This is one beautiful bovine, a ruminant of unparalleled sophistication. This is a cow with her own Twitter account, and a presence on Facebook. In short, this is a very happy cow. And do you know why she’s so happy. She’s happy because it’s June!
June, in case you didn’t know, is National Dairy Month. What’s more, June 3rd is National Egg Day and June 4th is National Cheese Day. I felt compelled to celebrate this unique confluence of food occasions with a new eggy, cheesy, dairylicious recipe.
As I have in the past, I relied on my friends for inspiration. My first thought was of my far-away bestie, the writer Rachel Toor, who lives and works in Spokane, WA. Rachel isn’t much for cooking, but she is a foodie of refined and highly specialized preferences, and a particular connoisseur of Huevos Rancheros. In her inimitable fashion, sometime in the last century Rachel renamed the classic egg dish Wavy Rancheroos, and the name has stuck, at least with us, ever since.
After Rachel, my thoughts turned to the very symbol of National Dairy Month, the Cabot Creamery Cow.
As an homage to Rachel’s love of the Rancheroos and to my Cow Girl’s special month, I created my own variation on the Huevos Rancheros theme. Reader…I give you
WAVY RANCHEROO PIE
First, make the Adobo Salsa, which you can do ahead of time, up to 24 hours before you are going to serve it.
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 tbls. Balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Cook the onions in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until translucent, adding minced garlic halfway through. Add remaining ingredients, including the juice from the tomatoes and a little of the adobo sauce that the chipotle peppers are packed in. Simmer over low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce is ready at that point, but can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours if necessary. Heat before serving, either in the microwave or on the stovetop. If you want a more protein-packed sauce, add a can of rinsed black beans as you simmer. This sauce is a versitile topping, and is perfect with grilled chicken or pork.
Then comes the pie:
3 6″ flour tortillas, 1 cut in half
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Jalepeno Cheddar)
1/2 4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat over to 350º. Arrange tortillas in a 10″ deep dish pie plate as pictured. In a large bowl beat eggs and milk together, adding chiles and spices. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on the tortillas. Pour half the egg mixture over the cheese. Add 1/3 more cheese, then the remainder of the egg mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese.
Cook for 30 – 45 minutes, until the tortilla crust is browned and the egg mixture is golden and set.
Let stand for 10 minutes — it will deflate a bit — before serving. Heat the Adobo Salsa, cut pie slices and top with the warm sauce.
This dish is the delightful spawn of a French quiche and the classic Mexican breakfast favorite. It’s so delicious, with the creamy egg and cheese filling, the light tortilla crust, and the heat and flavor of the salsa. The best thing about it is that it tastes even better if you make it the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours before cooking. That makes it a perfect brunch dish. Make it ahead of time and enjoy the party yourself. In addition to the heated salsa, you can garnish the Rancheroos with cool sour cream or guacamole.
For years my running group and I would gather on Sundays for a long run, afterward treating ourselves to muffins the size of an infant’s head, divine muffins that were nonetheless loaded with sugar, fat, and empty carbohydrates. We rhapsodized about our breakfast treats, but always left feeling a little guilty, no matter how many miles we logged.
On race days we would up the ante. After we raced, we’d get together at one of our houses and have a potluck brunch. In addition to the mutant muffins, there were other sinful treats. My specialty was a Breakfast Strata — a lazy person’s version of quiche — with eggs, cream, and cheese, layered over bread and topped with sausage or bacon. The strata was rich, dense and flavorful…and a festival of fat and cholesterol. Again it was true, the effort during the race mitigated some of the effects of the ingredients, but as an athlete committed to healthy eating, I knew I had to find a better way.
A recent post on Twitter reminded me of how much fun it was to get together with my friends after a hard workout. City Running Tours posted a tweet announcing they were offering a five mile running tour of New York City combined with bRUNch. A run followed by brunch at a local restaurant — what a great concept. Their tweet reminded me that I wanted create a newer, healthier version of a great idea.
Last Sunday I invited a group to meet and run or walk along my favorite six-mile route, ending at my house. When everyone made it in, we dived into my own take on bRUNch which included a revised, heart healthy version of the Breakfast Strata accompanied by fresh fruit and yogurt. The Strata traded bacon for fresh, sauteed veggies, the cream for fat-free half & half. The eggs were the Omega 3 enriched type and I substituted Cabot’s 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar for the regular cheese. Even the base layer, formerly bread cubes or even cubed bagels, got a healthy makeover. For the new Strata iteration I used fiber-added whole grain English muffins.
In spite of its name, bRUNch doesn’t have to be about running. There’s a real feeling of almost festive accomplishment when you get together with friends after a good workout, weather it’s running, 18 holes of golf, or a killer doubles match.
Following is my bRUNch Strata — healthier, yes, but every bit as delicious. Hope you like it!
8 large eggs, organic, Omega-3
2 cups fat free half & half
2 cups Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar, shredded (I used 1 1/2 cup 50% regular and 1/2 cup 50% Jalepeno.)
4 multi-grain, fiber-added English muffins, toasted & cubed
2 tbls. extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. bag baby spinach
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 tsp. dried mustard
8-10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In 9 x 13 cassarole, add first layer of cubed English muffins.
Sautee onions and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent and beginning to brown. Add spinach and wilt. Remove from heat.
In bowl whisk together eggs, half & half, mustard, salt, pepper, and basil.
Spread vegetables over English muffins.
Top with all but 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Pour egg mixture to cover and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese to top.
Bake for approximately 30 – 45 minutes, until top is golden brown.
Let stand for 10 minutes and serve with fresh fruit drizzled with Cabot Greek Style Honey Yogurt.