Tag Archives: eggs

Kick-Ass Mother’s Day Breakfast in 10 minutes (I timed it)

Simple can be phenomenal.  The thought of  perfect soft-boiled egg ( runny, rich yolk,  sea salt) and generously buttered toast makes my shoulders relax and my mouth water.    Relaxation, pleasure and fun (dipping toast into your yolk is fun after all) can be delivered to mom in 10 minutes.  Best of all, no clanging pots to wake her from her sleep and barely a dish to find “soaking” in the sink when she finally comes downstairs.

But the key word for soft-boiled egg heaven is “perfect”. Not too loose, not too firm.  Let me, soft-boiled egg fanatic, give you the inside scoop.

Take the eggs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature before cooking them.  This helps prevent cracking (less shock of a cold egg hitting hot water).

I  never remember to take the eggs out of the fridge in advance, so I put them into a bowl of warm water while I bring a small pot of water to a boil.

Using a pin (a safety-pin from your dry cleaning hanger will work just fine) make a small hole in the bottom of the egg to relieve some of the pressure when it goes into the hot water (another trick to prevent cracking).  I admit to skipping this step on regular days but–come on—it’s an occasion.

When your water is boiling add your egg(s) and keep the water at a gentle simmer.  You want some bubbles still breaking the top.

Water should cover the whole egg. Do as I say not as I do.

Now set your time for 5 minutes (6 minutes if you want the yolk slightly firming at the edges) and go to work on getting the toast into the toaster (don’t toast it yet though) and butter at ready.

When the timer goes off, drop the eggs into a bowl of cold water to stop their cooking.  NOW press the toast down.  When done, butter the toast, cut the cap off your egg (be confident with the knife to make the first crack and then gently slide the knife through to the other side, turning the egg upright fast for fear of losing any of the runny yolk.).  Sprinkle  sea salt on the egg and the toast.  Tad-ah!  Done.

Bring directly up to mom with a little spoon and a napkin.

Garnish with good coffee.

And gild the lily with a bar of sea salt chocolate.  (yes, kind of cliché yet kind of genius at the same time).

Bring it all up, allow for a quick kiss and thank you and then leave her the hell alone.

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Skip the carton, Make a Pitcher of Homemade Nog

One serving appears more ladylike when divided into three small glasses.

Today is the day we decorate our tree.  The Christmas Tree is my favourite part of the holidays.  As unexcited as I am to dig through the pile of boxes in the basement on the annual ornament hunt (why do I have two bins of Easter decorations?  Really?) I am pretty psyched to get the tree going.

Thinking that many of us might be putting up lights, Christmas shopping or lamenting the start of carols on the radio, I figured egg nog and alcohol could settle us right down.  Cursing also helps immensely.

If you’re going out for the weekend grocery shop, you only need  few ingredients to make your own egg nog: eggs, milk, cream, sugar. (I know! Why have you not done this before?)

My friend swears by the Mac’s Milk version (and I too admit to glugging the store-bought) but this is lighter, frothier and fresher and really a cinch to make.

HERE IS THE LINK TO MY CHEF BASICS  EGG NOG MAKING VIDEO.

Once this becomes your signature holiday drink–you can move onto your own egg nog serving set.

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EGG NOG RECIPE

Make sure you use the freshest eggs possible and have an alternate beverage available for guests like pregnant woman, children or the elderly who shouldn’t consume raw eggs.

Servings: 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 45 minutes (includes 30 minutes cooling)

Ingredients

4 eggs, separated

1/3 cup sugar (reserve 1 tablespoon)

2 cups whole milk

1 cup whipping cream

fresh grated nutmeg

pinch salt

Method

With an electric beater whisk together egg yolks and sugar until sugar dissolves and yolks are pale and fluffy. Add milk, cream and nutmeg and whisk until well combined. Refrigerate until cold.

Just before serving whisk egg whites (at room temperature) and a pinch of salt to soft peaks. Add teaspoon of sugar and whisk until firm peaks.

Fold into eggnog to make it extra light and fluffy.

If you want to add alcohol you can whisk in 2 to 3 ounces of bourbon or rum before adding the egg whites.

Another opportunity to use my beloved nutmeg grater. (purse size convenience!)

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Best Pasta Carbonara ever-unless you live in Italy and own a bunch of hens

A delicious shadow of its true self.

I took this pasta carbonara recipe from the March Cucina Italiana magazine and massacred its local, farm-raised, artisanal integrity in so many ways that I feel dirty.

