Archive for the ‘Eggs’ Category

Pining for an Easter brunch

9 April 2014

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Once again we will be away for Easter. It’s the second time and I thought I’d resolved it wouldn’t happen again.

No, I am not so undeserving as to regret last year’s magical vacation in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard. And, of course, for months I’ve been hugely, skipping-in-the-street excited about our upcoming trip to Greece! It’s just the timing. Ages ago in January when we booked the flights it all seemed so far away. But Easter is approaching and I feel a pinch. These trips have come in the way of a much older custom, started when Leo was one, and the Easter Egg hunt followed by a massive brunch is my favorite tradition. I blame all of this untimely travel on the school holiday schedule…

Were we coming home one day sooner, here are some of the things I would likely prepare.

Chicken liver terrine

Cheat’s potted crab

Mackerel rillettes

Mimosa deviled eggs

Lentil and fennel salad with lemon and parsley

Dandelion, fennel, and pumpkin seed salad

Poppy seed and almond cake

Quick lemon and lime tart

Emboldened by Holly‘s success, I might finally attempt a panettone. I’ve been dying to try.

And crucially we would, as every year but last, dye the eggs with leaf and flower motifs.

Happy Easter, happy spring!

 

Dyed Easter eggs with leaf or flower motifs

28 March 2013

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I have dyed eggs this way since I was a little girl.

My grandparents lived in Switzerland, in a chalet overlooking Lake Brienz. It was a place straight out of a storybook and I have many Heidi memories, running up mountains and down steep meadows with cows in the field nearby, an isolated chalet in the distance, and the Alps all around. Sweet summer smells of sunshine and succulents can conjure up those memories unexpectedly, but I sometimes invoke them willfully, through rituals like these: every year for Easter I dye eggs with leaf patterns, as we used to do.

In Switzerland we easily found natural dyes at the pharmacy (they are still readily available): walnut husks for deep brown, dried mallow petals for blues, and all sorts of bark for various hues of yellow, orange, and red. But here in New York I’ve been compelled to use everyday ingredients, fruits and vegetables — even better! If only they’d worked. For years I was woefully unsuccessful with all vegetable dyes except onion skins, which are brilliantly reliable and produce a stunning deep brick red.

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I was on the verge of writing off all other colors, had I not recently been taunted by blogs and photos posting deep-hued eggs tinted with spinach, turmeric, red cabbage… Why not me? I’d been using the wrong method. During all those years of stubbornly prepared and pitifully useless homemade dyes I had followed the instructions remembered from the little Swiss packets: hard-boil the eggs for 12 to 15 minutes directly in the colored liquid. This did work with onion skins but other vegetables left no trace on the shells whatsoever. Determined to get something out of my cabbage after all (and wised-up by some online reading) this time I waited for the liquid to cool, plunged the already hard-boiled eggs into the dye, and left them in the refrigerator overnight. Magic!

This time I made the experiment with red cabbage only, but I know it is the way to success, and I see a bright multi-colored Easter-egg future ahead.

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Red eggs = onion skins, blue eggs = red cabbage, brown eggs = walnut husks brought back from Switzerland

Approximately 2 cups packed onion skins

Approximately 3 cups shredded red cabbage

18 to 24 eggs

White vinegar

Freshly picked leaves and flowers

Old/cheap tan stockings

Kitchen string

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Prepare the dyes in two medium saucepans: about 8 cups of cold water for 2 cups of onion skins and about 6 cups of cold water for 3 cups of shredded red cabbage. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile hard-boil the eggs: bring a large saucepan of water to boil, gently place the eggs inside, and simmer gently for 12 minutes. Run immediately under cold water. Let dry and gently rub the eggs with a little white vinegar.

Cut the stockings into 3-inch (8-cm) squares approximately.

Place a leaf or flower onto the egg; carefully place the stocking over the leaf and tighten the stocking over the egg by gathering it at the back, thereby gluing the leaf to the egg. Twist the stocking to tighten as much as possible then bind it with a piece of string. **Alternatively, we also just tie rubber bands over the bare egg to create line motifs.**

Place the eggs in large jars, pour the cold dye over the eggs, and leave in the refrigerator until the egg acquires the desired hue.

Cut the stocking at the string and carefully remove it and the leaf (or flower) to reveal the design. **Be mindful not to scratch the egg as the dye can rub off while it is still wet.**

Once the eggs are dry, rub with a little oil for shine.

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Related posts

Happy Easter!

Mimosa (deviled) eggs

29 March 2012

The trees are blooming in New York; it’s showstopping. Forsythias, exuberant magnolias, Callery pears like downy street clouds, vaporous cherry blossoms. And yet.

It isn’t time! I am still anticipating winter; the snow, the stews, the spiked hot chocolates by the fire. I have a notebook full for recipes longing for freezing temperatures: braised short ribs, slow-cooked duck, a quick spicy lentil soup if you’ve come home late from the cold. I see they will have to wait.

The year is creeping ahead, chives and tarragon have pierced my balcony beds, and so, submitting to nature’s infectious enthusiasm, I have embraced spring — but not, I admit, without a pinch of regret for a winter that wasn’t really.

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6 eggs

About 10 stalks chives

About 3 stalks tarragon

5 or 6 leaves parsley

3 tsps mayonnaise

2 tsps red wine vinegar

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Smoked Spanish paprika

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Fill a small saucepan (just about large enough to fit the eggs) with water. Bring to a boil. Add the eggs to the water one at a time, carefully, with a large spoon so they don’t hit the bottom and crack. Boil gently for 12 minutes. (I decided not to adopt the method Michel Roux uses in his book Eggs, which starts the eggs in cold water. However I have taken note of his advice to make sure the water boils gently, in order to avoid rubbery whites.)

