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slice of finished dish, forgot to photograph after it came out of the oven

slice of finished dish, forgot to photograph after it came out of the oven

One of the things that is most lacking in the Middle Eastern cuisine repertoire and availability is Mexican food. There’s only one Mexican restaurant I know of in the country that’s succeeded and that is in broad spectrum Tel Aviv. There’s no decent bottled salsas, enchilada sauce, no cans of refried beans and some of the spices you have to improvise. Limes are only available a couple of short months of the summer, then its back to substituting lemons. Like Chili powder. An American pantry staple just not sold here…quick formula = 2 tsps. ground cumin, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. garlic powder.

The thing is here you can reassure yourself its healthier, all you put together is from scratch. I found a recipe on a favorite blog, Will Cook for Friends for enchilada sauce that I adapted for ease and ingredients as well as a chipotle bbq sauce that she inspired and I made my own version.

Enchilada Sauce
1 tbsp. of smoked paprika
1 tsp. chili flakes
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder (see formula above)
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 100 gram containers tomato paste
1.5 tbsp. honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: a dash of cayenne, or pinch of crushed red chili flakes, to taste

1. sauté diced onions in olive oil until soft, add two cloves of minced garlic. As garlic changes color add all dried spices
2. In a measuring cup put tomato paste and add hot water until the volume is 1 1/4 cup. Add honey. Mix.
3. Combine liquid ingredients to sautéing ingredients and simmer a few minutes. Wait until it cools a little and place in a clean jar for storage.

2 cups cooked rice
juice of one lime
a few roasted peppers (if you want hotter, do the same with a jalapeno)
1 cup cooked beans, pinto or black or Israeli white (you can buy a simple prepared can of cooked beans in tomato sauce)
1 cup of frozen corn
enchilada sauce
grated orange cheddar and local grocery store mozzarella, I 1/2 cups
sour cream 15% fat 250 ml container
fresh 15% cooking cream

This is a layered casserole that starts with red, yellow or orange bell peppers. I like them because the enzymes or whatever is in them is less burpier than the green. Find a few smaller ones and put them under your boiler at the top heat, do both sides. When the skins are just burned and the meat looks softened, put in a bpa free plastic container and let the steam soften the skins more, for 10 minutes. Then peel the skins remove the stems and set aside. They make a great addition to salads or pastas.

Make one cup of rice and when done add the juice of a lime/lemon and some shredded parsley.

Layer some of the rice on the bottom of olive oil rubbed casserole dish. Layer some of the peppers on top of the rice.
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Mix beans, corn, remaining peppers and remaining rice together with half the enchilada sauce. Pour on top of rice layer.
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Mix sour cream together with regular cream with a wire whisk in a bowl to get a more liquid saucy consistency. Grate cheddar and Mozzarella together.

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over casserole.
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Drizzle sour cream mixture over enchilada sauce.
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Cover top with grated cheeses. Use a covered dish if possible and put in 185C 350F oven for a half an hour covered so cheese melts. Remove cover for 10-15 so cheese browns slightly, serve.