Kitchen Adventures – Frisée Salad with Poached Eggs and Bacon

There are three things you should know about me…

1) I believe that the addition of an egg (fried, poached or otherwise) makes anything better.

2) I ALWAYS have bacon in the freezer – ready to go at a moment’s notice.

3) I really like to have breakfast type dishes for dinner. It feels wrong in all the right ways.

Armed with that knowledge, you will not be surprised to learn that this Frisée Salad with Poached Eggs and Bacon is one of my FAVORITE entrée salads, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a lazy stay-home brunch.

Frisée Salad with Poached Eggs and Bacon

** NOTE – Amounts of ingredients can be adjusted to appetite, number of servings and preference

  • 2-4 Oz Bacon
  • 2 Cups Frisée (aka Curly Endive)
  • 1/2 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1-2 Salad Dressing
  • 1-2 Eggs

Cut bacon (can be frozen) into small pieces and cook in pan over low heat until golden. Drain and set aside on paper towels to crisp.

While the bacon is cooking, wash and dry the greens (I like to use a salad spinner for this). Tear into bite-size pieces and put into bowl large enough to toss the salad in.

Wash, dry and slice cherry tomatoes in half, or in quarters depending on the size of your tomatoes. Add cut tomatoes to bowl with greens.

Lightly dress salad and toss well. Note – You can use store-bought dressing here, but I like to make my own using a 3:1 (fat to acid) ratio. (see addendum #1 below).

Add the dressed salad to final serving plate(s).

Soft poach eggs (see addendum #2 below), and carefully place on top of salad.

Sprinkle with crisped bacon and freshly ground black pepper – serve immediately.

I LOVE the way the salty bacon and warm runny yolks combine with the cool/bitter/crisp greens, sweet tomatoes and zippy dressing… ENJOY!

Addendum 1:

3:1 Salad Dressing (makes several servings)

  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you can substitute some of the bacon fat here if you are so inclined)
  • 1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Small Clove Garlic – grated on microplane or mashed into paste *optional
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (freshly ground)

Combine all ingredients in bowl, whisk well until emulsified. (You can also add the ingredients into a small jar – tupperware if you like – and shake until combined_.

You can double or triple the recipe and store in the fridge for convenience.

Addendum 2:

Soft Poached Eggs (thank you Alton Brown!)

This tip came from Alton Brown, and I LOVE IT! I am through with the swirling water, one-egg-at-a-time nonsense!!! Way to fussy if you ask me.

Add at least two inches of water to a heavy bottomed pot. Add in a tablespoon or two of vinegar and bring to a boil.

While water is heating, crack fresh eggs into separate containers, removing shells as needed.

When the water is boiling, remove pot from heat. Carefully pour eggs into water, cover, and let sit for 4-5 minutes (for 2 eggs) or 6-8 minutes (for 4 eggs).

Remove eggs carefully from water with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain briefly. Add to dish (like the delicious salad above) or enjoy plain with salt and pepper.

Eat Your Veggies – Brussels Sprouts (with Bacon!)

Being able to eat well during the week means that I need to have a few tricks up my proverbial sleeve. I try to plan meals ahead of time, but so often – life gets in the way. Because of the unpredictable nature of life, I love veggies that can hang out in the fridge for a while, waiting to be turned into delicious side dishes on short notice!!

For me, as soon as the weather turns cooler,  Brussels Sprouts become the perfect fall veggie – they have a long-ish shelf life (as far as fresh vegetables go), and there are a ton of delicious and easy ways to prepare them. One of my favorite recipes for Brussels Sprouts involves bacon, onions and white wine.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Onions and White Wine

  • 10 oz (or 1 Container) of Brussels Sprouts
  • 2-4 oz Bacon
  • 1/4 Onion or 1-2 Shallots
  • 1/4 C. White Wine
  • Balsamic Vinegar (the older the better!)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

     

           Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
  2. Wash, trim and quarter Brussels Sprouts.
  3. Cut bacon into pieces (Lardon)
  4. Cook bacon on stove-top over medium-low heat in heavy bottomed (oven proof) pan until fat has rendered the meat begins to brown.
  5. Thinly slice 1/4 onion. Add to pan with bacon and cook until soft and browned.
  6. Add Brussels Sprouts to pan with bacon and onions and stir until sprouts are coated with bacon fat.
  7. Add white wine to pan and scrape up browned bits using wooden spatula.
  8. Place pan in heated oven.
  9. Roast for 10 minutes, or until the Brussels Sprouts are tender, and nicely browned in some spots.
  10. Serve hot – finished with freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar (or squeeze of fresh lemon).

