Huevos Rancheros – Rancher’s Eggs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wow what a week!  It has been wild with thunderstorms and torrential rain outside and absolute chaos inside with Giddy going through his 6 week growth spurt and my three year old, Oscar has had a case of the sniffles.  We all needed a vitamin C boost as well as something warm and nourishing, this dish ticks the boxes whilst offering a little ray of Mexican sunshine.  It is one of our top vegetarian dishes at the moment, we try to eat meat free 2-3 times a week not only because vegetarian meals are generally cheaper, but also they tend to be lower in fat as well as packing in more complex carbohydrates and fibre through grains, pulses and additional veggies. Can’t ask for more than that!

Huevos Rancheros is traditionally a rural Mexican breakfast dish comprised of a corn tortilla, a spicy tomato sauce and a fried egg. Some variations include refried beans, avocado and or rice. I was inspired by a recipe I found on an awesome Australian website taste.com.au, which I have adapted to make this super simple and kid friendly meal, you can up the chilli if you are catering for more grown up palettes or omit it completely if your kids are particularly sensitive to spice. I add a little for the flavour and slight warmth as well as trying to up Oscar’s chilli tolerance!

In essence this version is individual crispy tortilla bowls of deliciousness, the egg is baked in the tangy mexican inspired tomato sauce and topped with a garnish of fresh coriander and a sprinkling of melted cheese. It would be great as a weekend breakfast or brunch dish but we like to have it as a midweek dinner served with a seasonal garden salad. It is of course vegetarian, can be gluten free if you choose to use corn tortillas and dairy free if you leave out cheese.


You start by sweating a finely diced onion followed by a red pepper and 2 large cloves of garlic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once the onions are softened, they should be translucent not browned, you can add the spices and cook until aromatic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The rinsed and drained beans can be added to the mix and cooked for a couple of minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper, brown sugar and bouillon powder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bring to a simmer then allow to reduce to a thick sauce, you don’t want too much excess liquid as this can make the tortillas soggy.  Make sure you taste it once it reaches the desired consistency and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Using a tortilla to line an oven proof dish such as an individual pie tin, tapas plate or a large flat ramekin, you create a bowl which you can fill with this tangy tomato mixture.  By making a well in the centre you can carefully place your whole egg without the risk of it spilling over the sides.  I find it easier as well, if I crack the egg into a separate small bowl first, not only does it make it easier to pour in but it eliminates the risk of cracking a rotten egg into your dinner or loosing some shell in the mix.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Simply top with some freshly ground black pepper, fresh coriander, a little grated cheese  and bake in the oven until the egg is just set, 20-30 minutes in a 160’C oven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We usually have it with a simple garden salad, but when avocados are in season we make up a batch of guacamole which can be dolloped generously on the side.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 


Huevos Rancheros  

Serves 4 – $1.75 per serve

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp neutral oil (I like rice bran)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 sprig oregano, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can red kidney beans or black beans in spring water, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp bouillon powder or 1 veggie stock cube
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 4 regular tortilla wraps (I use wheat but you could use the more traditional corn ones to keep it Gluten Free)
  • 4 eggs
  • small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 30g grated cheese (optional, leave out if you want it Dairy Free)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160’c/320’f.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy bottomed frying pan and saute the onion and red pepper slowly over a low heat until softened, about 5 mins.  They should be translucent but not browned, you can use a lid or add a touch of water if they seem to be drying out and beginning to catch.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Once the garlic is cooked through add the spices and oregano, heat for 1 minute then stir in the kidney beans and the tinned tomatoes.  Fill the empty tin of tomatoes with water and pour into the pan, this ensures you don’t waste any of the precious tomato juices.  Season with salt and pepper, bouillon or stock and sugar.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce is thickened.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Grease 4 shallow ovenproof dishes slightly larger than the tortillas.  Carefully push the tortillas into the dishes being careful not to tear them.  Spoon the tomato and bean mixture evenly between the dishes and make a well in the centre of each.
  6. Crack an egg into a small bowl and pour into the well of one of the dishes, repeat for each serving.  Season with black pepper and a pinch of salt then sprinkle over some chopped fresh coriander and a some grated cheese.
  7. Place into the oven and bake for 20-30 mins until the egg is just set.  Serve hot.

Note:  I find that these are better served immediately and not made in advance to be reheated, primarily because the tortillas tend to go a bit soggy.   If you want to make ahead you can prepare the tomato and bean mixture which can be chilled or frozen until required.  Having  a young family I also find that 4 servings are too much for us so I make 3 then save the remaining bean mixture to have for a quick lunch the following day, either as a burrito or on some toast or rice…delicious!

