In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fourth Post - Egg: Perfectly Poached, Paired with Parmesan and Parsley (and Premier of Pictoral Posts!)

First of all, give me a big gold star for alliteration.

Second of all, I'm slaving away at my midterm paper (if you're reading this, J. P. Guilford - CALL ME!) and my stomach is distracting me. I've miles to go before I can even think of dinner or of sleeping, for that matter, but I need a snack. I need brain food. I need - wait for it - AN EGG!

I love eating poached eggs because it gives you all the joy of an egg without the added guilt of butter and oil.
They're pretty easy to make once you get the hang of it - but as I've learned with eggs: you MUST LISTEN TO THEM. This is one of those cases. Everything will be alright if you just do EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT.
What you'll need:
1 egg
toast (you can figure that out)
shredded cheese
Start water boiling in a larger-than-you-would-think-necessary pot. Put a little salt in.
While water is heating, get out an egg and crack it into a prep bowl. Do this unless you're some kind of expert at cracking eggs and never pierce the yolk. You cannot poach an egg if the yolk's been pierced.
Pay the egg a compliment to make it cooperate later. Try "My, you look sunny today!"
While the water's heating, brew a pot of coffee. This is brain food, after all. No wine - wait for dinner to celebrate having written your paper.
Get out some shredded cheese. I like shredded parmesan.
Get out some parsley flakes, 'cause parsley pairs prettily with parmesan for pictures.
Once your water's boiling, put a piece of toast down. I like potato bread.
This is key: add a splash of vinegar to the water, then turn it down so it's lightly bubbling.
Next, start stirring the water around so that it forms a vortex.
The vortex is key. It's how the egg is going to cook evenly, effectively and prettily. Make a nice, solid vortex. No reason to hurry, here. Pretend you're in Potions class and Professor Snape is peering over your shoulder.
Softly dump the egg into the vortex.
Time it for EXACTLY 90 SECONDS.
That should be time for you to pour your coffee and put your piece of toast on a plate.
Remove the egg carefully with a slotted spoon. Rest the egg against the pot side for a moment to get the excess water off.
Set it on the toast and garnish with a sprinkle of parm and parsley.
10 points for Gryffindor! Bon appetite! Back to the books!
Yours in the love of food, and for this meal, organic Guatemalan coffee with sugar and a touch of heavy cream,
The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Third Post: Savory Steak

Ahh... Spring Break. I never was one for the whole Cancun party scene - honestly, I, as an academic, get my joy from having completely unoccupied days in which to study at my leisure, get ahead, and relax a little. And by relaxing, I mean cooking celebratory dinners. Tonight's dinner was purely experimental. From the wine choice to the seasoning, I just cooked with what the spirit moved me to cook with.

Tonight: Steak. I'm not a huge aficionado of red meat inasmuch as I seldom crave it like some people do. However, this afternoon as I walked past the Butcher Block at Wegmans (I swear, I am not affiliated with Wegmans, I'm just a really really big fan) I saw a petit sirloin that started jumping up and down and tapping on the glass as I passed by. When it finally held up a little sign saying "I'M DINNER!" I decided to buy it.

I love steak with mushrooms. To me, it's just blasphemous to not serve them together. Here's what you'll need if you want to make steak the way I just did:

One petit sirloin (mine was just under 1/3 lb.)
Baby bella mushrooms (I chose the pre-washed, pre-sliced variety, because I'd rather spend my free time getting one more article read)
Olive oil
Terragon (or any other spices you're fond of)
Red wine
A veggie for your side (I grew up in a Meat-Starch-Veggie household, so I feel compelled to include this. I chose green beans with almonds)

Start toaster oven (or whatever steak-cooking apparatus you might have) preheating. I used a toaster oven set on 325 on broil 'cause, well, it's cheaper to heat then the actual broiler on my oven.
Start your olive oil heating up in a small sauce pan on the stove.
Crush two cloves of garlic in a small prep bowl.
Dump your mushrooms in the sauce pan and stir to evenly heat.
Pour some red wine over the mushrooms


As the saying goes, "I love to cook with wine - sometimes I even add it to the food." I really enjoy wine. I do not drink wine to get drunk. I do not drink wine because I'm posh (okay, well, maybe a little). I drink wine because honestly, I don't think there's any better companion for a good meal. Paired correctly, it can open up culinary doors that never existed with water, soda or juice. Any sommelier I've ever met has said the same thing: "After the second glass, you're no longer tasting or appreciating the wine - so why bother?" Being single and drinking wine by this philosophy, I sometimes have a bit of wine left in the bottle that is not suitable for drinking, but that still packs some flavor. Save this for cooking. While cooking wines are available, there's a certain depth that you can get by cooking with a good table wine.

For tonight's mushrooms and the steak marinade, I used the leftover wine that I talked about in last week's post - the Tempranillo from Berberana vineyards. It was starting to taste a little dry, and I didn't want to ruin my past memories by drinking it past its prime. For the actual meal accompaniment, I bought a bottle of Cab - more on that later.


So add a good amount of red wine to the mushrooms. Pepper them a bit.
Add about half of your crushed garlic to the mushrooms. Stir.
Reduce heat to very low.

Put a tiny bit of olive oil in with the crushed garlic in your prep bowl.
Pour in some red wine.
Add some terragon.
Mix around with a fork, and spoon it over the steak - for best results, make a little tin foil "boat" for your steak, which will allow the marinade to flow around the steak rather than away from it.
Place steak in heating apparatus.
I like my steak rare to medium rare, so I went five minutes on one side, and about eight on the other.
While the steak is cooking, add some terragon, salt, and additional pepper to taste to your mushrooms. I let them simmer with the heat turned down really low. I love the earthy smell of mushrooms cooking. I think the terragon compliments it, and the wine adds such a nice zip.
When you turn the steak half-way through, dump the rest of the marinade in your prep bowl over the steak.
Microwave or heat your veggie side dish: No wine or TV if you don't eat your veggies. Manda says.
Watch your steak so it doesn't get too done. Mind the mushrooms, too.
When it's all ready, serve it up.

I served tonight's dinner with a 2006 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from Haras Estate that I got as the last bottle in a reduced cart - I hope it's not because it's being discontinued from the store I go to, because I think it's a lovely Cab. It's rich and earthy, but with super bright berry overtones. It's tannic enough for the steak so that the whole meal is never too rich. It compliments the red wine that the food was cooked with. It becomes delightfully fruity in the face of the spices and garlic. In my opinion, a really terrific match.

Well, now it's time to clean up the dishes and settle in for the last half-hour of TV before bed! A great way to end the first day of Spring Break.

Yours in the love of good food and good wine and the beautiful friendship they share,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.