More than one suspicious, but polite, guest has tried this recipe and proclaimed themselves new fans of this much maligned veggie.

A quick note about bacon – I always have bacon in my freezer… a habit I strongly suggest you acquire! Instead of overcrowding the pan for extra weekend bacon that often gets thrown out, I only cook a few slices (2-3 per person), then wrap the rest of the package tightly, and freeze. You can cut off sections of the frozen bacon whenever you are preparing a dish that can benefit from Bacon’s salty, smoky presence. Enjoy!

Kitchen Adventures – Omelette with Smoked Salmon, Fresh Dill and Cream Cheese

I cook – a LOT. Because of this, I often have strange odds and ends of meals and ingredients hanging out in the fridge. I remedy this by turning leftovers into omelettes, hashes, salads, pasta sauces or random skillet type meals throughout the week.

Sometimes the results are good, sometimes not. But SOMETIMES, the resulting dish is greater than the sum of its leftover parts, SOMETIMES it is incredible!

Yesterday, was one of those times. I was poking around the fridge looking for something to eat for breakfast and noticed that I had some smoked salmon that I really needed to use. I also had some fresh dill (the remnants of a bunch used for a red snapper dish last week) that was wilting fast. I figured I would make an omelette – I added some cream cheese for texture and flavor and  ended up with one of the best omelettes I have EVER had. This is the perfect brunch food – Smoky, salty and creamy with a fresh burst from the dill and a slight tang from the cheese. It was SO good, that I felt the need to have one again today (so I could post about it of course!).

Omelette with Smoked Salmon, Fresh Dill and Cream Cheese

    • 3 Eggs
    • 2 Oz Smoked Salmon
    • 2 TBSP Cream Cheese
    • 1-2 sprigs – Fresh Dill
  1. Preheat small, nonstick pan (or omelette pan if you have one)
  2. Crack eggs into bowl (remove 1 or 2 yolks to lighten the recipe)
  3. For the fluffiest omelette, add a few drops of water, then whisk together well.
  4. Prepare omelette filling – Flake 2 oz of Smoked Salmon, tear washed and dried dill into small pieces and have cream cheese ready.
  5. Add butter, olive oil, or nonstick spray to pan (I like to use an olive oil mister) – making sure the pan is well coated to avoid sticking.
  6. Add eggs to hot pan. Use rubber spatula to gently move the eggs around – tilting pan so that the runny eggs fill empty spaces created as you gently push the set eggs out of the way.
  7. When the eggs are almost set (but the top is still a little runny) sprinkle with dill and add cream cheese (small dollops of cheese dropped randomly across the top of the eggs is the best way to do this). To lighten – use 1 Tbsp of cream cheese instead of 2.
  8. Just as the omelette sets and the cream cheese begins to melt, add the salmon to the top of the eggs. It is best to do this at the very end because the longer the salmon is heated, the firmer it will get – not a BAD thing, but the texture is nicer if you add the salmon at the very end!
  9. Fold Omelette gently in half using spatula and pan to help, turn Omelette out onto plate.
  10. Enjoy!

Kitchen Adventures – The BEST Burger in Town!

Burgers are BIG in the DMV (Dc, Md, Va). Our love affair with the lowly hamburger has been growing steadily over the last few years. Boutique burger joints have sprouted up around the region – some are ironically retro, others are unbearably chic… some are quirky hipster hangouts, and another has enchanted a President.

Burger fever reached epidemic levels in the DC area this week when Bobby’s Burger Palace opened its doors on K Street.

It’s OK. I get it! I’ll wait.

Stand in line all you like. Visit the newest, the hippest, the beloved, the import from another city – see what is out there… Do ALL this, and then make the best burger in town in the comfort of your own home.

There are several essential steps required to create the ultimate burger at home:

1) Use ground beef that has at least 10 % fat. (I know… but believe me, that’s probably less than you get from your favorite burger joint, and a lot of the fat drains out while cooking. Any less will result in a VERY dry burger!).

