Shortcuts

I’m one of those fancy chefs who serves small portions, treats the plate like a canvas and uses flowers and ingredients you’ve never heard of. But I’m also a fan of shortcuts.

Many of the world’s best chefs will readily admit to resorting to shortcuts when they’re cooking.

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While we were staying at the Casa Tres Coronitas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last October, I asked the house chef, Marilu, to show me how to make her famous salsa. She was giving me a lesson and it was nothing out of the ordinary — tomatillos, onion, garlic, chiles de arbol, salt. And then she reached into the cupboard to pull out her “secret ingredient” — Knorr powdered chicken bouillon. Sure enough, when I tried it at home (with the bag of Knorr powdered chicken bouillon Marilu picked up for me at the supermercado), it contributed a salty umami depth that was missing before I added it. Couldn’t have been the MSG, could it?? More

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Chilaquiles

I’ve never been one for pancakes and omelets. I’m a fan of cultural breakfasts. I remember eating a traditional Japanese breakfast at a hotel overlooking a zen garden in Tokyo. And then the next day, eating sashimi with beer for breakfast at 7 a.m. at the Tsukiji Wholesale Fish Market. (When in Tokyo…) In Athens I dispatched of great heaping piles of yogurt with honey, while in Alaska I’d relish smoked salmon on Russian rye toast. But the exotic breakfast that makes the most appearances at our own house has to be chilaquiles.

Chilaquiles Casa Colgin

While not as well known a breakfast dish in Mexico as, say, huevos rancheros or chocolate con leche y pan, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying dish on a Saturday morning — especially when you introduce a couple of farm fresh fried eggs on top! If you happen to be a bit hungover, as I often am on a weekend morning, it’s said that the dish is a recognized cure — “recognized” by whom, I’m not sure. But the spicy kick and the supple greasy undernote of pork chorizo will do you a world of good. More