Tinned Tomatoes

Tinned tomatoes are a pantry staple in our house, we use them at least once or twice a week, whether it is for a quick pasta sauce, to throw into a veggie soup or something more elaborate.  I always buy whole Italian tomatoes in tomato juice or puree, call it a quirk but I reckon the whole toms are a better quality tomato, I feel like the chopped ones don’t need to be as perfect as the whole ones as the bad bits can just be cut out.  Also some manufacturers add calcium chloride to their chopped tomatoes to help them maintain their shape.  This can be an issue if you are wanting your tomatoes to break down to produce a smooth sauce.   If a recipe requires chopped tomatoes I will either roughly chop whilst still in the tin with a long thin blade or if the recipes requires something a little more refined you can pour the juice into a bowl or pot before inserting the head of a stick blender into the tin and pulsing up and down until the desired consistency is reached.

I also tend to avoid flavoured tomatoes, there is a wide variety available now but I think it limits their use, for example you may not want Moroccan spices in your Minestrone.  By keeping to plain good quality tomatoes you are in control of the flavour added, so you know exactly what has gone into your food as well as being kinder to your back pocket.

Roast Pumpkin

Roasting pumpkin is a great way to deal with a surplus of this versatile squash.  Simply wash the the skin, scrape out the seeds and cut into wedges.  You can spice them or scatter over some herbs but I prefer to just rub them with a little oil and sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper.  If you think you might like to use it in a sweet dish leave out the salt and pepper, this way you are not restricted when you come to use it at a later date.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Save on clean up time by lining your baking tray with greaseproof paper before adding the pumpkin and placing in a 180’c/350’f oven.  To save on power/gas roast the pumpkin when you are already using the oven, it will happily sit on a lower shelf cooking away while a cake rises or a loaf of bread bakes further up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When the pumpkin is as soft as butter take it out of the oven and allow it to cool on the tray.  Once cool I usually bag up the wedges in pairs or groups of three then label and freeze them.  Your options now are endless, you can use it to top a pizza, mix with ricotta and spinach for an awesome cannelloni or ravioli filling, throw together with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil before blitzing to make a delicious homemade hummus, add it to some boiled white and sweet potatoes to give plain old mash a bit of a facelift etc.  Let me know what you like to use it for.

Spiced Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Autumn has been rearing its wet and windy head all week and it has been seriously stormy.  Time for some soup!  Pumpkins are crazy cheap at the moment and I have been stocking up, so pumpkin soup it is!

This soup is deliciously sweet and creamy with a hint of spice, if you want it hot and spicy feel free to add more curry powder or add in some chilli flakes.

It is another super quick and simple recipe, the only thing that requires any real time and patience is the veggie prep.  Once that is done it is just a case of simply saute, simmer and blend.  Easy peasy!

Depending on the size of your pumpkin you may still have half a pumpkin remaining when you finish this recipe.  It will keep fresh longer if you leave the seeds attached and simply cover the whole thing with cling-film.  Alternatively if you don’t think you will use it all up before it goes off, next time you have the oven on slice it up and roast it to be used at a later date.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You want the veggies to finish cooking at the same time so try to cut them to roughly to the sizes specified in the recipe.  Smallest pieces will be the carrots because they are the hardest vegetable and will therefore take the longest to cook, conversely the pumpkin will cook in the least amount of time so cut this into the largest size pieces.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASweat the onions until softened, keep the lid on and the temperature low to avoid them catching and browning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Add in the curry powder keeping the heat under the pot and stirring the onion mixture until the aroma of the spices fill the kitchen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now it is simply a case of popping the preprepared veggies into the pot along with the stock cubes and enough boiling water to almost cover the veggies.  Stir it all together before bunging a lid on and bringing it to a simmer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After 10 minutes or so remove the lid and continue to cook until the veggies are perfectly tender.  Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if necessary, if the broth tastes watery continue to cook the soup until it reduces enough to produce a broth full in flavour.  When you are happy with the flavour of the soup pour in the coconut cream and cook for another 5 minutes.  Finally set the soup aside to cool slightly before blitzing with a stick blender.  I like to serve it with a dollop of greek yoghurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh coriander and a warm, crusty bread roll.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 


Spiced Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

Serves 8-10 – $0.80 per serve

Ingredients

  • 2 onions – diced
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1.25kg pumpkin – peeled, deseeded and cut into 4-5cm chunks
  • 3 carrots – peeled and cut into 2-3cm pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes – peeled and cut into 3-4cm pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potatoes – peeled and cut into 3-4cm pieces
  • 1 heaped tbs mild curry powder
  • 2 veggie stock cubes
  • Approximately 1.5l boiling water
  • 1 400g tin coconut cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Place a large saucepan or stockpot over a medium heat.  Add in the oil and onions, place the lid on and allow the onions to sweat for 5-10 minutes or until softened.
  2. Stir in the curry powder and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute), stirring continually to prevent the spices burning.
  3. Add in the veggies, stock cubes and enough boiling water to almost cover the veg, stir everything together and pop the lid on.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes or so remove the lid and continue to cook until the veggies are nice and tender.
  5. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning, you may wish to cook it a little longer if your broth tastes bland or watery, this will allow the broth to reduce and strengthen the flavour.
  6. When you are happy with the broth, stir in the coconut and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Set soup aside to cool slightly then puree with a stick blender.
  8. Serve hot, alternatively this soup freezes really well.

