Search This Blog

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eggsellent – A One-Egg Omelet That’s All About Flavor

For Zesterdaily last January, I wrote about beginning the new year with an easy-to-make, good tasting dish that is healthy and all about flavor. After making the omelets through out last year, I think it's a great way to begin 2014.


A new year with new resolves for personal improvement is the best of times and the worst of times. At the top of many people’s resolutions is eating sensibly with an asterisk to give up everything that tastes good. To eat well doesn’t mean denying yourself pleasures. In fact, consider the gastronomic advantages of a one-egg omelet.

Three, two, one

A neighborhood restaurant we frequented for many years proudly publicized their three-egg omelet. The omelet was a plump 2-inches thick and settled on the plate like a seal sunning itself on a wave-washed rock.
After eating their three-egg omelet, I always felt like going back to bed.
Having consumed many omelets over many years, the realization hit me that what I like about an omelet isn’t the eggs. What I like is the filling.
At home I experimented. What I was looking for was a ratio of bulk: flavor that pleased my palate and wasn’t overly filling. Three eggs were never considered, and eventually two eggs gave way to one. Another significant milestone was switching from a stainless steel pan to the more forgiving qualities of a nonstick pan.

Thin one-egg omelet is a reminder of delicate crêpes

One egg creates texture not bulk and places the emphasis solidly on the filling. Just about anything sautéed, roasted or grilled can find itself tucked into the confines of an eggy bed.
Whatever the mix of ingredients, the key to a good omelet is creating a warm creaminess of melted cheese.
The combinations are limited only by your palate preferences. The salty-sweetness of sautéed ham, Comte cheese, spinach, shallots and shiitake mushrooms complement the pliancy of the egg. Grilledasparagus and Parmesan cheese, dusted with finely chopped Italian parsley leaves makes an elegant omelet perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Shredded lobster, Manchego cheese, cilantro, raw red onions, a dusting of cayenne and a small amount of finely chopped ripe tomatoes transform an ordinary egg into a culinary adventure.
Adding country-fried potatoes, buttered toast with jam and crisp bacon, a tossed green salad or a bowl of fresh fruit to fill out the plate and the one-egg omelet creates an enviable meal, heavy on flavor and careful about calories.

One-Egg Omelet With Spinach, Comte Cheese, Shallots and Shiitake Mushrooms

Use any cheese of your liking. I prefer a cheese that plays well with others. Strong cheeses, such as blue cheese, will dominate the other flavors in the filling. Mild cheddar, Comte, Manchego and soft goat cheese work well.
The recipe is for one, because making each omelet individually will result in the best looking dish. If you are serving more than one, multiply the number of diners times the ingredient quantities for the filling to create the correct amount needed to make all the omelets.
Use a 9-inch nonstick pan, understanding that nonstick pans are designed to be used on low heat. Because an excessive amount of fat is not required to prevent the egg from sticking to the pan, the butter is used for flavoring. Could the omelet cook on a nonstick pan without the butter? Yes, perhaps as serviceably, but that little bit of butter adds a lot of flavor.
Serves 1
Ingredients
2 teaspoons sweet butter
2 cups spinach leaves and stems, washed, pat dried, chopped
1 shallot, washed, ends and skin removed, finely chopped
½ cup or 2-3 shiitake mushrooms, washed, root ends trimmed, finely sliced longwise
1 farm-fresh egg, large or extra large
1 tablespoon cream, half and half, whole milk or nonfat milk
⅓ cup freshly grated cheese, preferably white cheddar, Comte, Manchego or goat
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Directions
1. In the nonstick pan, melt 1 teaspoon butter and sauté together the spinach, shallot and shiitake mushrooms until wilted and lightly browned. Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne (optional). Use a high-heat or Silpat spatula to remove the sauté from the pan and set aside.
2. Beat together the 1 egg and milk until frothy.
3. On a medium-low flame, heat the nonstick pan, melt the remaining teaspoon butter and pour in the egg-milk mixture using the spatula to get every drop into the pan.
4. Swirl the egg mixture around to coat the bottom of the pan so it looks like a full moon.
5. Gently sprinkle the cheese on one half of the omelet — the half moon with the filling –and spoon on the sauté to cover the cheese.
6. When the cheese has melted and the egg is cooked the way you like, use the Silpat spatula to gently flip the empty side of the half moon on top of the filling.
7. Use the Silpat spatula to help slide the omelet onto the plate and serve hot.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Big Game Snacks - Stephen Colbert Said Don't Call Them "Super Bowl Sunday" Snacks

Last night Stephen Colbert warned that anyone writing about Super Bowl Sunday should beware the wrath of the NFL. His workaround for a week-long series of specials devoted to Super Bowl Sunday was to call it "The Big Game."


I'll take Colbert's lead anytime, so here are my suggestions for snacks to enjoy during The Big Game on this coming Sunday.

The easiest snacks are store bought. No one has to stay in the kitchen to serve the pizza, dips and chips, beer and sodas. But fast food doesn't make you feel good. There are easy ways to make food for friends that only require a bit of time in the kitchen and here are some suggestions.

