Category Archives: Musings

Egghead Revisited

I am cooking from Seven Fires this weekend, and am fascinated by a recipe for a thick bread and tomato soup that is topped with a poached egg. It brought to mind an old blog post, one that I feel deserves re-posting.  More on the soup later…..

Previously posted:

Today I became obsessed with eggs, especially poached ones.

I had just taken a picture of the fresh eggs I get locally, planning on writing a post about the bounty in your own backyard, but before I uploaded the picture, I decided to check my Facebook.  Lo and behold, there is a post from my friend Michelle, chef extraordinaire, that says simply, “Need to remember to top more dishes with a poached or fried egg”. That one really set me off, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it (actually, it seemed to set a lot of people off – many comments were offered about how to best top with an egg). I love almost anything with an egg chapeau, will go right for that item on any restaurant menu, yet I so rarely do this at home.  Why, I don’t know.  So, perhaps to inspire myself, I list my memorable experiences of this treatment, along with some of today’s Facebook suggestions:

One of my favorite salads in the world is of French origin, consisting of Belgian endive, frisee, and duck confit, dressed with a vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg.  Bistro La Bastide in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego makes one of the best I’ve had.

Eggs with Tomato Panzanella as served at Boulettes’s Larder in San Francisco. Blogger ouichefcook has a post about this dish here with a picture.   I have tried to recreate this masterpiece (doesn’t look too hard, does it?), and while I make something good, it does not compare to Boulette’s version. I dream about this one.

How about on top of pizza? Make a lovely pizza with some peppers and sausage, then top with some arugula and a sunny-side-up egg. Heavenly.

Michelle recommends “on a nice pasta with sausage and wilted greens, topped with parm reggiano”. Her rendition would be divine, but since we are a plane ride away from each other, I am not going to taste her version any time soon. I am going to have to work on my own recipe for this one (and of course, I’ll post the recipe).

Eggs dropped in soups got a few mentions on Facebook, from chicken soup to udon. All great ideas – drop it in right as you serve it.

A poached egg on top of sautéed spinach or steamed asparagus is like instant hollandaise (maybe better?) and easy enough for every day:

In case you don’t know, here is how to perfectly poach eggs:
In a deep skillet, bring 2-3 inches of water to simmering. You want to see tiny bubbles on the bottom the pan, but you don’t want the water rolling. The bubbles will keep the eggs from sticking to the pan.

Crack your eggs into a shallow bowl that will allow you to easily slip it into the water. Cracking them into a bowl first guarantees intact yolks, and provides an opportunity to remove any pieces of shell.

Using a large spoon, gently stir the water in circles, creating a bit of a vortex in the center:

Remove the spoon and drop the eggs into this vortex. Notice how the whites curl nicely around the yolks:

Cook for 3-5 minutes, just until whites set. The yolks should be runny for the dishes described above. Remove with a slotted spoon and enjoy.

Oh yeah, you can have poached eggs for breakfast, too:

Music in the kitchen – Ting Tings, We Started Nothing

This recipe and hundreds more at foodiekitchen.com

TOMATOES!

This evening’s harvest, and the season has just begun!

Varieties pictured, all from reneesgarden.com: Mandarin Cross (large orange), Big Beef, Carmello, Sungold (orange cherry)

Frozen meals – not-so-bad convenience or evil food?

I can’t help but be tempted by some of these foods (that’s one of my favorites pictured above-Shrimp Hacao from Fresh and Easy).  What do you think? From writer Anneli Rufus on HuffingtonPost.com:

“When TV dinners first entered American supermarkets in the mid-1950s, serving or eating them implied that one didn’t know how to cook” — full article here

Artesia Weaves a Magic Spell Over Me

Artesia, California’s Pioneer Blvd, also known as Little India, is a haven for Indian foods, fabrics and culture. My friend Judith, who I go to for all things Indian (she lived there, knows TONS about the food) first told me about the place a few years ago, and I finally planned an outing with some foodie girlfriends. First stop was Triupathu Bhimas, as advised by Judith, where the dosas were to die for, and bigger than my head, as you can see here:

After lunch, we strolled Pioneer Blvd, a few blocks full of spice shops and many clothing stores, most of which stock fabric for sarees. Bolts of lovely silks abound, with gorgeous jewel-like colors everywhere.

The highlight of the trip for me was, of course, the grocery store, Pioneer Cash and Carry. When you walk in the door, you are immediately in the spice aisle, and the experience is intoxicating.  I had to stop and just breathe it in.  Then I moved on to complete my mission, which was to find fresh curry (aka kari) leaves. I first heard of curry leaf from our friend Champa, who along with her husband Sesh, have been expanding our knowledge of Indian foods.  As I am searching for them, in my mind’s eye I see Champa, her eyes closing as she says reverentially “I must have curry leaf to cook my food”.

