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Posts tagged ‘eggs’

bobotie with apricots and almonds

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January 2013 felt new. There were long days at work, but I ran a race and got my car serviced, went line dancing and knitted a scarf that only just makes it round my neck (but which, of course, I love). I played violin in a bar with a songstress friend, and cooked dinner parties out of Jerusalem and Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I got bangs. I joined instagram. I did not, however, write a blog post.

The work-play balance is a subject beyond the scope of a few paragraphs, but it’s hard to power down at the end of the week – and harder still to sink into that free time without thoughts of the books you should be reading, the current events in which you should be well-versed. I heard somewhere recently that in your twenties you aren’t particularly humble, and seen from that vantage point I don’t suppose I am – I want to work eight hours, master Keynote, pay off my loans, go for a run, cook a meal with strange ingredients, and knit my funny little scarf. That and, well, write about it.

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Unfortunately, I also want to lie in my deckchair all Saturday and do nothing. The list is there – email subjects bold and accusing, bangs swept in a headband and desperate to be trimmed – but the deckchair, the bathtub, the towel on the beach just won’t be resisted. I used to feel guilty about this urge towards nothing. Then I realized it takes a certain humility to lie in the sun without so much as a magazine in sight.

So perhaps I’m more humble – or maybe I’m just a bit more lazy. Either way, I do know that on the totem pole of To-Do’s my blog should probably come before the scarf. Just maybe not before a nice long bath.

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Bobotie with Apricots and Almonds

Yes, this is not the first bobotie recipe I’ve posted on my blog. But I present this updated, improved version for two reasons: firstly, because bobotie is my go-to comfort food in wintry moments (if relatively unknown outside of South Africa), and more importantly, because it goes wonderfully with a wine I like very much. I had lots of fun doing a wine pairing recipe for Cimarone Estate Wines last spring, so when they reached out to me about their 3CV Syrah I jumped at the chance – especially since it meant pairing an old favorite with a new one.

2 lbs ground beef

2 slices whole grain bread

1 1/3 cups milk

2 1/2 Tbs curry powder (mild curry powder is traditional, but a hot version works nicely too)

1 large onion, chopped finely

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece ginger, grated

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup slivered almonds

3 eggs

salt and pepper

rice cooked with turmeric

chutney (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk until soft, then gently wring out the bread (reserving leftover milk) and crumble into a large bowl. Mix the bread with the ground meat and 2 Tbs of the curry powder.

In a large skillet or pot, saute the onions, garlic, ginger, and coriander in olive oil until translucent. Add the meat mixture and stir until the meat is nicely browned, then add the apricots, raisins, almonds, half of the reserved milk and one egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a baking dish, then beat the remaining 2 eggs with the other half of the reserved milk and the 1/2 Tbs curry powder and pour over the top of the meat. Bake in the oven until the egg mixture on top is browned, about 30 minutes. Serve with turmeric rice and liberal amounts of chutney.

spring salad with asparagus, feta, and soft-boiled eggs

There are days when, despite all your efforts, someone else just says it better. Today happens to be one of those, and so I give you… a poem and a recipe.

Black Oaks

Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,
or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
and comfort.

Not one can manage a single sound, though the blue jays
carp and whistle all day in the branches, without
the push of the wind.

But to tell the truth after a while I’m pale with longing
for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen

and you can’t keep me from the woods, from the tonnage
of their shoulders, and their shining green hair.

Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a
little sunshine, a little rain.

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
one boot to another—why don’t you get going?

For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees.

And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money,
I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.

Mary Oliver

Spring Salad with Asparagus, Feta and Soft-Boiled Egg

I made this for myself as a satisfying spring lunch, but feel free to double the ingredients to serve as a colorful salad with dinner.

1 egg

1 small head of tender green lettuce

5 stalks of asparagus

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 squeeze lemon juice

1 Tbsp. honey

1 small handful fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, finely chopped

olive oil

1 2-inch cube of feta, crumbled

salt & pepper

To soft-boil the egg, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and gently lower in the egg. Simmer for 6-8 minutes (depending on whether your egg is smallish or rather large) then remove and place immediately in a small bowl of ice water. Peel underwater and carefully slice into quarters.