2) Season liberally! There is nothing worse than a bland burger – I have found that adding a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and – most importantly – Fish Sauce (available in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores) adds a wonderful, meaty depth to any burger.

In addition to the Fish Sauce and Worcestershire – add garlic powder, salt** and pepper, then gently blend the mixture with your hands. Be gentle with this step – being too rough or over mixing the meat will result in a tough burger!

**NOTE I use substitute Shallot Salt from Penzy’s for salt and garlic powder – use sparingly as a little of this stuff goes a LONG way!

3) Marinate – let the seasoned ground beef sit for 10-15 minutes before forming patties.

4) Add another layer of flavor – Spread a thin layer of mustard on the top of each burger patty after you form it. (I like a sharp Dijon, but any mustard you have on hand will do the trick!)

(Note – This idea was stolen from a chef who claimed to have discovered the secret behind In-n-Out’s delicious hamburgers – I don’t know if it is true, but the trick makes for one heck of a good burger!!)

1/3 lb Patties slathered with a thin layer of sharp Dijon Mustard before cooking.

5) Surprisingly – keep your grill covered!!! The best burgers are cooked on the stove!!! (I prefer a cast-iron skillet, but any heavy-bottomed pan is better than the grill in this application.)

Heat your pan to medium high, and place the burgers in the pan (mustard side down). 1/3 lb. patties should only cook for 2-3 minutes per side at most…

The benefit to cooking burgers in a pan are numerous – The fat melts out if the meat, but is not lost into a fire, instead it helps create a nice crust on the patty. The crust adds a nice contrast in texture and flavor to every bite. Cooking quickly on a skillet will also yield a juicier burger.

6) Finally, assemble your burgers with your favorite accouterments and enjoy!

Techniques – How to Make Citrus Supremes

So what IS a citrus supreme? Basically, it is a segment of a citrus fruit with all the rind, pith, and membranes removed… They are delicious, impressive, and EASY to make!

To start, you need a sharp paring knife, a cutting board, a bowl and citrus fruit.

Tools - You need a sharp paring knife, a cutting board, a bowl and citrus fruit.First, cut off the base of the citrus fruit, exposing the flesh completely. Then, cut off the other end of the fruit also down to the flesh. *This orange had a navel on one end and dry flesh on the other, so the ends I took off were larger than normal.

Cut off the other end of the fruit down to the flesh.

Separate the meat from the tough bitter skin and pith by cutting downward with the knife from the top of the fruit the bottom using a slightly curved motion. Once all the rind and pith has been removed – you are ready to cut the supremes!

Separate the meat from the tough bitter skin and pith by cutting downward with the knife from the top of the fruit the bottom. All the rind and pith have been removed - you are ready to cut supremes!

Carefully separate a one side of a citrus segment from the membranes that connect them. Then, separate the other side of the citrus segment from the membrane.

Carefully separate a one side of a citrus segment from the membranes that connect them. Separate the other side of the citrus segment from the membrane.

You have your first Supreme! Repeat above steps until all the juicy segments have been liberated.

This is the first supreme. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all the segments have been liberated. Finished product.

Don’t waste the juice that remains in the fruit that is still attached to the membranes. Place the supremes in a bowl and squeeze the juice out of the remainder of the citrus fruit.

Don't waste the juice that remains in the fruit still attached to the membranes. Place the supremes in a bowl and squeeze the juice out of the remainder of the citrus fruit.  Enjoy supremes on their own or in a salad etc.

Enjoy supremes on their own or in a salad:

Click HERE for recipe idea. ENJOY!

Kitchen Adventures – Citrus Salad

One thing I love about this time of year is all the delicious citrus fruit that is available… the only problem is that I am not a huge fan of peeling them, or of the inner membrane that surrounds the sweet and tart fruit.

I spent years removing both the outer and inner skins from all manner of oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and clementines until I stumbled upon the idea of making them into a salad! This preparation is heaven for me, and it adds a bright bite of sunshine into otherwise cold and grey winter days.

To make this sunny salad yourself – take whatever citrus fruit you have on hand and cut them into supremes (I used Pink Grapefruit, Blood Oranges and Navel Oranges) and squeeze leftover juice into bowl with supremes.

