Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘vegetable’ Category

I love brunch. There, I said it.

What’s there not to like? Its a change to eat out on the weekends, normally with friends, have a hearty meal that always follows the same guidelines no matter where you go (pancakes if you want them, eggs in various ways with stuff inside, and other such things), it’s a great way to nurse a hangover, it doesn’t make you feel bad for not waking up before noon, and you can have breakfasty food for what really is lunch.

But sometimes going out for brunch seems like too much work. I just want to laze about at home in my pajamas. My friends don’t seem to be awake anyway. And none of our usual brunch places sounds appetizing. On some of those days coffee is about all I can manage, in others I feel like having real food is worth cooking and waiting for it to be done.

Oeufs en cocotte

Oeufs en cocotte

Lately I’m also having an obsession with baked eggs. They’re always good, no matter what they’re baked with. And if done properly, they go up to amazing. Runny yolks without the crispy whites – I know, blasphemy. What can I say, I never liked the Spanish style fried eggs. No need to have a side of potatoes. And the something else that goes in there is always good, be it spinach, ham, cheese, or – bacon. If you put bacon in there it just can’t be bad.

If we go out for brunch and there’s some kind of baked egg concoction on the menu, I’m likely to order it. Sadly, most places overcook the eggs to the point where the yolks are not runny any more. yes, I know that in a busy kitchen it’s hard to pay attention to the doneness of the eggs, but come on! Cafe Presse makes them pretty well, Smith and Oddfellows have nicer something elses, but overdo the eggs. But hey, if I’m going to be picky, I can always make them at home, right?

They’re actually pretty easy to make, but you’ve got to pay attention.

  1. Butter the container you’re going to bake them in.
  2. Put 1 Tbsp of cream.
  3. Add the other. In this case it’s bacon. Spinach works well. Ham and cheese (something tangy, like gruyere) is a classic. If you have nothing, it’s okay too.
  4. Put the eggs on top. Don’t forget a little bit of salt and pepper.
  5. Bake at 350 F in a bain Marie – in a baking pan halfway full with boiling water.

How long – how do you like your eggs? I like the whites to be barely cooked; in my oven that takes about 15 minutes.

Maneuvering the water bath contraption can be annoying. So experiment. Try a small cast iron skillet if you want. Try a higher heat, or under the broiler. Just watch the eggs and pull them out when you think they’re done. Don’t worry, as long as they’re not raw, even if you overcook them the taste will be good – and you’ll learn not to overcook them the next time.

Last weekend I was feeling fancy, and had some asparagus sitting in the fridge and no visible meals where I would use them. So they bacame part of our eggy brunch. My favorite way to make asparagus is to roast them at 400 F lightly coated with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice for 20 minutes. And so I did.

Roasted asparagus with lemon beurre blanc sauce

Roasted asparagus with lemon beurre blanc sauce

Since I was feeling fancy this particular Saturday, I decided to make a sauce. Lemon beurre blanc, to be exact. It’s a buttery sauce which includes lemon, white wine, and shallots (though the shallots are strained out at the end). I’m not going to give a recipe for it … it was bad.

Though I’ll admit it was my fault. At the last moment I decided to half the amount of butter (trust me, it was a lot of butter) without halving anything else. It was like sucking on a lemon and washing it down with a shot of butter. The asparagus themselves were good, though. And to make matters even worse, not even the photos came out all that well! I messed up the whites balance, and my very impatient post processing couldn’t fix it. And I’d rather not say what i think the sauce looks like in the above photo. Did I mention that the asparagus were fine once you got rid of the sauce?

Breakfast at our place is hardly even a meal. Grab some coffee if you’re not running late, maybe toast if you actually have time to spare. No frills, no trying to eat together. Watching the clock because we have to dash out of the door soon. There is great pleasure in making a real meal out of it, that’s for sure.

Brunch chez nous

Brunch chez nous

If you’re a bruncher like us, don’t give it up when you have no-one to go out with, or getting out of your pajamas seems like too much work.

Read Full Post »

From my balcony to my table

Very local tomatoes

Very local tomatoes

Read Full Post »

No, I am not becoming poetic and remembering a dish from my childhood. Neither am I going to share stories. I am just going to talk about something a made a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

As you can see, I have kind of abandoned this blog. I could make all sorts of excuses and give tons of explanations – but lets just call it laziness.

