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Fall approaches

26 Aug
Mushroom season - piles at the Viktualienmarkt

Mushroom season – piles at the Viktualienmarkt

Yesterday was a good day, even if the humidity felt like Singapore. After the gym, I headed over to the big central farmer’s market to pick up some goodies for whatever I would cook this (Sunday) evening. And as I write this I am closing in on the end of meal making…. Of course as fall approaches, the Viktualienmarkt, always a source of inspiration with its produce from around the world, fills up with mushrooms. I didn’t even know what a “Steinpilz” was before I came to Germany. Literally translated, it’s “Stone mushroom” – obviously because of the cap’s resemblance to a rock or stone – and in the US we call them porcinis…even if that is the Italian word for them.

Fresh porcinis

Fresh porcinis

There, porcinis were something I only knew as expensive brown dry chips that you needed to hydrate in hot water before adding them as a flavoring agent to a lot of different meat recipes and pasta recipes. When I moved to Munich, I think it was one of my German teachers – Bernhard – who told me what they were when we passed a cart full of fresh ones near the classroom many years back. Fresh and in season, porcinis are still pricey, probably about 15-20 euros a kilo, but just a few of them go a long way.

Duck duck goose near the mushrooms at Viktualienmarkt

Duck duck goose near the mushrooms at Viktualienmarkt

I had decided before I left for the city on my bike that I would go with some sort of Mexican dish – perfect for early fall because you can use the bright flavors of summer – sweet corn and tomatoes – but start to mix in the earthy and heartier flavors of fall – mushrooms and bay leaves, stewed meat and cumin. And the late summer veggies are here now too – swiss chard would be figuring its way into the meal…somehow.

I bought my ingredients, taking a break at an Israeli falafel stand for a quick lunch, loaded up the bike, and headed home.

Grocery bike

Grocery bike

I’m making enchiladas – corn tortillas (which I admit, I bought, but they are too much work and the guy with the taco stand 3 kilometers up the road has an amazing deal I just can’t turn down – 30 for 5 euros) dipped in a tomato sauce, briefly fried (i might skip that step…), and then filled with meat and vegetables, covered in a sprinkle of cheese, and then baked in the oven for about 30 minutes to bring all the flavors and textures together.

This morning I got up early to begin the process. I decided to stew some pork neck meat and shred it and mix it up with the “Waldpilzen” (forest mushrooms – a cleaned and chopped mix of porcinis, chantarelles, and a few I didn’t know) that I had purchased at the market yesterday.

Forest mushrooms for my enchiladas

Forest mushrooms for my enchiladas

That would be filling number 1 for the enchiladas. I am cooking from Diane Kennedy’s cookbook that I think I got as a birthday present from my sister. It’s a good cookbook, although I don’t cook from it often, instead relying more on taste, intuition and a lot of experience eating mexican food while living in California. It’s also quite a bit of work to cook from it. It’s one of those books that have reasonably short recipes – until you find out that in one recipe lies another 3 or 4 buried inside.

Enchiladas: half-way there

Enchiladas: half-way there

So the pork and mushroom filling was actually 3 recipes. I decided to take a break after the pork and mushrooms were done and head out for a long bike ride. The weather was perfect: cool and only a little overcast. I thought about doing a recommended bike route around Munich but then just ended up cruising south along the river for about 15 kilometers and then turned around after about an hour and headed back.

Isar after the rains

Isar after the rains

The second filling – a vegetarian swiss chard with tomatoes and chilis and onions – was more straightforward. I put it together after the bike ride.

Swiss Chard, waiting to be chopped

Swiss Chard, waiting to be chopped for enchilada fillings

A quick chopping of the chard, some garlic, onions, chilies and tomato, saute it up and let the water from the vegetable boil off. I made a double recipe – to eat the rest later in the week in some other format.

Time to rest and relax a bit.

3 hours later…

With the fillings done, it was time to assemble and bake up the finished product.

You coat each of the tortillas with the enchilada sauce (yes, another recipe), and then spoon some of the filling into the center.

Filling the enchiladas

Filling the enchiladas

These each get rolled up next.

Rolling the enchiladas

Rolling the enchiladas

And then they get snuggled next to each other in the pan.

A panful. Plenty of leftovers to come

A panful. Plenty of leftovers to come

Cover with the rest of the sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and into the oven.

30 minutes later, they come out brown and bubbling.

I did my best to make the plate look reasonably good…but…at the end of the day…thankfully it is the taste that counts.

Finished product: tasty, not particularly elegant

Finished product: tasty, not particularly elegant

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