Saturday, June 26, 2010

Scrambled Eggs & Prosciutto on Toasted Baguette


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, blah blah blah.  You already know that.  I know it too but I still rarely eat breakfast.  Not being a morning person (AT ALL), I just can't get myself to the breakfast table every day.  Or on any day really.  My life is hard enough before 8 am no matter how much coffee I've drunk, which means I am a perpetual and habitual breakfast-skipper.  So I embrace brunch instead, but usually only on the weekends or special occasions.  Scrambled eggs are a great go-to main dish for brunch because they're easy, cheap and tasty.  But plain old scrambled eggs don't feel that special if you're aiming for an elegant brunch spread.  But toss those eggs onto some toasted bread with a snippet of chives and suddenly you're dining in style.  Lots of different folks do a variation on scrambled eggs on toast - for inspiration, check out Smitten Kitchen and The Hungerstruck Confessions of a Food Fanatic.  Here's my version.

SCRAMBLED EGGS & PROSCIUTTO ON TOASTED BAGUETTE
printer friendly recipe

8 slices of baguette, cut on the diagonal 1 inch thick
1 large plum tomato, cut into 8 slices
8 eggs
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
few grinds black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 slices of prosciutto
2 tablespoons snipped chives

Lightly toast the baguette slices in the toaster or at 350 degrees in the toaster over or regular oven for five minutes.  Set aside until ready to use.

Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until very well combined.

Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the eggs and scramble.  Wait until the edges around the pan start to look set and then gently stir in one direction for a few seconds.  Repeat the process until the eggs lose that soupy look and start to hold together in creamy curds. When the eggs are just set into large curds, spoon them into a bowl and cover loosely with a light dishcloth to keep warm.

Put the saute pan back onto the heat. Raise the heat to medium high.  Lay the prosciutto slices in the pan and saute just until they frizzle up and get a bit crisp on the edges.  Remove prosciutto to a plate and tear into bite size pieces.

Add the tomato slices to the pan in a single layer and cook just until they start to sear a bit.  You don't need to turn them over because you're cooking them on one side only.

Place two toasted baguette slices onto a plate.   Top each piece of baguette with a slice of tomato.  On top of that, put a generous spoonful of scrambled egg.  You want to use the equivalent of two scrambled eggs per serving. Put some of the prosciutto on top of the egg.  Garnish with the chives.

Serves 4.

Monday, June 21, 2010

This Book Is Gratuitous Overkill But I Secretly Want to Read It

Did the world really need a cookbook based on the Twilight series?

That's a rhetorical question, obviously.

Everything about this cookbook cracks me up even though I haven't actually seen it in person.  Yet.  You know I am running out to buy this little gem as soon as possible.  I must confess - I have a weakness for anything related to vampire stories set in high school. (Buffy! Greatest tv show EVER! I highly suggest you buy all seven seasons on DVD and watch every episode in chronological order, then watch them again with the commentary.  I promise it will be a life changing experience.) And I totally love Twilight.  Me and my friend Christine stayed up all night reading Breaking Dawn after waiting at the bookstore for hours before the midnight release.  We walked around looking like zombies with circles under our eyes for the next two days but it was completely worth it. And we will be at the movie theatre watching Eclipse next week. Us and all the 12 year girls and their moms.

But I digress.

As I was saying, this cookbook is hysterical. I mean, look at the title: The Unofficial Twilight Cook Book Love at First Bite.  Ooh, First Bite. How clever. Whatever.  It's the "Unofficial" part that really gets me, like there's going to be, or could be, an Official Twilight Cookbook sanctioned by Summit Entertainment, the studio behind this entire phenomenon.  How big can that corporate merchandising machine possibly become? Seeing as how there are Twilight t-shirts (acceptable), Twilight underwear (pervy), Twilight party supplies (eating cake off of Edward's face does seem kind of awesome), Twilight contact lenses (creepy and probably not FDA approved) and Twilight wine from the Vampire Wine Society (seriously, I didn't make that one up), a cookbook doesn't seem quite so weird. 

