Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Devil's Breakfast: Eggs in Purgatory with Artichoke Hearts, Potatoes, and Capers-- anEgglands Best Eggs Contest Winner I am!!

NOTE: Since this recipe was published, I won the Grand Prize from Eggland's Best for making this dish. I've just been informed that this will also be featured in an upcoming cookbook from a national magazine. I will let you know when it is published. Wow!

One of the perks of being a Food Buzz Featured Publisher is that I am given a chance to sample free products from Food Buzz Sponsors.  When Eggland's Best was highlighted as a Sponsor, I was one of the lucky recipients of a coupon for a choice of Eggland's Best eggs.  It wasn't hard for me to give a positive review on this product, because I buy this brand all the time!  I pay extra to buy quality eggs, whenever possible.  I look for free range, hormone-free and I always check the date on the carton.

I chose brown eggs, because I'm partial to them. I don't know why, but they look special. Actually, I love any kind of naturally colored eggs! To read more about what makes Eggland's Best nutritional value so special, you can click to their informative website which has great information and tips.  I've used one of the eggs to make Ina Garten's Baked Scampi (which is excellent), and another recipe I have yet to post.  I was inspired on how to use the remaining eggs when I read the March 2010 issue of Bon Appetit.  Yesterday, I posted the Soda Bread recipe, which will become a family favorite.  I've heard of "Eggs in Purgatory" before, and I've seen several versions. I chose this recipe because I'm a fan of artichoke hearts. You see, I live about 15 minutes from Castroville, California-- which is the Artichoke Capitol of the World. A little trivia-- Marilyn Monroe was once a Castroville Artichoke Festival Queen! I don't know the exact year, but this is folklore in my area-- but many locals attest to it.  I also liked that this recipe is healthy.  Before I show you how I made this, I want beginner cooks to know that is is very simple.  I also followed most of the Bon Appetit's directions to make this-- but I was inspired to try an experiment with the remainder of the ingredients on the following day. So, let's get started:

The first thing I did, was to cut the recipe portions in half-- I was cooking for two. I had a bag of frozen artichoke hearts, from Trader Joe's. You need potatoes, and I had a large "Butter" potato on hand. I grow my own thyme, but had to resort to buying it--my own garden thyme is coming back, but not enough yet. You need an onion and a can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes.  These ingredients were not expensive. I'd say under $5.00.  There's a little prep work to do:

I didn't have red potatoes or Yukon Golds (my favorites), but I don't peel them anyway (which the Bon Appetit recipes says to do. There's a lot of nutrition in the skin, and I like the rustic look of it anyway.  I washed the potato and cut them into even-sized cubes. The artichokes got a quick thaw, and some help with a rinse of warm water.  I decided to cut them into bite-sized pieces.  If you don't like artichokes (you are missing out), or you can't find them easily-- mushrooms would be a great substitute (or addition) for this recipe.

You can use dried thyme, but fresh is so much better! Just grab the stem and pull down-- then mince the herbs. Dice the onion.  You need red pepper flakes.  I used to be scared of them, but now I love them.  1/4 teaspoon is just right, if you are wimpy about heat. If you opt out of using the red pepper flakes, that's okay. I just think they complete the whole layer of flavors in this dish. You decide. C'mon, conquer your fear!  The prep work took me about 15 minutes. If you're nervous with your knife skills, it might take longer. If you prep everything, then the rest is Easy Street.

Turn on the stove and grab a good skillet. I love my large cast iron skillet!

Heat the olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, chopped thyme, and crushed red pepper; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt and sauté until onion is tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the artichokes and minced garlic; stir 1 minute. Stir in diced tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover skillet and simmer 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend. 

The top left photo are capers.  I used to hate these, but now I like them. Its another food aversion I've gotten over. They're slightly salty and they're nice in this recipe. Drain them and set aside. If you hate them, or can't find them, that's okay too.  Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in small saucepan of boiling salted water just until tender, about 8 minutes*. Drain. *NOTE: Since the potatoes will continue to cook in the oven, don't overcook them, or they'll become mushy. I overcooked them, because photography distracted me. The potatoes are going to cook more, in the oven. Be forewarned!  It's almost time to add the eggs. I like to break an egg into a cup, to be sure I don't get shells in them... or have a bad one (so far, this hasn't happened to me). But, next...