Click HERE to learn how to make citrus supremes.

When you are finished cutting the fruit, drizzle in some Pomegranate Molasses (A little goes a long way!!) and add a dash or two of Angostura Bitters. Mix gently, and taste – depending on how sweet the fruit is you may need to add a touch of honey to the salad. It should be noted that you can eat the fruit alone, but I love the depth and complexity of flavor that the bitters and pomegranate molasses add to the dish. If you are feeling fancy (or entertaining to impress), mint or another favorite herb like basil could be added to aid with presentation and add another fresh layer of flavor.

Let the final mixture sit for a few minutes to let the flavors marry, then serve and ENJOY!

Share

Kitchen Adventure – Eat Your Veggies! Butternut Squash Edition

Ok… I have not historically been a squash person, but in the spirit of more consciously eating local/seasonal food, I decided to give Butternut Squash a try. *I MAY also be feeling guilty about all the sugary Halloween candy that I have been eating, but we will never know!*

To try this recipe (and atone in some small way for your own candy overdose) you will need the following:

  • 1-2 TBS butter
  • 1 Butternut Squash, seeded, peeled and cut into uniform pieces. (a 12 inch squash yielded approx 2 lbs of 3/4 inch cubes)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 2-4 leaves Chopped Fresh Sage

Melt the butter in large skillet over medium – medium high heat. Add squash, salt and pepper – stirring frequently for several minutes until the squash is lightly browned (6 – 10 minutes). Add in water, reduce heat to low, cover and let steam until squash softens (another 6-10 minutes). Mix in chopped sage, turn off heat and serve! This could be good mashed as well…

I really liked my first attempt at butternut squash. It was slightly sweet and nutty, balanced by the salt, peppery kick and then smooth earthiness of the sage. It was really the perfect side dish on this cold evening, and a great step back from the sugary abyss of Halloween.

Share

Kitchen Adventures – Bacon-Parmesan Cauliflower Soup

At some point in September or October, as the muggy days of summer fade into the cool rainy days of fall, I find myself craving a nice bowl of soup.

For the first soup of the season I looked to a favorite that I discovered last year – Bacon-Parmesan Cauliflower Soup. My friend Alisa swears by it, and I adapted my version from her recipe.

As with most of my favorite recipes, none of the measurements need to be exact – feel free to make additions or substitutions to suit your taste!

Bacon-Parmesan Cauliflower Soup

  • 4 – 8 Slices bacon, cut into Lardons
  • 1 Medium Onion, Diced
  • 2-4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 Head Cauliflower, Chopped
  • 1 Quart – Chicken Stock (Low Sodium if desired)
  • 1-2 stems of Fresh Thyme
  • At least 1/2 Cup Good Quality Parmesan Cheese, finely grated

In a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, brown bacon until crisp. Drain off rendered fat, reserve crispy bacon bits.

Add 2 tsp. of bacon fat (or olive oil if preferred) into pot and saute the onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are translucent but not brown. Scrape up all the browned bacon bits from the bottom of the pot as you go – this adds a nice depth of flavor to the soup.

Stir in sherry vinegar and thyme, and then add the cauliflower, 1/2 the crispy reserved bacon bits and all the stock. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover and cook until the cauliflower is very soft (approx. 15 minutes).

Remove pot from heat, retrieve the thyme stems from the broth, and puree mixture with an immersion blender. You can also puree the soup in a blender or food processor but you will need to do this in batches and return to the pot.

Once the soup is pureed, stir in Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve generous bowls topped with the remainder of the crispy bacon. ENJOY!!!

Share

Kitchen Adventures – Turkey Chili

Leftovers. What a terrible word – it even SOUNDS unappetizing.

How often can one reheat and eat even the most delicious food? Something is invariably lost in the process… Mr. Food Nerd is particularly averse to leftovers, and not being fond of the same reheated dinner myself, I have found ways to turn one meal into another. It is one of my favorite kitchen tricks.

