Eggs Florentine

This post might as well be called “sometimes I like to eat two sticks of butter and five eggs.” I was a little cocky, though. My eggs florentine was just too rich to finish. I’ve been wanting to try making this dish since I first made eggs benedict at the beginning of my restaurant-less adventure, and I finally had the spinach and cream on hand to do so. I don’t think I could have possibly packed any more fat or protein on one plate, but since this is AMERICA, I don’t feel bad. Just look at how beautiful this plate is:

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In an attempt to fill my body with the fat and protein it desperately needs after three hard days of dancing, working, and partying, I figured it was about time, and oh boy does making anything with hollandaise take time and both hands. I started by creaming the spinach — about a big cup of torn and fresh big leaves (not the kind from the bag), 3-4 tbsp heavy cream, 2 tbsp butter, and a pinch each of salt/pepper/nutmeg over medium heat until the leaves were just wilted. Each step in the process takes both hands and I still can’t multitask like I usually do while making these things.

Next, I started in on the hollandaise — my least favorite, most tedious thing so far to cook — and repeated the process I used before. After switching off the low heat to let the sauce thicken, I stuck some tomato slices under the broiler for about ten minutes while I started to boil about an inch and a half of water at the bottom of a saucepan. As it boiled, I turned down the heat to simmer, and buttered the slots of this nifty egg poacher. I cracked the eggs into the slots, and dropped the whole thing in to poach for about five minutes or so until the the whites were firm and the yolks were wobbly and still runny.

I turned the heat up and down over and over attempting to keep the simmer going without boiling, which was tricky and time-consuming. Once the eggs were finished, I ended up dropping them both into the shallow water as I tried to lift the tray from the saucepan, but luckily, neither of the yolks cracked open through the whites. I toasted a gluten-free English muffin, and started assembling. As I started topping the tomatoes with the creamed spinach, I realized I hadn’t made quite enough. Plus, the spinach was now cold and the hollandaise was headed that way. Because both have cream and butter and are very sensitive to heat, I hadn’t left the heat on while I’d cooked the rest. I had to reheat the spinach on the stove, but I still wish I’d doubled or tripled the amount of spinach I’d used, added an extra tablespoon of both butter and cream, and an extra pinch of nutmeg (which turned out to be fantastic with the spinach!).

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Over the top, I chopped green onions and topped with some paprika and pepper. It was absolutely as fabulous as it looks on a really snowy night. I’m stuck at home after being blown off and totally unable to work, and animal crackers and eggs florentine were exactly what I wanted to binge-eat on my recovery day. One pro tip, though? Don’t put your animal crackers near your hollandaise. The flavors don’t mix well.

I’m off to get more animal crackers.

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Miniature frittatas

After last night’s party, I really, really needed some protein and water in my life. My poor liver hates me and needs a vacation. I woke up just four hours after going to sleep to get to the barn in time to meet the horse chiropractor. My off-the-track Thoroughbred’s shoulders and hip are out…again. I knew I couldn’t let him suffer, even if I totally didn’t want to go stand in the 30-degree weather at the barn after a long night of drinking and dancing. I slept as long as I could, skipped breakfast, and took off.

When I got home, I didn’t feel like cooking one bit. Beyond that, nearly every single dish I own is dirty and stacked precariously on pretty much every surface in the kitchen. Why can’t there be a dishes fairy that comes while I sleep? I feel like I spend my life doing dishes, now. I have a new appreciation for the lowest-paid guy in the kitchen, now. That shit sucks. And at least he gets a sprayer and a heated mechanical dishwasher. I’m too feral for this eating-in thing, sometimes.

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Guess what wasn’t dirty? My muffin pan! It made my breakfast decision easy. I’d seen the idea online “somewhere at some point” and figured it couldn’t be too hard to just wing it. It’s like scrambled eggs in a muffin tin, right? This was such an easy creation, I can’t believe I haven’t lazily made it before. It took me 5 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Since I live alone, I only made three of these and the recipe reflects that.

Dice desired vegetables and/or fungi. I used about two lady-sized handfuls total of onion, yellow pepper, and portobella mushroom. That’s two handfuls including all three ingredients, not two of each ingredient. Eyeball it. While I sauteed those in some olive oil (mushrooms last, remember — they cook fast), I whisked together three eggs, three tablespoons or so of almond milk (your milk of choice goes here), salt, pepper, a pinch of garlic powder, and about a half cup or more of shredded cheese in a separate bowl. When the veggies were soft, I stirred them into the eggs/cheese, too.

I filled each of my muffin cups (no paper liners) to about two-thirds full, and I used one of those gigantic muffin tins. I let them bake for 20 minutes total, but started checking after about 15 minutes to make sure they weren’t overdone. No one likes crappy eggs, and this was my very last clean cooking pan. When the knife came out clean, they were done.

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On the side: cottage cheese and tomato slices; frittata topped with cilantro. Every once in awhile, I have a meal that just “feels” fresh, light, filling, tasty, and good for me, and today, that was this meal. I could feel my stomach just sucking the nutrients out of my food, gulping and gasping for more vitamins and minerals. Now that I’ve eaten, it’s time for a nap!

Apple compote quinoa breakfast

This breakfast looks pretty ugly, and happened out of an accident and some serious whining, but damn it was delicious. It was like eating dessert for breakfast and not feeling too terrible about it.

My best pal offered to come over this morning and keep me company while I had a Very Bad Day. I’d thrown four sliced and cored apples of two varieties in a tiny, one-setting crockpot last night, thinking I’d wind up with beautiful, gooey, soft, cobbler-like apples to put in my oatmeal in the morning. Instead, I forgot all about them until she said the house smelled wonderful, “like apples.” We were both hungry, I’d just finished a work out, and I’d forgotten all about the apples for at least ten hours. Realizing I was out of oatmeal, I subbed the only other grain I didn’t have to cook: 90-second heat-and-serve quinoa in individual serving packets.

I whipped up five eggs with black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and almond milk without much effort and a whole bunch of grumpiness, dumped the apple “compote-like” substance on the quinoa, and ran with it. Fuck it. The apples weren’t burned, just goop-y.

I probably would have thrown the whole plate at the wall had it not worked out. No, seriously. It was a bad morning. Dessert for breakfast was just about right today. Hopefully I can use the rest of those apples on top of some bear-shaped pancakes later this week!

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Leftovers: egg tacos

I was so proud of the green chile I’d made a few days prior for enchiladas, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the leftovers before they spoiled.

And I’m gonna give you an important little secret: everything is great in a taco. Corn tortillas turn leftovers into a meal that almost seems like it happened on purpose. Tacos hide my laziness. My usual taco is some sort of protein, filled with some sort of vegetables or fruit, and then some sort of fat. In fact, I’ll probably post fewer and fewer of the tacos and salads I make for leftovers, because it seems awfully redundant and it’s hard enough to stay on top of this blog. I can only say so many thoughtful things about tacos…

I almost always season my eggs with black or white pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. I just assembled these tacos with some miscellaneous greens, “adventurous eggs,” pickled onions, cilantro, warmed green chile, and grated smoked gruyere.

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Eggs Benedict

I crave protein and raw fruits and vegetables in the morning. Normally, I’m such a carbs junkie that I can’t stay off the corn and rice long enough to get a solid amount of protein, but first thing in the day, all I want is meat, eggs, cucumbers, and an ocean full of water. This morning, I stayed in bed nearly two hours before I got up for good — at 1:30pm. The one time I did get up was only to let the dogs out and eat a cookie!

Nevertheless, it was my breakfast time when I woke up, and making eggs benedict sounded like a winner. Who doesn’t need five eggs, 4 oz of sliced uncured ham, and a full stick of butter first thing in the morning, anyway? This is the Midwest, lovers. This is America. This is exactly what the rest of the world thinks we eat, all day long. And I, your giggling blogger, did just that.

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Sort of, anyway. The first round of hollandaise sauce was botched. I remembered that it was just a full stick of butter, three egg yolks, and a bit of lemon juice, but forgot the technique. Still too cocky, I threw everything in the pot on low and watched it all clump up. Damn.

I hit the internet again, and found a basic hollandaise recipe before trying again. I’ll save you the trouble, and repeat it here. You don’t need a double boiler, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as some sites claim (what kind of non-chef has a fancy double-boiler anyway?). But you do only have two hands, and you’ll need both of them to slave over the stove for the entire length of cooking the hollandaise — about 15-20 minutes. Put on a good audiobook or some jams and rock out while you stir incessantly. Warm up your wrists in whatever way you see fit.

  1. Chop up an entire stick of butter into about 20 pieces and set within arm’s reach of the stove.
  2. Crack the eggs and retrieve the yolks of three eggs, put those in a saucepan. A big, 3qt saucepan is what I used, and it worked well. You don’t actually need an egg white separator. Here’s a Lifehack if you don’t know how.
  3. Bust the yolks and stir until they’re an even consistency with the heat off.
  4. Turn the heat on the tiniest, lowest possible setting on the stove. Add in each one of the butter slices veeeeeerrryyyyy slowly. V-e-r-y fucking slowly. Like, until the entire slice is melted, don’t add the next one. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir until your arm feels like it will fall off. Stir until you feel like you’ve given a hundred handjobs. Stir some more. Don’t let the eggs scramble. If they scramble, you’re screwed. Stir some more. I used a rubber spatula, and that worked much better than an unreliable whisk (I don’t even own a whisk). Don’t switch arms, cheater.
  5. Add a little less than a tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir. Taste. Decide if you want more lemon. You can’t undo lemon.
  6. Stir more. When the sauce is thickened enough to stick to whatever you’re stirring it with and feels warm and your arm really hurts, you’re done. While you prepare the rest of the meal, stir it more to avoid getting a gelatinous “crust” over the top. I don’t add seasoning to hollandaise, because I add it on top of my meal to control the amount of salt that finds its way into my food.

The rest of the meal is pretty straightforward. Warm up some English muffins* and some sliced ham by whatever means you deem necessary. I poached my eggs for the first time as I listened to this lovely British man talk, but it was far more complicated than it was worth to boil the water and watch the thing swirl around, worried I was going to lose more eggs to my cooking experiment. I’ve done it. I’ve poached, now. I’m totally giving myself (and you) permission to fry the damn thing over-easy if you don’t have time or inclination to boil your stupid eggs all fancy-like. I assembled the dish: English muffin, ham, egg, hollandaise, and then topped it with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

Ta-da. Looks pretty neat, huh? Kind of made it worth slaving over that hollandaise, huh?

On the side: a cara cara orange.

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*Note: I used Kinnikinnick’s English muffins, available here. They were “okay for gluten-free food,” but not amazing. I probably won’t top them with my finest jams, but for soaking up hollandaise, they worked great. Kinnikinnick makes way, way, way better animal cookies than anybody else, for the record.

Leftovers: breakfast tacos

I had just a little bit more of that taco meat left over from making stuffed tomatoes, and couldn’t stand to not use it and the other ingredients that I either had to use or let expire. The avocado was perfect, the cilantro was use-it-or-lose-it, and the tomatoes and tortillas needed to be used, stat. I was feeling like a big burst of protein and needed the extra fat, so I whipped these up in less than five minutes.

Zapped the tortillas in a skillet for a minute each. Two eggs, scrambled in a skillet with 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk for fluffy-ness. Reheated taco meat in the microwave. Chopped cilantro and cherry tomatoes. And mushed-up avocado with a touch of lime, cayenne, salt, pepper, and a tiiiiiny bit of white sugar.

While making the eggs, I remembered how my mother used to make our scrambled eggs in the microwave. She’d fill the glass measuring cup with two or three eggs, break the yolks and whisk in a bit of cow’s milk with a fork until they were a bit bubbly. After a minute, she’d stir again and break up the solid egg mass that formed. Another minute, and the easiest scrambled eggs ever came tumbling right on to our plates. I only ate them with ketchup and even then, barely tolerated them. In my most broke years of college, when I had my first studio apartment, I’d make my eggs this way because I didn’t know how to make them any other way, and I couldn’t afford a failed experiment.

It wasn’t until I discovered eggs cooked over hard much later that I began to love the flavor of the yolk of the egg. I put up with the whites occasionally to get to the yolks, but hated their rubbery texture and the lack of flavor. After I spent a few years working in breakfast diners, I no longer wanted anything to do with eggs, or fake eggs, or whatever that smell was from those generic plates. It was several years before my desire to eat eggs came back, but now I happily eat them — my way.

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