Tag Archives: eggs

deviled eggs w fresh herbs

egg plates

Is everyone sick of deviled eggs? Between Easter and Passover, they get a workout this time of year. But if you aren’t, I recommend grabbing some of the super-springy herbs at the farmers’ market and getting to work. While I’m giving out unsolicited advice, I would also recommend trying out those medium-size eggs in the grocery store.

I seriously feel for the medium eggs. No one uses them. I often wonder who, besides me, ever buys them. But when you’re boiling eggs, you want ones that are a week or two old. I figure you get that and more with the mediums. No recipes ever call for them, even though, really, they aren’t that runtish.

cute and medium

Generally I buy my eggs at the farmers’ market—and they’re mostly mediums, with a handful of larges and usually one super-giant egg in each dozen. Using these eggs for baking, I’ve long been used to measuring the cracked eggs to make sure I’m getting the right quantity of fluid in sensitive baking recipes. So, when I’m making deviled eggs, especially for a cocktail party, I like them bite-sized. And they hard-boil in no time. (Nine minutes off the heat after bringing to a boil; then you plunge them into an ice bath. The eggs are still a mite soft in the middle; this makes the filling extra gorgeous in the end. Change the time to 12 minutes off heat for large eggs.)

tarragon

Adding butter to the yolks, just a bit, at room temperature, is a trick we have all by now seen on Food52, where this technique was shared by Virginia Willis in a “genius recipe” feature. It’s pretty clever. The filling is just gorgeous, and handles easily. The chopped herbs get stirred in by hand at the end so as not to turn the filling green. I am partial to the chervil, and add quite a lot, showering the finished eggs with a heavy hand. Its pert citrus flavor livens up the proceedings, and marries beautifully with a nice cocktail like a Negroni.

Do you have an old hobnail or pressed-glass egg plate? Run out and get one! Cheers, it’s spring.

Deviled eggs w fresh herbs

Adapted from Virginia Willis’ recipe at Food52

  • 1 dozen medium eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, if needed
  • 4 tablespoons chopped tarragon, chives, or chervil, plus more for garnish

1. First, boil the eggs. Place eggs in a pan and cover with water by 1 inch. Place on stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cut off heat just as water boils, place lid on pan. Set a timer for 9 minutes. (This is for medium eggs. For large, time 12 minutes.) When it rings, carefully transfer eggs to a big bowl of ice water and cool thoroughly. At this point you can refrigerate eggs for several days until ready to make deviled eggs.

2. Peel eggs. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove yolk to food processor; add mayonnaise, butter, mustard, cayenne. Pulse until very smooth. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Add chopped herbs. Taste for salt. Add salt as needed.

3. Scrape mixture into a quart-size plastic zipper bag. Push out air, seal bag, snip off corner. Use this to fill eggs, or simply spoon filling into the whites. Garnish with remaining herbs.

4 Comments

Filed under recipes

leek, goat cheese + bacon tart

In many ways, fall is the ideal time to be making tarts. Fall vegetables like cauliflower, butternut squash, leeks, hardy greens, and potatoes are all very low in water content and therefore play very well in egg custard. (A tart or quiche with tomato or zucchini is always welcome, but you have to do a bit of work with salt or roasting to pull a lot of the water out first; otherwise you end up with an egg custard that oozes water. It tastes okay, but I really hate the little channels of moisture running through the custard.) As with most egg dishes I prepare, this one was the result of scrounging around in a more or less bare cupboard. I had lovely fresh leeks and eggs, and an odd nubbin of Humboldt Fog cheese kicking around the refrigerator, as well as a couple of scrabbly pieces of bacon. If that doesn’t scream “tart!” to you, I don’t know what would.

I give two options for tart crust below, but you could also buy a tart shell in the grocery store or pull one out of your own freezer. I like my tarts—especially if they are for lunch, which this one was—to be quite eggy, so you will see this recipe has a much higher ratio of egg-to-dairy than most tarts you’ll find in your cookbooks. It sets up quite quickly in the oven, and it terribly filling. You could add more cheese—I simply didn’t happen to have any more suitable cheeses around—and make it more savory. In the recipe below, when I say to slice the bacon into “batons” I simply mean that if you have regular slices of bacon, slice them crosswise into thin strips. That way, when you slice into your tart, the bacon won’t get caught up in between slices the way longer pieces would.

