Tag Archives: chorizo


Last week while we were in San Francisco, our son and his family came up from Silicon Valley to spend Sunday with us. Susan rested to catch up with a week of intense child watching while René generously took the four kids to one of the playgrounds on the Presidio.

That gave me an opportunity to take Peter to brunch. We haven’t had a time alone for a long time, so both of us seemed to relish the opportunity. We went to the Presidio Social Club, which has become one of our favorite restaurants on the Presidio. It is housed in a very old barracks building that has been restored and filled with pictures and memorabilia from the days when the building served as a canteen during the Second World War. We enjoy everything about the place: the atmosphere is inviting, the service is good, and the food is very good without being too expensive. Besides all that, it is a short drive through the woods of the Presidio so you don’t have to get out on the busy streets of the city and spend a long time looking for a rare parking space.

The brunch menu is filled with the usual sorts of things that people order on a lazy late Sunday morning. Peter ordered a PSC Spritzer and I got a PSC Bloody Mary. Then we checked out the menu. Both of us focused on the chilaquiles as they are a favorite of everyone in our family. Peter and I have this funny custom that if one orders a dish, the other does not. We agreed that he should order the chilaquiles. Then I saw the huevos rotos. The dish was described as eggs, potatoes, and chorizo. It sounded sort of like my usual, huevos rancheros, and had the additional intrigue that I had never heard of it before. So I ordered it. In El Paso, I had eaten huevos divorciados – two eggs separated by chilaquiles or refried beans and topped one with green sauce and one with red. I had eaten huevos revueltos – scrambled eggs – and migas – eggs with chorizo and crisp tortilla strips. There’s machaca with eggs – shredded beef and eggs. And of course, the ubiquitous breakfast burrito. I had never eaten or heard of huevos rotos. In part that’s probably because it is originally a Spanish dish.

The version of huevos rotos served by the Social Club was so good, that I decided to try to replicate it at home. Here’s my version for 2 persons, but you should be as creative as you want with additional ingredients. I think you will find the dish so good, and so easy, that you will make it often for breakfast, lunch, or a snack.


Huevos Rotos (Broken Eggs)


  • 5 small Yukon Gold potatoes
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • ½ medium white onion, peeled and chopped very coarsely
  • 1 link Spanish chorizo (Do not use Mexican chorizo for this dish), casing removed, crumbled and chopped coarsely
  • hot Spanish paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Sriracha (optional, to taste)
  • 4 eggs


  1. In a saucepan, boil the potatoes, unpeeled in salted water for about 10 minutes or until slightly soft but not cooked through. Remove from the heat, drain, and cut the potatoes into ½ inch chunks.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the potatoes in enough oil to coat them. Toss frequently until lightly browned.
  3. Stir in the chopped onions and crumbled chorizo. Continue to sauté. Sprinkle with hot paprika, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. Drain off any extra fat, transfer to a plate, and keep warm, covered loosely with foil, in a 170°F oven until ready to assemble the dish.
  5. Divide the potato-chorizo mixture equally between two warm serving plates. Top with Sriracha if desired.
  6. In a small non-stick frying pan, fry the eggs in oil over medium-low heat, turning once so that they are over-easy and the yolks remain runny.
  7. Top each plate with two over-easy fried eggs. Pierce the eggs with a knife so that the yolks run over the top of the dish.  Serve immediately.




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Recently I reported on our meal in the student center at Fort Lewis College. The highlight was tamale pie, which of course does not contain tamales at all. The original recipe comes from the era of dumping in a can of this and a can of that plus some ground beef in order to wind up with a quick dinner meal for the family. I remember tamale pie as a great favorite during my childhood, but it has gone the way of most casseroles from the 1940s and 1950s – except in school and college cafeterias, of course.

The most amazing thing about the casserole was that the cornbread batter would sink into the very liquid filling and disappear, only to re-emerge magically as a crusty topping at the end of the baking time. The explanation for that is that the batter stays intact in the filling. It then becomes lighter as the baking soda goes to work and floats to the top. Akin to dumplings and bagels. You can minimize this phenomenon by making the filling so thick that the cornbread batter can’t sink. I prefer that, you can make your own choice by adding more liquid.

