"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Friends with Recipes: Enchiladas Con Letty

by Julie on February 19, 2013

in Kitchen Gods and Goddesses, Dinner

My mom taught me a great many things, but not how to cook. Because she didn’t learn from her mother, although her mother taught her a great many things. My grandmother didn’t learn how to cook because presumably her mother didn’t cook either, although I have to wonder who then fed those 12 kids if not her.  Maybe that’s the reason they all left the old country in the first place.

It’s been established that whole cultures are passed down in the food our mothers and grandmothers feed us as we grow up. It’s that simple, and that powerful. That’s why, any chance I get, I invite friends with favorite childhood recipes to come over and cook while I watch and learn.

Because while I can conjure up some warm recollections of favorite childhood meals, there’s only so much culture you can squeeze out of a strawberry frosted Pop Tart.

So here’s my girlfriend Letty. From a big, warm, Mexican family. Mother very traditional. Always a pot of sopita bubbling on the stove. Letty grew up loving her mom’s food but not thinking too much about it until, surprise surprise, she grew up and had a family of her own. Now she pays a lot more attention to the ways of the womenfolk in the kitchen.

On birthdays, her mother cooks her and her sisters their favorite meal. It’s always the enchiladas.

Simple potato enchiladas. Not fancy at all, but it’s the taste they remember from home. And it starts with the onions.

pickled onions

Sibs came to fisticuffs over the pickled onions…


Slice one large onion into a bowl and squeeze the juice of one lemon over it, crumble oregano and season with salt. Set aside to marinate. This is the best part of the whole dish, remembers Letty. There were often leftovers…but never any onions.

Make well-seasoned mashed potatoes –

potato stuffing

potato stuffing

Make your salsa – tomatoes and onions

Part of the goodness

Part of the goodness

Wrap corn tortillas in a dish rag and microwave to warm them up. Make the decision whether you’re going to use red sauce or green sauce. (We used red sauce this night)

The conundrum

The conundrum

Of course her mother could make her own red or green sauce when she wanted to take a little extra time. But the weeknight enchiladas? Sauce in a can was fine. Who am I to argue?

Set out your fillings and sauces and prepare to wrap the enchiladas.

The trifecta of sauces

The trifecta of sauces

Fill your tortillas with the potato and wrap. Heat your vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet.


rolled and ready

rolled and ready

Now dip your rolled enchilada in sauce and lay it in the skillet to fry for a bit. Turn and fry the other side.

Cover in salsa, shredded cheese, chopped iceberg lettuce and a dollop of crema.

Consume con mucho gusto.


The delicious home

The delicious home

I’ve decided that the whole not cooking thing stops with me. My kids have a mom who cooks for them. Well, tonight Letty cooked for them. But you get my point.

I’ve come to realize that I drag myself out of bed on Sundays to make pancakes from scratch because I want my kids to tell their kids that their mom used to make the best pancakes, every Sunday, and from scratch. I want my kids to make their kids pancakes on Sunday. I want them to make my lentil soup, too. I want one of them to one day be in Spain, sitting at a tapas bar, and sigh. “Yeah, these are good, but they’re just not like my mom’s tortilla…”

The enchiladas? No matter how she tried, they were never quite as good as aunt Letty’s….

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayna February 20, 2013 at 6:42 am

I love this, LOVE this! My mother cooked but we’re talking about opening a can of green beans and throwing half a stick of butter in it. Meatloaf tasted like crumbly ketchup, lasagna had plastic in it from the cheese slices, and all breads: rolls, toast, garlic bread etc were burned to a crisp. I had to learn to cook as an adult and am still learning but there is nothing sweeter than cooking and learning alongside my daughter.


Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious February 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I want this for dinner RIGHT NOW! This looks and sounds fantastic! Good for you for wanting to teach your kids.


JulieR February 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I’ve never had potato enchiladas although grew up with my stepmom making cheese enchiladas every week. We would dip the tortillas in the sauce before rolling the filling up in them and then put them all into a baking tray and bake them in the oven.I can’t wait to try these with the pickled onions! Yum!


Lynn H March 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm

First time ever to this site…..where is the recipe for these potato enchiladas? What constitutes “well seasoned” mashed potatoes? Is the “salsa” pureed tomatoes and the pickled onions? I am making a Mexican themed vegetarian meal this weekend and these look perfectly yummy! Thanks.


Lettie April 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

For the potato filling: boil cubed potatoes in salted water ( I cube em to cut cooking time in 1/2)
While potates cook, saute one chopped onion and 1-2 tomatoes in a little olive oil, season well with salt and a little pepper. When potatoes are cooked drain and dump the lot into the saute pan that has tomates & onions and mash em up. Season to taste.
Salsa: 4-5 Roma tomates, 1-2 serrano chillies, 1 -2 cloves garlic. Put all ingridients in a microwave safe dish – cover and microwave 4-5 minutes. Dump evrything into the blender, add salt to taste – and viola you have a simple salsa. You can omit or add more chilis depending on your preference.


Julie April 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Thanks Letty!
(I’ve made this about three times since you taught me, BTW… Thanks!!)


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