Winter Enchiladas

If someone were to ask me what my favorite ethnic food was, I would have a pretty hard time answering that question. I have to say, though, that Mexican food rates right up there. I’m not sure what my favorite Mexican dishes are, but enchiladas certainly would be one of them.

Recently, I was watching the “Today” show on NBC and saw a cooking demonstration that featured winter enchiladas that really piqued my interest. I thought about looking online for the recipe, but one thing led to another, and it slipped my mind.

Fortunately, I just received an e-mail from the people at Cacique, the makers of the largest Hispanic cheese brand in the U.S.. The missive contained a link to the company’s website as well as the enchilada recipe. I’m hoping to give the recipe a try soon.

For those of you who share my fondness for Mexican food, here is the recipe.

Winter Enchiladas
½ cup Cacique Crema Mexica
2 ounces butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef broth
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 10-ounce package Cacique Pork Chorizo or Cacique Beef Chorizo
1 small butternut squash or 1 16-ounce bag frozen butternut squash cooked as per package instructions
½ package (5 ounces) Cacique Queso Quesadilla, shredded
12 to 16 corn tortillas
For the filling, reheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook chorizo according to package instructions and drain well. Set aside. Split squash in half, remove seeds, poke holes in surface and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to cool then scoop out tender flesh and mash. Add cooled chorizo.
For the sauce, melt butter in saucepan and whisk in flour. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the broth. Add remaining ingredients, except Crema Mexicana, and whisk thoroughly. Bring to a slight boil and remove from heat.  Let cool, then mix in Crema Mexicana.
Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Scoop filling into tortillas, roll and place in baking pan. Cover the tops of the enchiladas with sauce and top with shredded Queso Quesadilla. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is browned.
Note: Cacique products are available at WalMart.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Turkey Leftovers Part 2

Have you used up all of your Thanksgiving turkey? We haven’t, but I do have a couple of ideas about what to do with the remaining tasty morsels, which amounts to at least 8 to 10 cups.

I’ve been pondering a couple of recipes that were on this blog yesterday, one a pasta and the other a Thai dish. I haven’t decided which recipe to try, but a friend of mine told me about what she was going to do with her leftover turkey and that piqued my interest. She said that a turkey tortilla soup was on her agenda, and that sounded pretty good to me.

I’m really in the mood for some soup after overindulging a little on the traditional foods of Thanksgiving. I’m sure there are others who are in the same boat. Heck, it’s hard for me to resist the stuffing, apple pie and pumpkin dessert as well as the leftover mashed potatoes and gravy, not to mention the baked oysters.

Getting back to the soup, here’s a recipe that originally called for a cooked chicken, but I think if you substituted about 4 to 6 cups of leftover turkey you also could have something pretty tasty.
Turkey Tortilla Soup
4 to 6 cups cooked turkey
6 cups broth
¼ cup vegetable oil, divided
6 corn tortillas, cut in ¼-inch strips
½ large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
Lime wedges
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup cubed Mexican cheese, such as queso fresco or shredded Mexican-style cheese blend
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
Dice meat into bite-size pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Put 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Working in batches if necessary, add tortilla strips and cook until lightly brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cover, reduce heat and cook about 10 minutes, until softened. Uncover and add garlic. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium.
Add tomatoes and about half the tortilla strips. Add the broth then bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Puree in the pot using an immersion blender, or in a countertop blender in batches, working carefully.
Return soup to stove over medium heat. Stir in turkey. To serve, place a few tortilla strips in a bowl. Top with soup, then garnish with lime wedges, cilantro, cheese and avocado.
Yield: Serves 6.

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Turkey Leftovers — Don’t Fret

Several people I know already have sampled the food at Little Bangkok, the new Thai restaurant in East Grand Forks. All have had nothing but good to say about the eats. My stepdaughter, Amy, and a friend of hers are planning an outing there today. I can’t wait to go, too. But I may have to sample a taste of Thai at home first.

