how to cook an egg

Cook’s Note: My mother correctly pointed out that I forgot to say that the pan must be covered when cooking eggs!

Cooking eggs may be basic but it can be complicated–paradoxically because it is so simple–especially eggs cooked in the shell. Just an egg heated in water. Seems so simple. But cooking an egg to an exact specification is hard to gauge. I learned how to cook an egg in two phases. The first time I was living in Milwaukee, I read in the newspaper how to make perfect hard-cooked eggs. This is how you do it:

To make hard boiled eggs, the method is “boil and forget.” Almost.  Put the eggs in cold water in a pan, cover,  and bring to a boil, about 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the eggs steep in the hot water, covered,  for 10 more minutes. Drain the water. I swirl the eggs around in the  pan to crack the egg shells, then fill the pot with cool water. I let the eggs sit in their  bath  until they are cool enough to peel. I’ve done hard-boiled eggs this way for years, for breakfast, for egg salads, for potato salads.

However, the second time I learned how to cook an egg was last Thanksgiving, when my mother described how to cook a soft-cooked egg with a gelatinous but not watery egg-red. An egg-red is what country-people in Jamaica call the egg yolk.  To make this kind of egg, put two eggs in a pan of warm water, covered,  over a medium high flame. First tiny bubbles start to appear; this is called the pearl stage. When the water is at the fish-eye stage it will quickly come  to the rolling wave. Now turn the heat down to simmer. Do not uncover the pot. Let the eggs simmer 3 minutes. Then you turn off the heat. Drain the water from the pan and swirl the eggs around so the shells crack and splinter. Fill the pot with cool water until the eggs are cool enough to peel.

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slovenian potica cake

slovenian potica cake

Pronounced “paw TEET-zha” according to Gourmet magazine, this cake is lightly sweet with a topping and layers of  brown sugar and chopped almonds. One note about sugars. There are a bewildering variety of sugars at the supermarket. The most familiar is granulated sugar, which you can use in baking, but I recommend using superfine or caster sugar because it blends easier into the butter without leaving behind a gritty feel between your finger tips. Then there’s confectioner’s sugar. Also called icing sugar or powdered sugar, it’s great for dusting on cake tops as a quick and elegant finish.  And finally, there are the so-called natural sugars: turbinado and demerara are examples. They make a great crunchy topping for quick breads and coffee cakes, like this potica cake.  In fact, this cake is perfect either as a dessert or breakfast cake.

Slovenian Potica Cake

Prep time: 50 minutes (includes wait time for butter, eggs, and yogurt to come to room temperature, 30 minutes)
Baking time: 45 minutes

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups sour cream or low fat yogurt, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling
1 cup chopped almonds (walnuts in original recipe)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Prepare to bake. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease one 10-inch tube cake pan with one tablespoon melted butter brushed on the inside and center tube of the pan.

Mix the batter. In a large bowl, combine  flour with baking powder, baking soda, whisk and set aside. Mix together the sour cream or yogurt and vanilla. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in thirds alternately with half sour cream/yogurt and vanilla, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Bake. In the prepared tube pan, spread 1/3 of the batter in the bottom. Top with 1/3 filling. Drop 1/3 of remaining batter on top in spoonfuls. Spread it with an offset spatula. Top with half of the remaining filling. Finish with remaining batter. Tap pan on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Sprinkle the rest of the filling on top of the cake. Bake for approximately 35 minutes to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool and serve. Cool cake on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking pan, 20 minutes. Gently go around the outsides of the cake in the pan with a long thin blade. Since I have a two-piece tube pan, I grasped the center tube with a hot pad and pulled up, removing the sides. Otherwise, invert and tap the cake out out onto a wire rack. The baking pan will catch the bits of sugar and nuts that fall off the top. These, incidentally, make a great snack!  I then removed the center tube by using a skewer to loosen it and a thin spatula to loosen the bottom. Re-invert the cake top-side up.  Cool cake completely. Cut cooled cake  into slices and serve with ice cream, fresh sliced strawberries, or crème fraîche. Or serve with coffee and tea as a breakfast cake.

ricotta-egg salad

ricotta egg salad

Ricotta Egg Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

3 hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons fat free ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Mexican cheese mix
1/3 cup celery, chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Chop eggs in a large bowl. Add cheeses, celery, mayonnaise and mix all together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variation

  • Add chopped onion, scallion, or cilantro
  • Substitute cheddar or mozzarella cheese

 

easy breakfast: egg-egg white omelet

egg-egg white omelet

Egg whites are supposed to be good for you, but they don’t make very good omelets. Egg white omelets are watery and not very appetizing since they lack the beautiful yellow color of whole egg omelets. So, to 4 egg whites, I added one whole egg. Over medium heat, I heated  a teaspoon of canola oil in a non-stick skillet, swirled that around until it got hot enough to sizzle, then I poured in the egg-egg white mixture. As it started to set around the edges, I “pulled” them towards to center of the skillet until the egg mixture formed curds, like scrambled eggs. I broke a slice of provolone cheese in two and plopped the pieces in the skillet on top of the curds. Then I started folding the large curds over on top of the cheese, letting it set a bit before folding some more. I sprinkled a bit of salt and white pepper over it, and a slice of Canadian Bacon completed the plate.

marbled banana bundt cake

marbled banana bundt cake

This baby bundt is so cute! I bought a new six-cup bundt cake pan from Amazon. The six-cupper is ideal when you don’t want to bring a whole cake to the office. Of course, I had leftover batter so that went into a loaf pan. The cake was so tender, moist, and not very sweet.  AJ and I ate two loaf cake slices each! So I wrapped the rest of it up airtight so we wouldn’t finish the entire cake in one sitting.

