Huevos con nopalitos (Eggs with Young Cactus Pads)

nopales con huevos

Nopal

Nopales (no-PA-les) are flat spiky cactus pads of the Nopal (no-PAUL) or prickly pear cactus. Nopalitos (no-pa-LI-tos) are the young pads suitable for eating. They can be cooked and eaten after removing the spikes.

nopal pad

You can buy nopalitos in Mexican grocery stores, de-spiked and sold whole, or chopped into little squares and tucked into a baggie. This is one instance where I go for the processed foods, although I have thought from time to time of planting a nopal in the front yard. The chopped nopalitos will last up to 3 days in the fridge. Similar to okra, nopales get gooey when cooked, while retaining a nice crunch.

ingredients

I combined the nopalitos with onions, red bell pepper and tomato for color and flavor and stirred them into scrambled eggs.

Serves 2

1 nopal pad, de-spiked (makes about 1/3 cup chopped)

¼ onion

1 tsp olive oil

1 small red bell pepper, copped

¼ large tomato, or 1 small Roma tomato, chopped

5 large eggs

¼ tsp salt

sprinkle of cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

several grinds or shakes of black pepper

several sprigs of chopped cilantro for garnish

saute vegetables

Chop onion and sauté in olive oil over medium heat a couple of minutes until it begins to soften. Add nopalitos and red bell pepper and cook about 5 minutes.

cook tomatoes with vegetables

Stir in tomatoes and cook several more minutes until the tomatoes soften. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and add salt and peppers.

Add the eggs to the vegetables and stir until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Garnish with cilantro and top with salsa if you desire. Serve with hot tortillas or quesadillas (tortillas heated on a comal or heavy skillet and sprinkled with a bit of cheese).

Spicy Red Deviled Eggs (low mayo)

These deviled eggs are spicy with cayenne, blushing with red bell pepper, and have only 2 Tb mayonnaise.

Perfect for Easter! or Passover!

I roast the bell pepper ahead of time (450 ‘ for 45 minutes) until it is smooth and, well, slimy.

You can also use jarred red bell peppers. Be sure to remove the skin, seeds, and membrane, or they will clog the tip of the pastry bag.

I based this recipe on 

I dedicate this recipe to Sofia, who loves my deviled eggs so much she even ate them the time I screwed up and added too much salt!

Makes 1 1/2 dozen deviled eggs

9 eggs
1 Tb baking soda
3 Tb  roasted red bell pepper (1/2  pepper), skin, seeds and membrane removed.
2 Tb mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard
about 1/8 tsp of cayenne (about 4 dashes or so) to taste
1 1/2  tsp  lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt to taste
4 fresh chives

The important and rather frustrating thing about making deviled eggs is that your eggs must peel  perfectly smooth, or they will look ugly and may fall apart completely. There are several tricks to ensuring that the shell and membrane slide off the egg smoothly:

Buy the eggs at least a week before cooking.

Add 1 Tb baking soda to the cooking water.

Immerse cooked eggs in an ice water bath

Crack the shells of the cooked eggs by tapping on them with the back of a spoon so  the water seeps inside, between the shell membrane and the egg white. 

Peel the eggs carefully under cool running water.

Cooking eggs: Place 9 eggs in a large pot and cover with one inch water and gently stir in 1 Tb baking soda. Cover pot, heat to boiling, then turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes. You can test them by spinning on a hard surface. If they spin quickly with no wobbles, they are done. Drain the water, then add cold water and several glasses of ice cubes and let the eggs cool for 15 minutes. Then crack them by tapping the shells with the back of a spoon. Add more ice to keep water cold,  and wait at least 5 minutes before peeling eggs. Peel under running water, starting at the tip where there’s a little pocket, then pull off the shells and membrane together.

Pulse the red bell pepper in a food processor until it becomes a smooth paste.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Gently pop out the egg yolks into the food processor.  Add the other ingredients except chives, and pulse until yolk mixture is smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Place the egg halves cut end up on a paper towel to dry. Then arrange them on a platter.

Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip and fill it with the yolk mixture. Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Garnish with the fresh chives.

For this last batch, I made the filling ahead of time and refrigerated the whites and the filling in plastic containers. I filled the eggs the next day right before serving them.

Cheese Soufflé

I make this for Easter brunch with my in-laws and serve it with bunny biscuits (Light as a feather cream biscuits cut into bunny shapes with a cookie cutter).

My mom used to make this soufflé for dinner back in the day. I added some suggestions I found in my favorite cookbook, Joy of cooking

The key to this dish is timing. The soufflé must be served immediately or it will fall. Bake the bunny biscuits ahead of the soufflé, (wrap them in a dishtowel to keep warm), raise the temperature to 475′. then pop the soufflé into the oven so it will be ready to serve when the guests sit down.

Don’t pour the soufflé more than 1 inch from the top of the pan, or it will not cook thoroughly and spill over the top (I can tell you from experience!)

Serves 6

1 cube room temperature unsalted butter: 6 Tb for soufflé plus about 2 Tb to coat casserole

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese

1 large shallot

6 chives

6 Tb flour

¼  teaspoon salt

grind of black pepper

one shake of cayenne

1 shake of nutmeg

1 ½  cups milk (I use 1% to make up for all that butter!)

6 eggs

½  teaspoon cream of tartar

a few shakes paprika

Preheat oven to 475’

Generously coat a round 8” by 3” straight-sided casserole dish (2.5 liters or 10 cups) with soft butter. Shake Parmesan cheese around pan to coat sides and bottom, Reserve any excess cheese.

Grate cheddar cheese and add reserved Parmesan.

Mince a large shallot to make 2 Tb. Heat 1 Tb butter in a heavy pan and cook shallots until softened. Mince chives and add to shallots for the last few seconds.

Make Béchamel (bay-shah-MEHL) sauce: Melt 5 Tb butter in the same pot. Whisk in flour and salt, cayenne, nutmeg, and black pepper. Add milk and whisk well. Stir in cheese. Let cool.

While Béchamel sauce is cooling, separate eggs, pouring whites into a mixer bowl. Add cream of tartar to egg whites and whip until stiff glossy peaks form.

Whisk egg yolks well, then slowly whisk into the cooled Béchamel sauce. Pour soufflé base into a large bowl.

Stir ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the soufflé base to lighten it. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites by dividing the soufflé in half with a large serving spoon or plastic spatula, and folding one half over the other, repeating several times until the whites are incorporated.

Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika.

Run your thumb along the top inside of the casserole dish, making a 1” groove into the soufflé . This will help the soufflé to rise evenly.

Place on a baking sheet in the lower third of the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 475’. Lower heat to 400’ and bake for 20 more minutes. The soufflé should rise 3- 4” above the top of the casserole and have a golden crust. It should feel firm with only a slightly wobbly middle. Serve immediately.

What to do with all those eggshells? Dye them and stuff them with confetti, then glue colored streamers or tissue paper over the broken tops . You now have cascarones! When they’re dry on Easter afternoon, smash your loved one gently on their head and they will have confetti in their hair. But watch out, they may get you back!

Asparagus and Mushroom Scramble

Asparagus is a symbol of Spring for me. It has a nutty green taste.

Did you know that asparagus tips are immature leaves?

My husband, Jesús, used to pick it as a child farm worker. He told me that once the leaves open, the asparagus is ruined. Because of the urgency of picking the fast-growing asparagus before the leaves open, his family was required to harvest it a grueling 6 ½ days a week!  Jesús never wanted look at another asparagus stalk! I am still working on getting him to eat it.

2 medium asparagus

About 1 Tb minced chives, from 5 chives or 1 green onion (scallion)

2 large mushrooms

3 eggs

¼  tsp butter

1 Tb water

1 Tb grated sharp cheddar or Jarlsburg cheese

a few shakes salt

Soak asparagus and eggs in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes to warm eggs and cleanse asparagus.

Mince chives or scallions.

