Saturday, April 07, 2007

Huevos: A Tale of Eggs and Mexican Delights

I know that I regularly bore you with pictures of my hens' eggs, but as it is nearly Easter, and there have been some new things to report from the nesting box, I hope you'll indulge me once more? First of all, do you notice anything new in the carton? White eggs! That's usually nothing to remark over, but I have only ever had brown, blue and pink eggers in the past. But last summer, Cyd and I became enchanted by cute little Silver Spangled Hamburg pullet that we spied at a poultry swap way over in central Vermont somewhere. Her plumage is amazing--splotches of inky black on white, the Dalmation of chickens, if you will. And she was so teeny when we got her, that I had to keep her inside in a big dog crate for a couple of weeks until she was old enough to fend for herself among the bigger birds. In truth, I wasn't sure she'd make it through the winter; I was worried she might get smothered under a big pile of her friends, or that they might bully her to death. But not only did she survive, she has just started giving us these cute little bullet-pointed white eggs. She has made a lovely contribution to the egg box, and indeed, to our little flock! Secondly, look at the back of the box, on the left, among the blue eggs. LOOK at it! It's HEE-YUUUGE! It's a virtual planetoid--it's got its own weather system! (Reference, anyone? Come on! It's one of my very favorite movies!) Seriously, though, how is the chicken still alive that laid that double-yolker? Well done, I say...or perhaps, over-easy? ;-)

Next, I must share about our delicious, Mexican-themed dinner last night. I had read about a great-looking salad from Southern Living that Randi had made over at Culinary Adventures, and it sounded like it would really hit the spot. Well, I have to report that it was delicious, very easy to put together, and just beautiful to boot! This would definitely be a great choice for a busy, mid-week supper. The problem was that Randi left the recipe for the Southwestern Layered Salad at work, and only posted some general guidelines on her blog for its creation and assembly. But it's certainly the kind of thing that you can free-wheel anyway. So I'll just describe what I did, and then you can feel free to riff on that.

The salad itself was composed of shredded iceberg lettuce, black beans that were supposed to marinate for a couple of hours in two tablespoons each of oil and vinegar, but it was too late when I started dinner to do that, so I used half a can of black beans that had a lime and jalapeno sauce instead. Then you add thinly-sliced red onion and corn on top of that. The next ingredient is supposed to be green pepper, but as I don't care for it, I threw on some black olives instead. Next is tomatoes, then shredded sheese (I used jalapeno jack), then slices (or chunks) of avocado, and finally, pieces of cooked bacon. These last two items make the salad taste like a cross between a taco salad and a Cobb salad. Once again, feel free to add and subtract ingredients as you see fit, using amounts that please you.

The piece de resistance, the crowning glory of this salad, is the wonderful dressing. In a blender, combine 1/3 cup vinegar and 2/3 cup olive oil with pickled jalapeno slices. Randi only used five, but that's wimpy! (What do you expect? She's Canadian now! Tee hee.) Personally, I'd use 8 or 10 slices for more zip. Then you throw in a half a bunch of cilantro (tops only, no thick stems), and salt and pepper to taste. At this point, I tasted it, and it was good, but I felt it still needed something. So I added a generous teaspoon of minced garlic and maybe a half teaspoon of cumin. Perfect! Seriously, this dressing alone is a keeper...and such a gorgeous, vibrant green.

For dessert, I should have tried the Tres Leches Cake that both Randi and Anna made, but I decided to make something from a magazine I recently purchased. It's simply called Mexican, by Better Homes and Gardens, and I believe it's still on newstands. It has a lot of tempting recipes that I want to try, but last night, I made bunuelos. They were described as puffy little donut-type things, but mine came out very crispy--like fried flour tortillas, which is, I suppose, what they essentially are. They were good, just not what I was hoping for. (I wanted them to be soft and a little chewy, like sopapillas.) But the best thing about the recipe was the brown-sugar cinnamon sauce for dipping. I intend to use the leftovers on pancakes or French toast! And I did, in fact, use the leftover bunuelos today to make some snazzy tostados with some of the salad fixins which I also had left over. So all worked out.

(Source: Mexican, a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons shortening
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk

cooking oil, for frying
brown sugar cinnamon syrup (recipe below) or cinnamon sugar

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl or measuring cup. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the eggs and milk, stirring just until the dough clings together.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough about two minutes or until soft and smooth. Divide dough into 24 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Cover and let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Heat 3/4 inch of cooking oil to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, roll out each ball with a rolling pin to a four-inch circle. Fry circles in hot oil until golden brown, about a minute each side. Drain on a rack over a baking sheet or on paper towels. Bunuelos may be kept warm in a 300 degree oven until all the dough is fried. To serve, drizzle with brown sugar cinnamon syrup or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Makes 24 bunuelos.

Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Syrup

In a small saucepan, combine one cup firmly-packed brown sugar with 1/2 cup of water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add a dash of ground cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Serve warm. Makes 3/4 cup.


Randi said...

"It's a virtual planetoid--it's got its own weather system"

That's from So I married an axe murderer!!

Randi said...

Even before I moved to Canada ( bite you're tongue, I'll always be American!!) I had no tolerance for spice. I loved that salad dressing. You must try my Mexican ceasar salad next. Its so freaking good. Can you get poblano peppers there?

bakerina said...

Is it even possible to be bored by eggs? ;) I love hearing about your birds and the eggs they produce. Keep those tales coming, honey. :)