My First Poached Egg

It may come as a surprise (it does to me) that with all the cooking I do, I’ve never poached an egg. Maybe because I went several years without eating eggs, or maybe because I only recently discovered my love of eggs benedict, but whatever the reason, I decided that this morning, I would conquer that experience.

I did a bit of research and found a few really helpful tips online. Smitten Kitchen, a blog by a woman who loves poached eggs but claims to not make them well, had the absolute best advice I could possibly find. What was the advice?

1: Break your egg in a bowl instead of straight into the water. It’s much easier to slip your egg from bowl to pot than to try and crack an egg over hot water without dropping any shell bits.

2: Make a whirlpool out of the hot water by quickly stirring the water before sliding your egg in. Bonus – it works especially well when you’ve followed Tip #1 and have the egg prepped in a bowl.

I did, however, go against what many websites say and left out the vinegar. It’s supposed to help the egg form it’s shape, but I believed the whirlpool would do a good enough job.

So I heated my water to just below boiling. I cracked my egg into a bowl. I stirred the hot water until it whirled around like a little cyclone. And I slipped the egg into the hot water. I stared down into the pot, and to my amazement, the egg stayed almost entirely in tact.

Not to brag, but it was a beautiful poached egg.

My toast was all nice and toasty, with a bit of herbed goat cheese and two slices fake bacon, when I started to wonder: How the hell do I get the egg out of the water?

I began to panic: I don’t have enough time to look it up or enough time to clean my tongs. So I panicked. And I scooped it out with a big spoon and dumped it on my toast.

Of course there was water everywhere. The toast was ruined. The facon was soggy. But the egg was still perfectly in tact.

So I pulled myself together, threw away the soggy mess and made some new toast. I had a perfect piece of toast and a perfect little poached egg. How did I transfer my poached egg to the new toast?

Well.

I couldn’t.

After all that, my egg broke open as I tried to wiggle a fork underneath it to prop it up onto the toast. The good news is that the yolk soaked into the toast from the bottom and I salvaged the white and plopped it on top. I guess you could call it a deconstructed poached egg.

Still, I’d count it as relatively successful for my very first poached egg. And it was delicious.

 

 

 

(the photo is from stock.xchng and is only what I wish my egg had looked like!)

Chocolate Cake and Nutella Icing

I’ve never been a fan of icing, but when I made some out-of-the-box chocolate cake the other night, I realized it was pretty bland without any icing at all. The problem was, my chocolate cake was a late night craving, so I couldn’t go to the store to get any. But there’s one chocolatey thing I always have around the house: Nutella.

I’m not sure if anyone has ever tried this, but it’s absolutely delicious. And so easy. The best part is, if you do it right out of the oven, the Nutella melts onto the cake. And if you like Nutella, then you know how well it goes with fruit.  It may not be the prettiest cake ever, but I can’t think of anything better than banana-Nutella-chocolate cake.

Delicious!

The Perfect Slider Bun

As a child, I never ate sandwiches. Ever. I would eat the meat. I would eat the bread. I would even eat the condiments. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized my aversion to sandwiches was due to the disproportionate ratio of bread to other good stuff. So along with the rest of the world, I’m kind of in love with the idea of a slider.

I guess it’s just the idea I’m in love with though, since I’d never really gotten to try one. They seem to be reserved for real beef burgers and other meaty things I don’t eat. So the other day when I was picking out buns for some chickpea burgers, I got an idea of making them into sliders.

But not just any sliders. Those miniature-sized slider buns they sell still have a disproportionate ratio of bread for the amount of stuff you put inside. So instead, I found some really great mini dinner rolls – to slice in half.

I found them in the fresh bakery section, so the flavor is outstanding and there’s no high fructose corn syrup (yay!) They’re called “steakhouse dinner rolls,” and I’m sure you can find something similar at just about any grocery store bakery. They’re thicker than a slice of bread, but thinner than a bun, so when you slice it in half, you get a really quality  little sandwich suit.

Plus, if you’ve ever bought veggie deli slices, you know that the slices are quite a bit smaller than regular meat slices. Which totally sucks on a regular sandwich, but almost perfectly fits these little buns. I just got a second use out of these awesome buns by making a veggie ham sammie.

 

(PS – I’d add photos, but my bluetooth isn’t working. So hopefully later because they’re adorable)

Midnight Macaroni

Despite posting about how much I love prepping and cooking food, I can’t help but occasionally indulge in the processed, no-good-for-you, artificial-cheesy-goodness of Kraft mac & cheese. I can’t tell if it’s my compulsive hunger after a long workout, or the fact that my mind is inundated with those Kraft insurance commercials, but I can’t help myself.

I know. It’s not real cheese.

Real cheese is not orange powder.

But for someone who doesn’t eat half of her former favorite childhood foods, this is the closest thing to comfort food I have.

The only thing that would make this better is even more of that delicious fake orange cheese powder.

The Foundation of Cooking

If prep work is the foundation of cooking, why is that so many who cook seem to hate prep work? When I used to watch Hell’s Kitchen, the punishment for not winning challenges was prepping all the food for the upcoming cook-off, and it really throws me off. Personally, I don’t know any other time in the kitchen when I am so intimately close with my ingredients as during my prep work, so how can anyone who loves food hate this special moment of preparing it?

