Category Archives: Eggs

Popovers

a bunch of popovers 2Just saying the word “Popover” makes me happy. These are so much fun to make. I turned on my oven light and watched them rise up and pop right over the rim of the pan. It’s like magic! (Do not ever open the oven door while they are baking!)gorgeous popoversI somehow managed to keep my popover virginity for the first 50 years of my life. I had my first  one a few years ago at my cottage.  My sister Bonnie came to visit and brought her popover pans with her. (Doesn’t everyone travel with popover pans?) I promptly ate two, right out of the oven, slathered with butter. Why had I waited so long?

I have been meaning to make them myself and blog about them, to share the popover love, but life got in the way, and I got sidetracked. A family holiday to Aruba, over the winter break, brought me right back on track again. We had dinner one night at the Aruba outpost of BLT Steak.

Our entire dinner was delicious, but it was the popovers that will keep me coming back again and again. I was thrilled to see that they arrived at the table with soft butter and a copy of the recipe!2 popoversPopover batter consists of nothing more than milk, eggs, flour and salt. I also added some cheese, because cheese makes everything better.what you'll need Making perfect popovers is not really all that magical or mysterious if you understand about the science behind them. The website, bite-sizedbiology does a brilliant job explaining this.   Popovers are like little balloons. An elastic network of egg, milk, and flour proteins (particularly gluten) forms as the popover batter is mixed. This rubbery network then “inflates” as air trapped inside the batter expands during baking. 

Beat your eggs well.whisking eggsWhisk in some warm (120°F) whole milk.adding warm milk Gradually add the flour and salt, stirring well after each addition. It is not critical to get it totally smooth. A few little lumps are ok.

Place your muffin or popover tins in the oven, on the lowest rack, while it is preheating to 400°F. A hot pan will assist in giving your popovers a head start in rising. While popovers can certainly be made in a muffin tin, they will not be nearly as tall and dramatic as ones made in a popover pan. The main difference between muffin and popover pans is the shape of the cups. Popover pans have tall narrow-straight sided cups, while muffin tins are squatter and narrower at the base. The taller straighter sides of the popover pan gives the batter more vertical room to expand and build a bigger steam pocket.filling hot pansEach popover got a generous topping of Gruyere cheese before heading into the oven. adding gruyereServe as soon as they come out of the oven, with butter, if that makes you happy. The top and sides are a deep mahogany colour. Pop off the crunchy cheesy top to reveal a hollow custardy cavity inside.2 popovers cropped close

Click here to print recipe for Popovers.

popover with butter 625 sqI’m thinking I need a mini popover pan now. Tiny ones would be so perfect to serve with cocktails!

Cauliflower Cake

a slice with saladHappy New Year! Have you made any resolutions? Let me know what you’re determined to change or accomplish this year. Personally, I’m not big on goal setting. It makes me very uncomfortable. I fear the inevitable disappointment if I fall short of my target.

A good friend of mine resolved to express more gratitude this year. She wrote me a beautiful note, letting me know how grateful she is for our friendship. I was so touched. Yet, a small part of me felt like crap! Maybe I should be resolving to be a better person too. Or maybe I’ll just bake a cake, a vegetable cake. That counts as virtuous, doesn’t it?baked

with salad 625 sqThis lovely cauliflower cake is very slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty More.what you'll needcooking cauliflower and onionsRoastedmashed, or thinly sliced in a slaw, cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. In this rendition, cauliflower gets boiled until soft and tender. Then it gets folded into a gossamer light cake batter, made with eggs, flour and baking powder. Basil and rosemary add a herbal freshness. Parmesan and Gruyere cheese add some gooey, nutty saltiness and the addition of turmeric makes this cake positively sunny. assembling 2ready to bake 2Topped with thinly sliced tomatoes and shallots, this is a very pretty golden cake indeed. on white plates

Click here to print recipe for Cauliflower Cake.on stripe plates

 

Crispy Cheese Breakfast Tacos

With fried egg 2For me, the best part of a grilled cheese sandwich is the rogue bits of cheese that escape, melting and then dripping down the side of the bread, bubbling and browning away on the bottom of the pan, transforming into a lacy crispy disc of cheese. The Italians  have been making these crispy discs for years. They call them Fricos. I have made cheddar-parmesan ones to serve with soup.

The genius folks over at serious eats figured out a way to get that crispy cheesy goodness on a taco. Normally, grated cheese is added to a taco, but that’s kind of humdrum. They fused melted cheese to the taco.

