October 30, 2013

Do you ear what I ear?

I've always found it amusing that orecchiette means "little ears." Many humans (and dogs) actually do eat pig's ears, so I guess it's not such a foreign concept. But I digress.

I'm in "lobe" with a pasta dish—orecchiette with sausage and kale. I often order this sort of dish at Italian restaurants, but recently, I found myself craving it at home...so I made it.

Turns out that it's super easy to create this lip-smacking, comforting meal, with a little help from your pantry.

Orecchiette With Sausage and Kale
1 small to medium-sized onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 to 2 cups chopped kale (or broccoli rabe)
12 oz. Italian chicken sausage (i.e. Al Fresco)
2 tbsp. pesto (from a jar is fine)
8 oz. dried orecchiette
Olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle a large saucepan with extra virgin olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic for approx. 5 minutes over medium heat.

While that's cooking, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.

Add the tomatoes and kale to onion and garlic in the saucepan. Chop up the sausage and throw it in with your veggies. Stir until kale is wilted.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente (taste as you go) and drain. Add the drained pasta to the saucepan along with the pesto and seasonings (red pepper flakes, salt and pepper). Stir and serve immediately.

September 8, 2013

Forever Firsts: Egg Edition

"He lit the gas, melted the butter, poured in the eggs, and let them run all over the base of it. Her eyes followed everything greedily, watching him pull the eggs up into soft ridges in the center as they cooked and tilt the pan to let raw egg flow into the space. She watched him, too, looking at his face and his working hands and his bare shoulders and his feet. When the omelette was cooked he folded it over and cut it in half with the spatula."
The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman
It's my second time reading the second book in this wonderful trilogy, and I didn't remember this part at all. I was so excited for Lyra to taste those eggs. Oh, to have one's first omelette again! It's like reading one of your favorite books again and experiencing that joy all over again.

This phenomenon is what I call a "forever first"—something that feels like it's going to change your life now that you know it exists...except here's the thing: You've actually had it before. It's like the old-yet-new butterflies in the stomach we all hope to find from a life partner. Runner's high is another good example. Runners have felt this sensation before, but they aim to experience it again and again...and every time feels as good as the first.

Everyone knows I love eggs. Alas, even an expert (eggspert?) egg connoisseur like moi can get tired of having the same ol' hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled, fried, poached, [insert cooking method here] eggs time and time again.

I recently fell hopelessly back in love with eggs again, thanks to my spice cabinet.

Behold, a twist on an old favorite (the classic Chinese tomato and egg dish). The addition of curry powder or other similar spices really takes this dish to a whole other level. It's almost like a mixed-race couple has produced a beautiful mixed-race baby. A beautiful baby I'd like to gobble down...ha. That sounds wrong. But you know what I mean. Right?

You know what? This may just be my favorite version of tomatoes and eggs of all time. And I've made a lot of tomato-egg dishes in my time, so that's saying something. Granted, I ate this dish imagining how much Lyra must have enjoyed her first omelette. Maybe that made it taste better....or maybe it was the spices. Either way, I'm more in love with eggs than ever.

Eggs in a Hurry (Curry edition)
4 small plum tomatoes, chopped into rough pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
5 egg whites, 1 yolk
A dash of curry powder (or cumin + turmeric, or just cumin or just turmeric...whatever you have)
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of sugar or ketchup (optional)

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes have broken down into a sauce-like consistency (about 5-10 minutes).

Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add in the eggs and break up the yolk with your wooden spoon. Let sit until it's slightly set, then add in your spices, salt, and pepper (as much or as little as you'd like). Add in the sugar or ketchup if you choose to do so (I personally like to add this to my tomato-egg dishes, since it balances out the acidity of the tomatoes quite nicely).

Cook until eggs are just set (no longer jiggly). Chow down.

April 29, 2013

Quinoa? More like qui-YES-a!

It has finally begun to get a bit warmer here in the city. Central Park is abloom with magnolias and cherry blossoms and dandelions, and the air is filled with possibility. In rereading that old classic, The Great Gatsby (yes, in preparation for the movie, ha), I happened upon a passage that matched this mood to a T.
"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees—just as things grow in fast movies—I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. There was so much to read for one thing and so much fine health to be pulled down out of the young breath-giving air."
The Great Gatsby

Well put, Fitzgerald. All this spring business makes me think, what foods embody that notion of possibility and renewal? Seeds and grains and eggs are some that come to mind. I happen to like all three. Quinoa is one of the seeds I recently learned how to cook. And I discovered that it tastes darn good with eggs and hummus. Add a poached salmon fillet and it's a light yet hearty dinner.

Quinoa, tomatoes, and eggs
1/4 onion, minced
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup white quinoa
1 large tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 extra-large eggs
1-2 stalks of scallions
Salt and/or sugar, to taste
1 tbsp hummus

Find a pot that has a lid and drizzle it with olive oil. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add in the water and bring to a boil, then add the quinoa and bring to a boil again, and cover. Turn down the heat slightly and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, but don't lift the lid just yet. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. Alas, fluffy quinoa requires patience, young grasshopper. Meanwhile, let us distract ourselves from hunger by preparing the eggs.

Set a nonstick skillet over high heat and a drizzle a bit of olive oil inside. Add in the tomato and garlic. Let cook for a about 5 minutes (I like to smash the tomato a bit with a wooden spoon to get all the juices out) until the tomato is really broken down. Add a bit of water if it looks too dry; the consistency should be slightly watery. 

Crack in the eggs and beat with a wooden spoon until the yolk is broken up. Let cook a bit before flipping the eggs and breaking them up a bit more. Add in the scallions and season with salt (and a pinch of sugar, if you like) when the eggs are just about solidified. 

Lift the lid of your quinoa (if you haven't already), and spoon about half into your bowl. Spoon as much egg as you like over the top and add the dollop of hummus* on the side. This recipe makes about two servings of quinoa and 1 serving of eggs, if you're an egg lover, and 2 servings of eggs if you're not a big egg eater.

*This tastes surprisingly delicious with hummus! I also imagine it would be good with a bit of corn or chopped bell pepper.

Yay for seeds that taste like grains! Quinoa, my dear, you are not only fun to pronounce, but also fun to eat.