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Breakfast for Dinner

7 Apr

Since J & I have been so busy lately the few hours we get together in the evenings are typically reserved for eating dinner and reading a bit before we pass out.  In order to spend as little of that time as possible cooking and doing dishes our default dinners have actually been breakfasts.  Dutch babies, all manner of egg dishes and even oatmeal – it’s a nice change since our mornings start at 430 we don’t really have the energy to put together anything more than cereal or toast each day.

breakfast for dinner

The other night I went with my standard omelette and paired it with sauted mushrooms with onions and roasted potatoes.  I follow the Julia Child omlette method  for the most part starting with 2 eggs and adding a little bit of pecorino cheese before i fold the whole thing together.  Top it off with chives and parsley and it’s pretty much completely perfect.

Julia being badass.

You’ll notice that there are several things about The French Chef that are absolutely perfect.  For starters it put together by Polaroid – so you’ve included three of my favorite things: Julia, Polaroid & eggs.  It’s my holy trinity of awesome.  By far though the best part of it is her description of an omelette “It’s flat and it’s French.”  Thank you Julia.  There are two tricks I’ve found: One – use a larger pan than you’d first imagine.  It allows the eggs to spread out more cook faster and wind up light and thin almost custard like if you get them in and out fast enough.  Two – butter does not hurt.  I always start with a good sized knob of butter because the last thing you want is the whole thing to stick plus the pure flavor of butter and eggs is just too good together.  The main point to take away is the speed in which you should cook the whole thing.  I used to approach cooking eggs in a more timid manner with low heat so as to not overcook or make them rubbery.  Here though its hot and fast with almost violent shaking of the pan to fold it.  There’s also the factt that if it’s not folded perfect that it in no way matters.  Simply pile it up a little bit more, add a touch more butter and cover in fresh herbs.  I know there have been plenty of ugly dinners at our house but they never taste worse due to a lack of presentation.

And here’s how I roast potatoes.  While they take a little bit of time to fully cook it’s largely unattended and with the speed of the omelette your whole dinner is done is probably 30 minutes flat.

Roasted Potatoes

  • 2 Medium Yukon Gold Poatoes
  • 4 Cloves Roasted Garlic
  • 2 t. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 T. Butter
  • Olive Oil to Coat
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Put small amount of olive oil in a 10 or 12 inch cast iron pan
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees w/ empty pan inside
  3. Scrub and dice potatoes into large, even pieces
  4. Toss with olive oil and spices to coat
  5. Pull out the hot pan and add potatoes in a single layer (you’ll know its hot enough by the sizzle)
  6. Break up the butter into several pieces and scatter around pan
  7. Return to oven and bake anywhere from 15-35 minutes (depending on your dice) turning them once and testing for them to be fork tender as you go

Spinach Risotto

31 Mar

It’s been a very hectic month and April is shaping up to be even worse.  It’s a good sort of busy for the most part but we could really use a chance to slow down and actually enjoy each others company.  So the other night I made spinach risotto from Lidia Bastianich’s book Lidia’s Italy.  I made a few tweaks and it came out pretty great.  A comforting, relatively simple meal even if it did require more attention then you can sometimes manage on a weeknight.

Spinach Risotto
adapted from Lidia’s Italy

8 ounces baby spinach (recipe called for 10 but my bag was 8 – I would def. add even more than 10)

6-8 c. vegetable stock

3 T. olive oil

2 c. chopped yellow onion

2 cloves roasted garlic

1 t. salt

2 c. Arborio rice

1 c. dry white wine

6 T. unsalted butter

½ c. grated pecorino

¼ c. grated parmigiano

Black pepper

Flat leaf parsley

  1. Heat the vegetable stock to just under a boil and keep hot on the stove
  2. Rinse & dry spinach and chop into half inch pieces
  3. Place large 3 q. pan on medium heat.  Add olive oil & onions – cook gently under tender but without color.  Add half the salt and all of the rice to the pot and stir until coated with oil and cooked about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the roasted garlic and wine.  Cook until the wine is fully absorbed.
  5. Add 2 cups of stock or enough to cover the rice and stir for two minutes then add spinach and keep stirring until it has wilted down.  When you can see the bottom of the pot as you stir add another 2 cups of stock and reduce again.
  6. Continue this until you have added at least 6 cups of stock and the rice has cooked 15-20 minutes until tender and creamy.
  7. Drop in butter, cheese, salt & black pepper – stir to incorporate completely.
  8. Serve immediately topped with parsley, additional cheese, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

*  Note:  This makes a ton of risotto.  I didn’t want to cut the recipe the first time I made it but even with this being the center of our dinner we had plenty for seconds & lunches the next day.  So make it for a crowd or you can easily reduce the recipe by half for two.

kick off.

6 Jan

We’re working on a lot of things up on the hill but every now and then you just need to take a break and enjoy the fact that I can cook a stellar dinner.

