Summer Grape-Tomato Bruschetta

I went to see Julie and Julia the other day. I liked it. I was generally enamored with the Julia parts and apathetic about the Julia parts, but over all the equation turned out favorable.

At the beginning of the movie Julie makes some tasty looking bruschetta and since then I’ve been craving a fresh tomato bruschetta on crunchy French bread. As luck would have it, Whole Foods had some very tasty looking and multi-colored grape tomatoes on sale a few days ago and so for lunch, I made me some bruschetta. And god damn, it was good.

This makes enough for about 4 pieces of bruschetta. I ate all of them for lunch, but if this was an appetizer this could serve 4.

What you need:

  • 1.5 cups grape tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 10 leaves of fresh basil, julienned (dry basil just won’t cut it, sorry)
  • Sprinkle of sea salt (to taste)
  • About 5 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Ttablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices of crusty french bread (I used the “Daily Batard” from Whole Foods)

What you do:

  1. Drizzle olive oil on the bread slices, then place in a toaster oven until slightly golden.
  2. Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  3. When the bread it toasted, pile the tomato mixture onto the toasts *
  4. Enjoy! **

* If you’re feeling cheesy, you could spread a thin layer of goat cheese on the toasts before adding the tomatoes.

**This would be terribly enjoyable, indeed, with a nice red wine.


Huevos Rancheros

What do do with left-over green chili (on a Saturday morning, when you’re feeling a little hungover)? Make huevos rancheros of course! Guaranteed to taste great and soothe your aches and pains!

This version is modeled, loosely, on the one they serve over at Mona’s (voted by Edward to be the best huevos in Denver). It is not terribly “authenitic” but it is good. To make it extra special, we made fresh corn tortillas and fried them, but any store bought corn tortilla will work great.

What you need (per person):

  • 3 corn tortillas*
  • 1/2 can of pinto beans, warmed
  • About 1 cup of green chili
  • 2 eggs, fried, over easy
  • Optional: lime wedges, avocado slices, diced tomato

What to do:

  1. Warm the beans on low heat in a sauce pan. Add some chili powder and salt if you think they need it.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up some vegetable oil in a large skillet. Place 1-2 tortillas in the oil and fry until slightly golden and crispy. Turn the tortillas and repeat on the other side. Do this for all the tortillas, and drain on a paper towel.
  3. Warm up the left-over green chili. (I did it in the microwave)
  4. To make a good over medium fried egg: melt a about a teaspoon of butter in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Crack two eggs into the pan. Allow the whites to become opaque and then carefully flip with a spatula (or, loosen with a spatula, then flip with a flick of your wrist if you’re feeling brave!) Cook for another 30 seconds and then remove from heat.
  5. To assemble: place some beans in the bottom of the bowl, then place the crispy tortillas around the edge of the bowl. I torn mine in half for better arranging. Add a spoon-full or two of green chili to the beans. Place the eggs on top of this, and then smother it all with the rest of the green chili. Sprinkle with chili powder and pepper to taste. Garnish with lime, avocado, tomato or anything else your heart desires.
  6. Now, dig in!!

*To make the fresh corn tortillas, we use Maseca instant corn masa flour. The instructions are really easy to follow on the bag, but essentially, you add some water to the flour. Mix for a couple minutes, then shape into balls and roll (or press) out into tortillas. Cook on a dry skillet 50 seconds per side. Done. Yum.

Colorado Green Chili

One of my favorite parts of August in Colorado is when the chile roasters start popping up everywhere. Most often, these large wire mesh roasters are stationed in empty lots and street corners over a roaring fire. The smell is divine as the Hatch green chiles, newly arrived from Hatch, NM and other towns in New Mexico and south-western Colorado, turn in the fire. The skin chars for easy removal, the peppers get smoky, and it smells like the turning of a season.

