Tony and Hubert, watch out.  Rick is gaining on you.

Since we ate at two of Bayless’s three restaurants in Chicago, and since he’s been fairing well on Top Chef lately, I’ve been a bit obsessed with him.  After writing about Frontera Grill earlier, I decided I had to make one of his dishes: “Huevos Estilo El Bajo: two poached eggs in crispy masa boats with black beans, creamy chile poblano sauce, Mexican greens and homemade chorizo.”  Either my internet skills aren’t so sharp, or the recipe simply isn’t out there. With no chorizo (let alone homemade), no poblanos, and no desire to make masa boats (even if I had the corn flour), I needed to improvise.  Roasted red pepper salsa, jalapeños, and English muffins would have to work.

About an hour or so later, here’s what resulted:


Huevos Escalfados

The cream sauce is fairly spicy, so for weak tongues, use just a half a jalapeño or omit the seeds.  It is, however, mild enough to add a touch of hot sauce just before serving, if that’s your thing.  I also used low sodium, fat free chicken broth, fat free sour cream, and 1/3 less fat cream cheese for the sauce, and it was pretty rich (a full fat version may be too much–not to mention filled with unnecessary fat and calories).

I also poached the eggs in simmering water with a touch of white vinegar.  I’ve tried to poach eggs in custard cups to make them look prettier, but the outcome is very Egg McMuffin-ish, unnatural.  After removing the eggs from the water, cut off the straggling egg white parts with kitchen shears to make each one look uniform.

Rick’s version? 5 stars, easily.

My version compared to Rick’s? 1.5 stars.

My version compared to anything else I’ve ever made? 4.5 stars.


Black Beans

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

  • 1/2 Roma tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon roasted red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Sea salt, to taste

Roasted Jalapeño Cream Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, roasted and chopped (slice the pepper in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 15 minutes in a 450 oven–or until a little blackened; cool in a baggie; peel the skin; chop)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (low sodium, low fat)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese, softened


  • 4 whole wheat English muffins, toasted
  • 8 poached eggs (organic really are best)
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled


  1. For the black beans, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onions in oil until softened.
  2. Add tomatoes, beans, and cumin.  Cook for another minute or two.
  3. Add broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender, emulsify until thick–but not completely smooth.  Only blend some of the beans.  Keep warm.
  5. For the salsa, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  6. For the cream sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat, sauté garlic until softened (about 30 seconds).
  7. Add jalapeño, green onion, and broth.  Cook for another minute.
  8. Reduce heat to low.  Add sour cream and cream cheese.
  9. Using an immersion blender, emulsify until smooth.  Keep warm (on low heat, but do not boil).
  10. Plate the dish: Place two halves on an English muffin on each plate.  Top each half with the bean mixture.  Carefully place one egg on each half.  Top with cream sauce, salsa, and queso fresco cheese.

Yields 4 servings (breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner)


French toast is the most delicious breakfast item on any menu.  Eggs?  I love them poached, in a frittata, strata, or omelet, but they’re not as good as French toast.  Waffles?  Too boring (even with whipped cream and berries).  Sausage gravy and biscuits?  Too think and heavy.  Fruit?  Sure, it’s perfectly fine, but it’s also fine for lunch or dinner or a snack.  Now French toast (unless in Monte Cristo-form) is really best in the morning.  It’s sweet and crispy and chewy and perfect.

While I really like French toast that’s dipped in egg, browned in a skillet, and warmed in the oven, this method is super fast, super easy, and perfect for guests as it’s made the night before.


  • 1 loaf of bread, cubed: cinnamon is perfect as long as it’s mixed with another kind if it’s really sweet bread, English muffin loaf or sourdough is sturdy and a nice picks, too
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat-cream cheese, softened (fat free makes for a strange consistency, so avoid it)
  • 8 large eggs (or a mixture of Egg Beaters and eggs)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (skim works just fine)
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Maple syrup for topping


  1. Place bread cubes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  2. Beat cream cheese with a mixer until smooth.
  3. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add milk through cinnamon and mix until smooth.
  5. Pour cream cheese mixture over top of bread.
  6. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Remove bread mixture from refrigerator and let stand for 30 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle top with pecans.
  9. Preheat oven to 375°.
  10. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until set and golden brown on top.
  11. Sprinkle the souffle with powdered sugar, and serve with maple syrup.

Yields 8-12 servings