Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Revised! Cheater Chilaquiles with Salsa Verde January 5, 2013

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I’m not much for New Year’s Eve.  I normally prefer to stay home, and safe from all the revelers who drive.  But, after a really early dinner at Lenoir, I decided to head to the East side, where “fireworks are illegal” is merely a suggestion not to get caught.  I’m s sucker for a fireworks show, and it had been years since I’d seen any of note.

While I behaved myself, I didn’t get home until after 2:00.   When my alarm went off around  8:00, I didn’t have much time to get my brunch dish ready to go by 10:15.  I had planned to make Chilaquiles, which requires quartering and frying corn tortillas, which I didn’t have time to do.  Fortunately, I had what I call “crack chips” from Blanco Valley Farm at the Barton Creek Market in my freezer.  So, my dish, began with a 2 chip deep layer of “crack chips.”


Atop the chips, I poured a couple pints of my home canned Salsa Verde.


Next up, was a layer of the cubed chicken. Then I poured another pint of salsa verde over that, and topped with about 9 ounces of Full Quiver Cheddar. I had some sour cream leftover from making dinner for my parents, who do not expect to eat my all-local diet. I picked some cilantro from my garden, and mixed that with the sour cream and dolloped on top pretty sparingly.


I shoved the dish in to a 350 degree oven, and got myself ready, as the cheese melted and the salsa verde bubbled away.

I made it to the brunch, hot dish in hand, and no one was the wiser. And it tasted great!

After the brunch, I had invited some folks over to hang out in front of the fire.  With all ingredients already on hand, I whipped up some Chicken Enchiladas Verdes for dinner.

For the enchiladas, I had the time to soften the corn tortillas in oil, which makes the rolling much easier.



I mixed the cubed chicken with a pint of salsa verde, grated Full Quiver Monterrey Jack, and rolled up the mixture into the softened tortillas.  I topped the mixture with salsa verde, Full Quiver Cheddar, and a bit of sour cream with cilantro again.  The pan baked in the oven, until everything was melted and bubbling.

And with that, and some Rancho Gordo Black beans, I called it New Year’s Day.




Chicken Enchiladas with Cilantro Cream and Salsa Verde February 18, 2012

Last November, I went on a salsa verde canning binge.  Springdale Farm had the most lovely purple and green tomatillos.  It was so easy and fun, and at the time I could think of lots of things to do with salsa verde; comprised of charred tomatillos, onions, peppers, garlic, cilantro and lime juice.  I am a compulsive girl, and canned about 12 pints of salsa verde.  I have given some away, and used some to make Chiliquiles thus far.

I was invited to s dinner for Valentines day, and decided to make chicken enchiladas, using the salsa verde and a Dewberry Hills Farm chicken I had purchased at the farmer’s market.  I also had on hand lots of cilantro pesto and fresh cilantro from raiding the garden at Austin Wine Merchant.  (Austin Wine Merchant has a working garden on all sides of the parking lot, which I help them with from time to time.)

In order to make the salsa verde shelf stable, the canning recipe calls for quite a bit of lime juice, making it fairly tart and astringent.  My goal to counter this tartness, was the addition of a creamy element, via Full Quiver Neufchatel, which is like a decadent, thick cream cheese.  First, I cooked and diced the chicken and dumped it into a big bowl.

Full Quiver Neufchatel

Next, I made my cilantro cream mixture, by combining 2 tubs of Neufchatel with about a 1/3 cup of the cilantro pesto I had made earlier.  The creamy sauce was too thick, so I thinned it with some goat milk, then added more handfuls of cilantro and blended it.  Once I was happy with the texture, I added it into the chicken, with about 3 cups of grated Full Quiver Monterrey Jack cheese, mixed it and set it aside.

Chicken, cilantro cream mixture

I had purchased fresh corn tortillas from El Milagro tortilla factory on East 6th.   I attempted to soften them enough to roll, by moistening them in the Salsa Verde.  This did not work, they still broke.  So, in batches of twos, I heated them in a little oil until soft and pliable.

Failed tortilla softening method

I poured about a pint of the salsa in my dish, and commenced rolling the chicken, cheese mixture into each tortilla and filling the pan.  Once it was filled to capacity, I poured over a bit more salsa, the topped with a good amount of grated Full Quiver Cheddar, and some chopped cilantro for color and garnish.

Enchiladas just need baking

The enchiladas were heated at the farm, so there is no final melty picture, but I think you get the gist.   They were well received, although I would have tweeked the recipe more to add more heat to the chicken mixture.  Alas, peppers aren’t in season, so I make do  with what I can get from the farmer’s market and farm stands.  This coming pepper season, I will roast lots of green chiles and keep them in the freezer for future enchiladas and other dishes.


Eating My Way through The Canning Obsession January 11, 2012

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When I made the decision to eat only what I could buy locally, organically and in season (no grocery store), the idea of extending seasons, or preserving things to consume out of their season was something I really wanted to do, but had to learn how.  For the first year, I froze tomatoes and fruit.  My already taxed freezer space, became non-existent.  So I took classes to learn how to can.

I’m a compulsive girl, and I readily admit this.  I embraced my new found canning knowledge with verve and gusto, and canned everything in site, with little idea how much canned goodness I could  use and without plans for my well stocked larder.  (I’m obsessed with the word “larder”)

Just part of my stash

For some strange reason, I felt as if I had to wait until winter to start using some of the canned stuff, as if I’m a squirrel, or something.  Finally, with the colder weather, my inner hoarder has allowed me to start breaking out the canned foods, and I’m working my way through the pantry.

