Sunday, December 29, 2013
Monday, April 02, 2012
Ouefs en Cocotte are, simply, eggs cooked in a ramekin. They can be baked, or as shown above, cooked in a hot water bath. Typically the ramekin is buttered and some sort of ham, vegetable, and/or cheese is added either at the top or bottom of the ramekin. You can also make it very simple, with just a sprinkling of fresh herbs. I did these with a small spoonful of herring caviar at the bottom. The finished eggs can be served in the ramekins, or inverted onto a dish. Served that way, surrounded by vegetables it makes a very elegant brunch dish.
Ideally you want the whites to be just cooked, and the yolk still runny. Take them out of the pan before they're completely done, as the residual heat will keep cooking them for a minute. To remove them from the ramekins, slip a small paring knife in along one side, just enough to admit a bit of air and break the vacuum holding the egg in.
Monday, March 12, 2012
I had a small crowd over yesterday to celebrate the coming of Spring, as I do every year. We ended up with far more food than we needed, which is of course better than not having enough, and running out.
This is the buffet table I set out before more guests and food started to arrive. Bagels, cream cheese, a platter of lox, tomatoes, onions, and cucumber, smoked whitefish spread, and two breakfast casseroles. Both featured 18 eggs, around 3 cups of milk, and caramelized red onions. One also had about 4 cups of shredded potatoes (see previous post on making hash browns) and a similar amount of shredded mixed cheese- a "Mexican" blend, according to the package, although I wouldn't label as Mexican something with Cheddar cheese in it- and a cup of crumbled bacon.
The other casserole featured a blend of Gruyere and Emmanthaler cheeses, braised fennel, roast pepper strips, and instead of potato, about half a loaf of Italian bread I'd cut into cubes and dried in the oven the previous day. Both were baked in a medium oven (325F) for about two hours, until they were just cooked through but still moist and creamy. I was shooting for a custardy, souffle-like texture. I think next time I'll use more milk.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Saturday night we were trying to figure out where to have dinner, and then we remembered that it had been a long time since we'd eaten at Sushi Dot Com (715 North University, Ann Arbor). It was Saturday night, and the streets were full of students, but we managed to find a parking space not too far away and the restaurant was still fairly empty.
Usually we have just sushi, or maybe tempura, or udon, but this time we both decided to try something different, and they do have a large variety of Japanese and Korean dishes to choose from. Janet tried the Chicken Donburi (above), and I had the beef version:
Donburi is a sort of steamed omelet, made eggs, dashi (bonito stock), meat, and vegetables, served over rice, with some shredded nori scattered on top. The stock seeps into the rice, the soft egg and meat sit on top, and the result is a lovely mix of flavors and textures. Janet thought hers was okay, "but not something I'd order again". I thought they were both very good. Chacun à son goût, as they say. We also split a Boston roll to start with:
but the portions of Donburi were so generous we left half the sushi and half of Janet's donburi to take home.
Monday, April 04, 2011
This is just part of the spread from Sunday's brunch party. Once again I was so busy getting things set up that it didn't occur to me to snap some photos of the food until my friends descended on it!
We had a ton of food, much of it brought by guests, but what I specifically wanted to write about was the two breakfast casseroles you can see the remains of in the foreground. These were both improvised based on what I found wandering through the grocery a few days ago, and both turned out rather well. Each started with a simple bread pudding sort of base:
- One dozen eggs
- One cup half-and-half
- About 1/2t salt
- few twists black pepper
- Half a loaf of stale Italian bread, cubed
For the vegetarian casserole, I then folded in:
- Two cups caramelized red onions
- 3/4 of a 16 ounce package of shredded Emmanthaler and Gruyere cheese
- about 1/4c chopped roasted red peppers
- 1/4c roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 12 ounces sliced ham, clut into roughly inch-sized pieces
- 3/4 of a 16 ounce package of shredded cheddar and jack cheeses
- about 1/4c chopped roasted red peppers
- 1/4c roughly chopped fresh parsley
Both were very popular, with the edge, I think, going to the vegetarian version. I think if I made them again, I might just use milk instead of half-and-half, and perhaps increase the quantity of liquid. A traditional bread pudding typically uses a cup of milk for each egg. But I was shooting for a super rich dish, and I certainly achieved that.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Another super simple brunch or lunch dish. Thin slices of gravlax or lox on soft scrambled eggs, piled on a toasted Ciabatta roll. For the finishing touch, a drizzle of truffle oil on top. Mmm.
