Huevos Rancheros…Southern Style!

Huevos Rancheros…Southern Style!

My chef “friend”, Grant Allen, from New Zealand had a post on his Facebook page last week. He showed off his evening supper, a classic combination of beans and eggs with sides of hash browns and bacon. It looked pretty darn good! This traditional breakfast food (we all love breakfast for dinner, don’t we?) reminded me of the Full English breakfast we enjoyed in London several years ago. This one includes bacon, sausage, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and black pudding which is a combination of…. well, let’s just call it another type of sausage.

Then, I got to thinking about the combination of eggs and beans, and my hungry brain went straight to Huevos Rancheros. If you are unfamiliar, this is a dish that tops a lightly fried tortilla with black beans, cheese, and a fried egg, sloshed with a spicy red sauce and garnished with salsa, sour cream and avocado.  It’s a spicy bite of South in your mouth. A yum, yumm of a dish!

As you might expect, with my brain on an egg and bean train, my trip to the market this past Saturday got my (pepper) juices flowing. I mean, the peppers and tomatoes were just gorgeous, see?!

And the inspiration came. Why not create a dish inspired by the others with a truly unique Southern flare? And here you have it.

Baked beans spiced with onions and peppers, topped with hand-grated cheddar cheese, sautéed ham in mustard-maple butter, fried eggs and garnished with diced avocado and (farm fresh, of course) chopped tomatoes. This is a great dish to share with friends, especially when most (if not all) of the ingredients are probably sitting in your pantry and fridge. But, it’s also a great binge-watching dish, as it will take you some time to eat your way through a large portion!

 

Southern Style Huevos Rancheros

serves 2 large or 4 small portions

30 minute cuisine

For baked beans:

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 slices bacon, diced

1 bunch green onions, tough tops removed, cut into thin slices, about 1 cup

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and finely diced

1 (16-ounce) can baked beans, drained

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

For the tortilla:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 (10-inch) spinach tortillas

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

8 slices deli ham

4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, about 1 cup

4 large eggs

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

1 small tomato, diced

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon, jalapeno pepper and onions and cook until the bacon begins to crisp, and the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Drain as much liquid as you can from the baked beans and pour them into the skillet. Season with some of the salt and pepper, stir and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the beans while you cook the ham.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, carefully lay one tortilla into the oil. Cook for a few seconds. Use tongs to turn the tortilla to the other side. Cook for a couple seconds more and transfer to a large platter. Repeat with the second tortilla and transfer to a second platter. Add the butter, mustard and maple syrup to the same skillet. Stir together to melt the butter. Add the ham slices to the pan (you can do this in batches). Cook until the ham begins to brown and crisp on the edges, turning several times, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Spoon half of the beans onto one tortilla. Top the beans with half of the shredded cheese. Arrange four slices of ham on top of the cheese and beans. Repeat with the second tortilla. Crack the eggs into the same skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the whites of the eggs are set, and the yolks remain runny, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer two eggs onto each tortilla. Top with diced tomatoes and avocado.

 

 

 

Kiwi Cooking Class: Learning in New Zealand

Kiwi Cooking Class: Learning in New Zealand

Chef Grant Allen

 

Tucked into the countryside of KeriKeri, in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, is a local farmstead with herb and vegetable gardens, and state-of-the-art kitchen (pictured above). The transplanted Canadian owners of the homestead offer cooking classes from local Chef, Grant Allen. Allen’s philosophy on Kiwi cooking is that it’s similar to New Zealand cooking and based on our English, Scottish and Irish traditions.

“Our ‘culinary culture’ reflects our colonial history; as we travel, we become more aware of our Pacific and Asian neighbors, and their ingredients and cooking methods; like, New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Maori.” said Chef Allen.

Grant also believes that Kiwi cuisine is evolving. It has its origins in the food of their “European Grannies” and Maori cultures, while it is absorbing the influences of Pacific and Asian cuisine. To demonstrate these tastes and flavors, Grant offered an expansive menu that included a multi-coarse luncheon meal.

It started with the local delicacy of white fish bait fritters, a delicate crepe made up of whipped egg whites and whole, baby, salty white fish. He added Iki Mata, a ceviche of snapper cooked in citrus, with finely diced veggies and herbs.

Another starter, showcased beetroot chips stacked with crème fraiche and smoked salmon. Mussels, one of New Zealand’s most prized crops, were topped with coconut cream, ginger and diced chili, then broiled and served warm.

The main course featured a whole leg of lamb, simply prepared on an outdoor grill served with an herb-fresh salsa verde alongside buttery, garlic hasselback potatoes and a most delicious salad of fresh lettuces and herbs plucked from the garden, with crisp corn, avocado, pear and orange segments.

A secret ingredient to Grant’s salad were baby, sweet tomatoes that had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and honey, which later turned into the salad dressing. Dessert was made by a local cookbook author who whipped up a stone-fruit crumble which perfectly finished the meal.

As cooking classes go, this one was not only informative, but ABSOLUTELY DELISH!!!!! The meal was totally indicative of the food we explored in New Zealand. I come away with two words that for me, define the experience… fresh and simple.

Check out Grant Allen’s cooking tips on Facebook @grantcooks. What you see below is, in his own words, The Making of a Good Salad:

Remember these principles when composing:
Use what is fresh and in season – be inspired by what you find at the market.
Contrast colors and textures
Contrast shapes and size
You need “Crunch”
Build your ingredients to create a vibrant picture .
Dress with flavors that compliment or contrast with your ingredients.
Classically a vinaigrette has a 2/3 oil and 1/3 acid ratio but it’s over to you – use different kinds of oils , vinegars, citrus juices, pomegranate juice, verjuice, honey, mustards.
Season very well – remember your dressing is being carried by a lot of unseasoned ingredients.
Wash and spin your greens, wet leaves will wilt when dressed.
Dress just before serving.

A BOUNTIFUL SUMMER SALAD

Cos lettuce leaves
Ice burg lettuce leaves
Watercress

Blanched corn kernels
Fine sliced red , white or spring onions ( scallions )
Fine diced or ribboned cucumber
Fine diced or sliced peppers

Orange segments – save the juice for the dressing
Pomegranate seeds – save the juice for the dressing
Baby tomatoes – marinate in balsamic and liquid honey – save the marinade for the dressing
Nash Pear – slice finely with the skin on and dress with a little lemon juice to stop browning

Avocado – split, remove the stone a slice, leave the skin on if you wish, this stops the avocado getting mashed.

Mix together the citrus juice etc and blend in avocado oil to your taste, season well with S+P