Tag Archives: Salsa

Asian-Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

I think most of us in the US would agree that peaches tend to be the heavyweight champions of stone fruit season. But if that’s indeed true, then I’d say that plums are the minor league champs, and deserve their day in the spotlight. And I for one get very excited when these underrated champs reach their peak high season! My local grocery store has them on full display, right there on the sidewalk, both black and red varieties looking proud, plump, and delicious.

black plums

I knew I wanted a savory application for the beauties, and thanks to me buying twice as many corn tortillas than I needed last weekend, tacos began to make a lot of sense. (Due to the excess of corn tortillas, we’ve actually been eating a LOT of tacos around here lately).

plum pico de gallo

I must admit, I’ve never before warmed to the idea of “fusion tacos” – but, well, when you’re eating as many tacos as we have been lately, the idea starts sounding better and better. So that’s where Asian style duck tacos come into play. These are reminiscent of a Peking duck. They marinate in a basic Chinese style combination of garlic, ginger, soy, and hoisin.

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

The plums actually stand in for, rather than accompany, the traditional tomatoes used in pico de gallo, which gives the salsa a fruitier and very bright taste. Its texture is maybe *slightly* softer than traditional tomato-based pico. But the plums complemented the duck beautifully. I hope y’all will enjoy these!

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

Source: adapted from Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Stark

Ingredients:
TACOS:
1 large (1 lb.) duck breast, trimmed of excess skin and fat, patted dry
½ cup red wine (I used a pinot noir)
½ cup soy sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1 chile de arbol, crumbled or chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, sliced
¼ medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Slight pinch of kosher salt
4-6 corn tortillas, warmed
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

PLUM PICO DE GALLO:
½ lb. ripe plums (can be red or black variety), pitted and diced
¼ cup finely diced fresh cilantro
¼ medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 serrano chile, minced (seeded if you want the salsa to be less hot)
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp sugar, optional
Kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
Place the duck breast in a large, resealable plastic food storage bag. In a small mixing bowl, combine the red wine, soy sauce, hoisin, lime juice, peppercorns, garlic, cinnamon stick, chile de arbol, ginger, and onion. Pour over the duck breast and close the bag. Massage the bag so that the duck is completely coated in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Get the duck out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking so it can come up to room temperature.
Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and let it get as hot as it’s going to get before you start cooking the duck.
Meanwhile, remove the duck from the marinade and wipe off any excess. Using a VERY sharp paring knife, score the skin on the diagonal in one direction, then rotate the duck and score the skin on the diagonal going the other direction, so you have a cross hatch pattern all over the skin. Season very lightly with kosher salt. Place the duck in the cast-iron skillet, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crackly-crispy and the fat has rendered. This will take about 15 minutes total, and you may need to adjust the heat upwards or downwards, depending on how well the fat is rendering. You want it hot enough to do its thing but not hot enough to burn the duck or cook the inside meat too quickly. Periodically you will need to carefully remove the duck with tongs to a cutting board and drain off the rendered fat. If you don’t do this, you’ll be pseudo deep-frying the duck by the end and it will taste greasy.
Once the fat is rendered, flip the duck breast over and cook on the meat side until its internal temperature reads 130 F, about 10 more minutes. Remove the duck to a plate, loosely tent with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
Prepare the PLUM PICO DE GALLO: combine the plums, cilantro, red onion, garlic, mint, serrano chile, lime juice, sugar if using, and salt. Taste for seasoning, as you may need to add more salt. Adjust as necessary.
To assemble, place the duck on a clean cutting board and slice as thinly as possibly across on the diagonal. Place a few duck slices in each tortilla, then spoon on a helping of plum pico de gallo. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Serve the leftover pico de gallo with tortilla chips if you wish.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

Huevos Rancheros Salad

I have one more classic-dish-turned-dinner-salad recipe to share with you to conclude this themed week, and I was going to share it yesterday, until I remembered that (for whatever reason) Friday is always my slowest traffic day; and thus, I decided to share this on a Saturday (which, again for whatever reason, is a much better traffic day for me) because this dish is just too delicious and too special to risk not being seen.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

This is Huevos Rancheros, the classic Mexican morning dish of crisp tortilla covered in ranchero sauce, cheese and a fried egg, but it’s turned into a salad!! You may be asking if that can even work, and I’m here to assure you, yes it can. It does. It’s insanely good.