My mind immediately went to breakfast, needing to fill these with eggs, avocado, jalapeño and salsa. If you are just going to make one taco, (and who could eat just one?), then you can certainly make the whole thing in a frying pan. But I wanted to figure out how to make several at a time, in case you are really hungry, or perhaps have a few people to feed.

Start with a parchment lined baking sheet and a 375° oven. I chose cheddar cheese, but feel free to experiment with your favourite. Pepper-jack would be good too. Arrange 1/2 ounce of grated cheese in a 5- by 2-inch rectangle. Repeat until you have about 3 or 4 cheese rectangles on the baking sheet. Bake for about 3 minutes until the cheese starts to melt.Melting cheese 1Melting cheese 2Then lay a fresh corn or flour tortilla  on top of cheese so that roughly half the cheese is covered by the tortilla. For my first batch, I lightly oiled the tortillas, which turned out to be a mistake, because you don’t want the tortilla to become crispy. It must remain soft, pliable and moist,  so you can fold your tortilla in half to eat it. So I briefly dipped the tortillas into a bowl of water before placing them onto the cheese and back into the hot oven. That way, the surface moisture evaporates, steaming the tortillas to give you the perfect supple texture.Melting cheese 3Melting cheese 4When they cool, you can lift them off the baking sheet and each tortilla is now wearing her own crispy cheese mini skirt! Then the fun begins. Fill them with whatever makes you happy.

I created some with scrambled eggs.scrambling eggsscrambling eggs 2With scrambled eggs 625 sqThen I decided to make an open faced one with a fried egg.With fried eggThese are almost as much fun to make as they are to eat.

Click here to print recipe for Crispy Cheese Breakfast Tacos.

 

 

 

Confessions of Home Alone Diners…and Comfort Eggs

plated 1 625 sqWhen you are used to cooking dinner for a family of five every night, finding yourself alone for supper comes as a bit of a shock, a pleasant one, mind you, but still, quite a jarring change to the system. Having solitary meals quite frequently this past summer got me curious about what other people fix for dinner when they are flying solo.

Out to dinner this week with a bunch of friends, I posed the question to the table. Almost every man at the table said they ate a bowl of cereal or picked up some take-out, while practically every woman said they made a salad with some fish, chicken or eggs mixed in for protein.
Really???

Are my sister Faith and I the only ones to conduct a frantic search for our spouse’s hidden chocolate stash, dump the Party Size pack of peanut M&M’s into a bowl (because our mom raised us right, and eating out of the bag is for animals), guzzle a diet coke from the can (because it tastes better that way, right?), and call it dinner?

The late Laurie Colwin, wrote about this very subject in her book, “Home Cooking.”
“Dinner alone is one of life’s pleasures. Certainly cooking for oneself reveals man at his weirdest. People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam.”

I suspected that because I posed the question in public, where answers would not be anonymous, that not everyone was being 100% honest with me (just a hunch!). So I sent out an email to about 40 of my closest friends and relatives and posed the question, with the promise of zero judgement and total anonymity.

The replies came flooding back almost immediately. I was so relieved. Yes, these were my peeps. I knew they wouldn’t let me down. Here is a sampling of some of my favourite confessions.

  • Entire bag of baby carrots (but he/she only did this once because their skin turned orange)
  • Stacy’s Pita Chips with guacamole (Impossible not to finish entire bag as they are laced with some secret substance that causes addiction)
  • Frozen Purdy’s Mint Meltie Bars (had never heard of these and I think I am going to be very sorry I learned about them!)
  • Pint of Ben and Jerry’s half baked
  • Large bowl of Miss Vicki’s Sea Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips followed by either 2 “Healthy Choice Fudge Bars” or 2 PC Honey Greek Yogurt Smoothie Bars (This person imagines that the “healthy choice bars” or “yogurt bars” cancel out the chips!)
  • Entire bag of Ace Bakery Rosemary Artisan Crisps (see Stacy’s chips above!)
  • Large cinnamon bun with an ice water chaser!
  • Bowl of oatmeal and blueberries with a white wine chaser!
  • Chef Michael Smith’s olive oil popcorn with a Diet Coke Chaser!
  • Large glass of red wine. (not chasing anything)
  • Baked Beans (eaten straight from the can).
  • $1.39 Double Cheeseburger from the McDonald’s extra value menu (I think this person was putting me on…I don’t believe it for a second!)
  • Turkey hoagie and a bag of chips (That’s a sub sandwich for those of you not from Philly!)

Now, lest you think that I subsist on a steady diet of Peanut M&M’s and Diet Coke, rest assure, I mix it up. Sometimes it’s a bowl of Kettle Brand Baked Sea Salt Chips (the only baked potato chips that do not taste like baked cardboard) with a chaser of Villa Sandi Prosecco.

