Sunday, August 28, 2011

How to Poach an Egg

I don't know about you, but when we eat out for breakfast I almost always order Eggs Benedict if I see it on the menu. To me, it's a gourmet item and I love to taste the many variations on this classic dish. I've had it topped with seafood specialties like crab and lobster, or the traditional canadian bacon swapped with other proteins like deli ham or bacon. My favorite spin is the Eggs Benedict with a Mexican flair - think spicy hatch chile strips or poblano Hollandaise.

When I made Eggs Benedict for the first time it took me a couple tries to get the eggs poached correctly - so my advice to you would be to start with a dozen. Maybe you have one of those fancy egg poaching machines or have a do-hickey that makes the task foolproof. I didn't use anything fancy, here is what I did...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Five for Friday

For Jim:
  1. I love you for keeping your commitments.
  2. Holding my hand at the Farmers Market.
  3. Opening my door for me like a gentleman.
  4. Holding your own while being ambushed at Brix.
  5. Trusting me to go into your e-mail.

Matthew West, "Strong Enough"

You must, You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

Well, maybe, maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up
Cause when I'm finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and You are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Friday, August 19, 2011

Five for Friday

For Jim:
  1. I know you so well, when you called to say, "Check your e-mail" I could already tell you what the e-mail said.
  2. You restocked the fridge full of water for me. I hate doing that.
  3. Your persistence in introducing me to all your favorite mob movies.
  4. The text message last Wednesday night.
  5. You said it was a tire on the side of the road.
P.S. I love you. See you this evening!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Krispy Kale

I don't know what convinced me to give oven roasted kale a try. I honestly did NOT believe kale could be this addicting, but another food blogger compared them to salty chips...and who doesn't like salty chips? You too will be surprised at how easy and tasty these Krispy Kale chips are. With just three simple ingredients the kale will bake to a delish crackly snack.

First, wash and dry the kale leaves. Then tear or cut the thick stems off and chop long leaves into smaller pieces.

Make sure the kale is very dry, any water on the leaves may make them steam in the oven, leaving you with soggy, not crunchy kale. Drizzle on just a small amount of olive oil (1/2 teaspoon for this one tray) and massage the oil all over.

Then spread the kale out on a cookie sheet. You don't really even have to worry about the leaves overlapping because the kale will shrink in the oven. I simply sprinkled on some course sea salt, but you can certainly get creative and add whatever flavors you like. Minced garlic would be good as well as a cajun seasoning perhaps.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Check after five minutes and adjust your time if you need to in order to keep them from burning. These are great for people like me who like crunchy salty things. Krispy Kale is so much better for you than a bag of processed chips!

Now that they are baked until crisp, you can do so many things! Instead of standing over the cookie sheet and eating them all myself, next time I want to crumble these up and stir in with some popcorn to up the nutritional value. I love gourmet popcorn!

Here is what I found out about buying and storing Kale:
BUYING - Kale should have a fresh green colour with moist, crisp, unwilted leaves. Young, small-leaved specimens are more tender; bigger leaves are well suited for use in soups.
STORING - Keep in a plastic bag in the fridge. Kale becomes increasingly bitter and strongly flavoured the longer it is kept and so is best eaten soon after buying.

One of my readers sent me this awesome tip:
"I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Just wanted to share something I tried recently. I found that seasoned kale chips go really well with grilled fish. If you haven’t tried kale chips before, they are so simple to make. I like to season mine with either smoked sea salt or kosher, black pepper and a tiny bit of malt vinegar. When you bake them, the texture is almost like dried leaves. It is a great balance for a delicate fish and a healthy boost! I also like to fry cilantro leaves in browned butter. Not quite as healthy but soooooooo good."

Ahh! I love that pairing idea, and we've been on such a fish eating frenzy around here that this is a perfect new twist on "Fish and Chips." Get it? Thanks Jessica, keep the ideas coming!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Five for Friday

  1. Every Monday morning when I pull out of the garage I have to re-adjust the rear view mirror. I smile and think of you and miss you all over again.
  2. I recorded Jeter 3K for you…I surprisingly got sucked in and watched the second half of it. 2+2=3,000
  3. I loved hearing about your dinner with my parents. I wish I was there, but I’m so happy to hear how much fun the three of you have together.
  4. Your dedication to your job astounds me.
  5. Your dedication to exercise inspires me. 

P.S. I love you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Steak and Egg Salad

Steak and Eggs don't have to be reserved just for breakfast anymore. This spin on the standard AM food came together quickly for a deliciously fancy lunch salad.

