Tag Archive: Egg


Savory Breakfast Muffins

Cracked Egg by vicviciniI really need to make more time for blogging. Wait no, I just need more time, in general. More often then not, I’m left wondering “…where did all my time go?” but I already know. Such is life, where I barely have time to do anything anymore and it’s almost depressing (notice I say almost) but suddenly amidst all this – it’s Summer!! Can I get a hip, hip hooray? πŸ˜‰ I’m not thinking “yay, it’s Summer,” I’m more like: “thank GOD it’s Summer,” and I’ll be thinking that all this week until the wow effect of this wonderful season wears off.

So what’s good about Summer? Everything you forgot about over Winter. Sunshine, popsicles, sidewalk chalk, iced tea, picnics, bubbles, watermelon, need I go on (because I have a tendency to do that…) I’m not exactly sure why I love Summer so much, I just know it’s not Winter, and how blessed that is.

I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of traveling lately and on my travels I also got to stay with family πŸ™‚ It was on this last trip that I discovered The Gourmet Kitchen: Mushrooms, a semi-old South African illustrated cookbook sitting on a back shelf. After flipping through the first few pages, I thought I’d just write down the recipes that I wanted to make and get to it later, but I quickly realized that I wanted to make every single one! Don’t you hate it when that happens? So far I’ve made 7 recipes from this cookbook made for mushroom lovers: (1) mushroom omelet , (2) duck, mushroom & black bean stirfry, (3) savory mushroom & cheese muffins (these ones!), (4) spicy bean, mushroom, and chorizo stew, and (5) marinated mushrooms. Coming up next week: mixed mushroom tempura! Yessss.

So back to my issue with time. Now that I’ve returned from my travels, I find myself more often on the go than chillin’ in the crib. More than that, my day starts first thing in the morning, like everybody else who have kids πŸ™‚ Introducing…the breakfast muffin!?! These aren’t your greasy calorie bombs you’ll find in Starbucks, I’m talking homemade, no guilt goodness of the best kind. I really can’t take sugar, or pastries (unfortunately), or super sweet things in the morning either so this is a godsend for me πŸ˜› And when it comes to these muffins, thBellaere’s room for experimenting. I added the ham and chives to my recipe here, I also used more cheese and an extra egg on my second batch, just for fun πŸ™‚ I don’t really find (or I guess look) for buttermilk anymore, so I ended up making my own instead (with milk & water, or milk & vinegar) to make the recipe.

The star ingredient in these superstar muffins? The mushrooms. It’s too easy of an answer, especially with all that talk about mushroom cookbooks, but the “proof is in the pudding,” as they say, or in this case it’s in the batter because mushrooms add a whole lot more than taste. For one, you don’t add any additional butter, just what you cook the mushrooms in so already, it’s a tad bit healthier πŸ™‚ Secondly, mushrooms contribute moisture and pack a lot of taste for being as small as they shrink too after sizzling in butter for 5 minutes.

My advice? Substitute mushrooms in for the next ingredient you can’t seem to find in the grocery store. I throw thinly sliced mushrooms into soup, pickle them like cucumbers, and use them whole as dippers in broth & cheese fondue. There’s such a thing as mushroom pate, and if you’re fresh out of steak (or the cash required to get those hunks of meat), fry up some portobellos just like you would a filet. Like most things, mushrooms get better when they’re cooked in wine, sherry, or marsala. I do my portobello “steaks” with red wine sauce, as I pretend to be a pro at this whole vegetarian thing πŸ˜‰

Breakfast Muffins with Mushrooms, Ham, and Fresh Chives

Ingredients

3 Tbs. butterSavoury Muffins

150g or 5oz of mushrooms, chopped

250g or 9 oz flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

75g or 3oz grated parmesan or gran pardona cheese (or more, if you prefer)

100g or 4oz ham, cubed or sliced

1 bunch fresh chives, chopped

250ml or 8fl. oz buttermilk

salt & cracked pepper

1 egg

(1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit). In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. (2) When the pan is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring 0cassionally, until the moisture evaporates, 5-6 minutes total. Remove from heat and mix in the ham and fresh chives. Let cool uncovered. (3) Prepare a muffin pan or put 12 paper muffin liners on a baking tray. (4) In a large bowl, mix together the baking powder and half of the grated cheese. (5) In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the batter is just combined. It should be a little lumpy. (6) Scoop a generous spoonful of batter into each of the muffins liners, they should be about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops with remaining cheese and a dash of salt & cracked pepper. (7) Bake the muffins 24 – 25 minutes, or until the tops are browned and a fork comes out clean from the middle. Transfer to a wooden board to cool. Reheat muffins for breakfast or eat cold on a busy day!

Makes 12 muffins

chivesMy question: What’s your go-to breakfast dish?

I’m talking about the meal that lights your fire. For some, it’s dried fruit & muesli, for others it’s a classic omelet. I’m pretty predictable in that I don’t want to do much of anything in the morning, let alone eat so if there’s going to be breakfast, it better be hot.

