New Same Old Same Old: Eggs hollandaise

4 Jan

Eggs have always been my staunch standbys, what I turn to first in times of need, hungry stomach, lack of creativity in the kitchen, or a combination of all of the above.  Somewhat bored and starving, I created a quick hollandaise sauce with sauteed spinach that was then capped by a runny, yolky, ephemeral egg on top of a warmed piece of homemade honey granola bread. Eggs=ambrosia.

Eggs hollandaise/florentine

  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp 1% milk
  • 3/4 tsp champagne mustard (such as Cherchie’s)
  • 1 tbs water
  • 2 big handfuls of pre-washed/dried spinach
  • 1 big slice of homemade bread, cut in half
  • 2 large eggs

Melt the butter in a shallow pan over medium high heat, then whisk in flour until smooth and bubbling.  Add milk, mustard, and water, and continue to whisk mixture for a minute until smooth.  Add spinach and stir to coat the spinach until wilted.  Meanwhile, toast the bread.  Place spinach mixture on each half of bread.  Then crack eggs into pan and fry them, cooking to desired consistency.  I like my yolks runny, so I usually place a lid over the pan to cook the egg faster and firm the yolk.  Put one egg onto each piece of toast, and top with salt/pepper/favorite cheese if desired.

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Spinach, Tomato, and Brie Quiche à la française

28 Dec

For dinner tonight, my family and I donned and knotted our scarves and dug into spinach/tomato/brie quiche, some salad, some white wine, and croissants “tartinee” (toasted and slathered with blueberry jam and butter or Nutella).

The prerequisites for the dinner were: that everyone must wear a scarf, speak French at least once, listen to generic French cafe music during the meal, and try everything.  Aside from the quiche taking longer to cook than planned (and one or two obstinate family members trying to refuse to wear a scarf and putting chocolate milk in a wine glass), the dinner was actually very amusing.

Rather than scarfing down our dinner in 0.2 seconds sans conversation, we had some pretty funny translations occur between the 2/3 of my family that knows some French and the 1/3 that knows some Spanish.  Courtesy of my dad, we learned about the origins of the restaurant and the importance of coffee and wine in those establishments.  There was also a showdown between snobby Barcelona accents and snobby French accents, courtesy of the Nutella and the wine.  Overall, it was pretty good practice for when all six of us reunite in France next winter.

Quiche!

  • 1 pre-made piecrust (I used Pillsbury)
  • 1 egg, plus 5 additional
  • 1 3/4 c fat-free half-and-half
  • 1 heaping tbs of champagne mustard (like Cherchie’s)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • freshly-ground pepper, about 3 times around should do the trick
  • about 6 oz Brie, thinly sliced
  • large handful of baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced and paper towel-dried

Roll out pre-made pie crust and fit to 9″ pie pan.  Crack and beat one egg, brush over crust.  Pre-bake crust according to directions on box.  Let crust rest until cool.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Meanwhile, whisk together the rest of the eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Layer the bottom of the crust with the brie, then spinach, then tomatoes.  Pour egg mixture over the cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.  Put in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the egg mixture is firm.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes, then cut, divide, and conquer!

an orangey-looking quiche-- much more yellow and eggy in actuality

Panem et Crustulum: Bread and Cookies

22 Dec

So when the world is dreary and grey, what do you do? Make bread and circuses! I mean, bread and cookies!  Because Christmas happens to be on Saturday/Sunday and I happen to be at home with almost nothing to do, I have been entertaining myself by baking endless amounts of cookies and figuring out the new bread machine.

Bread made:

  • honey granola bread

Cookies made:

  • peanut blossoms with mini Reese cups
  • chocolate chip
  • gingerbread
  • pecan tassies
  • madeleines
  • and many more to come!

Gingerbread Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg
  1. 1. To prepare cookies, lightly spoon flour into measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, ginger, and next 5 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine brown sugar, butter, syrup, and honey in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes. Add egg; beat well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well blended. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap. Cover with additional plastic wrap; chill at least 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. Roll each portion of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a floured work surface; cut with a 3-inch gingerbread man or woman cookie cutter to form 48 cookies.  Add additional sprinkles etc. Place cookies 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from baking sheet; cool completely on a wire rack.
adapted from CookingLight.com

 

French Cookies: Madeleines

19 Dec
… Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.
—Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
***
Madeleines [mad-uh-len] are a fusion of cookie and cake that are often evocative of memories past (as in Proust’s “episode of the madeleine”) and fancy high teas.  Legend even has it that these little biscuits were created by Louis XV for one of his many mistresses.
Regardless of their supposed origins and sumptuous connotations, madeleines are actually really easy to make– for instance, I made them this morning in my pjs, still half asleep, and with nary a burnt cookie in sight!
La Recette:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and dust the madeleine (or mini muffin) pan with flour.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c flour
  • 10 tbs butter, melted and cooled

