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Posts Tagged ‘eggs’

Salade Nicoise

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Summer is a tough time for cookery, especially in a hot city of small kitchens. Although there’s great produce to be had, the idea of spending much time in front of the stove is unappealing to say the least.

Which is why summer cooking takes some adjustments: Nothing in the oven unless you’re able to leave the room while it’s in there, nothing that requires constant attention on the stove top, etc. This is why hearty salads – like Salade Nicoise -are such a good summer option.

Salade Nicoise is a classic French composed salad – “composed” is just a fancy work for a salad that has all the ingredients piled on top rather than tossed in – and although it does have cooked ingredients, they can be prepared in under 30 minutes. And it’s a Julia Child favorite, so – in honor of the upcoming movie that I can’t decide whether or not I want to see – here it is:

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egg salad

Egg salad is another thing (like coleslaw) that I thought was pretty disgusting until I made it myself. And then I realized that it’s delicious — and easy, and cheap. And endlessly variable. Here are some guidelines: egg salad is best when it’s freshly made, slightly warm, not too mayonnaisey, and served open-faced on a piece of toasted bread. It needs something a little acidic, something a little onion-y/crunchy, and a little spicing.

Another guideline: Egg salad likes to have other things mixed into it, or eaten on top or alongside it. Consider egg salad your canvas! I have listed a couple suggestions for toppings and side munchies below, which I’ve distinguished by whether you want to put them directly on top of your sandwich and eat altogether in one bite (toppings) or whether you want to eat between bites of sandwich, for a change of flavor/texture (side munchies). Side muchies can, I suppose, also be toppings, depending on how adventurous you are.

And, as the last feather in egg salad’s cap of endless flexibility, it should be noted that it can serve as any of the three meals of the day: a savory breakfast, a quick lunch, or a light supper. So get crackin’. (more…)

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Tortilla española with a side of purple kale
Tortilla española with a side of purple kale

Last night I had a few friends over to bid bon voyage to a friend who is leaving town for the summer. Fired up the grill, slapped on some steaks, potatoes au gratin, wine, dessert – the works. However, this morning one thing became clear – my graduate student “income” handles treating friends to a steak dinner just about as well as my head handles a bottle and a half of wine. In situations like this, I turn to my go-to, budget-easing, good-for-what-ails-ya, all-purpose meal solution – tortilla española.

Despite what my friends always think, tortilla española is not a type of burrito (so stop bringing salsa!). Rather, it is the hearty potato-and-egg concoction that Spaniards eat pretty much constantly. I learned how to make tortilla when I spent a semester abroad in Spain, where I ate tortilla at least four times a week (best on Sunday at about 2PM after a long sangria-filled night). I knew I needed the recipe.

In Spain I lived with a host family, and it was my host mother Josefa (jet black eyes, fiery dyed red hair, even more fiery temper) who taught me everything I know about tortilla. Josefa imparted the technique to me as if she were revealing a secret magic spell with apocalyptic power. Each step came with a grave warning (e.g. You can add zucchini, but NEVER EVER EVER anything else!). Yet despite Josefa’s stern admonitions I have found the recipe to be rather malleable, and I encourage you to experiment once you’ve got the basic technique.

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Shirred (Baked) Eggs

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Despite their terrifyingly Orwellian name, the American Egg Council really did something right when they came up with that “incredible edible egg” campaign. Maybe I’m just a sucker for internal rhyme, but nearly every time I buy or cook with eggs, that little slogan runs through my head. I look at the eggs, and I say to myself, “man, these really are incredible and edible.” Yes, I really am that weird.

Not that eggs really need a slogan to be impressive. They can be cooked in about a dozen different ways, all yielding wildly different end products. They improve our sauces, boost our souffles, bind our meatloaf, and they’re the key to nearly every baked good we’ve got. Egg whites can even be used to develop photographs. Now that’s black magic if I’ve ever heard it…

And it’s a frickin’ chicken embryo! Can we take a second for how weird that is? To whip out the old cliche, imagine the first guy who said “Hey, I bet that chicken embryos are delicious!” He was probably stoned to death by his tribesman, but the third or fourth guy pulled it off, poached those poultry embryos, slapped them on an English Muffin, whipped up some Hollandaise sauce, and treated his friends to history’s first brunch. And that man’s name was Col. Samuel J.J. Benedict.

Ok, that may not be exactly true to fact. But it’s pretty likely that shortly after man first ate egg, he threw said egg into a cooking vessel and applied some fire. Had he done this in his hearth with a bit of liquid that he happened to have on hand, he would have made shirred, or baked, eggs. And now, without even the slightest risk of stoning, so can you.

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Before we go any further, you should know a couple of things about matzoh brei:

1) It doesn’t need to be Passover for you to cook it (or to find matzoh!);

2) Everybody makes it a little differently (including Claire!); and

3) It’s tasty, filling, and absurdly easy to cook.

The recipe below and the process I’ll describe will help you make matzoh brei the way my lovely mother makes it…which may not be quite the way you’ve had it before, but is definitely worth doing. I particularly recommend this recipe to people who, like me, are totally %$^&ing helpless in a kitchen and whose culinary attempts result in things like fires and irreconcilable interpersonal strife. If you have two left spatulas, give this a shot—you won’t mess it up. Probably.

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Rich drunk man's French toast?

Rich, drunk man's French toast

Bread pudding is such a wholesome name; the pudding industry would do well to spread some cash around Madison Avenue and get this Plain Jane dessert a snappier handle. How about Rich Man’s French Toast? Tell me that doesn’t have moxie. Well folks, the fat-cats at Big Pudding may not be opening up their wallets anytime soon to support my rebranding efforts, but at least good people of New Orleans have already done their part by livening up the homely pudding building blocks of egg, milk, sugar and soggy bread with a much needed shot of whiskey. In Italian coffee drinking circles such an addition is known as a “correction,” a sentiment I could not agree with more.

Now since this is a Cajun recipe, let us take a moment up front to get the obligatory catchphrases out of the way: Laissez le bon temps roulez! Mon cher! Bam!

Are we done? Good. The canonical ‘Nawlins bread pudding with whiskey sauce comes from the city’s Bon Ton Cafe. Go looking for other recipes and you’ll find that while proportions differ the basic ingredients are always the same, and every last one of ‘em, from the Silver Palate Cookbook to gumbopages.com, credits the Bon Ton. Today the Junta’s chief contribution to this legacy is to suggest that you make it with challah. There are plenty of good reasons to use challah instead of French bread: it’s rich, it’s sweet, and it’s soft enough to be easily turned to a puddingy mush. But to be honest using challah is an idea this juntero came not by any conscious choice of his own but rather because, as Ben Franklin once said, “sake-bombing is the mother of invention.” (more…)

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This quick supper combines two easy concepts that any budding home chef should master: Scrambled eggs and creative use of leftovers.

Scrambled eggs are just the best: Easy to make, cheap as dirt, infinitely customizable, and ready in minutes.  They’re good for a quick breakfast or a simple dinner, and they’re a really great way to make your friends happy when you go in together on that weekend share.

And the ability to look into your fridge, pull out a thing or two, and throw together something decent to eat is a skill developed by practice and one that will start to make you very happy as you get better at it.

I had some friends over on Saturday afternoon, and everyone brought some snacks. When I opened my fridge on Sunday night, tired and not really feeling like cooking, I saw leftover smoked salmon and a little chunk of herbed goat cheese. And with that, it was scrambled egg time.

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