Sunday, September 20, 2009

Omelets and Barbara Brown Taylor.

This is not an entry about omelets, really.

Sure, that omelet was delicious--I used the leftover Cazio de Lazio and spinach from the Prosciutto cups and sundried tomatoes to make myself a really phenomenal lunch.

Try as I might, I have a really hard time reading and eating. But when I started Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church, I couldn't put it down. My copy is now filled with underlines, notes and crumbs.

This is exactly what I needed to hear this week, I thought I'd share it:

"Salvation is so much more than many of its proponents would have us believe. In the Bible, human beings experience God's salvation when peace ends war, when food follows famine, when health supplants sickness and freedom trumps oppression. Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God's name. Sometimes it comes as an extended human hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for all the world like a wall. This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works."

There is so much more in this book--particularly about the way church works (and doesn't). I highly, highly recommend it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Resurrecting Corn.

I have always loved corn on the cob. When I was 10 or 11, I won a family corn-eating contest with 6 ears. I remember shucking corn sitting at picnic tables with brown grocery bags beneath us, and my grandmother boiling them on the stove afterwards (and, oddly enough, the tongs she used to remove them from the boiling water). My favorite midnight snack the first few weeks of freshman year was corn on the cob, cold out of the fridge covered in salt.

Corn in Philadelphia delicious, most likely because it's fairly local. Lucky for us, we live between Jersey Sweet Corn and Lancaster Sweet Corn.

Laura and I bought some at Reading Terminal during our first shopping trip but didn’t get around to eating it until a little over a week later. It was looking a little sad. So I decided to mix up some fancy butter to liven it up.

These are only two variations and do not require measurements. The only “recipe” here involves softening the butter enough and gradually mixing in layers of flavor (thus, lots of taste testing). I used the back of a tiny spoon to mix the seasonings into the butter.

The butter on the left is a Chili Butter. It contains Chili Powder, Paprika, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper and All Seasons Salt.

The butter on the right is Parsley Parmesan Butter. We chopped fresh parsley and added a hefty amount of Parmesan. Lemon zest would have been wonderful in this!

After corn, this butter is delicious on rolls (especially multigrain ones) and melted in pasta. I’m also considering using the Chili Butter to do some sautéed vegetables later this week.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


As I am a college student, I am really, really poor.

As I am Pennsylvania Dutch, I am also really, really frugal. I believe the expression is “tighter than a fish’s ass.” (Thanks, Mrs. Church.)

But I am also a serious foodie. You all know this. I love expensive meals at restaurants, good cheese, and can be very particular about the quality of ingredients. It creates somewhat of a problem. Laura (my roommate) and I have been very careful about how much we spend for groceries—between the two of us, the first week we spent about $20, the second about $25.

And do you know where we spent that extra $5 the second week, and on what? That’s right. At DiBruno Brothers, on prosciutto.

Prosciutto, for those of you who don’t know, is an Italian cured ham that is sliced ultra thin. It practically melts in your mouth and is one of the greatest things ever to happen to food. This having been said, they charge about $20 a pound for it.

It was so worth it.

This recipe gives prosciutto a form and function as a cup or crust for a baked egg. It’s great for breakfast, but two of these at dinner with a side of homefries can be a really filling meal. Baking the cherry tomatoes gives them a really delicious roasted flavor, too.

This recipe also calls for cheddar. I found that kind of boring. While I was at DiBruno Brothers, I asked the fromagier for a suggestion. First he said Pecorino Romano (a fine choice), but I was hoping for something that would melt better. He gave me a Cacio (de Lazio), which is just a young Pecorino. It’s a semi firm sheep’s milk cheese and, aside from being absolutely delightful melted, it’s a great table cheese.

Individual prosciutto, spinach and egg “pies”
From Sara Foster's Casual Cooking

Olive oil for greasing muffin tins
6 thin slices prosciutto
6 large eggs
1 c spinach, roughly chopped
1 oz cheddar (or Pecorino Romano, or Cacio), shredded (1/4 c)
12 grape tomatoes, halfed

Preheat the oven to 350. Using a paper towel, grease six cups of the muffin tin with olive oil.
Line the cups with the prosciutto slices. Crack 1 egg into each cup. Sprinkle spinach and cheese. Top with tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until egg whites are firm and yolks are starting to set but still soft in the center. Set them aside to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the prosciutto cups to loosen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to reality.

Since we last spoke, I have survived two weeks in Thailand, two and a half weeks in the wilderness (with children), moving into an apartment (twice), leading worship, and starting class.
Being in Thailand—and at camp—was like living in an alternate universe. How is there no cheese in Thailand? Since when did I like oatmeal so much?

Just thinking about unpacking for good today made me realize: I have come back to reality. Reality, in the sense that I’m using it, has a wonderful connotation. Grocery shopping, making dinner every night, and having friends over for dessert is a really wonderful reality, a reality I missed and for which I am grateful.

Part of this new reality is my new roommate—Laura—who gives me full reign of the kitchen and likes just about everything I make. She invited our friends, Jess and Brian (who are recently married—gah! I have friends who are married), over for dinner. We had only been living in the apartment a few days, so there wasn’t much in our fridge just yet. Expected to deliver a meal worthy of my reputation in the kitchen, I began to scramble.

Then I remembered this story from bread&honey. When Italians wives had affairs, and therefore did not have enough time to slave over a hot stove making the perfect red sauce, they would make a sauce called "putan"(which literally means “whore”). Of course, I would have looked up the recipe, but we don't have internet yet, so I was forced to It’s dependent on fresh ingredients and requires very little stove time, thus it’s absolutely perfect for the end of summer (and if you're interested in tricking your husband into believing you slaved over a red sauce all day, when really you just tossed this together).

I grabbed some tomatoes and basil from my dad’s garden, and because we always have onions and garlic on hand, this sauce came together in a flash. We added a poached egg on top for a little protein, and because, well, a poached egg always brings a little class to a dish. The dish was well received, however, I forgot to snap a photo until midway through eating.

Pasta alla Puttanesca
Serves 4

4-5 big, ripe tomatoes, cubed
4 Tb. olive oil, divided
1 medium white onion or half a large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 lb. pasta (we used rigatoni)
4 eggs
Optional: olives, anchovies, torn prosciutto

1. Dice the onion and saute in 2 Tb olive oil until softened.
2. Add the rest of the oil, garlic and tomatoes and simmer over medium-low heat until warmed through (the tomatoes should only break down a little). Add the thyme (and other herbs, if you like, oregano or an "Italian seasoning" would work here) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, boil water and cook the pasta.
4. About 5 minutes into cooking the pasta, bring a sauce pan, about half-way full with water, to a boil. Crack eggs into small cups first, and when the water reaches a boil, gently drop the eggs into the water. They will feather out a little, but do not be concerned. Take the water off the heat, cover, and wait 4-5 minutes (depending on how done you like the yoke). After 4-5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to fish out the eggs and place on a paper towel to absorb some of the water.
5. Combine the sauce and pasta in a large bowl. Plate the pasta on the bottom and the poached egg on top. Sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.