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.
The Oscars are all about glitter, glamour and gowns. If you are looking to bring a bit of the Oscars home to your friends and family, don your most resplendent gear and turn your home into a RED CARPET PARTY. Choose a theme that allows you to prepare all the yummy dishes in advance, so you’re dressed-to-kill in time for the opening act.
One of my favorite do-ahead party themes is a Tapas Party. Why tapas? Wellllll…..You can make the dishes in advance and offer a huge variety to satisfy your guests for the entire show! Tapas are the small bites served in the restaurantes and tabernas in Spain. Patrons travel from tavern to tavern, sampling the specialties of each chef. For this party, we’re going to offer all those specialties on one buffet table.
To set the scene, create a tablescape using brightly colored flowers in small vases of various heights. Add bowls of fresh peppers to highlight the spice of the evening. I like to use small chalkboards to identify each dish, so that your guests can choose easily. Set a tower of small plates on the table, encouraging each pal to take just a little taste of each dish you’ve prepared.
And don’t forget a specialty cocktail! My favorite for this party is Sangria. I marinate a diced apple and peach in rum overnight. Then I place the marinated veggies into a large pitcher and cover with equal parts rosé wine and orange juice. Chill in the fridge for several hours (before the party!!) and pour over ice.
And, the envelope please!
Here are a few of my favorite tapas party dishes, taken from blogs that call for recipes during the most festive times of the year! I finish off with a recipe for the star dish, TORTILLA ESPANOLA!
Garlicky Shrimp and Shishito Peppers. Cook slices of garlic in olive oil over low heat until the garlic is just golden. Remove the garlic and use this oil to cook shishito peppers and jumbo shrimp until just opaque. Serve the shrimp at room temperature.
Gazpacho Soup with Guacamole. Prepare your favorite guacamole and your best gazpacho soup. My new favorite gazpacho adds a roasted beet that gives the soup a rosy red color. Place a scoop of guac into the bottom of a martini glass. Cover with gazpacho. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Croquetas De Jamón. I love these little fried bites of ham and cheese. Well, not just any ham and cheese. These blend famed, Iberian ham (you can substitute with smoked ham) and Manchego cheese into a rich, creamy béchamel sauce. You can make them days in advance and finish them in a fryer, or fry pan hours before the party. Keep them in a warm oven and serve at room temperature.
Tequila Spiked Berry Shortcakes. Nothing says winner like berries spiked with tequila and served over sweetened biscuits with a scoop of lime sherbet and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
Pisto. For your veggie loving friends, this is the perfect dish. Simply sauté onions, garlic, peppers (hot and sweet) with eggplant and zucchini. Stir in diced tomatoes, a little veggie stock and season. Garnish this veggie stew with fresh parsley.
Tortilla Espanola…in progress!
A staple on most tapas menus, this torte is a reminiscent of potatoes gratin and potato frittata. Thinly sliced potatoes are fried, then gently tossed in beaten egg and finally cooked in a shallow sauté pan. You have to flip the torte halfway through cooking, which is just a tad tricky, but not impossible. Keep the torte warm until your ready to serve. It’s perfect warm and at room temperature.
Tortilla Espanola (Potato Torte) Serves a crowd 40 Minute Cuisine
Kinda like potatoes au gratin, but more like a potato frittata; this torte is a yummy comfort food, perfect for your tapas buffet table!
5 to 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 large yellow onions, diced, about 3 cups
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 3 tablespoons
6 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Chopped, fresh parsley
Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into thin rounds. Place the potatoes into a colander and toss with salt. Pour enough oil to come halfway up the side of a deep skillet. Heat the oil over medium high heat. You will know that the oil is ready when you place the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and you see bubbles. Fry the potatoes in the oil until they are tender in the middle and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 5 to 8 minutes. You can do this in batches, so that you don’t crowd too many slices into the pan. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer the potatoes onto a paper lined baking sheet.
Carefully add the onions and garlic to the oil. Lower the temperature to medium low and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer to the baking sheet holding the potatoes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil into heat resistant bowl. (When cooled, you can strain and re-use the oil for another recipe.)
Place the eggs into a large bowl using a fork to blend. Gently slide the potatoes, onions and garlic into the bowl. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and gently blend trying not to break the potato slices.
Heat the oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Pour in the potato and eggs using a spatula to spread evenly in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to brown the (soon to be top) of the torte. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the center is set, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use the spatula to gently loosen the edges from the pan as it cooks. Shake the skillet to make sure the center is setting. Turn off the heat. Take a plate, that is larger than the skillet, and place it upside down over the skillet. With one hand on the plate and the other on the skillet handle, invert the pan so that the torte comes out and onto the plate. There might be a little loose egg around the edges. Use your spatula to scrape any bits back into the torte. Gently slide the inverted torte back into the pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook until a tester inserted into the center of the torte comes out clean, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Garnish the torte with chopped, fresh parsley. Transfer the torte to a clean platter and keep warm. The torte can be served warm or at room temperature.