30 June 2011

Curry Fried Eggs

I got the idea of trying curry with eggs from my friend Debbie who is one of the best cooks I know. She brought the most amazing curry deviled eggs with goat cheese to a brunch one time. I must have eaten 3 or 4 eggs that morning, they were so good.

I don't have eggs for breakfast every day, but since I tend to do better with some form of protein in the morning, I do eat a lot of eggs. I'm always looking for ways to move beyond the normal salt and pepper.

For those of you who don't like runny yolks, this picture will probably gross you out. I love runny yolks...if the whites are runny, though, I will gag.

In Ecuador they make their eggs SUPER runny. I gagged a lot there. They also don't refrigerate their eggs--they get them so fresh and eat them so quickly, there's no need. When I first saw dozens of eggs being stored in the pantry of the hostel that I was working at in Quito, I thought someone with dementia had unpacked the groceries. But nope, that's just how they do it. Very little salmonella poisoning in Ecuador (I don't really know that, but I didn't meet a single person who'd been poisoned by Ecuadorian eggs, so it must be true, right?).

I ate my curry fried egg with a simple salad. I've really learned to appreciate good greens. These pretty leaves are beet greens. I drizzled olive oil, squeezed fresh lemon juice and sprinkled sea salt on them. Just the way I like my greens. These came from my friend Robin's garden. One day, I came home from work and found a basket full of beet greens, arugula, thai basil, Swiss chard and herbs sitting on my front porch. It totally made my day. Thank. You. Robin.

I'm thinking that my next curry/egg experiment will be to make a curry, goat cheese omelet (to piggy back even more off of Debbie's deviled eggs). I'm still limiting my goat/sheep dairy intake, but I've done ok with a little every once in awhile.

Speaking of goat cheese, wanna hear a gross story? This one time I was at Whole Foods walking from one taste test station to another. At the cheese counter, there was a goat cheese spread that looked delicious. So, I took a little plastic spoon from the bin and dipped it in the goat cheese. I savored the cheese in my mouth, closing my eyes to really taste the flavor. Then, I went to throw my spoon into the little trash bin on the counter. As I was about to drop my dirty spoon into the bin, someone else was reaching into that same bin to grab a CLEAN SPOON. I looked at the bin, I looked at my spoon, then I looked at the container where I had grabbed my spoon. On the front, in hand written letters, it said: "trash."

I dry heaved a few times and wiped my mouth with a napkin over and over. Then I went home and drank bleach.

I survived. If you're going to eat after a complete stranger, I recommend doing it at Whole Foods. I'm betting that the original spoon user had just gone through a deep cleansing detox and didn't have germs anymore.

On that note, here's how to make Curry Fried Eggs. :) Fry your egg like normal (I use coconut or grapeseed oil since they have a higher smoking temp). Before you flip it, sprinkle a generous amount of yellow curry powder on it along with sea salt and cayenne pepper to your liking. Flip, cook and eat.

27 June 2011

Scones, Muffins and Mr. Darcy

Some friends and I have a tradition that happens every 6 months or so of getting together on a Sunday morning in our sweatpants and pjs to eat brunch and watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. For this most recent viewing, I stuck with the British theme and made cinnamon scones. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned: the scones didn't make it to the brunch. Sometimes this happens because the baked goods are so delicious that I eat them all before the party. This time, though, it was because they weren't as good as I was hoping. They were fine for me, especially drizzled with coconut oil and extra cinnamon, but they weren't sharable. It was because I added chia seed powder which gave them a strange, spongy texture. Sometimes being "untamed" in the kitchen doesn't really work out...

They looked pretty, even though they didn't fluff up or get crispy on the outside. British scones are more like American biscuits--not as dry as American scones. I used this recipe as a basis for the scones. I'll try them again, without chia seeds and maybe do different add-ins (savory scones with rosemary or basil, lemon scones, coconut pecan scones...)

Instead of bringing the scones, I ended up making these chocolate muffins. I used quinoa flour in these (I'll post the recipe for these soon, but I need to remember the measurements first...)

We also didn't get a chance to swoon over Mr. Darcy or "take a turn about the room" this time around. Instead, we just caught up on each other's lives. It was a lovely morning. Miss Elizabeth Bennet isn't going anywhere, so next time we'll join her on a trip to Pemberley--maybe even on foot until the hem of our skirts are 6 inches deep in mud.

Cinnamon Scones
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
generous amount of cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup almond milk
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400F. Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then add wet mixture to the dry ingredients and blend them together. The consistency should be be somewhat liquidy. If it's too stiff, add more almond milk. Then, spoon the "dough" onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the outside starts to brown.

17 June 2011

Un Petit Déjeuner au Marche

It has been a busy week, so unfortunately I haven't been spending too much time in the kitchen. Next week is the first session of the Spanish Summer Camp that I'm directing and co-teaching. So instead of cooking and baking, this week I've been cutting, pasting and lesson-planning. It's going to be a lot of fun, but I'm not sure how much sleep or how many home cooked meals I'll get.

Speaking of not having a home cooked meal...last Friday, I had an amazing breakfast at my favorite East Nashville restaurant, Marche. I had an omelet with tomatoes, roasted red peppers and goat cheese. (I've been incorporating some goat cheese back into my diet to see how I do with it. So far, so good.)

Marche (which is French for "market") is a little French-inspired cafe with creative, seasonal dishes, European pastries and strong coffee. If you've ever visited me in Nashville, chances are I've taken you to Marche. If you would like to visit me in Nashville, I will gladly take you to Marche. If you live in Nashville and you have never been to Marche (with me) then we need to go ASAP. I'm always looking for a reason to go to this restaurant. The most recent occasion was a great one. It was my good friend Jen's birthday.

