Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Huevos a la Flamenca

Some of my closest friends know that TJ Maxx is my favorite store. I found a beautiful casserole handmade in Poland for $14! I don't know why exactly, but it makes me happy to look at it. It is perfect for a dish from Spain called Huevos a la Flamenca. It is different from Huevos Rancheros in that the tomato mixture is smooth, the eggs are baked not poached or fried, and it is customarily made with peas and jamon and/or chorizo.

I have been wanting to try Jamon Iberica or Jamon Serrano. They are cured hams from Spain similar to Prociutto Ham from Italy. The Jamon Iberica is the most expensive. The pigs are a special breed called Iberian, and they are given a special diet that includes acorns. I couldn't find this kind of ham, and even if I could, I couldn't afford it. I did find the Jamon Serrano for about $20/pound! I asked for $4 worth which is actually a good amount. I have plenty leftover to make this for my sister when she comes to visit.

Some of the other ingredients include Manchego cheese which is made in the La Mancha region of Spain. It is fairly expensive here in our town. I asked for $4 worth which was plenty, and again, I have enough for my sister when she gets in town. It is a yummy cheese, and you could eat it with the jamon and some crackers for a nice snack.
I found a video on Youtube with a guy making Huevos a la Flamenca. He made it very simply using Tomate Frito which is made with fried tomatoes that have been strained. I couldn't find it, but I did find a product from Italy that is similar. You could make your own sauce with roasted tomatoes and a blender, or you can just use tomato paste or tomato sauce.

I found some pork chorizo. If you decide to use chorizo, don't read the ingredients. Just don't.
Whenever I hear the word chorizo, I think of a play I was in. I think it was called the Marvelous Playbill. David Velasco, who was actually from Spain, was the lead. I can hardly remember the storyline (early Alzheimers?), but the setting was in Spain a couple of centuries ago. One of the characters had a one liner where he said "chorizo", and it got a few laughs from the audience.
The Jamon Serrano is much tastier after it has been fried kind of like bacon. I thought I would like it raw, but I couldn't palate the flavor. Maybe I just haven't developed a taste for it. I would like to try Jamon Iberica someday. When the Jamon Serrano is nice a crispy, it is like a sophisticated bacon. It is smoother and has a different flavor. I recommend cooking the chorizo very, very well. Very well. When you first start frying it, it doesn't smell very good. Just give it a chance. It really adds to the flavor of the dish.
Be very careful not to overcook the eggs. You want the yolks to be runny. About 12 minutes in a 375 degree oven is about all you'll need. I overcooked this batch a little. It was still good though. When you plate it, make sure you put a little bit of everything on the plate. I grated the manchego over the entire casserole when it came out of the oven, and then I added even more after I plated it. Serve with bread. I used a French baguette. Your kitchen will smell like a gourmet restaurant if you make this. It is totally worth it.

I love nice hot coffee when I have eggs. If you had this as a dinner entree, you could serve it with a white wine or even a red wine. My favorite coffee is Ruta Maya from Chiapas, Mexico. My sister used to live in Hyde Park in Austin right next to an organic supermarket. They carried this coffee, and the first time I tried it, I thought,"this is the best coffee ever!" I was excited when Puddleglum found it at our local grocery store. It is distributed out of Austin.

Puddleglum's Huevos a la Flameca

several strips Jamon Serrano (can substitute 2-3 strips bacon)
5 TBSP chorizo (can substitute sausage)
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 cup Tomate Frito (or strained tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, sauce, or thinned paste)
1 TBSP Alessi roasted red pepper, chopped
3-4 eggs
2 TBSP peas
manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 400deg F. Cook the Jamon Serrano and the chorizo in their own saute pans until the jamon is crispy and the chorizo is very well done. Place the oil, onion, garlic, and spices in a large saute pan. Saute until the onions just start to soften. Pour in the Tomate Frito or whatever tomato mixture you have (in my case the Pomi Strained Tomatoes). Cook until the mixture has been bubbly for several minutes stirring constantly. Add your roated red peppers at the end. Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow baking dish. Break your eggs carefully on top of the tomato mixture. Place your cooked jamon, chorizo, and peas in any way you like. Bake for about 14 minutes until the whites are cooked but the yolks are runny. Generously sprinkle with manchego cheese. Serve with good bread and nice hot coffee.

¡Buen provecho!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Green Tea and Red Rice Swirl Bread

Apple Pie, Patis, & Pate made an imaginative loaf of bread. He used ground green tea leaves and ground red rice. I like the idea, plus red rice has cholesterol lowering properties and green tea contains antioxidants. I think I may try this one.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Huevos Divorciados

I decided to cook a dish for myself that I've been wanting to make for a while now. I love egg dishes- mainly anything with poached eggs (like Eggs Benedict), or fried eggs (sunnyside up or over easy). I've always liked Huevos Rancheros, but apparently what I thought was Huevos Rancheros isn't really Huevos Rancheros. At any restaurant that I've ever ordered it at, it is usually a fried egg with salsa on top and corn tortillas somewhere. I had a patient who was into Mexico cooking, and he told me how to make it properly. He said the only correct way to make Huevos Rancheros was to make a tomato concoction and poach the eggs in that. He said corn tortillas have nothing to do with it, and he usually served it with refried beans or chicharrones (fried pork rinds).

