September – Eggs for Dinner or Emergency Dinner

September – Eggs for Dinner or Emergency Dinner

I call this my back pocket or emergency dinner. It relies on items that are always in my fridge or pantry…eggs, some sort of white liquid, bread and some sort of cheese. I’ve added some asparagus here but a simple green salad would be welcome as well.

But, it’s also the perfect Sunday night dinner after a busy weekend or a long afternoon walk. It’s a cozy dinner. Something that will sit lightly on your tummy for a good nights sleep. Start a fire and sit in front of it to eat, or watch the rain (or snow) outside your window and be thankful for your own dry snug home.

Eggs in a hole

Eggs in a hole

A dense country style loaf is best, sliced thickly. But if you, like me, only have a pre-sliced sourdough loaf on hand, it will work just fine. In that case, don’t leave the bread soaking in the egg for too long or it will dissolve.

For the eggy/milk soaking use anything you have on hand. Cow, goat, nut, oak milk all work. Only have half and half? Go for it. Coconut creamer…sounds good to me.

This a ‘toad-in-the-hole’ idea with eggs. If you are not familiar with ‘toad-in-the-hole’, it’s usually made with sausages and a popover (or Yorkshire pudding) batter. The sausages peek out of the batter which puffs up around them. Personally I don’t think they look much like toads.

Toad in the hole from Delish

Toad in the hole from Delish

This would be a great brunch dish as well as dinner, it’s quick to assemble and is mostly hands off.

Eggs in a hole

Eggs in a hole

This will serve 2 people with 2 eggs each, 4 if you only want 1 egg. Choose bread slices from the middle of the loaf. With larger slices you may be able to put 2 eggs in each bread slice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 slices of country style bread such as sourdough from the middle of the loaf
  • 5 eggs, 1 for the soaking and 4 to bake
  • 1/3 cup of milk of some kind
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan or some other grated cheese, I used cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cheese for topping
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 scallion (optional for garnish), sliced

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and grease it lightly with olive oil
  3. In a large shallow dish, whisk together the egg, 1/3 cup milk, melted butter, and 1/4 cup parmesan with a large pinch of salt and a grind of pepper
  4. Soak the bread in the mixture, soaking each side. The bread should be soft and soaked through but not falling apart. The length of time will depend on the thickness of your slices and the type of bread.
  5. Arrange the soaked bread on the baking sheet, pouring any remaining soaking liquid over them. Using a small juice glass or cookie cutter, carefully cut 1 or 2 (2 1/2 inch) holes in each slice of soaked bread. Place the cut out rounds on the cookie sheet beside the bread slices.
  6. Place the sheet in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the bread is starting to turn golden on top.
  7. Remove from the oven and flip the bread slices and hole lids.
  8. Crack an egg into each hole and sprinkle with cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  9. Bake another 5 to 7 minutes until the eggs are barely set (they will continue to cook on the hot pan). If the egg whites are still translucent, bake them for another minute or two.
  10. To serve, place the egg toasts on places, top each toast with its lid and garnish with the scallion.
Eggs in a hole

Eggs in a hole

You can roast asparagus on the other end of the sheet pan as I did. It does somewhat defeat the empty larder concept though.

To do so simply trim enough for 2 people, toss with a little olive oil, and place the stalks on the other end of the sheet pan when the bread slices go into the oven. Sprinkle with salt. If the stalks are cooked after the first 10 minutes you can remove them to a warm plate until the eggs are cooked.

Broccolini could be cooked in the same way. Or a bunch of scallions, trimmed but left whole.

A lovely glass of wine elevates this even further.

I think I am going to mosey over to Fiesta Friday #450. I think Angie and the gang might like to have this in their back pocket as well.