To clean the leeks properly, simply trim off the green top end and the root end, and slice the leeks thinly. Then, after they are sliced, dump the slices into a big bowl or tub of cold water. Put your hands in there and agitate everything. The grit and sand will fall to the bottom of the bowl, and the leeks will float at the top. Scoop the clean leeks off the top, and into the pan they go.

I made this for lunch with a salad, but you could just as well serve it for breakfast with fruit. I think some of the season’s nice pears would be perfect. If you have a slice left over, it makes an excellent supper washed down with a glass of wine.

Leek, goat cheese + bacon tart

  • a prepared tart crust of your choosing (suggestions below)
  • 3 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut into batons, or 2 oz. pancetta, sliced into batons
  • 2 large or 3 small leeks, trimmed, washed very well, and thinly sliced
  • a little butter, if needed
  • a knob of goat cheese (about 1 oz.) – I used Humboldt Fog
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • black pepper

1. Prepare a tart crust of your choosing in a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. There is a great one here and my standard crust here. Or you could buy a prepared one and thaw it according to package directions. You may also have to par-bake it a bit before filling it. Once the crust is set into the tart pan, put it in the refrigerator to hold it.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Meanwhile, place chopped bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until bacon is browning and fat is rendered. Add the cleaned leeks and stir occasionally for 8 to 10 minutes, until leeks are softened and cooked. If your bacon was too lean to render enough fat, add a little butter if necessary to cook the leeks. Set cooked mixture aside.

3. In a medium bowl combine eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg, and a few grinds of black pepper. If your bacon is salty, you do not need salt, most likely.

4. Place tart crust on a baking sheet on the counter. Scrape leek and bacon mixture into the shell and distribute evenly. Distribute dollops of goat cheese around the tart. Pour in the egg mixture carefully. Put the baking sheet with the tart pan into the oven. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F (without opening the oven door). Bake for 20 more minutes, or just until the center of the tart is set. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes; cut into wedges; serve. The tart can also be served later, at room temperature.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

french toast w pears + lemon

Say hello to the perfect Sunday breakfast for fall. For the past three or four weeks, we have been devouring obscene amounts of Bosc pears from Rose’s Berry Farm, who bring all kinds of produce to our downtown Wednesday market and our neighborhood market on Saturday morning. For whatever reason (divine providence?) the pears this year are sweet, crisp, and smell distinctly of honey when you slice into them. I have not put a single pear into a cooked dish until this weekend, simply because they are too darned good.

However, as I was mixing up the egg for a batch of French toast, the giant bowl of pears on the table caught my eye. A knob of butter was in the pan and next thing you know, I was cutting the pears into eighths, lengthwise, and sliding each slice into the warm, sputtering butter. As soon as you remove the pears from the pan, you can cook your French toast in the same pan. (To me a happy weekend breakfast is a one-pan weekend breakfast.)

I guess I have a few things to say about French toast in general. One is that unless you have a restaurant kitchen and sous chefs and tons of lead time, it’s best not to slice your stale bread too, too thick for French toast. For one thing, it is hard for really thick slices to properly absorb the custard mixture all the way to the center. For another, it is hard for us to cook the inside of the toast properly before the outside burns. I know it looks all glamorous and restaurant-y to make your French toast slices thick, but I would tend more to the 1/2-inch-thick slice. Make sure the pan you’re cooking it in is hot enough that the butter is sizzling, but not so hot that the butter is going to burn while the toast is cooking. And if you’re making more slices of French toast than you can fit in one batch in your skillet, keep the cooked slices warm in the oven (at about 140 F)  while the rest are cooking.

Pears, browned in butter, paired with a lemony, nutmeggy French toast? Heaven on a plate.

French toast w pears + lemon

Serves four

  • 2 Bosc pears, cut into eighths lengthwise and cored
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus a little more if needed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 8 slices Italian bread or brioche
  • warm maple syrup for serving

1. Place butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When butter melts, add pear slices on one cut side and reduce heat to medium. When pears are browned on the first side, flip them to the second cut side and brown that side. Remove browned pear slices to a plate and keep warm. While pears are browning, mix up custard. In a pie plate or another shallow bowl, combine eggs, nutmeg, sugar, zest, vanilla, and half-and-half. Use a fork to whisk mixture together until a uniform consistency is achieved.

2. Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet if needed, leaving heat at medium. Take as many slices of bread as will fit in one batch in the skillet, and add them to the custard, leaving them for a few moments to soak up the mixture. Then use a fork to flip the slices and drench them in the custard. Use the fork to pick up each slice of toast, holding over the pie plate until excess custard runs off, and then place in the skillet. Allow slices to cook until browned on the first side, and then flip to the second side. Remove to a warm plate, and repeat with any remaining slices of French toast.