I’m a sucker for the American classics and would choose bacon and eggs (and tomatoes, lots of tomatoes) over oatmeal, any day. The thing is I never have the time and if there’s somebody making breakfast, it’s unfortunately not me 😦

Is some of this sounding familiar? Try making these muffins the night before and you won’t have to stress, just nibble them on your way to work or in the middle of class, like I end up doing…

6.8.2015

 

 

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Red WineWow, that’s a mouthful! It’s been far too long since my last post and for that I apologize, but I do have something extra special to share this time. I’m not really a “dessert person” (let me rephrase that: I love dessert – just not making it myself) and furthermore baking has never been my strong suite, although I’ll admit my recent successes in making biscuits, popovers, & cupcakes has certainly helped my confidence a little πŸ˜›

This recipe is really a conglomerate – let’s call it a “combination” of two different flavors that I wanted to pairΒ together: (1) cracked peppercorns (my all-time favorite ingredient ever); and (2) red wine. Now for baking, I’m talking cheap red wine, but dry – I suggest a Malbec, Grenache, or Cabernet Sauvignon.

I’ve realized that there are oodles of excellent cooks out there who make their own versions of chocolate cake, and quite regularly, but not me I’m afraid. In fact, I have never made a double-decker cake before (it just sounds cool, doesn’t it?!) and at 27 years old, this wasΒ an astonishing revelation. Needless to say, I found several reasons to make the particular recipe for this special cake because it seemed so wonderfully full of chocolate…and honestly, how can you mess up chocolate? My dear friend made the frosting in advance so it turned out to be a masterpiece of processes that got off to a helluva great start. I revamped the Mixed Peppercornsfrosting recipe here to reflect a lower-maintenance version that uses light cream cheese. I loved how the cake turned out and next time I will add more red wine πŸ˜‰

My secret ingredient? Admittedly, the cracked pepper. I know I’ve said it before. No matter what these weirdly spicy little seed pods are crushed over, they always compliment the dish wonderfully and in this case, carried it. I’ve always thought cracked pepper was a taste with some pizazz and depth to it and when paired with frosting, pepper does not disappoint. Does it sound strange? It’s not, really. My friend used a blend of 5 different peppercorns, which also lent a lot of color to the otherwise white frosting πŸ™‚ I encourage you to give this recipe a try, you might be surprised…

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Cracked Peppercorn Frosting

IngredientsChocolate Cake

(for the cake)

6 Tbs. (85 grams) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (145 grams) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) white sugar
1 large egg & 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (177 ml) red wine, dry
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup (133 grams) flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup (41 grams) cocoa powderfrosting
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

(for the frosting)

8 Tbs. (115 grams) butter, softened
8 Tbs. (115 grams) low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 cups (475 grams) powdered sugar
3 Tbs. (15 grams) cream
cracked pepper, to taste
2 round cake pans

1. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees Celsius (325Β° Fahrenheit). Use butterΒ or nonstick spray to grease the bottom (especially) and sides of two cake pans. 2. To make the cake, mix the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth & creamy, 3 minutes. 3. One at a time, mix in the egg & egg yolk, red wine, and vanilla and continue mixing another 3 minutes until a loose batter forms. 4. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together over the bowl of wet ingredients. Use the mixer until it is 3/4 combined, and then fold the rest together with a spatula. 5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and put on the same rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean. 6. Let the cake cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then flip out and continue cooling on a wire rack for 45 minutes more, loosely covered. 7.Β  To make the frosting, bring the cream cheese and butter to room temperature first to soften. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Next beat in the 3 tablespoons of cream. At the end, add cracked pepper as desired, folding in with a spatula. Chill the frosting until ready to use. 8. Once the cake has cooled completely, place one piece on a large round plate acakend spread with the prepared frosting. Place the second piece on top and use the remainder of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake until frostedΒ  πŸ™‚ You can store the cake at room temperature or in the fridge covered for up to 1 week.

Serves 8 – 10

I wish I had more reasons (do I need a reason?!) to make cake, especially when it calls for chocolate AND red wine. -I’m just happy it wasn’t a disaster πŸ˜‰

Now that the weather has gotten a chill to it, I think I’ll have to bake some other not-so-sugary things, like onion rolls and (yes, cracked pepper) biscuits. Oh, the choices…

My question: What was the best cake you ever remember eating?Β 

9.30.2014

Duck Fried Rice (!?)

Duck fried rice. Yes, I made it up. I’m sure it exists but still – tada! It sounds more glamorous than it actually ischopsticks, but duck legs are relatively inexpensive here, especially when bought frozen (and somehow always on sale…) This was a sudden idea I had, finding myself with some leftover “Japanese dipping sauce” from a steak recipe that I really had to use for something other than marinating.

This recipe is 100% mine (I am original every once in a while πŸ˜‰ ) and it used different ingredients from our kitchen, but the emphasis is on the easy. Fried rice cooks up quickly in a wok or skillet and thank god for parboiled rice. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make dinner come together that much faster. I had the duck legs already cooked but I included steps for roasting duck legs in the recipe below just to make things even easier (and for next time!)Roast-Duck

My secret ingredient is the duck, er, the eggs, okay maybe both. Sometimes I think the best part of fried rice is the eggs because it’s just like scrambled eggs, in rice. It’s ingenious. Duck legs definitely elevate the dish because duck is flavorful enough that you don’t need a lot and it goes great with the salty soy, savory flavors already in fried rice. I’ll admit, if I could go back and do it again (which I will…) I would fry my rice a little bit more, “brown” it better, but no regrets as far as the results.