Now, I’m not going to ask you to take my word for it – that this salad is just beyond. You see, I don’t have the least bit of an objective relationship with Huevos Rancheros. I love it, period. It can do no wrong in my book. I guess what I’m saying, is that, for me, Huevos Rancheros is like sex: when it’s good, it’s indescribable, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

So you should take Matt’s word for it, instead. He, being much more discerning about his Huevos Rancheros and not being quite so obsessed, found this salad to be “phenomenal.” And he, unlike myself, would recognize and say so if it wasn’t.

This salad is everything you love about the iconic dish, just transformed by placing the traditional ingredients on a bed of lettuce and crushing some tortilla chips on top. There’s a creamy chipotle dressing that lightly coats the lettuce pieces but doesn’t compete with the traditional flavors. And of course, that runny egg yolk – arguably one of the best parts of Huevos Rancheros – serves to dress everything too.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

It’s different, for sure! But, I firmly believe that all of you out there who are Huevos Rancheros lovers will also love it in salad form. A really beautiful meal, for any time of day. Enjoy!

{One Year Ago: Julie’s Famous Buffalo Wings; Soy, Dijon and Blue Cheese Chicken Wings}
{Two Years Ago: Meyer Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones; Gas Station Pork Tacos}

Source: recipe slightly adapted from The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown; egg technique from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
DRESSING:
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 tsp adobo sauce
1 large egg
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves
Kosher salt, to taste
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup sour cream

SALAD:
1 large romaine heart, chopped
¾ cup diced jalapeno Jack cheese
1 cup cooked corn kernels (frozen are fine, just thaw them first)
¾ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1-4 tbs unsalted butter, lard, or rendered bacon fat
1-2 large eggs per serving (anywhere from 2 to 8 eggs)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup tomato salsa, homemade or store-bought
Crushed tortilla chips, about 1 generous handful per serving
4 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions:
First make the DRESSING: combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, egg, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and salt in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. With the machine still running, carefully pour in the olive oil through the top of the blender, until a thick sauce forms. Add the sour cream and process 30 seconds. Refrigerate until using.
Combine the lettuce, cheese, corn, and beans in a large mixing bowl. Toss with your hands to evenly incorporate everything. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat and get it screaming hot, about 1 full minute. Add the fat of choice, about 1 generous tbs for every 2 eggs. Work in batches to avoid crowding the eggs. Let the fat melt completely, then add your egg, reduce the heat to medium-high, and step back. The whites will sputter and hiss. Within a minute, it should get brown at the edges but don’t touch or move it. Let it cook until the white looks fully opaque, another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Shimmy a thin metal spatula under the egg, gently loosening any stuck parts. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat as needed to cook all of your eggs.
To serve, dress the lettuce mixture lightly with the dressing and toss to combine. Mound the lettuce on dinner plates, then top with 1-2 fried eggs. Spoon salsa over all and garnish with the tortilla chips and scallions. Serve immediately.
As written, this will probably yield 4-6 servings, depending on how large a portion you prefer. I got 4 servings. How many eggs you use depends on whether your diners want 1 or 2 eggs per serving, and how many servings you choose to have.

Peach Salsa #SundaySupper

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Welcome to Sunday Supper, where this week we are Preserving Summer Produce! This theme is very good for me, because …… I’m really ready for fall. Okay, there I said it – it’s my shameful secret. This happens to me every year about this time. Even though I know I shouldn’t, I start becoming a tad ungrateful for all the beautiful summer bounty and I just want to make chili and watch a football game. And then bake something with apples…

peaches and tomatoes for salsa 066

So thanks to my Sunday Supper gang for encouraging me to use up that summer produce while I still have access to it, and put off thinking about fall cooking and baking for a few more weeks, as I very well should.

peaches for salsa 055

My grocery store is selling lovely, local Jersey peaches, so this week I snapped some up and made you this homemade, from-scratch peach salsa. I don’t know about you, but I have *always* been sorely disappointed by store-bought fruit salsas. I have a couple of brands I trust when it comes to store-bought regular tomato-based salsas, but it seems that the minute you add the word “mango” or “peach” to the label, well, brace yourself, cuz it ain’t gonna be pretty.