Beat the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl.  Add vanilla through salt while still beating the batter.  Gradually add flour.  Then gradually add butter, beating just until mixed.  Put about 1 tbs batter in each madeleine shell, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.  Let rest for 3-5 minutes, then place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.  Regrease/flour pan, and bake the rest of the cookies.  When all are cooled, place on a decorative plate and sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Always Having Paris…In Philly

1 Aug

Searching for a bit of France this side of the Atlantic, I discovered that a local restaurant, Bistrot La Minette, had several French movie nights during the summer months.  After having discovered this, I got my dad on board and made the reservation–one half of my brain cackled wickedly in excitement, the other just thought, “My poor father.” It was one thing dragging him off to a French bistro where salmon definitely wouldn’t be on the menu, it was an entirely different thing to make him sit through a film called “Coco Before Chanel.”  But oh well.  He said he wanted to practice his French, and best of all, he was willing to pay for the experience, so of course I’d come along.  Unfortunately, he ratted out to my mom that I was trying to get a dinner out of it (c’mon, it was “Corsica” night!), so we settled for dessert instead of the whole nine yards.

My dad ordered the pot de crème au chocolat (“chocolate pudding, cat’s tongue cookies”) and due to a rushed/gushed suggestion from our waiter, I ordered mousse à la rhubarbe (“rhubarb mousse, fromage blanc, wild strawberry sorbet”).  I had my eyes set on the vins de dessert—after all, what is more French than some fancy French pastries and a glass of wine? —but ended up ordering roobios-chai tea (my two favorite types in one bag!).  While neither dessert was out-of-this world, the movie playing in the little courtyard more than made up for the lack-luster dessert ordering on our part.  As we sat enjoying our desserts under the glow of overhead twinkly lights, the lull of lilting French accents echoed around us as we drank in the parisienne atmosphere.  Unfortunately, the ominous clouds overhead decided to open up and dump buckets on our heads, so we had to leave early or risk turning into human mops.  However, our water-whipped sprints to the car were made a little more bearable knowing that we’d always have this part of Paris (in Philly, at least) to come back to.

Mini-Korea in Philly

24 Jul

Besides being a sucker for fruit, I loveloveloveloveLOVE baked goods, specifically pastries and breads. And so whenever a friend of mine dangles the carrot of “Korean Bakery” in front of me, I leap small buildings and hurdle miles of rush-hour traffic to travel to the H-Mart off of Cheltenham Avenue in Philly.  The Korean Bakery, located inside the H-Mart complex, actually goes by the name of Paris Baguette and offers a wide variety of French, Korean, and fusion pastries.   I try to get something unique and different every time I go, so this time I devoured a red-bean glutinous rice cake (mochi) and another dumpling-shaped pastry that was also stuff with a red-bean paste.

Chocolate-Filled Muffin/Bread


In addition to the bakery, you can get your fill of Korean food in the food court where you look at images of the dishes available, and order whatever one seems to whet your appetite. For under $10, you can order a slew of Korean staples that will leave you beyond satiated and lead you to the realm of stuffed.

I ordered bibimbap, a dish that is served in a hot stone bowl filled with rice, an array of vegetables, and topped with a raw or sunny-side-up egg which you then mix together, along with a hefty dab of chili-sauce.  The meal was made complete with a bowl of miso soup, kimchi, and other pickled/fermented vegetables.

Here are the other dishes that my friends ordered:

Tempura-Sushi Box

Pan-Fried Dumplings

Generally, it is good to go here with someone who is familiar with Korean cuisine and will guide you towards the more savory dishes, however; it is also fun just to go and try something new and see how it goes.  But if this is your first time experiencing Korean food (and have a slight aversion to heat/spiciness) make sure to avoid food that is red or vaguely tinted red because usually this means HEAT i.e. chili paste.

A Piece of Paris in Suburbia

18 Jul

Entranced for a little more than an hour and a half watching the documentary, Kings of Pastry, I watched, slack-jawed with amazement, as French pastry chefs competed for the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOFs) and made masterpieces from simple ingredients.  As my dad remarked, “they put ‘Ace of Cakes’ to shame.”  The French maîtres featured in the film created  sugar spun into glass, chocolate molted into sculptures, and buttery pastries from naught but flour and butter.  I sighed, knowing that such things were few and far between in suburban Philadelphia.

So it was with pure amazement that just two days later, within the pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer, I found an article detailing how a suburbanite such as myself could have a nibble of France within the confines of the SUV-heavy suburbs.  With the first mention of croissant, I was hooked, lined, and sunk (or whatever that saying is).  This Saturday, with my pastry-loving mom in tow, I visited Georges Perrier’s (owner of Le Bec Fin) The Art of Bread:

and Le Petit Mitron (a mom-and-pop Narbeth stalwart):

 

Advice for those who seek these other-worldly pastries– Perrier’s establishment has lunch-type food such as quiche and sandwiches, and a few imports from Le Bec Fin’s pastry chef (i.e. macarons!).  Le Petit Mitron focuses primarily on the baking– pain au chocolat, tartes, sables, and fancy tartes. Get here early though, because once the bakers at Mitron are done for the day, they’re done.  Voilà! 

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