Empanada

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So what better time to start a blog than when you have a new baby, all that time you have sitting around waiting for the baby to wake up for a feed – Yeah right!   The new edition to our little family is just four weeks old and his big brother is coming up for three and a half  so between them I am kept pretty busy.  Writing blog, however,  is something I have wanted to do for so long and I can put it off no longer.  It does mean though I have no time what so ever therefore speedy dinners are essential.   Make ahead meals and dinners that require literally no time or effort to throw together are on the menu but of course they still need to be nutritious and delicious!  For dinner tonight I thought I would make my version of Empanada.

There are countless variations of Empanada which is essentially an hispanic crescent shaped pie or pasty.  They can be sweet or savoury, deep fried but more often baked.  In Argentina and Chile they quite often contain meat and hard boiled egg, however filling options are endless and vary from country to country.  In Galicia, Spain they are made as one large pasty and then portioned after baking, I first encountered this version on a trip to visit my friend Luis, in his home town of Santiago de Compestela and he showed us how to make a super simple version.

In this version to make it even easier I am using frozen, pre rolled and cut sheets of flaky puff pastry.  This means instead of being one large pastry to serve 4, I make 2 smaller ones.

We usually have it as a mid week meal, as it is quick and easy to prepare and uses pantry staples.  I often serve it with homemade oven baked chips and either a seasonal salad or veggies, depending on what needs using up.  It is delicious hot or cold though, so it is also ideal for a picnic or packed lunch.


This recipe starts, with a large onion being sweated in a pan.  At the moment bell peppers are in season so I had one to hand and added that in, but it is not essential.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While the onions and red pepper are cooking I prepare the chips, which are literally as easy as washing a couple of potatoes, I really like Agria but anything will do.  Chop them up into chunky chips and toss in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  To mix it up a little I like to dress them with some freshly chopped herbs and garlic, or a blend of spices.  Today I used a little rosemary, sage and thyme along with a clove of garlic crushed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The chips can be popped in the oven and left to cook away while you finish preparing the pie. Once the onions have softened you can set them aside and allow them to cool slightly.  Remove two sheets of pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw partially.  To the onion add one can of smoked tuna and one can of tuna in spring water, ideally pole and line caught, which is now available at the supermarket for around the same price as tuna caught by alternative fishing techniques, but is a much more sustainable option.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Divide the mixture between the two sheets of pastry, ensuring it is only on one half of the pastry and has a boarder of  about 2cm to allow a good seal.  Fold over to form the empanada using your thumb to form a seal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gently score the top of the empanadas, brush with a little milk and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bake in the oven on the top shelf until puffed up and golden brown.  Serve hot with homemade chips and salad, or allow to cool and serve it as part of a picnic or lunch box.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 


Empanada

Serves 4 – $2.50 per serve

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 185g tin tuna in springwater, drained
  • 185g tin smoked tuna, drained
  • 2 sheets frozen flaky puff pastry
  • 1tbs milk, for brushing
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3-4 medium potatoes
  • Assorted herbs or spices, I used rosemary, sage and thyme and garlic about 1/2tsp of each (optional)
  • Salad, I made a tangy slaw with apple, carrot, red pepper and bok choy coated with a simple honey and lemon dressing.

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200’c and remove two sheets of pastry from the freezer.
  2. Start by sweating the onions in 1tbs olive oil.  Once they have been cooking for 3-5 mins add in the red pepper and continue to cook until both onion and pepper are softened but not browned.
  3. Meanwhile wash the potatoes and cut them into chunky chips, toss them in a bowl with remaining olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs.
  4. Spread the potatoes out on to a baking tray, lined with baking paper allowing them plenty of room to crisp up.  Place in the oven for around 30 minutes.
  5. Allow the onion mixture to cool slightly before folding through the tuna.
  6. Divide the onion and tuna mixture between the two sheets of pastry, folding over and sealing to form the empanadas.
  7. Brush with milk them with milk then score them with 3 small cuts to allow excess steam to escape.  Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper before placing on the top shelf of the oven.
  8. The empanadas should take about 20 mins to cook, just long enough to heat the filling and cook the pastry through allowing them to puff up like little golden brown pillows.  If you have timed it right your chips should be ready to come out at the same time and all that is left is to dish up!

 

Variations:  

  • You can add a little fresh chilli to the onion mixture, which gives the empanada a nice kick.
  • If you want to make the pork version, simply brown off 400g of good quality pork mince, I recommend getting it direct from the butcher.  Ask for shoulder if he will mince on request.  This way you will know exactly what you are getting and using the shoulder gives the emapanada the taste of a roast pork.  Once the meat is browned, set aside and follow the method above, adding the pork to the onion mixture when you would add the tuna.