This one started with leftover ravioli filling, and some weird looking squash I had no idea what to do with. Also a bit of leftover demi-glace. The filling was homemade ricotta, sundried tomatoes (out of a bottle – sorry, but I don’t have the patience or the amount of tomatoes for that), an egg for binding, and salt and pepper. Simple and good. The squash were those yellow ones that look like a cross between a squished tennis ball and an alien spaceship.

The process was pretty simple: first you cut the squash in half, empty them a little bit, and steam them till they become slightly soft (if you’re lazy like me, that’ll be done in the microwave). Then stuff with the ricotta mixture, and put in a 400F oven. Some grated parmesan on top will fo wonders for looks.

Looking good

Bake until it looks good. Or until the parmesan starts to crust. If you want me to give a number, I’ll say 20 minutes; but I have no idea how long it was. Writing it down would have been way too organized for me.

The demi-glace was reduced a bit more, with some balsamic vinegar.

The sauce

Voila le sauce!

Aaaaaaaaaand … that’s it. Plate and make it look pretty if you’re going to be taking photos of it. It wasn’t a quick meal what with all the steaming and baking time, but it was certainly simple.

Ricotta stuffed Summer squash

Ricotta stuffed Summer squash

Read Full Post »

To go with the meatloaf (yes, the recipe and photos will come at some point – I’m just lazy about writing it up) I made what my mother recommended: caramelized shallots.

Ingredients

Ingredients

I’m not really sure about how to give measurements for these ingredients. Because the recipe called for a lot more shallots than I had, so I just eyeballed the rest of the stuff. Also, I think the shallots my mother buys are much smaller than these. So I’ll give her measurements, but feel free to eyeball it a little.

  • 18 shallots (ha! this is a side dish, so 2 per person, plus a couple extras just in case)
  • 1/2 glass of chicken or vegetable stock (I use store bought because I’ve never made it myself – well, I did try to make vegetable stock once, but it ended up being more like vegetable soup)
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 glass of Pedro Ximenez, or oporto, or another dessert wine (I decided to use Marsala as I’d just bought it out of curiosity and have never been able to find either of those two in this side of the pond)

Now this can be made with any type of onion. But if you’re going to use normal onions you might want to julienne them instead of using them whole like I did for the shallots. If you are using shallots, peel them trying to keep them as whole as possible.

Shallots

Shallots

These gave enough for 3 or 4 people. Alex and I each had two with the meatloaf that night, and we froze a small container with the rest to have whenever we unfreeze our beef Bourguignonne leftovers. Yes, they freeze well. Or at least my mother says so, and everyone knows mothers are always right.

Onto the fire

Onto the fire

Put everything but the wine and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil for about 10 – 15 minutes. Then add the wine and sugar. Mix in and cook uncovered over high heat, moving it frequently.

Keep a close eye on it, because if the sugar starts to burn you’ll have to turn the heat down.

Once most of the liquid is gone, they are ready.

Caramelized shallots

Caramelized shallots

They’re delicious. If you’re cooking them whole like this there will be a really nice contrast between the slight crunchiness of the inside and the sweetness of the outside. If you have julienned them (do it thinly!) they go great with foie gras mi-cuit – specially on thin toast with some other kind of sweet reduction (the aforementioned Pedro Ximenez, or maybe try some raspberry red wine combination).

Read Full Post »

It tastes much better than it looks

It tastes much better than it looks

Sorry for the crappy photo, but it was the best out of all I too. I’ve been making this every week for the last month or so, since eggplants started showing up in our CSA box (don’t ask, I know it’s not in season here yet; it’s not something I’m very happy about but I certainly enjoy eating something other than kale and potatoes).

Great solution to not knowing what to do with an eggplant, easy and fast – well, if you don’t take into account the 45 mins the thing has to bake in the oven, but it’s not as if you have to babysit it through that.

Eggplants confuse me. I really love them but I don’t know how to make them. Either I end up using a lot of oil to cook them, or they end up in a pot as part of a vegetable stew a make which is a mixture between French ratatouille and Spanish pisto. This is much better! Unless you were already thinking of using the eggplant for something else…

Last year I tried making hummus. It’s supposed to be easy, doesn’t require cooking (if you go the canned chickpeas way), and would be really cool for when my friends came over as appetizer. It was a disaster. Disgusting. Vomit inducing. Had to be thrown out. I think I just HATE tahini. Which is weird because I normally like the hummus I eat in restaurants and so on, but I could not stand the tahini flavour, which dominated anything else that might have been going on in that repulsive concoction.