Curry leaves procured, it was time to move through the aisles and buy some goodies: coriander chutney, Puliogare Mix (love this stuff), fresh naan, and my snack indulgence:

I am not a potato chip/salty snack eater. My choice of snacks usually consists of something sweet or a leftover veggie. But these crunchy goodies knock me out – they hit every taste note: sweet, salt, fat, with a bit of a citrus tang.

With heavy bags over our shoulders (Flip n Tumbles, of course!), we walk back to the car. On the drive home, I am lost in thoughts of those shimmery bolts of fabric, the smells of Bhimas and the spice stores. It is getting close to dinner time when I arrive home, and I can’t muster any enthusiasm for any food other than something Indian. So, with limited knowledge but a treasure trove of ingredients, I set about making Aloo Gobi, a potato and cauliflower dish. There are as many variations on this dish as there are cooks, which means you can expand on the basic dish with the addition of carrots, tomatoes, peas, or anything you think will work.

Aloo Gobi (or Aloo Gobhi)

This Aloo Gobi is not hot, as in spicy-hot, and I decided to keep it that way. The coriander chutney is quite hot, and I planned on serving it with the Aloo Gobi.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
10 curry leaves, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno or other hot, fresh chile pepper
1 cup water, divided use
½ cup chopped tomato
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch dice
1/3 cup diced carrot (1/4-inch dice)
5 cups cauliflower florets (1.25 to 1.5 pounds will yield 5 cups)
1 teaspoon garam masala (may substitute curry powder)
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup chopped cilantro

1.    Place oil in a large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seed. When seed turns white and begins to pop, add cumin, curry leaves and garlic. Stir for one minute.
2.    Add onion and chile pepper, lower heat to medium, and cook until onion is golden and tender, about 8 minutes.
3.    Add tomatoes and ½ cup water and cook 5 minutes.
4.    Add potatoes and carrots and cook until potato is soft, 8-10 minutes.
5.    Add cauliflower, garam masala and the remaining ½ cup water.  Stir, turn heat to medium-low, and cover pan.  Simmer for 20 minutes.
6.    Stir in peas and cilantro (retain a bit for garnish) and cook just until peas are heated through.  Serve with cooked basmati rice or naan.

Great Coriander Chutney:

And one must have naan, which I heated in a cast-iron skillet:


Music in the kitchen – David Darling, Children

This recipe and hundreds more at foodiekitchen.com

Egghead

Today I became obsessed with eggs, especially poached ones.

I had just taken a picture of the fresh eggs I get locally, planning on writing a post about the bounty in your own backyard, but before I uploaded the picture, I decided to check my Facebook.  Lo and behold, there is a post from my friend Michelle, chef extraordinaire, that says simply, “Need to remember to top more dishes with a poached or fried egg”. That one really set me off, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it (actually, it seemed to set a lot of people off – many comments were offered about how to best top with an egg). I love almost anything with an egg chapeau, will go right for that item on any restaurant menu, yet I so rarely do this at home.  Why, I don’t know.  So, perhaps to inspire myself, I list my memorable experiences of this treatment, along with some of today’s Facebook suggestions:

One of my favorite salads in the world is of French origin, consisting of Belgian endive, frisee, and duck confit, dressed with a vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg.  Bistro La Bastide in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego makes one of the best I’ve had.

Eggs with Tomato Panzanella as served at Boulettes’s Larder in San Francisco. Blogger ouichefcook has a post about this dish here with a picture.   I have tried to recreate this masterpiece (doesn’t look too hard, does it?), and while I make something good, it does not compare to Boulette’s version. I dream about this one.

How about on top of pizza? Make a lovely pizza with some peppers and sausage, then top with some arugula and a sunny-side-up egg. Heavenly.

Michelle recommends “on a nice pasta with sausage and wilted greens, topped with parm reggiano”. Her rendition would be divine, but since we are a plane ride away from each other, I am not going to taste her version any time soon. I am going to have to work on my own recipe for this one (and of course, I’ll post the recipe).

Eggs dropped in soups got a few mentions on Facebook, from chicken soup to udon. All great ideas – drop it in right as you serve it.

A poached egg on top of sautéed spinach or steamed asparagus is like instant hollandaise (maybe better?) and easy enough for every day:

In case you don’t know, here is how to perfectly poach eggs:
In a deep skillet, bring 2-3 inches of water to simmering. You want to see tiny bubbles on the bottom the pan, but you don’t want the water rolling. The bubbles will keep the eggs from sticking to the pan.

Crack your eggs into a shallow bowl that will allow you to easily slip it into the water. Cracking them into a bowl first guarantees intact yolks, and provides an opportunity to remove any pieces of shell.

Using a large spoon, gently stir the water in circles, creating a bit of a vortex in the center:

Remove the spoon and drop the eggs into this vortex. Notice how the whites curl nicely around the yolks:

Cook for 3-5 minutes, just until whites set. The yolks should be runny for the dishes described above. Remove with a slotted spoon and enjoy.

Oh yeah, you can have poached eggs for breakfast, too:

Music in the kitchen – Ting Tings, We Started Nothing

This recipe and hundreds more at foodiekitchen.com