If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. We have a feeling that might the motto of this auburn-curled and witty dame behind the blog Scarletta Bakes. And the creator of these simple but amazingly tasty Breakfast Tostadas with Cumin-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes. Because she has flavor like that.
Her name is actually not Scarletta. The spunky, self-taught cook, blogger, photographer, and cookbook author‘s real name is Meagan Micozzi. Her husband affectionately penned the nickname “Scarletta,” for her tendency for her cheeks to turn a bit scarlet when she’s all fired up. Sounds like a girl after our own hearts.
Getting in the kitchen and baking seemed to be best way for this spitfire to simmer down, thus, Scarletta Bakes was born in 2011. Naturally, the Arizona resident’s favorite ingredient is chiles, and she’s often armed with the usual suspects…ancho, habanero, chipotle, and jalapeño. This girl is not afraid to pack a punch!
Meagan attributes her fearless approach towards cooking to Diana Kennedy’s The Cuisines of Mexico. “After moving to Arizona, I remember being really inspired by her simple, authentic approach to Mexican food, but also by her sort of ‘fish out of water’ experience of moving to Mexico and falling in love with the culinary traditions that she found there. I read the book cover to cover and never looked back.”
Megan embraces Arizona’s southwestern cuisine, and boldly sneaks some heat and local flavor into many of her dishes.
She also puts unique spins on ordinary, otherwise pedestrian dishes, amping up their flavor, like in her 7 Layer Nacho Waffles, Chorizo & Sweet Potato Patty Melts, and her Mexican Lime & Siracha Donuts. Yes, that is serious flavor and we embrace it whole heartedly.
When she’s not in the kitchen, she runs (to help her get out of her head), hikes (because the mountains get her out of the kitchen), and wanders around her local farmer’s markets (to stay on top of what’s new).
Thank you Megan for sharing a little bit more about you and being our foodie crush.
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
I truly couldn’t pick just one!
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
Honestly, my reader currently has 341 blogs in it and I couldn’t possibly pick three favorites. There’s just so much talent out there and I make it a practice to read as many blogs as I can every single day. That said I tend to gravitate toward blogs that have a unique perspective and/or blogs where the author, whether they’re writing about food or fashion, is willing to reveal bits and pieces of their personality and day-to-day life through their writing.
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
My tortilla press.
My citrus reamer.
And apparently my calculator since that’s actually three items instead of just one.
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
I may have gotten it right a few times, but that hasn’t diminished my obsession with cajeta, a traditional goat’s milk-based Mexican caramel sauce. Cajeta has such a distinctive flavor that can be altered significantly by making the simplest adjustments to aromatic additives, boiling time, and even the temperature in my kitchen. I love playing with the recipe and producing a flavor that is just slightly different from that of my last batch.
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
Oven-roasted chicken thighs with a pomegranate and lime sauce…
OK, FINE. I also had a piece of Cream Cheese-Frosted Canela Layer Cake, two scoops of Strawberry Ice Cream and a spoonful of peanut butter.
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you:
I once served a season-long stint as offensive star of my husband’s and my dodgeball team. Just one season, but it was a glorious one.
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
It always comes back to a big pan of enchiladas for me. Red or green, bean or tomato, enchiladas are so comforting and happy-making that they always end up being my go-to.
9. What do you love most about Southwestern cuisine and what is something unique to it that people might be surprised to learn?
I love Southwestern cuisine because it is so varied: there’s literally a fruit, vegetable, flavor for everyone. I love the heat, spice and depth of seasoning that is such an important part of Southwestern cooking technique. And I love Southwestern cuisine because I think it’s deserving of a little love: in the pantheon of American regional cooking, it is my perception that Southwestern food is decidedly under-appreciated and very frequently misunderstood. Yet for all of that misinformation, people are still hungry for the flavors of the Southwest! There’s nothing that I love more than pressing some fresh tortillas, preparing a scratch enchilada sauce, serving up a bubbling pan and having a guest say ‘Oh! Now I get it!’. That’s what I really love about Southwestern cuisine.
10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
Patience. And silliness. Patience and silliness, and just a pinch of cumin.
When her blog began to outgrew its britches, she decided extend her words and recipes beyond the blogosphere, and she published (and self-photographed!) her first cookbook The New Southwest, just last year. With over 80 recipes and a guide to Southwestern spices, chiles and equipment. It’s time to put a molcajete on your shopping list.
And you can win a copy of The New Southwest for yourself. Just fill in the info in the widget below with one or more entries to be entered to win.
And now, we need to dig into these Breakfast Tostadas with Cumin-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.
This was just one recipe of the many I flagged while touring through The New Southwest. I couldn’t decide between breakfast, cocktails (of which she has several totally refreshing sips), garlic guacamole or a corn pudding that had me torn in 14 different directions.
But being a girl who loves to put an egg on it, I went for the breakfast. And a good choice it was.
A few recipe notes:
I favor white corn tortillas so that’s what I used instead of corn. It’s just the way I roll.
Megan’s cookbook recipe calls for Manchego cheese. I went with Mexican Cotija, a little salty and chunky, similar to feta but drier.
Megan layered her egg on the bottom, I went for the ooze on top. Because like I said, I’m all about putting an egg on it.
Breakfast Tostadas with Cumin-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
For the potatoes
- 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes halved vertically
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- salt and black pepper to taste
For the tostadas
- vegetable oil for frying the tortillas
- 6 4- inch corn tortillas I used white corn tortillas
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup Cotija cheese crumbled
- 1 cup tomatoes diced
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- Guacamole for serving
- Pat of butter for frying eggs
For the potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the halved potatoes, olive oil, cumin, ancho and coriander together in a large bowl and toss to coat well. Season with salt and pepper then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast the potatoes until browned and crusted on top and fork-tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
For the tostada shells
- Heat approximately 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Carefully add the tortillas to the hot oil, working in batches so as not to crowd your pan. Fry each tortilla for about a minute per side or until golden brown and crisp. Remove cooked tostada shells and drain on paper towels.
For the eggs
- Spray a fry pan with cooking spray or add a pat of butter to the pan and crack your eggs into the heated skillet, working in batches if necessary. Cover with a lid and cook until the whites are set.
To assemble the tostadas
- Top each shell with a layer of potatoes and sprinkle with cheese crumbles, diced tomato and top with a fried egg. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with guacamole if desired.
Thanks again Meagan, you are fierce, girl, and thank you for being our foodie crush!
Reporting by Hayley Teater
As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you.