Marbled Banana Bundt Cake (Adapted from Baking Bites)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours (Today was so cold when I opened the kitchen window. Cooling time was drastically reduced to 20 minutes!)

1/2 cup butter, plus 1 tablespoon, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe, medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup low fat Greek style yogurt (or sour cream)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon flour. Brush this butter-flour mixture inside one 6 cup bundt cake pan and one 8 1/2×4 1/2 inch loaf pan (6 cup capacity). As you can see from the measures, you can also combine and use one 12-cup bundt cake pan.

Cake Baker’s Note: Because I use pans with a dark non-stick finish, cakes have a tendency to over-brown in them. I discovered that pre-heating the oven to 325˚ takes longer to bake the cake and I end up with a crusty brown exterior. I now preheat the oven to 350˚F and reduce the heat to 325˚F just when the cakes are placed in the oven. The result, as you can see in the photo, is a perfectly golden brown exterior.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one by one, until each has been just incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract and mashed bananas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the sour cream or yogurt, followed by the remaining flour mixture, stirring after each addition.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of batter into a small bowl and stir in cocoa powder. Pour 1/4 of the plain batter into the prepared bundt pan and 1/4 of the remainder into the prepared loaf pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter to the edges and corners. Top each pan with half the cocoa batter. Spoon half the remaining plain batter on top of the cocoa batter. Repeat with the other pan. Run a knife through the batter gently to swirl. Tap pans gently on the counter to settle the batter.

Cake Baker’s Note: I misjudged the plain batter so the loaf cake did not have a plain batter topping. Appearance doesn’t matter because the cake still bakes up “marbled.” Next time I bake this, I will not swirl the chocolate layer in the bundt but let it bake up like a tunnel cake with a chocolate center.

Put the pans in the oven. If they are dark non-stick pans, reduce the heat at once to 325˚F. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Turn cakes out and place them onto a wire rack to cool 10 minutes in the pans. Unmold the cakes and turn them right side up to let them continue to cool on the rack. Wrap thoroughly cooled cakes airtight in plastic if they are not going to be eaten right away. Cooled cake can be stored wrapped airtight in a cake keeper for 2 days.

Serve plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or à la mode–with ice cream.

another variation on Pasta With Half the Carbs

quinoa pasta in spinach pesto with meatballs, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes

Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta in Spinach Pesto with Zucchini, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, and Turkey Meatballs

Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup Mexican shredded cheese
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
8 oz quinoa pasta
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup summer squash, julienned
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, slivered
10 grape tomatoes, halved
2 large cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
1/3 cup spinach pesto
salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings:
Chopped cilantro, chopped scallion, chili-garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Prepare a baking tray covered with heavy duty aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, cheese, granulated garlic and onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop up the seasoned meat and place it on the prepared baking tray. It makes about 12-16 2 inch meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and drain meatballs on a plate lined with paper towels.

In a large pot, boil water with canola oil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 6-7 minutes for al dente. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, add the chicken broth. When it sizzles, add the cut-up vegetables and pesto. Season to taste. Cook until the veggies are heated through and slightly wilted. Add the meatballs and the cooked pasta. Toss ingredients to combine thoroughly. Serve at once.If desired, sprinkle optional toppings on top of the pasta, vegetables, and meatballs.

Variation:
1 pound firm tofu cut into strips
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray

Instead of the turkey meatballs, make a vegan version with tofu. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and brown the tofu. Season with salt and pepper, and add to the pasta dish.

clementine sauce

clementine sauce

Sunny and bright like a bowl of lemons, clementine sauce is so easy to make and so delicious. It is light and tart, best served slightly warm.  It is just perfect as a topping for berries or ice cream or even pancakes for breakfast!

Clementine Sauce (from epicurious.com)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

Juice of 8 clementines (about 1 cup), minus the seeds but the pulp is okay
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter.

Juice the oranges and discard the seeds. It’s not necessary to strain the juice. Put juice, sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until the sugar and cornstarch are blended into the juice. The mixture will thicken slightly. Add the butter and stir until dissolved. Cool until it is just warm. Refrigerate leftovers. When refrigerated or cooled, the sauce thickens, so warm the sauce before serving, stirring until the sauce is liquid.

avocado-polenta pound cake

avocado-polenta pound cake
I had such misadventures with this cake. Never bake when you are tired and distracted! But I pushed myself to bake because I was filled with nervous energy and needed to do something positive. And because I was fading, I forgot to add the baking soda and skipped the almonds. I merely sprinkled the top with turbinado sugar.  The cake came out more dense than it should be, the palest of greens, but it is still edible. I actually like it toasted, with berries on the side, for breakfast. With clementine sauce, it is heavenly.

