Friday, January 25, 2013

Huevos Rancheros

In Alaska, the winter is cold and dark. It's as certain as death and taxes. I decided that this year, I needed to ring in the New Year with a little sunshine. And maybe a pool, with one of those umbrella drinks. A new bathing suit, freshly lacquered toenails, sunglasses. Yes, definitely needed 2013 to start with these things. It's just that I didn't want to spend much money to get them. So I did what any self-respecting woman would do.

I crashed my parents' vacation.

Well, sort of. A hop-skip-jump-swim-belly crawl later (I swear, if you try to use miles for a plane ticket anymore you have to make 12 stops before your final destination) I landed at Palm Springs International Airport ready to interrupt my parents' relaxing, peaceful visit to their condo with my demands for hiking, shopping, trips to Trader Joe's, sojourns to In-N-Out burger, and chile rellanos from our favorite Mexican joint, La Perlita.

They absolutely LOVE IT when I visit. I'm nearly certain they love it. Or at least they don't mind. So far, they've never actually kicked me out.

My first morning in Palm Springs, my Dad made us his version of huevos rancheros. Having grown up in Los Angeles, Dad has always loved the food of Mexico.  We grew up eating his homemade enchiladas, tamales, tacos, and of course chile rellanos. To this date, Mexican cuisine is our family's favorite comfort food.
This dish is my Mom's favorite thing to eat for breakfast. While Mom and I sat at the breakfast bar scarfing down our eggs, she declared with a full mouth: "If you make these for any man, he will want to marry you!" 
Aww, Mom.  Always wishful thinking.  God bless her.

These huevos rancheros delicious and simple, although they dirty nearly every pot in the kitchen. Save it for a weekend treat, unless you're retired and living the dream in Palm Springs like my folks. Plus, they're pretty darn healthy and hearty. Before I left, I requested them one last time. Pretty as a picture!

Once you master Dad's technique for cooking the eggs (which we call "Hoppy eggs" named after my Dad's former Alaska DOT coworker who made these eggs at their haul road camp on the Dalton Highway- Alaska's road to the North Slope), you can put any kind of spin on this that your heart desires. Use green chile sauce instead of red, or top with avocado and sour cream. Dad's version doesn't use rice, which simplifies things as well. 

Man, just looking at these pictures makes me want to hop on a plane back down to the condo...

My Dad's Huevos Rancheros

(Serves 4)

8 eggs
4 small corn tortillas
1/4  cup. Vegetable oil
1-16 oz. can vegetarian refried beans, plus 2 tablespoons of water
1-19 oz. can red enchilada sauce (such as La Victoria)
1/4 cup prepared chunky salsa (ideally whatever you have left over in the fridge from last night's Mexican takeout)
Butter for pan
Crumbled queso fresca (or shredded cheddar if you prefer)
Chopped fresh cilantro

(Note: It works best if you make each to order, since it goes fairly quickly once you start assembling.)
1. Add the refried beans to a small saucepan and place over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of water; cook until beans are warm and “spreadable.”  

2. In the meantime, add the enchilada sauce and salsa to another small saucepan and place over medium heat until warm and bubbly. 

3. Place a small skillet over medium heat. Brush a tortilla with a bit of the oil (or spray lightly with cooking spray) and heat the tortilla in the skillet on each side for 1-2 minutes, or until soft and warm. Slide onto a serving plate. Top the tortilla with several spoonfuls of beans and spread evenly. 

4. In the same small skillet, melt a little butter in the pan and crack two eggs into the skillet (you can crack them into a small bowl first and then slide them into the skillet if you're worried about breaking them). Let the eggs set untouched for about 30 seconds, then add 1-2 teaspoons of water to the pan. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the eggs sizzle and steam for 2 minutes, or long enough for the yellow to slightly set but still leave a runny yolk. 

5. Slide the eggs onto the tortilla with beans. Top with the enchilada sauce, queso fresco, and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately!

Enjoy! xo H 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Herbed Goat Cheese

Sometimes, I overthink things. 

Scratch that. 

Most of the time, I overthink things.  

Ok, I usually ALWAYS overthink things. What shoes go with a certain outfit.  What to plan for a dinner party.  Analyzing the crap out of emails from men.  What recipes to put on my blog. 

After all, I'm a girl and I'm a lawyer. It's like the worst combination of over-analysis EVER. But it's actually something I'm working hard to loosen up on.  Because if you overwork a problem to death, it turns out you never actually DO anything! 

When I first started my blog almost two years ago, I had a certain idea about what food I wanted to write about. I wanted to talk about the food I love to cook, and the food I love to eat. But there are some things I LOVE to eat, but I just don't think about as "recipes."  The perfect example: these soft-scrambled eggs with herbed goat cheese.  This recipe was the product of an excess of goat cheese (damn you,  Costco) and herbs in my fridge that produced a beautiful, elegant meal to have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It's a simple, elevated twist on a classic. 

When the folks at Town Square 49,’s community blog, emailed to tell me they were interviewing regular blog contributors for segments on the radio and asked if I'd like to participate, I thought it sounded fun.  So I invited the interviewer, David, over for lunch at my house.

And then I started totally freaking out about what I was going to make.  

Risotto!  No, takes forever.   

Lentil soup!  Might as well start the interview with, “Hi, my name is BORING BORING BORING lentil soup BORING.”   

Wild rice salad!  Dude, Heidi.  Do you even want the guy to like you? 

Then I just thought- oh, the hell with it.  I opened my fridge to see what I needed to use up (some of my best ideas come from this process) and saw two brand new logs of goat cheese (seriously, must stop using Costco as my local grocery store).  Who doesn’t like scrambled eggs?  They are the world’s most perfect food when cooked properly.  Cook them slow and low, as I like to say, for perfectly tender, soft scrambled eggs.  Served on buttered toast, it's an utterly simple, divine meal. 

At least I think so.  David cleaned his plate.  :)

(You can listen to the interview here!)

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Herbed Goat Cheese
(Inspired by 101 Cookbooks)
Serves 2
5 eggs
pat of butter for pan
splash of half & half or milk (optional)
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper, to taste
buttered toast, for serving
Using a fork, mix and mash the chopped parsley and dill with the goat cheese, adding a splash of half & half or milk (a tablespoon or so) to help loosen the cheese for mixing.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.  Crack eggs in a large bowl, adding a tablespoon or two of half & half if you like your eggs a little richer.  Beat the eggs with a  whisk, attempting to incorporate as much air as possible for maximum fluffiness.  Melt a pat of butter in the pan.  Add the eggs to the pan and slowly scramble using a spatula.  (This will take several minutes, but your patience will be rewarded!)  As the eggs start resembling a custard-like consistency, add a dash of salt to taste and fresh ground pepper and turn up the heat to medium to finish them off.  (Adding the salt too early will make the eggs tough.) 
Once the eggs are scrambled to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and top the eggs with several dollops of the goat cheese mixture.  (You will not use all of the goat cheese mixture- maybe a 1/3 or 1/2 of it. Use the rest for next time!)  Let the cheese soften for 30 seconds or so, then fold the eggs over the goat cheese.  Serve immediately on buttered toast.

Enjoy! xo H