Baked Trout with Vegetables

Baked trout with vegetables and rucola

Baked trout with vegetables and rucola

Baking fish wrapped in foil is an excellent idea, because flavors are much more intense and the meat is more tender. The downside, as you can see from the above photo, is the presentation, which suffers a bit. Well, to be honest, I don’t have special fish plates, that’s why I served it straight from the foil.

Anyway, here’s my baked trout recipe:

Get two medium-sized fish. If you can arrange with the shop assistant to clean them for you, that’s awesome. If not, expect a bit of mess in the kitchen. I’ve got mine already cleaned and ready to cook:

Cleaned fish

Cleaned fish

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Chop one big onion and add it to the pan.

Cooking onion in hot olive oil

Cooking onion in hot olive oil

Cook it for about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add 10-12 chopped mushrooms:

Chopped mushrooms

Chopped mushrooms

Stir well, then add salt and some red hot chili flakes:

Fish stuffing: onions, mushrooms and red chili flakes

Fish stuffing: onions, mushrooms and red chili flakes

Chop 3-4 cherry tomatoes and one green bell pepper and add them to the pan:

Vegetable stuffing mix for fish

Vegetable stuffing mix for fish

Chop 6-7 garlic cloves and mix them with two tablespoons olive oil and the juice from half lemon:

Chopped garlic with olive oil and lemon juice

Chopped garlic with olive oil and lemon juice

Put the fish on aluminum foils, spoon the vegetable stuffing inside them, then pour this mixture on top of the fish.

Fish - stuffed, glazed, ready to go in the oven for baking

Fish - stuffed, glazed, ready to go in the oven for baking

Close the foils, so the fish look now like Egyptian mummies :)

Fish in aluminum foil

Fish in aluminum foil

Bake the fish in the oven, over medium heat. It should be done in about 45 minutes. Anyway, after 40 minutes, take it out of the oven and open the wrappings, then return it to the oven and bake it for 5-10 minutes more, so it gets a kind of crust.

Oven-baked, stuffed fish

Oven-baked, stuffed fish

Now, if you want to go festive, transfer the fish on special fish platters. The easier option is to just unwrap and serve it like this:

Nice and juicy baked trout

Nice and juicy baked trout

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size fish (trout or any other fish of your choice)
  • 10-12 mushrooms
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes (or one big tomato)
  • 6-7 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • lemon juice from a half lemon
  • lemon slices (for serving)
  • red chili flakes
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Romanian Potato Salad – Salata Boeuf

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Come to the Christmas dinner in any Romanian home and you’ll most probably have the opportunity to try Salata Boeuf. After that, chances are that you’ll fall in love with it and miss it wherever you go.

Salata Boeuf, or Salata de Boeuf, is a typical Romanian dish, a potato salad served as appetizer at festive dinners, especially during winter time. Why winter time? Well, because that’s the time when people have pickles in their pantries and because the Boeuf Salad calls for lots of pickles such as gherkins and red bell peppers.

As “boeuf” is the French for “beef”, you’d be tempted to think this is a French recipe. I thought so, too. However, it seems the recipe has Russian origins: it’s similar to the Olivier Salad, which is Russian.

This is my Romanian potato salad recipe, a classic that can’t go wrong.

Take about one pound beef meat and wash it. Since we are going to use the pressure cooker, you can buy cheaper cuts of beef such as brisket, because it’s going to end up tender anyway.

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Peel three carrots, a celery root, a parsnip and an onion. Put them in the pressure cooker together with the beef and a teaspoon of salt and fill it about three quarters with water. It is important not to fill it above that limit because if you do, the cooker will spit hot water on you and on everything on a 2 feet range around the stove. Please don’t ask me how I know that. I just know ;)

Pressure cooker ready to go

Pressure cooker ready to go

Cook the food for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, wait until all steam is gone, then remove the lid and check to see if the beef is cooked. The vegetables will be cooked for sure. If the beef is tender, you’re done. If not, take the vegetables out of the pressure cooker, put the lid back on and keep on cooking for 30 minutes more.

In another pot, boil 4-5 medium size potatoes. If you want, you can add the potatoes into the pressure cooker with the other ingredients. Be aware that if you do so, they will end up overcooked and you may not be very happy about that. I’m not, so I boil them separately.