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There is no disappointment with this homemade peach salsa. Oh my, it is divine. It’s the perfect balance of sweetness to salty, with the peaches being front and center without overpowering the whole thing. So perfect.

Peach Salsa 076

Oh, and this is so easy to make, too! The stovetop and food processer do most of the work for you. And I really can’t stress how delicious it is. That said, it’s not terribly spicy at all – probably very kid friendly. Leave the ribs and seeds in the jalapeno, or just add a second jalapeno if you prefer it hotter. So please try this one while you can still get fresh, in-season peaches. The salsa will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week.

Peach salsa 096

Oh and be sure you give some love to my wonderful Sunday Supper peeps!

{One Year Ago: Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta Alfredo}
{Two Years Ago: Mussels in Red Chile Broth, Pickled Doughnut Peaches, Mexican Lamb Barbacoa}

Source: slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:
1 lb. peaches (about 3 medium-to-large)
1 lb. plum tomatoes, halved
1-2 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded if desired, and halved
½ a red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into thick slices
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
¼ red onion, peeled and root tip discarded
1 cup water
2 tsp fresh lime juice
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt

Directions:
First you will need to peel the peaches. To do this, bring a medium to large stockpot of water to a boil – you need just enough water to cover the peaches. Using a small paring knife, make an “X” on the bottom of each peach, a shallow cut that just cuts the skin. Submerge the peaches in the boiling water for 1 minute. Lift them out with a slotted spoon to a plate or cutting board. Let them cool a few minutes, just until you can comfortably handle them. Starting at the bottom where you made the “X”, peel off the skins. They should come off easily; if a few little stubborn bits are insisting upon hanging on for dear life at the top, don’t fuss over it. Life’s too short. Now pit the peaches and cut them into quarters.
Add the peaches, tomatoes, jalapeno(s), bell pepper, onion, and water to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes (I did a combination of covered and uncovered). Remove from the heat and allow to cool, about 10 minutes.
Using tongs, carefully transfer all the solid pieces to your food processor. Add the lime juice and pulse on and off until combined but still somewhat chunky. If it’s too thick, add some of the water left in the stockpot.
Stir in the chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Let it cool the rest of the way to room temperature, then either serve or store in the refrigerator.
This is fantastic as just a dip for chips, but it’s also wonderful on chicken or fish – as tacos or by themselves. Oh and it makes a ton – about 2 cups!

Learn how to …

Sip sunny cocktails and smoothies

Scoop up special salsas and sauces

Jump into jellies, jams and preserves

Pucker up for pickles

Slurp and spoon soup and a side dish

Dive into divine desserts

Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.


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Deconstructed Fish Tacos

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It’s time for some Secret Recipe Club!!! [Click here for my last SRC post.] This month I was assigned Mele Cotte, a fantastic blog from Christina (or Chris as she is called by her friends).

Chris is a gorgeous redhead who hails from Boston but resides in Atlanta. She held several different careers in marketing and middle school education before realizing that cooking and baking were her true loves. She is quite accomplished in the food blogging and culinary sphere, as she has attended the Art Institute in Atlanta and does smaller catering gigs. Definitely check out her awesome blog!

deconstructed fish tacos 234

Mele Cotte means Baked Apples in Italian (I did not know that!), and yes, Italian is her heritage. So of course, I had to go and choose something Mexican. Because I just do things like that. These deconstructed fish tacos immediately caught my eye. I am a huge fish taco fan, and I love playing around with the whole deconstructed concept, so I think I was just meant to find this recipe on Chris’ blog.

Deconstructed Fish Tacos 243

I adapted the recipe, mainly because it’s written as four servings and I’m only cooking for two people. And then I made a few smaller changes, just added some chili powder to the fish and topped it with some crispy tortilla strips. After viewing the food on the plate and taking my first bite, I remarked to Matt that you could also probably call these upside-down fish tacos, because fish tacos are based with a tortilla and the cabbage is just the garnish, whereas these are the exact opposite.

Deconstructed Fish tacos 238

And yet, they taste exactly as advertised. So delicious, light and healthy, full of Mexican flavor. We absolutely loved them and I can’t wait to play around with the concept some more and make them again. Thank you for a fabulous recipe Chris!

