Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mexican Lasagna from Eva's Kitchen. Yes, Eva Longoria Cooks!

This has to be the first time I have been repeatedly asked my opinion about a book long before it has even been released. Multiple emails asking about Eva Longoria's cookbook. To which I said, Eva Longoria the actress? She cooks? And even, She eats?

Don't get me wrong, I love that people come to me for cookbook buying advice. In fact it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But this rush of interest in an actress's new offering took me by surprise. So when the book in question popped up on my radar, I knew I had to read it.

The look and layout remind me of Ina Garten's books. Tasteful and colourful, well organized and dotted with personal asides. Not to mention drool-worthy photos!

But what really took me by surprise was Eva herself. Beyond the short skirts and high heels we see on the small screen, she is a loving and compassionate woman with genuine love for cooking.

Eva grew up on a Texas ranch, her mother and aunt being great influences on her cooking, each teaching her the value of fresh food from the land and feeding the family, with love.

Eva's eldest sister was born developmentally disabled, and Eva has worked tirelessly in her own charity, Eva's Heroes, inspired by her sister. A portion of the proceeds from her cookbook will benefit children with developmental disabilities.

Cooking with Love for Family and Friends
Eva Longoria
Hardcover, 224 pages
Also available as an eBook

But let's get down to the food, shall we?

These are easy to make family-friendly recipes reflecting Eva's Mexican/Texan heritage. Bright and bold flavours without too much fuss.

The chapters are divided into:
Soups & Salads
Fish Main Courses
Poultry Main Courses
Beef Main Courses
Delectable Sides
Dressings & Sauces
Tortillas, Biscuits & Quick Breads

And contain many delicious recipes such as: Sweet Potato Empanadas, Yellow Squash Soup with Lemon, Crispy and Spicy Catfish Fillets, Turkey Shepherd's Pie, Beer-Braised Brisket, Crock-Pot Cuban Ropa Vieja, Veracruz Corn, Borracho Beans, Tomato-Basil Spaghetti, Citrus-Garlic Sauce, Chipotle Aioli, Homemade Tortillas, Pumpkin Bread, Cranberry-Poached Pears, Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Orange Buttercream, and Sweet Sun Tea.

100 simple and delicious recipes in all, friend and family favourites that you will enjoy making and serving.

We whipped up Eva's Mexican Lasagna this week in our KitchenPuppy test kitchen. And I have to say, it was totally delicious. Definitely a new family favourite. Don't be intimidated by those chilies, they are integral to the dish and not at all hot. Try it yourself!

Mexican lasagna
By Eva Longoria author of Eva’s Kitchen
This is a really fun dish to make and serve. It’s great for parties or to bring to potlucks and it’s convenient. You can assemble it completely and then freeze it (let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before baking as directed below).

I like to make it in two round cake pans because it looks really pretty when you slice it. Use any saucy salsa that you like; don’t use pico de gallo, which is too chunky. Shredded Mexican cheese is a packaged combination of three to four cheeses, usually Cheddar, Monterey Jack, queso quesadilla, and asadero. It adds more complex flavor than a single cheese and melts really well. Of course, you can grate your own selection of cheeses, but I like the convenience of the preshredded and packaged version.


Cooking spray for the cake pans and foil
2 pounds ground beef or turkey
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ cup Chicken Broth (page 51) or storebought low-sodium chicken broth
10 flour tortillas
1 16-ounce jar Pace Picante Sauce or other store-bought or homemade saucy salsa
1 16-ounce package shredded Mexican cheese
1 8-ounce container sour cream
2 4.5-ounce cans chopped green chiles

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the beef, stirring and breaking it up with a spoon, until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Pour the chicken broth in a large shallow dish and add the tortillas. Soak about 5 minutes; you want them soft but not mushy. Set aside ½ cup salsa and 1 cup cheese. *I would say that if you are using grocery-store soft tortillas, you won't have to soak them. N.

4. Place 1 tortilla on the bottom of each cake pan. In each pan, layer as follows: spread about 2 tablespoons of sour cream on top of the tortilla. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons chiles over the sour cream, followed by about ½ cup of the browned meat, 2 tablespoons salsa, and ¹⁄³ cup shredded cheese. Top with a tortilla. Repeat to make 3 more layers of filling. Finish with a tortilla on top. (You’ll have a stack of 5 tortillas and 4 layers of filling.) Divide the reserved salsa and cheese between the two pans, spreading the salsa to cover the tortilla and sprinkling the cheese to cover the salsa.

5. Spray one side of 2 sheets of aluminum foil with cooking spray and place them oiled-side down over the pans. Bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling around the edges. Serve hot.

Excerpted from Eva’s Kitchen by Eva Longoria and Marah Stets Copyright © 2011 by by Eva Longoria and Marah Stets. Photographs Copyright © 2011 by Ben Fink. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.