They added a single candle to her eggs--it's special touches like this that make Marche my favorite place. I also love all the windows. Jen and I went to breakfast before work last Friday, super early. We had our choice of tables, and Jen happened to pick my favorite one...the two-person table right next to the window in the Southwest corner. :)

Do you have a favorite breakfast place in your city? I'm always interested to find out about little gems in different cities. This summer I'm going to San Francisco, so if you have a cafe or restaurant suggestion for The City by the Bay, please let me know. 

Merci! Bon week-end!

10 June 2011

Bruschetta Salad

To all of you Italian language and food experts out there: please have a little grace while reading this post.

You see, we Americans have taken a popular Italian dish, "bruschetta," and not only changed the pronunciation, but we've also changed the meaning of the whole thing. Very American of us, no? First, "bruschetta" is pronounced "broo-skay-tah" instead of "bruh-sheh-tuh." Second, the word comes from the verb, "bruscare," which means "to roast over coals." In Italy the bread used in bruschetta is grilled or roasted (and according to Wikipedia--my authority on just about everything--bruschetta was originally a way to use up stale bread). In the US, however, bruschetta is a topping made from tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and other stuff that you pour over bread or toast and serve to guests at wedding showers and New Year's parties.

Well folks, I'm taking it one step further. Call it disrespectful, call it creative, call it untamed, but I've managed to turn bruschetta into a salad. Without bread. Without roasting anything. I'm a regular Chef Boyardee. Che sarà sarà...

With the help of my fave grocer, Trader Giotto's, I took a jar of their bruschetta and added it to quinoa and raw kale.

Make the quinoa according to the package directions (remember to rinse it first) or do what I do and throw it in your rice cooker and walk away. Then, wash your kale (I used the curly leafed Russian Kale), but as you rinse it, massage the leaves until they become soft. Raw kale is super tough to chew as is, but if you use your hands to break it down a little, the texture softens. Next, put the quinoa in a bowl and drizzle olive oil and sea salt over it, then top it with kale leaves and finally pour the bruschetta on top of that. Mix it all together and serve.

I've really had Italy on the brain lately. It might be because some friends of mine just got back from an Italian vacation and two other friends have been talking about their plans to go next year. I'm fortunate enough to have visited Italy once, 10 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long...). I loved the red roofs of Florence, the fan-shaped central piazza in Siena and the solitude of Assisi. Ahh, that was the life. Talk about good food. Someday, if you want, I'll tell you about that bubbling lasagna I had at this little trattoria in Florence. I could also tell you about the hamburger I had at the McDonald's in Siena. Yep, I was that person. These days, though, I'll just stick to my bruschetta.

06 June 2011

Baked Tilapia with Fresh Herbs

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to the beach with friends over Memorial Day weekend. I love being close to the water and eating fresh seafood. We ate fish tacos, blackened fish, grilled shrimp, boiled shrimp and scallops. There's nothing like eating seafood while listening to the waves hit the shore. You'd think that after a weekend of the fresh stuff, I'd be good for a little while, but this past week back in Nashville, I still wanted fish, so I baked some tilapia I had in the freezer. Then I filled my kitchen sink with water, pointed a fan on it and closed my eyes while I ate. (I didn't really do that.)

I like fish. I usually eat it once a week. When I was little, I remember watching my uncles go fishing. I tried it with them one time and I thought it was so boring. I was way too impatient to sit there and wait for something to bite. Now days I think I'd appreciate the peace and calm in the waiting. I've also always thought I'd love to fly fish. I have relatives in Montana--that's where my mom's family is from--so one of these days I will head back to the homestead and learn to cast a fly. And I will catch trout. And I will cook it over a campfire. Trout cooked over an open fire sounds pretty amazing. 

That actually reminds me of the summer that I lived on Mt. Rainier, and my friends and I took a trip to the Olympic Coast. We camped on the beach and caught live dungeness crabs with our bare hands straight from the ocean. Then we boiled them over a fire that we also made with our bare hands. By "we" I mean the guys I was with, but I was there and it was still one of the most incredible meals I've ever eaten...

Back to the fish. Even if you don't look like Brad Pitt in "A River Runs Through It" or you're currently landlocked like me, you too can make and eat delicious fish--without the hassle or mess of putting a worm on a hook or starting a fire with two sticks.

Having some fresh herbs handy is helpful. Under the close instruction of a gardener friend, I finally planted my first herb garden. So even though my fish wasn't fresh, my herbs were. I still have some herbs that I want to add, but this is a good start! The thymeing of it was just perfect for this recipe. (SORRY! That was a little too cheesy, even for this blog.)

Here's what I did: I thawed the tilapia fillets and poured grapeseed oil over them. Then I sprinkled sea salt on top and added a generous amount of basil (I still don't have fresh basil, so I used dried) and fresh rosemary and thyme. I baked them at 425F for 6 minutes then flipped the fillets and baked for another 6 minutes (bake for less time after you flip if the fillets are thin).

Neither the herbs nor the fish is too overpowering in this dish. Tilapia has a mild flavor, so herbs generally used in Italian cooking go well with it. Give it a try and let me know how you like it. I'm thinking that I probably need to do some more research on pairing fish and Italian herbs. 

Anyone want to finance a trip to the Italian coast? It would be in the name of scientific research, of course: the effects of herbs on local marine life inside my stomach. Very important stuff people.