Father’s Day Special: Chicken Enchiladas And Things I Learned From My Dad

Click on the YouTube link to learn to make enchiladas and see my dad make his video debut.

Father’s Day is coming up and I can say without a doubt, that I was blessed with the greatest dad.  His nature has always been such, that I could never make him mad.   Even when I tried I couldn’t take the smile off his face.  I didn’t even succeed in making him mad in my teenage years… sad maybe, but not mad.  I have sweet memories of our big dining room table in Mexico City.  It was made of green mosaic and had an ebony frame.  My father would sit me on that table when I was little.  He’d smile and joyfully sing among other songs,  “Oh Susanna oh don’t you cry for me…”.  He was always smiling, whistling, singing or humming to Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra, or the great Agustin Lara, and many more. He carried music within him the way he carried his newborn little girl…lovingly and tenderly.

Things My Dad Taught Me:

  •   To love, by the way he loves me.
  •   To be kind, by the way he is kind to all.
  •   To not take life so seriously, by his constant joy.
  •   To let things roll off my back, by his calm nature.
  •   To turn the other cheek, by teaching me that almost nothing is worth a fight.
  •   To try to get along and respect everyone, for that’s what he has always done.
  •   To love and appreciate music, it has been his life.
  •   To understand that everything in life is borrowed and impermanent.
  •   To  remember who I am if someone mischaracterizes me.
  •   To forgive and not hold a grudge, because both sides have a story.
  •   To maintain self-confidence and resilience when life is tough, it’s what he does.
  •   That getting old takes courage, he sets the example each day.

Importantly, in addition to being so loving, warm and wise, my dad loves to eat… I definitely inherited his love for food.  He was a New York born gringo, but living in Mexico City for fourteen years taught him that the world of food was so much bigger than steak and potatoes, or the chopped liver, herring, or matzoh ball soup from his hometown’s Delis.  He learned to love Mexican food, the spicier the better.   Still today, at the age of 94, he loves to accompany his lunch or dinner with a jalapeño pepper.  Among my dad’s favorite Mexican dishes are Chicken Enchiladas in Salsa Verde, So dad, this one’s for you:

Chicken Enchiladas in Salsa Verde

  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 skinless chicken breast halves on the bone
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves cut in half
  • 2  celery stalks cut in thirds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 -6 fresh corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  •  Optional garnish toppings are diced onion, chopped cilantro leaves, shredded lettuce or avocado pieces

Bring water to a boil,  add all of the ingredients and bring to a boil again.  Lower heat so that soup simmers for 30 minutes or until chicken is well cooked.  Remove the chicken, allow it to cool, remove the bone, finely shred the meat and set aside, while you prepare the salsa verde.

Salsa Verde

  • 6 tomatillo tomatoes
  • jalapeño peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 of a small onion
  • 1 extra garlic clove (optional)
  • 1 extra jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp of salt

Place the tomatillos,  jalapeño peppers and 2 garlic cloves  in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for five minutes.  Add the 1/4 cup of water to a blender and then add the cooked ingredients from the saucepan.  Add the 1/4  small onion.  If you choose, add the extra garlic clove and if you like it very spicy, add the extra optional  jalapeño pepper.   Add the salt and Blend until you have a smooth rich sauce. Transfer the blended sauce to a  frying pan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and allow to simmer gently while you prepare the enchiladas.

Making the Enchiladas

All of the following steps are clearly demonstrated in the video above.  Click, follow along and have fun.  Heat the canola oil in a small frying pan.  When the oil is hot, place the tortillas one at a time in the oil turning them over immediately and then removing each one to a paper towel to absorb extra oil.  Once you have fried the 4 to 6 tortillas pat them with paper towel on top as well.  Take each tortilla and douse in the simmering salsa verde, removing each one right away to the plate on which you will serve the enchiladas.  Fill the tortilla with shredded chicken and gently fold over.  Top the enchiladas with onion, lettuce, avocado and/or fresh cilantro.  Serve with a side portion of white or Mexican Rice and Enjoy!

Chayote Summer Salad

If you are  ready to be adventurous and try something new and nutritious click on the link to see my latest recipe video!

There is a little known, pear-shaped, light green vegetable at the supermarket that is waiting just for you.  It is called Chayote or Mirliton squash.   Chayotes have a mild,  sweet taste and lend themselves well to summer salads which can accompany nearly any dish.  Their texture is somewhat like a cross between a potato and honeydew melon.  Chayote  is not as commonly used in the U.S. as it is in Mexico, where it is consumed as a staple vegetable.   Chayotes are low in  calories, high in dietary fiber, and contain anti-oxidants, minerals, and B-complex vitamins.  Being part of the gourd family like zucchini, chayotes provide a certain amount of potassium and vitamin-C.

Chayote summer Salad:

3 Chayote squash

1/3 cup red pimento diced

1/3 cup scallion stems diced

1/3 cup purple onion thinly sliced

1/3 cup cilantro leaves chopped

1-2 ripe but firm avocados cubed

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Juice of 1 lime ( approx. 1/3 cup)

1 large garlic clove mashed

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Peel the chayotes with a regular peeler and cut into strips discarding the white seed in the center.  Bring three quarts of water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon salt and add the sliced chayotes to the water.  Bring to a boil, and allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Strain the chayotes, transfer them to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool.  Once cool, add the other ingredients except the avocado, mix gently and again set aside to prepare the vinaigrette.  Combine  and thoroughly mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients.  I prepare it by placing the ingredients in a small plastic container, which I can then cover tightly and shake to mix thoroughly.  Add the avocado cubes to the salad, add the vinaigrette and mix well but gently.  Refrigerate for 30 – 60 minutes and you now have a thoroughly delicious and refreshing summer salad.