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Now, add the drained potatoes and capers to tomato-artichoke sauce; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper  NOTE: The tomato sauce reduced a little more than I wanted it to, so I added a little bit of chicken stock which worked out really well.
DO AHEADYou can stop here, because the Tomato-artichoke sauce can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm sauce before continuing. I didn't do this, so let's keep going. I'm going to show you something else in a moment...  The directions say to transfer the sauce into a baking dish.  If my skillet is oven-proof, why bother? After all, this is a one skillet meal!  So...



Using the back of spoon, make 8 evenly spaced indentations (in my case, four) in sauce for holding eggs. Crack 1 egg into each indentation in sauce (some of eggs may run together slightly in spots). Pop the oven proof skillet right into the oven!  That's one less dish to clean!


Pretty?  I loved the presentation of this! 

I'm going to give you an honest opinion of how this dish tasted.  It was very satisfying, even though it's "healthy". By that, I mean that the red pepper flakes, fire roasted tomatoes and the heartiness of the potatoes and artichokes worked really well together.  Of course, we loved the Soda Bread with this!  My only disappointment was that the eggs were a bit overcooked.  I was not to be discouraged, though.... because there was a lot of vegetables leftover, after we ate our breakfast.  I do not like to waste food! So...

I decided to scoop the remainder of the vegetables into ramekins. Clever? No?  Yes!  I covered them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge.  The next morning.... (today)

I added a little bit of chicken stock, to liven up the vegetables, and preheated the oven to 375F.

One egg per cup made sense to me.  I set the timer in five minute increments, watching the eggs closely...

16 minutes later, the whites look set.  I learned my lesson-- don't focus on the yolks. I removed the ramekins and sprinkled grated Parmesan on top.  Lesson learned on Take Twothe eggs will continue to cook, even though you've removed them from the oven!  Get ready to drool....

My breakfast (after a 30 minute swim, thank you very much)... Soda Bread with butter and homemade apricot-pineapple jam and Eggs in Purgatory.  But, how did the eggs turn out, this time?

Just the way I like it.... a little runny, but not too runny.  So, here's my theory-- the shallower the dish and tomato sauce, the quicker the eggs will cook.  Depending on your oven, the time varies from 12-16 minutes. Eggs in Purgatory is a very simple and versatile way to serve eggs.  It's lovely for a brunch, and a breeze to serve if you prepare the sauce one day in advance.  Thank you, Eggland's Best, for your gift!  I hope I made you proud! The recipe is printed at the bottom of this post.


Thank you Eggland's Best for choosing me, as the Grand Prize Winner of your Contest!  A recipe card is at the end of this post.







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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread - To Celebrate the Irish

Who is Mrs. O'Callaghan?  In this month's issue (March 2010) of Bon Appetit Magazine, Actor Andrew McCarthy writes about his quest to find the Ultimate Irish Soda Bread recipe in Ireland-- where he has a second home.  Due to respect for copyrights, I won't post the picture of Mrs. O'Callaghan, but she is the Poster Person for "Visit Ireland". I will print a portion of her quote, from this article:
 A tiny, still-elegant woman with red hair, Mary O'Callaghan has been baking her mother's recipe for brown soda bread through 45 years of marriage and 12 grandchildren. "It takes me five minutes now to make. I like it with just some butter and a bit of the marmalade we get right in Doolin. Or it's lovely with a slice of salmon for lunch." Mary made all five of her children's wedding cakes and did all the baking for the hotel, but now, it's just the brown bread. She leans close. Her hazel eyes are dancing. "Denis likes it," she whispers. And it's easy to see what wowed her husband 45 years earlier, when Mary's mother was Denis's teacher at school.
I was sold on wanting to make her recipe--just from her photo. Would you believe that this is my first paid subscription issue of Bon Appetit? 'Tis true! I've used  Epicurious.com to find recipes,  but I have never subscribed to Bon Appetit. What took me so long? I read this issue from cover-to-cover, and I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew McCarthy's article.  Maybe it's because I spent a whirlwind one week tour all over Ireland a couple of decades ago, with a Swiss girlfriend of mine. I loved Ireland! We traveled from Dublin and along the Coast of Ireland. We drove the Ring of Kerry route, and I even hung backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone-- which might be where I got the gift of gab. Who knows?  We even drove to Northern Ireland's  Antrim Coast to see the Giant's Causeway, and stayed at Ashford Castle. What memories! The food!  I loved it!  The people were lovely, and I dearly hope to take my husband there for his first time. Back to the recipe-- I liked the ingredients in this recipe for Soda Bread, and I had everything on hand!