Last week the grocery store had some good looking poblano peppers, so I bought some. I can't ever find canned poblanos. One of my friends has found them, but I don't ever see them. We made Spanish Rice last night, so I roasted them to use a little in the rice. I roasted them and then nuked them for a few minutes. Then I put them in this glass casserole to "sweat" a little so I could peel off the shiny, "plasticy" skin.

It's always a pain to do that, and I never can get all that skin off. I know cooking fresh and by scratch is supposed to be best, but I wish I could find them in a can! This makes me think of how Puddleglum and I used to make mole from scratch. It is a long process and takes forever. When I was talking to my friend, Juana (who was born and raised in Mexico), about it, she asked me why we didn't just buy it in a jar and add peanut butter because that's what most of the people in Mexico do.

The smell of roasting peppers always reminds me of my first job. I was a Pinkerton security guard in the Summer of '87. My first gigs were at the Coliseum. I worked the Barnum and Bailey circus (clowns really are scary), a monster truck show, a Menudo concert, and the Motley Crue/Whitesnake concert (not as much fun as it sounds). I finally got a permanent gig at the Old El Paso Mexican Food plant. This was during the summer time in El Paso in a polyester uniform outside in the parking lot during the day without air conditioning. I stood in the security guard tower watching the employees' cars. Sometimes the smell of roasting chiles was so strong it made my eyes water.

For the green side, I diced one of the poblanos and put it into a saute pan over medium heat with some oil. After a couple of minutes I put two of the roasted poblanos that I had left into a food processor with about 1/4 of a jar of La Costena Green Mexican Salsa.

After I pulsed that a few times, I poured it into the saute pan with the diced poblanos. In another saute pan I put one jar of Muir Glen Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes and about 1/4 of a jar of red salsa. When the contents of both pans were bubbling, I cracked an egg in each. You'll want to cook until the white is just barely cooked and the yolks are still runny. Do not overcook!

It's not too hard to plate it. You just have to be careful when you put each side in the bowl. I sprinkled some white cheese on top, and I put some cilantro in the center. We had leftover Pedros tamales and some leftover refried beans. I plated that with some of the rice that we made. The chicharrones were yummy crumbled on top. They made a crackling noise like Rice Crispies. The crunch went really well with the dish. One word of warning; the green side has a kick.

Puddleglum's Huevos Divorciados

3 Roasted Poblanos (dice one, puree two with the green salsa)
1/3 jar La Costena Green Mexican Salsa
1 can Muir Glen Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1/3 jar red salsa
2 large eggs
2 TBSP grated white cheese
2-3 sprigs cilantro
1 handful of crumbled chicharrones

To stay traditional you can separate both sides with a strip of chilaquiles.

See instructions above and serve very hot with fresh, hot coffee.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I made Korean Pumpkin Porridge (hobakjuk) last weekend. It was good. I made it more like pumpkin soup rather than porridge, and that was a mistake. I'll know for next time. I used this video by maangchi. She used butternut squash for her video. The boys helped me make the mochi balls. It takes a long time to make those. Maangchi says that when you see larger rice cake balls, that means they were made by lazy people. Not wanting to be lazy, I tried to keep them small. It takes a long time.

Each of the boys came by to see what I was doing, and since it looks like playdough, they all were interested in making some. They'd make about half a dozen until they realized it wasn't as much fun as it looked. Those little hands made nice small, round rice cakes though. I followed the directions on Maangchi's video. She takes two cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon salt and puts it in a big mixing bowl. Then she adds 3/4 cups of boiling water. She mixes it for quite a while with a big rice spoon. Then she uses her hands to "knead" it. She's so cute. She says that the "dough" should feel like an earlobe. Then wrap it up in some plastic wrap and set aside while you put together the hobakjuk.

So, here's how I made my hobakjuk. I took one of the pumpkins that we bought at the pumpkin patch and baked it on the oven until it the flesh was soft. I let it cool and then just peeled off the skin (rind?). It mashed easily with a hand blender in a soup pot. At that point I should have left it simple and added some sugar, and salt and pepper (and maybe some ginger), and a little water to thin it a little. Instead I added too much organic chicken broth, brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger, a little maple syrup, and white pepper, and then I added the mochi balls. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't hobakjuk. It was pumpkin soup. Greg made curry pumpkin soup a couple weeks ago, and it was good, but I wasn't really wanting that kind of thing again. We still have some pumpkin left, so I might try again. Sometimes hobakjuk is served with sweet red beans on top. It sounds weird, but trust me, it's good.