Recipe: Soft Boiled Eggs Benedict

Brunch is one of those things that is excellent in a restaurant, but can be a bit tricky to perform at home, as the main event tends to rely on the every fiddly ingredient: Eggs.

To present at their best, eggs ought to be enjoyed as soon as they are cooked. But who wants to spend their whole morning in the kitchen hovering over a steaming skillet, serving one plate of flapjacks at a time?

This is a quick and easy dish I rely on when serving brunch in my tiny apartment, and it hasn’t let me down yet!

https://youtu.be/AlrjpYOzPM4

Blender Hollandaise:

(From Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

3 egg yolks

1 stick of butter (melted)

1-2 tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 black pepper

In the bowl of a blender combine the egg yolks, 1 tbs lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend on high until well combined and thick. Add melted butter 1 tbs at a time, blending continuously. Once half of the butter has been incorporated, add the remaining butter all at once. When the sauce is thick and homogeneous, taste and adjust seasoning with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

If you need to ‘hold’ the sauce while preparing other components, pour sauce in a lidded glass jar, and place in a pan of tepid water to keep warm.

Soft boiled eggs

(adapted from the clever folks at Cooks Illustrated)

Allow eggs to reach room temperature so they don’t crack when placed in the pan. Bring 1/2 an inch of water to boil in a large flat pot with a tight fitting lid. With tongs, gently place eggs in boiling water. Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for six minutes (for soft, runny yolks. Add another 30 seconds for lightly set yolks, and 30 more seconds for firmer yolks). With tongs, place eggs in a bowl and run cold water over them for 1 minute. Peel eggs under running water, and serve. If you need to warm the eggs just before serving, simply place in warm water for 30 seconds.

Recipe: (Heart) Beet Wellington

When I was a kid, my mother treated Valentine’s Day with the same attention as most people give Easter. Valentine’s breakfast would feature heart studded socks tucked in my juice glass and conversation hearts in my cereal bowl. This was, of course, after sitting with me a few days prior to design and create an elaborate valentine’s box in which to stow all of the cards and candy I was sure to receive on the Big Day.

Now that I am a grown up, nothing says Holiday like a beautiful meal with an impressive culinary centerpiece. And nothing says ‘I Love You’ quite so well as ‘I made fresh puff pastry for you, with my very own hands.

I wanted to post this in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day, in case you ant to give it a test drive.

Buckle up, kids this one is an epic!

Recipes after the jump…. Continue reading

Restaurant 101: Prep Tip

vanilla half and half

 

The main difference between restaurant cooking and home cooking is preparation. Restaurant cooks plan their dishes days and weeks and in advance which gives them time to spread tasks over a few days in order to build up flavors and get the most out of each ingredient.

vanilla half and half
this will be the vanilla base in a vanilla bean and citrus Charlotte Russe for a Downton Abbey viewing party this Sunday night

A few years ago, a pastry chef gave me a great tip that completely changed the way I make desserts: to get the most flavor, steep cream ingredients in advance. Making a vanilla custard, panna cotta, cream brulee? Let the vanilla steep in the cream for 24-48 hours. This works great for other reedy, seedy things (like fennel, anise, stick cinnamon, lemongrass) and subtle flavors (chamomile, lemon verbena). Shorter steeping times (30 min-2 hours) are best for more pungent flavors (rosemary, mint, lavender, citrus zests). From there, your combinations are endless. For a dinner party, how elegant (and easy) would a chamomile panna cotta with lemon curd be? Or a vanilla bean panna cotta with blueberry sauce? For an asian twist, how about a lemongrass creme brulee with ginger sugar?

Simply bring your cream, half & half, or milk to a simmer and add your flavoring agent. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Strain the cream before using in your recipe.

Sneak Peak– Picnic recipes

basic tomato basil bruschetta
the simplest Bruschetta recipe you’ll ever make… former chef at the National Gallery of Art in D.C taught this to me years ago, and it’s been staple ever since
garlic ginger dry rub
ingredients for a garlic-ginger dry rub
Picnic Sherpa
The Gent carrying the picnic basket for me….
spicy sweet toasted almonds
I am obsessed with these toasted almonds. I love mixing them with kale chips, too, for a guilt-free crunchy snack
olives and almonds
can’t get simpler than a jar of Caselvetrano olives with toasted almonds, sea salt, and olive oil
picnic spread
the picnic spread
garlic ginger picnic chicken
garlic ginger oven-roasted picnic chicken
garlic ginger chicken
chicken, pre-oven
Barnsdall art park wine tasting
great location for a picnic– Barnsdall Art Park Friday night wine tasting

Just to whet your appetite for some upcoming recipes–

Hospitality @ Home: Fondue!

The lovely ladies that I work for did it again this season with a fabulous holiday gift– the Le Creuset fondue pot.  Since they thoughtfully gifted it with Gruyere and Emmenthaler, I needed to christen this baby quickly.

The Le Creuset 'Heritage' Fondue pot

Once the New Year’s mayhem subsided at work, I treated the Gent to a Fondue Dinner courtesy of the tiny kitchen….

One of the most fun parts of fondue is putting together the array of dip-ables to accompany the molten cheesy goodness. From the minute that I decided to make a fondue dinner, I could not stop thinking about FONDUE AND PRETZELS.

getting ready for the oven

I roasted up some mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and baby potatoes (fondue and pretzels). I cooked up a peppery, medium rare New York Strip (fondue and pretzels). I chopped up some granny smith apple, radishes, and added some cherry tomatoes (pretzels…? PRETZELS???).

zomg. buttery. chewy. YUMMMMM.

Then I made some fresh, soft pretzels.

And omydearsweetgoodness, was I so ecstatic/depressed that I did. Ecstatic because they were so delicious, and came together so easily. Then depressed because now all I can think about–even 24 hours later– is FONDUE AND PRETZELS.

Recipes are below. Enjoy.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

the fondue dinner

Traditional Cheese Fondue:

  • 1/2 pound imported Emmenthaler cheese,  shredded

    say cheese....
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy, such as kirsch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Assorted dip-ables

In a small bowl, coat the cheeses with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic cloves.

Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice, toss in the garlic cloves, and bring to a gentle simmer. After the wine simmers for a minute, remove the garlic cloves. Add the cheeses one handful at a time; stirring continuously until incorporated. Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth fondue. Once all the cheese is added and mixture is smooth, stir in cherry brandy, mustard and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with chunks of French bread, or fresh soft pretzels.  Some other suggestions are granny smith apples, radishes, bosc pears, and blanched vegetables or roasted vegetables. I love brussels sprouts with their bitter bite. Spear with fondue forks or wooden skewers, dip, swirl and enjoy.

Couple of rules for fondue:

1. Don’t eat directly off of your fondue fork or skewer. The fondue will be really hot right out of the pot and could burn your mouth, and at a party, double dipping is just tacky.

2. If you drop your dip-able item in the fondue, tradition requires that you kiss the person to your left. So be strategic….

 

Soft Pretzels:

adapted from Alton Brown

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  •  4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt, or sea salt, or any variety of salty yummy seasoning

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Or for pretzel rolls, twist into corkscrews. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.