(To make the best soft scrambled eggs, add a teaspoon or two of cream for each egg, and cook over low heat in a non-stick pan, whisking continuously. Remove from the pan while they're still soft so they don't keep cooking.)
Monday, November 30, 2009
My take on traditional chicken lemon egg with rice soup. I had a few quarts of chicken stock I made yesterday, and decided to it for this recipe.
Chicken Lemon Egg Soup
Bring to a boil:
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 1/2 cup short grain rice (preferably Arborio)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 beaten egg yolks* (see note)
* Note: You can't get add the egg yolks directly to the soup or they'll cook immediately, and you'll have something more like egg drop soup. You need to do what cooks call tempering. Add a cup of soup to the eggs, a spoonful at a time, while continually whisking the eggs. Then whisk the egg-soup mixture into the soup pot.
Friday, October 30, 2009
A favorite dish, prepared the way I like my eggs- very soft. Saute some diced onion- say, two tablespoons- in butter until soft. Lower the heat, add three well beaten eggs, and continue stirring or whisking. Just before the eggs are set the way you like them, add a few tablespoons of cut up lox. Stir well, and serve.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I had a number of extra boiled potatoes in the fridge, and yesterday one became the basis of a hearty lunch.
I began by heating a small amount of olive oil in a pan, and adding large potato I'd grated on my ubiquitous 4-sided grater, using the largest holes.
I gently formed this into cake, using a spatula, and cooked it until it began to brown. Then I poured over it two beaten eggs to which I'd added salt, pepper, and minced fresh parsley. I flipped it once, and there you have it.
You could enhance this dish by adding cooked onions- cook them in the pan before adding the potatoes, and then toss the mixture together- or grated cheese. Or you could toss the potatoes with cooked onions and peppers and cheese and leave out the egg. Improvise!
Thursday, May 07, 2009
I took these photos some months ago but for some reason never got around to posting them until now. No matter. We'll get right to the point: Those perfectly-round "poached" eggs you get with your Egg McMuffin or atop the "Eggs Benedict" at the local chain restaurant are not poached eggs. They're steamed or fried or microwaved in a metal form. Not the same thing at all. Real poached eggs are simmered gently in slightly acidulated water. Here's how you do them.
Start by heating a pan with water to which you've added a small about of vinegar. The acid in the vinegar helps to coagulate the protein in the egg, making it hold together. Even better would be to use absolutely farm-fresh eggs, but few of us have that luxury. The water should be just shy of boiling.
Break the eggs and gently slip them into the water. Using a spoon, carefully gather up the egg, pulling the spreading white back toward the yolk.
When the white has turned opaque, scoop the egg out with a spoon and transfer to your serving dish, salad, or whatever. The yolk should still be runny, and the white, cooked but soft.
When I was little, I loved a breakfast of a poached egg over a slice of toast. I just might might make one for breakfast tomorrow.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Regular readers may recall that last week I featured duxelles, a preparation of mushrooms, shallots, herbs and butter that's a common ingredient in many French sauces and recipes. A few days ago I decided to use it as a filling in an omlette for dinner.
Just a simple two-egg omlette filled with a couple teaspoons of the duxelles, a bit of pepper, and a few more fresh herbs. Simple and satisfying.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
A frittata is, very simply, a sort of omelet filled with pasta, or rice, and various meats and cheeses and vegetables. It's usually a very homey dish, common in both France and Italy, not to mention a great way to use up leftovers. I had a large bowl of cooked rice in the fridge last week, and didn't feel like making fried rice yet again, so frittata it was.