Riced Cauliflower Herb Salad – September

Riced Cauliflower Herb Salad – September

This is an update to a recipe that was originally posted in May of 2019 called Middle Eastern Herb and Cauliflower Salad. I’ve added a drained can of chickpeas, capers and some chopped dates for a sweet note. This is a valuable salad recipe to have in your back pocket. It’s gluten free, dairy free, vegan and it can be made several hours ahead. I took it to a bookclub potluck lunch to share. Leftovers were still good a couple of days later and made a great lunch with a bit of canned tuna.

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

 

I can find riced cauliflower in the grocery store, both Trader Joe’s and Safeway carry it. But it is easy to make at home in your food processor if you need to start from scratch (or have cauliflower growing in your garden…lucky you). I don’t recommend using the packaged already riced cauliflower if you are making mock mashed potatoes I think it has a high percentage of stem. It won’t result in a creamy rich amazing mashed potato substitute. You need to have mostly florets for that recipe. But, it is perfect for use in this recipe. The kernels hold their shape and crunch once cooked.

I roasted the cauliflower for extra flavor before mixing it with the other ingredients.

If you are starting with a head of cauliflower, slice the head in half and remove the tough core. Roughly chop the florets. Working in batches, add the cauliflower to your food processor and pulse until the consistency of ‘rice’. Transfer to a large bowl.

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

Ingredients:

Cauliflower:

  • I head of cauliflower or a package of pre-riced cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons of fruity olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad:

  • I can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 dates, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed an drained
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped flat leaved parsley
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped mint
  • 4 scallions white and light green, chopped
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced to make about 1/4 cup of juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 3/4 cup of sliced almonds, toasted
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the riced cauliflower in a large bowl and add the olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes until tender and browning around the edges. You may need to leave it for a few additional minutes but check it so it doesn’t burn. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool on the parchment paper.
  4. Spread the almonds on a small baking sheet and toast in the same oven for about 5 minutes, again check constantly as they will turn from nicely toasted to burnt in seconds. Remove and cool.
  5. While the cauliflower is cooking you can make the herb salad. Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a bowl and let the herbs and tomatoes marinate until the cauliflower is cool.
  6. Once cool, add the cauliflower to the bowl with the salad and mix well. The parchment paper works well as you can just lift it off the baking sheet. Taste to see if you need to add any additional lemon juice or salt or pepper.
  7. Chill until ready to serve, garnished with the toasted sliced almonds.

I had a small package of microgreens in the fridge and added them with the other herbs.

You could turn this into an entire meal by adding some sliced feta or leftover chicken to the salad. It would also be an excellent side with grilled lamb chops or kebobs.

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

Riced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas

I wonder if the folks over at Fiesta Friday would enjoy this? It is Fiesta Friday #449, a virtual blogging party hosted by Angie. Click on the link to read posts with wonderful recipes, craft or decorating ideas.

April – Ode To Trader Joe’s Salad

April – Ode To Trader Joe’s Salad

TJ Salad

TJ Salad

Why do I call this TJ’s Salad? Because all the time saving ingredients came from there…

Precooked and vacuum packed lentils – check

Pre cubed butternut squash – check

Brussels sprouts – check

Organic pre-washed arugula – check

Candied and toasted walnuts – check

Fresh goat cheese – check

Boneless chicken thighs – check

You could save even more time if you used their precooked chicken breasts. I would simply cut them into 1/2 inch slivers, toss with olive oil and season with ground cumin and coriander. Let them sit in the fridge for an hour or so (if you have time) to let the seasonings sink in.

I cooked the chicken, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts earlier in the day so they would have a chance to cool before being tossed in the salad.

This is a whole meal salad, everything you need in one bowl.

Ode to Trader Joe’s Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs of boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 package of precooked lentils (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • I package of pre-cubed butternut squash (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cups of Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large
  • 1/2 cup of candied walnuts
  • 1/3 log of fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 package of organic arugula – about 3 handfuls
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a bowl toss the butternut squash with a tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add them to a sheet pan.
  3. Toss the halved or quartered Brussels sprouts in the same bowl with another tablespoon of oil and salt. Add them to another sheet pan. (I usually line the pans with parchment paper for easier clean up.)