Have a wok in your kitchen? Use it! This dish is the perfect excuse and fried rice can be made with any number of veggies and different meats (or minus the meat altogether). There’s something special about chicken fried rice, and now? Duck fried rice! Could it get any better?!

Duck Fried Rice with Shitake Mushrooms and Garlicky Onions

Ingredientscooking-asian-wok

2 cups rice (parboiled, if possible)

4 onions, coarsely chopped

6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 bag frozen vegetables of your choice (like bean threads, peas, or a wok mix)

1/2 cup dried shitake mushroomsFried-Rice

2 duck legs, trimmed

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

3 Tbs. soy sauce

1/3 cup beer (or wine)

1 Tbs. fish sauce

1 Tbs. vinegar

salt & cracked pepper

vegetable or roasted sesame oil

(1) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (about 370 degrees Fahrenheit). Wash the duck legs and pat dry, season with salt & cracked pepper. Line an oven dish with foil and arrange the duck legs snugly in it. (2) When the oven is preheated, put duck legs on the middle rack and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170 Celsius (about 340 Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes. Carefully drain off any fat that collects in the bottom of the oven pan. Turn the oven up to 200 Celsius (390 Fahrenheit) for a final 10 minutes to crisp the skin. (3) Remove the duck from the oven and transfer to a plate, let them cool, covered in foil 10 – 15 minutes. Separate cooked duck meat from the bones, keeping the skin, and coarsely chop pieces on a cutting board, taking care to remove any bones or fibers. Set aside (duck can be cooked up to 3 days ahead and stored until ready). (4) Put dried shitake mushrooms in a bowl and add boiling water, cover, and let soak until soft 20 -25 minutes. Remove stems and cut shitakes into thin slices. (5) Cook the rice according to package instructions and set aside too, covered so it won’t dry out. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a large wok (or skillet) over medium-high heat. When hot, add the carrots, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, 10-12 minutes. (6) In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, shitake mushrooms, and milk with some cracked pepper, set aside. (7) Add frozen veggies to the wok and, stirring often, cook another 5 – 7 minutes. (8) Next add the rice, duck meat, fish sauce, beer, and vinegar. Stir to combine and cook until liquid has cooked off, 5 minutes max. (9) Using a wooden spoon or spatula, push the veggie mixture to the side of the wok and pour the egg mixture on the bottom. Let it cook until browned and slightly sticking, another 4 – 5 minutes. Break up the eggs into chunks before stirring in with the rest of the veggies. (10) Remove the wok from the heat and stir in soy sauce, seasoning with salt & pepper. Serve immediately (leftovers can be reheated at 150 degrees Celsius for 7 minutes in the oven πŸ™‚ ).

Serves 4

My question: What is your favducorite ingredient to find in Asian dishes?

Mine is shitakes, no soy sauce, no bean sprouts, no…

Well, I kind of wish the fried rice had lasted longer! But I always end up saying that, don’t I? All the more excuse to try again. There’s something supremely wonderful about the salty, spicy flavors in Asian food. Anyways, the next challenge? How to make more comfort food (like fried rice) in less time because shopping and doing the dishes is about all I have the energy for these days πŸ˜‰

3.20.2014

Pesto meets Breakfast

KBH – KΓΈbenhavn πŸ˜€ I am here (!) and loving all the new sights & sounds. Plenty of new food to feast my eyes on and it’s all about layered, light, experiential flavors in Scandinavian cuisine. I’m still experimenting with the economical/baby-friendly copenhagen_poster2art of cooking these days, which goes pretty well, depending on the day πŸ˜‰ my main goal though is coming up with meals that can be put together really fast! I’m all about really fast, as fast as possible since I don’t have the time or energy to chop or artfully arrange ingredients. Thank god for blenders and mixers, and that awesome convection option on the oven..

My baby loves garlicky things, whether it be roasted, pickled, or raw :O so I thought the pesto would be a good idea. I obviously don’t give him large amounts of the stuff or he’d probably be excreting some serious herbal scents πŸ˜‰ but a spoonful or two with porridge, on bread, or dipped with veggies seems to suit him nicely. This recipe comes from this month’s Bon Appetit and was under an article dedicated to spicing up breakfast. I think the next time I’ll take their other recommendation and add fresh salsa to my scrambled eggs. I’m just so glad there are ideas out there on how to spice up a meal that you end up eating half awake anyway πŸ˜‰

My star ingredient? Spinach. It’s in the Pesto and the eggs. Spinach is another one of those underrated vegetables and can go in seriously anything. I’m not a huge fan of wilted spinach but have found it’s great like that when thrown into rice, pasta, orspinach_fresh (aha!) breakfast dishes. Pesto is all about the herbs so serve equally fresh things with it–crunchy sandwiches, as a dipping sauce for raw veggies when you’re on the go, or a heaping spoonful in soup that’s just missing a little flavor. I thought a batch of pesto would last me and the household a week but ha! Not a chance, it’s too tasty to ignore every time you open up the door of the fridge. Maybe I’ll try to camouflage or disguise it next time πŸ˜€