I came across a recipe for Thai-Style Turkey Curry while looking for leftover recipes. We have an ice-cream bucket of turkey leftovers from our Thanksgiving Day dinner, as well as some squash, which also is called for in the recipe.

Thanksgiving Day leftovers usually don’t present a problem to us, since we’re always fixing new dishes with what we didn’t eat for supper the previous night. We’ve made a shepherd’s pie-type dish with our leftovers, thrown the turkey carcass in a kettle for soup and, of course, always have enjoyed sandwiches.

This morning, while watching the “Today” show on the TV at the gym, I saw a leftover turkey recipe that almost had me drooling. It was for a baked pasta gratin. I found the recipe on the NBC website, and it definitely figures into my plans.

Here’s that recipe, along with the one for Thai curry, just in case you’re in a quandary with what to do with your leftovers. The nice thing about both recipes is that they can be on the table in less than an hour.

Thai-Style Turkey Curry
8 ounces (half of a 1 pound box) fettuccine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 green onions, sliced on diagonal
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste
1 15-ounce can chicken broth
½ of a 15-ounce can coconut milk
2 cups cubed cooked turkey
1 cup each: cubed cooked squash, cooked green beans
½ teaspoon salt
Grated lemon zest, chopped cilantro (optional)
Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil; add fettuccine. Cook according to package directions. Drain. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add green onions; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add garlic; cook, stirring 1 minute.
Stir in curry paste; cook 30 seconds. Stir in chicken broth; heat to a boil. Cook 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir coconut milk to mix in the cream at the top. Add to skillet. Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes. Add turkey, squash, green beans and salt. Cook until turkey is warmed through, 5 minutes. Serve over fettuccine in shallow bowls.
Garnish with lemon zest and cilantro.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 507 calories, 30 percent of calories from fat, 17 grams fat (11 grams saturated), 56 milligrams cholesterol, 56 grams carbohydrates, 33 grams protein, 719 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Baked Pasta Gratin with Turkey
1 pound uncooked penne pasta
3 cups (more or less) leftover white and dark meat turkey, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup leftover turkey gravy
4½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup diced fontina cheese
½ cup diced fresh mozzarella
Salt and freshly grated black pepper
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
Preheat the broiler. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the turkey, heavy cream, turkey gravy, 3½ cups of the Parmesan cheese, the fontina, mozzarella and a pinch of pepper. Bring the sauce to a light boil, add the pasta, toss, and transfer the pasta to a baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of Parmesan cheese on top of the pasta and broil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown.
Yield: Serves 6.

Traditional Turkey and Stuffing

Just about everybody has their favorite way to prepare a Thanksgiving Day dinner. I have to admit, when it comes to fixing a turkey, the way my grandma and mom fixed them can’t be beat.

I’ve pretty much followed in their footsteps, roasting the turkey the old-fashioned way and stuffing it with a dressing that contains dried bread, ground pork, a little onion and celery, an egg, milk and some seasonings. This year, however, I’m brining my turkey and making stuffing on the side (

I realize that a lot of people are reluctant to try new things when the old is so dependable. That’s why I’m going to report here later about how the brining went, so if you are so inclined, you can give it a try at Christmas.

In the meantime, here are a couple of traditional Thanksgiving recipes for turkey and stuffing.

Good eating!