Let's see what other people have to say about this.  Here's Cary's review on Amazon:
Hello, I was very dissapointed ... very. I thought that this cookbook would teach me how to cook for my boyfriend, but instead it pretty much made him dump me. The reason, well, most of the reason, was because of the Team Edward Tacos. It says that they are supposed to be "glittery" and "dazzle" your guests, but it didn't tell me how it was supposed to be glittery with just ground beef and or lettuce.  
First of all, Edward is a vegetarian! So, IDK why there is a beef rendition ... that would seem more like Team Jacob ... which is totally not cool with us Team Edwarders. Anyway, that is beside the point. 
So, I did what it said, and put some glitter in it, and I also only put in lettuce because Edward doesn't eat beef. My boyfriend was all choking and stuff and thought I was stupid when I showed him the cook book. 
Also, it doesn't even tell you how to make the heart in the apple ... and I was all like WTF?! 
Anyway, I think that the recipes were pretty not so great, especially when they all made twilight puns that didn't even happen in the movie ... like it says the Team Jacob lasagna will "tattoo your face with taste", but that didn't happen, and Jacob doesn't even have a tattoo on his face. Then I was thinking that the lasagna would fur-splode! but it didn't and the book was saying that it was a lasagna to "be-WERE" of, but IDK what that meant when the lasagna can't become a were-lasagna like the book made it sound like. 
IDK, I was just really confused and I couldn't pronounce most of the words ... which was not to cool when I love to read about Twighlight.

Wow, Cary.  That sucks. I hope you two can work it out.  If Bella and Edward can overcome the Volturi, an army of newborn vampires, werewolves and the highest risk pregnancy that the world has ever seen, then maybe you and your guy can overcome a meatless glittery taco.  Have faith. 

I don't know, kids.  This doesn't look promising. Even I, a professed Twilight fan and cookbook lover, am having a hard time not thinking that this cookbook is absolutely ridiculous.  Oh, and guess what-  there's another one. Sigh.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What I Do When the Children Aren't Around






My children are away visiting their grandparents for the weekend so I ate a slice of cake for breakfast this morning.  I would never ever let the kids do that, no matter how much they begged.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Artichoke & White Bean Tapenade


My plans for tonight are supposed to include moseying on down the street to my friend Stacy's house for a little red wine, girl talk and eating lots of this yummy artichoke and white bean tapenade.  But alas!  My darling daughter developed a 102.4 degree fever sometime between finishing up her last day at kindergarten this afternoon and right now.  The hubby is on a recon mission to the pharmacy to pick up some Children's Motrin because, of course, the bottle we already have is part of the recall.  Hopefully, my baby girl will start to feel better once we get some meds into her.  Maybe then I'll still go out.  Or maybe not.  I don't know yet.  But I do know that I will be eating that tapenade at some point tonight.

ARTICHOKE & WHITE BEAN TAPENADE
printer friendly recipe

14 ounce can artichokes, drained and roughly chopped
15 ounce can white beans (cannellini), drained
3 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup parsley or basil leaves
1 garlic clove, chopped
juice of one lemon
a splash of olive oil

Put all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse on high until the desired consistency is achieved.  Pulse less for a chunkier texture.  Pulse more for a smoother texture.

Serve with crackers, toasted pita or slices of baguette.

Makes 2 generous cupfuls.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chicken Fennel Patties


I forgot how much I like fennel. Its anise flavor pairs well with chicken and onion, lending a sweetness and fullness that wasn't there before.  In this recipe, the fennel flavor doesn't hit you over the head.  In fact, if you didn't know that fennel was in the recipe then you might not be able to guess that it's in there at all unless you have a really advanced palate  That's not necessarily a bad thing, just means that these chicken patties are even more delicious than the individual ingredients would be standing alone.  If you want to make the fennel flavor more pronounced and recognizable, add in a teaspoon of crushed fennel seed.

CHICKEN FENNEL PATTIES
printer friendly recipe

2 pounds ground chicken
1/2 fennel bulb, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 small Granny Smith apple, finely diced (you can leave the skin on if you want)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg, beaten well
2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
few grinds of black pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients really well. 

Form slightly heaping half cup measures of the meat mixture into patties.  You should be able to make eight patties. (You can do this step up to a day ahead.  Store the uncooked patties in a covered container lined with wax paper or parchment paper.)

Grill over medium heat turning once, five or so minutes per side. 