White flour, whole wheat flour, soda, brown sugar and butter...


 I made two recipes, this morning from this issue. I'll start with the Soda Bread:

 
Whisk the dry ingredients together...

I decided to experiment using a food processor. I'm all about shortcuts, so here we go!  I pulsed the cold butter, until crumbly. Then, I added the buttermilk (spilling a little, oops).  Once the dough had become "shaggy" (that's what the recipe said).  Shaggy?   Mine was a little dry, but clumpy.

On a lightly floured surface, I kneaded the dough together...and kneaded...and kneaded. It took some work to get the dough to "stick".  I'm not sure if I should have used a little less flour? I finally resorted to using a rolling pin to smooth out the ball of dough to about 7" in diameter.  As instructed, I cut an "X".  I improvised a brushed a little melted butter on top and sprinkled some Old-Fashioned Oats-- for some texture.  I set the dough on parchment paper and baked it at 425 for 40 minutes (checking it at 35 minutes).  Later, I realized I could have used a pizza stone. D'oh!

My advice is to be sure to bake to a golden brown.  My dough was shaped "round", so the ends baked first and it the middle seemed a little less baked.  The workaround to this is to bake it in a loaf pan.  (I ended up returning the loaf back into the oven for 5 more minutes, and it worked out just fine.  The smell is incredible!  No kidding, my mouth was watering...

I brushed a little more melted butter, once it came out of the oven, so the oats would stick. There!

 
Not bad, for my first attempt at Soda Bread! Let it cool for a bit (which is hard to do). I waited 20 minutes.

So, here's the first slice. Butter, yes, definitely!

The slice is holding together, with a few crumbs here and there...

Great Scott!  This is excellent!  Ms. O'Callaghan, you are a Saint. An Irish Saint!

I could not resist trying this with honey.  Amazing!

I intend to try another version, or two, of Soda Bread.  The bar is set high, because this is a winner.  I served this with a "Eggs in Purgatory" .  The two went very well together.  Tomorrow morning, we are going to lightly toast a slice of this, slather it with butter and homemade marmalade and a cup of hot tea.

If you are afraid of yeast breads (which, fortunately, I am not), this is super easy to make.  I'm not Irish, but but my visit to Ireland has left a special place in my heart for this Green Isle, the people and the food. For that reason, I like to make Irish recipes for St. Patrick's Day.  It won't be corned beef and cabbage, but I'll think of something. I always do! To read the full article on Soda Bread, and how Andrew McCarthy decided that Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda bread was the ultimate recipe, click here.  I concur. It's pretty darn good.

The recipe card is printed at the bottom of this page.

Thanks Bon Appetit!


