Love is in the air this week, isn't it? At least it should be, what with all of the sweet reminders of Valentine's Day all around us. And though the obvious emphasis for this red-hearted little holiday lies mainly on a romantic type of love, I can't help but consider the concept of “love” in general, and the many delicious varieties—flavors, if you will—of love that there are that color our hearts that deep shade of red and bring joy and meaning into our lives on a daily basis, and allow us the opportunity to discern the precious nuances in our relationships with each other.
You see, there's the love that a couple shares between each other, and it creates a space for experiencing and understanding passion, true friendship, compromise, chemistry, and perhaps even a little bit of “fiery-ness”; there's the love between a parent and a child, and it creates a space for experiencing and understanding true selflessness, unconditionality, and responsibility for nurturing another life; there's the love between friends, and it creates a space for experiencing and understanding vulnerability, sharing, listening, and supporting; and there'e even the love between ourselves and our pets, and the other precious creatures and things of this earth, that creates a space for us to experience and understand loyalty, harmony, and peace.
But perhaps the most important type of love that we can experience is the love between God and ourself, the love between the Creator and His beloved created; and that type of love offers a space for experiencing and understanding faith, the brilliance of this life, the possibility of miracles, the uniqueness of individual being-ness, and the importance of surrender. It creates a glorious space for us to experience the culmination of all of those other relationships, as the Creator is ultimately revealed in all of those.
What amazing things we can learn and experience from the various “flavors” of love that there are; what wonderful understanding we can gain about the many aspects of our human need for connection to all things.
When our taste buds experience love, we discover that it may be sweet, with a hint of warm richness; we discover that it may be a little bitter, with a slight tang that lingers on the palette; we may discover that it contains elements of spicy heat and subtle smokiness, that creates a gentle thirst; and still at other times, we may discover that it is deeply savory and engaging of all of the senses.
At some point or another, in our many relationships, we experience all of the various flavors of love that are there for our tastebuds to take pleasure in, even if at times those flavors are overwhelming and perhaps not what we wanted to fill our mouths with when we began. But they are the spices of life, those very things that when appropriately blended together, create a completely balanced meal that sustains all of the desires of our hungry souls.
This recipe is in honor of all of the various flavors of love that we will all, at some point, experience, if we open our hearts and surrender. There are hints of savory smokiness; there are hints of mild sweetness and tanginess; the are flavors of rich creaminess; and there are pops of heat and spice—of “fiery-ness”.
May you have an inspired and utterly love-filled week, dear readers; and may you fully experience all of the various flavors—the delicious varieties—of love that each of these unique relationships we are in the midst of bring to our table.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Flank Steak & Four Cheese Enchiladas with Sweet Corn, topped with Homemade Smoky Chipotle Enchilada Sauce
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 12 enchiladas
• ½ - ¾ pound flank steak
• Black pepper
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin
• Olive oil
• Smoky Chipotle Enchilada Sauce, warm (recipe below)
• 12 corn tortillas (I use “Mission” brand's “super soft” variety)
• 3 cups 3-cheese blend (cheddar, jack & mozzarella), divided use
• 1 cup organic corn
• ½ cup very roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided use
• ½ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
• 1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish (optional)
-Preheat the oven to 350°, and have a 9” x 13” baking dish on hand.
-Place the steak in a medium sized bowl, and add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, the ground cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil; rub the seasoning into the steak, and allow it to marinate for a few minutes.
-To grill the steak, place a large non-stick grill pan over medium-high heat, and allow it become hot; once hot, drizzle in a touch of oil, then add the steak in, allowing it to sear on that first side for about 4 minutes; turn the steak and allow it to sear on the other side for about 3-4 more minutes; remove from pan and allow it to rest for about 10-15 minutes (the steak will be medium rare).
-Slice the steak against it's grain, then cut it into tiny, bite-sized pieces, and set aside for a moment.
-Add about 1 cup worth of the warm, Smoky Chipotle Enchilada Sauce to the bottom of the baking dish, and spread it out evenly.
-Add about 1 ½ cups of the warm, Smoky Chipotle Enchilada Sauce to a shallow dish, as you will use this to coat the tortillas in before filling them.
-Separate out 1 ½ cups worth of the 3-Cheese blend, and set it aside (this will be the melty topping); the remaining 1 ½ cups will be for the filling.
-Just before assembling the enchiladas, you'll need to soften the corn tortillas in order to make them pliable—otherwise, they will crack when you try to roll them. To soften them, wrap a batch of 6 tortillas in warm, damp paper towels, and microwave for 45 seconds (you will steam the remaining batch once these are filled).
-To assemble, take one warm tortilla from the stack in the microwave (keep the rest in there covered with the damp paper towels), and dip it in the warm sauce in the shallow dish, coating both sides to moisten; then, on a plate or cutting board, fill the tortilla by sprinkling about a heaping tablespoon worth of the cheese, a small sprinkle of the steak, then a small sprinkle of the corn, finishing with a pinch of the cilantro leaves (take care not to overfill the enchiladas, or they may be too difficult to roll, and be too big); gently fold the tortilla over and slowly and carefully roll it closed, then set it seam-side down in the sauce in the baking dish; repeat the process until all enchiladas have been assembled, placing them in a single layer in the baking dish.
-Pour as much of the enchilada sauce as you'd like over all of the assembled enchiladas (you may end up with a little extra sauce), then top with the 1 ½ cups of cheese you set aside; bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are hot and soft.
-Once out of the oven, finish by sprinkling over the crumbled Cotija cheese and the rest of the chopped cilantro leaves, and garnish with a few pumpkin seeds, if using; serve with some rice and beans on the the side, if desired.
Smoky Chipotle Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:
• Olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
• 3 (14.5 ounce) cans organic fire-roasted & diced tomatoes with green chiles
• 2 whole chipotle peppers
• 1 heaping tablespoon adobo sauce (the sauce that the chipotles are packed in)
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
• ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
-Place a non-stick pot over medium heat, and add in about 2 tablespoons of oil; once hot, add in the chopped onions, and allow them to sweat for about 2-3 minutes.
-Add the garlic in, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste, stir, and allow it to cook for about a minute.
-Next, add in the cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, juices and all, plus the chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce, and stir to combine.
-Add in the brown sugar along with the remainder of the ingredients, including the cilantro, and stir to combine well; adjust the heat to medium or medium-high, and allow the sauce to simmer, fairly vigorously, for 15 minutes without a lid.
-Using a hand-held immersion blender (or even a regular blender if you don't have an immersion), puree the sauce until smooth and silky, then check to see if you need any additional salt or pepper; keep the sauce warm if using immediately, or allow it to cool and store it in a container in the fridge until ready to use, at which point you will reheat it.