Scrambled Eggs with Pesto, Greens, & Baby Tomatoes

Ingredients

(for the pesto)pesto

2 cups spinach leaves (or other greens)

1 cup fresh Basil

1 cup fresh Parsley

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or other aged cheese)

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves, peeled

(for the eggs)

5 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

2 Tbs. buttereggs

1/4 cup grated aged cheese

1/2 cup greens (like spinach or arugula)

1/2 cup baby tomatoes, halved

(1) To make the pesto, combine everything in the ingredients list, spinach through garlic, into a blender or food processor and pulse until it’s a paste, adding more olive oil as needed. This can be chilled for up to 2 weeks in the fridge beforehand. (2) In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, and cheese. Heat a skillet over medium high-heat. When hot, add butter and spinach. Cook, stirring often, until spinach has wilted, 3-4 minutes. (3) Add baby tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes. (4) Next add the egg mixture. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly until eggs are fluffy and browned in some places, 5-7 minutes. (5) When ready to serve, stir in 3-4 Tbs. of pesto into the eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with toast or breakfast rolls.

Serves 4

Scrambled eggs go with everything–bread, beans, pasta (like in Asian food), cooked veggies, etc. Lately I’ve been using my egg poacher (a wonderful Christmas present) to make eggs that are over easy, perfectly shaped, and cooked in 5 minutes. breakfast_posterAhh, it’s the simple things in life πŸ™‚

Breakfast was always a meal I’d avoided simply because it was so early; now I relish it and look for any way to spice things up when you’re barely awake and need to eat!

 

My question:

What is your ideal (close to “perfect”) breakfast on the go?

It could be something classy, healthy, or oddly-matched but hey, we all got to eat ]:)

2.9.13

A Mother of a Salad

Ahh, with Summer weather on the way, it keeps getting lovelier by the day πŸ™‚ And looking at all these flowers and budding greenery has only increased my appetite for fresh dishes (what a surprise, right?) These days it’s easier to create colorfully crisp meals because so many vegetables and fruits are now in season and I find myself making excuses to go to the market to get more πŸ˜‰

I based this dish off a recipe from Cooking Light that had an aromatic herb salad, and while my version is not nearly as ‘aromatic’, it has lots of other tasty points, and both salty and sweet elements to balance off the already capacious list of ingredients. In making this I was trying to create a dish that had it all — greens, fresh veggies, cheese, protein — the works basically, with a sweet summery dressing to top it all off. What I ended up concocting was a massively fresh and filling salad worth devoting a post to based on the fact that it’s probably one of the most delicious salads I’ve had to eat in a looong time.

Making a salad is easy – just incorporate the elements; the greens and the vegetables are the things you buy fresh, the dressing can be made from what is already in your cupboards. When putting together a salad, just combine ingredients that make sense to you, and ones you already like to eat on their own: peppers, onions, some sort of cheese, tomato, dried fruit, etc. and pick whatever greens look the crispest at the market. The good thing about salads (or at least one of the good things..) is that they’re easy to assemble and you can always feel good about eating them, providing one doesn’t overdo it on the dressing :/ And even though it gets just a tad bit soggy, I always save the leftover salad for snacking the next morning because there’s something refreshing about cold greens for breakfast!

The star ingredient in this recipe is hard-boiled eggs because they add some class to the dish (in addition to fat and protein) and look pretty awesome atop the stack of greens when serving. Eggs also add a creaminess to everything that upgrades this from a side dish to more of a meal. I prefer my eggs boiled until barely set so the yoke tastes buttery. As for the dressing, anything would work with this; I chose to make a sweeter version because I still had plenty of jam (from my last post) at my disposal, but a salty vinaigrette would work just as well, or simply oil & vinegar. In honor of the season and the simplicity of the meal, I’ve shared my recipe for this salad in hopes of inspiring others to come up with some amazingly creative tasty salad dishes too πŸ˜€

Baby Spinach, Red Cabbage, & Mint Salad with White Beans, Hard-Boiled Eggs, and Dried Apricots

Ingredients

(for salad)

1 bag of baby spinach

1/2 head of red cabbage

1 bunch of fresh mint

1/2 block Gorgonzola cheese, cubed

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 can of white beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 cup dried apricots, halved

1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds

4 hard-boiled eggs

(for vinaigrette)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

3 Tbs. strawberry jam

1 tsp. mustard

1/4 tsp. vanilla powder

Juice of 1 lemon

salt & cracked pepper

(1) Rinse and dry all the greens; stem the red cabbage and slice into ribbons. Toss the baby spinach, cabbage, and mint leaves together in a large bowl. (2) To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients – olive oil through lemon juice – and stir until well blended. Season to taste with salt & cracked pepper. Can be refrigerated up to a week ahead of time. (3) Add the dried apricots, white beans, red onion, pumpkin seeds, and Gorgonzola cheese to the salad and mix. (4) When ready to serve, toss salad with the vinaigrette and slice hard-boiled eggs lengthwise. Serve the salad in bowls, topped with egg slices and cracked pepper.