All these dishes can be made the day ahead, so on Sunday, you can spend the morning lounging in  front of the TV watching the pundits analyze the upcoming game.

Roasted Beet Salad

Requiring little to no effort, the beets do all the work.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 large beets, washed
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 scallion (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Sea salt
Black Pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or a Silpat sheet.

Leaving the skins on the beets allows them to cook in their sweet juices. No need to wrap them in aluminum foil and definitely don't peel them. Place them on the lined baking sheet, Drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place in the oven.

Depending on the size of the beets, the cooking time is anywhere from 30-90 minutes. For even cooking, turn the beets every half hour. Use a pairing knife to test for doneness. Don't let them overly cook. They are best cooked al dente, so there is a firmness.

In a small saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar over a low flame until the 1 tablespoon is reduced on 1 teaspoon. Set aside.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the beets to cool.

For the salad, the beets should be peeled, the top and root end removed. To avoid staining your hands, use plastic gloves. The skin should come off easily. Don't cut away any of the flesh.

Cut the beets into any shape you like--wedge, diced, sliced or julienned. Season with the olive oil, reduced balsamic vinegar, sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Optionally, finish the beets with a finely sliced scallion. Also, optional, dust with cayenne to add a bit of heat.

Kimchi Chicken Wings

Much more effort is required to make Kimchi Chicken Wings. The result is so delicious, they are definitely worth the extra effort. The wings can be cooked the day ahead and refrigerated, then reheated before the game. The wings are delicious served hot or at room temperature.

Servies 4

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, washed, pat dried
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup kimchi, finely chopped
1 tablespoon kimchi water from the bottle
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, washed, peeled, sliced thin
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions

Dissolve the brown sugar in the kimchi water, olive oil, and soy sauce. Add the kimchi, onion slices, and chicken wings. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with tin foil for easy clean up. Place a wire rack on the tray and arrange the wings on the rack. Drizzle the wings with olive oil. Put into the oven and bake 30 minutes. Turn over with tongs. 

Bake another 30 minutes. The wings should be tender and golden brown. If not, turn the wings over and continue baking another 10 minutes. Check again and continue baking at 10 minute intervals, turning the wings each time, until they are done.

In a small saucepan on a low flame, reduce the marinade by a third. Reserve.

Pour the heated, reduced marinade over the wings. Place in a leak proof container. 

Make sure everyone has plenty of napkins and a chilled drink of choice.

Variations

Add 1 tablespoon julienned garlic and 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley to the marinade
Just before serving, top with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion

Carrot Salad with Lemon-Soaked Raisins

Serves 6-8 (makes 1 quart)

Ingredients

8 large carrots (preferably farmers market fresh), washed, peeled, ends trimmed off
1 scallion (optional), finely chopped
1 small bunch Italian parsley, washed, dried, stems trimmed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne
Sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Directions

Soak the raisins in lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight Grate the carrots in a large mixing bowl.

Roughly chop the raisins, reserving the lemon juice not absorbed into the raisins. Mix together the carrots, raisins, parsley, and scallions.

Season with the cumin, cayenne, sea salt, and black pepper and toss. Add the lemon juice and mayonnaise. Mix well.

Variations

Use cilantro instead of Italian parsley

Add chopped capers

Top with roasted chopped almonds

Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney and Roasted Almonds


The salad can be eaten on small romaine lettuce leaves, crackers, bread or heated tortillas. The dish has a flavor pleasing mix of savory (chicken), sweet (mango), crunchy (almonds) and heat (cayenne). The dish can be made with either white or dark meat. Personally, I think the dark meat has more flavor.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 whole chicken, washed, pat dried
1/4 cup whole, raw almonds
2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup mango chutney (amount depends on taste), finely chop the fruit
1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably Heilman's or Best Foods)
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
1 scallion, washed, pat dried, root end trimmed, green and white parts finely chopped (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Sea salt and black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place whole chicken breast side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or a Silpat sheet. Season with sea salt and black pepper. After 30 minutes, remove and turn over the chicken.

Season the breast side with sea salt and black pepper. Return to the oven. After 30 minutes, check for doneness by moving one of the legs. The chicken is fully cooked once the leg moves easily. Continue cooking until done. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Because it is criminal to waste food, make stock with the skin and bones by covering them with water in a large pot. Simmer 60 minutes, strain, remove the bones and skin, reserving any bits of meat for soup. Refrigerate the stock, skim and discard the fat. The stock can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or kept frozen for several months.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and mango chutney. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces. Place the cut up chicken, parsley, scallion (optional), cayenne into the bowl with the dressing. Toss well. At this point the chicken salad can be refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Toaste the whole almonds in a toaster oven heated to 300 F for 5 minutes. Turn the almonds and continue toasting for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Roughly chop and reserve.

To keep the almonds crisp, sprinkle them on the chicken salad just before serving.

Variations

Substitute cilantro for Italian parsley.

Add 1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped.

Substitute finely chopped yellow onion for the scallion (optional).

Sauté 1/4 teaspoon cumin and turmeric in 1 teaspoon olive oil until nut brown. Add to the mayonnaise-mango chutney dressing.