Earlier this week, I picked up some of these chiles so that I could make another Colorado masterpiece: Colorado Green Chili. Particularly in New Mexico and Colorado, almost every “Mexican” restaurant showcases a spicy pork green chili that can be eaten as a soup with tortillas or used to smother burritos, chile rellenos and anything else you can think of. In Colorado, the chili tends to be a little thicker. People describe it as “more gravy-like” because of the flour used to thicken it, but I’ve never thought of it as gravy. I think of it as pure goodness.

The kind of green chili I like the best has lots of tomatoes (which, I know, some purists think is a travesty) and lots and lots of fresh roasted green chiles.

I made this recipe the other day (adapted from here) and it turned out pretty great. The closest to Santiago’s deliciousness so far…

What you need:

  • 1.5 pounds cubed lean pork (shoulder or butt is good. I was able to pick up “pork stew meat” from Whole Foods so I used that)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, tomatoes chopped
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of roasted Hatch green chiles, skinned, cleaned and diced (I think this is about 1.2 lbs of uncleaned chiles)
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Place a large pot or dutch oven on medium high heat and add a little oil. When the oil is hot, add the cubed pork. Grind some pepper on the meat and brown. (Note: I added salt at this point too, but that made the pork release a lot of liquid so I think it might brown better with just the pepper.) Cook the pork until you don’t see any more pink.
  2. Add the onions and cook until the onions are a little browned. Add the garlic and stir.
  3. Add the flour, mixing to combine. (Note: Some recipes call for making, essentially, a roux with the flour, but I didn’t and don’t feel like we missed anything).
  4. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the juice from the can, the chicken broth, chiles, chili powder, oregano and white pepper. Stir to combine, then cover.
  5. Simmer on relatively low heat with cover slightly ajar for two hours or until the pork is tender, stirring every so often. (Note: Instead of doing this on the stovetop, you could also do this in a Crock Pot for 2 or so hours on the high heat setting.)
  6. When the pork is tender, taste and determine if it needs more salt. It probably does. I think I put in about 1-2 more teaspoons, but you might want more or less than that.
  7. To eat as a soup, I like to garnish with a little lime, some crumbled queso fresco and a whole wheat tortilla to dip. Yum!

Healthier Zucchini Bread

Well, it’s that time again. Zucchini time. Our garden zucchini plant is regularly producing 2-3 zucchini’s every few days so we’ve got a bit of an excess on our hands. One way to use up zucchini– especially those zucchinis that got a little too big and aren’t as sweet and delicate as you’d like– is to make zucchini bread!

My mom has a fantastic zucchini bread recipe that she got from her friend Rose Meyer. And Rose probably got it from somewhere else, but I don’t know where. The original recipe has a lot of oil and sugar in it, as well as all white flour, and since T likes to have this for breakfast, I set out to make it a little healthier. In the end, I think I succeeded in making each slice about 70 calories less, and decreased the fat by half (from 10 grams to 5 grams) and doubled the fiber. I think that some more changes could be made to make it even better for us (such as adding nuts to increase protein, adding flax seed for more fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids, decreasing the oil even more, or cutting out some of the egg yolks) but those changes may have to wait for another time. (Also, I kind of hate recipes that complicate things by making me waste a good egg yolk just to save some fat and cholesterol– egg yolks have a ton of vitamins in them so why not eat ’em?)

For now, I present to you a recipe for healthier zucchini bread:

What you need:

  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil (like canola)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. coarsely shredded zucchini
  • 1 8-0z. can of crushed pineapple
  • 3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best!)
  • 1 c. raisins (or currents)
  • 1 c. applesauce

What do do:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Whisk it up.
  2. Stir in the zucchini, pineapple, applesauce and raisins.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients gently into the zucchini mixture until just blended.
  5. Divide batter into two greased 5.5 x 9.5 loaf pans.
  6. Bake in the center of a 375 degree oven for 5o minutes.
  7. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn onto rack.
  8. EAT IT! Yummy.

Nutrition facts per slice (based on 12 slices per loaf):
Calories: 170
Fat: 5 grams
Protein: 3.5 grams
Fiber: 1.4 grams