I think that we are looking for comfort when we are dining alone at home. Cooking for yourself should feel slightly indulgent and not at all a chore. After all, you only have yourself to please, no spouse or picky kids! Sometimes, comfort means something warm. When that craving hits, this is what I make myself:a bite goneI always have eggs, cheese and tomatoes in the house.Ingredients 2 

eggs into panready for oven

I’d love to hear what you eat for dinner when you are home alone!  Leave me a confession comment.

Click here to print recipe for Comfort Eggs.

 

Let’s get personal with asparagus

Asparagus photo wikipedia labelled It’s entirely possible that I may be jumping the gun a bit by writing about asparagus during the end of April. Here in Ottawa we will not be seeing any local crops until mid-May at the earliest.  However, given the winter that we recently crawled out of, I hope I can be forgiven for buying California asparagus at Costco last week. I could not wait any longer.

Perhaps like you, I have a love hate relationship with asparagus. I love it when I eat it, but not so much about 15 minutes later when I pee. Up until recently it was believed that everybodys urine has that pungent aroma after eating asparagus, but not everyone can smell it.

It should be noted that the effect of asparagus on urine odour has been around for several hundred years. Apparently one British men’s club is said to have put up a sign reading, “During the asparagus season, members are requested not to relieve themselves in the hat stand.” I would have hoped that men would always have the good sense to never relieve themselves in the hat stand, but perhaps that’s just asking too much of that gender.

More recent scientific studies on what I like to call “The Great Asparagus Pee Mystery” (yes folks, there are some freaky scientists out there actually studying it) have now theorized that there are really two factors at play here; the ability to produce the aroma and the ability to detect the aroma.  Both are determined by genetics.

Let’s deal first with the ability to produce the aroma. Asparagus contains a sulphurous compound called mercaptan. Enzymes in your digestive system break down the mercaptan and certain by-products are released that cause the offensive odour. But, here’s where it gets interesting. Not everyone has the gene for that enzyme. If you are part of the 54% of the population whose DNA lacks the gene for this enzyme, then you will not produce smelly urine after eating asparagus.

Now, what about the ability to detect the aroma? It has been theorized that depending on your DNA, you may or may not have the olfactory receptors to detect the scent. Some of us are “super-smellers” and others are just “smell-blind” when it comes to asparagus pee.

To simplify things I have created a chart!

Microsoft Word - Stinkers and smellers.docx

If you are one of those with a malfunctioning olfactory sense, I envy you. Although looking on the bright side, when I am old and my memory is failing, I will always be able to remember that I had asparagus for dinner!

A word to the wise should you happen to find yourself at the Spargelfest (Asparagus festival) in Beelitzer Germany  or any of these other Asparagus Festivals, this spring. If you are a super smeller, you may want to hold your breath when you enter the bathroom stalls!

The fact that I am a stinker and a smeller does not hold me back from eating asparagus when it is in season. One of my favourite ways to enjoy it is to simply steam it and serve it with poached eggs. I love to dip the spears into the runny golden egg yolk. Last week, I served the poached eggs on top of Rösti potatoes, with the asparagus dippers on the side. A perfect spring dinner!ready to eat 2 625Rösti potatoes, also known as shredded potato cake, is not the same thing as latkes. Latkes are made with shredded raw potatoes, whereas Rösti are made with shredded par-boiled potatoes. Yukon Gold or Idaho potatoes are perfect for this dish.

Once the potatoes are parboiled, they should be allowed to chill in the fridge for several hours, or even up to a day, before they are peeled and shredded. This is the secret to getting the a crispy golden crust on the outside of the potato cake and having a fluffy and tender inside.grating potatoesThe shredded potato is mixed with some salt and pepper and gets pressed into a hot cast iron skillet, with a little bit of both butter and vegetable oil.pressing down in panPatience is required here. Turn the heat down to medium low and let it get brown. This will take at least 15 minutes. When the underside is brown, flip the cake out into a large plate, browned side up. Add more oil and butter to the pan and slide the cake back into the pan, pale side down. Brown the second side.first side browned

While the Rösti potato cake is cooking, steam or boil asparagus and poach eggs. If you are at all intimidated about making poached eggs, please know that you are not alone, and there is help. Serious Eats posted a fool-proof method for poaching eggs, that is really quite genius, and actually works! Click on the link above to view the video if you are planning top poach eggs.

Click here to print recipe for Rösti topped with Poached Eggs and Asparagus Dippers.