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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

07/18/2021

~ That's a Wrap Cheesy Flank-Steak-Fajita Burritos ~

IMG_2509A fajita-burrito has its origins in Mexico and features the best of two South-of-the border worlds -- all those luscious strips of well-seasoned grilled or sautéd chicken or steak, bell peppers and onions that go into fajitas, wrapped-and-rolled, burrito-style, in a large, warm flour tortilla that's been slathered with refried beans and scattered with a layer of Spanish-style rice and shredded cheese.  The outcome is indeed the best of two worlds and, there's no need for embellishments either.  Hold the guacamole, sour cream and/or salsa.  Pick 'em up 'cause they're ready-to-eat.

No need for embellishments.  Pick 'em up -- they're ready to eat:

IMG_2528The "burrito", or: "the food from the little donkey"!

6a0120a8551282970b026bdedce277200cA bit about burritos:  A burrito is a portable sandwich found in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.  It consists of a large flour tortilla that has been wrapped or folded to fully encase a filling. Before serving, it gets lightly-grilled or steamed, to soften the tortilla.  Refried beans, Mexican rice and meat (or a meat mixture) are typically the only fillings used, and, burritos are served unembellished, in order for them to be eaten with the hands.   In Spanish, "burrito" means "little donkey", coming from the word "burro", which means "donkey".  

During the Mexican Revolution (1910-1921), in the El Paso area, a street-food vendor named Juan Mendez sold tacos at his street stand.  Because of the war, for safety sake, it became necessary to continually pack up and move his stand/street-cart from place to place.  He began using his donkey to transport him and his food.  In order to keep the food warm as it traveled, Juan had the idea of wrapping it in large flour tortillas.  His food invention became so popular, consumers began traveling to him from other places around the Mexican border in search of:

6a0120a8551282970b026bdedce2c5200cA bit about fajitas:  Originally named tacos-al-carbon, fajitas were served as portable food, ready-to-eat-with-the-hands, by wrapping strips of unpretentious skirt steak that had been cooked over a campfire or on a grill, in a warm corn or flour tortilla, meaning they were served taco-style.  "Faja" is the Spanish word for "strip, band, sash or belt", and, with "ita" added to the end, it means "a little strip, band, sash or belt", meaning the ingredients for fajitas are always cut into strips.

The dish dates back to cattle ranching life along the Rio Grande Valley regions of the Texas-Mexico border in the 1930's.  Throwaway items (heads, entrails and meat trimmings) were given to the Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) as part of their pay, resulting in some of the first Tex-Mex border dishes: barbacoa de cabeza (head barbecue), menudo (tripe stew), and fajitas/arracheras (grilled skirt steak).  Because of the limited number of skirts per animal, the meat wasn't available for sale, so, for years it remained obsure to all except the vaqueros, butchers and their families.

The "fajita", or: "faja" & "ita", meaning "little strips"!

IMG_2472For each burrito:

1, 9 1/2" round burrito-size flour tortilla

1/2  cup refried beans or refried bean dip

3/4  cup prepared Mexican-style adobo rice, my recipe or your favorite boxed Spanish-style rice mix

1/2-3/4 cup prepared flank steak fajita filling, my recipe or your favorite recipe

1/4  cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese

IMG_2473 IMG_2473 IMG_2473 IMG_2482 IMG_2482 IMG_2482 IMG_2482~Step 1. To assemble each fajita burrito, place one tortilla on a flat work surface.  Using a butter knife, spread the beans or bean dip to within 1/2" of the perimeter of the tortilla.  Scatter the Mexican rice atop the beans, and, using fingertips, gently pat rice into beans (this will keep the rice in place when wrapping and rolling the burritos).  Carefully spoon and mound the chicken-fajita filling (atop the rice) in a long strip across the center.  Place the cheese atop and along the strip of steak-fajita filling.

IMG_2493 IMG_2493 IMG_2493Step 2.  To wrap, and heat burritos, lift the side of tortilla closest to you up and over the filling -- far enough so it wraps all the way around the filling.  Pick up left and right sides of tortilla and fold them atop filling.  Roll tortilla over, seam side down, to fully encase and secure filling in a tight roll.   Transfer each burrito to a plate, or, place all burritos on a platter.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave 1-1 1/2 minutes.

When ready to eat, heat one or all of them.  Serve for lunch, dinner or a very special late night snack attack:

IMG_2503That's a Wrap Cheesy Flank-Steak-Fajita Burritos:  Recipe yields enough ingredients to make 12 large burritos.