After you boil all vegetables, let them cool before you chop them. If you want, you can put them in the fridge and finish the salad in a few hours or even the next day. Anyway, retain the beef broth for other meals. I, for instance, used it for my French onion soup recipe and for the mushrooms quesadilla recipe.

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Dice the carrots, parsnip and celery root.

Chopped carrots

Diced carrots

Dice 6-7 gherkins.

Diced gherkins

Diced gherkins

Chop 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves.

Pickled red pepper

Pickled red pepper

Chop the beef.

Chopped beef

Chopped beef

Mix everything in a very large pot. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Optionally you can add two tablespoons of mustard.

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Add about 1/2 pound mayonnaise and mix well.

Spoon the potato salad mixture into bowls. If you prepare this for a festive dinner with more than 4 guests, it’s a good idea to split it into a few bowls, in order to make it easier to reach for everybody at the table.

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Pour some mayonnaise on top of each potato salad bowl.

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Spread the mayonnaise onto the salad surface as if you were painting a wall. You can use a spoon, fork or knife to do that.

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Now it’s time to decorate the bowls. This will turn a simple potato salad into Salata Boeuf. Use gherkins, picked red bell peppers and black olives and let your creativity flow. If you have kids, you can ask them to help you. They will love it. Here’s what I did with my potato salad bowls:

Salata Boeuf decoration ideas

Salata Boeuf decoration idea

… and the second one:

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Chill the salads in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium size potatoes
  • 1 onion ( to be discarded after boiling or used for some other dish)
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 celery root
  • 1 pound beef
  • 6-7 gherkins + 2 for decor
  • 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves + 2 for decor
  • 5-6 black olives (for decor)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound mayonnaise + three tablespoons more for decorating the bowls
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Quesadilla with Mushrooms and Onions

Tasty quesadillas

Tasty quesadillas

This is an idea for a filling, healthy breakfast. Melting cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms, fresh parsley and a little garlic, gathered together between two crisp tortillas will make your morning awesome and will give you energy for a few good hours.

Take one onion, chop it and saute it with a bit of olive oil and salt.

Chopped onion

Chopped onion

Saute the onions over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until they start to caramelize.

Caramelized onions for mushroom quesadilla

Caramelized onions for mushroom quesadilla

Get 5-6 white mushrooms, clean them, chop them, then add them into the pan and saute them together with the onions. Add a little bit of salt and ground black pepper.

Mushrooms and onions for quesadilla

Mushrooms and onions for quesadillas

In about 15-20 minutes,mushrooms will be cooked, onions will be soft, so it’s time to add 3-4 garlic cloves, minced. Cook them for 1-2 minutes, then add about two tablespoons of beef broth to deglaze the pan. Keep on cooking until the broth evaporates. Remove from heat and add minced parsley (I added two tablespoons of fresh parsley).

Mushrooms, onions, garlic and parsley = quesadilla filling

Mushrooms, onions, garlic and parsley = quesadilla filling

While the mushrooms are cooking, grate some cheese. You’ll need about 1 cup of grated cheese for one quesadilla.

Grated cheese

Grated cheese

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan. Add one of the tortillas, rub it a little to coat it in oil and let it heat for 1 minute.

Tortilla number 1 heating

Tortilla number 1 heating

Flip it on the other side and heat it for 1 minute.

Flipping the tortilla in the pan

Flipping the tortilla in the pan

Set the first tortilla aside. Repeat the procedure with the second tortilla, then add half of the grated cheese on top of it.

Mounting quesadillas - first cheese layer

Mounting quesadillas - first cheese layer

Add the onion-mushrooms mixture, spreading it evenly onto the surface.

Mounting quesadillas - mushrooms and onions layer

Mounting quesadillas - mushrooms and onions layer

Spread the rest of the cheese on top, then cover with the other tortilla.

Mounting quesadillas - second cheese layer

Mounting quesadillas - second cheese layer

Cook it over low heat for about 2 minutes, then flip it and cook it for 2 more minutes or until the cheese melts.

