Phil's International Flair

Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair! This month, the format of my column is changing a little. I've decided to take advantage of my new digital camera and begin presenting pictures of some of the dishes presented in this column.

August was the month for Fiesta in Santa Barbara, California. I managed to spend the weekend there visiting my mother who prepared an old family recipe, Enchiladas Rancheros. I had not eaten them in years, and I must say they were truly delicious. I even managed to have my picture taken with Pascual (he's the one with the hat) who owns one of the more popular restaurants in the city of Santa Barbara. Pascual was the Honorary Presidente for the big parade and has been for many years. His presence has become traditional.

Try these enchiladas when company visits, or make them for your family and plan to have leftovers. They are very rich and filling. Cheese lovers will like this recipe a lot!

Please let me know how you like the look and feel of this month's column. I'm sure that in time my photography skills will improve with the new digital camera. I may revisit the topics of sushi and tamales with some step by step photos to illustrate the process in the future. I'm sure that you will also see pictures of dishes that I prepare in my newly remodeled kitchen. Please bear in mind that these pictures aren't of professional quality yet, but I'll get there.

The recipes presented this month are from my yet to be published cookbook, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests. Be well, and good eating!

Now, on to the recipe!

Enchiladas Rancheros

A recipe for festivities! A meal in itself, or you can serve this dish with Spanish Rice and Refried Beans.
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 can black olives, sliced
  • 1 avocado, seeded and sliced (optional)
  • 4 scallions, diced (optional)
  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can Ortega whole green chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 16 oz. container sour cream

Begin by preparing the sauce for the enchiladas. In a large pot, heat the diced tomatoes and garlic over medium heat until simmering. Remove the chilies from the can and dice them into medium size pieces. Add the chiles to the tomatoes and continue to simmer over low heat until the enchiladas are ready. You can also simmer this sauce ahead of time just because it makes the house smell so good.

You can, of course, use fresh tomatoes and green chilies. If you use fresh green chilies (Anaheim variety), roast them over a burner or under a broiler for a minute or two per side, rotating constantly. When the skin blisters from the heat, rotate the chili over and continue cooking. When the chili is done, it should look a little blackened on all sides and the skin will be easy to peel off. Once peeled, they can be diced and put into the pot with the tomatoes.

Once the sauce has been started, you can begin making the enchiladas. In a skillet, heat the oil over low heat until hot (not smoking). Have a baking pan ready for the rolled enchiladas.

Dip the tortillas in the hot oil using tongs for about 5 to 10 seconds per side, turning once. This will make the tortilla pliable and easy to roll without cracking. Let the tortilla cook at least long enough so that it won't tear when you try to turn it with the tongs. Immediately move the tortilla to the baking pan and place some grated cheese and chopped olives into the middle of the tortilla and proceed to roll it up. Repeat the process with all of the tortillas. You can also add chopped green onions before rolling the enchilada. When you are done, your baking pan should look something like the picture below.

Once all of the tortillas have been rolled into enchiladas in the baking pan, place the pan into the oven to bake for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees, or until the cheese appears to be melting (my mother heated them in the microwave, two at a time for about 2 minutes). When hot, remove the baking pan from the oven and serve two enchiladas per person, topping the pair with a heaping amount of the sauce and a dollop of sour cream. A slice of avocado on top is also a very nice garnish, as might be a sprinkling of chopped green onions or a few sprigs of cilantro.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes