Sunday, July 20, 2014


The first time I ever had chilaquiles, I made them. I'd rather have something new in a restaurant first and then try my hand at it so I know what I'm aiming for. Wouldn't you? But, that fall the allure was just too great because I'd read that making chilaquiles with Thanksgiving turkey was a great way to use up leftovers and I loved the idea of it! The reality was even better and I became a big time chilaquiles lover from that day forward! I suggest you put chilaquiles on your list for Thanksgiving leftovers, too. Or, you can make them with rotisserie chicken or eggs, like I did today.

The green salsa is wonderful. Put it on your list of salsas to make and not just for chilaquiles. As you can see, the color of the salsa is excellent! So vibrant and pretty! Tastier than any green salsa I have ever made. 

Adapted from Secrets of the Best Chefs (Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, Founder, Hot Bread Kitchen, New York City

For the tomatillo salsa:
1/2 pound tomatillos, husks removed, washed
3 Poblano chilies, skins charred and removed, seeded and deveined
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 small onion, chopped
Salt to taste

1 Tablespoon olive oil
Corn tortilla chips or strips*
4 fried eggs, or 8 egg whites made into 4 egg white omelets
Radish, sliced or chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4 ounces queso fresco or cotija cheese, grated
Mexican crema or sour cream (optional)

Add the tomatillos to boiling water and cook until the tomatillos are soft. Drain. Add all tomatillo salsa ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Add salt if needed.

In a saucepan, add the salsa and 1/4 cup of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add tortillas strips or chips and cook for about 1-2 minutes until they have softened. Divide the mixture between 4 plates and top with egg and radish. Serve hot

*To make your own tortilla chips: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get out a rimmed baking sheet and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper to make for an easy clean up. Stack your tortillas and cut in half. Stack them again and cut them in 1/2-inch strips along the short edge. Place the tortillas on your baking sheet and pour the oil on them. Toss them til evenly coated and then spread the tortilla strips in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes til crispy. Watch closely so you don't overcook them. Set aside. (You can also cut your corn tortillas in triangular shapes if you wish.)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cucumber Quinoa Salad Toast

I joined a new cooking group. The group is based on cooking out of all of the Ottolenghi cookbooks.I like to call him Otto. When I joined the group, I did it to lurk. To see what the other cooks liked out of Otto's books. But the very first day, I changed my mind. No lurking for me! The group posts a page number and the name of one of the cookbooks and asks us to consider making that recipe. We can share photos and make other recipes but when I realized they were going to tell me what to make? Well, I develop recipes and answer questions and think (up all sorts of nonsense) all day long, so I quickly realized after being added to this group that I LIKE being told what to cook! I really do!

One of the cookbooks I have really enjoyed this year is Keepers and I've made every "toast" in that book and then some! When I saw the recipe the Otto group chose for this week, Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad, I immediately thought...TOAST! I put a little olive oil on some sourdough and plopped it in the toaster and the rest of the salad I made as Otto ordered. I was able to use tomatoes from my garden and try out my new rice cooker to cook the quinoa, so even if this recipe hadn't been amazing, I would have enjoyed the process. But it IS amazing!! Yum, yum! Off to a good start!

Cucumber Quinoa Salad Toast
adapted from Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad in Plenty

serves 4

1 cup cooked quinoa (use this method and save the leftovers for another use)
4 tomatoes, cut in bite size pieces
2 cucumbers, ends cut off, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed, cut in 1/4" slices
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional to brush the bread
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

4 slices sourdough bread

Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk next 5 ingredients until combined. Put the dressing over the salad and toss. Set aside. Toast the bread in the toaster and brush with a little olive oil. Place a piece of toast on each plate and divide the salad equally on top of each toast. Serve.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Diet Mac and Cheese with Zucchini Ribbons

Lauren has been cooking up a storm lately. I noticed she cooked a lot when we were home together. She'd ask me question after question and then get me to help her. Then she'd tell me how she cooked this or that, here or there. She'd say things this or that recipe on my blog, Mom? Recently Willie and I went out of town and Lauren stayed behind to take care of our cats, Max and Catarina. And she cooked even then. She cooked out of books and she cooked based on what was in the freezer and she cooked and she cooked and she cooked. 

Then last night, she cooked for Willie and me.

She's a recent college graduate with a marketing major. I figure she'll approve of the marketing title of this recipe. This is not really diet mac and cheese. We named it so because the bread crumbs she used were in the freezer, crumbs I made with bread Willie and I use when we're on Weight Watchers. See? Diet!

Diet Mac and Cheese with Zucchini Ribbons
by Lauren
Adapted from Sweet Paul and his cookbook, Eat & Make

Try these. So easy.
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour

3 cups whole milk, heated
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup Gruyère*, grated
1/2 cup Jarlsberg*, grated
1/2 cup Monterey Jack, grated
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil (I think we have every single variety of Sciabica, it's amazing)
2 zucchini, thinly sliced or spiral cut into ribbons with this tool like Lauren uses
1 pound dry pasta (Lauren uses cavatappi, any similar shape is fine)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (Lauren uses Personalized Bread Crumbs)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

*Gruyère and Jarlsberg is tasty, but can be expensive. If your budget doesn't allow for it, substitute 1 1/2 cups grated Swiss.

Preheat oven to 425°F. You will need a 9 x 13" baking dish.

Boil a large pot of salted water, and while you make your cheese sauce, cook your pasta.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Whisk in milk slowly to prevent lumps. Add the cream and continue to whisk for a few minutes, until the mixture is heated through. Take your time with this. To prevent scalding, do not heat the mixture too quickly. Add the cheeses. Turn the heat to low and don't allow the mixture to heat above a simmer.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and cook until golden brown.

Lauren made Ina's Jalapeño Cheese Crackers 
while we were out of town.
Stir together the drained pasta, the cheese sauce and the zucchini and pour it into your 9 x 13" baking dish.

Stir together the bread crumbs and the melted butter in a bowl until combined. Sprinkle it over the mac and cheese in the baking dish. 

Put the baking dish in the oven and bake until the bread crumbs are golden and crispy and the cheese is bubbly, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool 5-10 minutes and serve.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Personalized Bread Crumbs

Dear Lauren,

You know those bread crumbs you buy in the cylinders at the grocery store? Some are plain and some are Italian? It's extremely easy to make these on your own with whatever kind of bread you like, without preservatives or other ingredients you really don't want or need. Here's how.

Set bread out on counter for 1-2 days.
Break up the bread into the fp*.
Let 'er rip for 1 minute, 2-4 slices at a time.
Press the air out, toss them in the freezer and use within 6 months.
That's it. Use any bread and have your own personalized bread crumbs available at all times!


P.S. *fp = food processor

Monday, June 9, 2014

Southern Green Beans

Dear Lauren,

Guess where these beans came from? Dad's garden! A whole pot's worth of beans! Who knew a garden could bring so many smiles? We are smiling ear to ear and my face hurts from all the smiling! Until this year, we used Del Monte Blue Lake Green Beans. Yes, canned! Never fresh. I guess I didn't know how to cook them properly. But I do now and I have a garden, so I don't see how we could eat more locally or seasonally. You should try this too.

Southern Green Beans
adapted from a recipe in I Like You by Amy Sedaris

1 strip of bacon
Green beans, trimmed
1 cup of water
1 onion, chopped

Determine how many beans you are making. This will determine the size of your saucepan. Heat the pan over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook the bacon until crispy. Add the green beans, water, and the onion. Turn the heat to low and cook for about 3 hours. Check the level of the liquid in the pan every hour and add a little extra water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.