Home Turf - Home Cookin'

Ah! You have probably been wondering (along with everyone else) just where we went to eat for that first meal on US soil. And the answer: the Taco Bell closest to the Detroit Airport. The food we had all missed the most during our journey was Mexican food. And Taco Bell was a sure bet and offered the right amount of America to suit our hunger.

From dinner at the "Hong Kong-Mexico Society" to attempts at making enchiladas and tacos in Amsterdam and Scotland with more than a few missing ingredients, we had been fantasizing about good ol' Taco Bell—the one fast food chain we didn't find on the road. Unlike the movie "Demolition Man, " Taco Bell has not won the international fast food wars (that's a toss up among McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King). In fact, we understand that (in the late 1990s) they only exist in the United states and Australia (where they serve margaritas made with Midori liqueur).

United States

Our final Worldhop stop was with my sister Randi and her husband Larry, one of the best cooks I have ever known. Laurant (Larry) grew up in San Francisco, first-generation French-American. He hunts deer, then brings home the meat and cooks it into all sorts of delectable dishes, including jerky. He dives for abalone and then makes the most melt-in-your-mouth concoction you have ever had pass your lips. But no meal is ever complete without good French bread (and butter and garlic). Here is Larry's own personal recipe. It is fitting that it is a nibble from the melting pot of American cuisine.

Larry's French Bread

  • 4 C flour (Larry recommends "Better for Bread")

  • 1 Tbsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp sugar

  • Mix in a large bowl

  • 2 Tbsp sugar

  • 1/2 Cup warm water

  • 2 Tbsp yeast

  • Mix together and allow to work for ten minutes

  • Add to flour mixture together with:

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water

  • 1 egg

Mix with a large spoon until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl--you will probably have to add more flour incrementally. Dump onto a floured board and knead for 15-25 minutes (add flour as necessary so it doesn't stick). Put back in lightly greased (or Pam sprayed) bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a wet towel and let stand and rise in a warm place about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Return to floured board. Knead again for 15 - 20 minutes. Divide into loaves. Place on a lightly greased (Greased or "Pam"ed) baking sheet. Allow to rise in a warm dry oven.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes at 400, then turn oven down to 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes more. Voila! The whole process takes about four hours.

When we had a new home, we made our favorite enchilada dinner:

Cheese Enchiladas

  • 1 dozen corn tortillas

  • 2 cans red enchilada sauce (I prefer Las Palmas)

  • about 1/4 cup cooking oil

  • yellow cheese (e.g. Colby, Cheddar), about 1 lb. shredded or grated

  • a small frying pan and a 13" x 11" x 2" (+/-) caserole pan

Grate the cheese and set aside. Heat the oil so that a tortilla inserted creates small bubbles. Insert a tortilla, quickly remove with tongs, let drip and then place in casserole pan. Put enough cheese in the tortilla to fill. Roll the tortilla, ovelapping the edges on one side. Place with overlapping sides down. Repeat this for all 12 tortillas. Open cans of enchilada sauce and cover the enchiladas. Put the last of the grated cheese on top. Put in a preheated 350 over for 20 - 30 minutes. The sauce will be slighly bubbly and the top cheese melted.

If you prefer enchiladas made without oil, get an extra can of enchilada sauce to use in place of the oil. (the oil or the sauce are needed to make the tortillas pliable). They are a bit more delicate to handle, so be prepared to have a few tortillas fall apart. At the winter holidays we make "Christmas" enchladas half as above, the other half filled with jack cheese or a combination of chicken and jack cheese covered with green sauce.

Serve with refried beans, Mexican rice and salad with salsa. Buy the beans in a can (we prefer Rosarita vegetarian). Cook in a bit of oil and add grated cheese. Saute uncooked white rice in a bit of oil in a large heavy frying pan until golden brown. Add boiling water to cover in about 3 inches of water along with a chicken bullion cube. Add some chopped onions sauteed until clear, diced tomatoes, garlic, salt, chili powder and cumin to taste. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender (covered is best, uncovered is OK). Watch to make sure the pan doesn't boil dry.

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