Friday, July 29, 2011

Summertime SSDD

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It's summer and it's hot and I feel like all I'm ever eating is cold pasta, tomatoes and goat cheese. I'm not necessarily saying there is anything wrong with this, but a girl has to crave variety at some point. Of course, being faced with a meager pantry makes variety a smidge harder to come by these days. When I'm on a work day, I tend to steer more towards something I can whip up easily and throw in Tupperware to take to work. I also try and bear in mind that I heat up my dinner in a small office with five other people so smelly food isn't terribly fair of me. And, I'm really finding cold foods refreshing in this heat. I think soon will come the time when I'm craving sandwiches. Then it'll be all dense bread and cheddar cheese as far as the eye can see. Maybe some soup.

But for now, with the temperature outside over 100 degrees and with high (for Vegas) humidity, I still can't shake the desire for cold tomatoes. I want creamy, salty goat cheese, and a hint of lemon juice. Same Sh*t Different Day. But just for kicks and giggles, lets jazz it up a bit shall we?

I discovered slow roasted tomatoes thanks to the brilliant and dazzling Molly Wizenberg, she of Orangette and the book A Homemade Life.Slow roasted tomatoes are extremely simple and there are several ways you can season them. Molly (as she is referred to in my house, my guy always knows who I mean) makes hers with ground coriander, a great spice that brings out a lemony quality. For me, I like to go a little rustic and use herbes de provence. This is a great way to improve on the flavor of lame inexpensive store tomatoes. You roast them in a low oven, around 175F to 200F for about 6 hours. They become smaller, wrinklier, and juicier. They concentrate down to a sock-you-in-the-face tomato flavor that you never expected. They are almost syrupy. You really should try them. Like, now.

I'm super lucky because I realized that my oven has a cooking timer. So I just sliced these in half, sprinkled them with herbes de provence, set them in the oven with a six hour timer, and went to bed.

And so the next day, my usual pasta, tomato and goat cheese salad became the infinitely more interesting sounding "Whole Wheat Couscous with Goat Cheese and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes". Spiffy huh? You can make it all pretty and layer the couscous, then the tomatoes, then the goat cheese, but I like to just jumble it all up together in a tangy, sticky mess.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life

This really is a good way to coax flavor out of unimpressive tomatoes. Don't worry about using fancy ones here.

8 Roma Tomatoes, halved
1 Teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or use 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander)
2 Pinches Salt

Place the tomatoes with the cut side up on a non-stick baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt and herbes de provence. Bake at 175F for approximately six hours. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

Whole Wheat Couscous with Goat Cheese and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Feel free to play with the cheese here. Use feta, or another crumbly, salty cheese if you aren't a goat cheese fan. You can also use regular couscous. I used whole wheat because it is what I had on hand.

1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Couscous
1 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons Crumbled Goat Cheese (or feta)
2 Slow Roasted Tomatoes, chopped

Place the water and couscous in a pan and simmer, covered until the couscous is cooked and there is no water left in the pan, about seven minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice and the olive oil, season with salt and pepper then set aside to cool all the way.
When the couscous is cool, add in the tomatoes and goat cheese. I tend to then mush them all together when I eat it. The flavors compliment each other wonderfully with just the right amount of sticky syrupy tomato and a delicious amount of cool goat cheese.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recreation and Sentiment

There is a pub not far from where i used to live in Atlanta that called Thinking Man Tavern. It's not too big, but it had a fine selection of beers and foods. It also has a plethora of board games that it's clients can pull down from the shelves and play while they wait for their food and drink their beer. Sometimes, they had Scrumpy , my absolute favorite cider. It's like alcoholic organic apple juice, all rich and deep and cloudy. I miss it.

It's where we would meet friends for a drink, or where everyone came if I had an event to celebrate. It was my local and I adored it. I hope to go and play a game of Sorry, have a round of Scrumpy and eat a Fried Green Tomato sandwich there again sometime soon.

Their menu was great and there were many things there that I got to enjoy. But the Fried Green Tomato sandwich was my absolute favorite. Served on Ciabatta bread, it was just the right amount of crisp. The goat cheese on it would get delightfully melty and they would also include a regular tomato slice, a little sweet to balance out the tart.

So a week or so ago I put in a special request with Meadow Valley that they drop me off a few green tomatoes along with my regular basket of veggies, because I was homesick and I wanted a taste of Thinking Man.

