Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

Inspiration overload. And before you say anything smart or sarcastic, yes, it does exist.

Maybe it feels overwhelming because I’ve been feeling a bit blah since last week. It could be the August Blues or Mercury in retrograde. It could be the lightning that struck so close to my house last Tuesday that a sharp, intense pain like abrading glass passed through my skull while cooking dinner.

Whatever it is, I’m behind three blog posts.

Today, I went out to lunch at a Thai restaurant with my dad, though all I had was green tea due to a tender stomach. The rest of his side of the family is in Pennsylvania for the week, but he had to stay behind for work (and help his wife’s youngest pack up for another year at JMU) and I have a Boston wedding to attend this weekend. I arrived rather early to his office, and we took the opportunity to browse the nearby Border’s bookstore, one of the many locations that is going out of business. But for less than twenty dollars, I bought three cookbooks, all of which give readers the ability to cook and bake by weight and/or volume. The best part about the recipes was that many are naturally gluten free, and I’m confident I can substitute unfriendly ingredients with friendly ones.

The Books:
Comfort food: More than 120 easy recipes for every day. (2010). Sydney: Murdoch Books.

Rodgers, R. (2010). The world kitchen: Favorite international recipes to cook at home. San Francisco, CA: Weldon Owen.

Williams, C.; Kidd, K.; Kolpas, N.; & Williams-Sonoma. (2010). Cooking at home. San Francisco, Cal: Weldon Owen.

As I glanced through the books with a sense of wonder and veneration, a few of the recipes called out to me. Whenever I use someone else’s recipes, I tend to stray away from doing it exactly as they had. I may change the ingredients I use, sometimes even going so far as altering how I prepare the dish, because good recipes enable you to make it yours. You can add or remove elements of the dish. You can change how you cook it, or use recipes as insight to making something totally different.

Being gluten free gives me that innovative freedom, and the Huevos Rancheros recipe (Comfort Food, p.20) is the first of many recipes from these books where my creative license will be incorporated.

Huevos Rancheros (Served Over Polenta Disks* & Refried Beans)

1 tbsp. Ghee & 1 tbsp. Olive oil, for greasing the pan
1 Yellow squash (sm.), halved vertically and thinly sliced
1 Green squash (sm.), halved vertically and thinly sliced
16 oz Chipotle-Garlic salsa
1 Red onion (sm.), halved and thinly sliced
1 Shallot, thinly sliced horizontally
1 Orange bell pepper, julienned and coarsely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 Eggs
2 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Put the ghee and olive oil in a large frying pan (one with a lid) over medium heat.
Add the vegetables and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
After turning down the heat to medium-low and including the salsa, cover with a lid and let simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.
Smooth the surface of the mixture and make 8 hollows with the back of a spoon or small ladle.
Break an egg into each hollow and put the lid on the pan, cooking for 5 minutes or until they are set. (Be sure not to overcook the yolks… like I did. :D)
Serve the eggs over polenta disks (or tortillas) and refried beans with Parmesan lightly sprinkled on top.

*To make the polenta disks, I used Trader Joe’s 18 oz Precooked Polenta. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the polenta tube into 8 equal circles and lay them flat on a greased baking sheet, lightly coated with olive oil or cooking spray on top. Cook for 45 minutes, flipping them over halfway. Turn on the broiler and crisp each side until golden brown.

Serves 4.

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