Thursday, October 22, 2009

Laura eats all the eggs.

Because Laura and I have so few issues living together (the complete list: Laura's hair, we're both bad at mental math, we stay up chatting until way too late in the evening), we've started inventing them.

Our pretend issue is that Laura eats all the eggs. The fact is that she does, but the falsehood lies in me caring. It all started when I came home one weekend to a near-empty box of 18 eggs we had gotten a few days before. I wasn't mad, I was amazed! I still don't know quite how she managed it.

Laura gets made fun of relentlessly. Here's what our mutual friends had to say about it after I tweeted:

Aside from being useful for baking, eggs are a hot commodity around here as a cheap and filling protein. I've been practically lusting over this recipe ever since I saw it in Gourmet (which is the second, much prettier image above) last January, but lacked the ramekins in which to make it. I used the $0.33 ceramic cups we bought at Ikea, and though they may not be as pretty as the Gourmet version, they certainly tasted delicious.

Eggs with Cream, Spinach and Country Ham
Serves 8
The description from Gourmet was too good not to post: You'll return again and again to this recipe since it can be assembled in advance and delivers serious flavor. The scent of ham gently permeates the eggs, whose yolks can be broken into the rest of the dish or dipped into with
biscuits , while the mineral notes of the creamed spinach proclaim its freshness.

1/4 cup thinly sliced country ham, finely chopped
Scant 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
10 ounces spinach, coarse stems discarded and coarsely chopped
8 large eggs

Equipment: 8 (6-ounce) ramekins or ovenproof teacups

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Bring ham and cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, then remove from heat. Let steep, uncovered, about 10 minutes.
Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, until spinach is wilted.
Divide spinach, then ham, among ramekins, spooning 1 tablespoon cream into each serving. Crack eggs into ramekins and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon cream over each egg. Cut remaining tablespoon butter into 8 small pieces and dot each egg with butter.
Put ramekins in a shallow baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes, removing from oven as cooked.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Clam and Corn Chowder.

Laura and I are really into saving money. Especially as our gas bills for the last two months have already been more than either of us expected.

(Internal monologue: Oh my gosh I'm talking about gas bills and sounding like my parents please make it stop.)

But we have ideas. Hand-knit wool socks, handmade quilts, heavy drapes, and, of course, lots of soup. Though it wasn't quite cold when we made this, I can tell you that I wish I had a bowl right now (I'm all bundled up and it's only October!).

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit's recession-friendly January 2009 issue. According to the authors, you could spend $14.11 shopping for this meal. Because there are only two of us, we halved the recipe (saving on clams), and added more potatoes, carrots and onion. The rosemary and thyme make a huge difference, making this recipe taste expensive. We splurged on the bacon, though it was very hard to eat as pictured. Do yourself a favor and chop it a little.

New England Clam and Corn Chowder with herbs
From Bon Appetit, January 2009
Serves 4

6 thick bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
3 Tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk
1 8 0z. white-skinned potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
3 6 1/2 oz. cans chopped clams in juice
1 8 3/4 oz. can corn kernels, drained (or, fresh corn off the cob--about 2 ears)
Chopped fresh parsley

1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan (or your favorite soup pot) over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain.
2. Add onion, carrots, thyme, rosemary, and potatoes to pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over, stir 1-2 minutes.
3. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
4. Add clams with juice and corn. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more.
5. Divide soup amongst bowls, sprinkle with bacon and parsley.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Corn and Tomato Pie.

We are now rapidly approaching the end of the summer season. Tomatoes and sweet corn are becoming far too rare at our farmer's market. Even though I bought a few (delicious) ears today, I know corn is definitely past its peak.

But you must find time to try this pie. It was quite the buzz worthy blog post at the end of the summer--after missing out on the shrimp and broccoli for so long, I decided not to wait. I'm glad I didn't. This dish really showcases the freshness of the tomatoes and corn, thanks to the lemon and chives. I forgot there was cheese and mayonnaise in this dish. Just be sure to season liberally--the salt and pepper really make the flavors pop.

Two notes on tomatoes: First, don't skip peeling them. Deb didn't think it was necessary, and later wished she had. I had a good time doing it--it's almost magical! Secondly, you can de-seed and juice them a little if you want, as the tomatoes do cause some puddles, as is apparent in the second photo, but I didn't have a problem with the crust being soggy. I feel like it would have helped to make bigger/better steam vents.

This kept pretty well in the fridge for the two days it took us to finish it. I'd be willing to place bets that it won't last that long in your house, though.
Corn and Tomato Pie
adapted from SmittenKitchen, who adapted it from Gourmet

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely chopped by hand, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7 ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Either fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. If your kitchen is excessively warm, as ours is, go ahead and put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired, gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flying Monkey Cupcakes.

The last two weeks have been jam-packed full of papers, visitors and running back and forth to my parent's house to pick up some catering shifts.

I've been trying to reclaim some joy with Flying Monkey cupcakes (Reading Terminal, 13th & Arch). On the left is my personal favorite, the Flying Monkey Signature Cupcake, which is chocolate-chocolate with banana butter cream in the middle. The cupcake on the right is chocolate with lavender icing and raspberry filling. Both were absolutely worth every penny.

I'll be back on schedule soon with some corn and tomato pie (just in time to finish the season), and since I've busted out a wool sweater today, I think it might be time for some soup, too.