After a couple of experiments, I have what I consider is a good representation. It's not the real thing, but it'll certainly do. These tomatoes fry up with a delicious and crisp breading that doesn't feel heavy or oily. The tomatoes are tart and bright and the texture is just perfect. Topped with some fresh basil and goat cheese, they make a great side, or you can get some good Ciabatta bread rolls and eat them with as a sandwich. And if you happen to have a glass of Scrumpy laying around, you should probably drink that too.

Fried Green Tomatoes

About Panko. You can buy Panko in many supermarkets. It's basically Japanese Style Breadcrumbs. They are chunkier and crispier. I tend to make my own though, by pulsing the heel of a loaf of bread in the blender and then scattering the crumbs over a baking sheet and baking lightly until they are brown and crispy.

2 Medium-Large Green Tomatoes
1 Egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons Yellow Cornmeal
3 Tablespoons Cornflour (Cornstarch)
4 Tablespoons Canola or Light Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and Pepper

In a wide skillet, heat up the canola oil. Grab three wide shallow bowls. Beat the egg in one, shake out the cornflour in another, and in the third mix the Panko, Cornmeal, salt and pepper. Slice your tomatoes thickly, at least 1/4 of an inch if not thicker. Pat off moisture with a paper towel then coat with cornflour, then egg, then the Panko/Cornmeal. Fry in the canola oil until brown and then flip to the other side. These brown very quickly so keep a close eye on them. Remove to paper towels and pat dry.
I find that one big tomato works well to serve two people. So this yields about four servings.
I top these with goat cheese and fresh basil, or eat them in a sandwich, adding in some lettuce or slaw for extra crunch.

Friday, July 22, 2011


I can't stop cooking these days. It's always been a stress reliever for me. I adore spending time in the kitchen... stirring, tasting, searing, baking. It brings with it lightness. I can shrug off the heavy parts of my day, the responsibilities I have, and focus solely on one thing... cooking something yummy that I want. There are times when I wake up in the morning and all I can think about is what I'm going to cook today. Then I head into the kitchen and on the kitchen counter are leftovers from the other things I've recently made. Sometimes it's not too bad, but right now there are a plethora of baked goods from the picnic-like excursion that we got to take a couple of nights ago. When you're a two person household it can be hard to keep up with a speedy cook.

I think part of my problem is that I enjoy cooking so much that after I've made one thing and eaten it, I'm ready to move on, leftovers be damned! So, because we don't have an infinite bank account with which to purchase the myriad of fancy ingredients I want, it's work through the pantry time here on Horizon Ridge.

Our CSA keeps us well stocked on onions and carrots. In the fridge we had a good quantity of itty bitty carrots that I wanted to do something with, some of which had been languishing in the crisper drawer for a little too long. I initially thought about carrot cake, but then the lemon drizzle cake, ginger cake, and cookies still on the kitchen counter smacked me upside the head and reminded me I was crazy. So I decided to go for some soup. My other half is definitely a soup person, as well as a spicy person. So Curried Carrot Soup it was. I mean, it was in the interest of pantry clearing. Really. I was practically strong armed into it by neglected root vegetables. The dish above is pictured with some fried green tomatoes, for which the recipe is coming soon. By the way, did you ever spell out the word Abundance? It's A Bun Dance. That makes me oddly chipper.

Curried Carrot Soup

This recipe was inspired by a random Rachel Ray recipe that I happened to have pulled off the internet at some point. This is a really good way to use up a few carrots that are a little tired, though I do recommend mixing them in with some nice fresh ones.

12oz Carrots, Peeled and Chopped
3 Cups of Vegetable stock
1 Small Onion or half a large one, diced
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3/4 Tablespoon Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and carrots and saute for five minutes or so until softened. Add two cups of the vegetable stock and all the spices, and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes until the carrots are soft. With a slotted spoon, pull the carrots into a blender with about half of the remaining vegetable stock. Blend in short bursts until the desired texture is reached. I recommend leaving it a fair bit chunky for texture, else it will be more like a puree. Return the blended mixture to the soup pot and add the remaining half cup of stock. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Simmer for five more minutes and then serve.

You can add in a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt or sour cream on serving if you need to quiet down the spice a little. I recommend serving this with a hunk of crusty sourdough bread.

Yields 2 large servings.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Having Breakthroughs

When you cook at home as much as I do, you often find yourself craving specific restaurant foods. When you're also on a tight budget it can be hard to satisfy those cravings. Toss in being in a different city than you are used to and not having found "your restaurants" yet and you've got a sad combination of what feels like horrible deprivation. Luckily, though, I consider myself a somewhat creative person. I mean, how else do you describe someone who, as a child, fell asleep by telling herself stories.

