Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mexican Food Fail

February 12-13: Random meals

Things were going along so smoothly for this blog until I tried to cook my beloved Mexican food. I am now officially recording my first utterly failed meals. Sigh.

I can’t say it was all a failure. I salvaged the first item I tried, which was a simply guacamole. I never made it before but found a simple recipe with a little kick in my Flavors of Mexico cookbook that my mother bought for me years ago. I only altered it to remove the cilantro, which isn’t my favorite herb.

Basics: Mixed 3 chopped scallions, 2 chopped jalapenos, 2 garlic cloves, and 2 avocados in a bowl, mashing it all with a pestle. Added ½ teaspoon of salt and juice of ½ lime, mixed, poured juice of another ½ lime over the top. Chopped cherry tomatoes to garnish.

This was amazingly delicious. I loved the jalapenos for that spicy touch, and the entire dish was easier to prepare than anticipated. It was a perfect snack that was enough to last through the weekend.

Here’s where it gets ugly.

For my Saturday evening dinner, I was hoping to replicate my much-adored cheese enchiladas that I order everywhere I go. I searched the internet for an enchilada sauce that sounded like something I would order, and I finally found several recipes that I liked, so I meshed them a bit and made my own sauce. Huge mistake.

I’ll say that I knew I was making more sauce than needed for 2 enchiladas but I hoped it would be good and I could save it to make more in the future. L. O. L.

Basics: Heated ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a skillet, stirred in 2 tablespoons of flour and ¼ cup of chili powder. Added 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, 1 ½ cups water, and pinch of cumin. Simmered for 5 minutes. Put thin layer in small baking dish, added rolled soft tortillas filled with grated cheddar cheese, and covered with more sauce. Baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

The sauce was okay but tasted nothing like I hoped. If I attempt again, I would add more tomato sauce, less chili powder, and something else unbeknownst to me at this moment. The enchiladas themselves were dry and flavorless, and there was little about the sauce to help matters. I do not recommend using this mish-mosh recipe.

For my Saturday dinner, I hoped to redeem myself by making a spinach and mushroom quesadilla. I believe I made it more difficult than it needed to be, and I botched it completely.

Basics: Cooked package of frozen chopped spinach per package directions, dried with towel. Put portion of spinach with handful of chopped mushrooms in pan heated with butter, cooked several minutes. Sprinkled grated cheese on half of soft tortilla, cooked on baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees for 3 minutes to melt the cheese. Placed spinach and mushroom mixture on tortilla, folded in half, put in pan of heated vegetable oil. Cooked 3 minutes on each side.

It was dry and burned on one side. The tortilla was hard, and the spinach tasted like frozen spinach. The cheese was melted to the point of being crunchy. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I believe the tortilla did not need any oven time, fresh spinach would have tasted better. I also think I should have used butter in the pan with the tortilla in the end instead of vegetable oil. Do not use my basics to cook any type of quesadilla.

This was certainly a disappointing weekend of cooking, but not every attempt will be successful; I knew that when I started this blog. One of the lessons I learned was that I should not be winging it with recipes at this early stage of my cooking process. I also learned that I will not be able to cook every type of food; while Italian food makes sense to me, Mexican food does not. For now, I will be frequenting my take-out joints for my Mexican food needs and concentrating on other kitchen endeavors.

P.S. - I’m hungry. I've eaten all of the guacamole.


  1. Jen - lol! Around here, the guacamole rarely lasts 5 minutes after being made. Cooking is so frustrating! My mother-in-law, like my mom, can just look in the fridge, look in the pantry, and viola, 30 minutes later (sans recipe) there's something on the table that is de-lish (then again, in our family "blonie cups" and the neck of the chicken are delicacies)! I don't have that ability at all...I do, however, have a great talent for eating. Sigh...

    I applaud your efforts. Not sure what happened with the enchiladas, but the look of the sauce, at least, is the type I most love on enchiladas (especially cheese!) - that dark, smoky stuff, rather than what lots of places top them with. Sounds like it didn't quite turn out that way, but you go girl, Keep on keeping on, Chef Jen! =)

  2. Thanks for the support! I also have a great talent for eating... :)

    I suppose the enchilada sauce would've been okay if the enchiladas themselves weren't so dry and bland. Will keep searching the internet for ideas. I'm not giving up, just returning to my beloved Italian and French foods for awhile!