Here is my version that I cobbled together from things in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten. It seems like I am always cleaning out the fridge.


Cornbread Chorizo Tamale Pie



  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages, sliced thinly (Don’t use Mexican chorizo as it is too spicy and greasy)
  • 6 snacking peppers, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-3 teaspoons chili powder according to how hot you want it
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano leaves, crumbled
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional)
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a dry medium sauté pan over high heat, sauté the corn kernels until they are fragrant with a light char. Be careful not to burn. Remove from the heat, transfer to a small bowl, and set aside.
  2. Clean the pan and return to medium heat. Add vegetable oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the chorizo and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until the chorizo is heated through and the peppers are wilted.
  3. Add the tomatoes, water, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then add the charred corn and black beans. Stir and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thin for your taste, sprinkle the cornmeal over the surface, stir to completely incorporate the cornmeal and simmer an additional 10 minutes until the mixture is thickened to your liking. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.



  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • sour cream


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the beaten egg, milk and vegetable oil.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly until well-combined


  1. Transfer the filling to a well-greased 2 quart casserole
  2. Spread the topping over the filling
  3. Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 425F for 25-30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned
  4. Remove from the oven, and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide into individual servings. Top with sour cream. Serve immediately while still warm.


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It is a challenge to cook for Sarah and Evan. They are always gracious and polite, but you worry that whatever you cook might not be up to their standards. During their recent visit, they stayed in a resort hotel near the Plaza for a couple of nights. Their reports on meals were, “Oh, they were OK.” Hardly a resounding testimonial.

In the meantime, Susan and I took care of the 2-year old and the 4-year old. We had a lot of Cheerios, hamburgers, Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner, and hot dogs. That seemed to work as long as Susan could buy them off with ice cream on a stick from the Village Market.

Still, I accepted the challenge to cook outdoors on Independence Day. I decided to have “Spanish Night” actually Spanish/Mexican Night. We started with Sarah’s well-known watermelon margaritas along with olives, manchego, membrillo, and crackers. We were also going to have marcona almonds fried in olive oil and Spanish paprika, but I forgot them. Then gazpacho – not the mushed up kind, which I don’t like, but instead coarsely chopped vegetables in a double consommé. Evan told the four-year-old that it was a kind of special tomato soup, and he got very excited. He said he loves tomato soup. He was disappointed when it came out and refused to eat. Fortunately, we had a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, the kind that his best friend’s mother serves. We heated that up, and a dietary crisis was averted.

Then came the main course. I cooked  paella over an open fire in our outdoor fire pit. The dish had chicken, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and chorizo. Again, I forgot something – this time it was the calamari. Nonetheless, the paella cooked well over the open fire and wound up with a good crust. Not surprisingly, the four-year-old would have none of it.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Rich

Photo courtesy of Sarah Rich

He did eat the home-made churros and cajeta.

Then we watched the fireworks displays from several locations all around us. Of course, the conversation turned to family times in the past, and favorite foods while growing up. Sarah said that one of her favorites was Susan’s soft-boiled eggs for breakfast, served in egg cups. The four-year-old was very excited.

That inspired Susan to get up early, select egg cups from her big collection of family treasures and antiques. Then she made soft-boiled eggs, served them in special egg cups, and topped them with hand-knitted egg cozies. The four-year-old would have none of it. Fortunately, we had some Campbell’s tomato soup left over from the night before.

All of this proves that it’s harder to cook for a four-year-old than a professional chef. It is also hard to get decent photos with a four-year-old. Ah well, we all still had a good time.


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There is a common misunderstanding that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican equivalent of the American Fourth of July. Actually Mexican Independence Day is September 16th (Dieceséis de Septiembre) and it is a really big national holiday in Mexico. On the other hand, Cinco de Mayo memorializes the victory of a seriously outmanned Mexican army fighting an invading French force in the city of Puebla. The event is celebrated in Puebla, but the holiday really got its start among Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles and other Western and Southwestern cities around the time of the American Civil War (1860-1865) The purpose of the celebration was to demonstrate native pride among the Mexican immigrants. Over time the day has come to be celebrated in much of the United States, and now has seen retrograde movement into Mexico where it is increasingly celebrated.

