Breakfast Mexican Style: Huevos Motuleños


Over the last year I have become more than a little obsessive with huevos rancheros, the fried eggs on tortilla splashed with a spicy sauce breakfast dish.  The results of my journey has been both confusion but also an education in variations on a theme. You must know that before living on the West Coast I had never known the egg at breakfast outside of a frying pan, benedict or a quiche.  Eggs a la mexicano is a spectacularly terrific start to a lazy Sunday. This post is focused on a few of the egg specialty dishes that I've come across.

Literally "ranch eggs" huevos rancheros (ranch eggs) are prepared so many ways that legions of lovers of this dish adamantly state that traditionally speaking, the eggs should be fried (no poaching!). This may be so, but the confusion may come in that restaurants need to create a sense of special-ness with breakfast-- poaching does that. I would also add that the tortilla should be corn and it needs to be lightly toasted to stand up to the essential runny egg yolk.  The best, I've had are from Primavera, at the Saturday SF Farmers' Market. In my book they do very little wrong in their cocina.

I've also enjoyed Huevos al Albañil or bricklayer's eggs that are popular in Central Mexico. The central ingredient is a green tomatillo and serrano chile sauce  that is added to the pan with the cooked scrambled eggs.  Rather pretty and really a bit of harmony on the plate is huevos divorciados (divorced eggs)where two sunny-side up eggs are "separated" by a red and green sauce over a fried corn tortilla.

And then there's Huevos Motuleños: two sunny-side up eggs served over a fried corn tortilla and beans covered with red sauce, fried ham, green peas and cheese. Originating in the Yucatán town of Motul, there are variations that are made with black beans, plantains, and salsa picante. This dish is an uptown sophisticated type of breakfast. I first had it a few years ago at Casa Carter during our Oaxacan reunion weekend.  Homemade eggy, spicy goodness. I have thought often about that dish for the past two years.

While in Chicago in late August I brunched at Salpicón! where the Mexico City-born chef Priscilla Satkoff offers amazingly tasty and traditional dishes (pictured above this recipe).  In September while in Boulder visiting the Carters once again, I put my plea out for this breakfast.  The variation served here is from Chef Rick Bayless.  The Carters prepare an American variation on pork in the form of bacon instead of ham ---no complaints here!


And then there's migas and chilaquiles....but that's for another day!

Cazuela de Huevos Rancheros (good for a brunch of 4)

Cooking Light's Huevos Rancheros with Queso Fresco

Motul-Style Eggs

Adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

This dish is time consuming, but you can shortcut with store-bought tostadas, and by using canned and doctored black beans.  You should not shortcut the sauce--it's an essential component to this dish.  Also the plantains can be done ahead, refrigerated over night and warmed before serving.

Tomato Habenero Sauce

2 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes

1/4 to 1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 fresh habanero chiles, halved

Salt, a generous 3/4 tspn

2 very ripe plantains

1 1/2 to 2 cups coarsely mashed, seasoned black beans

6 oz. good ham cut into matchstick sized pieces

1 1/3 cups frozen peas, defrosted

1/2 cup/2 oz crumbled Mexican queso fresco (or a French feta)

6 eggs

6 crisp store-bought tostadas

Instructions for Tomato-Habanero Sauce:

Make a day ahead: Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 4" below a very hot broiler until blistered and blackened on one side, about 6 minutes. Flip and roast on the other side.  Cool then peel  the tomatoes while catching all the juices over a bowl. In a food processor coarsely puree the tomatoes and juices.

In a 2-3 qt. saucepan heat 1 tblspn of the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, fry, stirring regularly, until golden, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and Chile halves and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or so, stirring often, until the sauce is beginning to thicken but is still juicy looking. Season with salt; remove the chile halves. Store in fridge.

The next day:

Peel the plantains, cut into diagonal slices about 1/2" thick.  Heat 2-3 tblspns of the vegetable oil in a 10-12" well-seasoned or non-stick skillet that has a lid, over medium heat.  Lay the  plantain slices in a single layer for 3-4 minutes per side until richly browned.  Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and hold in a warm oven.

In a small pan warm the beans over low heat.  Mix together the ham strips and the peas in another small pan or dish, and warm over low heat.  Crumble the cheese into a small bowl and set aside. Set the pan of tomato sauce over low heat.

Finally, fry the eggs in 1-2 tblspns of vegetable oil.  You will want the egg yolks to be runny.  Spread some of the beans over each tostada, slide an egg on top, drizzle the tomato sauce over and around the eggs letting it run off the tostada and on to the plate. Sprinkle each plate with the ham, peas and cheese, decorate with plantain slices.

Spätzle a la Suppenküche


Willkommen to a new cooking frontier that has long stopped me cold. Spätzle.  Recently fate knocked on my door, when I was assigned this dish as my ticket in for a dinner gathering of food bloggers. Eek.

Long a comfort food in southern Germany Spätzle, it is a delicacy traditionally associated with the regional area of Swabia. In the northern part of the country you are more likely to find potatoes. Today this pasta, however,  is eaten all over Germany. Spätzle literally translated means "little sparrows" in the Southern dialect, it consists of tiny noodles or dumplings made of flour, eggs, water or milk, salt and occasionally nutmeg.  The measure of a quality tasting Spätzle, is found in the number of eggs used.