So when the craving came for Indian Rice Pudding, I decided that I would have to figure out how to make it. I knew I wasn't going for a perfect replica... I was looking for something of a hybrid between a standard rice pudding that you might eat with a spoonful of jam in the center, and a thin, soupy, flavorful Indian rice pudding. I knew the flavor that always stood out was cardamom, but I also knew that there had to be another flavor in there that made it different.

And so, to the internet I went. I slogged through several rice pudding recipes before finding an Indian one. And then the lights came on. Of course! How could I have missed it. The ingredient was, of course, coconut milk. Fantastic, wonderful, delicious coconut milk. The staple ingredient that is always in my pantry for when my other half demands his regular curry fix.

So I set about making myself some rice pudding. I decided to use cardamom pods as I had no ground cardamom. I added milk to cooked brown rice, added in spice, some sugar, a can of coconut milk... after it was done I left it and went to work so that it could cool down. Later, when I got home, I picked out the cardamom pods, scooped up a bowlful of rice pudding and went to town devouring it. It was just what I wanted. Cold, texturally interesting, creamy and rich with all of the familiar spices I remembered. The use of brown rice instead of a white short grain was very interesting... giving it an almost steel cut oat quality that I greatly enjoyed.

Of course, biting down on the cardamom pod that I happened to have missed was not an experience I'm interested in repeating. I'm definitely going to have to add ground cardamom to my ever growing spice collection.

Indian Spiced Rice Pudding

The rice I use here is cooked long grain brown rice. This is an easily found staple in our house. Because brown rice takes longer to cook, I usually make a huge batch, portion it out, and freeze it. Then I thaw it for use. This is not everyones cup of tea but it works in our house. You can substitute pretty much any unseasoned rice here.

2 Cups Cooked Rice
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 14oz Can Coconut Milk (I used light)
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamom
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom (Or a handful of cardamom pods but chew carefully!)
Pinch of Cloves
Pinch of Allspice
Pinch of Salt

Combine the milk and rice on the stove over a medium heat and simmer until the milk has reduced to the consistency of heavy cream (about five minutes). Be sure to stir often as the rice and milk can stick. Add the sugar and other spices and mix well. Pour in the coconut milk and cook for a further three minutes. If you're interested in a very thin rice pudding, stop here. If you want something a little more like a traditional rice pudding, keep simmering and stirring until you have the consistency you desire. Do remember that this will thicken when it has cooled. Taste as you go and adjust the spices as you choose. Everyones palate is different.
If you decide that you want this even thinner, just add a little more milk.
Best eaten completely cold from the fridge.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why Fight It?

There are days when things haven't gone as smoothly as I would have liked. I'm tired, or I'm frustrated, or I'm cranky for no apparent reason. I work late. I get to work at about 3:30pm (though it can be as early as noon), and I'm often walking through the door at home close to midnight. I keep strange hours. Much as I try very hard not to eat too much when I get home, sometimes I am prone to being self-indulgent, especially on those days when I'm feeling a wee bit rough around the edges.

Often I'm content with a fried egg sandwich, or some mashed potatoes with peas and gravy. Sometimes I persuade my other half to make me a Johnto (my name for his microwave baked potatoes, which are the best in the world... I still can't figure out how he does it). But then there are the days when I have to stop at the store at 11:50pm or on the way home and pick up a crusty baguette and some cheese, simply because nothing else will do.

I love cheese. I blame my European background mostly. As a teenager, I worked in a cute and dinky village shop back in Southern England. It was incredibly quaint. All of the staff wore little green aprons. Cheese was cut for you to your size specifications. We baked the croissants and baguettes in the back of the shop, and were delivered dozens of fantastic fresh loaves and cakes every day. Sometimes I wish that I could just transport myself back to those days and pick myself up a country loaf, a pain au chocolat and some fantastic English butter.

Many times in my teenage years you would find me at home after work hunkered down on the living room floor, my toes curled around the dusky rose carpet and my back resting against the couch, with a selection of cheese offcuts and some crackers. I think that is where my love of cheese started, those days when I just used to pick out small pieces to take home with me and try.