I’ ve been able to put a dent in that which I “put up.”  As I type this, there is a slow cooker filled with Rancho Gordo beans, seasoned with a pint of my Escabeche, or pickled serranos, onions, carrots, garlic and bay.  This will impart heat and flavor to the beans which will be paired with Dai Due Wild Boar sausages for dinner.


The pickled cucumbers have made a good side for BBQ, and also go very well chopped up in egg salad.  The pickled jalapeno and serrano peppers, certainly are a staple and get used in a wide variety of things.  Today, I made corn muffins with the cornmeal I got from Homestead Heritage, and added lots of chopped pickled peppers.

The Salsa Verde, which I canned obsessively with the tomatillos from Springdale Farm has formed the sauce for Chilaquiles, a Mexican dish using chicken, fried corn tortillas and cheese (sometimes with egg as well.)

Charred Salsa Verde

The Salsa Verde also made its way into chicken filling for tamales recently.  The other tamale filling, was Chipotles in Adobo, which I mixed into shredded pork.  The Chipotles have become my very favorite food to preserve and combined with Richardson Farms Pork roast, was perhaps one of the favorite things I’ve ever made.

Chipotles in Adobo

Many of the jams and marmalades I made this Fall were for Christmas gifts, and many of those have found their way into other pantries.  I have discovered that you can make a really delicious cocktail, from a spoonful of jam, a splash of Vodka and a bit of Topo Chico.   The sweet preserves are genius for topping a party brie, or hard cheese as well.

Pear Preserves

I have yet to make a dent in the tomatoes I canned from my garden and local farms, but I’m focusing my attention on those next.  I’d really like to eat what I’ve canned within a year or close to it, from its canning date, so I have another few months.  There is quite a lot.

Not even close to all of it

I shall continue to eat my way through what I’ve canned, pickled and preserved not only because it is delicious, but so that I can make room for more.


Preserving the Tomatillo Harvest, Salsa Verde November 14, 2011

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Tomatillos are part of the nightshade family.  I don’t grow them, because the plants are rather large and take up space, and they need a second plant to guarantee fruit set.  I just don’t have room for them.

Springdale Farm had loads of tomatillos at their Saturday market, and I bought about 4 pounds, with a recipe in mind from Canning for a New Generation, for Salsa Verde.

The recipe is quite simple, but these tomatillos take a while to de-husk.  They are very sticky inside their little jackets.  Once that is done, everything flows smoothly.

Springdale Tomatillos

The well rinsed tomatillos (3.5 pounds) are combined with 1 white onion, 5 serrano peppers, 5 cloves of garlic ina roasting pan and roasted at 500 until they char and collapse.  I wanted lots of char for flavor, so when they started losing their shape, I turned the oven on broil for a couple of minutes.


Roasted Vegetables
The whole lot gets pureed in a blender with 1 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro.  The puree goes into a big pot with 2/3 cup of fresh squeezed lime (I had limes from my tree) and 1 tbls. salt.  After boiling the mixture for a couple of minutes, I ladeled the hot salsa into my steralized jars.  The recipe calls for 5 minutes in a water bath, but I left them in for 10.

Salsa Verde

This salsa is very bright, somewhat acidic from the lime, with a tad bit of heat.  I have several delicious plans for this Salsa Verde, Chicken Enchiladas with Full Quiver Monterrey Jack, Migas, Chilaquiles, and as a topping for the tamales  I’ll make for Christmas.  I’ve already given one jar away, and promised another, so I’ll be making more.   It is so good, that I’ve ordered another four pounds from Springdale and may double that order, so I can fill my pantry with this delicious salsa.  It is definately hoard worthy.

Hide Your Vegetables, I Can’t Stop Canning! July 4, 2011

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When Jesse Griffiths said that canning is addictive at canning class last week at Johnson”s Backyard Garden, my first thought was, “Nah, I’m just canning out of necessity”.  I have too many garden tomatoes, and HAVE TO can them.  Now, 8 days later, I’m canning everything in sight, and have slowed down only because I’ve run out of produce.  When I left the farmer’s market on Saturday with two bags full of tomatoes, my friends just shook their heads.

I had a banner canning day on Saturday, starting with the over abundance of cucumbers and peppers from my garden.  I had also purchased some banana peppers from Milagro Farms, which were so pretty I couldn’t resist.  Apparently, they were initially grown for pickling.

Pickled Produce


Next I turned my attention to the tomatillos that were left behind from Mexican Cooking Class.  I cored them, then tossed them into a pan with some water, garlic and onion and started cooking them down.

Reducing the tomatillos


Once soft, I added salt to taste and a good amount of lime juice (also left behind) and processed it with the immersion blender, until smoother but slightly chunky.  The end result was a pint and a half pint of salsa verde which will be amazing for cheesy, chicken enchiladas.

Salsa Verde

Next up, in my hours long canning frenzy, I turned to the remaining tomatoes from the Johnson’s Backyard Garden class, some heirlooms from Springdale Farm, a few of my own, and some of the purchased tomatoes from Milagro Farms.

I separated the heirlooms from the hybrids, and cooked them down separately, adding garlic, garden oregano, and salt.  I let this sauce cook down until it reduced to the perfect consistency for pasta sauce.  The coolest thing about this is that once processed and put into the pantry, it is ready to go.  I will be able to make a simple yet delicious dinner, by tossing this sauce with some hot pasta and a little parmesan, and it will take mere minutes.

Pasta sauce

The remaining tomatoes I processed to the consistency of stewed tomatoes that I’ll be able to use for anything.  So the end result of my day of canning is below.  I have become my grandmother.

My Day of Canning