As you can see here, I simply sauteed the rice in a little olive oil along with letfover fish, some chopped shallots, parsley, red bell pepper, and other vegetables from the fridge that were getting a bit long in the tooth.
I then lowered the heat, poured three beaten eggs over it, covered the pan and let it set. Simple. In Italy, people often use a frittata pan, which looks like two pans hinged together. Unless you're making frittatas every other day that's probably unnecessary.
Footnote: The traditional Italian frittata is sauteed and then baked, and doesn't have to have rice or pasta. The French version- whcih can have any sort of starch in it- is more like what I made.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Have you ever made bread pudding? It's cheap and easy and delicious, which is why it was a staple of mine when I was a poor student. I usually made savory versions, but the other day I felt like dessert and made a sweet version.
All bread puddings start out with bread and a custard. The custard is simply 1 egg to 1 cup of milk (works with soy milk, too) to which you add a thick slice of bread. Use a good white bread- or even an egg bread, like challa. Butter the bread, tear it up into pieces, put it in a buttered casserole or loaf pan (I use a glass loaf pan), and add the egg and milk and other ingredients. Give the mixture 15-20 minutes for the bread to soak up all the liquid, and bake at 350 until a tester (or a toothpick) comes out dry.
For this sweet pudding I added about a teaspoon of sugar per egg and a tablespoon of golden raisins that had been soaked in red wine. Before baking, I sprinkled perhaps a tablespoon of sliced almonds over the top where they'd brown nicely. The result provided two desserts and a breakfast.
For a savory bread pudding, leave out the sugar and add pieces of cheese, and maybe some chopped ham or cold cuts. Chopped up cooked vegetables, or well-drained tomatoes should work well. Some minced herbs would be a good addition, too- parsley, a little thyme. Maybe even a few sprigs of rosemary. How about a pizza bread pudding, with pieces of Italian salamis, mozzarella and parmesan, tomatoes, and a little olive oil? Feel free to use your imagination.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
It was getting late when I got back from the Wednesday night bike ride, and I wanted to make something quick and easy. I thought I'd do the simple Spaghetti Carbonra, with a few additions form the fridge- some chopped up dried tomatoes in olive oil, oil cured olives, and some chopped up lox.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I was watching Mark Bittman's show, in which he comes up with dishes that are variations on, or alternatives to a dish prepared by his guest chef, and saw him do a very simple sort of spaghetti carbonara. It was so simple that I decided to make something similar to it for dinner.
Basically, you fry an egg in good amount of butter- a few tablespoons- until the white is set, but the yolk is still soft, and put that on top of a bowl of spaghetti. I'd brown the butter- a classic buerre noir- for more flavor. That's topped off with some fresh ground pepper and a little paprika (preferably the smoked variety, a sprinkle of Parmesan and there you have it. Diners should give it a good stir to the yolk doesn't set up before it gets distributed around the pasta.
I added a little olive oil and some fresh parsley to the butter- probably unnecessary. The parsley would have been better just sprinkled on at the end. Bittman's dish had a few pieces of French ham, so if you have some good ham (or perhaps prosciutto) on hand, feel free to fry some in butter and put it in the bowl with the spaghetti.
The photo above is the second version I tried. Two mistakes: Letting the edges of the egg brown, and using too thin a spaghetti. A softer white would mix better, and a thicker spaghetti would photograph better!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
It's not exactly cuisine, though it is edible, but it is timely. This is an Easter egg done in an old traditional manner by a friend of mine. She wrapped onion skins (gathered by me over the course of a week) on the eggs, secured them with burlap, and dipped them in hot water. Lovely, isn't it? She tells me she tried various fabrics, including old nylon stockings, but the burlap worked best.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I had a few dozen friends over for a brunch yesterday, and in a change from past years I didn't do a lot of cooking; mainly I just put out bagels, onion rolls, lox, smoked fish, and so forth. But I did decide, at the last minute, to put out some French Toast.