Today’s kitchen adventure makes good use of leftover turkey and some staples from the pantry – on the menu? Black Bean and Corn Chili

Black Bean and Corn Chili

  • 2-4 cups leftover turkey (or chicken) shredded
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic chopped finely
  • 1 Bell Pepper diced
  • 1 28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 sm can tomato sauce
  • 2 Cans Black Beans (not drained)
  • 2 Cans Kidney Beans
  • Preferred chili seasoning, used per package directions (You can also use salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, thyme and paprika etc. to taste)
  • 1 Can Corn (drained)
  • Olive Oil
  • Cheese for garnish

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add one tbsp oil and sauté onions, garlic and peppers until softened. Add shredded turkey (chicken, beef or pork can easily be substituted) and stir until heated through. Add pre-mixed chili seasoning or spice mixture of your choice (following package instructions for measurements) and stir until fragrant. Add can of tomatoes and can of sauce, stir until combined. Add undrained beans to pot and heat until liquid boils – then reduce heat to low, add can of drained corn, and let the chili cook slowly until flavors are combined and the liquid has thickened slightly – at least 20 – 30 minutes (stir occasionally!). Serve chili topped with cheese and a side of cornbread (or on top of fritos, whatever you like or have on hand!)

I love this recipe, because you can adjust it as needed. Almost any leftover meat can be used in this way (Just make sure the flavors of the original dish are complimentary to the chili spices – for example, I would not use leftover teriaki chicken for this dish). Also – keep in mind that any leftover veggies can be incorporated into the chili. I have done this a hundred different ways – adding diced fresh zucchini and minced carrots to the onions and peppers early on in the cooking process, adding chopped roasted veggies when I added the corn, even adding in some baby spinach just before serving one time! The point is to use whatever you have on hand in whatever quantities you have it – this chili will never be the same twice!

Do not be afraid to add an extra can of beans if you have a lot of meat, or to otherwise adjust measurements as you go. Just remember to taste the Chili as it cooks and adjust the spices or other elements as needed to accommodate any substitutions you may have made.

This chili is even better reheated (if you can believe it), and can easily be turned into nachos if you still have it around in a day or so! (Wait – I may save that recipe for a whole different post)   :)

Easy Roast Fish Dinner

We needed a quick (and preferably healthy) dinner last night, and I could not stand the thought of eating chicken for another meal in a row… We decided on Mahi Mahi (purchased on sale at Harris Teeter) with multicolored fingerling potatoes and Asparagus. I love this menu because all the items can roast together (you just put them in the oven at different times!).

To make this delicious and easy dinner – start with whatever kind of starch and veggie combo you like. Think parsnips or sun-chokes instead of potatoes, tomatoes or cauliflower instead of asparagus, chicken or pork instead of fish. The starch  can be substituted for rice or pasta of course…

Prep the starch (potatoes in this case)  in such a way that it will cook quickly and evenly. This means roughly cutting it into similar size pieces. Then, marinate the starch and the veggie with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever herbs/spices tie the theme of the dinner together. The spices can be tailored to any cuisine… adding an Asian flair to dinner? Add soy, ginger, and sesame oil (hot pepper would be good too!) . Southwestern? Cumin, cilantro, chile powder or paprika would do nicely…

Last night, I added garlic and thyme to the potatoes and a squeeze of lemon to the asparagus, then let them sit for a few minutes as the oven pre-heated.

image

Potatoes and Asparagus Marinating

When roasting more than one dish, you want to put the longest cooking item in the oven first, the shortest cooking item last… For me the longest cooking item was the potatoes. 10-15 minutes later I added the asparagus, and a few minutes after that I added the fish to the broiler. (I broiled the fish in the toaster oven, but you can place the potatoes and veggies on the lowest rack in the oven to keep them warm while the fish – or other protein – sits on the top rack to broil)

If you have done it right, all three components will be finished at the same time :)  It may take a little practice to get the timing right, but it is well worth the effort. If anything is done early, just pull it out of the oven!

image

Roasted Tri-Color Fingerling Potatoes

image

Oven Roasted Asparagus

image

Broiled Mahi Mahi

To finish, I added another squeeze of lemon to the fish and asparagus to add a little brightness to the plate.

This type of roast dinner is infinity customizable and works with a wide variety of ingredients.  I love the idea of using a few really fresh ingredients and some simple techniques to create a wonderful meal.  I hope you give the easy roast dinner a try!

Share