Rinse asparagus a few times to remove any dirt, then chop finely. Slice mushrooms

Beat eggs then grate cheese into the eggs. Add salt and beat well.

asparagus and mushrooms n green onions

Heat a nonstick skillet. Rub a butter stick over the hot pan until it is coated with about ¼ tsp butter. Add mushrooms, chives and asparagus. Sauté a few minutes, then add 1 Tb warm water so that the asparagus can steam another minute.

Pour eggs over asparagus and gently turn with spatula until desired doneness. Nice with toast.

asparagus and mushroom scramble

Spinach Over Easy

Fresh spinach leaves fried with eggs over easy. Fresh chives add flavor to this easy breakfast treat.

Serves 2

4 chives, chopped

about ½ tsp butter

4 large eggs

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

1 Tb feta cheese (optional)

I warm the eggs in hot tap water so the yolks won’t be cold in eggs over easy. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water. Place eggs in the water to warm them while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Pick through spinach leaves, removing stems. Chop the chives. Heat a nonstick skillet. Rub a butter stick over the hot pan until it is coated with about ¼ tsp butter. Lower heat to medium. Add chives and sauté for a minute. Crack eggs into pan, add spinach, and crumbled feta, if using. Cook for about a minute, then gently turn eggs over and making sure spinach wilts. Cook another minute, or until whites are mostly cooked and yolks are mostly loose. Serve with toast on the side.

Green Eggs and Ham

Perfect to serve to Sam-I-am on Dr. Suess’s birthday, March 2.

serves 2

1 cup whole kale leaves, stems and ribs removed

1 cup spinach leaves , stems removed

1 scallion

1 tsp fresh thyme

4 eggs whipped well

2 Tb milk

2 Tb crumbled feta cheese

1 Tb grated Parmesan cheese

shake salt to taste

grind pepper

Wash all vegetables and mince finely in food processor.

Heat nonstick skillet. Holding butter stick, grease pan, using approx. ¼ tsp butter. Add minced vegetables and sauté over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whip eggs with milk, salt and pepper, and cheeses. Mix  vegetables into eggs. Clean pan and fry up ham slices. Remove ham and coat pan with butter again, then add egg mixture. Push eggs around with spatula so they don’t brown. Cook over medium heat until desired consistency is reached. Serve with ham to Sam-I-am

Say! I like green eggs and ham!
I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat.
And I would eat them with a goat,

And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good, so good, you see!

So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,
Sam-I-am!

by Dr. Seuss

Egg Salad Sandwich with Fresh Chives and Red Bell Pepper


I am growing chives in my window sill.

This egg salad is moist from the cooking method and red bell pepper You only need 1 1/2 teaspoons of mayonnaise to make it creamy. The red pepper and fresh chives along with a bit of mustard and a dash of cayenne add great flavor.

If you buy the eggs for  a week before cooking, they will peel more easily than fresh eggs. This is an easy method of cooking hard-boiled eggs. Place 3 eggs in a saucepan and cover with one inch water. Add 1 tsp baking soda to the water which will help the egg peel evenly. Cover pan, heat to boiling, then turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes. Drain, then cover eggs with cold water and ice. Drain and repeat several times, until eggs are cool. Crack the shell by tapping on it with the back of a spoon. Let the water seep inside, between the shell and the egg white. This will also aid in peeling. You may refrigerate eggs until ready to peel, or peel once they are cool. Peel eggs under cool running water to rinse off the bits of shell.

Serves 2
 
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp mayonnaise
4 fresh chives
¼ tsp yellow mustard
1 Tb of minced red bell pepper
several grinds of black pepper
a dash of cayenne
a 1/4 tsp lemon juice
a few shakes salt to taste

The yolks should be bright yellow and a bit soft. Mash eggs with a fork. Mince  fresh chives and stir in with mayonnaise, mustard,  red bell pepper, several grinds of black pepper, a dash of cayenne and  lemon juice, and salt to taste. You can also make this easily in a food processor, especially when cooking for a crowd. Mince the red bell peppers and chives using the blade, then add eggs and other ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Toast some good sturdy bread, and spread egg salad on it.