So dirty that I’m baking rosemary focaccia bread in the oven as penance to Italy itself (I had to use a big tray).  The fresh baked smell of herbs and crisping crust is making me feel slightly less like a charlatan for even attempting a local dish that uses the freshest of fresh ingredients-eggs pulled from the hen’s butt with one hand while the lemons are plucked off a lemon tree with the other. Did I mention the almost extinct Cinte Sense pigs which provide the pork?  Check out the whole story which will make you want to gnaw on a piece of pancetta ASAP.  Materie Prime by Douglas Gayeton.

The good news first-if you didn’t know–true pasta carbonara does not include cream so it practically falls into the health food category.  Sure there’s the pancetta and I suppose a whole bunch of  cheese but truly–once you ammortize the fat over a few helpings it’s negligible.  I’m almost positive.

Pancetta-second best was still pretty good

The bad news starts with my use of plain old grocery store eggs (I am quite sure the hens did not forage for their own food nor were they supplemented with grains soaked in fresh goat milk).  It continues with a package of pre-cut pancetta (world’s apart from Paola Parisi’s guanciale, see below).

“Aside from being an exceptional slaughterhouse, Levoni is known for smoking meat, in this case the guanciale from Paolo’s pigs. The process requires a special machine, one resembling a rotisserie, and the burning of select woods (their type remains a secret). This slow curing takes a week to complete.”

Grana Padano

I decided to use Grana Padano since I already had it.  In a large bowl I crack the non-fresh eggs, add fresh marjoram (from a plastic container), lemon zest, minced garlic and a “Jamie Oliver” glug of olive oil.  I make some quality tagliatelle from the pantry at home. Drain the pasta. I add this to the egg mixture, toss quickly and mix in the cheese. A little pasta water smoothes it all out. It’s steamy, glossy and fragrant as I bring the fork to my mouth.

sadly, not a farm in sight.

And yet it has none of the romance, practise or purity of Paolo’s version…..

“He starts by prying massive wedges from a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. He hands them to his second eldest son, Rocco, who quickly goes to work with a circular grater. I am handed a corkscrew and a bottle of 2006 Ansonica from the nearby La Parrina winery. Paolo collects the dish’s materie prime, arranges them on a massive wooden table and dices thick slabs of his guanciale picked up from Levoni the previous afternoon. He grates zest from a few lemons taken from a tree just beyond the kitchen window.”

The true dish must be heavenly because even my industrial version– merely a shadow in Plato’s cave–was dreamy.  The nuance of the zingy lemon zest and grassy marjoram elevates the savoury, rich flavours.   And the whole thing comes together in the time it takes to boil pasta.

And raise a few hens.

Pasta Carbonara- adapted from Cucina Italina  (at Sam’s request!)

serves 4

The key to this recipe are the eggs.  With Farmer’s Markets opening up soon it should be easier to get fresh ones. I did use “what was in the fridge” with good results.  You can fiddle with this recipe, assume 1 egg per person and then roughly adjust the other ingredients.  I am often a nightmare without detailed guidance but it worked to “eyeball” it.

And for God’s sake–please–use real Parmigiano Reggiano.

4 fresh eggs, large

2 cloves garlic, minced very fine

3 tbsp (45 ml)  fresh marjoram leaves, pulled off the stem

zest of 1 lemon

1/4 c  (60 ml) olive oil

1 cup (250 ml) pancetta, small dice

1 lb (500 g) spaghetti ( I like Rustichella d’abruzzo, fairly easy to find, brown paper package)

1 1/2 c (375 ml) Parmigiano Reggiano (or Grana Padano), freshly grated

1. In a bowl large enough to hold the spaghetti crack the eggs, add garlic, marjoram, lemon zest and olive oil.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

2. Pan-fry your pancetta til getting crispy.  Let cool and add to the egg mixture.

3. Boil pasta, salt water generously (should taste like the sea I’ve been told!). Cook spaghetti til al dente or as per package directions. Strain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

4. Add hot pasta to the egg mixture and toss until well coated.  Add the grated cheese and keep tossing until you have a glossy sauce.  Add a little bit of pasta water as necessary to thin.

5. Eat the damn thing!  (Add fresh ground pepper if you like.)

NOTE FROM SELF:  I use slightly less spaghetti for four as I like a bit more sauce-maybe 3/4 package? 4/5ths?   6/8ths?  Someone stop me…..

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