Got the winter blues? Here’s a Fiesta Cure!

Last May Paul Born came to the Kootenays from the Tamarack Institute in Ontario ( ) to talk with about a hundred people about how we can work towards  “Deepening Community.”  
Paul comes from a traditional Mennonite background where preparing and eating food is seen as one of the most potent ways for people to come together to share, celebrate and deepen community bonds.  
Students in the Selkirk College Tenth Street Residence recently put Paul’s philosophy to work when they got together with Martin Keyserlink, Learning Skills coordinator, to chase the away the January cold with a spicy night of Mexican cooking.  
enchilada cooks

Thanks to both Paul and Martin for recipes and inspiration around enjoying good food and company!

Ingredients for a great fiesta night:

Friends willing to freeze their butts off by arriving in shorts and t-shirts (The
only entry requirement to the party is to dress in your favourite summer
• Thermostat set to 250 degrees Celsius.
• Some great Mexican music, but anything “hot” will do. I love Cuban Jazz.
• A blender is optional but strawberry margaritas do add a special touch.
• A piñata full of treats for the kids. (or big people that like to be kid like)
• Some great Mexican food.

Here are two recipes to get you started:

Paul  Born’s Enchiladas

Ingredients: (to serve 6)

• 3 large (6 small) chicken breasts. I have sometimes substituted beef or ground beef (1kg or 2 lbs) and even refried beans out of a can.

• 2 cups chopped onions

• 2 tablespoons of olive oil

• A can of well strained tomatoes

• A cup of tomato sauce

• In a bowl mix 2-3 cloves crushed garlic (to your taste), 1 or 2 chopped jalapeno peppers, 1 or 2 teaspoons ground cumin, a teaspoon each of salt, oregano and basil.

• 12 tortillas (corn or flour). The corn ones are 6” and you may need more but I use 12” flour ones since I find them easier to work with.

• 2-3 cups of grated cheese (Monterey Jack or Mozzarella work well)

• 1 cup yogurt or sour cream

The filling: Fry the chicken or beef in olive oil. Add 1-½ cups of the chopped onion and the garlic until cooked. Add half the chilies, cumin, salt, oregano and basil mixture. Fry for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked. The sauce: In a separate pan, fry the remaining ½ cup of onion in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the second half of the chilies, garlic, cumin, salt, oregano and basil mixture. Fry for about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomatoes sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn heat off and blend the yogurt into the sauce. Spread a few drops of olive oil in a 9x12x2” baking dish. This will stop the tortillas from sticking. Place a tortilla on a clean flat surface and add some of the filling and 2-3 tablespoons of cheese (enough to fill but not too much or you will find them hard to roll up). Roll up the tortilla and place it seam side down in the dish. Fill the dish fairly tightly. Pour the sauce over the filled tortillas and add the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Do not over bake. Serve with a big smile!

These enchiladas are very filling and make for a great meal when served with a green salad. I almost always double or triple this recipe because it freezes very well. I often make several pans full and freeze them for a cold day – or bring them over to a “blue” neighbor to cheer them up. By: Paul Born

and here are Martin’s enchilada directions – similar with a little bit of a different twist on the sauce:

Enchiladas are filled with goodies and baked with sauce on top.  We started by boiling chopped chicken in water and reserved some of this water for the sauce. You can use almost anything to create the filling.  Here, we filled ours with chopped peppers, diced green onions, beans, canned chopped chilies, grated cheese, chicken and a little salsa.   We then made a roux and added some chicken stock and salsa to make a tasty and somewhat thick enchilada sauce.  Roll all the flour tortillas with the filling, place in a deep dish baking pan and cover with the sauce.  As everything is already cooked, you need now to only warm the whole dish – about 25 mins.  Deliciously served with some sour cream and cilantro on top.
There are often a few different ingredients in Mexican meals.  The good thing about it is that they are simple and fresh ingredients which almost always ends up tasting great and can be spiced to your liking.
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nchilada filling


Nachos are an easy first course. I love to get the round tortillas chips, lay them out
flat on a cookie sheet and drop some spicy ground beef onto them (just fry ground
beef or chicken with taco seasoning). Add some salsa and top with lots of cheese.
Broil for a few minutes until the cheese melts. Let the nachos cool for a minute and
add a glob of guacamole. The hot and cold go great together. These make fantastic
Note: if you need a guacamole recipe email me for an easy one. You can often buy it
in the grocery store as well.


and here is another full meal nacho recipe from Claudette in Quebec:

” As I mourn the loss of summer and pull out my winter woolies I need a pick me up. My annual tradition is to hold a Mexican fiesta with friends.

I love summer. As for winter, well, I tolerate it. Though my children have taught
me to ski again and skating has always been a favorite, winter is the penance I do to
get to summer. So at this time of year (or at any point during this long Canadian
winter), whenever I start to feel those winter blahs, I invite friends over, crank up
the heat, fire up the blender, and cook up my favorite Mexican dishes for a Mexican
fiesta. There’s no better way to beat those cool-day blues!

Copy of CCSU 012

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