Flipped quesadilla - cooking on the second side

Flipped quesadilla - cooking on the second side

Take care when you flip it, because the filling will want to come out and spread all over your kitchen floor. The easiest way to do it is to cover the pan with a plate, then with both hands, reverse the pan, so the quesadilla lands on the plate. Then let it slide from the plate into the pan.

When ready, cut the quesadilla in quarters and serve it with salsa topping.

Quesadilla recipe with mushrooms and onions. Bon Appetit!

Quesadilla recipe with mushrooms and onions. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients for this quesadilla recipe:

  • 2 small tortillas
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 white mushrooms (small-medium size)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons beef broth (can be replaced with dry white wine)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
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Cold Baked Potato Salad

Cold baked potato salad

Cold baked potato salad


Potato salads are great side dishes as well as appetizers. Served in nice presentation forms, they can make awesome party foods.

Ingredients:

  • 6 large baking potatoes
  • 2 onions, peeled, sliced
  • 3 eggs, boiled hard
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 bacon slices, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 20-30 black olives, cored
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • salt, pepper to taste

Preparation:
Heat the oven at 350F. Bake the potatoes for 60 minutes. Try them with a fork to see if they are done. If the fork doesn’t go in easily, extend the baking time by 10-15 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool. If you want them to cool faster, you can immerse them in cold water.

Boil the eggs hard. This means that after the water starts to boil, you need to cook them for 15 minutes.

After the eggs are cooked, let them cool and slice them thin. Peel and slice the onion. Cut the olives in quarters. Peel and dice the baked potatoes in chunks of about 1.5 inch thick. Dice the bacon and the red bell pepper. Put all these in a large bowl, add mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix gently until the mayonnaise – vinegar combination forms a film that covers all other ingredients. If needed, add more mayonnaise.

Refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes before serving.

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Crispy Potato Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 medium size potatoes, grated
  • 2 onions, finely chopped or grated
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 eggs, beaten (if you have large eggs, one is enough)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
Peel and mince the garlic cloves. Peel and grate the onion. Peel the potatoes. Grate them. Squeeze the excess liquid from the grated potatoes with the help of your hands. As we are not going to use that liquid, you can just take handfuls of grated potatoes and squeeze them over the kitchen sink.

In a large bowl combine the grated potatoes with onion, garlic flour and beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper. Stir very well.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Form the potato mix into balls, then flatten them as much as you can, making sure they don’t fall apart. Cook the potato pancakes for about 5 minutes on each side. If they turn brown too quickly, lower the heat. When pancakes are cooked, remove them from the pan and drain them on paper towels.

Potato pancakes are best hot. If you prepare them in more than one-two batches, put the cooked ones in the warm oven until you’re done.

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Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium baking potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preparation:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add salt, pepper and flour. Stir frequently, until you get a smooth mixture, then start adding the milk, little by little. Bring it to boil and cook for about one minute. Set aside.

Oil a baking dish, then arrange one layer of potatoes on the bottom. Cover with half of the chopped onion, add half cup of diced ham, then pour one third of the milk sauce over it. Add a new layer of potatoes, the rest of chopped onion and ham, then cover with the remaining sauce.

Cover the dish and bake it in the oven for about 90 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with dried oregano, then return to the oven and bake it uncovered for 10 minutes.

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Mushroom Quiche With Potato Crust

Yummy quiche with pickled beetroot decor

Yummy quiche with pickled beetroot decor

Basic quiche recipes call for pastry for the crust. However, if you want, you can replace the pastry with potatoes. I did this and here’s my potato crust quiche recipe, which you can use as base for any kind of quiche you like: mine has mushrooms, red bell pepper, parsley, dill and onions, but variations are welcome.

The first step is to make the crust. You need two onions…

Two peeled onions

Two peeled onions

and about 6 medium size potatoes. Don’t ask me why my onions were one yellow and one red. Use whatever you have, the color makes no difference in this situation.

Peeled potatoes

Peeled potatoes

Peel and grate the onions. Here’s the part where you start to cry, so take your time, wash your face, grate some more, cry some more… the whole operation shouldn’t take you more than 5-6 minutes.

Grating onions

Grating onions

Peel and grate the potatoes. I grated them coarsely, but if you want a finer crust, use the fine side of the grater box.

Grating potatoes

Grating potatoes

Pre-heat the oven at 450F.