In recent years I found myself oftentimes seated around my kitchen table with several fabulous ladies, eating cheese carefully selected for us by the beautiful Carolyn and consuming plenty of wine, while we also snacked on Gruyere Gougeres
(which is just fun to say). I called these gatherings our Wine and Whine sessions and sadly they left my life when I left the East Coast.

So it makes sense that when I look for other sources of comfort, even though it isn't terribly healthy after midnight, I find myself sitting in front of some Brie and some Maytag Blue, slicing it thickly and eating it with a rough slice of chewy baguette. Not only does it bring back great memories, but honestly, I'm also powerlessly enslaved to my dairy god. Why fight it?

Friday, July 15, 2011

When Pie Is Named Peculiarly

For many years now, I've been somewhat of a pie queen. I often feel as though pie is the most diverse dessert and I love playing with it and changing it. It all started a long long time ago when I found a recipe for Maple Pumpkin Pie. Being newish to the country, and certainly new to the concept of Thanksgiving, it combined two things that I had almost never used before... pumpkin and maple syrup. I only make this pie on Thanksgiving and many who have tried it have agreed that it is a wonderful wonderful pie. The main reason I don't make it more is because I feel as though I would turn into a rabid pie maker, stealing the gooey deliciousness and hiding in the bathroom cabinet, attacking anyone who tried to steal my precious with a fork. And thus, pie has become part of my repertoire and a standard answer to "What can you bring for dinner?". So, when it was planned for me to head over to my friend Mary's house to make a dent in her fantastic wine collection, I figured I should definitely bring dessert.

About two years or so ago, the love of pie sent me a little overboard and I ended up making several pies a week for a month or two. It was during this time that I also starting coming up with my own combinations, and how I happened upon this particular one. Back then, I was living in Atlanta and, even though there isn't a single peach tree in that city that I could find, peaches were the most beloved of fruits. Combined with blueberries, the two are a winning pair. The sweet and silky peach takes the edge off the tang of the blueberries, and results in a fantastic texture combination. I usually shy away from anything in a box, but vanilla pudding works wonders here. It's sweetness rounds out the dish, and the colors that result are how this pudding got it's name. If you weren't in a pudding mood, you could also top this pie with a cobbler or a crumble. Having recently watched the movie "Waitress", I decided my tribute should be to name the pie after what it is reminiscent of visually, rather what is actually in it. Rest in peace, Adrienne Shelly.

Vanilla Bruise Pie

Use frozen blueberries and peaches if they aren't in season, fresh if they are. If you're using fresh, you should probably knock about ten minutes off the cooking time, or at least keep an eye on the pie more closely. The times listed are for frozen.

1 Portion of Pie Pastry (Recipe here)
2 Cups Peaches
1 Cup Blueberries
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Package Instant Vanilla Pudding

Make the pie pastry shell and part bake it in a pie dish at 350F for twenty minutes. I often tuck a sheet of foil tightly against the pastry and cover it with dry beans to help it along.

After the pastry is part baked, layer the peaches along the bottom of the dish, then scatter the blueberries over that. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the top layer.

Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes, until the juice from the blueberries looks as though it is starting to bubble. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Make up the vanilla pudding, using 1/2 Cup less milk than directed. Usually this will mean you are using 2 1/2 Cups of milk.
Let the pudding set.

Making sure the pie is cool, spoon the pudding over the pie, using a spatula or the back of a spoon to make sure it is spread through easily. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. You could also sprinkle some crushed cinnamon graham crackers over the top just before serving for texture, but I've never tried that. It seems like it would work well, though.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Necessity and All That

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. It's a good phrase, but honestly at this time of year it should really read: Zucchini is the mother of invention.
It happens all over the country every summer. Zucchini plants seem like a great idea in the Spring. Just one or two, just to yield a few nice fruits to toss into a stir fry. After the beginning of the love affair, when everything is shiny and the zucchini are all new, it's heaven. But then, just a few days later, you're sitting on seven zucchini the size and weight of a cat. After that, you find yourself doorstep bombing people with them.

In England, zucchini are called Courgettes and they are much more revered than they seem to be in America. They are longer and a little skinnier, and the deep green skins are flecked with beige. I have memories, however vague, or sauteed courgettes smothered in a rich, creamy cheese sauce. The juicy liquid of the courgette bursting through the rich decadence of the sauce with every bite.

For me, though, I adore zucchini and can't get enough of them. There is simply so much that can be done with them. They are great grilled, they make a fantastic addition to breads and muffins, you can add them to stir-fry's and casseroles. Heck, they're just pretty awesome.