3. Place two slices of French toast on each plate, top with four pear slices, and drizzle with maple syrup. Serve warm.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

open-faced egg sandwiches w chard, bacon + garlic

Good morning! I have just returned from a delightful vacation in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and am having a wee problem with jet lag, leading to my rising and posting at an absurdly early hour. I had stacked up the posts that you all have been reading the last two weeks before I left, including this one. However, when thinking of Ireland, a country that knows how to appreciate breakfast for the fine and substantial meal it was meant to be, this post seemed particularly appropriate for this morning. I believe I gained approximately 12 pounds during my vacation, and much of that can be attributed to the delightful breakfasts we were served throughout the countryside. Near as I could tell—after a fairly thorough survey—the Full Irish Breakfast involves: sausage, Irish bacon, eggs, a potato farl, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. When we moved on to Northern Ireland we experienced the Ulster Fry, which reincorporates the more British element of beans, something delicious called a soda farl, and more frequently includes white and black puddings.

As you can imagine, lunch is not really necessary after having had such a breakfast. A pint of Guinness is enough to get you through the afternoon, perhaps with a bag of crisps (prawn cocktail and pickled onion being among my favorite potato chips on the trip). In any case, it is difficult to transition back to life without those glorious breakfasts, I will tell you that. I do intend to learn to make the potato farl, or boxty, as well as the soda farl. I will be experimenting with recipes, and will be sure to share them here if I can pin down the perfect construction. (Let me know if you have any farl recipes—I feel these are items for which everyone must have her own family recipe!)

Anyway, it happens that we made these open-faced sandwiches for breakfast on a weekend morning, but we have decided this would be equally delicious for supper. You can decide which you’d prefer. I’ve been buying this really delicious applewood-smoked bacon and using a few slices to doctor up greens in the evening. The key here is to brown the bacon really well, but over medium heat so the fat renders without smoking. I wish I had some of that divine Irish bacon here, but alas, American will have to do for now.

Open-faced egg sandwiches with chard, bacon + garlic

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves very fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 8 ounces) Swiss chard, washed, spun dry, chopped well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 thick slices of bread for toasting
  • coarse or kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large skillet (if you have one large enough, select one that will fit 4 fried eggs with extra room to hold the chard mixture later), warm bacon over medium heat. Slowly let the fat render and let the bacon completely caramelize. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, until garlic is very fragrant and is becoming translucent.Turn the heat to medium high and add the chard. Saute it, stirring constantly to allow moisture to evaporate. When chard is wilted and tender, yet still bright green, scrape it to the side if there is room in your skillet. (If not, put the chard aside and cover with foil to keep it warm.)

2. Toast your bread slices. While they’re toasting, pour olive oil into skillet and warm it over medium heat. Crack all four eggs into the skillet and let them fry until solid on the bottom. (After the first minute, loosen them with your spatula so they’re easier to flip.) Gently flip each egg, trying not to break the yolk. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a healthy grinding of pepper on the center of each egg.

3. Assemble sandwiches. Place toast on a plate or in a shallow dish. Top each toast with one-quarter of the chard-bacon mixture and then one egg. Serve piping hot with a knife and a fork.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

semifreddo w rhubarb coulis

This was the final chapter of our dinner party a couple of weeks ago. I was racking my brain trying to imagine how I was going to use rhubarb—until this week, the only spring “fruit” available here in Connecticut—to create a dessert that I could make ahead. I knew I wanted something cold after a meal that was primarily composed of hot dishes. So many of the rhubarb desserts that I typically make are warm: crumbles, pies, tea cakes, and the like. One of my guests mentioned that her grandmother once made her a rhubarb fool, a dessert she’d never forgotten. And that got me thinking—what if you kept the cream and left the cake behind? What would you have? This was an interesting notion to play with, because rhubarb is really never found in creamy desserts. It’s always appearing in crumbly or flaky applications, it seems to me.

So I was leafing through Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques and saw that she had actually already figured this out, which is really no surprise. One of her spring menus (the first one, actually) includes a vanilla semifreddo with rhubarb compote. Semifreddo is perfect for a dinner party because you can even make it a couple of days ahead, and it doesn’t require an ice-cream maker. It’s made by lightening three different components with lots of air: egg whites, egg yolks, and cream. You carefully fold these together and freeze. While it takes a lot of mixing bowls and attachments (which you’ll probably have to wash between uses), it is fairly simple to make as long as you can patiently fold the three components together, losing the minimum amount of air, which gives the dessert its incredible lightness, even without churning.

