This is a special week: three of my best friends in the world who don’t live in Los Angeles were in town at the same time: Prue (high school), Jax (college), and life (Marc). We all met up at Jax’s boyfriend’s show, and in the haze of rattling bass frequencies and red wine I suggested that I cook an impromptu brunch at my house the next morning to celebrate the momentous occasion. (This brunch was also the cornerstone of my campaign to lure my guests to L.A. permanently. We’ll see how successful it was in a year or two!)
But there was a catch: two of the guests of honor are the single pickiest eaters I know. Jax does not eat “any breakfast foods,” eggs, or red meat of any kind. Also nixed were most cooked vegetables, all fish, and peanuts-incorporated-into-other-foods (peanuts on their own are okay!). Prue is similarly picky, but eats eggs in moderation and loves bacon. Phew! The other six of us eat just about everything except goat eyeballs and pet food.
So here was my brilliant cabernet-fueled breakfast solution: huevos rancheros, served as a buffet so that everyone can assemble a plate exactly how they like it. Fluffy scrambled eggs, slow-cooked, for those of us who love eggs. Bacon on the side, baked in the oven to save stovetop space. Fresh homemade guacamole and pico de gallo. (I know for a fact that Jax ate chips and salsa for most meals in college, and probably singlehandedly keeps Chipotle in business now.) Red and green spicy Herdez salsas (my favorite). Black beans spiced up with Tapatio, salt, and pepper. Simple red onions sauteed with cumin, chile powder, and a dash of cayenne. Fresh corn tortillas (which are gluten-free!) warmed in the oven. Crumbly Ranchero queso fresco. And for Jax, I made a special quesadilla with queso fresco and onions. (Onions are the one vegetable that she likes cooked!)
All in all, two of us prepared the entire meal in under an hour and a half, which included shopping, making our own guacamole and pico de gallo, taking frequent breaks to drip and drink coffee, and tidying the house. We turned out a fresh feast for under $40, made everyone happy, and ended up with tons of healthy and tasty leftovers.
The moral of the story: don’t be friends with anyone who doesn’t like Mexican food.
Entertaining tip: If you’re using prepared foods or condiments from a container (like sour cream, mustard, cranberry sauce…), decant them into serving bowls. A pretty presentation transforms condiments into part of your meal for the low price of washing a couple of extra dishes.
Easy Scrambled Eggs
Whip eggs with whisk until smooth and just beginning to turn light yellow, or about 5 min. of serious whisking. Warm olive oil in a pan. Cook eggs over medium-low heat, turning them over occasionally with a spatula, until they reach the desired consistency.
Quick Pico de Gallo
Combine and let sit.
Combine and let sit with the pits from the 3 avocados on top to prevent browning until you are ready to serve. Best made fresh.
Warm black beans on the stove with a generous dash of Tapatio. Salt and pepper to taste.
Easy Baked Bacon
Pre-heat oven to 400F. Place bacon in a glass or rimmed baking sheet. Bacon slices can be touching, but not overlapping. Bake until golden-brown, about 10-15 min. (It goes much faster if your baking dish is already hot before you put the bacon in it.) Drain on paper towels for a good few minutes and serve.
Bells and Whistles