I was reading Fat Free Vegan Kitchen’s post on her baba ganoush, not really paying much attention, just enjoying the pretty pictures when I came across this: When I first started making it, I used 3 tablespoons of tahini, but I’ve managed to work my way down to using only about a tablespoon.” Mh, interesting. A recipe that has had the tahini scaled back to 1/3 of what it originally was. Sounds promising. Specially as I remember that what I had tried to do involve tahini in amounts of fractions of a CUP. Using eggplant instead of chickpeas was another big plus – I’ve never liked chickpeas to begin with (how I like hummus is a mystery to me).

I think that making this every single time I have gotten my hands on an eggplant should speak volumes as to how it came out.

Oh, I forgot: 1 Tbsp of freshly ground cumin. The rest of the stuff in the same amounts she gives (though I use one heaping teaspoon of garlic paste instead of fresh cloves because its easier and I like me some garlic stuff – there be no vampire kissing in this house).

Read Full Post »

Yum!

Yum!

Scrambled eggs with zucchini.

Slice one or two zucchinis as thin as you possibly can (hint: a mandolin works well, or a grater with big horizontal grating holes – just make sure you don’t grate or slice your fingers, I don’t think the blood would complement the rest of the ingredients). Sautee in a little bit of oil till tender. It will take a while. I also added some garlic paste, so I guess a finely chopped up clove should do the trick.

While that is cooking, pop into a 400 F oven a tray with asparagus drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper – shaken all around so that they are completely covered by the liquids.

Once the zucchini is done, turn off the heat from under that skillet. We’re going to wait for the asparagus to be just about done before adding the eggs so that everything can be served together and warm. But you can beat up the eggs meanwhile if you want to.

The asparagus will be done when they are done. Which is to say, play it by eye. They should at the very least have turned golden on the tops, or brown but not black yet. When that happens, turn the heat back on and add the eggs (2 or 1 per person, depends on how hungry you are) and scramble all around till done.

If you’re a cheesaholic like me, serve with a slice of Manchego cheese.

I couldn’t resist taking and posting this photo as it turned so pretty. And the eggs! Oh the eggs! Just look at them! Changed “brand” of eggs to buy and I think I finally found what I wanted: much more flavourful, intensely colored yolks, differently colored on the outside, not chemically washed.

And there was even dessert that night! Estamos que lo tiramos, señora.

Refreshingly fruity

Refreshingly fruity

Strawberries, fresh orange juice, little bit of sugar. It’s always good. The strawberries were not very ripe (duh) but a nice end to the meal.

Read Full Post »

Thanks to The Crêpes of Wrath’s Roasted garlic and cherry tomato penne recipe I came up with my own version of easy pasta. I’m calling it everything goes pasta because it’s true! With a few common vegetables – the only musts are the onion, tomato and garlic – plus common kitchen staples – like pasta, duh – you can come up with an easy and filling meal. From me to you with love, specially on those days you’re too tired to cook but don’t want to eat something out of a jar.

Vegetables that had to be used up + other stuff

Vegetables that had to be used up + other stuff

Maybe it looks like a lot of stuff, but you don’t really need such a big variety of vegetables! I promise! Cross my heart and hope to die. The leeks, zucchini and mushrooms had to be eaten before a new shipment of veggies arrive on Wednesday, so they had to be CHOPPED.

I’m trying to avoid giving amounts or precise ingredients, not because I’m secretive or anything like that, but because you can really make this with anything. Well, maybe nto everything. Ok, fine, I’ll make a list. But not amounts! Play it by ear.

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes: a couple of big ones, or a bunch of cherry tomatoes.
  • Onion: yellow, purple, whatever.
  • Garlic: plain common cloves, or if you’re cool like me you’ll have previously made roasted garlic paste which tastes much better and is super convenient, not that there’s anything wrong with regular garlic … but you might just want to give this a shot. To keep you in suspense I won’t post about it till the next time I make it – look at what’s left in that Mason jar and make a guess as to in how much time that will be.
  • Oil: my preference is for cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, but you can shoot yourself in the foot and make it with some other oil if you want, I won’t complain if I don’t have to eat it.
  • Balsamic vinegar: try to get decent stuff, but don’t worry about shelling out the big bucks for this.
  • Salt and pepper, freshly ground, of course.

To this you can add any other veggies that will be good roasted, feta cheese (brined if you can find it – the salty tang it gives it goes really well with the sweetness of the vinegar which is the base for the sauce). Parmesan cheese – but don’t make the mistake I made today and get the shredded kind, instead go for the grated which will mix in but not melt a form a gooey mess.