The compote Goin outlines is kind of a chunky affair. I wanted a more elegant presentation, and even though I’m not fussy about that, for this party I didn’t want little strands of rhubarb floating around beneath the elegant semifreddo. I pulled out my food mill and simply made about 50 percent more compote than Goin calls for, because I knew a good bit of the volume would be left behind (in the form of fibers) in the food mill. This made a beautiful, glossy coulis to be poured on the plate beneath the semifreddo. I can’t recommend this dessert to you enough—scented with vanilla, the semifreddo is just like air, and the rhubarb has a tart earthiness that balances the lush and fatty semifreddo just perfectly. It achieves something rare in a dessert: a sweet ending to the meal that still challenges the palate with contrast and complexity.

Semifreddo w rhubarb coulis

Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

  • 1 and 1/3 cups whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, divided
  • 1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds rhubarb
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch

1. Lightly oil (enough to make the plastic wrap stick) a 9-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap and carefully smooth out the plastic wrap all around the interior edge of the pan. There should be a decent amount of extra plastic hanging over the sides (enough to cover the pan when filled).

2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream at low speed until it begins to thicken. Increase to medium speed and beat until it forms stiff peaks. Do not beat until it becomes dense and chunky. Refrigerate the cream in the bowl if you have an extra mixer bowl, or transfer to another large bowl and place in the refrigerator. Thoroughly wash and dry the used bowl (if re-using) and the whisk.

3. Add egg yolks, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and about 1/4 cup of the sugar to the clean bowl. Whisk at high speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and light in color. It should have doubled, roughly, in volume. Transfer this to a large bowl and set aside, or if you have another extra bowl for the mixer, simply set it aside. If re-using, thoroughly was and dry the used bowl and the whisk.

4. Whip the egg whites at medium speed until frothy, about a minute. Increase mixer speed to high and slowly add another 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue beating on high speed for about 2 minutes, or as many as 4 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed. They should not turn dry, but should be stiff and glossy.

5. Fold the whipped cream into the yolks. Then gently fold in the egg whites about one-third at a time. Fold carefully to create a mostly uniform mixture, carefully folding from around the edges and from the bottom up, taking care not to deflate the mixture. Pour into cake pan and bang the pan on the counter three times. Place plastic wrap over the surface, smoothing it very carefully with your hands so the final product will be smooth on top. Then seal with the extra edges from the plastic wrap lining the pan. Freeze for at least 4, or preferably 8 to 12 hours.

6. Meanwhile, make the coulis. Chop the rhubarb into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside. Place 3/4 cup of sugar (all that remains) in a heavy saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of water and turn to medium heat. Do not stir, and cook for about 8 minutes, occasionally swirling the pan, until the caramel is a deep golden brown. (It burns extremely quickly, so watch it intently.) Immediately add half the rhubarb and all of the wine. This will cause the caramel to solidify like bits of hard candy, but fear not, all will be right in the end. Add the rest of the rhubarb and a 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it attains a jam-like consistency and it is fully cooked.

7. Pass the rhubarb mixture through a food mill into a bowl. Be sure to turn the food mill until all the liquid is extracted from the rhubarb. You should have 1 pint of liquid. Return the liquid to the pan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir the cornstarch into about 1 tablespoon of water. Pour this into the boiling rhubarb, whisking vigorously. Simmer over medium heat until the rhubarb liquid is slightly thickened and shiny. Set aside and let it cool completely before serving.

8. To serve: remove semifreddo from freezer and cut it into slices. On each plate, pour the rhubarb compote to cover the bottom of the plate; top with a slice of semifreddo.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

smoked trout + asparagus salad

After we feasted on this salad the other night, I got the third degree from Ty: where did the recipe come from? I’m not quite sure really. I kind of applied the transitive property to a couple of things in the refrigerator, and landed on this particular combination. So much of cooking is this way for home cooks, I think. We know that A traditionally goes well with B, and that C traditionally goes well with B, and therefore A and C also make a great pairing. Sometimes you get several degrees away in these relationships and still end up with something stunning. So with this salad.

I think the original inspiration here is our annual trip to the Adirondacks, where we stay in Keene, N.Y., at the delightful Dartbrook Lodge. (Note to self: plan this year’s trip.) While there, one of the delights of local cuisine that we enjoy is smoked trout. It is served there on Club crackers (why are they so good?) and on spinach salad, and with eggs, and in all cases with some combination of horseradish cream, capers, or red onions. Every restaurant in the area seems to feature smoked trout in one dish or another, and like many foods that we associate with a particular place, we love the food more because of the location where we’ve enjoyed it. And vice versa.

