Cooking

Put an Egg on It: Make it a Meal with a Fried Egg

Happy 2014! I hope you had a fun new years!

The start of a new year is a great time to check basic cooking techniques – even those as basic as frying an egg. I eat eggs quite often and my favorite method, until recently, was scrambling. While I’ll always love scrambled eggs, and think I’ve mastered that cooking method, I’ve found them less conducive to constructing a meal.

But fried eggs are another story. You can put a fried egg on almost anything – even just a piece of toast – and find yourself with a pretty satisfying meal. I mean, if Buzzfeed says so, it must be true, right?

The problem was that my fried eggs were inconsistent and that’s exactly why I avoided making them. Sometimes they were overcooked and nearly burnt while other times I’d find them partly raw. And I’m not sure what the issue was, because after consulting several cookbooks, it turns out that everyone has their favorite method for achieving the “perfect” fried egg.

Turns out that you can make a decent fried egg either with butter or oil. High heat or low. Preheating the pan or using a cool pan. Yikes. Too many options!

Luckily, after several successful repetitions, I found a method that works for me in Jamie Oliver’s Food RevolutionI’ve also found this technique referred to as the Spanish method for frying an egg. It’s a gentle cooking method done in oil that results in a soft, silky egg that I’ll be so bold as to say is perfect. If you’ve found yourself disappointed with how your fried eggs are turning out, I say give this a try.

Start by heating your frying pan to medium heat and giving it a good coating of olive oil. We want to eggs to sit in the oil, but not swim. Let the pan heat for a couple of minutes. Of course, farm fresh eggs are always going to give the best result.

Crack your eggs into the pan. As the oil heats your eggs will slowly start to cook. You don’t want to oil to be popping, so if this happens quickly lower the heat.

When mostly white, spoon some of the oil over top to help the egg cook evenly.

I’ve found that the time to the perfect fried egg is about 5 minutes. Maybe this will be less for you, or maybe more – it all depends on how you like your eggs.

Once you have found your perfect fried egg – and this method may not be for you – consider how you could use it to create meal or how you could take a boring dish to the next level.

On toast is just fine.

Or how about on a bed of greens?

Pasta?

Leftover cooked veggies?

But no one will blame you if you eat it all alone.

 

And don’t get caught up in the egg controversy. Most experts agree these days that eggs are your friend.

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Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding

How often do you buy bread and not get a chance to use it before it goes stale? I don’t know about you, but this happens to me all the time. That doesn’t mean I toss the bread out though. Stale bread has all kinds of good uses – like bread crumbs, croutons, and my favorite – bread pudding.

At the restaurant I worked back in Connecticut, bread pudding was on the dessert menu every day and the variety was always changing. It’s an economical dish using household staples of bread, milk and eggs. And its flavored with almost anything. Chocolate, raisins, nuts, dried or fresh fruit are all options. Really, anything goes with bread pudding. Even the type of bread doesn’t particularly matter. Chances are you could make this right now with what you already have.

When done right, bread pudding should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread is key, but not absolutely vital. If your bread is not stale you could leave it out on the counter for a good 24 hours. But if you don’t feel like waiting, a slight toasting in the oven will do the job. The bread needs this degree of crunch otherwise you’ll be serving mush pudding.

I find that the amount of liquid needed can vary depending on the degree of staleness of the bread and the type of bread used. Some absorb a ton of liquid and others do not. That’s why I say to use a bit more half and half then you might actually need. If you have leftover, keep it cold and pour over the warm bread pudding when ready to eat. You could use all milk or all cream, or a nondairy option just as well.

Raisins, almonds and plenty of vanilla complement the chai flavor nicely here. And what’s great about it is that you could serve this for breakfast or dessert.

Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of your favorite bread (about 6-7 cups) stale is great, but not completely necessary
  • butter, for greasing
  • 5 cups half and half
  • 4 tablespoons quality chai tea
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Slice or tear up the bread into large chunks. If not already stale, spread the bread out on a baking sheet and place in the preheating oven for a few minutes until slightly toasted.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the half and half with the chai tea in a small pot. Bring to a gentle boil on the stove and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While the tea simmers, grease a 9x13x2″ baking dish with butter.
  4. When ready, strain out the tea leaves and stir in the honey, salt and vanilla. Cool for about 5 minutes then reserve one cup for now.
  5. In a bowl, beat the eggs until whites and yolks are well combined. Add to the half and half and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss the bread together with the almonds and raisins, being sure to coat the bread well in the egg-milk mixture. The bread should be well saturated. If not, add in some of the reserved cup of half and half. Top with a few of the almonds.
  6. Place the bread pudding in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Check on it about halfway through. If it looks like it is too dried out, add some of the remaining half and half and continue baking.
  7. When done, serve warm, with any of the cold half and half drizzled over top.
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Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