Squeeze the grated onions and potatoes very well to drain the liquid, then put them in a bowl and mix them.

Mix grated potatoes and onions

Mix grated potatoes and onions

Use both your hands, not one like I did. You won’t have to hold the camera, I guess ;)

Add a teaspoon of salt, some ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of all purpose white flour. If you want, you can add spices. I added about a teaspoon dried thyme. Mix everything very well.

Grated potatoes - onions - flour mix

Grated potatoes - onions - flour mix

Oil a baking dish (bottom and edges). Shape the onion-potato mix into a pie crust, trying to get even thickness all over.

Raw potato quiche crust

Raw potato quiche crust

Bake the potato crust at 450F for about 15 minutes.

Take the baking dish out of the oven, brush the crust with extra virgin olive oil and put it back in the oven again for 10 more minutes. If you don’t have a special brush, you can use a folded paper towel to oil the crust evenly.

Oiled quiche crust

Oiled quiche crust

While the crust is baking, we are going to prepare the filling for our quiche. You need one onion, 15-20 button mushrooms, half red bell pepper, parsley and dill.

Button mushrooms

Button mushrooms

Peel and chop the onion. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan, add the onion and fry it for about 2 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

Chopped red onion in pan

Chopped red onion in pan

Thoroughly clean the mushrooms, chop them and add them to the frying pan. I also added about a teaspoon of fresh rosemary, minced, but that’s optional.

Chop about half of a red bell pepper. Add it to the food. Stir and cook over medium heat. Chop the parsley and the dill and add them to the pan.

Vegetables in pan

Vegetables in pan

Continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are soft and there’s a lot of liquid from the mushrooms in the pan. This process should take about 10 minutes.

Remove vegetables from heat, transfer them into a colander and drain them very well. You can use a wooden spatula or a spoon to squeeze them dry.

Draining stir fried vegetables

Draining stir fried vegetables

Pour the vegetables over the quiche crust, spreading them evenly onto the surface.

Quiche recipe - work in progress

Quiche recipe - work in progress

Grate the cheese. You’ll need about 1 cup of grated cheese. I used feta, but you can use any cheese you want such as Cheddar or Swiss cheese.

Grated Feta cheese

Grated Feta cheese

Spread the grated cheese on top of the baking dish.

Spread the grated cheese over the quiche

Spread the grated cheese over the quiche

In a small bowl, beat 3 eggs. Please note that there are only two eggs in the photo, but after I beat those, I decided to add one more.

Beat three eggs and add milk

Beat three eggs and add milk

Add about 1/4 cup of milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon paprika powder and some freshly ground black pepper.

Beaten eggs - milk - spices

Beaten eggs - milk - spices

Mix well and pour over the grated cheese layer in the quiche dish.

Quiche - ready to bake

Quiche - ready to bake

Bake over medium heat for one hour.

Mushroom quiche with potato crust

Mushroom quiche with potato crust

Let the quiche cool for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven. Cut and serve hot.

Mushroom quiche slice

Mushroom quiche slice

Serving suggestion: decorate the quiche slices with pickled beetroot or gherkins.

Mushroom quiche with potato crust topped with beetroot

Mushroom quiche with potato crust topped with beetroot

Ingredients for this quiche recipe:

  • 3 medium size onions
  • 20 button mushrooms
  • 6 medium size potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose white flour
  • 1 cup parsley and dill, chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese

This recipe serves 4-6 people. I ate two big slices while writing the recipe for you, however :)

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Bacon Potato Soup

Warm and comforting, this potato soup recipe is the perfect special treat for winter time.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 thick bacon slices
  • 1 celery root, peeled, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, shredded
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 5-6 potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 1 onion, peeled, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Fill a large stock pot with water, bring it to boil, then add the onion, garlic, celery root, beans, potatoes, carrots, vegetable bouillon and sauerkraut. Cover and boil over low to medium heat until vegetables are soft. If you diced them small, 15-20 minutes should be enough. Anyway, try them with a fork after the first 15 minutes and see if it goes in easily. Depending of how salty your sauerkraut was, you may or may not need to add some salt to the soup.

