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.
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
- 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
- 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.
Fire Island Sunset
From In My Kitchen by Ted Allen
- 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.
Red Clay Gourmet is good, but it’s too expensive for what it is: cheese and mayonnaise. It used to cost $5. I was down for that. I’m not down for $8. No, sir. No, ma’am. I’ll make my own.