Irish Soda Bread on Foodista


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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ina Garten's Baked Scampi & Two Side Dishes for a Complete Meal

 While organizing an Alphabetical and Categorical Index for my recipes, I realized something... I don't post/cook enough seafood recipes!  I admit, that I don't crave fish, let alone adore fish-- the exception being fresh salmon, sole or tilapia-- all of which I love.  Shellfish isn't my husband's favorite meal, unfortunately.  But,  I can't get enough of lobster, shrimp or scallops!  Fortunately, my son loves any kind of seafood, so I invited him for dinner.   I've been a bit MIA with the Barefoot Bloggers Group for a few weeks. Ooops!  I've missed making the last few recipes. The last one, Coconut Cupcakes-- I just couldn't muster the desire to make them. I'd already made Ina's Coconut Cake and this is the same recipe.  But, when my Blogger friend, Cathy (A Spoonful of Thyme), reminded me that the Barefoot Bloggers current selection was Baked Scampi... I wanted to do it!   This recipe comes from "Back to Basics", which has become one of my favorite of Ina's many cookbooks.
  The prep work was ridiculously easy:

Unsalted butter is important! I say this, because when I read reviews, some folks complained that this dish was too salty. Hmmmm.  I wonder if they used regular butter and/or table salt? So, unsalted butter, it is.  Scampi isn't scampi without fresh garlic, and that's the truth.  You also need one egg yolk-- this is to bind the topping we're about to make. But, first, we need to prep the shrimp:

I like to keep a bag of raw shrimp in my deep freeze.  I do a quick thaw, with room temp water.  In a matter of minutes, I can easy butterfly the shrimp.  These were pretty much deveined, but I still remove any traces of that black squiggly stuff. I cut the recipe in half, calculating about six shrimp per person-- which turned out to be a tad over one pound.

You won't even break a sweat on the marinade-- white wine, olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Gently stir it up....

Set the shrimp aside, to room temperature and now to make the topping.

You'll want to zest a lemon, then juice it. Minced shallots, fresh parsley and rosemary, and minced garlic...

 
In a bowl, add the softened butter, zest, lemon juice, herbs, shallots and-- definitely-- red pepper flakes. I highly recommend it!  Of course, you need panko crumbs.  These are my favorite and love them a lot more then traditional breadcrumbs. I love the crunch. Last, add the egg yolk and combine everything. This takes about 2 minutes!
The topping is ready.
Set each shrimp with the butterfly section "down" and the tail "up". Go in a circle, which looks nice. Individual gratin or ramekin dishes would also be a fun way to prepare this dish.

It doesn't have to be perfect. You're going to cover these with that buttery-flavorful topping--

Easy!
I popped this into the fridge for about 2 hours. This is perfect for entertaining. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425F and bake these for 10-12 minutes. How about some easy side dishes?


For fluffy rice, I rinse it thoroughly I like to make "Budget Saffron Rice" by using a 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to color the rice a pretty yellow. I like to use a combo of chicken broth and water, too.  

 When the rice is cooked, I add fresh herbs and lemon juice. Sometimes I add peas. My son loves my Split Pea Soup but he hates fresh peas. He's weird. But, he was a dinner guest and I left it out.

You like?


Roasting asparagus is our favorite way to prepare these. Welcome to the first fresh asparagus of the California Season, at $1.27 a pound!  I use kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, some olive oil-- and this time, freshly grated Parmesan. Baked at 425F for about 12 minutes, which happens to be the same temperature of roasting the shrimp-- these are so good! 

The smell is amazing!  Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the baked scampi, as soon as it comes out of the oven.

This is my son's dinner plate. He was licking his chops.


VERDICT: Ina Garten delivers, once again!  The flavors worked so well together-- just enough garlic, the acid of the lemon and subtle heat of the red pepper-- the white wine (which I also drank a glass of) and the crunch of the panko crumbs-- even Craig liked this dinner.  This recipe is a keeper, and I love the ease of making this dish. I can spend more time with dinner guests, instead of cooking in the kitchen. Loved it!

LEFTOVERS: The next day, there were a few shrimp left. I added some fresh panko, a little drizzle of olive oil and broiled the dish.  These were excellent!  I didn't broil the dish the first time, but I think that's a great touch. 

All three recipes are at the very bottom of this post.  I hope you give them a try, because this dinner wasn't too expensive and very easy to make.  I still hold Ina Garten near and dear to my heart as a Celebrity Chef and Entrepreneur who makes beautiful and flavorful dishes that are very easy to prepare.

Counting down the days till Spring,









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