Arrange the leaves from your head of lettuce to make a nice nest on your plate. Cut your raw asparagus stalks into one-inch pieces and scatter over the lettuce. Whisk together the balsamic, lemon juice, honey and fresh herbs, then slowly add olive oil, whisking and adding until the dressing reaches your desired thickness. Sprinkle the dressing over the salad, then crumble feta on top and nestle in your egg quarters. Finish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

lemon cardamom soufflé

Before I launch into my usual ramblings, I want to take some time to thank everyone who responded on my blog or via email to my Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times last week. As a writer (a title I’m slowly working up the courage to claim for myself) I’ve always felt that no experience is wasted—moments of discomfort or hilarity or tenderness tend to crop up wherever you go. Your job is merely to record with honesty and a bit of panache, and the more I read good writing the more I realize that the things that are true to you are often true to human experience. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about opening myself to the stigma that comes with moving back home, and the piece did provoke a number of spirited retorts on the comments page. But the generous and encouraging messages I received from people of both my generation and my parents’ left me grateful not only for the family I am privileged to live with, but for the comforting knowledge that like-minded friends are to be found around the world.

Everything I learned about throwing a good dinner party I learned from my parents. My sister and I would secretly gripe about my mother’s admonishments to “serve the guests a drink” or my father’s absolute refusal to have anything plastic on the table, but now that I’m older I see the merits of scooping hummus out of its container into a white china bowl. The washing-up into which I was conscripted at the end of the meal felt insurmountable at 10:30 p.m., but it wasn’t long before I equated the soapy water with the pleasure of culinary success, the guests’ laughter echoing from the dining room as my mother and I did the dishes while assembling the dessert.

Making the final course was my first foray into the cooking side of our dinner parties, and I was determined to make my mark. No surprise then that I hadn’t yet learned the foremost truth of dinner party desserts: the simplest are the most impressive. Woefully under the impression that fussy is fabulous, I held up our annual New Year’s feast trying to dislodge miniature chocolate lava cakes from individual rubber molds, bursting into tears when one after the other broke into a pool of gooey chocolate on the cutting board. I took the lesson to heart, and now my dessert repertoire includes a five-ingredient fruit crumble, a delicious no-custard ice cream, and this beautiful recipe for lemon soufflé.

Lemon Cardamom Soufflé

Lemon desserts are very popular with my family, and this soufflé has it all: a fluffy light meringue that tops a velvety lemon curd (feel free to adjust the amount of lemon zest and juice for your preferred level of citrusy zing). The bottom will be quite liquidy when just cooked, but never fear–it will thicken up as the soufflé cools.

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

zest of 3 lemons

1/3 cup cold water

2 cups milk

4 eggs

2 Tbsp. melted butter

juice of 3 lemons

1 vanilla bean

1/2 tsp. cardamom, freshly ground

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and lemon zest. Stir in the water and milk. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks until thick, then add to the flour mixture with the melted butter and lemon juice. Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape into the batter, then add freshly ground cardamom.

Beat the whites until they are just firm enough to hold a peak, then fold gently into soufflé batter until combined. Pour batter into a large ceramic dish (circular or rectangular), then stand dish in a pan filled with an inch or so of hot water. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until top is puffed and golden and bottom is still custardy and gooey. Serve warm.

best bran pancakes

I’m a bit of a morning person. Let me put it another way: the annoying family member clattering pans in the kitchen at 6:15? That’s me. The college suitemate looking unbearably perky from a jog as you staggered to the bathroom at 8 a.m. on a Monday? Me again. I know, morning people can be obnoxious.

The thing is, mornings are the only time I can really count on being in the kitchen alone. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than getting up early to sit at the kitchen table drinking tea, flipping through a magazine or reading the back of a cereal box. Getting up and going has never really been my thing, but leisurely mornings are like a gateway to the day, a cultivated pleasure. The water boiling, the stacks of articles to browse absently, the birds (or wild turkeys) chirping… I laugh at myself only because I take the ritual of mornings completely seriously.

