Garlic Bread Chilaquiles (ish)

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Ah, the hungry, tipsy grocery store trip. Living in Brooklyn makes this too easy, as there’s a walkable grocery store on every corner, and at least 4 bars in between. A grocery shopping pub crawl is all too easy to accidentally happen. 

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What are the things you buy when not in sound judgment? This particular day in recent history, my overloaded basket contained:

  • These seedy everything crackers that I could eat for every meal. (Ignoring the fact that we currently have at least 4 open things of crackers. Oh well, book club is approaching, crackers will be eaten. If they make it til then.)
  • Fancy granola. I’m always happier making my granola, but I apparently do get pleasure from staring at the giant wall of prepackaged varieties and choosing one. This grocery shop was over a week ago and have I opened the granola? No. Do I know where it is? Uh, no. Can you return granola?
  • the Expensive Cheddar. I literally always buy cheese at the grocery store, but usually I opt for a sensible one, one that will complement the other misshapen blocks and wedges taking up significant fridge space. This time, we already had at least 3 kinds of cheddar. WHY, self, WHY MORE CHEDDAR?
  • Frozen Garlic Bread. Oy, this is just the least me-y ingredient. First of all, it’s frozen and weird, and second of all, I KNOW I can make garlic bread from stuff I already have at home. And it would’ve been great. But on this day, I just had to have the frozen variety. Daniel didn’t even realize you could buy frozen garlic bread, which I hope opens a world of opportunities for him on ski trips in the future. 
  • (speaking of Daniel, he bought a bag of pork rinds. Packaged fried pork rinds. Did you know that’s a thing you could buy from a grocery store?! They are still unopened and forgotten in the pantry. 🤢)

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Okay so, we got home, we made Alison Roman’s trendy caramelized shallot pasta, a big salad, and baked off this random loaf of garlic bread. Then both of us ate a giant bowl of pasta (yum), a giant bowl of salad (delish), and … one little piece of garlic bread (meh). Leftover pasta makes a great work lunch. Leftover salad doesn’t exist. Leftover garlic bread, the giant pile of it, from the entire loaf, because we are only two people and you can’t not bake the whole loaf and because it’s really not that good, took over the fridge.

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Leftovers are the mother of invention. Since that night, I’ve used them as croutons in my favorite kale caesar salad. I’ve melted cheese and tomato on them and sprinkled them with chaat masala a la Priya in her book Indian-ish. And I made this for breakfast!

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Chilaquiles is usually made with old tortillas, which are cut into strips, fried, and coated in a spicy salsa before being covered with eggs, cheese, herbs, etc. You get to eat a pile of chips for breakfast, basically breakfast nachos, so obviously it’s one of my favorite things ever. This version does not have chips or salsa or anything particularly Mexican, but it does use up a carb I had lying around. Inspiration, not authenticity! This came out way better than it had any right to. So, if you too have leftover garlic bread as the result of an ill-advised shopping trip, join me on the inauthentic dark side.  

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Ah, our first hand view of the construction process, starting every morning promptly at 7am

Some notes – you don’t need garlic bread for this, you could easily use any other bread you need to use up. It just adds extra flavor! This version isn’t particularly saucy, but you could continue cooking the tomatoes until they burst if you prefer it that way. Alternatively, if you too made the NYTimes’ shallot pasta, adding some leftover caramelized shallot paste would add extra sauciness and umami-ness, never bad things.

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last year: kale, sumac, and crispy rice salad
roughly three years ago: black eyed pea stew
roughly five years ago: butternut tahini mash

Leftover Garlic Bread “Chilaquiles” for One 

a Swanky original

glugs and drizzles of olive oil
1 very large garlic clove
big handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
glug of balsamic vinegar
day old garlic bread, cut into bite sized pieces (I dunno, 4, 5ish slices? Really, however much you want to eat for breakfast)
1 egg
small handful shredded mozzarella cheese
lots of chopped fresh parsley
s+p

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Smash and peel your garlic clove, and add to the pan. When it smells good but hopefully before it starts to brown,  add cherry tomatoes and turn heat up a bit. Add a glug of balsamic vinegar, and shower with salt and pepper. Cook til charred, stirring frequently. This will only take a couple minutes. Remove to a small bowl.

Return skillet to heat, add a bit more olive oil, and toast your garlic bread til beginning to crisp. 