Maybe fear is too strong a word.  It is more of an equipment obstacle --- the single purpose utensil, a Spätzle press.  In the IBK I have a philosophy: in order to keep my sanity and efficiency in check all kitchen tools should have at least two, if not three, purposes.  The press is similar to a potato ricer but has larger and fewer holes.  The dough is extruded out and into simmering salted water. What else would you ever use that for?!

After reading many recipes of varying ratios of egg to flour I arrived at a recipe from Suppenküche a popular New German restaurant in San Francisco's Hayes Valley. I've tasted this pasta several times since its opening in 2003. The restaurant remains a favorite not only for it's unique contemporarizing quality but most likely due to its selection of beers.  As this recipe requires six eggs I knew it had to be good.

A reported 40,000 tons of Spätzle are produced in Germany each year. Of course, this figure does not include the many homemade batches of Spätzle everyday. And yes I can now see why it could and can be made every day. I used the colander to press the thick batter into the simmering water. Now that I have overcome this silly bit of intimidation preparing Käsespätzle  {Off the Broiler-instructional vlog} or maybe even that Charlie Trotter recipe, Rack of Lamb with Vegetable Ragout with Mustard Spätzle that now sounds more than within reach.

But the true test? There was hardly any noodles left after the 24 food pros and bloggers finished their goose dinner.

Suppenküche Spätzle

Adapted from Savoring San Francisco by Carolyn Miller & Sharon Smith

6 whole eggs
2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 3/4 cup water

Fill a lrage pot with water. Bring the water to a boil and salt liberally.

While the water comes to a boil prepare the batter.  In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs lightly. In another bowl combine flour, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add the flour mix to the egg.  Add water spoon by spoon until batter is stiff but smooth.

Using a perforated pan or colander and the ball of your hand, push batter through holes into water that should simmer throughout the whole process, but not boil. You'll want to do this in 3 shifts.

For best results there should only be one layer of spätzle at a time in the cooking water. Stir the Spätzle with a spoon so that they do not stick together. When they rise to the top they are done. Sometimes this happens to quick, say 45 seconds. Depending on the size of your Spätzle you may need a minute or longer. It's very similar to cooking Italian pasta. Remove Spätzle from water with a perforated spoon and place in a bowl of iced water to ensure not to overcook the noodles.

To reheat, sauté in a little butter about two minutes; season with fresh chives. Serve.

IMBB #20 - Souffles


Illustration: Philippe Weisbecker

Too many technical difficulties that made time evaporate.  I  can't figure out tags, my JumpDrive is not being recognized or is it that my USB port is not reading my card reader and my flash drive? So photos, are forthcoming.

IMBB round #20, hosted by Kitchen Chick, is all about soufflés.  To begin with, the French word soufflé means 'breath' and can also mean 'to be inspired' as in avoir du soufflé. I would say that by the end of this IMBB challenge the effort did just that and more. What I always thought I couldn't do I see that I can. 

Many more experienced cooks, magazines and cookbooks suggest that soufflés aren't as tough to prepare as the less experienced seem to think they are. This is what I kept on saying as I worked quickly in the kitchen this morning.

Soufflés, from what I can understand are made from two basic elements, a base of flavored cream sauce or purée and beaten egg whites providing the elevation. Some of the tips I picked up in doing my research for this first-ever outing into souffles, include separating the eggs while cold, as it's easier, but they will beat to a larger volume if they are allowed to come to room temperature.


When, the moment came to remove the soufflé it was golden, puffy and fluffy, however it feel rather quickly.  My understanding is that it takes 20 or 30 minutes. So I wonder if I did something wrong.  The inside was perfect, the outside was a bit chewy, a bit like a popover in taste.

NockerlnNo matter, I'm inspired.  Next a chocolate soufflé, eventually the Austrian version called Salzburger nockerln, (Salzburg Dumplings), a sweet soufflé or omelette that resembles three or more golden church domes in a baking dish.. The puffy baked eggs, are served simply with whipped cream  Ah, avoir du souffllé

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Fresh Farm Eggs


As I mentioned in this week's Crane Melon post I visited two organic farms this past weekend. While at Peterson's I picked up a dozen eggs right from under the chicken's feathers. Farm fresh eggs, I can hardly believe the taste difference. The yolks are vibrantly yellow and the egg carries a fuller taste. Stress-free chickens produce beautiful eggs.

The eggs were multi-colored and when I asked Ella May the beekeeper and farmer about this she told me that eggs with colored shells are any more nutritious than white-shelled eggs. The breeds that lay white-shelled eggs are more prolific and eat less feed, so they were the more profitable choice for factory farming here in the States. I remember as a kid the moniker of 'if you want local eggs look for brown shells.'

Egg production is directly related to day length. When the days are long the hens will lay more eggs, and when days are shorter, less. A chicken’s egg production cycle is roughly 25 hours long, and they will only release eggs during daylight hours. If on the 25th hour it's dark the hen will hold off until daylight to deliver the egg. Conversely in the commercial egg production world artificial light is kept on the hens 24/7 allowing an egg to be deliver every 25 hours, no matter what time it is outside. More reason to buy organic, right?

Also as the hen has to hold an egg for a long time, the effort for the next egg begins. Occasionally the new egg will bump into the held egg and they merge causing a double-shell. When you break the shell of this type of egg it will appear to have two shell layers on the outside.

An egg when organic or better still when organic and farm fresh, really is a perfect natural food due to being unrefined and unprocessed. What a great way to start the day.