Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wimbledon Brunch (Mexican Tortilla Strata)

My good friend Bev is coming over to watch Wimbledon this morning. A great excuse to get together, watch some awesome tennis, catch up on life, and drink a little bubbly.  Who could ask for more?

Things get really quiet when folks tuck into this one...
followed by, "There's seconds, right?"
Bev and I are both SoCal Expats, and former members of the Orange County (California) marketing and communications community.  Funny thing is, we didn’t meet until she moved to Chapel Hill a few years ago.  A mutual friend connected us and we’ve been fast friends every since.  It is so fun to explore your new home with someone who understands where you’ve come from.  I love my time with Bev.

So when the weekend rolled around we started looking for a place to have brunch while watching the Men’s Finals Match.  Much to our dismay, we struck out on two counts: 
Ortega chilies and vine ripe tomatoes. 

1) Places that are open for breakfast at 9am on Sunday don’t typically have TVs
2) Restaurants can’t serve alcohol in North Carolina before noon (big sigh)

Not to be deterred, we decided to get together at my place.  I’ve been wanting to write down the Mexican Tortilla Strata recipe I created for our 4th of July brunch in the mountains last weekend.  So I can make a second batch and actually pay attention. Bev can bring a fruit salad.  Steve can pop the cork on a bottle of champagne for us before he heads out to golf.  Again – who could ask for more?
The final layer of low fat Mexican
Cheese blend from Sargento
The strata is in the oven as I write.  The house smells marvelous. My gal pal is on her way and awesome tennis is ready to start. 

And that’s about as good as it gets.

Wimbledon Brunch (Mexican Tortilla Strata)
Serves 4-6 (can easily be doubled and made in a 13 x 9 to feed a crowd
Piping hot from the oven

Strata base
12 corn tortillas, cut into wide strips (4 per tortilla)
2  large tomatoes, cut into thick slices
¼ cup deiced Vidalia onions (or other sweet onion from your region, such as Maui onion on the West Coast)
2 cans of whole Ortega mild green chili peppers, torn into wide strips
½ pound pork chorizo, browned and drained well (use lots of paper towels and get out as much of the orange grease as you can. 
2 Cups (one package) Sargento low fat shredded Mexican cheese (yes, do your best to get Sargento as it will melt better. You can also grate a cheese of your choice)

Egg Mixture – whisk this REALLY well
7 large eggs
½ cup low fat milk
½ tsp ground cumin (I actually use a bit more, but I LOVE cumin)
½ tsp chili powder
a good pinch of Kosher salt and lots of ground black pepper

The night before:  Assemble the night before and stash in the fridge:

Spray an 8x8 square baking disk with cooking spray, then layer the strata base ingredients in the following order:
  • Tortilla strips
  • Tomatoes (season with salt and pepper here)
  • Onions
  • Ortega chili strips
  • Cheese
  • Tortillas
  • Chorizo
  • Ortega chili strips
  • Cheese
  • Tortillas
  • (save 1/3 of the cheese for the top after you add the egg mixture)
Now pour the egg mixture over the strata layers.  Make sure to cover it evenly.
Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cover with foil and put in fridge over night

The morning you are going to serve:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • Take the strata out of the fridge for about 30 minutes to come up to temp a bit
  • Bake foil on for 30 minutes
  • Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown and a pick inserted into the middle comes out dry

Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes
Slice into wedges and enjoy.  

Serving Suggestion:  Great with a bit of avocado or guacamole.  A sprinkle of queso fresco cheese is also nice if you happen to have it on hand.