Serves 4

I can’t believe there was a time in my life when I hated salad, really – I hated it – it had something to do with lettuce, which just seemed like bunny food to me πŸ˜‰ Well not anymore, now I want a salad with every meal! I believe it’s a wonderfully fresh way to eat all these daily servings of veggies we’re supposed to be consuming, and salads just have a touch of class to them, I’m not sure why…

My question: What is one unusual secret ingredient to make a great salad?

It’s amazing how almost anything can go in a salad, fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, meat, legumes…so many choices πŸ™‚

6.10.12

Lemony Pasta meets Peppered Bacon

I am back from Barcelona and have had some wonderfully spiced and flavorful foods during my time there. I believe we could all take some pointers from the Spaniards on how to cook food as it seems they love the process–the seasoning, the roasting, the aging, the frying–as much as I do πŸ˜€ For now I have renewed adoration for the tasty variations of thinly sliced and salted meats, be it Serrano ham, bacon, and (still my absolute favorite) prosciutto. Mmmm.. Somehow I am STILL craving citrus in this, the sixth month of my pregnancy, and decided to make a dish that had both light and rich elements, plenty of fiber (’cause I can’t get enough of that these days), vegetables, and some peppered protein.

The original version of this dish I got from next month’s edition of Eating Well, while I did add the bacon, cauliflower, and double the cheese (cheese!) I also like my pasta to have a little more moisture so I used 3 eggs in addition to olive oil and lemon juice for the sauce. I remember reading in authentic Italian cooking magazines about the practice of adding beaten eggs to pasta dishes to contribute texture (and protein), just remember that when you do so the pasta should be steaming hot. Anyway, so the title of my recipe may be elaborate, but I’m feeling a little extravagant these days so why shouldn’t my verbage? πŸ˜‰ Although it does describe the dish very well with its mix of richness and freshness (what I mean is enough fat and vegetables, ’cause we all need a bit of both)..

The star ingredient in this recipe is the bacon. Why? Because bacon is already awesome on its own and contributes this awesomeness to anything you may add it to. Maybe it’s the American in me that just loves the taste of bacon, so much it might be criminal πŸ˜‰ So it amps up your cholesterol, that just means we don’t need to be eating it all the time 😦 but I have been inspired with all the (yes, fatty) salted meats I had the pleasure of sampling in Spain so I thought I’d use its mystical powers to add a little attitude (ahem, sodium) to this vegetable-filled dish.

Lemony Linguine with SautΓ©ed Leeks, Peppered Bacon, & Steamed Cauliflower

Ingredients

3 lemons

1 head of cauliflower

1 packet of sliced bacon

1 bunch of leeks, white and pale green parts chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced

1 packet (18 oz or 500 g) of whole-wheat pasta

1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

3 eggs, beaten

olive oil

sea salt & ground black pepper

(1) Fill the bottom of a large pot with 2 inches of salted water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. In the meantime, wash and trim the head of cauliflower, breaking into small florets. When the water is boiling, put all cauliflower pieces into a strainer and place in the pot, cover with lid, and steam the vegetables until soft, 5-7 minutes. Remove cauliflower, set aside, and cover. (2) Add more water to the pot until it is about halfway full (and a pinch more salt). Bring to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile zest 2 of the lemons and reserve for juicing, cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving. (3) Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add bacon and fry 3-5 minutes, turning once and seasoning with plenty of pepper until bacon is cooked (not crispy). Remove from pan and put on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover to keep from drying out (and any stray snacking). (4) In the frying pan heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil. Add the chopped leek and minced garlic, cooking until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. (5) When the pot of salted water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and return pasta to the pot, immediately stirring in the beaten eggs. Over very low heat, add the cauliflower, lemon zest, 1/3 of the fresh parsley, the leeks, and use a pair of scissors to cut the bacon into medium-sized pieces as you add it to pasta. Season liberally with salt and pepper and add 3 Tbs. olive oil for moisture (or more if needed), and half of the cheese. Mix well. (6) When ready to dish up, remove pasta from heat. Juice 2 of the lemons into pasta, stir, and divide among 4 bowls. Garnish with a generous layer of grated cheese, ground pepper, and a pinch of minced parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side

Serves 4

So once again, pasta has proven to be one of those versatile, hearty, and healthy dishes that’s simple to prepare and easy to eat! As the (chilly) month of February comes around, I will need to come up with some more economically-minded recipes (not that bacon isn’t cheap…) to fit my dismal winter budget. Wish me luck with that πŸ˜€

My question: What is your favorite (fattiest) meat to eat?

I’m thinking some of the more tastefully sinful cuts…prosciutto, lamb chops, (and yes, bacon) or anything else that packs a punch (of flavor I mean;-)

1.29.12

Tiny, Tasty Tapas

For my Baby Shower, I wanted to make Spanish Tapas, just a couple of simple, incredibly tasty dishes with offshore attitude. Since I’m off to Spain next month with my brother I feel inspired and a desire to cook up some Spanish food of my own. I chose major protein groups of course — meat, beans, and eggs (see, I’m getting good at this;) but it’s not as boring as it initially sounds.

