Monthly Archives: July 2013

Oohhhh, Brexico: Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese Brunch

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, culinarily. A few ups and downs.  

Ok. Mostly a lot of ups and one major down.

It’d be like the world’s weirdest roller coaster.

I shall list the ups and downs in a list. Real badasses use lists, y’all. 

Up: going to wd-50 in New York. Wylie Dufresne was THERE. And while I did not speak to him in actuality, in my mind, he complimented me for my hilarious, hilarious jokes. And we laughed and laughed. Back in the real world, the meal was outrageously good. Highlights include the pig tail with artichoke, olive oil jam and hazelnut; the walleye pike, celery, macadamia and grapefruit; the rabbit (!!!!!!wrapped in fried chicken skin!!!!!!!), spring onion, hibiscus, thai basil nori; and the popcorn vacherin with strawberry, kaffir lime and watermelon. 

I don’t remember this course, but it replaced the scallops. And it was beautiful.

Rabbit with fried chicken skin. Stupid good.

Popcorn Vacherin. So unique.

Down: coming back from New York, and going to put groceries away in the cabinets and finding eighty million ants. Which allowed me to channel my inner Zoolander and remark “What is this, a KITCHEN for ANTS?” (Note: I only made that remark after I got through the horror of finding, murdering, and Lysoling the ant murder site.) I seem to have remedied the problem with Ant Shield and a lot of ant killing. And I’m incredibly OCD and everything that could be ant-attractable is now in a Ziploc bag. So, don’t judge me, Judge Reinhold. Cause to paraphrase my friend Jesus: let he who is without bugs spray the first Raid.

Up: going to Whole Foods Winston-Salem and stumbling on local vendor sampling day when I was RULL hungry. I had Roots hummus from Asheville (the Thai Coconut Curry is so unexpected. Sweet hummus…delicious), Peggy Rose’s hot pepper jelly from Wake Forest, NC, and my most favorite discovery: super local pimento cheese. If you’ve never had pimento cheese, it is a true southern delicacy packed as full of calories as it is with cheese. It’s made of cheese (duh), pimentos (duh again), mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. But the folks at Red Clay Gourmet, made right here in Winston-Salem, NC, do some great twists. The have the basic classic, a Hickory smoked, flame roasted jalapeno (locally sourced!), and a weirdly delicious one: pimento cheese with goat cheese and sundried tomato. People of 336, find this pimento cheese, get yourself some Wheat Thins, turn on Steel Magnolias, start crying your eyeballs out. Oops, I went one too far.

Up: brunch with my first official guests, my friend Anna (of the wonderful blog, Curiouser and Curiouser) and her husband, Kevin Keller. Who one time, after a few glasses of wine, I called Kevin Kline. So sometimes, I call him Kevin Kline. And sometimes I call him Kevin Keller. Cause that is his name. 

But I digress.

Anna and Kevin Kline were my first official guest, so I had to find something delicious for brunch. Something easy enough to make on a Sunday morning, that could be paired with the only breakfast meat that matters: bacon, and would work well with a boozy brunch cocktail.

Enter The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and her Baked Ranchero Eggs with blistered jack cheese and lime crema. This dish is wonderful. And despite using a dozen eggs, it actually served the three of us for brunch very well. But the best part of this dish is that it’s incredibly simple. You can make the spicy tomato sauce ahead and reheat it in the morning. You cook your eggs in the spicy tomato sauce and black beans. And then broil it with the jack cheese on top. Other than prepping some accoutrement and any breakfast meats that you so choose (bacon…obviously), that’s it. And it’s delicious. Breakfast in Mexico. Breakfast IN Mexico. Brexico.

And what goes with Brexico? Tequila.

Every good brunch needs a boozy brunch cocktail. This one is violently pink and delightfully smooth. As your morning tequila should be.

Just as they do it in Brexico.

Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema

from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Ingredients: 

Ranchero Sauce

  • 1 jalapeno
  • 3 cups (from a 28-ounce can) whole tomatoes, fire-roasted if you can find them | Yeah, this ingredient confused me. I think you should just use the whole can.
  • 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ¾ cups cooked black beans (or a 15-ounce can), drained

Crisp Tortilla Strips

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small corn tortillas | I used flour cause I had them.
  • Salt, to taste
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely shredded jack cheese

Garnishes

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)
  • 1 cup crema Mexicana or sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. First, taste your jalapeno for heat. Adjust accordingly, halving or quartering the pepper if needed and toss into a blender. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and several pinches of salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. Pour into a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, add black beans (if using), and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly. 

Meanwhile, brush a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cut the tortillas into ½-inch-wide strips, and arrange them on the oiled tray. Brush the tops of the tortilla strips with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 3 to 6 minutes, or until they are brown and crisp, turning over once if needed. If you are like me, you will burn the first batch. Remove strips from oven, then preheat broiler. 

In a separate bowl, stir together the lime juice, crema, and a pinch of salt.

