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Posts tagged ‘eggs’

DLW: Pasta Carbonara!


May is always a very busy month…and this one has been no exception.  Two college graduations, a multitude of birthdays (including my own), leaving my 8 to 5′ish job, and having visitors  - all of a sudden I cannot believe that it is almost June!  Many meals have been light snacks or potlucks, happy hours or small bites late in the evening.  We did manage to get this some-what homemade meal on the table a week or so ago…and it is one of my favorite quick dinners.

This particular evening, we used 1 package of fresh pasta (from the refrigerated section of the grocery store), half a package of bacon, 2 eggs and some grated parmesan cheese.  First – cook the bacon using whatever method you like the best.  When the bacon is close to being done, boil some water and salt it heavily.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions and then drain it, but make sure to keep 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid.  Meanwhile beat the eggs and season with salt and plenty of fresh cracked pepper  I throw the pasta back into the pot (make sure the heat is off) and then add 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of the cooking liquid and stir a bit.  Next you are going to slowly pour in the beaten eggs into the very warm pasta and the heat from the pasta helps cook the egg a bit and the starchy pasta water helps turn it into a delightful sauce.  It will thicken quite a bit, so don’t be shy with the pasta water.  Sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and the crumbled bacon and top with some fresh chopped parsley or thinly sliced green onions and another hit of black pepper.  Serve immediately.

Dinner is done!

Salade Niçoise


Salad.  The word is ripe with meanings.  Could be dessert, breakfast, a hearty meal, a light spring side, could be greens and a little dressing or contain nothing green at all…might be the whole meal or just a nibble to whet your appetite.  I’m a big fan of savory salads that have intention, I love a composed salad, have a sweet spot for any salad with a hit of protein, and of course…add olives to anything and I’m in!

A niçoise salad hits every mark and is easily made almost any time of year!

This recipe comes from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  I first learned about this book via NPR and The Splendid Table with Lynn Rossetto Kasper who interviewed Dorie.  However, this salad hardly needs a recipe at all (but I posted it below).

We were inspired to make a niçoise after reading a Cook’s Illustrated review of canned tuna focusing not only on taste but also on sustainability and ethics of the company.  American Tuna came out on top…and when we spotted it while grocery shopping…we knew just what we would be making with it.

The tuna is worth the additional cost and the quality is outstanding.

Recipe (courtesy of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan)

8-12 small potatoes, scrubbed
2  5 to 6 oz. cans tuna packed in oil, drained
4 tomatoes, cut into chunks or 20 grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed
4 hard-boiled eggs
about 20 Niçoise olives, pitted
2 tbsps. capers, drained and patted dry
8 anchovies, rinsed and patted dry (we skipped the anchovies)
4-6 handfuls of bibb lettuce
1 shallot, finely chopped
olive oil
light vinegar or lemon juice
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
salt and freshly ground pepper

Since it was just the two of us, we halved the recipe and the portions were very generous!

Start by cooking the potatoes in boiling and salted water.  You’ll want to cook the potatoes whole, they will hold their shape and look crisper for the salad.  Depending on the size, they should take between 10-15 minutes…and I would err on the shorter side.  You can test the doneness by piercing one of the potatoes with a paring knife.

We happen to have some hard-boiled eggs on hand from earlier in the week, but if they are not a standard in your fridge…go ahead and hard boil the eggs using your preferred method and make sure they have time to cool down before peeling and quartering them.  Depending on the size of tomato you use, quarter or half the tomatoes.

The green beans need only a very quick blanch in salted boiling water and a quick cool-off in some ice water.  Once you have all your ingredients ready to go – it’s time to pull it all together.  Mix up the dressing…a little olive oil, shallots and vinegar seasoned with salt and pepper.

Toss the lettuce with the dressing and pile high on the plate and then top with all the fixings…in whatever fashion grabs you in the moment.  Open a lovely crisp bottle of white wine to cut through the oil of the tuna, olives and anchovies and the salt of the capers and olives and you’ve got dinner on the table!

Bon Appétit!

Brioche French Toast


I adore waking up in the morning, turning on the stove still a bit bleary-eyed, putting some coffee on while still in pj’s and making breakfast.

French toast is a favorite…although I’m not one for thick, fluffy and soggy French toast…I like it thin, dipped-but-not-soaked in egg and nicely browned in a pan. Topped with a dab of butter and just drizzled with real maple syrup.