Deconstructed Fish Tacos 246

Source: adapted from Mele Cotte

Ingredients:
Juice of 3 limes, divided
1 tsp chili powder
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 grouper fillets, or any white fish
1/2 a green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 tbs plus 3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 corn tortillas
Canola oil, for frying
Guacamole
Chunky salsa
Queso fresco or Cotija cheese, crumbled, for garnish

Directions:
In a small baking dish (I used a glass 8×8 glass baker), mix together the juice of 2 limes, chili powder, 1 tbs olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add the grouper and turn them over a few times so they are fully coated. Set aside but leave out at room temperature while you prep the cabbage and prepare the guacamole, if making it yourself.
Carefully slice the cabbage very thin; using a mandoline works best and quickest. Pile the cabbage into a bowl and squeeze the remaining lime over it. Add the 3 tsp olive oil and toss to combine. Don’t salt it yet. Set aside.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the fish fillets and cook about 7 minutes total, flipping once, until they are just cooked through. You may need a shorter or longer time depending on your fish’s thickness. When done, remove to a plate and let rest 3-5 minutes. With a fork, flake or chunk the fillets.
Add about an inch of canola oil to a small to medium skillet and heat on high. Cut the tortillas into 1-inch-wide strips, then cut those strips in half crosswise. When the oil is ready, fry the tortilla strips for just a few minutes. You’ll know they are ready when the bubbles start subsiding and their color has turned golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.
To serve, first season the cabbage with salt and pepper and toss. Then assemble as follows: cabbage spread out on a dinner plate, topped with guacamole, then dot liberally or conservatively with salsa, followed by chunks of fish, and finally tortilla strips and queso fresco. Serve immediately.


Huevos Rancheros Divorciados

huevos rancheros divorciados

Yesterday was Matt’s birthday, so of course I spent the day cooking up a feast for him. For dinner we had decadent burgers, grilled salad with homemade ranch dressing (one of his faves) and he requested this ice cream, surprisingly not this ice cream, for dessert.

making Salsa Asada

making green tomatillo salsa

Since it was Sunday, and we usually have brunch on Sunday, I wanted to make him a birthday brunch. When I asked him what he wanted, he thought for awhile, then said “Huevos rancheros!” As that is one of my favorite dishes of all time, I was quite happy to oblige.

Huevos Rancheros Divorciados

And since this was birthday Huevos rancheros, for a very special person no less, I thought I would jazz it up a bit and make it very special Huevos rancheros! The divorciados in the title refers to two different sauces – a red, tomato-based (typical) and a green tomatillo-based (unusual). It was quite scrumptious! The two different sauces added a lovely depth of flavor and the contrast looked very pretty on the plate. Most importantly, Matt loved it. A wonderful dish for a wonderful person! Happy birthday Matt!!!

Huevos Rancheros Divorciados

Huevos Rancheros Divorciados

A few recipe notes: Huevos rancheros is very easy to scale up or down. As written, there’s easily enough sauce for 4 servings. Or you can do as I did, make only two servings, and have delicious leftover salsa. Enjoy!

clean plates after breakfast

Source: heavily adapted from Mexican Made Easy by Marcella Villadolid

Ingredients:

RED SALSA (Salsa Asada):
4 plum tomatoes
1 medium shallot, peeled
1 serrano chile, stemmed
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
1/3 cup chicken stock
Kosher salt and black pepper

GREEN SALSA (Roasted Tomatillo Salsa):
1 tbs olive oil
4 large tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small shallot, peeled
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
1 jalapeno, stemmed
1 tbs fresh cilantro
½ cup water
Kosher salt and black pepper

HUEVOS RANCHEROS:
Canola oil
Corn tortillas: 2 per person
Sour cream: 2 tbs per tortilla
1 (15 oz.) can refried beans, warmed in the microwave until stirrable
Shredded Monterey jack cheese
2 eggs per person

