Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chilaquiles Raul y Hilery

Years and years ago, back when I was a pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's cafe at south coast plaza, there was a line cook named Raul. One Sunday morning he made breakfast for the kitchen crew. It was an amazing dish made with cheese, eggs and tortilla chips, I was instantly in love.

I would beg him every Sunday to please create this dish again. Knowing he was having a good laugh at me, a vegetarian at the time he assured me he was not using chicken stock. I of course knew better and simply didn't care it was that good...

I soon started making a variation of his recipe for Mike and I, whenever possible. Mike was similarly enamored with this Mexican peasant dish.

Now Mike and I try this dish, called Chilaquiles (, whenever we find them on a menu whether here in SF or on vacation in Mexico. We have come to realize that there are many regional variations of this dish, some covered in green sauce some in red and others with no sauce at all. Raul's version (as well as mine) is most closely related to what you find in Guadalajara.

Over the years I have developed my own variations, however it stays true to the origins of that first magical incarnation created by Raul.

With no further ado here are the pics and recipe hints for Chilaquiles Raul y Hilery.

This morning I had some blue corn tortillas that were beginning to dry out so the first step was to cut them into triangles and lightly fry them.

In a deep-bottomed skillet sweat (in 2T of butter) half a yellow or white onion and large clove of garlic, once they are just beginning to go transparent I add two sliced Serrano peppers -- cook covered. Mike and I tend to like things pretty spicy so i do not seed them, however the spice level can be moderated to your taste.

Chilaquiles a great way to use up old chips...

Once the onions garlic and peppers are fully cooked (about 5 mins) you'll add the chips, I used the blue corn chips I made earlier as well as the remnants of a bag of white corn chips I had laying around.

Stir to mix with the onions etc. then add about a cup of chicken or veggie stock. In this case I dissolved half a cube of veggie bouillon into a cup of hot water. Mix gently and simmer, covered, for about 5 mins or until the chips begin to get slightly soft.

I then add 2 diced Roma tomatoes, cumin, cayenne, salt, and this pico de gallo seasoning I get from the corner store, ah the beauties of living in the mission.

I stir gently and add about half a cup more liquid, regular water works fine at this point. Cover and simmer for another five minutes until the tomatoes just begin to fall apart.

Now its time for the greens, in this version I used an Arugula blend but spinach is excellent too. Toss with the other ingredients and cook uncovered until the greens are ever so slightly wilted.

Then pour in 6 lightly beaten eggs. Salt the eggs lightly and stir to begin scrambling. I usually cover for a couple minutes here, it allows the eggs to steam a bit as they scramble and gives a nice texture.

Be sure to stir often so the eggs don't stick to the bottom of your pan as most of the butter and liquid has already been soaked up by the tortillas.

Once the eggs are cooked to your desired consistency, I like them on the undercooked side, Add about 1.5 cups of a mellow cheese -- Jack works beautifully. Stir lightly and close the fire.

Once plated I add, sliced avocado, creama fresca casera, a smokey hot cause, a little cilantro and crumbled queso fresca. Served with refried black beans leftover from Nachos we made earlier in the week.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rainy Saturday Baking

I had oginally planned to do gardening this afternoon but since the weather didn't look like it was going to cooperate I decided baking was in order instead.

Made my flourless almond butter chocolate chunk cookies and some banana walnut muffins.

First the cookies.

This is my favorite cookie recipe, I modified it from a flourless peanut butter version by Michael Recchiuti,

I love the richness of flavor created with the almond butter, the toasted almonds and rough chopped 70% chocolate for the chips.

The final modification is to combine fleur de sel and vanilla salt together and sprinkle a small amount on the cookies just after they come out of the oven.

The cookie in all its glory

For the Banana Walnut muffins I modified a recipe for banana bread from the new farm vegetarian cookbook,

The farm is a commune in Tennesee where an old friend of mine grew up. I always loved this banana bread, so I decided to try a muffin version. Ended up modifying to the point of near unrecognizability.

In place of the margarine the recipe calls for I used clarified butter, which was blended with medium brown sugar.

In place of the all purpose flour I used cake flour, which gave the finished product a cupcake feel.

For the bananas I froze very ripe bananas then let them thaw into a mush. Then I added toasted walnuts and some burnt caramel I had in the fridge.

After placing in the muffin tins, prior to baking, I swirled some additional burnt caramel around the mixture using a toothpick (for the mini cupcakes) and a paring knife (for the standard).

The finished muffin here is from the standard batch.

An afternoon well spent.