Turkey with Cider Glaze
1 turkey, 18 to 20 pounds, giblets, neck removed
1 small bunch thyme sprigs
1 onion, quartered
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
½ cup honey
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Fill the turkey cavity with thyme sprigs and onion. Turn wing tips under; truss legs with kitchen string. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan.
Mix butter, pepper, salt and vinegar in a saucepan. Rub some of the mixture over the turkey.
Roast turkey 3 hours, loosely covering turkey with foil if it is browning too quickly.
Stir cider and honey into remaining butter mixture; heat over medium heat, stirring, until smooth. Baste turkey with mixture. Roast turkey until an oven-safe or instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 180 degrees, about 1¼ hours, basting occasionally. Remove turkey from oven; let stand 15 minutes before carving.
Note: Stuff the bird with a favorite stuffing or the recipe that follows. Just add 15 minutes of roasting time.
Yield: Serves 18.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 530 calories, 43 percent of calories from fat, 24 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 245 milligrams cholesterol, 0.2 grams carbohydrates, 72 grams protein, 170 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Classic Herb Stuffing
1 loaf (1 pound) Italian bread or French bread, cut into ½-inch cubes, about 12 cups
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ribs celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons each: dried sage, dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup each: dried cranberries, toasted chopped pecans, see note
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chicken broth
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Place bread on baking sheet. Bake until cubes are dry, about 20 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.
Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook celery and onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in sage, thyme, salt and pepper to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to bowl with bread. Add cranberries and pecans. Mix to combine all ingredients. Add eggs and broth; toss gently to combine.
Turn mixture into greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake until brown and crusty on top, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, stuff mixture into turkey cavity just before roasting; make sure stuffing reaches 165 degrees.
Note: To toast pecans, spread nuts on baking sheet. Toast in 325-degree oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Or place in dry skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 49 percent of calories from fat, 23 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 45 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 850 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Chicken and Dumplings — for Your Comfort

I relish cooking with leftovers. So does Therese. I’m not sure why this is, but it sure saves us a lot of money, and it generally takes very little time.

Our most recent endeavor was last night, when Therese took over in the kitchen and used some leftover chicken, potatoes, carrots and gravy to fix a mighty fine entree to go along with one of her tasty salads.

She mixed all those ingredients together, along with some cooked peas (frozen variety), before topping it with a Bisquick-type mixture that somewhat resembled dumplings. She then baked it in the oven for about 15 or 20 minutes. I couldn’t have done it any better myself.

That’s the kind of meal that’s comforting on a day like Monday, when snow and wind made life somewhat miserable. It was the perfect meal to come into after a hearty round of shoveling. I would compare it to other comfort foods such as meatloaf, hash and macaroni and cheese.

And that brings me to another favorite comfort food of mine — chicken and dumpings. I remember when my mom used to make this when we were kids. It was one of my favorites. Here’s a recipe that I just came across for the tasty dish, which we just might have to try soon.

Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings
1 5-pound chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onion, (about 1 large onion)
1 cup diced carrots, trimmed (peeling optional)
1 cup diced celery, trimmed
¼ cup thinly sliced leek, cleaned and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch strips (white and light green only, about ½ of 1 medium leek)
½ cup dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
10 cups water, plus 1/3 cup boiling water, divided
½ cup cornmeal
1 4.25-ounce cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
¼ cup milk, divided
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as tarragon, chives, thyme and parsley)
Cut up the chicken: Remove the giblets, saving the neck (discard the remaining giblets, or save for another use). Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut along the back of the chicken, removing the backbone. Cut or break the backbone into thirds (this will help to flavor and thicken the broth). With a sturdy French knife or cleaver, halve the chicken lengthwise down the breast. Cut each chicken half into 4 pieces, separating the leg and thigh, and halving the breast crosswise (the wing can remain attached to the breast or separated). Sprinkle the chicken pieces (including the neck and back) with 1½ teaspoons salt and several grinds of pepper, evenly seasoning the pieces.
Heat a large, sturdy stockpot over high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and enough chicken to fit comfortably in a single layer. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 15 minutes (this will probably need to be done in 2 batches).
Remove the chicken to a bowl and repeat until all the chicken is browned.
Reduce the heat to medium-high. To the fat in the pot, add the chopped onion, carrots, celery and leek, cooking until the vegetables just begin to color, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the white wine and cook, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine is almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, 3 sprigs parsley, thyme and bay leaf to the pot and add back the chicken.
Pour in 10 cups water (this should more than cover the chicken), loosely cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil
Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, loosely covered, until the chicken is very tender, 45 minutes to an hour. Periodically skim the fat that forms on top of the broth as the chicken cooks.
When the chicken is tender, remove the pieces to a large plate or baking dish until cool enough to handle. Strain the chicken broth into a separate 3-quart pot, discarding the vegetables and herbs. You should have about 10 cups of broth. Skim any remaining fat from the broth, and season to taste.
Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and peel the meat from the bones.
Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces; you should have about 6 cups of chicken. Place the meat in a bowl and set aside while you make the dumpling batter.
To make the dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 1/3 cup boiling water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the mixture cools, about 15 minutes. Stir in the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and the baking powder, breaking up any cornmeal clumps with your fingers. 10. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons milk. Pour the milk mixture into the medium bowl and drizzle over the lemon juice. Stir to combine then gently fold in the herbs until evenly distributed. This should form a thick batter (it should have the consistency of thick cement, sticky yet spoonable). Add more milk if needed to thin the batter, 1 tablespoon at a time. (You may not use all the milk.)
Bring the broth to a gentle simmer on the stove. Spoon 1-inch balls of the batter (the dumplings will expand as they cook) into the simmering broth; this makes about 20 dumplings.
The dumplings will sink at first but will soon float; continue to simmer, loosely covered, until they are just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Strain the dumplings onto a large plate or baking dish. Add the shredded chicken back to the broth. Serve immediately, adding dumplings back to each serving.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 688 calories, 55 grams protein, 36 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 33 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 234 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams sugar, 940 milligrams sodium.