Directions:
First make the RED SALSA. Heat a 10” cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, shallot, serrano, and garlic to the dry skillet and roast until charred on all sides, about 7 minutes. Don’t worry if the veggies are not cooked all the way through.
Transfer the tomatoes, shallot, and serrano to the blender. Peel the garlic carefully (it’s hot!) and then add it to the blender, along with the chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth. Pour the salsa into a small stockpot over medium-low heat. Simmer gently and let it thicken for about 10 minutes, or until desired consistency. This will also help cook out the veggies. Wipe out the cast-iron skillet and rinse the blender under running water.
Now make the GREEN SALSA. Place the same 10” cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then the tomatillos, shallot, garlic and jalapenos. Cook about 7 minutes, until the tomatillos are browned and the other veggies are charred.
Transfer the tomatillos, shallot, and jalapenos to the blender. Peel the garlic carefully (it’s hot!) then add it to the blender, along with the cilantro, water, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.
Pour the salsa back into the cast-iron skillet and simmer gently over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until thickened to your desired consistency.
Keep both salsas warm until needed.
Pour about an inch of canola oil into a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the oil is ready, fry the tortillas until crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
Pour most of the oil out of the skillet, then fry up the desired number of eggs, sunny-side up, or over easy, however you desire.
To assemble: smear about a tablespoon of sour cream on a dinner plate where each tortilla will be placed. Anchor a tortilla atop each smear of sour cream. Dollop some refried beans on each tortilla and spread it to the edges. Place a fried egg on each tortilla. Top with shredded cheese, then spoon some red salsa on one and some green salsa on the other. Eat!

Chile de Arbol Salsa

Chile de Arbol Salsa

May I rant about dried chile de arbols for a second? First a disclaimer: I love them and use them often. Okay, that’s out of the way, now I’ll rant.

dried chile de arbol

Chile de arbols are tiny little FIERY HOT dried chiles. A little bit goes a very long way. Most recipes call for at most two little chiles. So you’d think the manufacturers would realize this and sell them in small packages, right? Oh no. They are sold in bags of like, fifty plus chiles, and it takes forever to use up a bag, even if you make tons of Mexican food like I do. So I usually don’t use up an entire bag before the last dozen or so have gone bad. As I hate to waste food, that really bugs me!

chile de arbol salsa from Muy Bueno

So when I ran across a recipe that called for twenty, count ‘em, twenty chiles de arbol, I was beyond excited and had to immediately make it. As I expected it would be, this salsa is HOT. Definitely not for those who don’t like it spicy. But the flavor was unique from probably most any salsa you’ve had before, and it really was delicious. So if spicy chiles are your thing, then I would heartily recommend this one. With some salty, crispy tortilla chips and cold Mexican beers, it’s quite an enjoyable snack.

Chile de Arbol Salsa

Source: Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor by Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith and Evangelina Soza

Ingredients:
1 tsp canola oil
20 chiles de arbol, stemmed but not seeded
1 small white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup canned whole peeled tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chiles and toast for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly so chiles are fried well and change color.
Add onion and garlic and saute another 2 minutes, again stirring constantly.
Transfer ingredients in the skillet to the blender. Add whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and salt. Puree until salsa is smooth with flecks of chile running throughout. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with crispy tortilla chips.
Note: if you find this is seriously too hot for your palate, mix in some sour cream. Tastes terrific and it will cool things off.

Huevos Rancheros

A couple of weeks ago it was another thirty-something birthday for me, and Matt offered to make me whatever I wanted for dinner.  I thought about it for a while, and realized it would have to be something either Mexican or Tex-Mex, those being my all-time favorite types of cuisine.  And since Matt is amazing at cooking eggs, Huevos Rancheros became an easy decision.

I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but I heard one time that the way many chefs and restaurateurs test the chefs/cooks applying for jobs is to make them cook an egg.  They reason that an egg is very difficult to cook perfectly, so if he/she can flawlessly execute an egg, then they can probably cook whatever else is needed.  I once joked to Matt that he could easily secure a job at a fancy, fine dining restaurant based on that test.  Sure, he would go in, serve up a delicious and perfect egg, any style, and be hired on the spot.  Then the head chef or owner would discover he wasn’t the least bit qualified and didn’t know what he was doing at all.  But, man, he can cook eggs.

Huevos Rancheros is a very popular Mexican breakfast dish, with as many variations on a theme as there are home cooks in the country.  I’ve seen recipes with fried eggs, poached eggs, and scrambled eggs; there is a somewhat spirited debate about whether or not beans should be included in the finished product; and some people go with two sauces (green and red) whereas others only use red salsa.  Some versions are cheesier than others, some include avocado in some form, and some do not; and some include bacon or chorizo, whereas others are meat-free.