You probably don’t need another salad recipe. That’s why I’m sharing a salad idea. Gado Gado, which translates to “mix mix,” is made up of surprisingly ordinary ingredients – raw or cooked vegetables, greens, eggs, tofu or tempeh, and peanut sauce are typical.
But with variations throughout Indonesia, there is no one way to prepare the dish or a set list of ingredients to adhere to. In fact, Gado Gado is one of the most popular dishes in Indonesia and I’m betting that’s because of the versatility. Or maybe because it’s just a great way to toss together leftovers.

Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

Ingredients

For the salad:
    • Greens
    • Cooked rice
    • Your choice of vegetables, either raw or cooked or a mix of both – such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, or sprouts
    • Protein – tofu, tempeh, eggs, shredded chicken or pork
    • Peanut sauce
For the peanut sauce:
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp.soy sauce
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • Salt, if needed

pbsauce

However, a good peanut sauce is at the heart of Gado Gado. It’s probably the one thing you need to pay attention to here. I referenced Mollie Katzen’s recipe in The New Moosewood Cookbookthough based on other peanut sauces I’ve made, the ingredients here are pretty standard.

Just combine peanut butter with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, water and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor until smooth.

What I love about peanut sauces is that they encompass so many of our basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, umami and maybe even a little bitter. It could be why I could put the sauce on almost anything.

Play with the ratios of these ingredients to make the sauce flavored to your liking. It’s easy to up the red pepper, for instance, and transform it into a really spicy peanut sauce if that’s what your feeling. Or increase the sugar for a sweet version. Experiment and customize it to the food you’re putting it on.

I’ve also seen peanut sauces amplified with coconut milk, fish sauce and/or lime juice. You could try adding these in too, but I think the ingredients listed here make a good start.

I used Katzen’s idea here by adding 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to the rice as it cooked (2 cups rice simmered in 3 cups water until tender, adding more water, if need). The turmeric adds some color, a little flavor, and all of those health claims people are raving about lately. Interestingly, it’s dubbed the poor man’s saffron.

Then add your vegetables to the plate. I quickly steamed snow peas, carrots, and shiitakes. Be creative in your combo and if you prefer a crunch, skip the cooking and enjoy them raw. Next goes the protein. I luckily found a hard boiled egg left in the fridge and I was content with just that. Tofu and tempeh are popular in Gado Gado, though I don’t see why shredded chicken or pork couldn’t work either. If you have it, use it. If you want it, cook it up or go get it. You can put as much or as little effort into this dish and as long as your peanut sauce is good, I don’t see how you can go wrong.

gado

Finally, drizzle on the peanut sauce. Don’t skimp. Toss, or perhaps I should say mix, it all together. If you want, throw on a topping. I chose pea shoots, but chopped peanuts could work or how about some fresh herbs? And that folks, is all there is to Gado Gado.

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Anytime Frittata

Frittata. It’s like a omelet, but less French, more Italian and is easier to put together. If you avoid making omelets in fear of unsuccessfully flipping or folding your eggs and having it all fall apart, then the frittata is for you. I like them because you can add whatever you want – seasonal vegetables, any kind of meat and even your leftovers. You can eat them any time of day and any time of year. There’s never really a bad time for a frittata.

minifrit

Did you know you can make a frittata in just one pan? If, like me, you don’t enjoy washing dishes, this is also good news. But, if you’re making brunch for a group, or need something for a potluck, you can make mini frittatas by using muffin tins. I made the mini version (70 of them, to be exact) when I went to speak to a group of Green Mountain Foster Grandparents a couple weeks ago. These dedicated folks spend several hours each week of the school year to help out kids in local schools. How great is that? Fortunately, they liked the frittatas I brought and were not completely bored by my talk! In fact, they had some great questions about local food and cooking.