I have included a mini menu of the tapas I served at the shower, which does not begin to subsume the effusion of appetizers that were brought to the party. These recipes are from A Passion for Tapas, a wonderful book filled with these Spanish-style eats. The most difficult (no, let’s say time-consuming) recipe was by far the deviled eggs — so many steps, so little time — so while I still recommend making this, anytime for any reason, I would also advise at least boiling the eggs and making the filling the night before an event, if anything it just intensifies the flavor while chilling πŸ™‚

The star ingredient in all these dishes was lemons. Granted, I have been craving lemons and limes like none other since my arrival back in snowy Colorado so my bias in inherent from the start. Although all three of these recipes contain similar simple ingredients — garlic, fresh Parsley, and olive oil (god bless olive oil:-) and all of them contain this sour ingredient in some form or the other, be the zest pulp, or juice of lemons. I think this citrus fruit adds the right amount of acidity to each dish that compliments all other fresh flavors involved. The festivities were great and it’s so nice be home and cooking for friends and (with) family again, a part of why the holidays are especially nice.

Lemony Lamb Skewers with Pickled Onions

Ingredients

(for the marinade)

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 lemons

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 bunch fresh thyme

2 Tbs. ground coriander

1 Tbs. ground cumin

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup cold water

(for lamb)

10 wooden kebab sticks

2 lbs. leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 jar pickled pearl onions, drained

ground coriander, for garnish

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Combine ingredients for the marinade, garlic, olive oil, onion, spices, vinegar, thyme, and cold water in a large seal-able bag; zest all of the lemons and juice them, combining both in marinade. Add cubed lamb pieces to the marinade, seal bag and refrigerate 3-4 hours (or overnight). (2) Next, soak the wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes. Remove lamb pieces and reserve 1 cup of the marinade for basting. Put 3 pieces of lamb on each skewer, separated by pickled onions; season skewers generously with ground coriander. (3) Preheat the grill over high heat and cook skewers, turning once, and basting with leftover marinade for about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and cover with foil, letting stand another 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Chickpeas and Chorizo with Pimentos, Parsley, & Sherry

Ingredients

1 lb. Chorizo sausage, sliced

2 cans chickpeas, drained

1 can butter beans, drained

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced

1 jar sliced pimentos, drained

1 lemon

1 bunch green onions, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup cooking sherry

olive oil

1 baguette, sliced

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Brush the bread pieces lightly with olive oil and toast in the broiler over medium-high heat until both sides are browned; put all baguette pieces in a cloth-lined basket and cover until ready to serve. (2) Heat 2 Tbs. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add chorizo pieces, stirring occasionally until the slices are browned, 5-7 minutes. (3) Add garlic, green onions, and a little more olive oil, cooking until tender another 3-4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add sherry, all beans, pimentos, and minced parsley, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed and the dish is heated throughout, 5 minutes. (4) Remove from heat, juice all of the lemon over the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a large spoon and toasted baguette pieces, garnishing with sprigs of fresh Parsley.

Serves 6

Deviled Eggs with Fresh Chives, Cayenne, and Green Olives

Ingredients

1 dozen eggs

4 Tbs. olive oil mayo

2 Tbs. paprika

1 Tbs. ground cayenne pepper

1 bunch fresh chives, minced

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup dill pickles, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. Tabasco

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1/4 cup green olives, halved

thinly sliced pimentos, for garnish

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Put eggs in a pot and cover with cold water, bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain the cooked eggs and fill the pot back up with very cold water; let eggs chill 20 minutes. (2) Gently tap eggs with a knife to crack the shells, carefully removing shell from all eggs before rinsing with water. Next, halve the eggs and with a spoon, carefully remove cooked yolks, putting them all into a medium bowl. (3) Mash yolks with a fork, adding the mayo, mustard, hot sauce, chopped pickles, chives, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Season the mixture to taste with salt & pepper then cover and chill in the fridge for about an hour (or overnight). (4) Arrange the hollowed egg whites on a platter and fill (generously) until all of the yolk filling has been used. Garnish each deviled egg with a sliced pimento and half of a green olive, sprinkling paprika over everything. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 6

So while this may not be a very ‘Christmasy’ post, I do think it is celebratory and the recipes all got the good stuff: flavor, spice, and filling. I enjoyed making the tapas and can’t wait to try some of these authentic Spanish dishes on the upcoming trip. In the meantime, I will be enjoying the holidays and am already thinking about the recipe to make for New Years. I’m thinking two main things: pork ribs and coca-cola }:-)

My question: What is the best ingredient in deviled eggs? (And don’t say the eggs, because that’s just too obvious..)

Merry Christmas (and to All a Good Night — and Day)!

12.25.11

And Now for Something Sweet…

Apples, apples everywhere! One dropped on my head the other day as I was walking down the sidewalk, as if the trees themselves were trying to get my attention πŸ˜‰ They litter the streets and yards and pile up in the gutters; people in our neighborhood put basketfuls out on the sidewalk packed full of apples with a sign saying ‘gratis’.Β  It seems like every tree over here is loaded down with delicious, brightly colored fruit, from Dutch to Danish apples and endless other varieties I don’t know the names for yet. In my opinion, they all taste good, but I’ve been told some are better than others…and some still are best left for baking so I thought with all this fruitful abundance I’d at least give it a try.

