Sunday, March 31, 2013

Eggs Benedict

I was feeling adventurous today, so I decided to tackle one of my favorite breakfast foods, eggs benedict.  I actually wanted to do florentine, but my mom had the spinach and decided not to come over for breakfast this morning, so here it is, simplified.  And, actually, I was stressed out enough without worrying about the spinach.  

I feel like making eggs benedict was sort of like making caramel for the first time.  Once you get a feel for it, it's pretty simple and straight forward, but the first time through, the unknown can be intimidating!

So, I made this for one, but the sauce makes enough for two or three, so if you are making it for two or more, just make more eggs, meat, and english muffins. 

You will need for the Hollandaise sauce:

2 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
1 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp softened butter
1 Tsp lemon juice
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

For the rest of the dish you will need:

1 toasted English muffin per person
2 slices of pork roll (I prefer this over Canadian bacon, but it's your call)
butter, if you are using Canadian bacon- none if you use pork roll
2 eggs per person 
1 Tbsp white vinegar per two eggs
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

I cooked the components, one at a time.  I was worried about timing, but having done it once, I feel like there were things I could do next time to coordinate the timing better.  I'm going to blog what I did, and let you be the judge about timing.  I started with the sauce, because I was most worried about it.  Before I began, I had everything else ready to go; the english muffin was split and sitting in the toaster ready to be toasted, the pork roll was cut and ready to be heated through in the pan, and the water and vinegar were in the pot, ready to be heated up.  

Start the sauce by separating two eggs, and add them, the Tbsp of water, and a pinch of salt to a small sauce pan.  Heat them over REALLY low, gentle heat and start whisking. 

Keep whisking until your sauce gets foamy and thickens up. If it starts to curdle, don't panic, just take it off the heat and keep whisking. 

Once it is thick and foamy, like the picture to the right, take it off the heat, and whisk in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. 

Once that is all incorporated, add in the lemon juice and set it aside.  I made the mistake of putting my sauce on really low heat until I was done everything else and it thickened up more than I wanted.  I would suggest just leaving it be, or maybe putting it in a bowl over a pot of steamy water so it stays warm gently.  If you let it get too thick, like I did, I thinned it out with a little water and a little more lemon juice and did a lot of whisking.  It was still delicious!

So, now get your water (about an inch deep) and vinegar boiling for the poached eggs. Once it is bowling, lower the heat back to a gentle simmer. Crack one egg at a time into a small bowl, and carefully slide them into the water.  Don't crowd the pot, just do two at a time.  Let them cook gently for about 3-4 minutes.  It's not a very pretty process, but it works.  Sorry I didn't get a picture of it!  

Once you drop your eggs, go ahead and heat your meat through in a frying pan.  Use butter if you are using Canadian bacon because it's low in fat, pork roll has plenty of it's own, and doesn't need it.  Give them about a minute or 2 on each side and then turn off the heat.  You can also toast your English muffin at this point. Use a slotted spoon to remove your eggs.

Once your whites are white, you can go ahead and plate.  Start with the muffin, then layer the meat, then your poached eggs, top with the Hollandaise sauce, and garnish with a little cayenne pepper and chopped parsley. 

Homemade chicken dumplings and ginger scallion sauce

Happy Easter, all!  My family isn't big on celebrating Easter, but since I've been on vacation I've been cooking things that I normally wouldn't tackle (like making my own dumplings!)  I will be honest and say that this took longer than I expected, mostly because I think I was a slow wrapper and made a lot of dumplings, but honestly, if you have some time, these are really yummy, and as I told my friend Allie, it's nice to know what's in your food!

So, the recipe I used was from my favorite cooking app, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  It was given to me by my dear friends, Adam and Jen, and it is amazing.  

