One thing I hate about cooking for myself is the lack of diversity if I’m making big recipes. You know what I mean? That point you reach when something you adore turns into a food nightmare. But we all do it to save time, and so do I with the help of a few little cheats, either it’s freezing half of the dish or feeding the office.
A few years back I discovered my sister’s trick while her husband was out of town on a business trip. I came over for a week night catch up. We were prepping dinner and enjoying a glass of wine when she remembered to empty her work bag. Out came a plastic container half full of homemade macaroni and cheese. How good does that sound? But she quickly emptied it in the bin, it obviously had sat on her desk for too long.
Being the good sister that I am, I teased her about not finishing her lunch: “Think about what mom would say!”, “Thou shalt not waste food”, so she had to come clean. As she was alone that week she was left with more leftovers than usual and to solve that problem she had helped herself to bigger lunch portions. She is not naive, she knew very well she wasn’t going to eat it all. This just became the perfect excuse to dispose of the excess food. Sounds familiar?
We all do our best, but it’s so easy to slip when no one is looking. And I’m no exception, so to be fair to my sister I will share my own dirty little secret with you.
I may or may not, sometimes or not at all, “accidentally” forget my leftovers in the back of the fridge. And, of course, only find them later when they’re unfortunately out of date. How terrible is that?
So my idea, to prevent this happening too often, is to create recipes that can be transformed. Surely we’ll find it rewarding to spend a bit of time on these on the weekend as it will give us some freedom during the week and a different, quick meal to enjoy. Sounds very promising to me so I’ll keep working on the idea. Here is my first attempt, a rich, sweet light weekend lunch: Huevos rancheros. Next week I’ll transform part of this dish into the quickest chili you’ve ever made. Definitely worth the wait. Find the recipe here
- 1 small Red onion
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 small bunch Coriander (cilantro)
- 1 tsp Chili powder
- 1 tsp Sweet smoked paprika
- 2x 450g Tinned chopped tomatoes
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 pinch Dried Oregano
- 2 eggs (or 4, depending on how hungry you are)
- Tortillas to serve
- Start by prepping the ingredients: thinly slice the onion and finely chop the garlic and the coriander stalks, keeping the leaves for later.
- Add these to a hot frying pan with olive oil and fry for five minutes until the onion is transparent.
- Add the chili powder and smoke paprika and fry until the spices become fragrant, shouldn’t take more than a minute. (see tip below)
- Add the canned tomatoes with the bay and cinnamon, season with salt, no need for pepper, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook gently for about half an hour until thick and tasty.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F so it will be hot when the sauce is ready.
- Once the preparation is nice and thick turn the heat off and add the coriander leaves, roughly chopped, and a pinch of dried oregano.
- Spoon half of the mixture into a container and keep in the fridge until ready to make the fastest chili ever (recipe will follow next week).
- scoop the rest of the tomato sauce in 1 or 2 small baking dish and make small holes. Break the egg (or 2) into each little nest and bake for about 10 minutes or until the eggs are to you liking.
- Enjoy with some warm tortillas to fish out the rich eggy sauce.
- If the dry spices start to catch at the bottom of the pan, add a bit of water to prevent them from burning. The water will evaporate during the cooking, so don’t worry about diluting the sauce, as long as it’s just a few table spoons when necessary.
- You can skip the oven part and crack the eggs directly in the pan. Put it back on a LOW heat and cook with a lid on until the eggs are done to your liking. Should take about the same amount of time.
- If you have any cooked leftovers, they make a great egg burrito for the next day. Mix everything together, breaking the eggs in the tomato sauce. Add some cheese (and salad if you want) and roll in a tortilla.