Saturday, February 26, 2011

A good read and luxurious eggs

I don't know about you but one of my guilty pleasures is to read, actually read, a cookbook. I read through it, writing down any recipe that catches my eye, and writing notes in the margin of thoughts that catch my attention. I keep the list tucked in the inside cover and work my way through it, writing notes to self for future use on the recipe as I go. It is probably the closest I will ever come to journallng and I love reading through the notes at a later date to remind myself what my  impressions were. If the list is short and the comments few, then the cook book is not a keeper.

Sometime not long after "Julie and Julia" came out The Other Half found a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, and purchased it for me thinking that this filled a glaring ommission in my ever growing cook book library. As I sat down to read through I was happily suprised at what a little gem it was and started making my list of all the recipes I wanted to try. That is when I came across a recipe for scrambled eggs that may in fact be life changing.Who knew that scrambled eggs were supposed to be so velvety and rich in the most wonderous of ways. Even my oldest pea pod - a child who happily proclaims he only eats five things - started asking for "those eggs" on a regular basis. On a busy day I often serve them for dinner with a green salad, crusty bread, a hunk of cheese and a cool crisp glass of white wine (for the adults - pea pods get milk). They are an equally lovely way to wake up in the morning but I have to say that there is an elegance in their rich simplicity that I find almost better suited for later in the day. The original recipe is for 4-5 servings. If you want to make adjustments up or down there are a lot of great websites for converting yields. I recommend using

The key to this recipe is to constantly stir the egg over gentle heat and to take them off just a bit before they are done to the consistency you enjoy. The eggs will continue to cook for a bit after they are off the heat, and you add the last bit of butter. If you are like me and up until now, overcooked your eggs, you may be surprised by how smooth and satiny the texture is when prepared properly. I know it might seem like a lot of prep and effort just for eggs - perhaps another reason why I tend to make them at night - but it really is worth it. Like so many other of Ms. Child's recipe that I have learned to love - if you take the time and follow the steps - the outcome is well worth the effort. Enjoy!

Fork or small wire whip
Mixing bowl
7-8" pan (non-stick if possible, it really helps with this recipe)
Rubber Spatula

8 eggs (or 2 eggs per person)* - allow them to warm up to room temperature if you have time
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tsp water or milk (the milk makes it just a little creamier)
3 1/2 Tbsp softened butter - I like to use unsalted butter and then season to taste. Leave the butter covered and out for the afternoon to soften it.

*If you are trying to watch your egg content you can substitute one egg per person with egg beaters or egg whites - it will change the consistency some but is still very tasty

Beat eggs in bowl with seasonings and water or milk for 30 seconds, until just combined.

Smear bottom and sides of pan with 2 Tbsp of butter. Heat pan on medium low heat.

Pour in eggs, stirring SLOWLY but continually, moving all over the bottom of the pan. After 2-3 minutes the eggs will gradually heat and start to thicken like a custard. Start to stir rapidly, moving the pan on and off the heat as needed until the eggs have almost thickened, or almost cooked to the consistency you like. Remember that eggs will continue to cook after you have taken them off the burner, so it is good to take them off just a smidge early.

Once the eggs have reached your desired consistency, stir in remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp of softened butter, which will stop the cooking process. Add any additional seasoning you desire and top with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Friday night pizza - malaysian style

Before the economy went into the tank, we used to order in pizza every friday night. Now in an attempt to tighten our belts and save a little money we make pizza, and it has evolved into a fun family ritual. I use a ready made crust - usually Pillsbury Classic in a can - but the fun part is the toppings. Though my heathens are definitely more on the traditional side - turkey pepperoni and lots of cheese - I try and find some more interesting ones for myself and The Other Half.

I have had this recipe in my arsenal since my days living at 331 in Cerro (more than an address it's a lifestyle...) but I have only recently been able to pull it out and dust it off at home because I was able to find a workable substitute for the peanut butter. Try Sunbutter - sunflower oil butter if you have the same issue. It has the same creamy consistency as peanut butter with a similar taste and because of the strength of the other ingredients you don't notice the slight difference in aftertaste.

The original recipe was in a Cooking Light magazine. It is super fresh and full of flavor and there are never any leftovers. As I progress in this process I will try to take and post some photos but for now the words will have to do.

Malaysian Chicken Pizza

  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (1/4 teaspoon if you like things spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (creamy or chunky works fine - the chunky adds a nice texture)
  • up to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, depending on how hot you like your food
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • a dash of olive oil
  • 1/2 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (rotisserie chicken works great in a pinch)
  • at least 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat, reduced-sodium Swiss cheese*
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese*
  • 1 pizza crust
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
* I am pretty liberal with the cheese because we like cheesy pizza
Prepare oven and crust per package directions.

Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add chicken, and sauté 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Pour rice vinegar mixture into pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook mixture 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute or until chicken is done. (Mixture will be consistency of thick syrup.)

Sprinkle cheeses over prepared crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border, and top with chicken mixture.

Bake on bottom rack in oven per the crust instructions. Sprinkle with green onions.

Place pizza on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes then cut and serve.

We like to have it with a green salad with sesame ginger dressing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Here we go...

As one of my new year inspirations - hate the idea of resolutions - I decided to start a blog about cooking and my adventures in eating. I love food, a littel too much some times I suppose but good food falls in the category of "life is too short to miss this".

So to begin with let's start with the disclaimer: I am not a chef, caterer or any other sort of expert in the food industry. In my previous life I was a creative services director (translation = I managed creative folks) until I married in my late 30s and quickly started a family. I am now working on my second career as a stay at home mom to two wonderful heathens and food experimenter. Over the last few years my interest in cooking has grown exponentially and I now look for any opportunity to try a new recipe. I find cooking to be very relaxing and my husband is by and large, a willing victim of my culinary experiments. I am a recipe kind of gal and will not usually go off-road until I have made something several times and feel confident that I have the taste and texture correct. I often post dishes and dinner menus of facebook and have friends ask for the recipe so I thought this would get me one step closer to doing that, rather than sending out individual emails.

As to the name of my blog, no I am not trying to set back the rights of women a generation - one of my favorite authors is Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, and I take much of my inspiration from her. That and I hate shoes and socks so in reality you will usually find me cooking either with bare feet or in flops. My other half has suggested that I do a Julie and Julia and cook my way through all the BC cooksbooks but as much as I love them, there are just too many good recipes out there to just stick with her, but you will find I often use Ms. Garten's recipes as the cornerstone of a menu.