Sunday, January 9, 2011

Corn-Free Chilaquiles

Let's start right in with the food issue. I'm on a violently strict gluten-free diet (Violently - I actually nearly assaulted a woman for shoving a brownie mere inches from my face last night...but I digress). A couple years back, Celiac Disease hit me like a giant grain freight train. When the choice is gluten-free or die a painful death from malnutrition, you choose gluten-free.

So, this is where my story took the road untraveled. If you would've looked into my fridge three years ago, you probably would've seen some leftover Chinese food, some corn tortillas and a bit of cheese. In the door, there was probably two or three bottles of questionable sauces with expiration dates from months or years ago. In fact, some of these products were likely left by old roommates. Roommates I'm embarrassed to say that left two years prior.

My life was a blur of eat, work, eat, play, eat, sing, eat. Now add on to each of those eats "at Rubios," "at Starbucks," "at Panda Express," "at Khyber Pass," and you have a much more complete picture.

Now, my quest is to get healthy. Food takes center stage, and the running has slowed to a crawl, forcing me to re-prioritize. No gluten (wheat, barley, rye or contaminated grains), and for me: no corn, minimal soy, and a journey to figure out which grade of gas my body runs best on.

My mission (whether or not I choose to accept it?), is to learn to create the foods I loved that fueled my creative and active life. I hope to share some of those successes and failures here.

Success #1. Corn-Free Chilaquiles

Mexican comfort food at it's finest. 

When I moved to San Diego, I thought these were pretty strange. But, when I had them cooked the right way, I was hooked. I've had some pretty bad ones... canned salsa dumped over stale tortilla chips. No thanks. The key to success here is the right kind of Chili powder. Don't use the kind you use to make Chili. No bueno! I'm talking about 100% ground Ancho Chili. My favorite is from The Spice House

When you do a web search for Chilaquiles, you find that the way to make it is take a tomato base and dump a bunch of spices in it. In other words, you need to experiment until it's the way you like it. Here's they way I like it. Adjust the spices to suit you. Measurements are approximate.

Since I'm the only one in my household that gets midnight cravings for chilaquiles and eggs, this serves one. Double as needed! I'll post the fast version, but it's also quite good with fresh onions and garlic. The beauty of this is the entire process can be done in less than ten minutes - HALF the time it used to take me to make a run to the local taco shop!


One rice tortilla (I use Trader Joe's. Food for Life are also ok.)
Oil (I like sunflower or light olive oil)
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/4 water

A generous sprinkle of ancho chili powder (about 1/4 tsp)
A slightly less generous sprinkle of cumin (about 1/8 tsp)
Onion powder (about 1/4 tsp)
Garlic powder (about 1/8 tsp)
Salt to taste

Grated cheese of choice (I used medium cheddar here)
Chopped fresh cilantro
Sour cream
One fried egg

Preheat oven to 450.
Cut the tortilla in half then into 2" strips with a knife or pizza cutter. Lightly coat with oil and salt and bake at 450 degrees for 5-6 minutes (I recommend baking on parchment paper on a cookie sheet). Do not over-cook. They should be slightly crispy, and they will continue to cook even out of the oven unless you take them off of the baking sheet. I like to set them on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.

While tortilla chips are baking, add tomato paste, water and spices to a small pan, and heat on low, stirring frequently.
This is a perfect time to fry your egg if desired.

When chips are cooked, add them to the spiced tomato sauce and stir to coat. Remove from heat.

Garnish with cheese, cilantro, and sour cream. Serve with fried egg on top or to the side. For a more full meal, a side of pinto beans is perfect.


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