Whenever I’m in the kitchen, the time when I feel most active in manipulating my ingredients is when I’m cleaning, chopping, dicing and slicing whatever’s on the menu that night. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a whole foods nut, but there’s nothing better to me than handling fresh herbs and veggies, raw seafood and the simplest forms of food. I like knowing where my food comes from, and handling it is a reminder of what I’m putting in my body.

Of course this is not to dismiss the act of cooking. I love cooking. I love the sizzle in the pan, the fragrant aroma of flavors being released and that wonderful moment when my sauce suddenly thickens and I’m not just stirring runny broth in a pot. But isn’t it just as important to acknowledge and appreciate all of the work that goes into preparing the raw materials before they become something more than just ingredients?

I can’t be the only one who loves chopping and mincing and dicing.

Can I?

Crisp’s Vegan-Friendly Potato Salad

OK, so the headline for the recipe doesn’t actually say that it’s vegan-friendly, but rest assured, this is a totally, 100% no animal-byproducts way of making potato salad. And after being raised on my grandmother’s mayonnaise-based (albeit delicious) potato salad, this was a wonderful, refreshing surprise.

If you have Marie Claire’s Crisp cookbook, you can find the recipe on page 146 under Light Meals. I don’t consider potato salad a meal, myself, but perhaps with all the awesome green on this recipe, I might start.

I’ve made a few alterations and not followed the measurements, as usual, so you’ll find my format a bit different than what’s in the book.

You’ll need:

Potatoes (I like the small red ones)

Olive oil

Green onions

Italian parsley

Dill

Lemon (size depends on how much you’re going to make)

Dried mustard*

Balsamic vinegar*

Salt and pepper

 

*optional items that I added

 

So one of the greatest contributions the book’s version of the recipe has made to my cooking repertoire is the potato preparation method. Absolutely do not change it, or your potatoes will suffer!

Anyway . . .

-Chop the potatoes up in relatively large chunks, like you’d have to cut them in halves or thirds to take a bite.

-Add the potatoes to a pot of cold, salted water then bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, remove it from the heat source and put a lid on top. Leave them for about 30 minutes, and you will have perfect potato salad consistency for your spuds. Thank you, Michele Cranston!

-Chop up all the herbs and onions and add them to your serving bowl. Ratio wise, I did about 3:2:1 with green onions being the largest portion and the parsley being the smallest. I absolutely love dill, so I wanted it to be a prominent flavor.

-How much herbs/onions do you need? What’s great about this salad is having almost as much greens as potatoes, so I would make more than you think you need. I like my potatoes being totally greened up.

-Zest the lemon and add it in there, too. Now, the book says to put wet ingredients in now, but I actually put my dry spices in with the herbs and onions and tossed it. I like how it turned out – very evenly dispersed. So toss in your dried mustard, black pepper and salt with the zest now.

-Add the dried (or at least, not sopping wet!) potatoes into the mix and roll them around in it. Now add enough olive oil to fully coat everything. Then add as much lemon juice as you want to compliment the dill. Then finally, just a touch of balsamic vinegar drizzled over top pulls out the flavor.

-Toss it all up and stick it in the fridge. It’ll cool the potatoes and allow the flavors to mingle.

 

A quick explanation of the additions and changes:

The mustard isn’t part of the recipe, but for me, it’s so reminiscent of my grandmother’s potato salad which was mayo and mustard-based. This potato salad has a very different flavor, but the mustard makes it for me. It’s totally optional.

I tried the recipe first without any vinegar, and it’s really fresh and delicious. So by no means do you need the vinegar To me, that touch of balsamic vinegar gives a slight tang to an otherwise well-blended mingling of flavors. It’s just a bit of a kick. If you can wait and refrigerate it overnight, you’ll need it even less.

I don’t add the wet ingredients until last because they’re something you can’t just take away. By adding the potatoes and making the salad complete minus the wet, you can add more or less based on your tastes. I’m sure you could have some delicious tasting herb-infused olive oil by doing it the other way, but I’m more concerned with how my potato salad tastes.

 

Anyway, give it a try, and I hope you like it. The cool thing about it is that it’s such a simple recipe that you can add and substitute ingredients to change the flavor, especially seasonally. I’m definitely going to try some mint and basil in there during the summer because I think it will be great with the lemon and maybe some lime!

 

PS – I have a quickly taken picture of the potato salad that I’ll try and upload when my bluetooth is working.

The Flu Diet

As I sit sipping a tasty concoction of mango, banana and apple juice, I’m reminded of the limited amount of food I can eat until I’m fully recovered from the flu. That’s not to say smoothies aren’t tasty, but how much bland blah can I stomach before I go crazy??

And let’s get something straight. This smoothie is technically a cheat in itself. My low blood sugar necessitated ordering this drink instead of continuing to eat bread, rice and noodles. Bleh.

It beats the lightheadedness every time I get up though.

When all I really want is sushi, and all that I really can have is carbs, I realize that this flu-induced slow torture could be a blessing in disguise. Well, maybe it will be in a few days since clearly it is not right now.

The thing is, I have absolutely no willpower when it comes to food, and I consistently eat whatever it is I crave. And it tastes good, but after a while, it doesn’t taste great anymore. Maybe this annoyingly depraving flu diet will not only make me feel better but also taste food better.

Until then, I will just have to get more creative with the limited number of bland foods I consume.