Serves 4.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Food for Thought







One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beef Negimaki


Beef negimaki ranks super high on my list of favorite dishes, with chicken negimaki following closely behind. I order negimaki every single time I visit a Japanese restaurant.  That's how much I love it.  I always look at the menu and try to convince myself that one of the other offerings would be equally satisfying but I somehow always make my way back to my beloved negimaki, even if it's only the appetizer.  Recently, I wanted Japanese food for dinner but had no plans to go out to a restaurant so I tried my hand at making negimaki at home.  The preparation was a lot easier than I thought it would be, although pounding out the beef into thin slices required a bit more elbow grease than I usually exert in the kitchen.  But the effort was entirely worthwhile.

BEEF NEGIMAKI
adapted from Epicurious
printer friendly recipe

12 small scallions, trimmed to 6 inch lengths
1 pound flank steak, about 6-7 inches square in size
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Prepare scallions:
Blanch scallions in a pot of boiling salted water for 45 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Transfer scallions to paper towels to drain and pat dry.  (I skipped this step and the recipe turned out fine.)

Prepare beef:
Cut flank steak with the grain holding a large knife at a 30-degree angle to cutting board into 12 (1/8-inch-thick) slices (1 1/2 to 2 inches wide). Arrange slices 1 inch apart on a very lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, then cover with another very lightly oiled sheet of parchment or plastic wrap (oiled side down) and pound slices with flat side of meat pounder until about 1/16 inch thick.

Assemble rolls:
Arrange 3 beef slices side by side on a fresh sheet of plastic wrap, overlapping slices slightly to form a 6-inch square with short ends of slices nearest you. Sprinkle square lightly with a pinch of salt, then lay 3 scallions (with some white parts at both ends) across slices at end closest to you and tightly roll up meat around scallions to form a log, using plastic wrap as an aid. Tie log with kitchen string at ends and where meat slices overlap. Make 3 more negimaki rolls in same manner.

Marinate rolls:
Stir together sake, mirin, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Put rolls in a small baking dish and pour marinade over them, turning to coat. Marinate, loosely covered with plastic wrap, turning occasionally, 15 minutes.

Cook rolls:
Heat a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. While skillet is heating, lift rolls out of marinade, letting excess drip off, and pat dry. Save marinade. Add oil to skillet, swirling to coat bottom, then cook rolls, turning with tongs, until well browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer rolls to cutting board. Add marinade to skillet and boil until slightly syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Cut off and discard strings, then cut each roll crosswise into 6 slices. Pour sauce into a shallow serving dish and arrange negimaki in sauce.

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cherry Sugar Cookie Tarts

Did you have a fun Memorial Day weekend?  We spent our time attending a barbecue at a friend's house, watching the town parade, cheering for my son at his Little League game and hauling the deck furniture out of the shed and back onto the deck.  The weather was perfect all weekend long for dining al fresco - warm, breezy and, most importantly, no bugs.  We ate a few meals out on the deck, including a dinner that concluded with the pretty cherry tarts you see here.  On Saturday, I picked up a cherry pitter from Sur La Table so, of course, I had to cook something with cherries after I went nuts pitting a huge bag of them.  The tart shells are made out of sugar cookie dough.  I initially planned to post this recipe yesterday but I was too lazy watching the debut of Cooking Channel, which looks promising based on what I've seen thus far.  Everyday Exotic and Chuck's Day Off will probably win a couple of spots on my Must See TV list.

CHERRY SUGAR COOKIE TARTS

For the cherry topping:
4 cups pitted sweet cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently, until cherries are glazed. Turn off heat and cool to room temperature before using.

For the creamy filling:
1 1/2 cups plain yoghurt
3 tablespoons powder sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until completely smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the sugar cookie tart shells:
3 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-4 tablespoons cold milk

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Thoroughly beat in the egg and almond extract until the mixture is pale yellow and smooth.

Mix in the dry ingredients.  At this point, the dough will be dry and crumbly.

Mix in the milk, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together and is smooth.  Feel free to knead it a few times if you need to.

Form the dough into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for one hour.

After one hour, remove the dough from the fridge.  Cut the dough in half.  (For this recipe you only need half.  I freeze the other half.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out six circles about five inches in diameter. 

To make the tart shells, you'll need a muffin tin, regular or jumbo size.  Turn it over so that the bottom is facing up.  Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray, if you want.  Lay one dough circle over a muffin cup and gently press the edges of the dough down so that you're making an inverted cup.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookie shells are lightly browned.  Carefully remove the shells from the muffin tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

To assemble the tarts:
Place 1/4 cup of the creamy filling inside each cookie shell.  Top with a couple large spoonfuls of the glazed cherries.

Serves 6.


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