This winter has been wicked cold at our cabin, a biting 3°F on some mornings, but we’ve had next to no snow. In some ways the sparse snowfall has been a relief after the unprecedented blizzards of last winter, on the other hand, we had been looking forward to a white Christmas and snowshoeing adventures.
We turned the lack of snow into an opportunity to introduce our houseguest, Hugh, to hiking in the high desert, where it’s reliably 20°F warmer than at our cabin. We drove a few miles, losing a couple of thousand feet in elevation, to an area with stunning views and fantastical rock formations. A paradise for winter hikers.
Before the hike, we fueled up on my interpretation of a Guatemalan breakfast. You no doubt are thinking, “Why Guatemalan?” Shortly before this cabin stay, we were in Guatemala, celebrating the wedding of good friends. Every morning, we feasted on an energy-packed meal of fried eggs sitting atop cheese covered tortillas, fried plantains, avocado, and pinto beans stewed with onions and tomatoes. That meal kept us going for hours of sightseeing, and now seemed the perfect way to prepare for hiking on a frigid day.
Although this breakfast has several components, it’s quite simple to put together. Prepare the beans the day before, and then in the morning you’ll be doing little more than frying plantains, and then cooking eggs in the same pan. In Guatemala, the beans are rich in pork sausages, I prefer to boost their flavor with Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo, a rich tasting and relatively healthful product I keep on hand to enhance bean stews, pasta sauces, taco fillings, and nachos.
The meal was so invigorating, we barely felt the bitter cold wind on our expedition. The leftover beans made super easy tacos, mounded in lightly toasted corn tortillas, topped with grated cheddar cheese and crunchy shredded cabbage. Another time, I served the whole meal at a business brunch, and the next day we sprinkled cheese over the beans and scooped up the molten mixture with tortilla chips.
Currently a sizeable snowstorm is predicted for the eastern Sierra with temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s, a decent improvement over the single digits we experienced on our last trip. I’m looking forward to nourishing ourselves with this same meal before we venture out for a day of snowshoeing.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 3 oz Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo (optional)
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 14.5 oz cans diced and fire roasted tomatoes, with liquid
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano, crumbled
- 1 15.5 oz can pinto bean, preferably organic, with liquid
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plantains, Avocado, and Eggs
- 1 to 2 ripe plantains, peeled, sliced diagonally ¼" thick
- Olive Oil
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1 ⅓ cups (about 5 oz) coarsely grated cheddar cheese (I like Trader Joe's Shredded Unexpected Cheddar)
- 1 avocado, halved, pit removed
- 4 to 8 eggs
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo (if using), and sauté 2 minutes, breaking up with a spoon. Add the cumin and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes with their liquid and marjoram. Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors.
- Transfer ¾ cup of the tomato sauce to a small saucepan and reserve. Add the beans with their liquid to the sauce in the skillet and simmer until thickened, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup cilantro to the bean mixture and 2 tablespoons to the sauce. Season both to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving, thinning with water if desired.)
Plantains, Avocado, and Eggs
- Peel the plantains and cut on the diagonal into ¼" thick slices. Line a plate with paper towels. Pour a generous layer of oil into a large nonstick skillet. Heat over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles instantly. Add the plantains and fry until brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the paper-towel lined plate. Leave the remaining oil in the skillet, but turn off the heat.
- Toast the tortillas over an open flame or in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until brown spots appear on each side. Transfer 1 tortilla to each of four warmed plates. Sprinkle about ⅓ cup cheese over each.
- Using a larger spoon, scoop crescents of avocado from the peel and divide among the plates, placing next to the tortillas. Spoon some beans onto each plate, next to the tortillas; divide the plantains among the plates, placing next to the tortillas.
- Reheat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, adding more if necessary to coat generously. When a drop of water sizzles instantly, break in the eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a couple of tablespoons water to the skillet. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium and cook to desired doneness (I like to cook until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny). Divide the eggs among the tortillas. Spoon a little tomato sauce over the eggs. Sprinkle cilantro over the eggs and beans and serve.