While the soup is boiling, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the bacon slices for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Drain the excess oil by setting the bacon slices on paper towels. Dice the bacon and set aside.

When vegetables are soft, add the chopped parsley, bacon and sour cream. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot, with freshly ground black pepper and fresh chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

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Roast Whole Chicken Recipe

I like roasting the whole chicken. Although I know a big part of it will eventually end up in the soup, I still like to roast it whole, then tear apart those juicy, tender pieces, covered by the golden, crispy skin.

Here’s how it goes:

Take one piece free range chicken, as small as you can find. Mine was about 2 pounds.

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Bigger chickens take longer to cook, so if you want to also roast some vegetables with your meat, they will be overcooked. If you cook for more than 3-4 people, you’ll probably need two chickens like this.

In a cup, mix one teaspoon of salt with half teaspoon black pepper, one teaspoon paprika and one teaspoon rosemary. If you can find fresh rosemary, that’s nicer. I only had dried rosemary, so that’s what I used. You can add whatever other spices you like. Red chili flakes and garlic powder are also excellent.

Roast chicken spices mix

Roast chicken spices mix

Rub the chicken thoroughly with the spice mix you prepared. Don’t be afraid to use your hands. In order to minimize the mess, I put the chicken in a big pot before rubbing it. It’s much better than doing it on the kitchen bench, believe me!

Rub the chicken with spices

Rub the chicken with spices

Don’t forget the interior and the underarms :)

Rub the chicken all over

Rub the chicken all over

Use plenty of spices, because this is how your roast chicken will get a nice color and amazing flavors. Rub the interior of chicken as well. You can also sneak some spices between the meat and the skin on the breast (you’ll see that there’s a kind of a pocket between the skin and the breast itself). That’s nice, because it helps the usually dry breast to become more tender and flavorful.

Don’t forget to pre-heat the oven now, you’ll need it soon. 400F should be a good temperature.

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Oil an oven tray. Add some salt and the chicken. Now you don’t want your chicken to get bored for a whole hour in that hot oven, so add several potatoes, an onion and some 5-6 garlic cloves. Wash and cut the potatoes in halves or quarters. Do not peel them. Peel the onion and cut it in half. Don’t peel the garlic cloves.

Chicken and vegetables in the oven tray

Chicken and vegetables in the oven tray

Roast the chicken and the vegetables for about 45 minutes over medium heat. Take the tray out of the oven, turn the chicken and the vegetables upside down and cook them for 15-20 minutes more.

Roast whole chicken with crispy skin

Roast whole chicken with crispy skin

If you have guests for dinner, you can bring the whole roast chicken at the table, on a big plate, decorated with lettuce leaves. If you eat alone, like I did this time, you can simply grab whatever parts of the chicken you like most, put them on a plate with some of the roast vegetables and eat it using your bare hands.

Roast chicken leg and potatoes on a plate

Roast chicken leg and potatoes on a plate

I had that with pickled beetroot salad, which I was too hungry to photograph, so you’ll have to imagine it.

Now, the list of ingredients for this roast whole chicken recipe:

  • 1 whole free range chicken, about 2 pounds weight
  • 7-8 medium size potatoes, halved or quartered, not peeled
  • 1 medium size onion, peeled and halved
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, whole, not peeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
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Beef and Veggies Quesadilla

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/2 pound lean beef, ground
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Cheddar, mozarella, goat cheese, Swiss cheese or whatever else you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup baked beans
  • 1/2 cup celery root, diced
  • 1/4 cup carrot, sliced
  • 1 red hot chili pepper, finely chopped (if it’s really hot, you can discard the seeds, then chop it)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Saute the onion over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef. Cook it stirring often, until it changes color from pink to light brown. This should take about 5-6 minutes. If the pan becomes too watery, drain it a little. Add the celery root, carrot, baked beans, parsley and red chili pepper. Salt and pepper according to your taste, then cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring well in order to mix the vegetables with the meat.

When you’re almost ready, oil a baking tray and put the tortillas on it. Spread the meat and vegetables mixture over half of each tortilla. Add a layer of shredded cheese, then fold the tortillas. Bake them at 400F for 5 minutes, then flip them over and bake them for 5 more minutes. Slice them into wedges and serve them with salsa or sour cream on top.

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