Special Equipment List:  butter knife, hand-held box grater, slotted spoon, plastic wrap 

6a0120a8551282970b0278803122fe200dCook's Note: Tacos and fajitas.  Akin to Cheeseburgers and pizza, I can't much conjure up more kid-friendly meals.  That said, if you're a mom or dad attempting to get your kids to eat more vegetables, fajitas are an argument-free way way to get the job done.  If you're a mom or dad trying to cut some fat out of your life, chicken fajitas will accomplish that too. There's more.  Got a big family to feed? dNeed to feed a crowd? Double the recipe quantities -- in about the same amount of time, voila: the hungry mob is fed.  In the event you prefer chicken to steak, try making burritos using my ~ Kids-Stuff One-Skillet Tex-Mex Chicken Fajita Filling ~ in place of my steak filling.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

07/15/2021

~ Kids-Stuff Tex-Mex Broiled-Flank-Steak Fajita Filling ~

IMG_2444 2Newsflash.  A flank steak does not have to be grilled outdoors to be a great flank steak.  While grilled is very, very good, truth told, my oven broiler method does a marvelous job with no stress, guess nor mess.  The end result is wonderfully seasoned, perfectly-cooked medium-rare steak.   The process is so foolproof, I prefer it.  There's more.  Once sliced, a flank steak feeds an entire family.  When the flank steak gets added to an easy-to-make sautéed vegetable medley, this meal feeds a crowd.  It's perfect for any indoor or outdoor gathering any time of year.

When the steak is seasoned fajita-style, magic happens:

IMG_2419A bit about this flat, oval, 1"-1 1/2"-thick, stringy-grained steak:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2e96596970cA well done flank steak is not well done at all.  Flank steak, while it lends its succulent flavorful self to indoor cooking beautifully, if the lean and sexy flank steak is not quickly-cooked and served rare- medium-rare it is not worth eating. While I occasionally pan-sear it, my favorite method is to cook it under the broiler*.  My foolproof method takes all the guesswork out of it too.  Read on:

My rule of thumb is to purchase the biggest flank steak I can find -- two pounds is perfect, but, if I come across one that's larger, into my cart it goes.  I'd be crazy not to spend the extra pennies, and, it's not because bigger is better.  It's because leftovers go into sandwiches and onto salads -- zero waste.  Depending on the recipe du jour, sometimes I marinate flank steak, sometimes I don't.  When it comes to flank steak, absorb this: marination (which does not affect the cooking time), is a flavorizer not a tenderizer.  Perfectly-cooked flank steak is super-tender with zero marination.  Example:  my marinated Greek-Style Flank Steak Salad or Pocket Sammies.

* Note:  I have electric ovens and none of mine have a hi or low setting for the broiler.  With the door cracked (which is how broiling, a from-the-top-down dry-heat-method of cooking, is done in an electric oven), an oven-thermometer reads 325-ishº throughout the cooking process.

Savory, succulent & ready to eat in about 45 minutes:

IMG_2371For the flank steak & seasonings:

1  large flank steak (about 2-2 1/2) 

3  tablespoons fajita seasoning, my blend, your blend, or, a favorite store-bought seasoning mix, about 3 tablespoons (1, 1-ounce envelope store-bought)

a moderate sprinkling of ground cumin

a very-light sprinkling of ground jalapeño pepper

a very-light sprinkling of freshly-ground sea salt 

For the vegetables & seasonings:

2-3  tablespoons vegetable oil

3  cups 1/4"-thick sliced yellow or sweet onion, slices cut into half-moon shapes

1  1/2  cups each, julienne of:  green, red, orange and yellow bell pepper

3  tablespoons fajita seasoning, my blend, your blend, or a favorite store-bought seasoning mix (1, 1-ounce envelope store-bought)

a moderate sprinkling of ground cumin 

a very-light sprinkling of ground jalapeño pepper

a very-light sprinkling of freshly-ground sea salt

IMG_2373 IMG_2373 IMG_2373 IMG_2373 IMG_2388 IMG_2388 IMG_2388 IMG_2388~Step 1.  To season and broil the flank steak, place it on a a corrugated, disposable aluminum broiler pan and allow it to come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes -- just do it.  Season the top liberally with fajita seasoning, moderately with cumin, followed by a light sprinkling of jalapeño pepper and sea salt.  Place pan 5 1.2"-6" under preheated broiler for exactly 9 minutes -- nine minutes is a key measurement when broiling a flank steak.  Remove flank steak from oven and flip it over.  Season the second side exactly like the first side was seasoned.  Return the steak to the broiler for exactly 9 more minutes.  Remove flank steak from oven and set aside to rest, about 15 minutes, then, prepare the vegetable medley as directed in the next step.