Oven to 400 F and you’re ready to start!

Chop chop chop

Chop chop chop

Chop everything up, throw it in the pan.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Keep your knife away from the oil bottle! No, no, no! Don’t chop up the cutting board either, it’s going to take too long and I’m not sure if it wil improve the flavor. There you go, put the knife down slowly and keep your hands where I can see them.

Sigh. Maybe I should have been more specific. Chop up the VEGGIES. No, cheese is not a vegetable last time I checked.

Shrooms

'Shrooms

And for the sake of argument, lets pretend that mushrooms, if you got’em, are vegetables. I really don’t want to play a game of animal – plant – mineral or go back to biology class.

I think the original recipe this was based on gave some reason for using a metal pan, but I can’t remember what it was. I use it because it’s convenient and not as heavy as a ceramic one. That’s a good enough reason for me. Shrug.

Dont they look a little bit dry?

Don't they look a little bit dry?

Now for the dressing, which is going to be the base of the pasta sauce. It’s pretty simple: oil and vinegar. I like to go heavier on the balsamic than the oil because it’s what’s going to ive it more flavour. How much? No idea. Enough to make a sauce (so don’t be stingy) but the veggies don’t need to be drowning in the stuff.

Much better now

Much better now

Now move them up and down and shake them all around.

And pop them in the oven while you’re at it.

Somewhere between 30 minutes and 1h, turning them around if the top ones look like they’re getting dry and starting to burn.

See, that wasn’t so difficult now was it? Now you go make yourself a nice cold cocktail and enjoy the new episode of How I met your mother followed by at least the first quarter of Heroes before you need to get your ass of the couch again.

When the veggies are almost done (or you’re tired of waiting), cook up some pasta, take the veggies out and mix them (getting the juices out of the tomato), add the feta and enjoy. Easy peasy.

What? You want something more challenging? You are able to multitask and follow the TV shows whilst still cooking? You’re my kind of person then, so read on.

More ingredients? Huh?

More ingredients? Huh?

Can you guess what else I decided to make?

Eggs, flour, what can it be?

Eggs, flour, what can it be?

How about now? No?

What am I going to roll out?

What am I going to roll out?

Seriously, how dense are you???!? No, I’m not making a fucking pie. It’s not a quiche or bread – mmhhhh, gaaaaarlic bread – either.

Ok, one last try:

Letting it all hang out

Letting it all hang out

If you still don’t get it, go and bash your head with a rock or something. Or maybe just try to hover your mouse over the image.

Yeah baby, I made my own pasta! First time doing it too. I was more than ready to write a humorous post about not being able to do, dough that just had a mind of its own, would not be rolled, stuck when cooking, was inedible…

It really wasn’t that bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I still need to get much better at this. And that whole volcano technique that looks so simple and cool in the YouTube videos? Not so simple. Also not something I’d make every single time I want pasta, as it takes a while to make and I need another pair of hands to follow orders – that or a pasta rack. No, not a pair of boobs with pasta on them. Geez, what are you guys thinking? A thingy to dry pasta.

200g of flour (half all purpose, half semolina – basically what I had), 2 eggs, couple of drops of oil.

200g of flour (half all purpose, half semolina – basically what I had), 2 eggs, couple of drops of oil.

That was not a typo.

200g of flour (half all purpose, half semolina – basically what I had), 2 eggs, couple of drops of oil.

I just can’t get enough of writing an amount in grams and not having to use stupid cups or ounces or pounds whose abbreviation has nothing to do with their name, absurd quarts, stones, goats, or any other absurd and utterly stupid measurement unit. METRIC UNITS FTW!!!

If you want to know how to make it, google it and look at some videos, it’s quite entertaining and it looks really easy. Then come back and report how not easy it was.

Can you smell them?

Can you smell them?

Lets get back to the dish. Once the pasta is cooking – or rather, [read with a snobbish and posh accent] once the dried pre-made store-bought pasta is almost done – take the veggies out of the oven. Don’t forget to turn it off. We don’t want any accidents happening. It would be such a waste of vegetables ….

Mix them some more, get aggressive with the tomato and force it to give up its juice. Now is the time to invite the feta to the party.

Drain pasta and mix.

Pst, the pot you just cooked the pasta in is idea for mixing it with the sauce.

Aaaaaand I giiiive you: EVERYTHING GOES PASTA!

Aaaaaand I giiiive you: EVERYTHING GOES PASTA!

….I think at some point I forgot to mention the salt and pepper, but y’all should be smart enough to figure it out.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »