chocolate and stiru until it's melted. Simmer for ten minutes, then stir in the vinegar to bring all the flavors together. Taste or salt.
So there you have it. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't that bad. Making the filling only takes about ten minutes and stuffing them not much more. One of the guests on the weekend was also present the first time I made the recipe (she's the vegetarian!) and agreed with me that the store-bought mole was actually slightly better. That also saves time! But either way, it really is a delicious dish. The Critic tried it for the second time and - despite the fact that it had all kinds of weird stuff like chocolate sauce and NO meat - decided he liked it a lot.
Barrett, you have the cookbook: try it!
One last note:
If you are here in Paris and looking for a good selection of Mexican specialities (and a few American goods too) I can recommend no better than Mexi & Co. I haven't tried any of their fresh prepared dishes because when I go there it's usually because I'm preparing for a Mexican feast of my own. However, I can attest that they must be using very good authentic base ingredients, as that is what they have in the shop. I'm not sure if they make the frozen tortillas themselves, but in any case they are not Old El Paso Industrial Disks, and very good quality!
Mexi & Co.
10 r Dante 75005 Paris
01 40 51 77 47