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Summer Squash and Eggs

By June 1, 2014 breakfast, creativity, eggs, recipes

My favorite ingredients to go with my eggs can depend on the season. Yellow squash has just started coming in at the farmers market.  I enjoy what some might consider an unlikely pair – yellow squash and eggs.

I am not much of an omelet eater (or preparer). I like my eggs soft and light.  I prefer a scramble – sautéing the vegetables and then adding the eggs for a soft scrambled “scramble.”

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During the summer months, I like to eat tender crookneck yellow squash and Vidalia onions with my eggs. I also really like the addition of Chapel Hill Creamery’s Dairyland Farmers Cheese. Its mild flavor and creamy texture pairs really nicely with the squash.

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Here’s how I make a Summer Squash Scramble for 2:

Ingredients:

 5 farm eggs

¼ cup of sliced Vidalia onions

2 small yellow summer squash, halved and sliced

1/3 cup diced Chapel Hill Creamery Farmer’s Cheese

Butter or olive oil for cooking (I use a little of both)

Equipment needed:

Sharp knife and cutting board

Dry measuring cups

Nonstick sauté pan

Nonstick spatula

Mixing bowl

Directions:

–  Crack your eggs into a bowl

–  Whisk the eggs until the yolk is fully incorporated with the whites

–  Add the cheese to the eggs and stir

–  Set the eggs and cheese aside until after you cook the vegetables

–  Turn one of your large stovetop burners to medium high heat

–  Add a tablespoon of olive oil to your sauté pan

–  Once the pan is hot, add your onions and squash

–  Cook the onions and squash until tender, you may want them to get a subtle amount of color on them (subtly golden brown) – this depends on your taste preferences

–  Once your vegetables are cooked to your preferred doneness, add the egg and cheese mixture

–  Allow the egg and cheese mixture begin to cook along the outer edges of your pan as it surrounds all of the vegetables before you stir

–  Gently stir the eggs and vegetables until they are thoroughly cooked

–  I flip the cooked parts upward and away from the heat, making sure that all the liquid gets turned under to the heat of the pan

– This is a quick and gentle process that will give you softly scrambled eggs

– Experiment with adding fresh herbs like basil, tarragon and/ or chives  after cooking the eggs to liven up the flavor of your scramble. I like to add fresh arugula as well. Play with it!

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*Note: Where to buy Chapel Hill Creamery cheeses:

Carrboro Farmers’ Market: Wednesday and Saturday

Durham Farmers’ Market: Wednesday and Saturday

Western Wake Farmers’ Market: Saturday

Whole Foods Market, Weaver Street Market, Southern Season, Earth Fare, and LoMo Market

Lesson: For many years, I ate squash either in casserole, stir-fries, or fried with onions. One morning I decided to “play” with the produce I had in the fridge. Little did I know that one of my absolute favorite flavor-pairings would come together. Summer squash and eggs are such a pleasing pair that came from experimentation. What kind of pleasures have you discovered from trying something new?

 

 

 

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Sunny Side Up

By May 8, 2014 attention to detail, breakfast, eggs, practice

Have you ever been asked the question, “If you were stranded on a deserted island with only “one _____ what would it be?” I do not have any intention of being stranded on an island anytime soon. However, I have often pondered this question, filling in the blank with “food.”

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If I could have only one food to eat for the rest of my life (I sincerely hope that I don’t have to make that choice), I would choose eggs.  Of course my favorite food is lumped into the “breakfast” category, which would be the answer to the question, “If you could have only one meal a day, what would it be?”  I can eat eggs every day. I do eat them most days – at least six days a week for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack.

I am incredibly spoiled by my friend Sam, who brings me farm-fresh eggs once a week. Of all of the choices that we have for eggs, hers are the best that I have had. I know that she has a variety of laying hens because the colors of the eggs are mixed. What I love most about the eggs is the incredibly bright – almost orange – yolk. Some people say that the orange color of the yolk comes from the nutrients that the birds get from roaming freely. Others say that the less stressed the chicken is, the darker the color of the yolk of their eggs. Either way, I enjoy the brighter, darker color of the yolk that enhances the flavor and richness of the eggs. If I were on an island, I would like for Sam and her family’s chickens to be there, too!

Eggs can be enjoyed a variety of ways. I learned to scramble eggs before I turned 10. Next I learned to cook them over easy, which was not all that “easy” at the time. Flipping the egg was the challenge. Okay – flipping the egg without breaking the yolk was the real challenge. As I got older (and more patient), I got better at cooking eggs. As with cooking in general, I have researched a variety of ways to prepare eggs over the years. I still try numerous new recipes where eggs are the star.

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Of all of the recipes for eggs in my repertoire, my favorite preparation is sunny side up. I like sunny side up eggs served on top of a potato hash or simply with toast to sop up the yolk. Either way, I like to have some kind of vehicle to help absorb the delicious yolk.