Return tomatoes to pan; stir to combine. (This would be when I’d add the shallot paste.) Make a well in the center and crack an egg into it. Sprinkle s+p on egg, and sprinkle mozzarella cheese all over the pan. Cover (I used the top of a dutch oven) and cook for a couple minutes, or until egg is at your desired doneness and cheese has melted. Remove from heat and sprinkle liberally with parsley. Eat with fork and knife and get your butt to work. 

 

Cornbread Salad – 18/67

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I have a deep appreciation for a cheeky salad. You know, the kind that consists of no veggies, only pretzels, jello, and dairy products. Never mind the fact I’ve never actually tried one of these cold casserole competitors, I just love the audacity of it. Like, sure, call it a salad, that makes it dinner-appropriate! We don’t need to add any other nasty nutrient bombs! For a celebratory meal, what a genius workaround. 

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This salad is not that. There are no chunks of squishy jello masquerading as the health component, no sad pretzels approaching unfortunately soggy. And there is a whole bell pepper! A tomato and celery stalk! Vegetables aplenty. 

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There is also a whole tray of freshly baked salty sweet cornbread, crumbled up and ready to be doctored. And oh my, is it good.

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This is the kind of dish that I have to remind myself is mostly-carb, not mostly-veggie, because I would easily fill ¾ of a picnic plate with it. I would never remove the salad part from the name, because a) it accompanies other things so well and b) it really does taste fresh. All those small-chopped veggies mean it feels like you’re eating a mouthful of salad, just the sweetest and saltiest mouthful ever. Not a mouthful of cornbread, which is what you’re actually doing. Audacious, bold salad, accompaniment to the stars. 

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Anyway, I’m eternally grateful to Linda, Daniel’s mom, for introducing this one to my repertoire. However it has made its way to you, through CT and Texas and back, I’m happy to proliferate it in Brooklyn. 

one year ago: spanish-ish baked eggs with spinach
two years ago: tapado (caribbean coconut fish stew)
three years ago: spaghetti squash lettuce wraps, asian style
four years ago: mustard greens with oyster sauce and garlic oil
five years ago: tofu banh mi sandwiches

Cornbread Salad

from Daniel’s mom Linda

1 9-inch pan of cornbread, cooled (from 2 boxes of Jiffy mix)
1 red bell pepper, chopped small
½ a red onion, chopped small
1-2 celery ribs, chopped small (optional, but I recommend!)
3-4 jalapenos, partially seeded, chopped small
1 cup mayo
1 big tomato, chopped small

Crumble cornbread into a very big bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, and jalapenos. Stiry to combine. Add mayo until just moist — you may not need full cup, or may need a bit extra. Stir in tomatoes last, so as to minimize mush. Refrigerate and serve cold. I added some chopped parsley at the end just to make it look pretty, but ended up liking what it added! 

Leftovers great as is, or pan fried in a little olive oil in little “cakes” with a fried egg on top. 

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Butternut and Black Bean Stuffed Poblanos with Pepita Crema

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Every morning Daniel asks the same questions — “How’d you sleep?”, followed by “any dreams?” If I say yes, the next question is “exciting dreams or Ilanna dreams?”

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“Ilanna dreams” meaning those completely mundane dreams you confuse with real life upon waking up — “Oh I got three emails from my college lab partner about throwing a party for…wait…that was a dream.” or “I went to our usual coffee place but the waitress from the Thai place was the barist…. hm, nope, dream.” They’re always Really boring. I feel like I’ve failed my creative theater brethren with my dreamlife.

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The night after I made these peppers, I had the most vivid dreams I’ve had in months. One involved me walking around a pool in an Aladdin-esque Saudi Arabia in a bikini while everyone around me was fully covered. It felt like the set of Mad Men, complete with 60s music and the surreal sensation that no one was paying attention to me but everyone was surreptitiously following my every move. There may have been a green screen involved? After my lap around the pool I was given an ice cold lemonade and pile of skirts and scarves by my friend Nina and her boyfriend, who were very concerned for my modesty.

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I also dreamt my intern lived in a lavish Victorian mansion with high ceilings near Washington Square, and overnight crafted gigantic wings to be worn in the Halloween parade. Which is sorta what she’s supposed to be doing right now honestly, but in the dream everything was bigger and glitzier and momentous. And I doubt her dorm room resembles a mansion. ….but now that I’m writing this down it sounds quite dull. A true Ilanna dream after all. Damn, thought I had reached new dreamheights.

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Someone should try these peppers and let me know if the dreams (fine, one dream) were (was?) a fluke. Also because this pepita crema is so creamy, despite not having any actual cream! That alone is worth a try. And don’t overlook that these peppers contain all my favorite parts of bastardized Mexican food (see also: gringa-Yankee-vegetarian tacos): spice, cheese, roasted orange vegetables, etc. Mmm.