Turkey Burritos

A lot people, myself included, will be looking for recipes in less than a week for leftover turkey. Turkey soup is an old standby, of course, but do you have any other favorite recipes for the tasty bits of gobbler that remain from Thanksgiving Day dinner?

I just came across a recipe from the Old Farmer’s Almanac for turkey burritos that looks quite interesting. The leftover turkey is combined with avocado, tomatoes, kidney and refried beans and a little onion in what looks like a pretty tasty recipe.

And lest I forget, there’s also a generous amount of cheese and hot sauce.
Turkey Burritos
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
Juice of 1 lime
Hot sauce to taste
1½ cups tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ cup sweet onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 flour tortillas
½ cup canned kidney beans, drained
½ cup canned refried beans
1cup shredded cooked turkey
Lettuce leaves
¼ cup shredded Monterrey Jack or Cheddar cheese
Mash the avocado, mix in the lime juice and a dash of hot sauce and set aside. Combine the tomatoes and sweet onions, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Make the burritos one at a time. Place a tortilla on a plate, spread the avocado mixture over it and top with tomato mixture and the turkey. Cover with lettuce leaves and cheese. Roll the tortilla to enclose the filling.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

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Pork and Bean Chili

There’s been a chill and a hint of winter in the air the past couple of days, and we could be in for some snow this weekend.  For some people that might be reason to lament, but to me, that means it’s chili season.

Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, we don’t have to be in the throes winter for me to make chili. I’ve been know to make a batch when the days are longer than the nights, and the temperatures are in the 80s and not below freezing.

Generally, I like to make my chili with wild game (either ground elk, venison or buffalo) and a lot of peppers. But I came across a chili recipe earlier this week that contains pork, which probably gets its origin from a dish that Mexicans called mole de guajolote.

The recipe suggests  using tenderloin, cut into ½-inch pieces, but I think that leftovers from a pork roast would work just fine. It also calls for green bell peppers, but I can’t make chili without throwing in a few jalapeno and cayenne peppers to give it a little more kick.

The most curious thing about the recipe is that it calls for the chili to be put over brown rice. And, of course, there’s some sour cream and cilantro on the side.

You won’t confuse this chili with anything from a can.

Mexican Pork and Bean Chili
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ pound pork tenderloin, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen diced/chopped onion
1½ cups frozen diced/chopped green bell pepper
1 cup rinsed and drained canned low-sodium red kidney beans
2 cups canned low-sodium chopped tomatoes
½ cup frozen or drained canned corn
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup reduced fat sour cream
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high-heat. Saute the pork, onion and bell pepper 5 minutes, tossing to brown meat on all sides. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and ground cumin. Lower heat to medium, cover with a lid and simmer 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve chili in large bowls with brown rice, with sour cream and cilantro on the side.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 466 calories, 27 percent of calories from fat, 14.1 grams fat (2.3 grams saturated, 6.6 grams monounsaturated), 76 milligrams cholesterol, 36.8 grams protein, 54.9 grams carbohydrates, 15.9 grams fiber, 1,197 milligrams sodium.