But the agreed-upon basics include: a fried tortilla, ranchero sauce, which is a tomato-based chile “restaurant style” salsa (meaning not a pico de gallo), and eggs.  I prefer mine with beans, so I always include them regardless of recipe instructions.  And for my birthday, I opted for a fried egg, though the dish is also quite delicious with other egg preparations.  The egg was absolutely perfect, and the dish was as amazing as it always is.  I was once again reminded that I could happily eat some version of this dish once a week and never tire of it.  Happy birthday to me, indeed.  Thank you, sweetie!

Source: adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine, February/March 2006

Ingredients:
6 plum tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 slices bacon
Vegetable or canola oil
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, with some of their juices
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
2 tbs unsalted butter
4-8 large eggs, depending upon how many eggs per serving you want
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Sour cream
1 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions:
Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Char the tomatoes, turning several times with tongs, until their skin blisters and starts to peel. Transfer to a plate. When cool enough to handle, peel their skins off. If you don’t get every little piece of skin off, it’s definitely okay.
Place the tomatoes, one-third of the garlic, half the onion, and the jalapeno in a blender or food processor. Pulse about 6 times, until thoroughly chopped but not pureed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Wipe out the cast-iron skillet and return to the pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it’s crisped and has rendered its fat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.
Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside. Tent with foil to keep it warm.
Wipe out the skillet and add a drizzle of vegetable oil if needed, then add the remaining onion and garlic. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
Raise the heat and add half the beans to the skillet. Mash with a potato masher, then add the rest of the beans and keep mashing. Cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, tent with foil, and set aside.
Fill a large skillet with an inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat until it ripples. Fry the tortillas, in batches as is necessary, turning once with tongs, until crisped and golden brown. Remove to paper towel lined plates.
In a large, nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat, then crack in the eggs. Fry until the whites are set (just opaque), about 2-3 minutes.
Assemble the Huevos Rancheros: on each dinner plate, spread two scant tablespoons of sour cream in two separate places on the plates. Place a fried tortilla over each. The sour cream anchors the tortilla on the plate. Spread each tortilla with beans, then top with 2 slices of bacon, then 1-2 eggs, then sprinkle with cheese and top with ranchero sauce. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

As written this will serve 4-8 people, depending on whether people want 1 or 2 tortillas.

Grilled Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

Fall is my absolute favorite season.  I especially appreciate it since moving to New York, where we actually have a proper, textbook autumn.  (In Texas, there are two seasons: summer, and not summer.)  I love the cooler weather that isn’t yet too cold, and the foliage up here is just gorgeous.

Also, at least in my mind, fall equals FOOTBALL SEASON!!!  I absolutely love football, especially college ball.  In New York, football is a sport; but in Texas, it’s a religion.  I got exposed at a very young, formative age, and it seeped into my bones.  I was indoctrinated into the church and I wave the flag proudly.  So yes, I love fall.  So much so, that every year without fail, I start anticipating it sometime in mid-July.  When the temperatures are in the nineties and the beach is beckoning, I start thinking about sweaters, pumpkins, changing leaves, and tailgating.  I always feel a bit silly when this happens.  I attempt to put those thoughts away and live in the present.  I try and remind myself to enjoy the summer season with all its fresh produce, farmer’s markets, lazy beach days, and delicious grilling.  That’s why I made this meal.  To remind myself that it’s still summer.

Strawberries are beautiful and sweet this time of year, and I happen to love them in savory applications.  This meal is the epitome of summer: fresh, wild salmon grilled to a perfect medium-rare and topped with a sweet and spicy salsa that takes advantage of plentiful produce.  In addition to strawberries, the salsa boasts sweet Vidalia onion, a spicy serrano chile, tangy lime juice, and bright mint. So if you, too, need a reminder that it’s not yet fall, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, make this dish soon.

Source: Salsa slightly adapted from BBQ USA, by Steven Raichlen

Ingredients:
1 pint ripe strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and diced
1 serrano chile, finely chopped, seeded if desired
1/4 cup finely diced sweet white onion
3 tbs fresh mint, minced
1-2 tbs fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
4 wild or organic salmon fillets, pin bones removed
1 tbs canola oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high.
Combine the strawberries, chile, onion, mint, and lime juice in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
Blot a folded up paper towel with the oil. Rub it on the grill grate. Place the salmon on the grill, skin side down and grill for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and grill another 2 minutes for medium-rare. Remove and serve with the salsa either spooned on top or alongside.