Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chorizo Huevos Rancheros

The final installment of Mexican week is coming a little late due to some unexpected illness, but I'm feeling much better and back to cooking up a storm!  These huevos rancheros come from a show I've gotten pretty addicted to, The Kitchen on Food Network.  It's over the top but a lot of fun!  This recipe comes from Sunny Anderson, and it is really delicious.  Spicy chorizo and refried beans are combined in a skillet and then spread on warm tortillas.  They make a great base for lots of flavorful toppings - sunny-side-up eggs, spicy ranchero sauce, melt-y Chihuahua cheese, super-creamy Mexican crema and diced avocado, herbaceous cilantro, and finally a squeeze of lime for pop.  You can add more or less of the ranchero sauce depending on how sauce-y you like your huevos rancheros.  Either way, I was definitely transported back to California, at least for one meal! Now, if only that darn snow would melt...

Also featured in Mexican Week: Chicken Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce and Pescado Tacos, Nick's Way

Chorizo Huevos Rancheros (adapted from Sunny Anderson, original recipe here)
Serves 4

2 T unsalted butter
4 large eggs (or use 8 if you'd like 2 eggs per person)
1 T olive oil
1/2 pound Mexican beef chorizo, casings removed
1/2 cup minced onion
Pinch of cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
16 ounce can refried beans

To serve:
Corn tortillas
Ranchero sauce, heated, or your favorite jarred salsa
Shredded jalapeno Chihuahua cheese (or any melty cheese)
Mexican crema
Diced avocado
Minched cilantro
Lime wedges

1. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet, over low heat.  Swirl the pan to coat the bottom and sides with butter.  Carefully crack the eggs into the pan, and cook on medium low until the whites are cooked through and the yolks are runny, 8-10 minutes.  If you'd like 2 eggs per person, double and make the extras in a second skillet.
2. In a Dutch oven or large skillet, add the oil and chorizo and cook on medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break up the chorizo into crumbles (you can skip the oil if your pan is nonstick).  When the fat has rendered, ad the onions, a pinch of salt, the cumin, and the garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft.  Add the refried beans, along with a splash of water if things look dry.
3. Heat the tortillas either in a cast iron skillet, over a gas flame, or in the microwave.  Reheat the ranchero sauce
4. Place one or two tortillas on each plate, depending on your appetite. You can use them as the base of the dish, or roll them up on the side for dipping.  Top with the chorizo-bean mixture, and scoop on some ranchero sauce (or subtitute store bought salsa).  Sprinkle generously with shredded cheese and diced avocado.  Then slide on the sunny-side-up egg.  Finally, give everything a drizzle of crema, a sprinkle of cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Eat while hot!

Full Disclosure: V&V Supremo sent me complimentary cheese and chorizo to sample; all opinions and recipe testing are my own.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Chicken Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce

Next up in Mexican week: chicken enchiladas from Truly Mexican.  I love this cookbook because the focus is on flavorful sauces, salsas, and dips, which can then be combined in tons of ways to make different dishes.  Here, the star of the show is a slightly spicy tomato-based sauce with a hint of cinnamon (sounds weird, but it works!).  I was really impressed at how flavorful the sauce was with just a few ingredients.  You can make it ahead of time and stash in the fridge to save time the night of cooking.

Although I love all sorts of enchiladas (as you can tell from the huge number I've posted on this blog!), I think the key to an authentic enchialada is frying the tortillas.  Although it's an extra step and a little messy, it definitely takes them from Midwestern enchilada casserole to the real deal.  The fried tortillas are wrapped around chicken and then baked until just a little crispy around the edges.  Then they're smothered in delicious ranchero sauce and topped with lots of tasty toppings.  Courtesy of my goody bag from V&V Supremo, I drizzled on lots of super creamy Mexican crema and then sprinkled on mild, delicious queso fresco.  A flurry of cilantro finishes off the dish.

Mexican week: Stay tuned for chorizo huevos rancheros later this week, and check out my pescado tacos from Sunday!

Chicken Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce (adapted from Truly Mexican)
Serves 3-4

For the ranchero sauce:
750 g package San Marzano diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno chile, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2 T olive oil
2/3 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the enchiladas:
Olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup minced white onion
2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or chopped)
8 corn tortillas

To serve:
Mexican crema
Grated queso fresco
Minced cilantro

1. Make the ranchero sauce.  Combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.  When it shimmers, add the onion.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato mixture to the pan.  Add a little water to the blender jar, swish around, and add to the pan.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Stir in the sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use right away or stash in the fridge to use within a few days (gently reheat before using). Keep warm.
3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with oil.
4. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat, and add the onions.  Cool about 5 minutes, until softened.  Add the chicken and 1/2 cup of the sauce, and cook until heated through.
5. Set aside a plate for the tortillas and have a stack of paper towels ready.
6. Heat 2 T olive oil in a small skillet until it shimmers.  Add a tortilla, and cook for 8-12 seconds on each side, until softened but not browned or crispy.  The oil should be hot enough that the tortilla sizzles -- if not, wait longer or turn up the heat.  Transfer the tortilla to a paper towel-lined plate, and blot with a paper towel.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas, adding more oil as necessary.
7. When all the tortillas are softened, fill each with about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture and roll tightly.  Place in the prepared baking dish.  Heat in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
8. Spoon the warm ranchero sauce over the tortillas.  Drizzle with crema, and sprinkle with queso fresco and cilantro.  Serve right away. If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge without the crema, cheese, and cilantro, and reheat in the microwave for a couple of minutes before adding the toppings.