My own view is that the day has become popular because it provides an excuse to celebrate spring, drink your share of Coronas and/or margaritas, and eat lots of tacos and chips and salsa. That seems reason enough, and I plan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year.

Even though Mexican beer (Tecate, Corona, Bohemia, Dos XX, Negra Modelo) is probably the most popular alcoholic beverage for the holiday, there are undoubtedly many pitchers of margaritas drunk before the day is over. These days, many bartenders use bottled margarita mix and cheap tequila. This is a recipe for a not-very-tasty drink that can be used simply to get a buzz (and a headache). A well-made, delicious margarita should be made with fresh lime juice, good quality tequila (preferably “white” or clear, not brown, with the label, “100% agave) and your choice of orange liqueur. Commonly Triple Sec is used, but it is a little harsh for my taste. Cointreau and Grand Marnier are preferable, but my new favorite is Citronge, made by the Mexican distiller of Patrón tequila. You will also need ice to dilute the other ingredients a bit and bring out the flavors. Use coarse salt if you like a salty rim. Just don’t ask me about frozen margaritas – I don’t much like them.

Zacatecas is one of the great colonial cities of Mexico. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, an enormous lode of silver was discovered, and Zacatecas mines provided much of the silver wealth of the Spanish Empire. The city is nested in a beautiful mountain valley with the Sierras nearby. In its heyday, the city was filled with ornate churches decorated with silver, gold, and other precious materials. The churches have been long ago  stripped of their riches, but the beautiful buildings remain. Many shops are filled with gorgeous silver jewelry and household goods. There are charming restaurants and cafés along with comfortable hotels. One of the most comfortable lodgings is fashioned from an abandoned bull ring with modern rooms surrounding the still-existing bull ring. You can almost see the toreadors and hear the crowds.

There is now a namesake of this fascinating city.  Restaurateur Mark Giffen, a James Beard Foundation winning chef best known for his elegant Santa Fe restaurant, The Compound, has created Zacatecas Tacos + Tequila in the Nob Hill district of Albuquerque. It is a casual space that is popular with students from nearby University of New Mexico along with older patrons. There are lots of choices of tequila, as the name suggests, and you can tailor your own margarita with your favorite tequila and orange liqueur. The food consists of creative twists on old standbys – something you would expect from a chef with Giffen’s credentials and reputation.

The queso fundido is beautifully presented and flavorful. House-made chorizo serves as the base of the dish. It is tasty and not too spicy. The cheese is melted , lightly browned, and appropriately oozy. The dish reminds me of the first time I ever had the dish in a sidewalk café in Tlaquepaque, Mexico over thirty years ago.

The fish tacos are well presented with perfectly grilled fish and well-seasoned cole slaw. The best part is the fresh house-made corn tortillas.

The chicken molé is unlike any version of the dish I have ever had. Topped with a nest of fresh spinach, the tender chicken breast is smothered in molé and surrounded with grilled calabacitas.

All in all, ours was a good dining experience and worth another visit.


Favorite Margarita


  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 2 ounces 100% agave tequila
  • 1 ounce orange liqueur
  • 2 ice cubes


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake.
  2. Strain into a 6 ounce bar glass filled with ice cubes. (optional, moisten the rim beforehand and dip in coarse salt.)


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The other evening we had some friends over for dinner. I had tasted a bottle of Spanish granacha, Cruz de Piedra, at our neighborhood wine tasting the week before, so of course I thought of making paella in our back yard over our open fire pit. It turned out to be Spanish night with manchego, membrillo, white anchovies, paella, and chamomile/lime flan with home-made cajeta. I was pretty proud of the result, and then I discovered that our friends’ daughter, who runs the first food truck in our town, serves paella on a regular basis. Not only that, she writes a food blog where she has done a very complete and scholarly description of the history and traditions of paella. You can read all about it on her blog, http://www.foodtruckclick.com/

Paella on the fire pit

We still had a good time at our gathering, and cooking the paella over an open fire was the hit of the evening.

We enjoyed some of the Cruz de Piedra, along with some vinho verde in deference to the Portuguese and a warm evening. Our friends brought a tasty green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette along with a crusty batard of farm bread.

Dessert was a classic flan except that it was flavored with chamomile and lime. I served it with the traditional caramel topping but along with cajeta made with fresh goat’s milk.

