Thursday, November 21, 2013


Chilaquiles!, originally uploaded by michele wynne.

Welcome to my current little kitchen obsession. Here's what's going on here~fried tortilla chips bathed in chile sauce and then dusted with finely grated cotija cheese. Sounds pretty good right? Well, hold onto your hats because that's only the beginning of this crazy good brunch I made for myself yesterday and the day before and the day before that! These ridiculously good wet nachos are then layered with sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, couple of eggs poached in chile sauce and then finished with a drizzle of crema. These things are addictive!
Inspiration came by way of a birthday lunch (thanks Sheena!), many months ago to Nopalito where they serve an appetizer version called Totopos Con Chile.
Traditionally, Chilaquiles are prepared for brunch as a way to use up stale tortillas, leftover salsa and cheese.
I was intrigued, in fact more than a little surprised that I'd never before encountered these given that I've been devouring Mexican cuisine since I made my first taco in Home Ec.

Anyhoo, after an intense Google-thon, here's how this all went down:

Red Chile Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit
7 dried Guajillo chiles
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons Sriracha
salt to taste


6 to 8 corn tortillas, cut into 4 wedges each-leave them out overnight to dry
4 tablespoons of oil

grated Cotija

8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime  juice

additional toppings:
sliced avocado
black beans
cooked chicken
Soak the chiles in 4 cups of boiling water for about 15 minutes. While the chiles are soaking, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet and cook the diced onions until brown and caramelized, add the garlic, jalepeno and paprika and cook for another minute or two until the jalepeno softens. Remove from the heat. Back to your chiles, reserving the soaking liquid, remove the stem and cut the chile open, remove the seeds and lay the chiles out on a cutting board and chop them all up. Pour the cooking liquid through a strainer to remove the seeds.
 In a blender, pour in the can of tomatoes, add the onion mixture and the chili pepper. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. Place the lid on the blender with the central part of the lid removed. Stand by with the liquid and once the blend gets moving, slowly pour the liquid into the blender, just until the funnel forms and the sauce is blending nicely.
Lay out a baking sheet or large plate lined with paper towels. In the skillet, add 4 tablespoons oil and heat to medium high. When the oil is hot, place the tortilla wedges in a single layer and cook until golden brown turning them over with tongs, frying in batches until you're done, drain the chips on th paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
The next part of this goes a little fast. For the Totopo version I prep the grated cheese on a plate or a wide shallow dish and have it at the ready for when the chips come out of the sauce.
Drain off most of the oil and let the skillet cool down a little.
If making these for brunch, I'll have another smaller pan (with a fitted lid) ready so I can poach some eggs in the sauce as well. Crack eggs into ramekins.
Pour the pureed sauce into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Stir in the agave and the Sriracha.  Taste. Add salt, a pinch or two at a time, to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes and peppers. Add more agave and/or Sriracha if you want. Pour some sauce into the second pan and poach the eggs
Return the chips into the skillet and carefully stir to coat them with sauce. Cook for about a minute or so. If you're serving these as an appetizer you'll want to keep them crisp. With tongs, remove the chips, shaking off excess sauce and then dipping the chip onto the plate of cheese to coat. If you're going the brunch-poached egg route then a little additional cooking time is fine to make them fork friendly. With a slotted spoon, scoop up the chips and place them directly onto your serving platter or individual plates  and sprinkle cheese on top and then layer any additional toppings like avocado, black beans or cooked chicken. Lay the poached eggs on top and then drizzle crema on top and sprinkle with additional cheese and chopped cilantro and be ready to dive into the crazygoodness of Chilaquiles.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spinach, Persimmon & Avocado Salad with Lime Miso Dressing

I snagged a bunch of fuyu persimmons from the market yesterday with absolutely no idea what to do with them. I thought I was going to make some sort of baked thing with them, but it seems that the softer, pulpier Hayicha persimmon is more suited to that particular endeavor. My google search for persimmon recipes led me to this recipe for Spinach, Jicama and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing. It was the best place to start as I'd also managed to snag some avocados and I've been meaning to try Jicama.
Until a few weeks ago, I'd never eaten a persimmon. From the moment the first Fuyu's arrived in the market and I was fascinated by it's perfection, from its gorgeous orange color and the cute little leafy cap, I wanted to take it home and draw it. I was surprised by how sweet they were. I was surprised that they were sweet at all. For some reason I expected persimmons to be more vegetal, like a tomato.
This morning I set out with a short list of ingredients I needed to compose the afore mentioned salad but alas could not find any jicama, even at my local Latino produce market. I decided to go with celery root instead.

6 ounces baby spinach
1/4 of a large celery root cut into matchsticks
1 avocado cut into cubes
2 persimmons, peeled and cut into cubes
pomegranate seeds
lime zest
Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved

Miso Dressing
4 teaspoons lime juice
4 teaspoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons shiro miso
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil

My new way of preparing salads is a method I learned from my cooking classes at 18 Reasons~layering. I used to toss everything together in my big stainless steel bowl thinking that I wanted every component evenly distributed and coated with dressing. I've since learned better.
Here, the ingredients get layered onto a plate in two layers and the dressing gets drizzled on within the layers as well (unless you have an ingredient or two that could use a little tenderizing prior to  assembly).
I poured about 2 tablespoons of dressing into a large tossing bowl and stirred around the match sticks of celery root and let them sit a few minutes (not really necessary because I like the crunch of the celery root) then I tossed in the spinach to get the leaves a little coated. I commenced to building the salad by layering down half of the spinach & celery root first, then 1/2 of the persimmons, avocado, a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, a drizzle of dressing and finally some shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano (I used Cotija on a another version). Repeat the layering.
Not only does a layered salad look gorgeous, but each bite tastes different so your palate is never bored. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Apple Butter

Apple Butter, originally uploaded by michele wynne.
The Big Grey Box has been overwhelmed by apples and pears for weeks now. I've been bringing small piles home thinking about the abundance of applesauce I could be consuming on a daily basis.
This applesauce to be exact, a recipe so super simple and results in the best freakin' applesauce you'll likely ever spoon into your gob. An apple sauce so flavorful it must be the star of this most amazing cake if you've got a little more time and need to come up with a killer Autumn everyday cake. Well, I didn't do either. As usual, my bounty sat in the fridge for a couple of days. I'd opened and closed that crisper drawer so many times, just not ready to cope with the apple peeling. That, and I kept forgetting to buy lemons. I thought about a crumble, but I didn't have any butter. Then the other morning whilst bouncing around the blogosphere (rather than, you know, go to the store) I stumbled across this Slow Cooker Apple Butter.
I have no regrets.
It cooks on low for 12 hours covered and then 2 more hours uncovered. I pureed it in the food to get it super smooth. Somehow I was expecting it to be thicker and more spreadable than it was. I was tempted to cook it down some more on the stove top. I refrained.
I ended up with jars galore...well...5. Enough to share with Sheena and the break room. It got the thumbs up from my market mates. Success!