Gluten-Free

Huevos Rancheros

The tomatoes and jalapeno sizzled on the stove. Occasionally, Mayra would give them a flip with her tongs to check to see if the skin had begun to blister. She looked up at me, smiling, and pointed at the charred bits, saying, without words, "This is how it should look." From there, Mayra motioned for me to go to the molcajete, where I awaited for her next instructions. The jalapeno was tossed into the bowl along with minced garlic. A quick demonstration on how to grind the pepper and the reins were passed to me. The tomato were added, smashed and then gently stirred in, along with cilantro, lime juice, and a generous sprinkle of salt. How simple this was, I thought, and, yet, I had never thought to make salsa this way.

The eggs were prepared on top of crispy corn tortilla (which Mayra had made fresh the night before). I assisted in basting each one with hot oil (I was mostly successful in not splashing the oil all over the stove and my arms). The culinary lesson was a generous one and a highlight from our trip to Mexico.

 

Huevos Rancheros

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients
1 ½ lbs (6-8) plum tomatoes
1 medium jalapeno, stem removed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
Salt
Juice from ½ a lime
¼ cup olive oil
8 corn tortilla
8 eggs
Crumbled goat cheese, optional

Directions
Set a stovetop-safe baking pan or griddle over high heat. Cook tomatoes and jalapeno, turning occasionally, until charred on each side and the skin is blistered; approximately 10 minutes.

In a bowl, smash the jalapeno and garlic with a spoon until thoroughly combined. Add tomatoes and, using a pastry cutter, smash until blended. Stir in cilantro and lime juice and season with salt, to taste.

Set a medium-sized sauté pan over high heat. Add oil and heat for 2 minutes. Carefully place a corn tortilla into the hot oil. It will begin to crisp and bubble. After 10 seconds, crack the egg directly over the corn tortilla. Making sure not to splash the oil too much (be very careful not to get any on you), baste the egg with the hot oil using a spatula or spoon.

Cook until the whites have just set. Season with salt and transfer the tortilla and egg to a plate. Repeat with remaining eggs. Once they’re done, serve them with salsa on top and a sprinkle of goat cheese and cilantro.

Clementine, Avocado + Crispy Carrot Salad

Clementine, Avocado + Crispy Carrot Salad via @athoughtforfood

It's good to be back in the kitchen. Ten days is the longest I've gone without cooking a meal. Not that I'm complaining about the food we had while we were away. It was some of the best seafood I've ever consumed (we ate ALL the poke and sushi we could get our hands on) and we drank enough Mai tais to keep a steady buzz going for the majority of the trip. But I missed holding a knife. I missed peeling and chopping and sautéing.

As soon as we got back, I was immediately thrust back into work. It wasn't until yesterday that I had some free time to prepare recipes I've been developing over the last few weeks (some of which were inspired by our travels).

While I know a chunk of the country has gotten slammed with snow, it's been unseasonably warm here in Boston. For those who don't remember, this is exactly what happened last year. Warmth and sunshine and blue skies for all of December. We all said, "Where's this snow everyone's been saying we'd get nailed with?" and we laughed and thought we were having the mildest winter ever. And then February came. And the snow never ended. And we cried.

Oh gosh, why did I even bring that up? Let's try to enjoy the good weather we're having and spend as much time we can outside. Let's eat citrus salad and drink bottles of crisp white wine. Cold, dark days are ahead of us... so let's just soak this all in.

 

Clementine, Avocado and Crispy Carrot Salad

Yield
Serves 2

Tools
Mandoline

Ingredients
2 clementine, peeled
1 large carrot, washed well
Olive oil
1 avocado, pit removed and flesh sliced lengthwise
5-6 parsley leaves
Salt
Black pepper

Directions
1. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the clementine into 1/4 inch slices.

2. Using a mandoline, slice the carrot to create very thin rounds. Then, heat a small skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set over high heat. Working in batches, add the sliced carrot in batches and cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until it gets crispy, but not burnt (a little darkness around the edges is fine). Transfer chips to a plate lined with paper towels.

3. Transfer the sliced clementine to the plate. Top with avocado, carrot chips, and fresh parsley. Season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

Curried Shrimp and Noodles

Curried Shrimp and Noodles

We leave for Hawaii in just over a month. I haven't mentioned it here because I've been trying not to think about it too much. You see, I've come to learn that anticipating, even something as wonderful as a vacation, doesn't do me any good. I get all excited and plan every moment. I start to dream about how great the whole thing will be. Before I know it, the trip has come and gone and I didn't really enjoy it because of these totally crazy expectations. So, I haven't planned a thing yet. We have our flights, our hotels, a car... but that's it. I plan to do a little work on things over the next couple of weeks, but unlike other trips, I'm just going to go with the flow. I'm even ok if there are days where we just sit on the beach, drinking cocktails and reading books. No need to schedule every second of our stay.

Of course, I do have a few things on the list. While we don't have a lot of hikes or other excursions planned, we do plan to go snorkeling. We'll also be spending a day driving the Road to Hanna, which we've heard is stunning and there are lots of stops to make (and pictures to take) along the way. I also want to go to a luau. But, really, besides that, we're going to just enjoy the warmth and try to decompress a little. I'm leaving my camera behind and will just take pictures with my phone. Maybe... maybe... I'll even leave my computer behind. We'll see.

It's fitting that we're ending the year with a big trip, since we began it spending a week in New Orleans. It was my first time and I totally fell in love with the city... the food, the people, the ability to walk around with a cocktail (oh, and Happy Hour!  Come on, Massachusetts, get with it!). We dined at a number of spots (though missed a ton of big ones too). Our favorite was Peche, which took the seafood restaurant concept to a new level. Every dish was inventive, but familiar. We both went nuts for their curried shrimp and agreed it was one of the best dishes we ate during our multi-course lunch there (they don't do a pre-fixe... we just kept ordering things). Shortly after we returned home, I was going through an issue of Bon Appetit and to our surprise, there was the recipe for the curried shrimp! I really can't believe it took me as long as it did to make it... but here it is. A perfect dinner for a cool fall night.

Curried Shrimp and Noodles
Curried Shrimp and Noodles

 

Curried Shrimp and Noodles

Source
Mildly adapted from the recipe by Peche Restaurant in New Orleans via Bon Appetit

Notes
The original recipe called for all-purpose flour, but to make it 100% gluten-free, I replaced that with rice flour. In addition to this, I used seafood broth to make it totally pescatarian-friendly. Lastly, I recommend removing all the seeds from the jalapeño, as the gochugaru provides enough of a kick.

Servings 4

Ingredients

1 large onion, cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small jalapeño, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves
1½ pounds small shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon rice flour
4 cups low-sodium seafood broth
12 ounces wide rice noodles
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Chili oil, fresh basil leaves, and sliced scallions (for serving)

Directions

1. Finely chop onion in a food processor. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium and cook onion, stirring often, until soft and starting to brown, 6–8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, finely chop jalapeño and garlic in processor; transfer to a small bowl.

3. Pulse shrimp in processor until coarsely ground; set aside.

4. Add jalapeño and garlic to skillet along with curry powder, gochugaru, and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until paste darkens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add reserved shrimp and cook, stirring often, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

5. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook, stirring, until flour is no longer visible. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 25–30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Add to sauce, tossing to coat. Remove from heat; stir in citrus zest and juice. Drizzle with chili oil and top with basil and scallions.