How do I prepare an egg sunny side up?

  1. I always use a non-stick skillet to assist with easily lifting the finished egg out of the pan once it’s done.
  2. I get my skillet slightly hot – I set the electric stove burner on 6.
  3. Depending on the day and my mood, I use a little olive oil, butter, or pork fat in the skillet. Use one half tablespoon of your preferred fat per egg.
  4. After your preferred fat has warmed up for a couple minutes, break the egg directly into the skillet. Some people like to break the egg into a small bowl and then pour it into the    skillet. It can be easier that way.
  5. If you are a perfectionist (which I am not), you can move the yolk on the egg with your fingers to sit perfectly centered in the middle of the egg. Just very carefully hold it there for about two minutes while the egg begins to set. A chef friend taught me this trick. It does look good for presentation purposes.
  6. The next step is variable, depending on how you like your eggs cooked. I don’t mind the whites a little runny. Other people do not want their egg white runny at all. Basically, you are going to let the egg sit in the skillet until it is cooked to your desired doneness.
  7. If you really like the yolk runny, but want to make sure all of the white is done after the egg is nicely set – cooked all around the edges of the white – turn the heat down to low and let the egg “hang out” until the white is as set as you like. You can even take the pan off of the burner. The pan is hot enough to continue to cook the egg white.
  8. Once the eggs are cooked to your preferred doneness, lift them out of the skillet with a rubber spatula and onto your serving plate.

There are numerous ways to serve a sunny side up egg – from very simple to very fancy. I will definitely post some more recipes soon. How about a crab and green tomato hash? That will have to wait until we get more into summer when the tomatoes are around. I am already dreaming of summer tomatoes to enjoy with my sunny eggs!

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Lesson: I realize in this post how picky I am about my eggs. I have spent years practicing cooking my eggs with precision and attention to detail. It is even a challenge sometimes to be satisfied when other people cook eggs for me. There is something to be said for practicing something we love over and over again – always improving our method or tweaking our practice in one way or another.

Eggs are my thang! What’s yours? What have you practiced over and over and continue to enjoy the practice? 

 

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The Way I Cook

By March 27, 2014 bakeries, Durham, eggs, inspired by others, local flavor, sandwiches

I had a busy day of errands last Friday. On these kinds of days, I take the opportunity to buzz into one of Durham’s delicious lunch spots. This last week, I went into Scratch bakery. Scratch is owned and operated by pastry chef, Phoebe Lawless. It is one of my favorite places in town! Her food communicates comfort, artisanship, and seasonality. Her food speaks to my soul.

I have the most difficult time choosing what to eat there. I simply want one of everything!!! She serves breakfast and lunch, along with incredibly stunning sweet and savory pies and cakes. Talk about the burden of too many good choices!

Phoebe’s skills have drawn lots of local, regional, and national attention. She was recently on the list of 2014 nominees by the James Beard Association for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Around these parts (Durham, NC), Phoebe is well known for her pies. You will find her fresh baked breads, sorghum granola, sweet and savory crostadas, fresh squeezed lemonade, and much more at her storefront, Scratch, and at the Durham Farmers Market.

Back to my lunch – since I was torn between 3 or 4 items, I asked for some advice from the cheerful young lady working the counter. She recommended the pickled egg salad sandwich, which I had on my list.  I was smitten with my sandwich! Fresh egg salad made with pickled eggs was a first for me, though it will certainly not be the last! I was awestruck by the textures and flavors of my sandwich. I loved the way the bright green lettuce laid against the egg salad and created a subtly crisp layer between the smear of mayonnaise and fresh baked sourdough bread. As always, I was completely satisfied with my Scratch experience.

IMG_0193As the day went on, I could not stop thinking about that egg salad. A few more days passed, and I was still thinking about that egg salad. This is the way that I am often inspired to create and re-create in the kitchen.

I picked up a loaf of sourdough bread from Scratch. I made sure that I had plenty of eggs. I would finally be eating delicious egg salad again. Yesterday was the day!

I did not have time to pickle the eggs. Though it is at the top of my “to do” list – to research some pickled egg recipes. I like using briny or pickled ingredients like capers, olives, and cornichons. I have never really followed a strict recipe for making egg salad. I follow the “little bit of this, little bit of that” method. It can really depend on what I am in the mood to eat as to what will make its way into my egg salad.

Sometimes I get inspiration from unexpected places. With some quick research I discovered that Deb Perlman, the author of Smitten Kitchen, had posted a blog about… you guessed it, egg salad. Deb had a lovely addition of pickled celery to her egg salad recipe. I was “on a roll.” I had a pickled element to add to my egg salad. It was time for me to dig in the fridge and get my egg salad going!

Lesson: I feel so lucky to have access to such skilled artisans and chefs where I live and work. I have inspiration and experience to draw upon from these wonderful resources in humanity. I am ever so grateful for the inspiration. What are you grateful for today?

 

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