    Quartered Brussels Sprouts

    Quartered Brussels Sprouts

  4. Roast both pans for about 30 minutes until the edges of the vegetables are brown and toasty looking. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  5. Meanwhile cut the chicken thighs into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long. Toss them in a bowl (you can use the same one) with a teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and kosher salt (if not using kosher, use less).
  6. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. Saute until cooked through, then put aside until time to assemble the salad.
  7. Place the lentils in a large salad bowl. Season with the 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, pinch of salt, the minced garlic, and the remaining olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your own liking. Let them sit until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  8. When you are ready to eat, add the roasted vegetables to the lentils and toss. Add the chicken, toss again. Add the arugula and walnuts and toss. Taste and adjust any seasonings.
  9. Garnish with dollops of the fresh goat cheese.

 

This could easily be a vegetarian entree without the chicken. Roasted tofu would be wonderful as well. I would season the tofu with the cumin and coriander before roasting until it has crispy edges. A trick I learned is to coast the butternut squash (or tofu or sweet potatoes) with a generous teaspoon of cornstarch after the oil and before roasting. The edges get super crispy while the center is still creamy.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

I  am going to take this salad to the folks on Fiesta Friday. It’s Fiesta Friday #428 and it’s been ages since I have contributed. It’s all our new puppies fault plus the demands of spring gardening. Who knew retirement would be so busy! Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie and this week’s cohost is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Shanna

Shanna AKA ‘Pig Pen’

October – Puff Pastry Savory Tarts

October – Puff Pastry Savory Tarts

Having a package of puff pastry in the freezer is like money in the bank. It’s easy to create wonderfully impressive appetizers or even full dinners in almost the blink of an eye.

You are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your fridge, pantry and/or garden.

My preference is for tarts that highlight vegetables but no one is stopping you from adding a little tuna or sausage or prosciutto. Cheese is nice, but any kind works. I’ve used parmesan, goat cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, ricotta and fontina. All of them are delicious. But, if all you have is Monterey jack…go for it.

There are is vegan puff pastry out there, and delicious vegan cheeses. They have come a long way in the past few years. Don’t let that stop you.

You will find the recipes for the Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese and Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle here. That post is from May of last year.

 

I still have a glut of zucchini in the garden although I think it will soon come to an end. This year I discovered a way to prolong the harvest. Zucchini grows on vines, so trimming the older, ratty looking (or powdery mildewed) leaves encourages new growth and continued fruiting. I also fertilized the vines when I did the first pruning, something I didn’t do last year. Zucchini are considered heavy feeders.

As a complete aside, does anyone else think it is strange that the plural of leaf is leaves? Why not leafs? Leave has another meeting entirely. Just a random thought there.

Puff Pastry Zucchini Tart

Puff Pastry Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

 

Puff Pastry Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Puff Pastry Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

 

Following are the ones for the two other tarts, Zucchini and Ricotta and Tomato and Mozzarella.

I modified the zucchini tart from a galette recipe on Smitten Kitchen who adapted the filling from a Cook’s Illustrated tart. It’s rare to find something entirely new in cooking, we all riff on each other.

Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Ingredients:

  • I sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large of 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto (or a tablespoon of finely sliced basil leaves)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

Method:

  1. Line a sheet pan with several layers of paper towels, spread out the zucchini slices out and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Let them drain for about 30 minutes, then gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with other paper towels.

