The Egg Challenge

May 17, 2012 § 6 Comments

Eggs!  Eggs. Eight or Nine eggs each day. It’s the two-sided coin of owning 11 chickens. On one side,  I’m thrilled to have fresh eggs always available.  On the other, the stream of eggs is so steady at this time of the year, you can be swimming in them in no time.  My kids do all of the fetching.  A “chore” that isn’t much like one at all for them.  They even know the sounds that come from the coop that tell them there will soon be another egg to collect.  They watch, they wait.  They sometimes fight over who “just got to check!!”  But, they keep bringing them in, and it’s my job (that I love) as the cook to find things to make out of them.
After scrambled, fried, baked, en cocotte, hard-boiled, and  poached (although I haven’t completely mastered that one yet) I decided to use them in a less obviously eggy way.  Yes, my children’s “eggs? again?” looks factored greatly into this decision.  Truthfully, even though I’m an egg lover, I’ve begun to feel that way too, so it was time to find something new.  I decided to try Thomas Keller’s 7 yolk pasta.  I tried it mostly because it uses 7 eggs, but also because, having Italian roots,  I felt like I needed to experience making pasta by hand at least once.  And, could Thomas Keller, seemingly the most fastidious person alive, put out a recipe that didn’t work? Probably not.
As it’s written in the French Laundry Cookbook, you make this dough entirely by hand, starting with an egg filled flour volcano on your kitchen counter.   It’s pretty exciting! You swirl and swirl the egg mixture, picking up flour gradually as you swirl, and then once it all comes together, you knead it for what seems like a lifetime, but really is about 20 minutes.  I broke a sweat, my shoulders were burning, but I had a golden ball of silken dough! I wanted to set it on a shelf and sit back and admire the result of all that chicken/human labor.  And I did for about 30 minutes (the time you let it rest after kneading), but then I came to my senses and remembered I was on the practical mission of dinner and got back to work.
I didn’t have a pasta machine, but I had read accounts of grandmothers using broom handles to roll out the dough in order to get it as thin as it needs to be, so I just went with that.  There are tons of You Tube how-to’s on rolling out and cutting pasta by hand (this is how I did the cutting).  The people in the videos usually have long rollers (see a gorgeous example of one here),  but know that you can use a wooden broom handle and it all comes out very well with delicious bowls of pasta and not an “eggs, again?” look to be found.
::Find the entire recipe here
::This pasta would be great to use in this,  or, if you are still craving more eggs,  this.
::Use the leftover egg whites for this.  No one will know.

Goings On

March 26, 2012 § 8 Comments

Hello reader! It’s been a while, hasn’t it. Well, it has been for me.  I dropped my computer on the floor a few weeks ago, killing it instantly, and silencing me for a while.  If you’ve been paying attention you know this is the SECOND time I’ve done this. My husband is losing his patience.   I may just need to stay away from computers altogether, but for now, here is a quick update on things around here:

:::I made my first loaf of naturally leavened bread!!  I started it from my own starter and everything! Was I this proud of myself on the days I gave birth? I’m not sure.  I used a recipe from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Bakingbut there are lots of recipes out there.  Try here and here, for instance.

:::I took an old turtleneck from one of my kids drawers and turned it into a dress with the help of some elastic and material I had lingering in my stack.  I was really winging it here and it shows a bit, but all in all, I think it will be a great summer dress for girl number 2.  You can get the real instructions here.

:::And the chickens are back in full force for the spring! We are swimming in eggs and it’s glorious.  I thought this page was a good place to start.

:::I’ve been reading Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen, and it’s amazingly entertaining and fastidiously detailed at the same time.  I feel very studious when I read it, too.

:::I’m wanting to try something like this.  I think they are so simple and beautiful.

:::And finally, I tried to make goat milk ricotta twice to no (or very little) avail.  I used the directions found here.  It sounds so good, doesn’t it? And it would go so well with my new baby, I mean, bread! Does anyone out there know if my ultra pasteurized version of the milk is to blame?

 

Lately

January 16, 2012 § 4 Comments

The girls and I took a trip to Circle B Preserve recently and I was reminded again how refreshing it is to pay attention to all the extraordinary beauty that’s around.   It’s humbling to realize how much I take for granted.

And in other news: The days have started getting longer and that means our chickens are laying again (they took a winter hiatus)!!

And, still more:  At sunset, with the windows down. Humbling and glorious.

A Few Things

September 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

I had an unfortunate immersion blender accident recently (what? it could happen to anyone!).  I didn’t do any major damage, just enough to have a bulky, bandaged pointer finger on my left hand which means I’m typing with one hand.  I’ll be brief:

~been making a really simple slaw (see above)  that consists of shredded green cabbage, two shredded carrots, half of a red onion, a bunch of cilantro, chopped, cider vinegar (about 1/4 cup), a little honey, a squeeze of lime, and salt.  You can improvise on all amounts and the liquids can be different, too: Honey and vinegar, lime and honey, lime and sesame oil (really good), etc. Cheap, light, and full of flavor. Make it for a barbecue (Labor Day?).

~sewed myself a new pillow cover that I’m not in love with, but thankfully, it’s not hard to make a new one when I get sick of it.

~made this potato “salad” recipe (love this site, by the way) and it was great. Tried making my own mayo instead of sprucing up a store-bought version (this was when I cut my finger).  I’d try it their way next time. Seriously, so good. Try it.

~made a cauliflower-bacon gratin from Around My French Table that impressed me.  It’s rich, so a little goes a long way.  Basically, it’s this filling, no crust, and lots of cauliflower and bacon (those two things are cooked before they go into the filling).  Keeper.

French Friday: Inspired Salad

May 20, 2011 § 12 Comments

Try to look past my funny attempt at food styling and really see what’s on the plate for French Fridays this week.  Because it’s good. Really, really, good. It’s light, but it’s also rich.  It’s tangy one bite and smoky the next.  mm. mm. mm. I think this may be the perfect summer dinner.

Ok. Bacon, egg, and asparagus salad. It’s pretty simple in that it’s really not much of a “recipe”.  You make a dressing (a sherry/Dijon vinaigrette).  That takes about 1 minute to make. Boil some cold eggs in salty, boiling water for exactly 6 minutes.  Simmer some asparagus in water for about 3 minutes.  Toast some walnuts in another skillet at the same time.  Fry up some bacon and let it drain on some paper towels.  Roll the soft-boiled eggs around in the bacon fat pan for a minute.  Throw it all together (dressing the asparagus and salad greens, first) on a plate. Done.

The real story here, for me, is the eggs.  I’ve never cooked eggs like this before (truly, I may have over cooked them a bit). It produces a similar texture as a poached egg might, but I liked that it still held the pleasing, egg shape. Poached eggs can look misshapen if you not a pro (I’m not). Plus, it’s a great use for our homegrown eggs b/c that yolk is on display and they are so bright and pretty. The hens should be proud. The orange yolk just ran out, and mixed with the vinaigrette. It was great with the asparagus. Kind of a hollandaise without having to make it.

The smoky bacon balanced out all the high notes and tang of the dressing and just added that little bit of heft to the salad. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it’s given me lots of freedom to just dump eggs on top of other dishes this week.

See what I mean? Kitchen sink veggie linguine with pesto (and a fried egg). Delicious!

A Dress For Me!

May 13, 2011 § 4 Comments

A quick post to show you my homemade dress (and my bunions on my feet. nice.)! It’s a little summery number made from this pattern that I hope I’ll wear a lot in the crazy FL heat. My goodness. You would think I would get used to it, but no. I’m always saying “IT is SO HOT!” to everyone, like they don’t know it.

I love the way this pattern is designed. The side panel (seen in detail below) actually becomes the inside of the pocket. See:

And, here’s a view (photo by Georgie) without the mom-from-the-eighties belt.

Over-all, I think I like it. I used the red and white seersucker b/c I didn’t want to buy anything new, but I’d love to make it again with something else. Great for summer, if a tad too “ice cream social”.

Finally, a picture of some new chicks that were given to us today. We have become the place where people bring chicks they don’t want anymore. More eggs, I guess! I’m not sure exactly what breeds they all are, but I think the white one is a silkie.  They’re fancier than our regulars, though (they have feathers on their feet!), and super cute at this stage. Crossing our fingers for no roosters!

Basque Potato Tortilla

February 8, 2011 § 5 Comments

I know, you’ve been dying to hear about last week’s French Fridays with Dorie Recipe. Dying! It’s Tuesday. I don’t know how you waited.  (If you are thinking “What IS she talking about??  See this post.)  I somewhat liked the Basque Potato Tortilla that was on the schedule, but this was June’s response:

That was after I told her she had to eat three more bites. She had finished the bread and had nothing else to look forward to in the meal. It was only Basque Potato Tortilla ahead. I’m not trying to be insensitive, but doesn’t that kill you? She looks so full of angst!

So, what is a Basque Potato Tortilla?  The Basque region, where this dish is very popular, straddles France’s border with Spain (hence the spanish “tortilla”).  In this case a tortilla is basically a thick omelet, or you could think of it as a crustless quiche, a frittata, etc.  The original recipe calls for potato, but we decided to make another one with mushrooms in the filling.  This is part of why I like DG’s books.  She offers ideas for variations in almost every recipe. She’s so good at showing the flexibility that exists in cooking.  Flexibility works for me.

Anyway, we cooked down the ingredients for our fillings (potato or mushrooms, onion, rosemary, and garlic) in a skillet until soft, mixing together nine, yes, NINE eggs in a bowl while they were cooking.  You remove the filling from the pan, clean the pan (because you are going  to use it to cook the tortilla), mix the filling mixture and eggs together, and pour everything back into the skillet to cook.  After a few minutes you throw it in the oven, under the broiler, to brown the top and finish cooking.

Although they were super easy, the tortillas didn’t bowl me over.  I liked it, but didn’t love it, Susan says she enjoyed it, even though it had a simple taste, our husbands put hot sauce on it (but did eat several helpings), and I think the picture of June sort of sums up my kids’ responses to it. They were just glad there was bread.

Next up on the FFWD recipe schedule: Almond Orange Tart.  After a very practical one, a fancier one feels about right. I’ll keep you posted.

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