Sunday, January 25, 2009


After an extremely fun night staying out way too late (combined with the fact that I probably had one too many gin and tonics...) I was in serious need of a good breakfast this morning. As it turned out, Andrew, my beloved friend and neighbor, was too.

Like me, Andrew loves interesting food, which makes him such an ideal dining companion. I also appreciate that he is a total Yelp addict. I can literally track nearly every meal I've eaten in a restaurant with Andrew since I moved to San Francisco in 2005 by scrolling through his Yelp reviews, so I was particularly excited about trying a new place with him. We sauntered down Mission Street and ended up at La Sanateca de la Mission. There were about 8 tables and it was very cute in an 80's diner kind of way, complete with those yellowish short water glasses. The sign out front said that they serve Mexican and Salvadorean food. We ordered coffee and water and decided on our breakfasts. I had plantains, eggs with vegetables and beans. Andrew went for a Salvadorean-style omelette with shrimp and green onions. When our beautifully-presented and very tasty meal arrived, along with warm corn tortillas, it occurred to me that this meal was exactly the kind of simple, affordable meal that would be perfect to serve the next time I have people over for brunch. Of course, I couldn't resist tinkering around in my kitchen when I returned from running errands and came up with the following menu:

Salvadorean Vegetable Frittata
6 eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup jack cheese or queso quesadilla (Mexican melting cheese), shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 11"x 7" rectangular pan or an 8" diameter pie pan. In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs and half-and-half together. Stir in cilantro, both peppers, both onions, cheese and salt and pepper. Pour mixture into your pan and place in oven on the center rack for 25-35 minutes, until eggs have set and top is very lightly brown.

To serve, allow to cool for a few minutes. Cut into squares or wedges and serve with a small dollop of Mexican crema or regular sour cream.

Pan Fried Plantains
4 plantains, peeled and sliced on the bias into two-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil
a couple of pinches of kosher salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan (ideally a cast iron) over high heat. Using tongs, gently place half of the plantain slices into the pan. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. The flesh of the plantain should develop a dark caramel color with charred bits. The inside of the plantain should be soft but not mushy. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with the salt.

Repeat with the remaining oil and plantain slices. Serve hot.

Black Beans
2 14-oz cans of whole black beans, rinsed and drained.
2 T cilantro, chopped

Heat black beans in a small pot over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of water to prevent sticking.

This brunch menu will serve 2-3 people generously. Make the frittata first, as it will take the longest. While the frittata is cooking, wrap a stack of 6-8 small corn tortillas in aluminum foil and put them in the oven along with the frittata. The technique of closely packing them in a sealed package will steam them and make them soft and pliable. Serve wrapped in a warm kitchen towel with fresh butter on the side. Encourage your guests to butter tortillas and wrap bites of frittata and black beans with a little crema and hot sauce (I like Tapatio).

I also recommend serving this breakfast with cinnamon coffee. To make, sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the coffee filter holding your coffee grounds before you run the machine. Turn on the drip as usual and serve with milk and sugar. Your whole kitchen will smell like warm cinnamon.

What a delicious, inspring day. Happy cooking.



Josh Berg said...

Just a quick comment about the plantains (and Gabi, correct me if I'm wrong!): to make the sweet, dark plantains (maduros), make sure you use super-ripe plantains. The peel should be black and brown, well past the yellow of a ripe banana. Anything less ripe will not have developed the sugars or flavors needed to make them delicious!

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