Below is pictured pretty much everything you need; a little of a lot of things!  This recipe made around 24 dumplings for me.  You will need:

1/2 lb ground chicken (or pork, or whatever you want to use)
1/4 c minced scallion
1 c washed and chopped leeks (I have a suggestion for washing, see below)
1 Tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tsp rice wine 
1 Tsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce (I use low sodium)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
large pinch of salt
about 24 dumpling skins (I used square wonton wrappers because it was what I could find)
Peanut oil for cooking

For the Ginger-Scallion Sauce:

1/4 c minced fresh ginger
1/2 c chopped scallion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tsp salt
1/2 c peanut oil

So, about those leeks.  They are best cleaned AFTER you cut them up because they get a lot of sand and grit in between the layers.  I like to fill my salad spinner with water, separate all the rings, swish them around in the water, and then pour out the water, and give the a spin.  I then cut them up into a smaller dice.

Alright, so now combine your first 11 ingredients in a bowl for your filling. 
Now comes the time consuming part, filling the dumplings.  I think that if I had round wrappers, the folds wouldn't have been as complicated as I made them, but who knows! 

So, flour your surface put down a wrapper and place about a teaspoon of filling into the middle of the wrapper.  Have a small bowl of water nearby, and use your finger to wet all four edges of the wrapper.  This will act as the glue to hold it together. 

Next, find a way to fold them up.  I folded corner to corner, and then kind of pinched other corners up and in to make sort of a pleat to make them more interesting.  I don't think it matters how you fold them, as long as they are completely sealed, and you don't leave a lot of air space around the filling inside. 

I think these look kind of like little boats :)

Here they are, all finished!  I only cooked a few, and I made sure the others had a little flour on them, and put them in the fridge for another day.  I have a feeling they will soon end up in the freezer though, because I am still eating pork and spinach from the other night! 
Ok, so now it's time to cook the dumplings and make the sauce.  Take a large skillet with a lid, and heat a light coating of peanut oil over medium high heat.  When your pan gets hot, put in your dumplings, seam side up and let the bottoms brown for about 3 minutes.  Then, add 1/2 a cup of water, pour it in carefully cause the oil will spatter, and put the lid on to catch all the steam.  While these cook for like 3 minutes, get your sauce ready.  If there is any water left in the pan, after 3 minutes, take the lid off and let the water cook off.

The sauce was easy and pretty fun and exciting to make!  I rough chopped the ginger, scallions and garlic, and minced them in my mini food processor.  (It's still one of my favorite kitchen tools!) Then put the chopped stuff in a heat safe bowl.  Heat your 1/2 cup of peanut oil in a small saucepan over high heat until it starts to smoke.  Then comes the exciting part!  Carefully, pour the hot oil into the bowl of veggies.  They are going to spit and sizzle because the hot oil is cooking the veggies, and they are full of moisture.  I didn't get burnt, but be careful!  Then stir it all together and you have your yummy sauce.  Oh, I also added some Sriracha to the sauce for heat!

I finished the dish with some brown rice, topped it with the dumplings, and the ginger-scallion sauce.  It's pictured below in my special rice bowl, made by my friend Jess.  YUM!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pork and spinach stir fry

This is absolutely one of my new favorite meals.  It is quick, healthy, and delicious, and I'm not ever a big pork fan.  Actually, you could probably do it with chicken, too...  Anyway, as I was driving home from my first Zumba class (starving, of course) I was trying to figure out what I could make that was fast and wouldn't undo all of my hard work.  Pork and spinach was the winner.  

There is very little prep work, but I suggest having everything ready, including the rice when you start cooking because this one goes fast!  

For 2 servings you will need:

2-4 Tbsp peanut (or other neutral oil) 
2 boneless pork chops- sliced small and thin
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Lb spinach 
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped scallion for garnish
Brown rice (I like Trader Joes frozen bags- they are so good and quick)
Salt and pepper

Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium/high heat, season, then add the pork to the pan.  Cook until the pink is gone and you have some nice color on the outside, about 3 minutes.

Once it's cooked through, remove it and set the pork aside.  Add the rest of the oil, turn down the heat to medium, and toss in the garlic. Then add the spinach.  It will cook down quickly, so just keep tossing it and adding it until it is all cooked down.
Then put the pork back in, and add the soy sauce and lime juice to the pan, stir it all together. 

Plate the pork and spinach on a bed of rice, and top with some chopped scallion.  Sorry the finished product picture isn't the best, but I was too hungry to wait to take another one.  You are just going to have to try and see how it looks for yourself!