As evening came, we just relaxed on the patio and watched the sun go down.

Paella is one of those things where you can just do whatever you please except for the required rice and saffron. The recipe that follows is the version I chose for the evening.

Ready to eat




  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 2 chorizo sausages, one diced and one sliced crosswise
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼ x 1½ inch strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2½ cups Arborio rice
  • 2½ cups fish stock
  • 2½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish saffron (no other)
  • 8 clams
  • 8 mussels
  • 8 large shrimp, shelled except for the tail and deveined
  • ½ cup fresh or thoroughly thawed frozen green peas
  • 4 medium squid tubes, each cut into 4 pieces


  • On the stove, heat half of the olive oil over a medium high flame. When it is just shimmering, add the chicken thighs, skin-side down. Brown the chicken until the skin is crisp and brown, turning frequently so the chicken cooks through completely. Drain the chicken on paper towels and set aside. You may want to refrigerate if dinner is a long way away.
  • Add the sliced chorizo to the hot oil and chicken fat. Turn frequently until lightly browned. Drain the cooked chorizo on paper towels and set aside.
  • Add the pancetta and diced chorizo to the still hot pan. Stir frequently until the pancetta is just slightly browned but not crispy. Then add the onion, tomato, pepper, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are well wilted, liquid has boiled  off, and the mixture is a thick sauce. This is the sofrito. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • About an hour before you plan to start the paella, build a fire in the fire pit. Although a wood fire is traditional, charcoal briquettes are perfect.
  • Back in the kitchen, pour out the oil and chicken fat from the pan. Add the remaining olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Then add the rice, stirring frequently until it is well coated.
  • In the meantime, combine the fish and chicken stock in a large pot and bring to the boil.
  • When the rice is evenly coated stir in the sofrito, salt, and saffron. Then pour in the boiling stock, and bring it back to the boil.
  • It is now time to take the pan out to the fire pit. Be careful not to spill.
  • When the pan is firmly set on the grate, make sure it is bubbling gently. From now on, don’t stir.
  • Now it is time to add the other ingredients. First arrange the chicken thighs around the outside of the pan. Then put in the sliced chorizo. After a few minutes, place the clams, hinge side down, deep into the rice. Next add the mussels, and then the shrimp.
  • Sprinkle the peas over the top. Then check to see how everything is going. Add more water if needed. Stir only if the bottom seems to be burning.
  • Cooking should take around 20-30  minutes, depending upon the heat of your fire.
  • Just 3 or 4 minutes before you think things are done, bury the pieces of squid in the rice. They will get tough if you cook them too long.
  • Serve immediately.

Chamomile/Lime Flan


  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 bags pure chamomile tea (some have mint or other herbs)
  • rinds of 2 limes
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 quarts boiling water


  • Preheat oven to 300° and set out 4  6-ounce ramekins
  • In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir but continue to boil until the mixture is a light amber color.
  • Working quickly, pour some of the caramelized sugar into each of the ramekins, turning them so the caramel coats the bottoms and sides. Set aside.
  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan,  heat the cream to a simmer along with the added tea bags and lime rinds. Heat for about 10 minutes. Then stir in the sugar, and remove from the heat.
  • Let steep off the heat for another 10 minutes. Then strain into a bowl.
  • In the meantime, combine the eggs and egg yolks in another bowl, using a whisk. Make sure that they are very well mixed.
  • Whipping constantly, Pour a small stream of the heated cream into the egg mixture/ Not too much so that the eggs don’t scramble. Add a little more of the heated cream to temper the eggs, and then pour that mixture into the cream, whipping to combine completely.
  • Pour the egg and cream mixture into the prepared ramekins.
  • Arrange the ramekins in an oven-proof pan which will hold them comfortably.
  • Pour the boiling water into the pan ust to the level of the tops of the flans, being careful not to get water in the ramekins.
  • Transfer to the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. The centers of the custards will still be soft.
  • Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow the flans to cool completely in the water bath. They will finish their cooking as they cool.
  • Cover the cooled ramekins with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour and even over night.
  • To serve, run a thin spatula around the edge of each flan. Invert over the serving plate. The flan should slide out easily. If it does not, twist gently and it should come free.


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