This apple cake recipe I got from a friend, a fellow international student at my University who let me try a piece she made before relaying the recipe; needless to say that after one bite of the sugary fruitfulness, I was sold on the idea of making the cake. And, after going through the motions of baking it once, I’m already resolved to make it again. It’s rare that I enjoy baking as much as I do regular cooking; I’m not sure what it is exactly–all the waiting, whisking, explicit measurements, and intricate chemical reactions are a bit intimidating but this recipe was neither difficult nor complicated, so I highly recommend it anyone craving something sweet }:-]

Can you guess the star ingredient? That’s right, apples. And what would this cake be without them? Just butter, sugar, and flour–still pleasantly sugary–but certainly not possessing the same fruity goodness. I put the ingredients for this recipe in grams & deciliters this time since that’s what I’m working with; if anyone desires a ‘European experience’ as I like to call it, you should try making this recipe doing the conversions yourself, it’s useful math and not difficult, I promise ]:-) At the end of all this baking, I brought the finished product over to a friend’s who was having us for dinner. I arrived with the whole damn cake, thinking I was probably bringing too much but ended up leaving with none at all. I mean seriously, it’s gotta be good if everyone has 2 & 1/2 pieces of it after a large supper. I bet if success had a smell, it’d be sugary and sweet…

Sugary Cinnamon Apple Cake

Ingredients

100 g butter

2 deciliters sugar

4 deciliters flour

2 1/2 deciliters milk

1 egg, beaten

3 tsp. baking powder

4 apples (of your choice)

cinnamon

(1) Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (or 350 degrees Fahrenheit). Melt all the butter in a small saucepan over very low heat. (2) In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg & sugar together with a whisk until light and fluffy. (3) Stir in the milk and melted butter. Next, add the flour in stages (a deciliter/cup at a time), whisking well to ensure that no lumps form. (4) Grease a round baking pan with a little bit of butter and pour in all the batter. (5) Peel and core the apples, slicing thinly before arranging the pieces in the batter in the pattern of your choice (the cake will rise as it bakes so be sure to add as much apple slices as you can); when done, sprinkle the top with a (generous) layer of cinnamon and sugar. (6) Bake on the top rack of the oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly when stuck into the center of the cake. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting into triangular pieces. Serve the pieces of apple cake with a dollop of clotted cream (if you’re feeling adventurous) and a pot of tea :->

Serves 4

I will admit, I’m a bit relieved to have made a cake successfully and I believe my baking qualms are over, for the time being at least πŸ˜‰ And while the cake didn’t last (at all), I have confidence that my next food concoction will last just a little bit longer…I mean it’s got to, right?

My question: What is one of the best fruits to use in a cake?

(Other than apples, of course) I’m thinking pears…maybe peaches…

9.9.11

Fluffy, Facile, Fanciful Quiche

As the breeze gets cooler and the weather a bitΒ  more temperamental, I felt encouraged to make a dish that could be served both hot and cold and would supply enough leftovers to last us a couple of days. Quiche is one of my favorite things to make because it’s so easy; and, well…anything with eggs, veggies, and melted cheese is a winner in my book }:-)

Since the most important ingredient in Quiche is the cheese (what a surprise right?), I used generous cups of the grated goodness from a massive block of Leyden cheese which is speckled with cumin seeds and sweetly fragrant. I went for the fanciful choice of veggie ingredients including roasted shallots (and garlic, lots of that), cremini mushrooms, and sweet red peppers. I got the idea to make a ‘crusted’ Quiche when I realized I had half a bag of leftover breadcrumbs (actually, just bruschetta toast that I’d crushed effectively into breadcrumbs); I topped the Quiche with these crumbs and to make a crust across the top which browned as it finished baking in the oven :]

Not only easy in preparation, Quiche is also a very versatile dish. You can make it with whatever cheese and veggies you haveΒ  available (just keep the eggs a constant), eat it hot out of the oven or cold from the fridge. You can serve this meal for breakfast, brunch, or lunch (and dinner wouldn’t be pushing it ;-). It’s perfect with a spot (or two) of hot sauce. While the most important ingredient is undoubtedly cheese, I believe the star ingredient in this Quiche was the shallots. A little goes a long way and once they’re roasted, shallots gain a strong, sweet flavor that adds taste and substance to the dish.

Considering how fast the leftovers vanished, I’m considering making different versions of this Quiche that involve some of my more favorite veggie ingredients–cauliflower, tomatoes, jalapenos…leeks–something with flavor and pizzazz! Just a tip for those making Quiche for the first time, remember to cook it only as long as necessary and no longer. When cooked right, the Quiche will be soft and fluffy, but overcooked Quiche will taste thick and rubbery. If I can pull this off properly while converting to Celsius in a tiny European kitchen than I have faith that anyone can πŸ™‚

Crusted Quiche with Roasted Shallots, Sweet Red Peppers, and Mushrooms

Ingredients

8 eggs, beaten

4 large sweet red peppers, chopped

1/2 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms, chopped

6 shallots, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbs. dried marjoram (or dried Parsley)

1 1/2 cups milk

3 cups grated Leyden cheese (substitute Cream Havarti or Farmer’s Gouda)

