0424 A Perfect Spring Brunch

Shane left in the wee hours to drive to Indiana for Dark Lord Day, which, along with the drizzly spring weather, made it a perfect morning for brunch and baking – or, as I like to think of it, Fancy Lady Baking Brunch.

After last month’s relatively successful batch of Twinkies, we settled on pop-tarts for our next baking adventure, nudged on by the good fortune of a recipe in this month’s Bon Appetit.  As it worked out, I had very little to do with the preparation of the actual pop-tarts, as I was busy with the main brunch event: bacon-wrapped asparagus and soft-boiled eggs.

Susie and I washed and snapped the asparagus, fresh from the farmers’ market, and wrapped each little spear in lovely bacon from Sparrow Market.

Jamie’s recipe recommends baking for 10 minutes, but I’ve found that it takes a LOT longer to get crispy bacon. In this case, 25 minutes, with a break in the middle to switch the pans around. While the asparagus soldiers were in the oven, I boiled a dozen 5 minute eggs – long enough for the whites to be set but the yolks still lovely and molten.

In the meantime, Olivia, Shana, Shannon, and Maria were busy rolling out pastry and filling it with a panoply of jams.

For me, asparagus, bacon, soft-boiled eggs, and toast are all simple pleasures. Put them all together, and you’ve got something magic. Add some local greens, a homemade dressing, and a spoonful of thinly sliced potatoes baked with a fair amount of herbs and cheese, and you’ve got a fantastic spring brunch, made all the more amazing by what came out of the oven an hour later:

I’ll take one of everything, please.

Recipes:
Crispy Asparagus Soldiers with Soft-Boiled Eggs from Jamie at Home (oops, temperatures in Celsius)
Strawberry “Pop-Tarts” from Bon Appetit

Thanks to Maria for her photos!

Oh, and how great is it that we totally made these before Smitten Kitchen posted her version?

0411 A Very Smitten Kitchen Breakfast

Who thinks it’s a good idea to plan a breakfast – not brunch, breakfast – that requires at least an hour in the kitchen, especially when that hour is 8am on a Sunday?  Me, apparently.

See, the oven needed to preheat for an hour before the pita bread could go in, and the whole point of baking the pita this morning was to accompany the spicy Israeli tomato-egg dish that I saw on Smitten Kitchen on Friday, and making that dish might take most of that hour anyway, and besides, we had a full day of projects planned, so best to get an early start, right?  Right?

Long story short: up at 8, an hour in a million degree kitchen, and the end result?  Pitas that puffed up like happy little clouds:

Pita bread success!

I’m not sure if the magic lay in proofing in the refrigerator overnight, or sitting at room temperature in little rounds for 20 minutes, or being rolled out thin and then sitting for another 10 minutes, or misting with a bit of water before hitting the 475F oven – but there was some magic up in there.  Delicious, delicious magic.

So delicious that we barely let the pitas cool before tearing them open and dipping them into the shakshuka – eggs poached in a (supposedly) spicy tomato sauce.  I say ‘supposedly’ because while the sauce was warm and filling, it was far from spicy, and the eggs needed longer to poach than I gave them.  If I were to make this recipe again, I would NOT add any water (directions say to add tomatoes + their juices + 1/2 cup water), and would kick in another anaheim pepper or two.

A Very Smitten Kitchen Breakfast

On the whole, however, a savory and filling breakfast which provided good fuel for a day’s worth of projects.  And yay, finally pita bread success!

Recipes, both from Smitten Kitchen:
Shakshuka
Pita Bread

0225 Impromptu Egg Mess

Tonight we prepped at SELMA, where I peeled potatoes for 90 minutes and Shane dealt with some totally gross squash with a level of grace and composure that made me very impressed and proud. I promised him we’d leave at 8 so that he could watch his basketball game, so instead of sharing the communal meal, we found ourselves hungry and with a dwindling stock of useful foodstuffs for a quick meal.

I’ve yet to master the omelet, but I long ago perfected the ‘egg mess’. I was introduced to the egg mess by a high school friend after three of us had spent an afternoon building a monster, scrubbing paint out of each other’s hair, and generally doing the sorts of silly things that seem like a good idea when you’re a 16 year old weirdo. All that silliness made us hungry, so Adam made an egg mess – kind of like an omelet, but less precise.

So in honor of Adam, Emmi, and that long-lost monster, tonight’s dinner was an egg mess, and a damned fine one at that. A handful or two of spinach, an onion, and a Roma tomato sauteed in butter. A couple of eggs beat together, then poured into the warm pan and moved around until just barely cooked through. A few slices of Margaret’s Sweet Wheat, dug out of the freezer and toasted. Fast and delicious.

0121 Dinner borne of desperation

So hungry.  We didn’t have anthing planned because I was going to go to Nia, and Shane needed to work out right away so that he could watch the big Cavs game.  And I was effing starving.  Dinner, then, was whatever was on hand and could be prepared in the shortest amount of time possible.  An egg, fried in bacon fat until the white was just set, then flipped for just a moment.  A pita, toasted then rubbed with a bit of herbed goat cheese.  A handful of spinach tossed on top of the egg, tossed on top of the pita.  The yolk broken open over the pita.  Not quite enough to be a satisfying meal, but enough to make it through the evening with only a cup of hot chocolate later.  Such is the beauty of an eggy meal.

0121 Dinner borne of desperation

0104 Quick Omelet with Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Spinach

I don’t need to tell you about the tired that accompanies the first day back to work after an extended vacation.  You know.  Today was one of those days – after 10 days off and only 3.5 days at the new job, the first day back was especially rough.  I tried to take that into consideration while planning meals for this week, leading off with our second attempt at this recipe from Jamie’s Dinners.

Our notes from the last go-round indicated that we’d had some trouble with the chorizo, so I sliced it thin and fried it up in a bit of olive oil while Shane whisked the eggs together.  I tossed in some sliced grape tomatoes and the last of a bag of spinach, then swirled in the eggs.  Jamie bills this as a “Five Minute Wonder”, and while the prep and cooking took a bit more than 5 minutes, in under 15 minutes from start to finish we were sitting down with a generous omelet, warmed bread, and the last of Sunday night’s wine.  What initially looked like too much food turned out to be just right, and my foul work mood had dissolved by the end of the meal.

0104 Quick Omelet with Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Spinach

Recipe:
Chorizo and Tomato Omelette
from Jamie’s Dinners

Eating and growing locally: week 17

Eating:

Sunday night we made amazing UHmazing bison burgers on rosemary rolls with my homemade freezer pickles and also something else that I can’t remember – corn, maybe?  The burgers were SO good and made enough that I repeated the meal for lunch twice during the week.  Nom nom nom.  Did I mention that I’ve started seriously considering beef again?  It’s been 12 years, but I figure that if I can do bison, I should at least try beef.  How’s that for news?

At the moment I’m too tired from my workout to really remember much else about our cooking this week, but SB did make some amazing breakfast sandwiches this morning with farmers’ market eggs and rosemary rolls, and one night I made an excellent green bean salad-type dish from Jamie’s Dinners.  This week I think we’re making meatloaf.

I had intended to share the recipe for the pickles, but as the cookbook from whence it originates is currently packed – along with basically all the other books in our apartment – I can’t this week.  Remind me, though.

Growing:

Not much this week, but then I also forgot to water a bit.  Our basil (and also Basil, of course) is still going strong, oh miracle of miracles.  I’m disappointed with the yield from the tomatoes, but maybe they’ll do nice things in Mark or Mike’s gardens later in the summer.  I did pick a delicious-looking chili today, though.

Eating and Growing Locally: Week 13

Eating:

  • In an attempt to like cauliflower, I roasted a head of the purple stuff.  It was pretty tasty, but I’m still not convinced.
  • A LOT of blueberry pancakes last weekend when Erin Fae was here.
  • Peach ice cream and peach turnovers to use up the last of the peaches and the last of the puff pastry.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs with both the sauce and the meatballs from scratch.
  • Two all-local frittatas with garlic scapes (local for Erin Fae, who brought them as a gift), zucchini, onion, and tomato.  OMG so good.  I think we’ve mastered the frittata – now we just have to master getting it out of the pan:

Frittata attack!

Growing:

The first of the Amish Paste tomatoes committed tomato suicide, but I’ve been steadily picking little Beam’s Pear tomatoes throughout the week, as well as beans and the basil, which has now stayed alive for THREE months.  We also got our first red chili this week = hooray!

Eating and growing locally: week 10

I kind of can’t believe it’s been 10 weeks since I got really pissed off at the state of our food industry and told SB that I wanted to make an effort to eat more locally.  I feel like I talk about this stuff all the time, and I apologize if you’re sick of hearing about it, but the last 10 weeks have really changed the way that we think about food and the way that we eat.  It’s kind of fantastic.

Eating:
Local meal #6

Tiny pork burgers with ground pork from Cibola Farms, herbs and greens from our garden, slices of onion, tomato, and aged cheddar from the market, and rosemary Italian rolls from Atwater’s.  Please ignore the ketchup and the totally unnecessary mayo.  These were sooooo flavorful that we didn’t need other condiments at all.  Maybe some homemade pickles that, as of yet, exist only in my head.

Sweet potato fries

Along with the burgers, we had sweet potato fries, using up the last of the sweet potatoes that had started to sprout while we were at Bonnaroo.  I tossed the potatoes with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, cinnamon, and cumin, then baked them long enough that they were soft, but not long enough to get crispy.  Better luck next time.

All local breakfast!

Shane made a really fantastic all-local breakfast – farmers market eggs scrambled with zucchini, onion, and garlic (also from the market), a fruit salad of peaches and the last of the strawberries, and toasted rosemary Italian rolls from Atwater’s.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Did I say we ate the last of the strawberries for breakfast?  I lied.  The last of the strawberries actually went into a strawberry rhubarb crumble (recipe from Smitten Kitchen), which we ate with ice cream throughout the week.

On Friday, we ate the last of our store-bought chicken, so this week we’ll be making our first foray into entirely local meat.  We also bought (omg) crabs (!!!!) at the market this morning.  Stay tuned for much excitement and exclamation points about that.  It’s also worth noting that I made an incredible cole slaw that we’re hoping to repeat this week.

Growing:

  • The chilis still are not red.  C’mon, chilis!  You can do it!
  • Everything else continues at the previously documented rates of growth.  I’m not sure if the worm poop is helping or not – or if we’ve just hit that hot part of the summer where some things are going to grow, and others are going to die.

One Local Summer meal #3

I was totally brain-dead after work last night but, knowing that we’d be out of town for a few days for Bonnaroo, I managed to pull together our all-local meal anyway. Let’s call it “eggs in a nest”.

Local meal #3: total improvWhat I really wanted was zucchini pancakes, but lacking local flour, that was out of the question. Instead, I shredded 1 zucchini, 1 beet, and a bunch of garlic scapes, tossed them with some egg (in an attempt to bind the pancakes, which failed), and made a brightly-colored hash. I tossed it all around with some butter, salt, and pepper until everything was tender and flavorful, then threw in a handful of chopped herbs from our garden (parsley, basil, and chives). butter tracksNext, I wiped out the pan, melted some butter, and scrambled a few eggs, including one giant one that had a double yolk. We’ve definitely had double yolk eggs before – but I can’t remember ever having an egg that was clearly a different size than the rest, thus predicting the double yolk. Some of the eggs had straw still stuck to them. I love it!
Scrambled eggs! When all put together, it was incredibly flavorful and delicious, and we’d definitely make it again.
Local meal #3 We washed it down with a hefeweizen from Blue & Gray Brewing Co.
Local beer!
Shane approves! Mina did, too.

Shane approves!