Once the sauce has thickened slightly, remove the pan from heat, and break the eggs across the surface of the sauce, distributing them as evenly as possible. Return to heat, cover the pan, and simmer eggs gently in sauce for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the whites are nearly but not completely opaque. Sprinkle the surface of the tomato-egg mixture with cheese, and broil until the cheese is bubbly and a bit blistered—just a few minutes.

Garnish with dollops of lime crema, broken up pieces of tortilla strips, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Brexico!

Brexico!

Fire Island Sunset

From In My Kitchen by Ted Allen 

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • ½ cup fresh pink grapefruit juice, cold
  • ¼ cup brewed hibiscus tea, cold
  • ¼ cup silver tequila
  • ½ teaspoon Cointreau
  • 1 thin slice or chunk of candied ginger | I couldn’t find this…and the drink was still great without it. 

Fill a tall glass with ice, add the grapefruit juice, tea, tequila, and Cointreau, and stir. Garnish with the ginger. 

Fire Island Sunset

Fire Island Sunset

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You Put the Lime in the Coconut: Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos

I will not apologize for certain things. For instance:

  • Being tall. I cannot help it-slash-I like it. (I didn’t always.)
  • Being sassy. I fully expect that I am the Dorothy Zbornak of most groups. Because I am sassy. And aforementionadly tall.
  • Loving the Muppets.

THAT’S RIGHT.

I love the Muppets. The Muppet Show is my jam.

And although I like to think I’m Rowlf (cool, calm, ready with a quip), I’ve been told more than once that I’m Animal (the crazed “primitive man and crazed drummer from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem Band” according to Wikipedia.) Why fight the truth. Hey, at least nobody has figured out that I’m actually Gonzo.

How I See Myself

 

 

How Others See Me

How Others See Me

Sidenote? Why don’t I identify with any lady Muppets? Well, let’s be honest. The only real lady Muppet is Miss Piggy. And I’ll never be fancy enough to be Miss Piggy. I do not own nearly enough luggage.

The thing about it is. The Muppets are wonderful. I saw the newest Muppet movie with my parents and Gramma. I asked my Gramma, who is 91 and a bit hard of hearing, if she liked the movie. And she said “I really liked those Moffats. They’re really colorful.” They are, Gramma. They are.

But she’s right. They Moffats Muppets ARE colorful. And bright. And funny. And silly. And funny. And weird. How do you not love them?

PLEASE NOTE: I have two best friends who do not love them. Emily and Marla do not love the Muppets. And while I understand their fake reasoning (“I didn’t grow up with them!”) versus their real reasoning (“they FREAK ME OUT”), I can appreciate that some of my friends are different than me. ….I guess.

But here’s the thing.

Sometimes the Muppets can inspire you in the kitchen. And I’m not just talking about The Swedish Chef. (Bork bork bork.) No no, I’m talking about something else. Something that’s a bit more infectious. A bit more Caribbean.

In college, we would walk around singing this. “You put the lime in the coconut.” God, theatre majors are weird. How we get jobs is beyond me.

ANYWAY.

As promised, I made the Coconut Tres Leches Cake that I blogged about a few weeks back. And although I hadn’t tried it then, it was, in fact, delicious. The only thing I’d warn you about is that this cake doesn’t travel well. The leches are spilly. And they can and will spill all over your car, seeping into every crevice of your passenger seat. So, I’d say: make this one at home and leave it there.

But I did not stop there. Because when you put the lime in the coconut, you must drink it all up. (Now, let me get this straight…)

I also made Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Black Beans and Avocado. This is a simple, easy recipe for a weeknight dinner or a weekend lunch. Lots of flavor and little fuss. Nothing crazy. No surprises.

But if you prefer something with some surprises, maybe you should try this.

And that’s why this is a fake food blog. Bork bork bork.

Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Avocado from Food 52

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cups coconut milk, stirred (full-fat recommended)
  • 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 1-2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1 lime | I used 2. 
  • 2 cups or one 15 ounce can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed | I used canned cause it just easier. 
  • Corn or flour tortillas, for serving
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • Other recommended toppings: corn salsa, chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and a large pinch of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until they’ve softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pan, and add the cumin, paprika, oregano, chile, and cayenne. Let sizzle in the pan until they’re toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir well until the onions and garlic are evenly coated with the spices.

Add the ground pork to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up any large chunks of pork and stirring occasionally, until the pork is just cooked through. Season with salt to taste. Remove any excess fat from the pan.

Add the coconut milk; simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened, then stir in the black beans, pineapple juice and 1 tablespoon lime juice and cook for an additional minute or two. Taste and add more lime juice if needed. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can serve right away, or cover the pan and let the pork gently simmer over low heat.

Using a slotted spoon, divide the ground pork equally among lightly warmed flour tortillas. Serve with lots of avocado and other toppings of your choice.

Tacos!

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