1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (*you can make breadcrumbs yourself by letting bread harden, like French or Sourdough, and crushing it in a bowl with a can, cup, or rolling-pin until it is made into coarse, little breadcrumbs…πŸ™‚

butter

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 180 degrees Celsius:-). Melt 1 Tbs. of butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat; add the mushrooms and peppers and let cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 8 minutes. (2) Add another Tbs. of butter to one side of the pan and then all of the shallots and garlic; let them brown on that one side of the frying pan until golden, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let cool. (3) In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and 2 cups of the grated cheese, stirring well and seasoning with pepper (not salt, adding salt to the eggs before they’re cooked will make them rubbery as well). (4) Lightly grease a large oven-proof glass dish (of any size, you can use circles, squares, or in my case, a rectangular dish) and spread the roasted vegetables in an even layer along the bottom; top the veggies with the remaining cup of grated cheese. (5) Pour the egg mixture into the glass dish over the vegetables and let settle a minute; top the Quiche with the breadcrumbs, spreading evenly across the top. (6) Put the Quiche on the bottom rack of the oven and bake 30-35 minutes depending, until the top is slightly browned. You can tell when the Quiche is done cooking by piercing with a fork; if the fork comes out clean (with no moisture on the prongs) then it is done. (7) Let the Quiche cool 5 minutes before cutting into small square pieces. Best served with a spoonful of hot sauce and/or a spot of tea πŸ˜‰

Serves 6

Just as the weekend arrives and the start of school inches closer, I am relocating to another house with another kitchen, and entirely new ingredients. I am bringing plenty of spices with me, I’ll just have to see what tasty dishes I can concoct in my new surroundings πŸ™‚ Wish me luck!

My question: What are some of the best grated cheeses to use in a Quiche?

There are so many that improve upon afer being melted…like Fontina, Muenster, (and my personal fav) GruyΓ¨re….mmmmm…

8.19.11

An American-Inspired Salad

Okay, so it’s not American by any means but I feel that maybe the best parts of the salad are: bacon, eggs, tomatoes…wait, is this breakfast? Salads have this refreshing effect that pairs well with the humid climate of Summer. While lettuce (Romaine lettuce included) is not one of my favorite ingredients, I understand its necessity in the making of a tasty (maybe even healthy;-) green salad. According to Wikipedia, Romans and Babylonians alike ate their mixed greens tossed with a light dressing ; I believe the people of our age have only improved upon this culinary wisdom (yeah, that’s definitely what I’ll call it) in coming up with all sorts of new salad ingredients and combinations.

For my ‘Amerikanske’ salad I made a creamy vinaigrette with some basic ingredients I had on hand–vinegar, yogurt (and man is the yogurt tasty over here!), mustard, dried herbs, and olive oil. I’ve found that any strange-looking concoction of a dressing like this one can always be improved upon by adding more vinegar (why not?) and lots of whisking, until it has an even, smooth texture. Remember, salad vinaigrette (for the most part anyway) is better served cold so make it ahead of time and chill away πŸ™‚ Any other ready-made dressing would be a good substitute if you haven’t the time to make your own; honey mustard, champagne, or blue cheese dressing would all work wonderfully with this salad.

The star ingredient in this recipe is the sunny-side eggs (but bacon was a close second), simply because eggs add the only warmth in this dish and when topping the salad it makes for pretty presentation. Did I mention eggs are delicious? I don’t usually go for the sunny-side option but I thought it was an original-enough idea to give a try. With a sprinkle of creamy dressing and a cold glass of wine, this dish makes for quite the classy lunch }:-)

Romaine Cucumber Salad with Bacon, Tomatoes, & Sunny-Side Up Eggs

Ingredients

(for the salad)

2 heads of romaine lettuce

1 cucumber, coarsely chopped

1/2 of a white onion, thinly sliced

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

6 slices of bacon

4 eggs

butter

(for the vinaigrette)

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar (or sub white vinegar)

1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbs. beer

1 tsp. dried Rosemary

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Wash the lettuce well and let dry. Cut off the thick stalks and split the leaves into smaller pieces, putting the lettuce, tomatoes, and chopped cucumber into a large mixing bowl; toss the salad and refrigerate (2) In a large skillet, melt a spoonful of butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, 5-6 minutes. Remove bacon from the skillet and put on a paper-towel lined plate. When cool, chop the bacon into pieces and set aside. (3) To make the vinaigrette, whisk all of the ingredients (olive oil through Dijon mustard) in a small bowl until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and chill in the fridge. (4) Add the sliced onion and crispy bacon to the salad and toss. Distribute the salad evenly among 4 bowls and set aside until ready to serve. (5) Using another spoonful of butter, reheat the skillet over medium heat. When hot, crack each of the eggs into different sides of the pan and turn the heat down to low. Cook eggs until the whites set and the yolk begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes. (6) Sprinkle a generous spoonful (or two) of the vinaigrette over the salad and top each bowl with a fried egg. Garnish with cracked pepper and serve immediately πŸ™‚

Serves 4

When breakfast meets brunch you have tadaaa–eggs, bacon, & tomato in a salad (I guess we could call it a Cobb salad but it’s technically a little different;-) My next plan is to make a meal with perhaps slightly lower cholesterol }:-(damn you bacon!) but just as many vegetables! We’ll see how that goes…

My question: What are some of the tastier ways to add protein to a salad?

I’d say eggs, but then again there’s grilled meat, nuts, and best of all–cheese…

8.07.11