My fabulous farm share has been good to me when it comes to zucchini. I've had them in steady supply for the past month or so, and these ones keep quite well in the fridge for a few days.

So when I went to rifle through the fridge for a good brunch idea (read: something to put under the goat cheese) I settled pretty quickly on Zucchini Pancakes. Of course, I played with the recipe a smidge. When a recipe calls for a small amount of onion, I've been using shallots instead recently. And then I added carrot for color and taste, and green pepper for some crunch, as I was worried the texture would be too uniform. If you're a spicy food person, I would certainly recommend throwing in a jalapeno or other chilli pepper. I, as usual, recommend a little goat cheese on top of these.

Zucchini Pancakes
Inspired by Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa at Home

3/4 lb Grated Zucchini
1 Medium Carrot
1 Small Green Pepper, diced
1 Shallot or 2 Tablespoons minced Red Onion
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh basil (optional)
Butter and vegetable oil for frying

Grate the zucchini and the carrot and then add the shallot/onion and the green pepper. Mix in the eggs and seasoning, then the flour and baking powder. Heat some butter with a little vegetable oil mixed in in a non stick pan. Use about two tablespoons of batter per pancake. Level it out so that it doesn't mound up too much, else it won't cook all the way through. Cook each side until nicely browned, two to three minutes each.
As the batter stands, the salt will draw more liquid out of the zucchini. If it gets too thin, add a little more flour a tablespoon at a time.
Makes about 6 pancakes.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Red and Green Being Seen

Summer is in full swing here in Nevada. It's hot, it's bright, and nothing is supposed to be able to survive here. Really. Every tree that you see here in Las Vegas was transplanted. It is a very manufactured city and for those of us that are local, we realize that this place is designed for people to come and go. But, lucky for me there are two very important things that, with much care and attention, are continuing to plod along, despite their likely unwillingness to do so naturally. My CSA farm share continues to tend to their tomatoes in the 110 degree heat, and the Basil plant in my dining room is hanging in there.

The tomatoes from the Meadow Valley farm in Moapa are the most beautiful shade of red. They are jewel toned and bright, and they taste like summer sunshine, full of juicy tangy sweetness.

I can't think of a better herb to go with they than basil. Full of greenery, it is the other side of the summer. Deep and rich. If you don't have a basil plant in your dining room you are truly missing out. It's a fiscally responsible thing to do, really. And it's lovely to be able to just pull of a leaf or two here and there, depending on the mood.

So when my other half requested eggs with veggies in the morning and I found the fridge devoid of greenery, I turned to the counter and decided that it was a good day for a quiche. I was counting on the goat cheese to distract him from the fact that tomatoes aren't technically a vegetable.

I remember quiche being something that came out of a box in the freezer when I was young. It would have a slight cardboard taste to the pastry and the filling always tasted suspiciously the same and mildly rubbery. I think it took my a good five years of being out on my own before I decided that I wouldn't mind a slice or two. Quiche is actually quite simple and it's very low on the fancy ingredient scale. The base of it is so versatile. You can go so many different ways with it. From mushrooms, to tomatoes, to sausage or just plain cheese. But for me, it's probably always going to be shot through with delicious red jeweled tomatoes, shreds of basil, and the bite of creamy goat cheese at the bottom. It's wonderful as an evening meal with a light salad or maybe some boiled potatoes, and it's also great when morning is sleepily trickling it's way towards afternoon and you are unwilling to let breakfast out of the door, but lunch isn't ready to come on in yet.

This Quiche makes me poo poo the idea that red and green don't go together. I beg to differ. They are perfect.

The Pastry

I use this pastry recipe for absolutely everything. My favorite pie pan is just a 9" Pyrex dish and I tend to use it primarily over my metal ones.

1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons (1/3rd Cup) Butter
2-4 Tablespoons Cold water

Make sure the butter is really cold. Dice it up and mix it with the salt and flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add a little water at a time and mix or knead until the dough comes together. You don't want it sticky at all. Roll it out until it's the size of the pie dish.

You can choose to part bake your pastry at about 375F for twenty minutes before you fill it if you like a crispier shell. I personally like it softer in the middle so I tend not to.

Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Quiche

It's really up to you what your chosen dairy component is, here. It can certainly affect your cooking time a little depending on the fat content of your liquid. I tend to use what I have on hand, often mixing some heavy cream with some skimmed milk. I would trend towards the cream for richness unless you are watching your waistline or would have to go to the store.