Full Disclosure: V&V Supremo sent me complimentary cheese and chorizo to sample; all opinions and recipe testing are my own.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Chicken Udon Noodle Soup

My partner for this month's Secret Recipe Club was Claire of Claire K Creations.  This month, my sweetie was sick and so I was in search of a chicken noodle soup recipe.  Claire had a fantastic recipe with an Asian twist that seemed like it would be a great choice.  I had to make a few substitutions because the grocery store was pretty sold out of things -- we're on our millionth blizzard of the year here in the Boston area! -- but the soup was still amazing. Ginger, shallots, and garlic make the broth super-fragrant, and the combination of chicken, carrots, and cauliflower is both filling and healthy.  You can definitely be flexible here -- snow peas, broccoli, or fennel would all be very tasty.  The soup is ladled over udon noodles, which are one of my favorites.  Finally, you can never go wrong with a sprinkle of fresh, green herbs on top -- they just brighten up the whole dish.  Fresh mint is fantastic, but cilantro, scallions, or parsley would be lovely too.  This soup will warm you up on a cold day, even if there's another blizzard on the way!

Chicken Udon Noodle Soup (adapted from Claire K Creations, original recipe here)

3 ounces udon noodles
1 T sesame oil
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 small chicken breast, diced (or sub shredded, cooked chicken if you have it on hand)
3 small carrots, diced
2 cups cauliflower, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
Fresh mint, to serve

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the udon noodles and cook according to package instructions.
2. Meanwhile, in a soup pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and ginger, and saute for about 5 minutes, until soft and transparent.  Add the chicken, carrots, and cauliflower and saute for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, and sugar.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the veggies are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
4. Rinse off several mint leaves and line them up in a stack.  Thinly slice.
5. To serve, add noodles to a bowl.  Top with a few ladles of soup.  Sprinkle with fresh mint leaves to serve.

Pescado Tacos, Nick's Way

I love living in Boston, but the Mexican food here is pretty sad compared to what we were used to in California.  One of the biggest things Tim and I miss is fish tacos...our favorites were from Nick's Crispy Tacos in San Francisco (in fact, we had these tacos the night we got engaged!).  V&V Supremo recently contacted me about sampling some of their Mexican dairy and chorizo products, and I knew it would be the perfect way to try and recreate some of my favorite Mexican dishes here on the East Coast.

These loaded tacos are crazy good, and while you could certainly make them with shredded cheddar and sour cream, using real deal Mexican ingredients takes them up another level.  Once the fish and tortillas are fried, you'll want to assemble quickly to eat these hot, so make sure to make or set out all your componets ahead of time -- salsa, guacamole, lime crema, and veggies.  This fried fish recipe is based on one from Aarti Paarti, and is originally flavored with Indian spices; with a Mexican twist, it's perfect for tacos.  The fish is piled on layered tortillas (with gooey melty cheese inside!), along with plently of creamy guacamole, crunchy cabbage, spicy salsa, tart lime crema, and herby cilantro.  I guarantee this is one of the best tacos you'll ever eat, and pretty dang close to the originals from Nick's!

This is Mexican week on Cupcake Muffin, so be on the lookout for chicken enchiladas and huevos rancheros with chorizo later this week!

Pescado Tacos, Nick's Way (inspired by Nick's Crispy Tacos, fried fish adapted from Aarti Paarti)

For the fish:
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you like it spicy)
2-1/2 malt vinegar
1 pound tilapia fillets (or use another mild white fish)
Rice flour
Oil for frying

For the lime crema:
1/4 cup crema
Squeeze of lime juice (more to taste)
Pinch of salt

To assemble the tacos:
Thin, taco-sized corn tortillas
Shredded Chihuahua cheese
Shredded cabbage
Cilantro, minced
Guacamole (make your own, or purchase at the store)
Tomatillo salsa (make your own, or purchase at the store)

1. Marinate the fish.  In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, cumin, salt, and cayenne.  Add the malt vinegar, and stir until well combined.  Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces.  Rub the marinade all over the fish, and arrange on a large plate.  Cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight).
2. Fry the fish.  Pour oil into a large, non-stick skillet to about 1/4-inch thick. You will probably need to either use two skillets or work in batches.
3. Meanwhile, pour a generous amount of rice flour onto a large plate and season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Test to see if the oil is hot -- sprinkle a bit of the rice flour into it, and if it sizzles right away, you're ready to go.
5. Dredge the fish in the rice flour, and then place into the hot oil.  Cook 3-4 minute son the first side and then flip and cook 2-3 minutes on the second side, until beautifully browned and crispy.
6. Make the lime crema.  Mix together the crema, lime juice, and salt. Set aside.
7. Prepare the tortillas.  Fry half the tortillas until just crispy in the oil.  Heat up the other half in the microwave, wrapped in a damp paper towel.
8. Make a mini stack for each taco: steamed tortilla, sprinkle of cheese, and then fried tortilla.  Then pile on toppings: lime crema, shredded cabbage, fried fish, minced cilantro, shredded cabbage, and a big scoop of guacamole.  Drizzle with green salsa to finish.

Full Disclosure: V&V Supremo sent me complimentary cheese and chorizo to sample; all opinions and recipe testing are my own.