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French Onion & Bacon Tart


No quiche here…this is a tart! Plain and simple in all it’s glory.

This is serious onion-y goodness…topped off with a little bacon.  Who can complain?  NO ONE…that is the answer.  If you say you don’t like onions, and I make you try this, and you still don’t like onions…I don’t think we can be friends.  This tart has the essence of all things good about onions, and none of the bad, and I sweetened the deal with bacon…c’mon…just try a little bit!

French Onion & Bacon Tart
recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Crust:
1¼ cup flour
1 scant tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 stick (8 tbsp.) cold butter cubed
2 tbsp. ice water

Filling:
4-6 slices of bacon (your preference)
6 cups of sliced onions
1 sprig of thyme
2 eggs
½ cup of half & half
salt and pepper

Start with the crust.  This is a press-in crust, so no rolling of delicate pastry dough necessary.  You can mix everything and cut in the butter by hand…OR…you can use a Cuisinart or food processor.  Definitely the easier way to go.

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl and pulse a few times to mix.  Dump in all the butter and pulse about 15 times total.  You want to cut the butter up smaller than you would for a flaky pie crust.

Now, add in 2 tbsp. of the ice cold water and turn the machine on for 5-6 seconds.  You’ll know that you have the right amount of moisture in the dough by removing the lid, reaching in and grabbing a handful, squeeze it together and if it clumps…it’s perfect.  If it is still crumbly and does not stick together, then put the lid back on, add another ½ to 1 teaspoon of ice water and turn on again for another 5-6 seconds.

Here’s the fun part…just grab some handfuls, drop them into a greased tart pan and start pressing it in.  Try and make it an even layer across the bottom of the pan.

Continue pressing and work the dough up the sides of the pan.  If it is too thick in one area, go ahead and pinch it off, then smush it back where it’s a little thin.  This took a little more time than I anticipated, but some saran wrap can do wonders to help you smooth out the surface.  Place a piece over the top of the dough, and rub the surface.  The heat of your hand and the pressure will smooth out all the lumps.  To avoid shrinkage…(no one likes shrinkage!)…place it on a plate and put it in the freezer to firm up and rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, you can prep your ingredients for the filling.  Slice up 1-2 onions in ¼ to ½ inch strips.  The onions will cook down quite a bit, so you’ll probably need more than you think.  Steer clear of sweet onions and red onions for this recipe.  The first is too sweet and the second will tint everything a bit of a mauve color…not the effect you’re looking for.

Throw your bacon strips into a cold pan.  Letting the strips warm up with the pan (only to medium heat) will make crispy bacon with a lot of the fat rendered out.  Putting bacon straight into a hot pan, will cook it faster, but you can end up with bacon that is over and under cooked all at the same time.  Once bacon is cooked, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Depending on how much bacon fat is left in the pan, you may want to drain some of it…but what you leave in the pan will add bacon-y smoky flavor to your onions!  (drool!)

Toss the onions into the pan, toss to coat, add in a sprig of thyme, a good sprinkling of salt and keep the heat medium or just below.  You want to almost steep the onions, and avoid browning them which can make them too sweet.  Once you’ve tossed them around a bit, throw a lid on the pan, turn the heat down and let them cook, sweat and steam for about 20 minutes.

Switch back to crust – pull it out of the freezer, place it on a cookie sheet, add a sheet of foil on top and press it in gently and then fill with your favorite pie weight (dry beans, rice, actual pie weights, marbles, ball bearings, something heavy that won’t mind some serious heat!).  Place in the oven for 30 minutes while the onions are cooking.

Custard Time!  The custard for this recipe is just a glue…binds it all together and is a tasty backdrop to the star of the show, Monsieur Onion!  Beat the eggs and add in the half and half, a grind or two of black pepper and a touch of salt, mix well and set aside.

You may wonder about the lack of pictures for this part of the recipe…well, there are moments while cooking, that I completely forget to get pictures and only later realize that I missed about half the process.  Use your imagination!

While you are waiting, try not to snack on all the bacon.  If we’re being honest, I find this step the most difficult.

Check on the onions, they should be translucent, soft and very fragrant.  Remove them from the heat and cool long enough that they won’t cook the eggs when added to the custard.  When the crust comes out, remove the pie weights and foil.  Remove the thyme sprigs from the onions and mix them into the custard.  Pour it all into the tart crust, sprinkle with bacon pieces and put it back in the 375º oven for 25-30 minutes on the middle rack.