As a wedding present my brother decided to add to my cook book collection as he knows otherwise I will just checks books out of the library and cook from them until I memorize the recipes I want.  One of the additions was Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.  After coming home from work yesterday I honestly would have eaten anything hot and been perfectly content.  I thought J. might appreciate something a little bit more than simply warm – so there was:

Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
from Ad Hoc at Home

One 4 to 4 1/2 lb chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
2 large leeks
3 tennis-ball-sized rutabagas
2 tennis-ball-sized turnips
4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
1 small yellow onion, trimed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
8 small (golf-ball-sized) red-skinned potatoes
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

This is how the original recipe reads – however from the beginning I made some changes to use what we had on hand.  This is what my ingredient list roughly read like:

One 4 lb organic chicken (Bell & Evans is the easiest to come by & best price usually)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Dried thyme
1 medium red onion
4 medium beets
2 tennis-ball-sized turnips
3 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
2 small yellow onion, trimed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
8 brussel sprouts
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter

And here are the cooking instructions my edits are in italics:

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature I didn’t do this as we would have been eating dinner at 10 at night – I did run it under water to rinse and pat it dry.

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. (This will make it easier to carve the chicken.) I also didn’t do this but next time I will for sure as I had some difficulty breaking up the chicken when it was done but cooking meat is still a bit foreign to me. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add 3 of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken. There is a great step by step in the book on how to do this or you can just trust Ruhlman I know I always do.

Cut off the dark green leaves from the top of the leeks. Trim off and discard the darkened outer layers. Trim the root ends, cutting around them on a 45-degree angle. Slit the leeks lengthwise almost in half, starting 1/2 inch above the root ends. Rinse the leeks well under warm water.

Cut off both ends of the rutabagas. Stand the rutabagas on end and cut away the skin, working from top to bottom and removing any tough outer layers. Cut into 3/4-inch wedges. Repeat with the turnips, cutting the wedges to match the size of the rutabagas.

Combine all the vegetables and remaining garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan.  I just prepped all my veg for a typical roast but hey if you need instructions on how to clean and chop who am I to judge.

Rub the remaining oil over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it.

Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the chicken breast.

Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 F and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 F in the meatiest portions of the bird–the thighs, and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast–and the juices run clear. If necessary, return the bird to the oven for more roasting; check it every 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes.

Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them to glaze with the pan juices.

Now here’s the thing – the chicken came out great.  The timing and temperature was perfect – it came out juicy and the skin golden (not as crisp as I would have liked it but J. was over the moon).  The lack of crispiness could have been since the chicken hadn’t been out of the fridge those two hours or just the type of bird who knows.  But the veg came out a bit disappointing.  By the time the drippings and oil and extra juice all combined together I feel like they wound up greasier than my usual pan roasted veggies.  They were more than simply “glazed”.  Admittedly I’m really particular about my vegetables considering it’s all I ate for nearly a decade but they only came out “meh”.  Also we skipped the roasted potatoes – we had just had potatoes a couple nights before so I made my faux-stove top stuffing that I’ll put up a recipe for some other time.  Less oily vegetables and maybe the addition of half a lemon to the cavity of the chicken before roasting and I will be in home cooked dinner heaven.

We still have half of chicken left over for another dinner and the carcass is already in a pot for stock so I wont complain.  Also any reason to sit down not on the couch with J. and crack open a bottle of wine is fine by me.


2 Jan

2010 brought a lot of great things, but it was also a lot more stressful than j & i could have ever imagined.  We both have high hopes for the future and thought the best way to kick things off would be by actually relaxing.  Things have been non-stop ever since the wedding and after family overload and end of year craziness at work we really just wanted some quiet.  We managed to get a three day weekend (!!!!!) and honestly we didn’t do a single thing.  There was no painting or spackle.  Nothing.  We cooked outstanding meals, slept in, spoiled the puppy rotten, watched endless netflix and made some big plans.  I had some serious quality time with my slippers and we decided a special breakfast was required to start the year off right.  Enter the dutch baby.

Super easy to make and a great way to break in my new cast iron pan (thanks mom).

Dutch Babies (German Pancakes)

2 eggs

1/3 c. milk (any kind will work we usually have skim or 2% but always organic)

1/3 c. flour (regular all purpose or whole wheat)

2 t. sugar

pinch of salt

splash of vanilla (optional)

2 T. unsalted butter for the pan

Preheat your oven and your cast iron skillet 9/10 inch is best  to 400 degrees (you can use a regular pie plate if you don’t have cast iron).    Mix together all the ingredients until smooth.  Once it’s up to temp drop the butter into the pan and make sure to coat evenly and then add the batter to the hot pan.  Bake at 400 for about 20 min then drop down to 350 for 10-15 minutes or until golden and puffed.  Serve with more butter, powdered sugar, lemon, honey, jam – whatever you’d like.  We did ours with a little more butter and local clover honey.  Serve with copious amount of coffee, thick sliced bacon in your favorite pjs and there’s no better way to kick off the year.