**Foodie Friend features a fabulous home cook each month!

Name, Age, Current City – Karla Joy Saia, 28, San Antonio, TX


What’s your favorite cuisine and why? –Italian, because you can never go wrong with garlic and pasta…ever.

What is your favorite eatery in your city, and what do you like to order there? Mama Margie’s. It’s this little local chain Mexican Restaurant, and the Mecca of breakfast tacos, a San Antonio staple.

I usually order three – a bean & cheese, a bacon & egg, and a barbacoa (which I’m pretty sure is like pot roast with a cow’s head), all on fresh tortillas made right in front of you. The best part, though, is the salsa bar – at least five fresh salsas, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, pico de gallo…the WORKS! And all for about $3.50!

Do you cook often? Inspiration? Yes! Moving to Texas without knowing very many people gave me the time and opportunity to develop a hobby, and since I needed to eat anyway, cooking was the logical choice. I was inspired first out of necessity – I could NOT continue to eat all this Tex-Mex and BBQ (as much as I would have liked to) without packing on some serious LBs. But also, it was a way for me to feel close to my mom – she is an AMAZING home cook, and I wanted to have something I could share with her, even 1,300 miles away from “home” in San Diego. Truly, though, whomever I am cooking for is my inspiration. What does he or she like? What will leave everyone full with smiles on their faces? THAT’S my inspiration.

Most frequent go-to item when cooking? – EVOO, baby! But actually, I have a holy trinity I always keep on hand – olive oil, garlic, and kosher salt. I firmly believe you can build a solid foundation to any number of delicious dishes with these staples.

Why did you decide to share this particular recipe with us? – In San Antonio, food with Latin flare is everywhere, so I wanted to pay homage to those flavors and the classic chile relleno while keeping it healthful and simple.

Your number 1 rule while cooking – KEEP IT SIMPLE! A few high-quality ingredients, a couple solid cooking techniques, and a chef’s knife are all you need. Also, always have fun!

If you were on LOST and the hatch was filled with only one food…what food would you want it to be? Julio’s corn chips. If you’ve never had them, try them and you will know why.

When you think of your childhood, what did it taste like? Big Sticks (cherry-pineapple popsicles) with my dad by the train tracks at sunset in Riverside, and carne asada burritos after summertime swim practices in San Diego. Bliss.

Foodie Friend Recipe

Charred Stuffed Poblanos

We are lucky to have a gorgeous assortment of peppers year-round here in San Antonio, but Poblanos are pretty much omnipresent, flavorful, mild, and cheap! I got two for 88 cents at my local market – and you will most definitely want two to yourself once you’ve tasted this recipe (adapted from Mark Bittman’s in the Food Matters Cookbook).

Servings: 4

8 large-ish poblanos
1 cup chopped nuts or seeds (or both)
1 cup chopped scallions
1 cup dried currants (you can use any dried fruit here, but I like currants because they are small. This way, if you prefer just a little sweetness, you can use fewer and it will be more subtle)
1 cup crumbled queso fresco (this was good, but I think feta or cotija would be just as good. Feel free to use any cheese you like or have on hand, though.)
½ cup fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
2 quartered limes, for serving (optional)

Move your oven rack to the second-highest level, and pre-heat your broiler (you can do this on a grill, too).

Leaving the stems on and the poblanos intact, make a slit down the center of each poblano. You want enough room to core/seed and stuff, but the smaller it is, the less mess you will encounter while roasting.

Spoon out the core and as many seeds as you can. Brush the peppers lightly with olive oil, and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Toast nuts/seeds on medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are just brown/golden and fragrant. Watch them closely, since they can burn quickly.
Once nuts are toasted, remove them from the heat and add scallions, currants, cheese, and herbs. Stir to combine and soften.

Stuff each pepper w/approx 1 cup of stuffing. I find using your hands for this is easier than any sort of kitchen gadget.

Place under broiler for just under 10 minutes, using tongs to turn occasionally until the peppers are soft and skin is blistering or charred. You can serve immediately, or, if you don’t like the skin on your roasted peppers, wait 5 or 10 minutes and the skin will peel right off.

Squeeze lime juice over peppers. Serve with rice and/or beans if you like. Enjoy!