Asian Green Bean Casserole

One of my recent blogs was about just about everyone’s favorite holiday side dish — green bean casserole. It was an extremely popular posting.

Besides the traditional way of fixing the casserole, I presented cooks with several variations that Campbell’s, the original creator or the recipe, had offered.

With Thanksgiving only a week a way, here is what I would consider another variation of the casserole, courtesy of New Asian Cuisine ( It takes only 20 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook.

And this is the kind of a dish that will give cooks that extra time they need to get the rest of the goodies prepared to the perfection that friends and family have come to expect at a holiday feast. Green Beans with Coconut
12 ounces green beans, cut into pieces (about 2½ cups)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 green finger-length chilies, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon asafoetida powder (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup fresh grated coconut
½ cup roasted ground peanuts
Bring the water to a boil in a pan. Add the beans and return to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, drain the beans, and rinse in cold water. Drain and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Heat the oil in a separate pan. Add the mustard seeds and fry until they pop. Add the onion and chilies and stir-fry for 1 minute or until the onion softens.
Remove from the heat, add the asafoetida powder and mix well. Combine with the beans, add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve with rice.
Yield: Serves 4.

Sparkling Apple Crumple

Fall is the time of the year that people who have apple trees both love and hate. On the one hand, it’s real nice to have a lot of apples for jams, sauces, juice and pies, yet there always seems to be more than are needed.

I’m one of those people who don’t have an apple tree (we do but it’s one of those nasty flowering crabs that’s nice only for about two weeks in the spring) but is glad other people do.

I’ve already received a couple of bushels of apples from a good neighbor, Gary Brundin, and another friend is going to give me some more today. I plan on coring, peeling and slicing the apples for pie and crisp use. I like to vacuum-seal 6 cups per bag, which is just enough for my recipes.

I usually have quite a few bags of apples in the freezer for use up until the next fall and always am looking for new recipes to cut into my supply.

Here is a recipe I came across recently, from the American Institute for Cancer Research, which should appeal to people who like apple desserts. It’s called Sparkling Apple Crumple and has no bottom crust, just a generous filling of apples, cranberries, raisins and walnuts. Its “crust” is an elegant puff made by crumpling a few sheets of phyllo. The sparkle comes from a light dusting of sugar.

The instructions say to carefully follow the directions for changing the oven temperature. This will ensure the crumple bakes properly and the phyllo comes out golden brown and enchantingly glazed.

Sparkling Apple Crumple
4 13-by-17-inch sheets phyllo dough
Canola cooking spray
3 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 gratings fresh nutmeg
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
About 1 hour before preparing crumple, remove package of phyllo dough from refrigerator and let sit until it is room temperature. Remove the 4 sheets of phyllo required. Loosely roll into a tube, seal in plastic wrap and set aside. Return remaining phyllo to refrigerator or freezer, per package directions.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 9-by-11½ -inch pie plate, preferably ovenproof glass, with cooking spray and set aside.
In mixing bowl, toss apples with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to evenly coat fruit. Add nuts, cranberries and raisins and toss until nuts and fruit are well combined. Transfer filling to prepared pie plate, spreading evenly.
Unroll sheets of phyllo and remove one sheet of phyllo and place on work area. Immediately cover remaining dough with plastic wrap, covering it completely so it does not dry out. With the 1 sheet of phyllo on counter in front of you, with long edge facing you, brush it generously with melted butter. Gently gather phyllo together from either side, lift and crumple into a loose ball about 5 inches in diameter. Set crumpled phyllo on top of fruit to cover it by about one-quarter. Repeat with remaining phyllo, leaving some space at edge of pie plate for juices to bubble up.
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes longer. Remove crumple from oven and increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over phyllo, dusting it lightly. Return crumple to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the phyllo is golden brown and sugar has melted to a glaze. Heavily dusted spots will remain white.
Let crumple stand for 10 to 60 minutes. Serve warm; the phyllo gets soggy if crumple stands longer. Cut crumpled phyllo with serrated knife, then serve using a large spoon to scoop up filling with the top.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 170 calories, 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 29 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 2 grams dietary fiber, 50 milligrams sodium.

