Sometimes it’s nice to cook for friends who favor a particular cuisine because it steers you in a new direction. Normally, I default to European/Mediterranean things like pastas and chicken with couscous and preserved lemon and stuff like that. My friends Jim and Todd (you know them!) are Tex-Mex fans and so, when I cooked for them last week, I decided to pull The Homesick Texan Cookbook off the shelf to delight them with food that they love. Turns out, I love it too and now I have some new dishes up my sleeve to pull out at dinner parties. The one I’m most excited about? Queso with Chorizo (it’s in the title of the post, duh.)
Waking up on the weekend, one doesn’t want to get dressed. One wants to throw on a pair of shorts, veg out on the couch, listen to music and possibly read the newspaper. One–and I’m pretty much talking about myself here–definitely doesn’t want to go to the grocery store to buy breakfast ingredients. So what to do when there aren’t enough breakfast ingredients to make a normal breakfast? You make breakfast anyway.
When you have a three year-old staying with you, chances are you’re probably not going out to dinner. We did go out one night and that’s a whole story in and of itself. Most nights, though, I cooked and that turned out to be a lot of fun, coming up with food to make for a small crowd (other friends dropped by in the hours leading up to dinner). One night, someone suggested going out for tacos and I responded, “I can make tacos right here!” Then I ran to the store and bought a bunch of stuff to prove that my homemade tacos would be just as good as whatever we’d get at a restaurant.
I don’t often ask you to get out of your seat while reading my blog, but for the frittata you see in the above picture I demand a standing ovation!
I mean, really. Can you believe that I made that? Not only did I make that, I made that bleary-eyed on a Saturday morning using just the ingredients I had on hand. And Craig, who didn’t know what to expect when I said I was making a frittata, couldn’t stop raving about the results. “This is like professional restaurant quality food,” he declared. “Every bite has something different…you get the sweetness of the tomato, the spiciness of the jalapeno, the…..” You get the idea.
Is cheating on a recipe like cheating on a test? I wondered that as I made the “Red Kidney Beans Baked with Chorizo, Chilli, Garlic, and Olive Oil” from Simon Hopkinson’s sequel to “Roast Chicken & Other Stories,” “Second Helpings of Roast Chicken.”
Simon, or Mr. Hopkinson (that feels more appropriate), calls for dried kidney beans in his recipe “soaked in cold water overnight.” I have a philosophy about recipes that call for dried beans soaked in cold water overnight: I hate them! Who plans a recipe the night before? I mean, ok, there’ve been times I knew I was having guests the next day where I made a cake ahead or marinated meat ahead, but I’ve never soaked beans ahead. I just refuse to do it; I use canned beans instead.
There is no greater triumph for a home cook than to make something spectacular out of food you already have on hand. Case in point: the dish you see above, Chorizo scrambled eggs and fried fingerling potatoes–assembled, with no premeditation, in a matter of minutes.
How did I do it? Easy. I took Chorizo that I had leftover from the Arroz Con Pollo I cooked last week and, after peeling off the skin, cut it into cubes. I heated some olive oil, added the cubes, fried them up a bit–poured off some excess fat–and then added 3 eggs slightly beaten. I immediately lowered the heat to barely a whisper of a flame and stirred around until the eggs were hardly cooked. Salt, pepper, all done!
As for the potatoes, I took the fingerlings and cut them vertically. Then I coated a skillet with olive oil, turned on high heat, waited a few minutes and carefully placed the poatoes in face down. I left them like that for a long while–10 minutes–and after lifting one to make sure it was a dark beautiful brown, I started tossing them all around and continuing to cook until a knife went through easily. At that point I added lots of salt and pepper and tilted on to a plate.
Not the healthiest breakfast in the world, but one that’ll put a big smile on your face. And if you’re smiling at breakfast, imagine what you’ll be doing at dinner. No wonder it’s the most important meal of the day.