Tag Archives: huevos rancheros

NATIVE PLANTS AND GORDITAS

This last week we drove down to El Paso, Texas, for the New Mexico Native Plant Society annual meeting. Yes, El Paso is in Texas, although there are many who wish it were in New Mexico: many of the residents of the city as well as many Texas politicians. El Paso is in the same time zone as New Mexico, an hour out of sync with almost all of Texas, and the population is decidedly different from those of Dallas and Houston. On top of that, it’s over five hundred miles from El Paso to Houston and San Antonio, and only thirty miles to the New Mexico border and a little over two hundred miles to Albuquerque. But the main reasons that El Paso is part of the New Mexico Native Plant Society is that the ecology (read desert) of El Paso is similar to much of New Mexico; both are on the edges of the Chihuahuan Desert and so the plants are very similar, unlike the live oaks and Spanish moss of East Texas.

We lived in El Paso for a number of years, so the meeting was an opportunity for us to renew old friendships, visit our old neighborhood, and enjoy some of the good regional food of the Border.

Susan went to meetings while I drove around old haunts and took naps, but both of us took time out to eat at two of our old-time favorites, the Little Diner in Canutillo, Texas, and the H & H Car Wash & Coffee Shop in downtown El Paso. We ate at a trendy new restaurant in the refurbished warehouse district. We didn’t much like it, so it will go nameless. But we also enjoyed drinks and snacks in the Liquids Bar in our hotel, a wonderfully revnovated derelict of a hotel that had sat vacant for many years after having a moment of glory in the distant past when Elvis Presley performed there.

Here are a few images of native plants from New Mexico that you might enjoy.

The Little Diner is a local institution. It is extremely hard to find in a residential area of the little town of Canutillo. It sits right next to a coin laundry, so you can do your washing while you are having lunch. Unfortunately, the original owner has died, and her daughter now runs the place. Some of our El Paso friends reported that it had gone down hill, but we had a great experience. The specialty of the house is gorditas, fat little masa pillows deep-fried, slit open, and stuffed with seasoned beef, cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. You add the salsa to your liking. They are so unlike the pale copies sold at Taco Bell that you wonder how they share the name. They come three to a plate with beans and a salad, so even a big man should not go away hungry. To my knowledge, gorditas are fairly localized to this part of the border. I have never seen them on Tex-Mex menus in the rest of Texas, and they are not a part of the cuisine around Santa Fe.

Gorditas at the Little Diner

Gorditas at the Little Diner

H & H Car Wash is legendary. It was awarded the 2001 James Beard Award for American Classics. Not bad for a hole-in-the wall with a counter and about 10 stools along with two booths. Never mind that you can get your car washed and filled with gas and also get your shoes polished while you wait your turn for jumping on one of those stools. The day we visited, there were heavy rains, decidedly unusual for El Paso (It’s in the desert, remember?) So the car wash didn’t have much business, and as a result the coffee shop was also not crowded. Being able to speak Spanish helps when you order. Actually, many of the staff speak English, but here you are on their turf, and they don’t cut a lot of slack unless it is clear that you need HELP.

I ordered what I always order, huevos rancheros. Their version is unique, and I favor my own version, but it is still delicious and, anyway, that’s the reason I came to eat. Susan got the eggs and sausage. Since it was Saturday morning, we could have also gotten a bowl of menudo that was heating in a big pot on the back of the flat-top. We both passed, but that’s another story.

The night we ate at the bar, we ordered queso fundido (“melted cheese”). The first time we ever had that dish was nearly thirty years ago in Tlaquepaque, Mexico. It was so good with freshly made corn tortillas that it has been a favorite of ours ever since. The bar’s version came with crostini, cutting across cultures, but it was delicious. I will give you a recipe in a subsequent post.

Queso fundido at Liquids

Queso fundido at Liquids

All in all, we had a great visit, and enjoyed some food that we can’t get locally.

