Cooking For Others: Good Riddance, Cubemate
EVENT: Onto Greener Pastures
VENUE: Cara’s Apartment
PARTY SIZE: Same size as the cube, aka 4
MENU: Nachos; Enchiladas; Raspberry Sorbet Squares
Sitting in a cube breeds a quick, peculiar intimacy. Before you know, say, where your cubemates hail from or what they like to do over the weekend, you know how fast they type, where they prefer to shop online, what their favorite YouTube videos are, how often their cell phones ring, how loudly and long they gab on the phone, the scent of what they eat for lunch, and what time they start thinking about what to eat for dinner.
I don’t really remember how our (my, Christina, and Junie’s) fondly departed fourth cubemate, Oliver, used to type. I know he LOVED the Mother Lover video from SNL because I’d often find him singing along to it first thing in the morning; that he was sort of opposed to online shopping to begin with and so didn’t have a favorite site; and that he chatted on the phone to his authors, siblings, and friends with way more gusto than you’d have thought a chill dude like him could muster up.
As for lunch, he would go to the chili, burrito, and soup places with Junie, and as for after lunch, his talk would quickly turn to dinner (training for the marathon made him hungry, I guess). So I count among the things I do know about Oliver that he used to go to La Tacqueria, a delicious Park Slope establishment, several times a week back when he lived in the neighborhood. I still go there, and so does Junie, and nothing used to make Oliver more jealous than my bringing in a leftover half burrito for lunch. In fact, I could pretty much count on the fact that the second I wedged my fork into my slightly soggy tortilla he’d call over the cube wall, “Cara, got any food?” Oh, the good old days.
So, for Oliver’s cubemate-centric going-away dinner, it was clear to me that if I wasn’t going to have the party catered by Domino’s pizza (another much talked-about fave of the cube men), I was going to be making Mexican. Nachos were first on the list, but nachos do not a dinner make, so I supplemented them with enchiladas—both chicken and black bean—and Mexican beer.
From my kitchen, whose yield eventually makes its way to the cube, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
10 small flour tortillas
1/2 purchased rotisserie chicken, taken off the bone and shredded
1 can black beans
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
handful Swiss Chard or other green, chopped
1 cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
1 tablespoon adobo, from chiles in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded cheese, preferably a mix of sharp cheddar and jack
For the beans and enchilada sauce:
In a frying pan, sauté the onions in the canola oil over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes until softened. Scrape half of this mixture into a medium saucepan.
In the original pan, add the smoked paprika, and the can of black beans (don’t bother draining). Cook until the beans’ liquid is reduced, then add in the greens. Once they’ve wilted, turn off the heat and set the whole skillet aside. Add salt to taste—be careful though, as canned beans can e salty.
In the other saucepan, add adobo, chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, brown sugar, and a cup of water to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then puree in a blender, taste for salt, and set aside.
To make the enchiladas:
Up to 1 day in advance, assemble the enchiladas: roll about a 1/2 cup of shredded chicken and a few tablespoons of corn in half of the tortillas, folding in the ends so the filling stays in. Fill the remaining tortillas with 1/2 cup black beans and a few teaspoons of corn. Arrange in a 9×13″ baking dish.
When ready to serve, preheat the over to 350°F. Pour the sauce evenly over the whole pan, then sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes, until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and/or rice and a simple green salad.
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pint raspberry sorbet
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup water
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×9″ baking pan.
Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and stir to combine.
Using your fingers, press the dough evenly into the pan, and bake until golden and slightly pulling away from the edges. Set aside to cool completely.
Let the sorbet melt to a spreadable consistency, then, working quickly, press it onto the cooled cookie crust. Smooth the top as much as you can, but don’t let the sorbet turn to liquid. Freeze a few hours, until solid.
In the microwave, melt the chocolate with the water, checking at 30 second intervals, until just melted. Spread evenly across the raspberry sorbet layer, return to the freezer, and let cool until the chocolate is hardened. At least 2 hours before serving, turn the whole thing out of the pan and cut into 16 squares. Return to the freezer until ready to eat.