Meanwhile, chop the herbs very very finely.

Once the eggs are cooked, strain the boiling water and add lots of cold water so they cool quickly.

Peel the eggs. Slice each in half lengthwise, carefully scoop out the yolks, and place them in a plate or shallow bowl.

Mash the egg yolks thoroughly with the mayonnaise, vinegar, finely chopped herbs, a pinch of salt, and a grind of black pepper.

With a small spoon, scoop the yolks back into the egg whites as neatly as possible.

At the very last minute, sprinkle a pinch of paprika on each egg.

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Related posts

Pork rillettes

Chicken liver terrine

Marinated olives

Roasted almonds with Spanish paprika

Children’s dinner | Cowboy food

6 July 2011

I take no credit for this meal, which is Thomas’s creation. He makes lentils with a fried egg and calls it “cowboy food,” because apparently cowboys ate beans and eggs; so naturally, lentils and eggs… In any case it’s a great meal, a brilliant name, and I have fallen for it, too.

I have decided to write about the easy, quick, weeknight dinners I prepare for my children, and it seemed fitting to start with “cowboy food,” which is an uncontested favorite. The other day as Balthasar asked what I was preparing and I replied “something with egg” (I hadn’t yet made up my mind), completely unprompted – and somewhat surprisingly as we haven’t had lentils for a while – he cheerfully exclaimed “cowboy food!”

I had mentioned cowboy food before in connection with a two-step lentil recipe. This is the quick version of lentils – the whole meal takes only about 35 minutes to prepare, and most of that is the lentils simmering away by themselves.

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Two cups make a lot of lentils, but it’s always great to have lentil leftovers. They can easily be reheated, or made into a salad.

2 cups green lentils (preferably Castelluccio or du Puy)

1 small onion

Some vegetables: for example 1/2 bulb fennel, one or two stalks celery, a carrot

A few sprigs of flat-leaved parsley

2 bay leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Very good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice to serve

1 egg per person

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The lentils

Pick through the lentils to look for small stone intruders that must be discarded. To wash the lentils, cover with cold water and drain in a fine mesh sieve.

Peel and cut into large chunks the onion and the vegetables.

Place lentils into a large saucepan with 4 cups (double the volume) water. Add the vegetable chunks, the parsley, and the bay leaves, bring to a boil and let simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat when the lentils are done to your liking – I like them al dente, with a bit of bite.

Discard the sprigs of parsley, bay leaves, and vegetable chunks. Season the lentils with salt, pepper, good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste and adjust.

The eggs

**It’s better to cook the eggs once the lentils are ready, because while the lentils are just as delicious warm, the egg should be eaten straight off the pan.**

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Once hot, crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Fry until the white is set but the yellow still runny. Serve over the lentils.

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Related posts

Lentils

Finger food | Leek and manchego frittata

Lentil and fennel salad with parsley

 

Finger food | Leek and manchego frittata

16 June 2011

Louise is now 15 months, she walks around like an independent little person, and she eats what her older brothers eat. The days of puréeing are already over, and as such my days of “baby food” posts. But since the children usually eat separately, especially during the week, this will be the transition into the world of children’s dinners.

As much as I oppose the concept of children’s food, in particular as it implies anything yellow and battered, I do believe in adult meals. This means that our children have dinner together, earlier, and go to bed at eight. It’s not about a different kind of food, it’s about timing. Ideally, children’s dinners should be easily prepared on a weeknight with homework and soccer and a toddler who really should be in bed by seven puttering about resignedly.

So as a bridge away from baby food here is the ultimate anytime any-age family meal – frittata.

It is ideal because it basically consists of staples and anything else that happens to be in the kitchen: eggs; an onion or leftover leek, garlic; cheese (gruyère, manchego, parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella); perhaps diced ham, pancetta, or some smoked salmon; peas, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, spinach, potatoes; herbs…

The possibilities are endless, and the result not only very tasty but a full meal in one dish that the children always like.

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This quantity makes a lunch frittata perfect for one adult and one toddler. Adjust the quantities as desired. I usually count 2 eggs per adult, 1 per (young) child, plus an extra one overall “for the pan.”

2 leeks

Olive oil

A small knob of butter

1 clove garlic

3 eggs

Manchego cheese, a piece approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) cube

Pepper

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Preheat broiler (grill), or oven to 425°F (220°C).

Trim leeks on either side and remove one or two layers of the tougher dark green outer leaves. Wash off excess grit under running water. Slice the leeks into slices 1/2 or 1/4 inch (1 or 1/2 cm) thick. Wash well in cold water to remove any persistent dirt, and strain.

Thinly slice the garlic clove. Thinly grate the manchego.

In an ovenproof skillet, heat a little olive oil and small knob of butter, enough to comfortably coat the pan once the butter has melted. Add the leek and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until it softens and becomes translucent but before it gets brown. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook for just another minute.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Add the cheese and a little pepper if desired (manchego is very salty so no additional salt is required).

Stir the cooked leeks and garlic into the eggs, just enough to combine, then return the egg/vegetable mixture to the pan (there should be enough oil left but if not, add a dash).

Cook on the stove over low heat, loosening the eggs at the sides with a spatula from time to time (don’t go anywhere, this will just take a few minutes).

When you can see the eggs starting to set underneath, but the top is still quite runny, place the pan in the hot oven. Leave it for barely a minute, just enough for the top of the frittata to set but no longer.

Cut into wedges (or cubes) and serve with a large green salad.

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Related posts

Finger food | Carrots

Children’s dinner | Cowboy food

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