 

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HUEVOS RANCHEROS

Daughter Sarah surprised us with a short visit, so we cooked up some of the favorites of her childhood. One of the breakfast specials was huevos rancheros. The real version takes some effort since you need to make the ranchero sauce from scratch along with a base of refried beans.

This version can be cooked up in a flash using items from the pantry like bottled salsa. You may not be able to find blue corn tortillas – they seem to be sort of a New Mexico specialty – but any kind of corn tortilla will do. We had some guacamole left over from the night before, but fresh avocado slices also make a good garnish.

Blue corn tortillas

Blue corn tortillas

RECIPE

Green chile sauce

Green chile sauce

Huevos Rancheros

Ingredients

  • 2 blue corn tortillas (yellow, white, or any other color will do)
  • 2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped white onion
  • 2 eggs
  • butter
  • green chile sauce, heated
  • 3 tablespoons guacamole

Method

  • Heat the tortillas on a dry hot skillet until they bubble a bit and are lightly covered with brown flecks. They should remain soft and flexible
  • Place one tortilla on a plate. Arrange half the cheese and onions on top. Cover with the second tortilla topped with the remaining cheese and onions.
  • Heat the plate in an oven at 200° or in a microwave for 20 seconds or so until the cheese is melted.
  • In the meantime, fry the two eggs in a skillet with butter.
  • When the eggs are cooked to your preference, transfer them to the stacked tortillas
  • Surround the eggs with the heated green chile sauce and garnish with guacamole.
  • Serve immediately.
Huevos rancheros

Huevos rancheros

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FAMILY CELEBRATION: THE TIPSY PIG AND A BLOODY MARÍA

As part of our recent family gathering to celebrate a special birthday for Susan, some of us were able to go to brunch together. Sarah and Evan were busy getting ready for service at their new restaurant, so they were not able to attend. Kevin was at the library. Everyone else gathered on the back patio of The Tipsy Pig not far from the San Francisco Marina. The weather was beautiful, and the restaurant was friendly with excellent service.

There were lots of interesting drink choices. I picked the Mary Pig, a classic bloody mary. It was extremely well made and decorated with olives and a stalk of celery.

Food choices were even better.

The Chimay braised pulled pork sandwich was with served aioli, and red cabbage slaw came with sweet potato fries. It was beautifully presented and very tasty.

The chive-goat cheese scramble was beautiful: two squares of golden eggs scrambled with goat cheese, served on squares of thick toast and prosciutto, topped with Meyer lemon beurre blanc and a side of wax beans.

The crispy duck confit came as a generous-sized duck leg  finished with radicchio, spiced pecans, goat cheese, and bing cherries with champagne-tarragon vinaigrette.

I chose huevos rancheros. This is one of my favorite dishes, but this version was unlike any I have ever seen. It was beautiful, not to mention tasty. A perfectly cooked egg was served on rolled tortillas and a bed of black beans, sauced with salsa verde, and dressed with pico de gallo and avocado. Crumbled asadero cheese garnished the top. It was a wonderful choice.

One of these days I plan to share my recipe for huevos rancheros, but today I would like to give you the recipe for my version of a bloody maría – a tequila-based bloody mary.

RECIPES

Chile Powder Salt

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon powdered chile (not chili powder). Temperature is your choice
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

Method

  • Mix the chile powder and salt in a small bowl with a wide enough brim to accept the rim of your drinking glass

Bloody María

Ingredients

  • chile powder salt
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces mixed vegetable juice (V8 or the equivalent)
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • dash Chalula hot sauce to taste

Method

  • Moisten the rim of the serving glass with the lime rind left over from squeezing and dip in the prepared chile powder salt
  • Combine tequila, lime juice, vegetable juice, Worcestershire sauce and Chalula hot sauce in a cocktail shaker with a cube of ice and shake well.
  • Strain into the serving glass.
  • Garnish with half a fresh jalapeño and a spear of jícama lightly dusted with powdered chile

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