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Super Seafood Soup

I’m a soup aficionado. Nothing can satisfy my hunger more than a good bowl of hot soup. And if it’s spicy, the more the better.

I like to make soup, and do it almost on a weekly basis. That’s why I rarely order soup when we go out to eat. That’s not to say there’s not a lot of good soup in restaurants. On the occasions I’ve ordered soup in the past couple of years, my experiences have been generally favorable.

My most recent opportunity to have restaurant soup came the other night at Mi Mexico in Grand Forks, a rather late supper for us because I had taken my grandson to a 5:30 p.m. hockey practice and stayed to watch. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I had decided to eat light because of the time and ordered from the seafood portion of the menu. I settled on something that was called Caldo de Quatro Mares, which translated means Four Seas Soup.

The soup was a variation of a Mexican favorite, Caldo De Siete Mares (Seven Seas Soup). Instead of having seven kinds of seafood, the Mi Mexican version had only four, but I don’t think it could have been much better. The soup featured shrimp, scallops, a type of whitefish and imitation crab. It also contained tomatoes, avocados, onion, cabbage, carrots, spices and a type of hot pepper — as well as a twist of lime for additional flavor.

By the time I had finished the large bowl, my brow had a little sweat on it, but nothing that would deter me from ordering the entree again. In fact, after the meal, I told the manager about my pleasurable experience.

I’m thinking about trying to replicate the soup sometime this winter, and after an extensive search on the Internet, came up with the following recipe to serve as a guideline. It’s billed as an authentic recipe from Mexican cooks..

Caldo De Siete Mares
8 cups of water
8 medium-sized tomatoes
6 stalks celery
1 medium-size white onion
1 bunch cilantro
6 carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Knorr Tomate (Caldo de Pollo e Tomate Sabor)
10 to 12 medium-sized shrimp peeled and deveined
4 scallops cut into 1-inch pieces
2 dungeness, blue crab or snow crab claws or equivalent
½ pound whitefish, salmon or cod cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small octopus (tentacles only cut into ½-inch pieces)
4 to -6 small/medium clams
1 cup seafood medley (optional)
4 to 6 limes
flour tortillas
Tapatillo hot sauce
To make the soup stock, pour the water into a large pot. Cut and seed (remove the centers) tomatoes into ½-inch pieces and place in pot. Crush the garlic cloves and add to soup. Add the Knorr tomate, stir and bring pot to a boil. After boil reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 hours minimum. After cooking, put base in blender and blend for 15 to 40 seconds or until uniform texture and pour back into the pot. Chop the onion, celery, bell pepper (remove seeds) into ¼-inch pieces, carrots into ¼-inch slices. Add to the base stock pot and cook for 1 to 2 hours more.
When ready to serve soup, in a separate smaller pot add 2 cups of soup stock and 1 to 2 cups water. Add the clams and crab claws first and bring to boil for about 1 minute. Add the shrimp, scallops, seafood medley, fish, octopus and bring to boil. Shut off heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Pour seafood soup in large bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of ketchup and squeeze in ½ Mexican lime and a add pinch salt. Cut up the avocado into ½-inch pieces and add to soup.
Dice cilantro and onion into a small bowl.
Sprinkle fresh cilantro and onion into soup as you eat. Cut up limes into quarters. Warm tortilllas on a grill, toaster oven or microwave. Rub butter on tortillas, sprinkle salt and some lime and eat with the soup.
Tapatillo is optional. Be careful. It can be overpowering.