5 Eggs
1/4 Cup Half and Half or Milk or Cream, your choice.
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
A few good grinds of pepper
A pinch of Nutmeg
3 Medium Tomatoes, Sliced
1/2 Cup Goat Cheese, crumbled
1/4 Cup Shredded Basil Leaves

In a bowl or mixing jug, combined the eggs, basil, salt, pepper, nutmeg and Milk/Cream/Half and Half. Mix well. Spread the goat cheese as evenly as possible around the base of your pastry shell. Make sure you spread it into the corners, otherwise when you get to the outer edge of your quiche you'll be sad. Layer the tomatoes over the cheese. Pour the egg mixture gently over the tomatoes and cheese.

Bake on the center rack of an oven at 425F for 45 mins or until the middle is set. Make sure the eggs are not runny in the center. Let stand for five or ten minutes before serving. This is also delicious cold.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Getting Back on the Egg Horse

It was a dramatic scene in my kitchen. There I stood against the stove, arms frozen, face contorted in horror as I looked down at what would have been a perfect pan on scrambled eggs. I shrieked so loudly that if anyone else had been home, they surely would have thought we were being robbed and death was imminent.

It had started out normally. A slice of bread was in the toaster. Some butter had been melted in the pan and one glistening egg had been cracked already. It's sunset gold yolk swum delicately in a clear pool of uncooked egg white. And then, the scene was shattered. When I went to crack his brother into the pan, there was an explosion of orange mess that covered part of the stove and went down my leg. And there, in my pan of potential breakfast, was a baby chicken fetus.
It was awful. I swear it's eye was half the size of it's head. It looked like every textbook picture of a preformed baby chicken does. It was an inch long.

I froze, shrieked, threw the pan in the sink and then turned the heat off. Running to the bathroom, I turned the shower on and hastily scrubbed the icky icky gunk off my legs.I took a cleansing breath.

Then I returned to the scene of the crime and cleaned up the debris. Everything went down the sink with a generous amount of water and the garbage disposal running. The pan was fully cleaned. Then I stood in my kitchen and faced an agonizing decision. I was still hungry.

I thought about it carefully. If I didn't make another batch of eggs now, I would be spending the whole day convinced in my brain that this would happen every time I made eggs. I needed to be strong. I needed to be confident. I needed to get back on the horse. I needed a prep bowl.

So again, I melted butter in the pan and I took out two eggs from the refrigerator. I took a small bowl from the cabinet and, with a deep breath I cracked an egg into the bowl.
It was fine. No eerie eye peeked at me from the bowl. No mess and no explosion occurred. I dumped the egg into the pan. Then, I reached for the second egg. Even more gingerly than the first time, I cracked the egg into the bowl. Again, a perfect egg. I breathed a sigh of relief and continued making my breakfast. But even as I sat down and ate, the image of the chicken haunted me. I still haven't quite gotten it out of my head. At least, though, I got back on the horse.

Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs
1 Tbsp butter or buttery spread (not oil though)
1 Tbsp fresh grated Parmesan
Generous pinch of salt
Fresh ground pepper

Melt the butter in a very small pan over medium low heat. Crack the eggs into a prep bowl, then transfer to the pan... or throw caution to the wind and crack them straight in. Add the salt and pepper.
With a spatula or wooden spoon, stir the eggs to break up the yolk. Keep gently stirring the eggs as they cook, that is the secret to perfect eggs. When they start to set but are still a tiny bit runny, turn off the heat. The heat from the pan will finish them off. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir again until the cheese melts and the eggs are fully cooked. Plate. Add more salt and pepper if you so desire.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Musings on Color

It seems there is a dividing line between people that many don't recognize initially. There are those that like beets, and those that consider them evil demon devil spawn.

I fall firmly into the beets category and right now there are 7 of them roasting contentedly in my oven. They are encased in a foil pouch, doused with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. When they are done, I will slip them from their skins, chop them, and mix them with pasta and goats cheese to be consumed hastily at my desk during my long day.

I love their rich earthiness, their slight vinegary quality. Most of all, though, I love their color. That deep red that turns pasta and goat cheese a bright fuschia. Shot through with little ribbons of basil, this simply and easy dish will bring me comfort and sunshine.

I wish I had more of them, but these are probably the last for a while, as the season makes way for tomatoes and eggplant and peppers.

But today, today I will dive into a deliciously pink mound of lemon and pasta and goat cheese and pepper and rich rich lovely beets.