Friday, October 24, 2008

New Mexican Ingredients at Michael's Kitchen

I love eating big breakfasts in restaurants - especially restaurants with longstanding ties to the places where they operate. One of these is Michael's Kitchen. Located on the 'main drag' of Taos, New Mexico, this cozy spot has been a local favorite for more than 30 years.

And when it comes to breakfast, you can't get more New Mexican than a plate of the Atole-Pinon Pancakes at Michael's Kitchen. Roasted pinon/pine nuts are ground into and sprinkled on top of pancakes made with blue corn meal. Add a bottomless cup of coffee and breakfast will satisfy your hunger until dinnertime. Sweets lovers will also appreciate this restaurant's huge, fresh cinnamon rolls, but be sure to eat yours quickly, before the heat and pillowy softness disappear.

Not a sweets fan? Try Martin's Breakfast Burrito, the Spanish Style Omelette or Tortilla Rellenada - a flour tortilla that enfolds ham, eggs scrambled with chives, and choice of cheese or chile (red or green). Or go for old standbys such as Blueberry Pancakes, custom-crafted omelettes, and buttermilk biscuits slathered in rich cream gravy full of bite-sized sausage chunks. You'll be ready for your next visit before your first one ends.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Black Bean Cornbread with Quick Chile Sauce

After spending two weeks in Northern New Mexico, within a month, I definitely have cravings for Mexican/New Mexican-inspired flavors. Such was the case yesterday, after hours of heavy rain and a temperature drop of more than 10 degrees.

Once again, I looked to my pantry for relief. I began with a quick and easy cornbread recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and then added three ingredients to create a meal in a pan. Add a generous drizzle of my ultra easy chile sauce, a handful of cheese, cilantro sprigs, and a crisp green salad, for a simple and satisfying cold-weather feast.

Black Bean Cornbread with Quick Chile Sauce
8-9 servings

1 recipe cornbread (see below)

1 cup frozen corn

15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup shredded Colby Jack or medium Cheddar cheese

15 ounces tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chile powder

1 cup shredded cheese


1 cup all purpose flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour because I'm so fond of it)
1 cup cornmeal
2 (to 4) tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil (or shortening, melted)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and set aside.

In another bowl combine eggs, milk and cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture and stir just until moistened.

Now here's my twist on this classic: Stir corn into batter. Pour two thirds of batter in pan. Spread black beans over batter and then top with 1 cup of Colby Jack. Pour remaining batter on top and spread evenly over beans and cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Quick Chile Sauce: Combine tomato sauce and chile powder over medium high heat, bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

To serve, cut one square of cornbread, drizzle 3-4 tablespoons sauce on top, add cheese and cilantro. ENJOY!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Albuquerque's Balloon Bash

My husband and I arrived several hours before meeting our friends from Tucson, so we could attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta together. After the two of us located our hotel and the restaurant where we would meet, we visited the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum.

This stunning building resembles a hot air balloon laid on its side, with a two-story glass wall that looks out on the 385-acre International Balloon Fiesta Park. Designed by an avid balloonist with Studio Southwest Architects/a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the building also utilizes a recycled water system, recycled paving, and methane gas extracted from landfills, and focuses on habitat reclamation.

We joined hundreds of festival-goers inside the museum, viewing fully inflated balloons, flight simulators, and history, technology and adventure exhibits. We also struck up a conversation with Luke, a pilot for the POW-MIA hot-air balloon, Freedom Flight, Inc., which will celebrate 20 years at the Festival in 2009. As we watched for Luke's balloon throughout the next two days, we felt like we had an inside scoop on this spectacular event.