Monthly Archives: March 2009

cookin’ class-perfect hard boiled eggs

egg-hard-boiled

i love a good hard boiled egg. in fact, i have been known to go through phases of eating them, almost to the exclusion of all other foods. for breakfast with a slice of whole grain toast, chopped up in a fresh egg salad, as the perfect snack in the afternoon, etc, etc, etc. but i know not everyone’s a fan. sometimes i wonder if more people had them prepared properly, more people would like them the way that i do. ah, the elusive perfect hard boiled egg. almost as intimidating as steamed rice. i hesitate to use the word ‘perfect’ for just about anything, but i will with this stipulation: perfect is as perfect does, or perfect is relative. if you like your eggs the way i do, these will be perfect for you. i like a hard boiled egg cooked all the way through, no underdone centers. having said that, i love a soft boiled egg, but that’s not i’m going for here. you can experiement on your own, adding or subtracting time to your taste.

 i don’t know about you, but for years i wasn’t even aware that there could be an improvement over just boiling them to death (or until i remembered i was even cooking something!), then running cold water over them. the greenish-gray ring that appears around the yolk when this method is employed is the reason many people are turned off by eggs cooked this way. it is a result of sulphuric acid buildup which emits a rather, well, stinky odor. then i did a little research and took some tips from the experts. here are the results.

egg-raw-in-multi-colored-shells

perfect hard boiled eggs

1. first off, start with eggs that are 1-2 weeks old. they will be so much easier to peel if you do. i am giving you a few weeks until easter if you plan on dying the eggs, then peeling and making a good ol’ egg salad after the holiday. and buy the best eggs you can afford-it really does make a difference.

2. put them in a pan with about 1-2 inches of cold water covering them. turn your flame to high and bring to a boil. once the eggs have boiled for a minute or 2, turn off the flame, cover and set your timer for 10 minutes (elise from simply recipes gives the tip that if you have an electric stove, you can turn the heat off just as it comes to a boil–there will be enough residual heat to get the same results).

3. when your timer goes off, submerge the eggs in a cool or ice water bath for a few minutes. this will aid in the peel ‘shrinking away’ from the white of the egg, also assisting in the peeling process. sometimes, if i have enough eggs, i’ll take one out of the hot water before i ice them all down and use it as a tester. if it’s done to my liking, i’ll eat it. if not, then i toss it and allow the remainder of the eggs to sit in the hot water for a few more minutes.

4. voila! you have perfect hard boiled eggs to use in egg salad or amaze your friends with deviled eggs at the next party. you can store them peeled for a few days or unpeeled for up to 5 days in the fridge.

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cowgirl granola

oats-in-bowl1

well, it’s official. granola is not just for hippies anymore. it has enjoyed a real resurgence lately, even a boutique status, if you will. but for many of us, it has been part of our lives for years. the simplicity of the ingredients really speaks for itself: grains, nuts, seeds, and pure and naturally sweet fruit, the flavor intensified by drying.

seeds-oats

i used to be one of those chumps who would buy it by the pound at the health food store until our friend, doctor mark, passed on this recipe for homemade granola from alton brown, his culinary hero. i have changed it up a bit over the years; tweaking measurements of this and that, changing the ingredients around, basically using it as a base recipe. it is best topped with a big dollop of plain yogurt.

yogurt2

cowgirl granola (adapted from alton brown)

3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant or quick cook)

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup raw pepita seeds (aka pumpkin seeds)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, depending on your sweet tooth)

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup neutral oil (like vegetable or canola)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried fruit of your choice (raisins, dried cherries, figs, banana chips-go crazy!)

 

preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

in a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar. in a separate bowl, combine honey or maple syrup, oil, and salt. it’s important to to mix wet & dry ingredients separately. combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 foil or parchment covered sheet pans (this is important for clean up purposes only). bake for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes to achieve an even color. you might also want to rotate pans about half way through baking in case your oven has some uneven heat spots. i like to take the mixture to a pretty deep golden color, but you should take it out when it has achieved your favorite level of golden brown. remember, also, that there will be a bit of residual cooking once mixture is removed from the oven.

 transfer to a large bowl and let cool a few minutes. add dried fruit while mixture is still warm and mix until evenly distributed.

allow to cool completely, breaking up large chunks as it cools if you prefer ( i like to leave it kinda chunky). store in an airtight container in the freezer for best results-that way your fruit won’t make your oats soggy. lasts indefinitely.

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leek confit

leeks-raw-chopped
leeks may well be the harbinger of spring, at least for me. i mean, look at those colors-from white to the palest pear green all the way to the color of grass. it just screams spring. here in austin, we see this season a little earlier than the rest of you folks up to the north. but don’t worry, it IS coming. and when you are feeling the grass for the first time under your feet next month, we’ll be sweltering in the 90’s.
until then, let’s just enjoy it while we can. if you like carmelized onions, you will love this. confit is a term more often used when referring to meat cooked for a long period of time, usually in it’s own fat. it imparts a lovely, velvety texture unlike any other method of cooking. it also means, in a more general way, to cook something very slowly. this slow method, like roasting, can bring out the sweetness and essence of a fruit or vegetable. this is one of those recipes that can be used to enhance so many fabulous dishes, like topping broiled or baked fish, adding to pizza, or as an appetizer. we spooned it over fresh goat cheese spread on freshly toasted baguettes slices–truly heavenly.
add leeks to melted butter in saute pan:
leeks-melted-butter-in-pan
leeks-in-pan
stir to coat with oil, add your salt and water:
leeks-add-water-to-pan
put the lid on and turn flame down to very low:
leeks-put-lid-on-pan
after 10 minutes of cooking, give it a stir and check your water level, add more if most of the water has absorbed:
leeks-10-min
and after 20 minutes it looks like this. i ended up using a bit more water– about 1/2 cup total:
leeks-20-min
and the requisite shot of all things confited, chutneyed, or jammed; the mixture in a glass jar with a beautiful wooden spoon:
leeks-requisite-shot
leek confit (adapted from bon appetit)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 large leeks (white and pale green parts only and washed well to remove any sand or grit), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups)
1/3-1/2 cup water water
1/2 teaspoon salt

melt butter in large pot over medium-low heat. add leeks and stir to coat with the oil. stir in water (start with 1/3 cup and add more as needed if it evaporates) and salt. Cover pot; reduce heat to very low heat. cook until leeks are tender but not brown, stirring often, about 25 minutes. uncover and cook to evaporate excess water, 2 to 3 minutes. serve warm or room temperature. stores well in fridge for up to a week. warm up before using.

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Filed under appetizer, condiment, side dish