Anytime Frittata

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces mixed veggies and/or meat, cut into small, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup crumbled or chopped cheese of your liking

Instructions

  1. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, add the milk/cream and beat until eggs are a consistent color and are slightly frothy. Stir in the parsley.
  2. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a 8-10 inch, heavy bottomed pan that has been preheated over medium high heat. A cast iron pan is ideal. Add the onion, potato and the additional veggies and meat, if you choose to include. Cook about 15 minutes or until everything is cooked through and tender. Increase the heat if needed.
  3. For one large frittata: Preheat the broiler. Remove all but half the cooked veggie/meat combo from the pan and set aside. Melt in the remaining tablespoon of butter then pour in the eggs. Stir for a minute then let the eggs settle in an even layer in the pan. After a couple of minutes, when the eggs start to settle, add the remaining cooked ingredients on top of the eggs, along with the cheese. Place the entire pan under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the frittata has puffed upped and slightly browned.
  4. For mini frittatas: Preheat the oven to 375F and grease two 12 cup muffin tins. Pour the eggs 3/4 of the way in the tins and then top with your cooked filling ingredients and the cheese. It’s important to put the eggs in the tins first in order to form the shell, otherwise the fillings will fall right out when you remove them from the pan. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until set and puffy.
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Eggs: Every Cook’s Delicious and Budget Friendly “Little Black Dress”

It is spring and with spring, there are eggs!

So. Many. Eggs.

eggs

But, never fear. Eggs are the perfect LBD (little black dress) in your kitchen! They are endlessly versatile, an essential ingredient for many recipes and from spring to early winter, local pastured eggs are an amazing value.

Everyday Chef has done some fantastic posts through the years about eggs and dishes containing eggs. Frittatas, bread puddings, salads, baked goods.

And there are egg-cellent resources out there to help you boil, scramble, fry, poach and decorate to your heart’s content.

But today, we are going to talk about eggs as a nutritional powerhouse. Eggs are an excellent source of nutrition AND an excellent value to boot.

A Great Value

At today’s prices, 3 ounces of beef (about the size of a deck of cards) will cost you approximately $1.50. Two large, local and pastured eggs will cost you about 66 cents. That is almost HALF the price of beef.

Because of their versatility, eggs can be added to most vegetarian meals to increase the nutritional value of the dish. Eggs are quick to make, require very little equipment or skill.  Scrambles, omelets, fried eggs on rice or grain bowls, hard boiled for salads and sandwiches or even a quick, nutritious snack. Eggs are just awesome.

Quality Nutrition

Gram for gram, an egg equals beef when it comes to protein. Two large eggs have 25 grams of protein and 3 ounces of beef will have about 25 grams. In fact, the protein of an egg is such high quality that it sets the standard for other protein sources. Body builders use a powdered form of egg white (where most of the protein is located) in supplements and although the yolk is too high in cholesterol for those who are limiting their cholesterol intake, it is packed with vitamins (especially B vitamins), trace minerals and antioxidants.

According to one study, lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in eggs as well as leafy greens, is more easily digested and absorbed from eggs than from greens like spinach. These are antioxidants that are linked to overall eye health and prevention of age-related vision loss.

Access

In the Rutland region, we are incredibly fortunate to have such great access to local eggs whose hens are almost always pastured and/or given a versatile diet. Their egg yolks are bright and deep in color, the whites are firm and translucent. They practically shout with health. And because of this access, a dozen eggs will cost somewhere between $3 and $6, usually depending on whether or not they are organic. Whether the eggs are white, brown, green or somewhere in between, we encourage you to explore your local stores, coops and outdoor markets this spring to grab a dozen local fresh eggs and whip up a fantastic meal in the kitchen.


Recipes:

EveryDay Chef – Recipe collection of egg recipes in our database

Eating Well Magazine – Collection of healthy egg recipes

David Lebovitz – Decadent and fun use of egg whites

SparkPeople.Com, Recipes – Great database of healthy and delicious egg white recipes

Resources:

LiveStrong.Com: Nutrition Facts for One Egg

USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Whole, Raw, Fresh

“Journal of the American College of Nutrition”; Lutein and zeaxanthin and their potential roles in disease prevention; JD Ribaya-Mercado et al.; 2004

Potato Pancakes

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Potato Pancakes
courtesy of Food.com
 Ingredients
  • 3 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1⁄2cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
Preparation
  1. Keep potatoes covered with cold water until ready to grate in the food processor.
  2. Fit the medium shredding blade into food processor and shred potatoes and onion.
  3. Dry potatoes and onion between sheets of paper towel.
  4. In a large bowl combine potato mixture with eggs, flour, baking powder, parsley and salt. In a large skillet heat 1/8 inch vegetable oil until hot. Pour in 1/3 cup potato mixture, flattening with the back of a wooden spoon, and fry until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a 100 degree oven.

The Ultimate Onion Tart

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The Ultimate Onion Tart
By Laila Gohar
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced into rings
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 5 strips bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F. Melt the butter and oil together in a large skillet and add the diced bacon. Cook until the bacon is halfway cooked.