    Draining zucchini

    Draining zucchini – they will release a lot of liquid

  2. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil and garlic together. In another bowl ix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, 1 teaspoon of the olive/garlic mixture, and the pesto together. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 410 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface, roll into an 11 inch square and place in the center of the prepared parchment lined baking sheet. With a knife, make a shallow cut about 1 inch in from the edge. Be careful to not cut all the way through. Brush the edges with the egg wash.
  5. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the pastry, leaving the border uncovered. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the filling. Drizzle with the remaining garlic and olive oil mixture.
  6. Bake until the filling is set and the edges are golden brown. This took about 25 minutes in the middle of my oven.
Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Tomato Tart with Mozzarella

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 plum or small tomatoes (or 1 large heirloom tomato), cored and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely sliced basil leaves (I didn’t have any)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out into an 11-inch square and place in the center of the prepared backing sheet. With a knife, make a shallow cut about 1 inch in from the edge. Be careful to not cut all the way through. Or form a crust by folding over the edges about 1/2-inch. Brush the edges with the egg.
  3. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the dough, then poke the dough all over with a fork, make sure to go all the way through the dough. Note: I forgot this step and the entire center puffed up like a balloon when it was baked, sigh. It was ok though as I just poked it down and you couldn’t really tell after the filling was added. Don’t you forget it and poke after the parmesan is added. 
  4. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Removed from the oven and cool.
  6. While the crust is baking and cooling, place the tomato slices on a triple layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Place a second double layer of paper towels on top and press firmly to dry the tomatoes.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  8. Once the crust is cool, sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the bottom and layer the tomato slices over the mozzarella. Drizzle with the olive oil/garlic mixture.
  9. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing. A pizza cutter make short work.

And you might want to know where I was going with these amazing tarts. Do you? We have been having ‘puppy play dates’ with a friend’s retriever and our own Shanna. They are both now 5 months old, Inyo is 2 days older than Shanna. While the puppies play, the adults have wine, wonderful conversation and gourmet snacks. It’s a lot like what we used to do when our children were young. We have been rotating who is responsible for the food and the snacks have become increasingly wonderful as we are challenged cookery wise. It’s a lot of fun after the months of isolation cooking for just our own family.

Here are Inyo and Shanna, exhausted by several hours of active play. They look very pleased with themselves, and happy.

Inyo and Shanna

Inyo and Shanna

Even though he is about twice her weight, she gives as good as she gets.

I am going to take this to Fiesta Friday #401 hosted by Angie. If you would like to join the party or take a look at the recipes, craft or decorating ideas…just click on the link to this virtual event.

 

September – Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

September – Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Potato Salad with Corn and Bacon

Potato Salad with Corn and Bacon

New potatoes, crisp bacon, fresh corn and finely chopped onion…that’s my idea of potato salad. Forget the mayo. This potato salad can hold up to a BBQ or a picnic. It’s the mayonnaise that is the major reason for food poisoning in the summer. As well the mixture of flavors and textures is amazing…salty and crisp bacon, creamy potatoes, sharp red onion, and sweet corn. A couple of handfuls of arugula added at the end adds a tart, peppery and slightly bitter element as well as bright green color. I used a simple dressing consisting of apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil and a couple tablespoon of bacon fat. Go vegetarian and substitute one of the many alternatives out there for the bacon, add a bit of smoked paprika to give the salad that wonderful smokiness.

Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. of small new potatoes, I used a combination of red and fingerlings
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, reserved from cooking the bacon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 ears of sweet corn
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 handfuls of baby arugula

Method:

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender. For me it was about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool slightly.
  2. Cook the corn by your favorite method (grilling would be wonderful). I placed the each ear of corn, husks and all, in the microwave for 3 minutes. The leaves and silk slip off easily. Once cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the husk.
  3. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper lined plate, break into pieces once cool. Reserve the fat in the pan.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  5. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. If the potatoes are still a little warm they will absorb the dressing. Add the corn and chopped onion. Taste for salt and if you need a little more vinegar.
  6. Just before serving add the bacon and arugula. Toss again.

I made this salad up to step 6 several hours ahead. Chill in the fridge but bring it to room temperature before serving.

I would enjoy some of that

Shanna would like some potato salad please

Serve this as a side at your Labor Day BBQ.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday will enjoy it. It’s Fiesta Friday #396 hosted by Angie. Come on over and enjoy the virtual blogging party. It seems like everything is going virtual again!

Stay well and safe.