I bought 3.5 ounces of the best filet mignon at Whole Foods and pulled it out of the fridge to bring the meat to room temperature for about 30 minutes. I seasoned it with only a sprinkle of salt, and then seared in a medium-hot skillet for two minutes on each side. This was a small piece of meat, so it didn't take long to hit that perfect medium-rare temperature. When the meat was cooked (only 4 minutes) I put it on a plate to sit while I prepared the rest of the salad.

There were just a few elements to this salad, but each addition was chosen carefully - like the pieces of Humboldt Fog. It has got to be my favorite cheese - creamy and slightly tangy. Believe it or not, I was actually asked today if Jim and I have a cheese. I had to ask for the question to be repeated.... and my co-worker restated that some people have a song and wanted to know if we have a cheese. Well, the answer is no. Jim and I don't have a cheese, and I personally think that would be weird if we did.

The mixed greens are Organic Girl baby green romaine lettuce, baby red romaine lettuce, lolla rosa, parsley, cilantro, baby greenleaf lettuce. I love this herb mix because it is delicious on it's own with just a toss in olive oil.

That brings me to my new favorite olive oil that I am so excited to discover at my Farmers Market: Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company. I tried the Texas Hill Country Miller's Blend on a whim. It's made from Mission and Arbequina olives and has a grassy and buttery flavor with a nutty finish. This is 100% organically grown and 100% natural, cold pressed & unfiltered, 100% hand harvested. And you can taste the quality. I don't have to have anything else on my salad greens but this olive oil.

The piece de resistance, in my opinion, is the perfectly poached egg on top. When cut open, it's adds a richness to the already decadent filet mignon and a creaminess to the light olive oil on the salad greens.

My current obsession with poached eggs started two weeks ago when Jim came home from a business trip and I wanted to make a special breakfast for him Saturday morning. Learning how to poach an egg for the first time was a frustrating task. I went through nearly a dozen eggs before I got two that I was proud of. Now that I feel like I have the hang of it, I'm just LOOKING for reason to poach eggs. I now how a step by step post on how to poach an egg.  For now, I will leave you with a finished shot of my first Eggs Benedict made with strips of baked bacon and a homemade hollandaise.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad

I love making dishes at home and saying, "I would order that in a restaurant!" Then I make Jim tell me how much he would pay for this same dish if we were eating out. Does anyone else do that?  The name of this meal sounds so complicated, but this could not have been easier! We will definitely be working this into a bi-weekly or at least monthly meal plan.

As with any great dish, I believe it's most important to start with good ingredients. When it comes to fish I think it is incredibly important to buy fresh. I absolutely trust my fish monger at Whole Foods, he has never steered me wrong. Ahi tuna is a sushi grade tuna steak, although the guys at Whole Foods will tell you to sear it a little and not to eat it completely raw. Do you see the price on this? $12.39 is a really good price considering we bought over half a pound which ended up being two GENEROUS portions.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Five for Friday

One of my favorite lines in a Matchbox 20 songs says, "It's 3:00 AM I must be lonely." This morning my version would go something like, "It's 3:00 AM it must be 85 degrees in here." Yes, our AC has gone out. I'm laying in a pool of sweat, roll over to see the time and think, oh gaawd, there is something really wrong. Only in Texas can it be nearly 90 degrees in your house in the middle of the night. So, let's just hope an AC Technician can get to me ASAP. I may have to take the dogs to doggie day care today, not sure my little ones can handle triple digit temperatures inside and outside. Maybe I have my own Bikram Yoga session here in the living room this morning?

This week's very HOT (and more in the stifling sweaty way, not the sexy way) FFF include:
  1. You said you love me "even with pimples."
  2. You take my cooking tips over the phone and then text me to let me know how dinner turned out.
  3. Although we are 162 miles apart we still laugh at the "Jake from State Farm" commercial together.
  4. It's Gangster Week on AMC and you recorded all 3 of The Godfathers - and you can't wait to watch them with me. I will try to muster the same kind of enthusiasm this weekend.
  5. You are rocking Mud School and I love you for working so hard! 
P.S. See you in 13 hours!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lone Star Scallop

Earlier this year I attended a cooking demonstration at Travaasa Resort and Spa near Lake Travis in Austin. What I loved most about this dish is that it only had a few ingredients, but could easily be transformed from an appetizer to an entree.

Chef Benjamin Baker has two decades of experience cooking in kitchens from Maui, HI, to San Jose, CA, and in Austin, TX where he is now the executive chef at Travaasa. His passion for baking breads and dedication to seasonal, organic and local ingredients was evident the moment he started the cooking demonstration.