You’ll know the tart is done when a) you can no longer handle how good your kitchen smells, and b) when the custard is fully set…it shouldn’t jiggle!

I love the bacon on top because it stays crisp, unlike when it is added to the custard of quiche’s and it softens up.  Carefully remove the rim of the tart pan, once it is cooled and then you can cut a slice and serve it up.  This made a perfect dinner with a simple salad of mixed greens dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil and served with a crisp, dry white wine!

Bon appétit!

Eggs for breakfast…


I love cooking breakfast.  Something about getting up first thing in the morning and getting right to work – gas on, coffee dripping, oven heating, eggs cracking, batter mixing…it just feels like the day has begun and you’re on track.  I especially love cooking eggs – and not because I love eating eggs for breakfast – they’re not at the top of my list.  I love cooking eggs for breakfast…for other people.    Scrambled I like…all the other glorious ways of cooking eggs…my mouth is not really interested.  So…if you love eggs for breakfast and want someone else to cook them for you…come visit!  Lucky for me…my loving husband loves eggs in all forms.  So, weekend eggs are my way of using up what’s left in the fridge (thai curry eggs, mole eggs, italian huevos, etc.).

Eggs, leftover kalamata olive bread and “frying cheese” – have you seen this in the grocery store…it’s delicious and reminiscent of Costa Rican breakfast (gallo pinto, eggs, a sliced of pan fried cheese, platanos, various jugos and cafe).  This particular morning, I decided on sunny side up, sliced tomatoes, fried cheese, and toasted olive bread – Woody approved!

It was enjoyed with the required morning coffee, and a cutthroat game of dominoes.  I’m pretty sure I won…but I’m always pretty sure I won…regardless of the facts.

My eggs came from…New Zealand…??????


While perusing our local Whole Foods Market (aka Whole Paycheck)…I saw these…

Gasp!

Thought: they must be from a farm called “Frenz’s New Zealand – Free Range Egg Co.”  Not actually from New Zealand…the country…right…?  ‘Cause New Zealand is…ummm…I don’t know…a gazillion miles away from LA.  Why would you ever think that you should fly little fragile eggs from an island in the middle of the Pacific all the way to the coast of the U.S. to sell them in a high end market that supposedly tries to emphasize eating locally.  Eggs flown across an ocean are the opposite of local…add to that that eggs are a generic product that is not difficult to harvest or produce.  I’m baffled and disappointed.

Google maps couldn’t even give me directions from New Zealand to Pasadena…that’s how far it is.

As proof of my theory that they are not grown somewhere in THIS country and packaged as if they are from New Zealand – the address is in New Zealand.  In fact, I wonder about how *fresh* the eggs actually are…and no, I’m not going to pay close to $4.00 for 6 eggs and a side jet fuel.

Indulgence…? Nah, not this dish!


A little something to keep you full until the next post…

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Caviar, Chives, Creme Fraiche and Truffle Salt

These are a favorite of Woody.  No, we don’t eat Caviar very often…but Woody does love the stuff.  It’s not like you can let a little leftover caviar go to waste.  In fact…most people might say they’ve never even heard of such a thing as “leftover caviar”.  (read: my mother might be one to lick the jar just to make sure that not a single little smidge went to waste)

The key is to start the eggs in a pan on very low heat…and go slowly.  Season as you go and never let the eggs brown…you may as well start over at that point.  (secret: I like my eggs cooked…like really cooked…like I can barely admit this…but I like my eggs to be browned and as my mother would say…they should bounce.  Now…don’t tell anyone this little secret.  I redeem myself by really enjoying perfectly cooking eggs for other people – fried eggs, soft and fluffy scrambled, over easy, poached – I just don’t really want to eat them myself.)  When plating the eggs, they should still be one mass…and not a whole bunch of bouncy browned pieces.  Top with a dollop of creme fraiche, sprinkle with chives and give a little drizzle of Truffle Salt if you’re lucky enough to have some on hand and make sure to serve while it’s still hot.

These eggs would be good with any one of the components of the dish…now throw them in there altogether and, well…it’s pretty much amazing…and ridiculous…and Woody better not get used to such a highbrow breakfast.  He’s in for big disappointment is this is the case…but don’t worry…I treat him well.

Until the pan hits the stove next…

sneak peek…

a sampling...a tasting...just a sneak peek of what is to come...

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