  1. Add the thyme, onion and salt to the skillet. Cook on medium-low heat until the onions are completely translucent and caramelized. This will take around 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Combine 2 eggs and the half and half in a bowl. Add the caramelized onion mixture and the freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Roll out the puff pastry in a buttered pie or glass dish. (Make sure the pastry has four edges in order to hold the onion mixture.)
  4. Add the mixture to the pastry and bake for 35 minutes or until the crust and top are slightly browned.
  5. Allow to cool, then slice and serve.

Eggs: A Quick Salad Protein

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  Last week, Hilary Adams-Paul, also known as The Domestic Diva, and I, held a few cooking demonstrations at some of RAFFL‘s Grow a Row sites. Unlike some of our farm to workplace events, the focus was on the basic techniques to building a salad, rather than working through a recipe. There were many useful tips bestowed upon our audience as they constructed their own salad through a session of hands on chopping. Check out this compilation of peeling, cutting, coring and dicing techniques over at the Kitchn to get some similar ideas. We used a wide variety of in season ingredients and the results were impressive, as well as delicious.

Incorporating proteins into a salad is vital in order to reach full meal status, as we have striven to do all through July.  Eggs are satisfying way to incorporate that protein. I don’t eat too much meat and don’t usually keep much of it on hand that I could easily add into a salad. However, I do always have a supply of eggs in my fridge. They cook up quickly and offer a multitude of options.

Hard boiling is one method that can be completed in about 15 minutes. Hilary demonstrated her hard boiling method with ease. Though the technique might sound simple enough, I see people, and even restaurants, serve hard boiled eggs with grey yolks all the time. While there are logical concerns about cooking eggs all the way through, it doesn’t mean you need to overcook and remove all of the delicious flavor in the process. Knowing how to

Before you begin, note that the fresher your eggs, the tougher it will be to peel them. Hilary suggests poking the top of the eggs, before boiling, with a pin. This releases some of the water in the membrane that would otherwise evaporate over time.

Start by placing the eggs in a sauce pan and cover with cold water by about an inch. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, allow the eggs to remain at a boil for two minutes. Shut the heat off and let the eggs stay in the hot water for 10 minutes. This is based on a standard large egg. If they are larger, add more time, while smaller eggs require less time. After 10 minutes, it is important to immediately stop the cooking by placing the eggs in an ice water bath or running under cold water.

If the first egg you crack open is not cooked enough to your liking, place them back on the stove in boiling water for another minute and repeat the cooling process. However, if your egg yolk is not completely solid, it’s still fine to eat. You just have a soft boiled egg – like in a fried or poached egg with a soft or runny yolk.

Frittata with Spring Greens

A frittata is a tasty combination of eggs, vegetables, and cheese cooked on the stove and then finished in the oven. This is a basic recipe that can be widely adapted.

Frittata with Spring Greens

Ingredients • One large sweet or yellow onion, diced • One clove of garlic, minced (if desired) • 2 tbs of butter or olive oil • One bunch of green vegetables: chose one or more: spinach, asparagus, swiss chard, kale, arugula, scallions, leeks, etc., rough chopped • 3/4 to full cup of your favorite cheese: shredded cheddar, ricotta, goat chevre, feta–just about anything works! • 1/4 cup grated parmesan for the top • 8-10 eggs • ½ cup cream, half and half, or milk • salt and pepper to tastePreparation Melt butter or warm oil in a heavy, ovenproof, non-stick or cast iron skillet (approximately 10 inch). Saute onion and garlic in the butter or oil until translucent. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheese with salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables to the skillet and saute briefly (longer for thicker veg like asparagus). Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Spice Up Your February With Shakshuka!

During our fine Februaries, it is easy to tire of winter . . . and winter squash, potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips–those once-exciting storage crops that have been sustaining us since November. If you’re finding yourself positively bored with your usual winter flavors–with no sign of spring in sight–try this remarkably tasty and wonderfully easy recipe for dinner one night.  You won’t be disappointed.

Shakshuka adapted from Epicurious.com

This dish comes out great with jalepeños, but I’ve made it without in a pinch, and it’s tasty that way too.  Good quality local eggs and feta will really make a difference here.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked until tender, or 1 15 oz can
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes, or a 28 or 32 oz can, crushed or whole and crushed during cooking
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Warm pita bread
Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat*. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeños; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add crushed tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta evenly over sauce. Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 5–8 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Serve with pita for dipping.

*Since acidic tomato juices can damage the finish on your cast iron, try using an enameled cast iron pot or other ovenproof skillet for this dish.