Asparagus pairs as naturally with eggs as does smoked trout, which you frequently find with scrambled eggs at breakfast. Potatoes are a lovely companion to asparagus, and also eggs. Red onions and capers are both the frequent companions to these items. And asparagus, smoked trout, eggs, and potatoes all love horseradish. I should pause here to say that my lovely colleague Lani, who makes her own horseradish each year with her husband, gave me a jar of the potent stuff. Without it, this dish would not have been possible! I know the pain and suffering involved with grinding one’s own horseradish, and I therefore treasure it all the more.

Each component of this salad is blanched or browned separately to prepare the final dish: bacon crisped, eggs hard-boiled,  asparagus blanched,  potatoes boiled. All of these things can be done in advance—a few days in advance, even. (Except the asparagus, which is always more crisp-tender if blanched and iced just before eating.) The dressing, a simple mixture of Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, horseradish, and lemon juice, can also be prepared the day before. Or, you can do as I did, and come home from work and set a pot of water to boil and fry your bacon. (Truthfully I should also note that the bacon is absolutely unnecessary to the success of this dish. It is marvelous without it.) Everything gets cooled with chilled water before composing the salad (now is when you can fry up your croutons) and you are ready to eat.

While putting this together has its logistical challenges, none of its components are difficult, and all in all it is a route to an easy weeknight supper. Happy spring!

Smoked trout + asparagus salad

Serves 4

  • 4 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 medium waxy potatoes, such as red bliss or Yukon gold, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 20 spears), washed and trimmed of tough stems
  • 3 slices bacon (optional)
  • 8 ounces of smoked trout, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 8 slices of ciabatta or baguette
  • olive oil for frying ciabatta or baguette

1. If you do not have hard-boiled eggs on hand, make them first. Place 4 eggs in a pan, just covered with water. Put the lid on the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit, without disturbing the lid, for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from pan and plunge carefully into very icy water until you are ready to prepare the salad.

2. Make dressing: combine yogurt, mayonnaise, horseradish, and lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup or small pitcher. Set aside.

3. Place potato chunks in a pot with a lid and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and leave at a simmer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Test a large potato chunk to be sure they are cooked. Drain in a colander in the sink and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.

4. Refill potato pot with fresh water. Salt lightly and bring to a rolling boil. When it boils add asparagus and blanch until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove asparagus from pan into another pan filled with very icy water.

5. Meanwhile, if using, in a skillet over medium heat, brown the bacon until it is very dark and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Wipe out skillet and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Heat over medium-high until shimmering. Add ciabatta or baguette slices and fry until deep brown on the first side. Quickly and carefully flip the slices and brown on the second side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate.

6. Assemble the salad: Remove eggs from ice water (or refrigerator if already cooked) and peel them and cut them in half lengthwise. Arrange asparagus, tips pointing to rim of platter. Heap potatoes in the center of the plate (on top of asparagus stems). Drizzle some of the dressing over potatoes and asparagus stems. Arrange halves of eggs around potatoes among asparagus spears. Break up smoked trout and distribute over potatoes, asparagus and eggs. Do the same with bacon, if using. Distribute chopped onion and capers over entire platter. Drizzle everything with more dressing. Serve with croutons on the side.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

asparagus hash + poached egg

Today is Easter and so predictably I must write a post involving an egg. I actually spent the day on my own, but wanted some kind of holiday meal that would seem like an official meal—I remind myself that standing over the sink dipping stoned wheat crackers into a container of hummus is not an official meal—without being too difficult to prepare. The eggs at the farmers’ market really are terrific right now. I had a potato, an odd bit of bacon, and some fresh spring asparagus and scallions, and it seemed like this could make something quite delicious.

The recipe I give below can be scaled up to feed any number of people. The rate-limiting factor here is knowing how accomplished you are at poaching eggs. I can’t poach more than four at a time, and I don’t recommend trying to do more than that. Since I was just cooking one for myself, the timing worked out. I like my eggs poached for exactly 3 minutes. So I cut the asparagus into tiny enough slices (1/4 inch) that I knew it would cook during the time the egg was poaching. The idea is that you make the hash with bacon (or olive oil if you want a vegetarian version), cook the potatoes through, and then when you add the asparagus and green scallion to the pan, you slide the egg in to poach and set the timer. You spend the next three minutes alternately nudging the egg(s) from the bottom of the poaching pan and stirring and shaking the hash to crisp up the asparagus. When the egg is finished, so is the asparagus, and everyone’s happy. Add a quick squeeze of lemon to the hash to give it some brightness, stir, and serve.

Instead of lemon juice you could make a very mustardy vinaigrette here and add it at the end. But what I do like about using a poached egg is that it is really the lazy woman’s hollandaise sauce. You know how you’re supposed to serve asparagus with hollandaise? Unfortunately for me, Escoffier’s mother sauce doesn’t generally appear around here at supper time. However, with the hash doused in a bit of lemon juice, and the runny yolk kind of stirred into the hash, it has a pretty similar effect. Seriously. What is hollandaise, anyway, but egg yolk, lemon juice, and butter? And what are holidays for—standing around fretting over your broken sauce? Never. Poach your egg, swish it around in your hash and bon appetit.

Asparagus hash + poached egg

I didn’t base this recipe on anything when I made it this week. But as I wrote this post, I thought, I know this idea came from something I read somewhere. I searched through my Google Reader and found this post from SmittenKitchen, and I think it is probably influential in this recipe.

For every 2 servings as a main course:

  • 1 slice thick-cut bacon, chopped into ribbons across the grain*
  • 1 large (baseball sized) red-skinned potato, cut into 1/4-inch batons**
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts sliced finely, white parts separated from green parts
  • water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • half a bunch (4 oz.) asparagus, washed, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch slices diagonally
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • coarsely ground fresh pepper
  • coarse sea salt or lavender + meyer lemon finishing salt

1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon ribbons over medium heat until fat is rendered and they are brown and crispy.Add the potato batons and the white parts of the scallions. Stir and then turn heat to just below medium, letting the potatoes rest on the bottom of the pan to get brown on one side. Then stir gently, nudging batons to get at least another side browned. Cook in this manner until potatoes are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes, if all potatoes are in contact with the surface of the pan.

2. While potatoes are cooking, bring water and white vinegar to a simmer in a pan large enough to hold the number of eggs you are cooking, up to four eggs. (If you are making more than four servings, poach eggs 4 at a time.) Water in the pan should be about 3 inches deep. When it reaches a simmer, turn it back so that it remains at a simmer temperature, but no bubbles break the surface. Salt the water as you would for pasta. Crack each egg into 1/3-cup measuring cup or a small ramekin.

3. When potatoes are just cooked and nicely browned, add asparagus and green scallion tops. Stir well and shake down to a single layer to cook.

4. Holding the 1/3-cup measure with the egg just at the surface of the water, tip the egg into the pan of water. Tip the second egg in. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Stir the asparagus mixture periodically to redistribute and shake the pan.When egg white solidifies, use a small spatula to loosen each egg from the bottom of the pan, if they are stuck there.

5. When the egg timer is about to go off, turn off the heat under hash and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir and then distribute asparagus mixture into plates or dishes. Top each dish with a poached egg, removed from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Serve.

* For a vegetarian version, substitute 3 tablespoons of olive oil for the bacon. Warm the olive oil over medium heat and start the recipe by adding the potatoes and white parts of scallions.

** To get potatoes that cook quickly, I cut each potato in half lengthwise, then place the flat sides down on the board. Then I cut across the short way into 1/4″ slices, then rotate the board and cut long way into 1/4″ slices. You get 1/4″ batons that are as long as half the potato’s depth.

1 Comment

Filed under recipes

spinach ricotta tart with rye crust

Probably one of the ideas that I toy with the most in the kitchen is the equation of “(greens + dairy + eggs) carbohydrate = dinner”. For example. Or for example. Or for example. However, I bore you, dear reader. Let’s get to the crux of the matter. This past weekend I took on a challenge that I’ve tangled with for years. I have always wanted to create a spinach and ricotta tart that dramatically reduced the quantities of eggs, cheese, and ricotta, in favor of a tart saturated completely with spinach, and perhaps even a healthier tart pastry for good measure. I believe in this recipe I have found what I sought. And it tastes as delicious as I dreamed.

Some of the recipes from the 80s and 90s that I found in cooking magazines and elsewhere called for literally pounds of cheese, which make quiches and casseroles heavy and dull. Over time it became clear, too, that in this case frozen chopped spinach is our friend. (On this score, my little sister has been right all these years.) You can get quite a bit of spinach into a tart if you start with the flash-frozen variety and roll it in a towel to squeeze every available drop of liquid out of it. (Really, knock yourself out on squeezing out the liquid—it is the single most important thing you can do to make this tart sing.) As for the cheese, I used our wonderful local ricotta here in New Haven. If you can’t get your hands on a dense, creamy ricotta, leave a cup in a cheesecloth-lined strainer suspended over a bowl in the sink overnight. Then I added the tiniest amount (2 ounces–the size of two regulation dice) of the very best taleggio.

The crowning glory (foundational glory?) of this tart is a crust adapted from 101 cookbooks. I changed out the spelt flour for rye and have never looked back. You could use whole-wheat pastry flour or another whole grain of your choosing. And the bonus? When I was growing up, one of my mom’s kitchen miracles was taking the trimmings from pie crusts and cutting them into odd bits. Baked in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so, these become lovely crackers. It’s a habit I’ve maintained to this day. When I saw the scraps from this pastry, I knew we were dealing with something very exciting. I sprinkled them with fleur de sel and popped them into the oven on a sheet next to the tart pan when I par-baked the crust. Amazing! I had a bit of the taleggio that I used in the tart leftover, and it was a divine snack while we were waiting for the tart to cool. Yes, Belinda, heaven really is a place on earth.

Spinach ricotta tart with rye crust

Tart shell adapted from this wonderful recipe at 101cookbooks. (Another recipe idea for the second half of the pastry will appear later this week.) Tart filling inspired by that recipe and also this one from Bon Appetit.

To make two rye tart shells (one for this tart and one for later, or for more crackers if you like, instructions below):

  • 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4.5 ounces) dark rye flour
  • scant 1 cup (4.5 ounces) fine corn meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks or 20 tablespoons) butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups cold water

1. Put the first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add the egg yolk and 1/4 cup water. Pulse for 10 seconds and then scrape down the sides. Add the next 1/4 cup water, pulse for 10 seconds, and scrape down the sides. See if dough is sticking together without too many loose crumbs. If it still seems dry, add the last 1/4 cup of water, pulse for 10 seconds.

2. When it has formed a solid mass with just a bit of crumbliness, turn it out onto the counter and gather it into one mass. Divide this mass in half. Wrap each half very tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.

To make spinach and ricotta filling and tart:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 of a large onion (5 ounces) finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • coarse sea salt to taste (remember your cheese may be quite salty)
  • 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out completely
  • 2 ounces of cheese such as fontina, taleggio or gruyere, finely chopped

1. First, blind bake the tart shell. Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove dough from refrigerator and turn out onto a sheet of parchment. Roll with a floured pin until you have a round slightly larger than the tart pan. Pick up the parchment and flip the pastry over the tart pan, removing pastry from parchment and settling it into the pan. Trim excess pastry and create an edge around the rim of the pan, using extra pieces to fix any tears in the dough.

2. Prick the entire bottom of tart shell with a fork and place in the oven. Reduce heat immediately to 350 F, and bake for 25 minutes. If you have extra pastry, cut it into rustic crackers, place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with coarse salt and bake with the tart shell for 25 minutes.

3. While tart shell is baking, in a saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until transparent. Reduce heat if it begins to brown. Set mixture aside to cool.

4. In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, ricotta, nutmeg, Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper, freshly ground black pepper, a sprinkle of sea salt. Stir until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add spinach and cheese and mix thoroughly.

5. When tart shell has baked for 25 minutes, remove from oven and pour filling into crust. Return to oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Then remove sides of tart pan, slide tart onto a cutting board, cut and serve in wedges.

3 Comments

Filed under recipes

egg salad

Apparently I really work up an appetite during a hurricane. The day before Hurricane Irene arrived, I looked in the refrigerator and wondered what I would eat if I was stranded in my house with no electricity. It seemed like there were lots of options, but I settled on hard-boiled eggs. I often forget how much I like the humble hard-boiled egg. When I was a kid (and actually, even still, when I’m visiting home), my grandmother would make egg salad for lunch. Sandwiches at Granny’s are always served on Sunbeam white sandwich bread. Her egg salad comported perfectly with the bread; her version has mayonnaise, celery, a little onion, pepper, salt. Sometimes she adds sweet pickle relish. But for me, she would make a separate sandwich of just sliced hard-boiled eggs on the white bread, smeared with mayonnaise, inundated with black pepper.

She made this for me not because I disliked egg salad (I love it) but because I loved the sliced hard-boiled egg sandwich even more. When I peeled back the top piece of bread, I would admire all the perfectly round slices of yolk, ringed thinly with the white. Then, in an instant, I would devour the sandwich.With my sister headed to Granny’s house to ride out the storm, I must have had egg sandwiches on the brain. So I hard-boiled a few eggs and tucked them away.

The storm was fairly benign here, and we never even lost power, so it was easy to open the refrigerator door and make some egg salad for lunch. My sandwich was open-faced, and when I opened the refrigerator I briefly considered adding capers but opted instead for the pimiento-stuffed green olives sitting next to them. I began the ritual of peeling the eggs, dropping the quarters into the bowl with the dressing. A few minutes later, the perfect lunch for a rainy day.

Egg salad

  • 5 hard-boiled eggs (see note), peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 10 pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 10 – 15 generous grinds of black pepper
  • sliced bread, toasted and cooled

1. In a bowl, using a fork, combine all of the ingredients except the hard-boiled eggs and the toasted bread.

2. Add the quartered eggs and chop and mix with the fork gently to create a coarse salad.

3. Spoon onto toasted bread to make open-faced sandwiches, or sandwiches with tops if you like.

4. Extra egg salad can be stored in the refrigerator. The flavors will meld and be even more delicious after a few hours, so this is a handy dish to make ahead.

Note: To hard boil eggs, place them in a lidded pan large enough to hold the eggs and cover with cool water by one inch. Place pan on burner set to medium-high. Bring to a steady boil, then turn the heat off, and leave with lid on for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from water after the 10 minutes is up and cover with cold water. Refrigerate until you need them.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

pasta carbonara

Scrounge night at our house can be a regular occurrence in the winter. But usually in the summer, with two convenient farmers’ markets placed throughout the week, finding something fresh for supper is not an issue. However, this past summer, what with vacations, and visits, and family demands, we found ourselves once or twice on the short end of the supper stick. I try to keep a well-stocked pantry to deal with these situations, and usually it works.

Last week we did have a bit of a supper fire-drill, but luckily there were a half-dozen eggs from Stone Gardens and a nubbin of parmesan in the refrigerator, along with some frozen bacon and peas in the freezer. I also keep a running container of bread crumbs in the freezer, so all of these ingredients—which were truly basically all we had in the house—said some kind of modified carbonara was in order. I have had mixed results making carbonara in the past, but when supper was depending on it, I was determined to refine my technique.

Indeed, this dish is all about technique—timing the cooking of the pasta to the crisping of the bacon, and most importantly, tonging, tonging, tonging, the mixture with pasta water as the sauce emulsifies. Too little water and the pasta is irretrievably sticky (melted cheese + eggs = glue) and too much and it will be unpleasantly runny. Waiting for the moment of truth with the tongs, I had a little extra time in there to toast some bread crumbs in a bit of extra bacon drippings, and they were a welcome topping that I highly recommend.

Pasta carbonara

Six servings.

  • 6 oz bacon, sliced 1/4″ across the slice
  • 1 lb. spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water, pulled from the boiling pot
  • 5 ounces parmesan, finely grated
  • 3 eggs plus 2 yolks
  • 2 cups peas, frozen
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper, 3/4 teaspoon or more

1. Whisk together eggs, cheese, salt and lots of coarsely ground black pepper and set aside.

2. Put a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Look at the cooking time for your chosen pasta. You want the pasta to have cook and have a moment to drain by the time the bacon is brown and crisp, if not somewhat afterwards.

3. Place the sliced bacon in a large skillet or saute pan big enough ultimately to hold all the pasta. Turn the heat under the bacon to medium high. Saute until brown and crisping. In another small skillet put some of the rendered bacon fat, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium high heat and add breadcrumbs. Toast until golden brown and set aside off the heat. (Crumbs will continue to darken and you may need to keep stirring depending on how your skillet holds heat.)

3. When water boils, or any time after it boils that you feel ready, add pasta. Set timer to al dente cooking time for pasta. Add peas 2 minutes before end of pasta cooking time. Drain in a colander.

4. When pasta completes cooking, dip a full measuring cup of cooking water into a heatproof measure. Remove bacon pan from heat, if not already removed. Add drained pasta and peas to pan with cooking bacon off the heat. With tongs, coat pasta with drippings and bacon. Still off the heat, add cheese and egg mixture and use tongs to mix relentlessly, dribbling in some of the reserved cooking water. (Add water gradually, but my carbonara usually ends up using most of the cup.) Sauce should become emulsified during this process.

5. Lift pasta into serving bowls, top with toasted breadcrumbs.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes