Sunday, June 26, 2011

Poached Egg Atop White Toast with Red Pepper Spread and Goat Cheese

For  years I was intimidated by the prospect of poaching an egg.  With a little practice, this isn't very hard and the result is delicious.  This particular breakfast is one I threw together using items in the house.  The Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread is an awesome, versitle spread.  Great for sandwiches, dipping, salads and even accompanying a burger or fish.  It pairs beautifully with goat cheese, sea salt and a small mixed green salad with balsamic and olive oil.

- 2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
- 1 large egg
- 1 slice toasted white (or wheat or potato) bread
- 1 Tbsp TJ's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic (or alternative veggie spread)
- 1 1/2 oz Soft Goat Cheese
- 1 handful of Baby Greens 
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper to taste

To poach the eggs, bring 6 to 8 inches of water to a boil in a large deep saucepan.  Add the vinegar to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer (note that simmering water has no bubbles).  Crack egg in a small cup or ramekin.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the water at the edges of the pan twice in a circular motion to get the water moving, then add the egg to the center of the pan and simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the white is set and the egg yolks begin to thicken but are not hard.  Remove with a slotted spoon.

While egg is cooking, spread the toast with roasted red pepper and then lightly smash the goat cheese on top.  Place egg on the toast and drizzle with Aoli and sea salt and pepper to taste.

Serve next to a green salad with oil and vinegar, and a homemade latte.  Bon Apetit!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cucumber Pimm's Sparkling Sangria

I recently threw a bridal shower for my fantastic friend, Sam.  Since she's from England, I did a "Wonderland"-themed tea party.  For the libation-of-choice, I made this Pimm's Cup-type Sangria.  I adore Sangrias. They are simple and give a fun "pizazz" to daytime events.

Pimm's No. 1 is an herbal gin-based liquer.  Combined with English hothouse cucumbers (great choice for lack of seeds), lemon, Valencia orange,  and sparkling wine, Pimm's makes for a light and refreshing drink.

1 1/2 cups sliced English Cucumbers
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced
4 ounces Pimm's No. 1
2 ounces fresh orange juice
1 tablspoon sugar
750ml bottle sparkling wine, chilled
About 3 cups ice cubes (optional)

In a large (at least 2 quart) glass pitcher, combine the cucumber, lemon, and orange slices.  Pimm's orange juice, and sugar, and sir until the sugar has dissolved.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours.

When ready to serve, slowly add the sparkling wine, stirring gently with a long handled wooden spoon.  Fill highballs, wineglasses, or other decorative glasses with ice cubes, if using, and slowly pour the sangria over the ice, allowing the cucumber and citrus slices to fall into the glasses.

Serves 4

Garlic Oil and Aoili from Scratch

I'm posting this as an accompaniment to the Thomas Keller Creamy Pepper Dressing.  It can also be used in any way you use mayonnaise and tastes delicious on sandwiches, cooked with vegetables and as a condiment for fish.

(For Aoili)
4 large egg yolks
2 cups Garlic Oil (see below)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt

(For Garlic Oil)
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
About 2 cups canola oil

(For Garlic Oil)
Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves.  Put the cloves in a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1-inch- none of the garlic cloves should be poking through the oil.

Set the saucepan on a diffuser over medium-low heat.  The garlic should cook gently: very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface; adjust the heat as necessary and/or move the pan to one side of the diffuser if it is cooking too quickly.  Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.

I got this diffuser as a Christmas gift from Sur Le Table

Refrigerate the garlic in a covered container, submerged in the oil for up to 1 week.  Remove garlic from oil when you are ready to use oil for Aoili.

The garlic oil with garlic pieces is delicious as-is.  Serve with bread.  

(For Aoili)
Put the egg yolks in a food processor and process to combine.  With the motor running, begin adding the oil very, very slowly (if your processor has a tube with a small hole in the center to control the stream, this is the time to use it), blending until emulsified and thickened.  

Add the lemon juice and salt.  Refriegerate in a covered container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 cups 

Red Potato Green Bean Salad with Creamy Pepper Dressing

Hello $h*t I Bakers!  I've missed you all dearly this past month.  Between a two-week trip to China, followed by a trip to New Orleans to see two of our dear friends get married, plus work, a wedding shower and two batchelorette parties I have had little time to cook, let alone post.  Finally, I am back to a normal schedule and am excited to get caught up!!

This recipe is one I prepared as a healthy, but hearty, salad to serve at Easter along with Giada's Roasted Pork Loin with Balsamic Dressing.  Because it's Thomas Keller's, the dressing recipe calls for Aioli you make from scratch (starting with marinating the olive oil with garlic for 40 minutes over a diffuser).  I did every little step, and even used my leftover marinated garlic for the Roast Pork Loin Dressing.  If you are not big on spending 1 full day to prepare a meal, I recommend buying store-bought aoili.

(Ingredients for Creamy Pepper Dressing)

1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/4 cup Banyuls vinegar ( - I substitued a basic Red Wine Vinegar)
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup Aioli (Make ahead - see link for recipe)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup creme fraiche
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

(Ingredients for Salad)
2 pounds new potatoes, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter
1 Sachet (see below)
Kosher Salt
1 pound thin green beans (haricorts verts)
2 heads Bibb lettuce
2 tablespoons miced shallots
1 tablespoon 1-inch pieces chives
Freshly ground black pepper
Small taragon and chevril sprigs (I skipped this)

(Ingredients for Sachet)
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
10 black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 7-inch square of cheesecloth
4-5" kitchen twine

(Directions for the Dressing)
Crush the peppercorns in a mortar with a pestle (or put them in a heavy-duty plastic bag and crush with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan).  The crushed peppercorns will be in the finished dressing, so they shouldn't be in large pieces.

Transfer to a small saucepan, add the vinegar and honey, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Skim and discard any foam that rises to the top and reduce the heat to keep at a gentle simmer.  Simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Remove from heat. (This step was tricky; I had to repeat it twice in order to get the right consistancy.  If you temp is too low, the mixture won't cook down properly; too high and the honey thickens and leaves a sticky residue on the bottom of the pan.)

Meanwhile, whisk together the aioli, buttermilk, and creme fraiche in a bowl.  While the reduction is still warm, whisk it into the aioli mixture.  Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.

Refrigerate in a a covered container for up to 1 week.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

(Directions for the Sachet)
Sachets are used to flavor cooking liquids.  A cheesecloth sachet encloses small herbs and spices such as peppercorns and cloves, and works like a tea bag.  Once the contents have added their flavors to the cooking liquid, the sachet can easily be removed and discarded.

Lay out a 7-inch square of cheesecloth.  Put the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and garlic near the bottom of the square and fold the bottom edge up and over them.  Roll once, tuck in the two ends of the cheesecoth, and continue to roll.  Tied the cheesecloth at both ends with kitchen twine.

(Directions for the Salad)
Put the potatoes, sachet and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and spread on a tray to cool; discard the sachet.  Once they are cool, cut potatoes in half.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare an ice bath.  Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and line rack with paper towels.

Hold the beans a handful at a time with the ends all facing one direction and use scissors to cutt off the stem ends.  Blance the beans for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still slightly resistant to the tooth.  Drain and put in the ice bath just until cold, then drain on the paper towels.

Cut out the cores of the heads of lettuce.  Separate the leaves, wash, and dry in a salad spinner.  Stack several leaves at a time, roll up, and cut crosswise into strips about 3/4 inch wide (this is called a chiffonade).  Separate the chiffonade and put into a bowl.  Toss with enough of the dressing to coat lightly.

Transfer the beans to a large bowl and toss with the potatoes, shallots, and chives.  Spoon 1/4 cup of the dressing around the sides of the bowl and toss the ingredients to lightly coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread half the lettuce on a serving platter.  Arrange about half the vegetables in a layer over the greens. Top with another layer of lettuce and the remaining vegetables.  Garnish with the herb sprigs, and serve the remaining dressing on the side.
Serves 6

Now put your feet up and rest.  You deserve it.