Wednesday, April 22

Dead Flowers and the Perfect Spring Meal

The Rolling Stones might normally bring ideas of rock n' roll, strange gyrations, effects of heavy drug, alcohol, and eyeliner abuse, tight pants, whatever the opposite of aging gracefully is, and did I mention effects of heavy drug use? Yes, I am thinking specifically of you, Keith Richards (with the eyeliner thing too).

Since Easter, I've been listening to a lot of The Rolling Stones and its been conjuring images of Easter brunch and as I continued ambling down that strange road, spring menus pop to mind also.

Now, you may be wondering if The Stones have put out an Easter album or if I have a secret single copy of the never released "Lullabies About Fluffy Baby Animals" album. Sorry to disappoint, but as far as I know they haven't and I don't. Also, as far as my knowledge of their music extends, I can't think of any songs that they sing about celebrating Jesus' resurrection or bunny rabbits either.

It all stems from the orphans' Easter brunch I had last year. It wasn't a brunch for real orphans, I'm not even minutely that benevolent, but rather for myself and friends of mine in Louisville who lived too far away from their families to make the trip.

I constructed the menu based on what I feel are Easter (and spring, for that matter) meal essentials--items heavy on fresh herbs and or citrus. A mushroom, thyme, and Parmesan quiche, French toast with lemon curd, and mimosas. Thanks to the lovely persons I invited, monkey-bread, wine, and a banana cream cake were added to the list.

The company was lovely, the meal was lovely, the flattery of my culinary prowess was lovely, and to top off all that loveliness it turned into an old-fashioned campfire singalong (sans campfire) which included a more authentically country-twang version of Dead Flowers (The crooner we had is Kentucky not some awkward English boy pretending to be). So there lies connection numero uno.

Secondly, I'm very, (let me emphasize with italics) very manic-depressive when it comes to the weather. Luckily, I've been enjoying rain-free Junish weather since November, but on the other hand, I don't have the general over-energetic mania I normally get around this time of year. The Rolling Stones have that same energetic push that I think could fairly be described as manic, like spring, that just makes you want to play drums on your steering wheel or do cartwheels in dewy grass or dance around like. . .Mick Jagger.

Since Easter feels more like the start of spring to me than any other time, partially due to the food involved, I've started day-dreaming over classic springtime menus. Ham and potatoes are some of my family's Easter traditions. These cut across all seasons for me, but the way they are prepared can spruce their springtime cred up a bit--honey glazes or fruit sauces for the ham and fresh chives or parsley for the potatoes seem to be like little Easter bonnets--definitely a springtime thing. The dessert is always fruity (usually citrus) and light--a beautiful lemon chiffon cake with raspberry cream from Fine Cooking and Martha's coconut cake have been some of my past favorites.

This Easter I traveled home (listening to Sticky Fingers (I'm driving this far-fetched interweaving home)), slept, and ate some, well, Mexican food. I was thinking of all the things I would like to make for an Easter brunch and spring meals, pining over the nonexistence of lemons, angel food (which requires an oven), and many other non-Mexican things I can't have while the perfect spring-Easter meal was being rapidly devoured right in front of me (into me?) in all its Mexican glory--enchiladas verdes.

I hadn't ever thought about how perfect enchiladas verdes are for spring or for an Easter brunch. I've been eating them incessantly since I moved here and never thought of compartmentalizing them into a seasonal entree (seasons mean something entirely different here too, so it really wouldn't work). My case for putting them into the spring file; to start, they're a beautiful mossy green. I feel like that's enough explanation right there. But to continue, they are also tangy--thanks to those little tomatillos, full of fresh herbs, and have a hint of citrus (sometimes lime juice is added, but I think tomatillos have an almost citrus taste themselves), but are still warm and comforting with filling layers of tortillas, so they fit nicely into the delicate spring balance of being fresh and light, but also warm and filling.

Also, they are not heavy, cheesy, meat-filled monsters like the enchiladas you will find in the U.S. Often, they are only tortillas and sauce with a sprinkling of queso fresco and thin slices of onion. You can have them topped with any number of delicious items like eggs, shredded chicken, cecina, or beef. My personal preference is with an over-easy egg or shredded chicken.

Enchiladas Verdes--adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2007--this sauce would also be perfect for chilaquiles verdes or served with eggs.

3 lbs tomatillos, husks removed
3 large jalapeños, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 bunches cilantro, coarsley chopped
3/4 C parsley, coarsley chopped
1/3 C mint, coarsley chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 C chicken stock
1 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
corn tortillas*

Cover tomatillos and jalapeños with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tomatillos are soft (this didn't take long for me, but the tomatillos here are much smaller than the ones I've seen in the states. Bon Appetit suggests 15 minutes simmering and 15 sitting in the water). Drain and let cool.
Chop tomatillos (If the tomatillos have absorbed water try to get rid of it, but keep the seeds) and jalapeños (discard seeds if you want a milder sauce) and place in a blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients except tortillas. Blend.
Return mixture to saucepan and heat over medium low heat. Heat until warmed thoroughly or until a desired thickness is reached.
Place corn tortillas in a separate skillet and cover with a small ammount of salsa verde. Heat for a few minutes over low heat to soften tortillas. Transfer tortillas to serving plates and fold in half twice. Cover with additional sauce. Top with egg, chicken, cecina etc. as well as onions and sour cream. Ahh, bliss.

*of course you can use store bought, but the taste doesn't compare at all. Check out this video tutorial on epicurious--be inspired to make your own.


  1. I meself some Easter for the twidderpated effect as well. Petrichor is what I learned from a friend of mine the other day (the scent of rain on dry earth) unrelated, I know. Can I pull out my copy of Anne of Green Gables yet? My weather here is throwing me off as well.

  2. Lovely post. Yo la tengo, salsa verde.

    Also, the Epicurious blog just alerted me to this article. Thought I'd pass it along: