April 27, 2011

Eggs on Toast

Sarah relayed to me one day that she had heard Nora Ephron say on a podcast something along the lines of, "Part of becoming an adult is letting go of the dream of either owning a restaurant or owning a bookstore." Sarah joked that becoming an organic farmer should also be on that list too.  "Boo," I thought, "I kinda want to do all of those things". 

Needless to say both Sarah and I have vague dreams of owning a business.  We've talked semi-seriously about opening a dine-in theater or moving away somewhere and opening a B&B.  It usually comes up during breakfast when we're munching on our favorite dish trying to figure out what we would serve people if we were tasked with making something.  Invariably there is always one solid stand-by that we would serve to anybody and always be proud of.  This thing is the Eggy Sandwich, or just simply Eggs on Toast.

This is perhaps the most simple thing.  An egg, fried or poached, on toasted bread with butter or cheese (or both!), and sometimes a few apple slices.  Nothing fancy, just really good.

The Eggy Sandwich is of course a staple of the fast food breakfast industry and along with burnt coffee has fueled the sad little morning fires of destitute office workers everywhere.  Though having it handed to you luke-warm, squashed, and wrapped in crinkly paper just makes you feel a little worse off once you get a good look at it.  Not a great way to start things off.

Instead, take five minutes and make it for yourself at home.  Toast, check.  Poached egg microwave style, check.  Slice of cheese, check.  An apple for the road, and we're done. 

How to Poach an Egg in the Microwave

I used to poach eggs in the microwave when I worked at the old Beckmann's Bakery coffee shop in Santa Cruz.  This is how it was done:

Crack and egg into a microwave safe bowl, pour in about 2 Tbs.of water.  If you like your egg whites more firm add about 1/2 tsp. of white vinegar as well.  Cover the bowl with a small microwave safe plate before putting it in the microwave.  Cook everything for about 60 seconds at 80% power.  Check the egg.  If it is not as done as you'd like it, microwave it at 80% power in 15 second intervals until it's finished.  Spoon the egg out of the water and enjoy.

I've noticed that the egg yolks end up overdone when the whites are well finished.  So to get the runny yolk like you're supposed to you'll have to have whites that are a bit more squishy than is ideal. 

April 19, 2011

Tofu Egg Salad

You'll notice that we've changed the title of our kitchen's menu for this (last) week from "The Ugly Ducking Specials" to "The Dweed Diner". The reason for this is because of our monthly tradition of having our friends Megan and Kelly over for dinner. We call the event "Dweener" when we have it at our place and "Kegener" when we have it at their place. You know, "Dwiggins-Reed Dinner" or "Kelly-Megan Dinner" depending on the location...

The compound noun "dweed" comes from the combination of Sarah's maiden name, Dwiggins, and my bachelor name (?), Reed.  Early in our engagement Sarah and I discussed whether or not she should change her name from Dwiggins to Reed.  As we had just finished our academic careers we knew it was common for published researchers to not bother changing their names when they get married to reduce future confusion. So not changing her name at all was one option. Hyphenating her name, Dwiggins-Reed, was also an option.  I mentioned half jokingly that we should just combine the two and then we could both change our names to Dweed.  Big joke, ha ha...the family gave us funny looks whenever we brought it up.  Anyway, Sarah and I adopted it informally just between the two of us.

This week we will be using up some of the bread hunks in the freezer as well as the turnips we got from the CSA to make another panade.  We'll be making a pizza with roasted garlic, egg drop soup with green onions, carrots, and spinach and will also be making Tofu Egg Salad for our weekly potluck with the Olins.  Despite the fact that we get a ton of eggs every week, we still make fake egg salad to cut back on the cholesterol.  This stuff is great:

Tofu Egg Salad

16 oz. Block Extra Firm Tofu
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
Salt and Pepper
Finely Diced Veggies (I like carrots, celery, and dill pickles)
Anything else you might like in egg salad...

Wrap the tofu in a paper towel and weight it to drain.  When ready mash the tofu into little bits using your hands (I've tried using the stand mixer with the paddle attachment to do this, it doesn't work out that great).  Mix in the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, turmeric, salt, pepper, and the diced veggies.  Taste for seasoning, adjust as necessary.  Enjoy.

April 7, 2011

Spaetzle with Lentils and Spicy Tomato Sauce

My brother's wife Monika turned Sarah and I onto spaetzle when we visited them in Portland last year.  Spaetzle is a type of fresh pasta that you cook by spooning dollops into boiling water.  They're similar to gnocchi except that it's so much easier.  I've seen spaetzle makers that look a lot like potato ricers; I'm assuming they work well though I haven't tried this method yet.

The recipe we're using is one we found in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Spaetzle with Lentils and Spicy Tomato Sauce

Cook the lentils in advance if you can.  Having a jar full off cooked lentils in the fridge makes and easy side or a good addition to a salad or pasta dish. Rinse the lentils thoroughly while watching for rocks, then cover with about an inch or two of water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add a bay leaf.  Reduce the lentils to a simmer once they come to a boil and check them in about 30 minutes.  They should be soft but not squishy when done, add more water if necessary.  Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste and remove the bay leaf before serving.

Prepare the tomato sauce.  For this recipe we just used some of our pizza sauce from the freezer; great in a pinch.

For the Spaetzle:

2 cups Flour (all purpose or a mix)
~3/4 cup Milk, more if needed
3 Eggs
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Salt
Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed.  Add more milk to make a smooth batter if necessary.  When the water is boiling spoon tablespoon sized dollops or smaller into the water.  Depending on your pot size you may be able to fit in six or seven at a time.  

The dumplings are nearly ready when they pop up from the bottom of the pan; once this happens give them another minute or two so the insides are well done.  Some of the dumplings may stick to the bottom, use a slotted spoon to detach them so they float to the top. 

When the dumplings are done, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water to a separate bowl.  Coat with olive oil so they don't stick to each other.  Continue cooking the rest of the dumplings.

For the dish, mix some of the lentils in with the spaetzle and serve topped with tomato sauce and grated cheese.