I've just finished a couple of foodie books that you might want to devour, too: "The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese," by Michael Paterniti, and Diane Mott Davidson's "The Whole Enchilada."
You'll salivate reading Paterniti's story of his odyssey to Guzman, a tiny village in the Castilian area of Spain, where a remarkable cheese is made. His description of the delectable gift of curd and whey will have you pondering a trip.
At the center of the story is Ambrosio Molinos de Las Heras, the master Castilian cheese maker who is a master wine drinker and story teller as well. Paterniti hilariously takes you on a trail from his years as a university creative writing student, working at an upscale deli to make ends meet, through his worldly writing career. But it was the rare cheese, Paramo de Guzman, he first tasted at the deli that haunted him. It drove him to make multiple trips to Guzman to find the cheese maker, the cheese and ultimately over a 10-year period write the story.
I got swept up with the quest to find and taste the world's greatest piece of cheese, and a trip to Spain for the adventure is on my bucket list.
Another book, No. 17 in a series, that made my stomach growl is from best-selling mystery writer Diane Mott Davidson. In "The Whole Enchilada," the main character, Goldy Schulz, owner of Goldilocks' Catering, finds herself up to her eyeballs preparing food for the wealthy in her Aspen Meadows community. And of course there's a murder that she gets mixed up in trying to solve. Actually, in this story, there are two murders and three attempted murders. Pretty shocking even for Aspen Meadows, which by the way is similar to Davidson's actual home in Evergreen, where she has lived since 1976.
To me, most of the fun of reading one of Davidson's books is the hubbub of a caterer's job planning menus and getting food mass produced. As is obvious from the title, some of the recipes featured in this book are for Mexican-style buffet. She and her crew are throwing a birthday party for Schulz's teenage son, Arch, and his best friend, Drew Ingleby.
Arch's favorite dish? Enchiladas Suizas, which of course is one of the recipes included in the book. Other tasty-sounding recipes include vegetarian chile relleno tortas, refried beans, corn bread and dulce de leche ice cream.
More recipes are sprinkled through the chapters, including the bonus recipe, Julian's Fudge with Sun-Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans. Why bonus? If you read Davidson's second Goldy Schulz book, "Dying for Chocolate," you might remember the mention of a fudge recipe with sun-dried cherries and roasted pecans. Unlike the Enchilada Suizas recipe that was published in her newest book, the fudge recipe didn't appear in the "Dying for Chocolate" book. Readers are not very forgiving when it comes to being tempted by a recipe and then it not being delivered. Davidson received hundreds of requests for the fudge recipe and surprised readers with its inclusion in this latest number. Here's that recipe and the enchilada dish.
Yield: 12 enchiladas
12 corn tortillas 1/3 cup olive oil 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, dark and light meat, skin removed 2 cups crema or commercial sour cream 2 cups grated mild or medium cheddar cheese 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups chopped onions 2 tablespoons garlic 14 1/2 ounces diced Italian-style (with garlic, basil, and oregano) tomatoes (you might need more than one can) 9 ounces (contents of two 4 1/2-ounce cans) chopped fire-roasted mild chiles 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano Extra Italian-style tomato sauce, if necessary Additional sour cream for topping 2 cups heavy whipping cream 1/4 cup active-culture buttermilk (home-made sour cream, also known as creme fra?he)
For optional crema, pour 2 cups heavy cream into a glass container and stir in 1/4 cup buttermilk. Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until thick (usually 24 to 48 hours). Covered crema can be kept into the refrigerator for a week.
When you are ready to make the enchiladas, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large plate and 13 absorbent paper towels. Fold the paper towels into quarters.
Overlap the tortillas in two large (9-by-13-inches or larger) pans so that as much of the surfaces of the tortillas is showing as possible. Drizzle 1/3 cup olive oil evenly over the tortillas in both pans. (You may have to use your hands or a pastry brush to spread oil evenly over the tortillas.) Place the pans in the oven and allow the tortillas to soften for about 5 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and check that the tortillas are softened by using tongs to lift up one of them. (You want them soft and pliable. If they are not yet soft, put the pans back in the oven for a couple of minutes. You do not want to cook the tortillas through, which will harden them.) When the tortillas are just cool enough to touch, place one of the folded towels on a plate. Using tongs, place on tortilla on the folded towel. Place another folded towel on top of the tortilla and press lightly to absorb excess oil. Continue with remaining tortillas. Set aside.
Using a large bowl, make the filling by mixing the chicken, sour cream, cheese and 1 teaspoon salt until blended. Set aside.
For the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the garlic and stir. Continue to cook and stir over low heat until the onion is translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the tomatoes, chiles and oregano. Simmer this mixture over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, and spoon into a 4-cup glass measuring cup. You should have 3 cups of sauce. If you do not have 3 full cups, add the extra tomato sauce to make 3 cups.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass pan.
To fill the enchiladas, place each tortilla on a flat surface and scoop ? cup filling into the center. Using your fingers or a spoon, shape the filling into a cylinder in the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla and place it, seam side down, in the prepared pan. Continue until all the tortillas are rolled up.
Spoon the sauce over the tortillas and place the pan in the oven to bake until the center of the enchiladas is steaming hot, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with sour cream on the side, if desired.
Source: Diane Mott Davidson
Julian's Fudge with Sun-Dried Cherries and Toasted
Yield: 32 small squares
1 cup pecan halves 3 cups granulated sugar 3/4 cup unsalted butter 2/3 cup evaporated milk 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 7 ounces marshmallow creme 1 cup sun-dried cherries 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In wide skillet, toast pecans, stirring constantly over low heat until they begin to turn color and emit nutty smell. Turn out onto paper towels and allow to cool. Chop and set aside.
Butter 9-inch-square pan. Place sugar, butter, milk and salt in heavy-duty saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Continue to stir vigorously until mixture comes to rolling boil and measures 234 degrees on candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate and creme, stirring until chocolate is melted and both are incorporated. Stir in vanilla, cherries, and pecans.
Pour into prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to cool completely. Cut fudge with warm knife.
Source: Diane Mott Davidson