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one year ago: sweet sesame cauliflower, snow pea, and kale salad 

Butternut and Black Bean Stuffed Poblanos with Pepita Crema

adapted from simply healthy family and the bojon gourmet

Don’t want to make pepita crema? a) you’re crazy but b) try instead with a hot-ish sauce like my new favorite or perhaps whip up a batch of tomatillo peach salsa 

4 poblano peppers (or 3 poblanos and 1 normal green pepper if your CSA provided an odd number…)
½ T olive oil
½ an onion, diced
1 heaping cup butternut squash, in small cubes
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup cooked quinoa
1 T creamy goat cheese
1 c Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
cilantro, roughly chopped
pepita crema** (recipe below)
**to make crema, you must soak your pepitas in advance! Anywhere from 4-12 hours. Do it in the morning when you want to make this for dinner!

Turn on your broiler as high as it will go. Place poblanos in a cast iron skillet and stick under broiler. Roast for 8 minutes. Take them out of the oven and carefully flip peppers over with tongs. Roast them for another 8 minutes. At this point, skin should be slightly blackened and puckering. Stick back under broiler if more time is needed, and don’t worry if skin gets pretty darn charred. It just adds flavor! (If you’re using regular green peppers, this will take at least twice as long.) Place directly into an ice bath, and turn oven to 450 degrees.

In the meantime, make your filling. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook onion and squash for 7-9 minutes, until onions are translucent and squash has begun to soften. Add corn, beans, and quinoa. Mix and take off heat. Add goat cheese and mix until just combined. (This recipe makes way more filling than necessary — feel free to make more poblanos or just cook the filling a bit longer and eat as a salad, or fried egg accompaniment, or inside a quesadilla, etc…)

Remove skin from peppers carefully. Cut a small slit in each and remove seeds, either by shaking them gently in the ice bath or carefully cutting the inner core out. Don’t worry if you accidentally puncture the peppers as long as they’re mostly in tact. Scoop filling into peppers, reshaping as necessary. Place them in a baking dish or back into the cast iron. Cook at 450 for 10-12 minutes, or until squash are tender. Cover with Monterey Jack and return to oven. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, until cheese is totally melted.

To plate, make a pool of crema on a plate. Place poblano atop crema and sprinkle with cilantro.

To make Pepita Crema:

(makes more than you’ll need…)

½ c pepitas (pumpkin seeds), soaked for 4-12 hrs
1 scant t cumin seeds, toasted
1 lime, juiced
½ clove garlic, roughly chopped
¼ t fine sea salt
⅓ c water

Combine everything in blender. Blend for 3-5 minutes, scraping down sides as needed, until crema thickens. Don’t doubt it; just keep blending! It really works!

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two-in-one! Extra filling makes a great egg accompaniment the next day.

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carnivore adds slow-cooked shredded chicken to his (but it’s totally unnecessary!)

Hot Honey Pizza with Roasted Broccoli and Red Onion

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A damn good pizza idea:

Besides the usual dough, sauce, and cheese galore, add broccoli and red onions prepared as you would for roasting them (coated in olive oil, plus s&p). Broccoli florets should be quite small, and onions quite thin, to allow for a short cooking time.

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THEN, make the best pizza topping in the world (discovery thanks to Paulie Gee’s…aka the debatable best pizza in NYC): HOT HONEY. You can be all fancy and buy the official version (which we did at the recent Greenpointers Holiday Market, but, as per my rules, we Cannot Touch until Christmakkuh is celebrated…) OR make your own. Simply combine 3 parts honey to 2 parts hot sauce (unless your hot sauce is ridiculously hot) and mix well. Drizzle over pizza before popping into your oven (at the hottest possible temp).

Pizza is done when cheese melts sufficiently, broccoli is charred but still crunchy, and the edges begin to brown, about 12 minutes.

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We strayed a bit from this basic model by trashing our pizzas up with black olives, yellow peppers, leftover mushrooms (me), prosciutto (him), and of course fresh basil post-oven. None of this was at all necessary, though, and I recommend giving the broccoli-red onion-hot honey combo a chance before letting your fridge leftovers make the rules.

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Ingredients:
Sauce, dough, cheese, broccoli, red onion, olive oil, honey&hot sauce, s&p

Method:
Use your brain, silly! (Or, follow my first pizza post for more specifics!)

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Recipe inspired by Serious Eats and veggie-fying the Hellboy.
Snowflakes by us, proudly 🙂