And then there’s breakfast. I’ve trained myself to the point where skipping breakfast is physically impossible—not just because I might pass out at 11 a.m., but because my first waking thought is to wonder what I’m going to eat. For years I was a committed cereal devotee, pouring identical bowls of Grape Nuts, Wheatabix, or Shredded Wheat for months at a time (can you tell my parents never let me have Lucky Charms?). Here at the farm, however, the question of straight goat milk (in my case a no, or optimistically a “not yet”) pushed me to be much more creative with my breakfasts. I tried Irish oats with honey, toasted almonds, and raisins, and I did go through a phase of fresh goat cheese on toast with plum jam. Finally, though, I settled on pancakes. Having never made them from scratch (I fell for Bisquick when I ate 11 biscuity pancakes at a friend’s 9th birthday) I had lots of pantry-based experimenting to do—oats, flaxseed meal, bananas—but when I found a scrunched-up bag of wheat bran on one of our shelves I reached the end of my search. They were the perfect combination of fluffy and biscuity, and with some goat milk thrown in and a fried farm egg on top, I didn’t even feel too bad about leaving my cereal days behind.

 

Best Bran Pancakes

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup wheat bran (I use Bob’s Red Mill, which is easy to find at most markets)

Pinch baking soda

Pinch salt

1 egg

1 scant Tbsp oil

½ cup milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then beat in the egg and oil. Add milk little by little to reach your desired thickness of batter—I like mine fairly thick, but play with the viscosity until you find your perfect amount. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high and spoon batter into the pan when hot—check for bubbling around the edges before you flip, and the rest you already know!

garlic soup with sage and poached egg

I’m giving you advance warning: this is going to be another one of those “life philosophy” posts that I secretly planned on indulging in when I started this blog. One of the things I love most about working outside with my hands (ok, physical labor) is that it gives me ample time to let my mind wander, and as a former English major random acts of thinking are what I do best.

Of course there is such a thing as too much thinking. The times I’ve let my mind ramble a bit too freely I’ve either A) composed elaborately worded letters to boys who clearly didn’t like me anymore or B) come up with plotlines for truly original works of fiction (boy meets girl who tells him she’s a ghost come back to fall in love, but wait—she’s actually just delusional! Unfortunately I actually wrote that). Thinking is an art—no one wants to do a mental tally of the month’s finances, but take thirteen of an imagined conversation isn’t a good place to end up either (although that time, you really nailed the withering comeback). Overly pragmatic or dramatic thoughts keep you going in circles—reflection gets you somewhere much more interesting. Farming is work that gives you space to reflect, and that’s something I’ve discovered I really like.

Leaving home for New York my freshman year in college wasn’t the easiest thing, but I came out the other end having learned something that changed the way I looked at life. The lesson? Find the small things that consistently make you happy, then make sure they’re part of your life each day. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in the middle of Oklahoma city or the rolling hills of Virginia—if I can go for a nice run in the morning and spend a couple hour in the kitchen cooking at night, I’ll be that much happier. Dramatically happier. I know it sounds simple, but it works. There are dozens of things that can change how you feel, but when I’m sad or lonely I just run, cook, and do crossword puzzles more.

And now I think I’ve found something to add to the list: work that gives you room to think. It’s something that farming and cooking share, and for me, space to think is space to write. Someone I believe understands this very well is the chef and writer David Tanis, whose new NYTimes column City Kitchen I stumbled across the other day after reading an interview on Eater. Smitten I decided to try one of his recipes, and this simple garlic soup caught my eye. As a meal it was perfect—just a few key ingredients that come together to make something flavorful and rewarding.

A little bit like life.

Garlic Soup with Sage and Poached Egg

From David Tanis’ City Kitchen

8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

6 sage leaves, sliced into thin strips

3-4 cups water

salt and pepper

egg

toasted slice of good bread

In a medium saucepan, heat garlic and sage over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Add water before the garlic browns and simmer gently for 10 minutes to create a broth, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. When your 10 minutes is up crack an egg in the broth to poach for two minutes. Lay your slice of toasted bread in a shallow bowl and ladle the egg on top, and finish by pouring in the broth.

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