AVOCADO-POLENTA POUND CAKE (adapted from Joy the Baker)
Makes 2 9x4x3-inch loaves or 1 10 inch tube cake.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar with milk added to 1 cup line)
flesh of 1 1/2 ripe avocados, just over a cup to a cup and a half of avocado, mashed

Cake Topping (optional)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour pan(s) and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. Set the four eggs out on the counter to come to room temperature while you beat the butter and sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the avocado and beat another minute to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.

On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute after the addition of each egg. Don’t turn off the machine between each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, all of the buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Give the batter a few turns by hand with a spatula to make sure it is completely mixed.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans or scrape it into the tube cake pan. Smooth the tops. Tap pan(s) gently on the counter to eliminate air bubbles and place in the oven. Sprinkle the top of the cake(s) with topping mixture, if desired. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.

Bake for 40-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes or until the pan is cool enough to handle. Invert onto a cooling rack and turn right side up to cool completely.

gluten free quinoa pasta with zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes

quinoa pasta with zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes

This is the quick and easy version of the The Healthy Flavor’s Pasta With Half the Carbs recipe! It is so delicious but I was too hungry to roast the tomatoes and garlic, so I sautéed  them in broth with the summer squash and zucchini. Just be sure to put the garlic through a garlic press first!

Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta with Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Tomatoes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes 1 serving

2 ounces gluten free spaghetti style pasta such as a corn-quinoa blend
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic pressed in a garlic press
1/4 zucchini, julienned
1/4 summer squash, julienned
1/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, slivered
1/4 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper (I used Trader Joe’s Rainbow Peppercorns)
Red pepper flakes, optional
Parmesan cheese, optional

Boil a medium saucepan of water with a little oil, about 1 teaspoon. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, about 6 minutes for al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.

In the empty pot, add the broth. When it is sizzling, add the vegetables and cook until the tomatoes are wilted. Return the drained pasta to the pot and toss with tongs to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on top a little red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, if desired.

Chinese style lo mein

chicken lo mein

The drawbacks to this recipe are its long list of ingredients and its intricate method. If you can overlook those, then this is a delicious recipe that will go with any kind of meat. To make it vegan, use tofu instead of meat, and instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth. I do NOT recommend you use the Asian style noodles available at some supermarkets uptown Manhattan. ATK is right; they are gummy. The best substitute is actually linguine. I have yet to try a gluten-free noodle in this recipe. I hesitate because they are at least twice the price of wheat and have the same amount of carbs. I used regular green cabbage in this recipe rather than Napa/Chinese Cabbage, because it holds its crispness in high heat and sauces. I also substituted carrots for the mushrooms but you can use both. The original recipe used boneless pork spare-ribs but I hate fatty ribs, so I used chicken breast in this recipe.

Chinese Style Lo Mein (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients
For the marinade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and silver, sliced thin (can use chicken or beef or firm tofu)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

For the vegetables
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine (Shao-Xing) or dry sherry
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps cut in halves or thirds (about 3 cups)
2 bunches scallions, whites thinly sliced and greens cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small head Napa or Chinese cabbage, halved, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)
3 small carrots, sliced thin on the diagonal

For the lo mein
12 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh) or 8 ounces dried linguine if egg noodles are unavailable
1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, plus extra if desired
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal for garnish
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
Prepare water for boiling noodles. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.

Make the pork marinade and sauce. Whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and five-spice powder together in medium bowl. Place 3 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in small bowl; add meat and liquid smoke, if using. Toss, making sure all pieces are coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Whisk broth and cornstarch into remaining soy sauce mixture in medium bowl. In separate small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil; set aside.

Cook the meat. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of meat in single layer, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon. Cook, without stirring, 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons wine to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is reduced and meat is well coated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining pork, 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
Cook the vegetables. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add scallions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes longer; transfer vegetables to bowl with meat.

Assemble vegetables and meat. Add remaining teaspoon vegetable oil and cabbage to now-empty skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic-ginger mixture and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cabbage; return meat-vegetable mixture and chicken broth-soy mixture to skillet; simmer until thickened and ingredients are well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook noodles. While cabbage is cooking, stir noodles into boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh Chinese noodles or 10 minutes for dried linguine. Drain noodles and transfer back to Dutch oven; add cooked stir-fry mixture and garlic-chili sauce, tossing noodles constantly with a pair of tongs until sauce coats noodles. Serve immediately in individual bowls or plates.

Serve. ATK forgot to mention how to eat this Chinese style. Simply top noodles with scallions and cilantro and extra garlic-chili sauce, if desired.