Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mexican-Style Eggs in Purgatory

One of my friends raises chickens and over the weekend she was generous enough to give me some of their eggs. I have often thought about making eggs in purgatory (sometimes known as eggs in hell) and decided this was the perfect time. However, eggs in purgatory is often made as an Italian dish and I wanted to go Mexican since the avocados in my CSA box are ready to eat.

Here's the ingredients for the eggs

1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced

2 clove garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup of your favorite salsa

several dashes of hot sauce

1 avocado, sliced

I started by sauteing the bell pepper and onion, adding the garlic towards the end of the cooking. I added my canned tomatoes, salsa and some hot sauce. I brought this to a soft simmer and then made four indentations in the sauce and broke one egg into each of the indentations. I wanted soft egg yolks so I basically just let the eggs poach until them were down how I like them (it took about 10 minutes). If I wanted firmer yolks, I would have spooned some of the sauce over the eggs as they cooked.

I would have served this with warm corn tortillas but I didn't have any of those and I'm swimming in potatoes so I made some crispy fried potato cakes.

Here's the ingredients for the potato cakes

2 russet potatoes

1/2 cup or so cream or milk

1 cup leeks (any onion would work but I had some leftover leeks that I wanted to use)
flour for dredging

salt and pepper

Basically I made (lumpy) mashed potatoes with the potatoes and cream, sauteed the leeks and then stirred them into the potatoes. Once they cooled a little I used a medium scoop to portion out the potatoes and then squashed them into patties about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

I dredged them in flour and fried them in the oil until they were crispy and delicious.
Once everything was ready I put a few of potato cakes on each plate, added the cooked eggs and some sauce and them topped it with sliced avocado.

How was it? Really good. In fact it was better than I expected. I'm actually glad that I didn't have tortillas because the potatoes were so good with the dish. I would make this again in a heart beat (and the husband liked it so he would eat it again too).

Monday, February 23, 2009


Yesterday for lunch I made this:

It's a Monte Cubano sandwich (basically a cross between a Monte Cristo and a Cubano).

You can see the recipe on the Gourmet.com, just do a search for Monte Cubano.

You should make it, it's good.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dinner For Friends

Friday night I had the opportunity to make dinner for a few friends to celebrate two of their birthdays. I always like to try out a new thing or two when I cook for friends as they are generally a forgiving group if something doesn't turn out right.

I presented a few menu options to my friends and they picked this one:
Fettuccine Bolognese with Homemade Egg Pasta
Chopped Salad
Garlic Bread
Lemon Creme Brulee with Fresh Blueberries

I wanted to make a classic Bolognese sauce so I turned to Italian Classics from Cook's Illustrated.

You can look up the recipe, but basically the sauce is made up of equal parts minced carrot, onion and celery (4 tablespoons of each) with equal parts ground beef, pork and veal (a half-pound each). This gets browned then you add milk and let it simmer until it is gone, then add white wine and let it simmer until it is gone, then add tomatoes and simmer for what seems like forever. All in all it was simmering for about 8 hours. I served this over some homemade

Check out my mad knife skillzs.

And the finished product.

The chopped salad I made is a copy of the Pagliaccio salad from Pagliacci's Pizza here in town. About a year ago I asked them is they would share the recipe for the dressing. The person who responded to my request said that they could tell me what was in it, but not the amounts. After a little tinkering I have created a reasonable facsimile. Here's the recipe I came up with.

Chopped Salad with
Dijon-Tarragon Dressing
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup mozzarella cheese
4 ounce salami, diced
1 recipe Dijon-tarragon dressing

Toss together all ingredients with enough dressing to coat.

Dijon-Tarragon Dressing

1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon
1 2/3 cup olive oil

Add all the ingredient except the oil to the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop. Turn processor on and add oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Keep at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

I bought a par baked foccaia bread (I was feeling too lazy for bread baking, especially after the fresh pasta making) and made an olive oil and herb topping with minced garlic, rosemary, sage, basil salt and pepper. This smelled divine as it was cooking (and received a very picky four-year old's thumbs up, high praise indeed).

I used the recipe for creme brulee from Cook's Illustrated but, knowing that I was going to pair it with the fresh blueberries from the CSA box this week, I added the zest of a lemon and a little squeeze of lemon juice to the cream as it was steeping (because I love lemon with blueberries).


Since I had some extra egg whites (since the Creme Brulee only uses yolks) I did the only responsible thing. I made Meringues. But not just Meringues, Five-Spice Cocoa Meringues.

I started with the recipe from Epicurious for Cocoa Meringue Kisses but with a few tweaks. I added about two teaspoons of five-spice powder and since I didn't have cream of tarter, I used lemon juice instead and since I used lemon juice instead of cream of tarter I added about a tablespoon extra of sugar. I toyed with adding some cayenne to the mix but since a four-year old was to be one of the guests I didn't think that was a great idea (but I do think it would have been fantastic). I baked them for 35 minutes. They were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Here they are.
Again, yum.

Dinner (and dessert) was all great! And of course the company was delightful. I'm always so glad to be able to share my gifts with people in my life (and judging from the raves, they are happy for that too).

I'm so glad that I had the forethought to make lots of extra sauce so that I can eat it again (perhaps tonight). And, oh my, I just remembered that I have extra creme brulee in the fridge. Gotta go!

Friday, February 13, 2009

What's in the box?

After an unfortunate break from my CSA box due to my ankle sprain I will be receiving a new box next Wednesday. I'm excited that I will be able to get back to cooking.

Here's what I'm scheduled to receive.

1.5 pounds Russet Roasting Potatoes
1.25 pounds Jewel Yams
1 each Cucumbers
2 each Hass Avocados
2 each Golden Bell Peppers
1 bunch Carrots
1 pound Beets
2 each Yellow Onions
.4 pound Cremini Mushrooms
1 each Blueberries
4 each Braeburn Apples
3 each Cara Cara Oranges

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bourbon Tasting

Last Friday the husband and I (and a couple of good friends) attended a Bourbon tasting held by Culinary Communion. We were able to try six different brands of Bourbon.

A couple of notes about Bourbon. It must be made in the U.S., but not necessarily in Kentucky (although that is where most of it is made). Bourbon that has been aged for at least four years can be labeled as "straight" or it can be labeled with an age.

Here's what we tried in order from least to most favorite.

Jefferson's Reserve
Proof: 90 Region: Bardstown, KY Age: straight
Had a lot of sweet nose notes, along with a distinct dirt smell.
The husband's note about the Bourbon was "thumbs down, x10".

Buffalo Trace
Proof: 90 Region: Franklin County, KY Age: straight

We were told that we should be able to smell coconut, black pepper, oak, leather and anise, but neither of us were able to identify any distinct odors. The husband called this a "harsh drink" and said "thumbs down"

Old Fitzgerald, Very Special
Proof: 90 Region: Louisville KY Age: 12 years
This was the husband's second favorite
but I did not like this one at all. This (like all Bourbons) is aged in oak and I felt like the very long age time on this one made the oak overwhelming. However, the strong oak notes were very agreeable to the husband. He gave this one a "star", I said "thumbs down".

1792 Ridgemont Reserve
Proof: 94 Region: Bardstown, KY Age: 8 years
We were told that this is one of the better known and more easily found Bourbons. We both liked this one okay. It had some cinnamon and caramel notes that were nice.

W.L. Weller, Special Reserve
Proof: 90 Region: Frankfort, KY Age: straight
This one had notes of vanilla, caramel and pineapple.
We both thought this would be a great bourbon for Manhattans because of the sweet notes. This one gets a "star minus".

Blanton's Original
Proof: 93 Region: Frankfort, KY Age: straight
This one had notes of caramel, citrus, vanilla and honey. This one was the favorite of both the husband and myself. It was nicely balanced, plus it comes in a nifty bottle. We give this one a "star plus".

In addition to the Bourbon we were also treated to some tasty food. Glazed pecans, delicious coca-cola pork ribs, two types of crostini, one with warm country pate and a second with a garbanzo bean spread and yummy pulled pork sliders. They also made brussel sprouts with maple syrup glaze, bacon and pecans. While these were great, the smell of the cooking overwhelmed the entire room and made it hard to smell the bourbons.

After a while some great house made charcuterie was brought out, followed by profiteroles filled with bacon ice cream (yum).

Overall we had a good (not great) night. This is the second tasting that we've done at Culinary Communion and we both agreed that this one was not as good as the first (which was scotch). We would have liked to get a bit more information about Bourbon in general and we're not sure if we got the value for the price we paid ($39 each).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fun at the dog park, until...


Led to this...

Yesterday the husband and I got the bright idea to take the dogs to the off-leash dog park. It seemed like they needed a good run around.

Here they are running and frolicking and chasing tennis balls.

They look like they're having a good time, no? Well maybe it just too good of a time. The husband threw the ball, Jones (the golden retriever) took off after it and clipped my leg.

So the fun trip to the dog park was followed by a not so fun trip to the Emergency Room.

Diagnosis? Definite sprained ankle (which I kind of guessed by the egg-size lump on my ankle) and a possible break in one of the bones in my foot. I get a fun trip to the
orthopedist (hopefully tomorrow) to find out for sure.

Good times.