For really great French Toast you have to start with a rich egg bread, which means either challa or brioche, cut in thick (1/2"-3/4") slices. Instead of just dipping the bread in beaten egg, make a custard- egg and cream, egg and milk, etc. I used about 1/2 cup of soy milk for every egg. I also added maple syrup for sweetness- plain sugar is fine, too. The slices were fried in olive oil (a Spanish touch) and transferred to a pan in a warm oven while I assembled enough to serve.
Since getting my DTV adapter I've been watching all the chefs with shows on public TV, and I have not been impressed by most of them. Of course, most of the shows are intended for entertainment, not instruction, but having learned a lot from watching The Galloping Gourmet as a child, and Everyday Cooking with Jacques Pepin when I was a grad student, I'm looking to learn some real useful recipes and techniques. So herewith a few strong opinions:
1. Delicious TV. This vegetarian-oriented show features an unsmiling woman whose web page informs you that she is most assuredly not a trained chef, and it shows. Her recipes strike me as bland and unimaginative. The show appears to be shot in someone's kitchen, as opposed to a purpose built set, and lit with one light, at times leaving the host's face half in the dark. She lectures the viewer in the kind of dour, didactic manner I associate with temperance lecturers and religious school teachers. She never eats her finished dishes, and there's little joy evident in anything she does; it's all a matter of "this is good for you. You must eat it." The result is something that's neither entertaining nor instructive.
2. Simply Ming. Ming Tsai is certainly one of the most engaging chefs on television and a great pleasure to watch. His food almost always looks very tasty, too. But his preparation often tends toward the fussy, and I'm not often tempted to try his recipes. But I do pick up ideas, and techniques, and once in a while I'll try something he made, like the ginger syrup I saw him do the other day.
3. Mark Bittman's various shows. Bittman is both very engaging and informative. If you own his How To Cook Everythingyou know it is one of the best general cookbook out there- there isn't a recipe in it that's not a winner. It's the one I grab first when looking for a way to prepare some ingredient. Bittman's an engaging presenter, he loves food, and he brings out great performances from his guests. I'm often motivated to try and make something I see on his show. A favorite.
4. Christina Cooks. The premise of this show is that healthy cooking can make you, well, healthy, and the host trumpets the claim in her books that she cured her cancer with healthy eating. Her recipes are all vegetarian, but how anyone can claim recipes loaded with fat and sugar the way hers are is healthy, I don't know. She uses tons of rice syrup and other alternative sugars, claiming they're better for you than refined sugar. Truth be told, all the sugars are mixtures of sucrose, fructose, and dextrose, and loading up with any of them isn't going to do your pancreas any good. Even with all that her recipes are bland. No wonder you never see her actually eating what she cooks.
5. Jacques Pepin. One of the very few classically trained chefs on TV who isn't an enfant terrible, Pepin is still teaching basic technique and good recipes. A lot of what I know about cooking I learned watching his Everyday Cooking in the 80s, when I was in grad school.
6. Lidia Bastianich. It's hard to find anyone who appears to enjoy cooking as much as Lidia, and her recipes look attractive as well as delicious. She always tastes the food she makes. I love how, after she finishes a serves a dish, she says something like "Here, I'll taste it for you." Some of her dishes may require an unfamiliar technique, but they're never fussy or nouvelle cuisine. It's the kind of food you serve to a table full of family members, not a fussy little plate garnished with candied violets. When she cooks with her mother, or with a chef from her restaurant she always defers to the guest- Lidia's no prima donna. A pleasure to watch, and every one of her recipes I've tried came out excellent.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
You can just beat eggs and dip bread and fry it, or....
Start with some egg challah or brioche, and slice it 3/4" thick.
Beat up eggs along with a couple of tablespoons of cream or milk, and a couple of teaspoons of sugar or (better yet!) real maple syrup per egg.
Soak the sliced brioche in the egg mixture for a few minutes so it's saturated.
Bake in a glass dish at 350, or fry at medium heat in butter.