“I thought eggs were going to be greasy and slimy, but it tastes like cheese sauce. Yum.” Julie Powell, “Julie and Julia”
(Becky, the Mama.)
The short list of foods my husband Greg can cook are: hamburger patties, grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes. So it may come as a surprise to you, as it did to me, that Greg is the one who taught me to poach a perfect egg. His mother taught him as boy, and he taught me as a newlywed, and I have to say that when I cooked one correctly: whites firm, yolk thick but still with plenty of liquid gold, it was something of a revelation.
I’ve never been a fan of eggs. And I have no clue why poaching an egg in boiling water, rather than scrambling, boiling or frying (without benefit of bacon fat or butter!) transforms the lowly egg into something exquisite, but it does. To Julie Powell it tasted like cheese sauce; to me, with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, a poached egg tastes like melted butter.
Last week I had a little left-over homemade green pork chili, along with some left-over homemade refried beans, and decided to make Huevos Rancheros. It was so good, hitting all the right flavor notes, I proceeded to have it every day for breakfast and lunch for the next three days. There was just something comforting and delicious about the combination of the flavors of warm corn, earthy beans and tangy green chilis topped with one perfect, buttery poached egg. Where had this dish been all my life? And why had I not made it before?
Green Chili Huevos Rancheros
Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are!
2 large eggs
2 t. vinegar
Sea salt & pepper
Water – to fill about 2 inches depth in a small skillet
2 corn tortillas
½ cup refried beans, warmed
½ cup *pork green chili, warmed. Or if you prefer, any kind of salsa you like
Optional: garnish with slice of fresh jalepano
Fill a small skillet 2/3 full with hot water. Add 2 t. white vinegar. Bring to boil. Carefully crack at egg into a small heat-proof bowl. Slip it carefully into the boiling water. Repeat with other egg.
Some of the white will float away, like foamy clouds. That’s okay. You can capture them later with a slotted spoon and eat them or ignore then and toss them away with the “bath water.” Cook about a minute, but this is not an exact time. (I like to cover the pan with a lid for a few seconds to insure a film forms over the yolks.)
When you see the whites are firm and yolk is still soft and gooey, remove carefully with a slotted spoon and let drain on a couple of folded paper towels. Sprinkle them with a little sea salt and pepper while still hot.
Wrap corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave about 15 seconds until they are hot and soft. Immediately put them on a plate and put ¼ cup warm refried beans on each tortilla and spread just to edges. Next, carefully set a poached egg on top. Finally ladle all with ½ cup of warm green pork chili or salsa. Garnish with slice of fresh jalepano if desired.
*You can find green chili of all varieties in the Hispanic food aisle of most grocery stores. I made my own quick green pork chili by blending 1 cup chicken broth with ¼ cup mild canned green chilis and 1 clove garlic in a blender. Then I mixed 1 1/2 T. flour with 1 T. olive oil and 2 t. butter until it made a smooth paste in a hot skillet. Then I slowly added the contents of the blender plus another cup chicken broth and ¼ cup more green chilis – whisking all the while until it was a desired thickness. (You can add more broth if needed. It should be the consistency of a good stew broth.) Finally I added about 2/3 cup of cubed leftover pork loin, a pinch of sugar (to balance tang of green chilis), then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. You can use veggie or miso broth and omit the pork and make this a filling and delicious vegetarian meal.
Jackson’s favorite breakfast is oatmeal. He eats a bowl every single morning. To save time, I make a big batch with thick-cut rolled oats, chia seeds, hemp seeds, raisins, cinnamon, and bananas every week, then freeze it in ice cube trays. In the mornings, all I have to do is heat up three or four cubes of frozen oatmeal with one cube of frozen full fat coconut milk (I always freeze extras when making a recipe that calls for less than a can). Sometimes I add blueberries, apples, leftover baked sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin, or shredded carrots to the oatmeal, but this cinnamon raisin version is so simple and it requires no chopping or preparation at all, so I make it most often.
When Jackson sees me putting his frozen cubes of breakfast in a bowl to be heated, he waves his hands in excitement and runs to his high chair begging me to put him in. He acts like the 90 seconds it takes to heat his breakfast is a lifetime.When I finally give him his bowl, he sets the spoon aside, dips his hand in, and eats it by the fist full. Within minutes, it’s all “gone, gone.”
I feel a little bad that I’ve never made him pancakes or waffles, yet I figure, why change a good (and healthy) thing? Most mornings I don’t have time to have a battle of wills or to keep trying different things until I find something he’ll eat. For months, he has had oatmeal for breakfast and he has never turned his nose at it. This little routine keeps our mornings peaceful, at least long enough for me to have my first cup of coffee.
Healthy Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal
Serves 4 adult-size portions (8 child portions)
3 cups of water
2 cups of milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond or coconut) or use more water
1/4 t. salt
2 c. rolled oats (not quick-cooking) (use gluten-free oats for gluten allergies)
2 T. hemp seeds
2 T. chia seeds
1 c. raisins
1 t. cinnamon
1 banana, mashed
In a large sauce pan, bring water, milk, and salt to a low boil. Watch closely or you’ll have a great big mess if it boils over. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) Reduce heat to med-low and add all the remaining ingredients. Cook on med-low to low for about 1o minutes or until all the liquid is just absorbed. Stir occasionally. Serve immediately or freeze for later.
Freeze for later:
I made this batch this morning and served Jared, Jackson, and myself a bowl. What was left filled 1 1/2 ice cube trays (about 24 cubes). Just scoop it onto the tray and with a spoon or spatula, spread it out evenly among the cubes, pressing down gently to make sure it’s packed firmly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, pop out and transfer to freezer bags.
I usually heat 3-4 cubes of oatmeal with a cube of frozen full fat coconut milk for 60 seconds. Stir and then heat again for about 30 seconds. With my microwave, this is a perfect temp for my one-year old. Reheat times will vary though. If it’s dry, stir in a little milk of your choice.
Add pumpkin, leftover baked sweet potato, or shredded carrots while cooking, or stir in strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, almond butter, or peanut butter. Get creative…or don’t…make life simple and stick to one combination you love over and over again. 🙂
(Rachel, the daughter)
I’m heading out to drop Jackson off with his Mimi (Jared’s mom) for a couple of hours this afternoon. This is the third day in a row that she has offered to help out with Jackson so I can work on the book. Although she insists it is all her pleasure, I’d like to let her know how much I appreciate her help.
In my husband’s family, steak is probably the most revered food item… followed closely by chips and salsa. They aren’t into chocolates or sweets. I know, GASP! Their idea of dessert is a bowl of salty popcorn. But they love their meat and potatoes and their chips and salsa. Since steak is an awkward gift for a vegan to give, I often jar up my love and appreciation for them in the form of salsa. Occasionally, Rhonda will show up at my door with an empty jar, “In case you or Jared plan on making salsa anytime soon,” she’ll wink.
Last weekend I stumbled upon an amazing salsa recipe by chance. I was out of a few of my staple salsa ingredients and just started throwing things in the food processor to try and whip up a make-do salsa for our Mexican-themed dinner. I was bummed when the food processor stopped spinning and I opened it up to see a thin almost watery salsa. I grabbed a can of pumpkin and added it to the salsa, then found some chipotles in Adobo sauce in my freezer. I gave it another spin and voila, I had a thick, creamy, smoky salsa with a touch of sweetness, a hint of pumpkin, and a nice kick of spice. I was smitten.
I liked it so much I made another batch today (some for us and some to share with Jared’s parents). It conveniently makes enough to fill two 32 oz spaghetti sauce or mason jars–one for you and one to share with a friend. Don’t be surprised when they show up at your door step with the empty jar and a little wink and a nudge, though.
Chipotle Pumpkin Salsa
Makes 4 cups
2 cups of frozen corn (or 1 can drained and patted dry)
2 small jalapenos
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt
1 14.5 oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 chipotles in Adobo Sauce (slice open and remove seeds from two of them)
1 can of pumpkin
1/2 c. cilantro (use it if you like it, but it’s optional)
1/2 t. sugar
1 t. onion powder
1/4 t. salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Pour corn kernels on one half of pan. On the other side, put the jalapenos, garlic (wrap unpeeled garlic in foil to prevent them from burning–not like shown below), and tomatoes sliced in half with cut side up. Use a pastry brush to put a small amount of olive oil on the tomatoes and corn. Sprinkle tomatoes with a touch of sea salt. Roast for 20 minutes.
In a food processor, add all the remaining ingredients except the corn, plus the tomatoes and jalapenos (you may want to seed the jalapenos if you don’t like a lot of spice–you can always add the seeds back in if it’s not spicy enough). Squeeze the garlic from its peel into the food processor bowl. Process until everything is chopped and blended to the desired texture. I went for a smooth texture on mine. Stir in corn. Serve with chips.