IMG_2400 IMG_2400 IMG_2400 IMG_2400 IMG_2400 IMG_2400 IMG_2400~Step 2.  In a 12" nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium- medium high heat.  Add all of the onions and bell peppers to the skillet, spreading them out across the surface of the bottom of pan.  Season the vegetables by sprinkling with all of the fajita seasoning, a moderate sprinkling of ground cumin, and, a very-light sprinkling of jalapeño pepper and sea salt. Using two large slotted spoons, give the mixture a thorough stir.  Sauté the vegetables until crunch-tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Turn heat off.  Do not cover skillet or the vegetables will steam and vegetables need to remain crunch tender.  

IMG_2419 IMG_2419 IMG_2419 IMG_2419~Step 3.  Place the well-rested but still warm flank steak on a large cutting board.  Holding a chef's knife at a 30° angle, slice the steak into strips, THIN strips, as thin as you can.  Add all of the steak to the skillet and give the mixture a thorough stir,  Transfer to a large bowl.  Serve.

Serve immediately, piled high into warm, fresh corn tortillas:

IMG_2437Kid-friendly, adult-friendly, crowd-friendly goodness:

IMG_2449Kids-Stuff Tex-Mex Broiled-Flank-Steak Fajita Filling:  Recipe yields 7-8 cups fajita filling/enough to fill 24, 5 1/2"-round flour tortillas.

Special Equipment List: 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom; cutting board; chef's knife; 12" nonstick skillet; two large slotted spoons

IMG_1864Cook's Note:  Tacos and fajitas.  Akin to Cheeseburgers and pizza, I can't much conjure up four more kid-friendly meals.  That said, if you're a mom or dad attempting to get your kids to eat more vegetables, it goes without saying, fajitas are an argument-free way way to get the job done. If you're a mom or dad trying to cut some fat out of your life, chicken fajitas will accomplish that too.   If you prefer chicken to steak, try my  ~ Kids-Stuff One-Skillet Tex-Mex Chicken-Fajita Filling ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

07/12/2021

~ Making the Most of the Short & Sweet Corn Season ~

IMG_9991What a wonderful gift the Native Americans gave to the world.  Everything on the corn plant can be used:  the husks for tamales, the silks for tea, the kernels for food and the stalks for fodder.  Modern day horticulturists developed our two most popular varieties: white (Country Gentleman) and yellow (Golden Bantam).  White corn kernels are smaller and sweeter.  Yellow corn kernels are larger and fuller-flavored.  The more recently developed hybrid (Butter & Sugar Corn) produces ears speckled with both yellow and white kernels -- my personal favorite.  

Almost nothing beats a serving of fresh, steaming corn on the cob lacquered with sweet cream butter and sprinkled with salt.  Here in our beautiful and scenic "rolling hills of Pennsylvania", cornfields, miles of them, are a very common sight.  Sweet corn, hands down, is my family's favorite choice as a Summer vegetable.  Unfortunately, corn has a relatively short season, not being at its peak until late July or August and past its prime by Labor Day.  As soon as it's picked, the corn's sugar immediately begins to convert to starch, which lessens its natural sweetness.  Therefore, it is important to buy corn as soon after it is picked as possible.  Corn connoisseurs claim to be able to tell immediately when corn hasn't been cooked the same day it's been picked.

6a0120a8551282970b013486f877cc970cHow to choose & how to cook great sweet corn every time:

Choose ears that are bright green with snugly fitting husks and golden brown silk.  Gently strip/peel back a small portion of the outer husk.  The kernels should be plump and the rows should be tightly spaced.  Pierce down into a kernel with your thumbnail.  If the kernal squirts a wet, milky juice, the corn is young, tender and ready to cook and eat.

6a0120a8551282970b014e5ffe0d91970cTo cook sweet corn you will need:

6-8  freshly, same-day picked, carefully selected, cobs of corn, husks stripped away and silk carefully removed (discard or compost both)

2-4  tablespoons sugar (optional but highly recommended)

8  tablespoons salted butter 

freshly ground sea salt, to taste  

In an 8-quart stockpot, bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat.  Add the sugar.  Ease the corn cobs, one at a time, into the pot of boiling water.  After the last cob has been added and the water has returned to a rolling boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes -- not longer, not shorter, exactly 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain thoroughly.  Return corn to still warm stockpot and add the butter.  Cover and allow the butter to melt, about 2-3 minutes.  Give the pot a few gentle tosses to coat the corn in the butter.  Serve ASAP with s sprinkling of sea salt to taste.

Easy peasy, perfectly-cooked sweet corn each & every time:

IMG_9998To learn ~ How to: Shave Corn off the Cob with Zero Mess ~:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4bbb3a4200b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)