Posts Tagged ‘egg’

This episode of Good Eats sees Alton in the kitchen with his “nephew,” striving to whip up some kid-friendly sandwiches. Alton has four rules for making sandwiches:

  1. Soft fillings and spreads pair best with soft breads.
  2. A barrier (mayo, butter, oil, etc.) should be used to keep bread from getting water-logged from wet ingredients.
  3. The order of sandwich ingredients matters – slippery ingredients are not to be placed next to each other.
  4. Quality of bread is crucial, and you should only utilize bread that you would happily consume plain. Pre-sliced bread tends to be loaded with preservatives, so should be avoided.

Pan Bagnat

The first sandwich Alton makes is a pan bagnat, which translates to “wet bread.” What is a pan bagnat? Basically, it is a French version of a sub sandwich, consisting of several layers of ingredients. This sandwich is designed to be made a couple hours before consumption, as it is best to let the flavors mingle. This sandwich starts with a vinaigrette made by placing 1/2 t Dijon mustard in a bowl, and whisking in 1 T red wine vinegar, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and several grinds of pepper. While continuing to whisk, drizzle in 3 T olive oil to form an emulsion. Set the dressing aside while you build the sandwich.

This sandwich serves four people, and I only needed enough for two, so I cut the recipe in half. Bread-wise, for four servings, you want to get a 16-inch baguette. Slice the loaf in half horizontally and use your fingers to dig out trenches in the center of each half of bread, as if you are creating bread canoes. You can discard the removed bread, or use it to make bread crumbs.

Fill the trench in the bottom half of bread with 12 ounces of drained tuna fish (you can use either oil or water-packed tuna).

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Bottom bread trench filled with tuna fish.

Next, add a layer of 1/3-inch thick green bell pepper slices, followed by a layer of 1/3-inch thick red onion slices.

Next, add two hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced.

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Tuna topped with green bell pepper, red onions, and hard boiled eggs.

On top of the eggs, sprinkle on 1 C of pitted/chopped Kalamata olives.

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Tuna topped with green bell pepper, red onions, hard boiled egg, and Kalamata olives.

Top the olives with 4-5 slices of very ripe tomato and drizzle on the red wine vinaigrette, letting the dressing drizzle down between the ingredient layers.

Place the top bread on top of the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich very tightly in plastic wrap; you will need to overlap sheets of plastic to have a sheet wide enough for the length of the sandwich. Once wrapped, let the sandwich sit at room temperature for two hours before slicing and eating.

I made this sandwich last Friday, as we were taking a short road trip out of town. The sandwich sat in the car for the duration of our drive, and was then ready to eat for dinner when we arrived at our vacation rental.

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Alton’s pan bagnat. Excuse the poor lighting in this photo, as our vacation rental had horrible lighting.

Personally, I really liked this sandwich, but Ted doesn’t like canned tuna, so he was not a huge fan. He did, however, say that he would really like this sandwich if it were made with a different protein. Basically, if you’ve ever had a niçoise salad, this sandwich is that salad in sandwich form. Alton did not follow his second sandwich rule of using a moisture barrier with this recipe, so I wondered if the sandwich would end up soggy from the tuna, tomato, olives, and dressing, but it really was not soggy at all. What I liked most about this sandwich were its contrasting flavors, colors, and textures. The veggies gave the sandwich a crunch, the tomato and dressing kept the sandwich from being dry, and the eggs gave a slight creamy texture. Flavor-wise, the vinaigrette and olives were tangy, bright and salty, while the red onions gave a bit of spice/heat. The tomato added fruitiness and the tuna contributed a slight fishy flavor. It was also convenient to be able to make this sandwich ahead. I will definitely make a version of this sandwich again, though I likely will substitute something else (chicken salad?) for the tuna unless I am the only one eating it.

Cuban Sandwich

The second sandwich recipe in this episode is for Alton’s take on the classic Cuban sandwich. To make Cuban sandwiches, slice hoagie rolls in half horizontally and liberally spread yellow mustard on both halves of the rolls.

Top the mustard with a thin layer of baked ham, followed by a thin layer of roast pork (I made a small pork roast for these sandwiches).

Top the pork with two slices of provolone or Swiss cheese (I used Swiss) and two long, thin slices of Kosher dill pickle.

You can wrap the sandwiches in plastic and save them for later, or you can cook them right away. To cook the sandwiches, brush/spread them with butter and press them in a panini press for about 10 minutes.

If you do not have a panini press, you can still press the sandwiches by wrapping three fireplace bricks in foil. Place the bricks on a sheet pan. Place three more bricks (they do not need to be wrapped in foil) on a second sheet pan. Place the two sheet pans of bricks in a 500-degree oven for an hour. Remove the sheet pans from the oven and brush the foil-covered bricks with butter. Place the sandwiches on the foil-covered bricks and brush the sandwich tops with butter. Place the sheet pan of unwrapped bricks on top of the sandwiches and let the sandwiches press between the bricks for about 10 minutes.

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Alton’s Cuban sandwich.

I really enjoy Cuban sandwiches because I love their zesty flavor, and I thought this was a great, fast version to make at home. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of roasting pork for this recipe, you could always substitute sliced turkey, or at least that is what Alton says. I’m sure some Cuban sandwich classicists would pooh-pooh Alton’s version with provolone and turkey, but if it tastes good (and it does), who cares?

Roasted Vegetable Spread

The last recipe in this episode is for a vegetarian spread that you could use on any sandwich, or just on crackers or bread. Preheat your oven to 400. While the oven heats, toss the following vegetables with 1-2 T olive oil:  1 sliced zucchini, 1 sliced (into rings) red bell pepper, 1 sliced (into rings) onion, and 4-5 crushed cloves of garlic.

Spread the veggies on a foil-lined sheet pan and sprinkle them with Kosher salt. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes, stirring them occasionally.

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Zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic tossed with olive oil, spread on a sheet pan, and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

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Vegetables after roasting for 45 minutes.

Place the veggies in a food processor, along with eight ounces of cream cheese, and pulse to combine.

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Roasted vegetables in the food processor with cream cheese.

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Alton’s vegetable spread, served with bread slices.

Alton recommends serving his spread on soft bread (see sandwich rule number 1 above). This spread has a sweet veggie flavor from the caramelized vegetables. While I would not be able to identify zucchini in this spread, the flavors of red bell pepper, onion, and garlic are easily identifiable. I did feel that the spread could use a bit more Kosher salt, though. We enjoyed this as an appetizer on sliced bread, though I can attest it is also good on crackers. This is a recipe that would be great to keep in mind for when you are cleaning out your produce drawer, as you could roast a variety of leftover vegetables and have a different spread each time. I plan to make this again the next time we have leftover veggies.

This episode of Good Eats is all about sauces and their power to take a dish to new levels. Alton gives some basic tips about thickening sauces and soups, stating that his preferred thickener is arrowroot starch. If you need to thicken a hot soup or sauce, first dissolve arrowroot starch in cold liquid (such as broth), and add the cold liquid to your warm sauce/soup. A good starting amount of starch is one tablespoon of starch per cup of liquid you wish to thicken. I always try to stash these sorts of tips in the library in the back of my brain!

Strip Steak with Pepper Cream Sauce

A pepper cream sauce is first in this episode, and Alton serves this sauce over strip steaks. In the episode he does not show how he cooks the steaks, but it is stated that the steak recipe accompanies the sauce recipe online. I cooked my steaks per the online recipe, and kept them warm in the oven while I made the sauce.

For the sauce, you will need beef broth, cognac, green peppercorns (these come in a brine and can be found near capers in the store), and cream.

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Ingredients for pepper cream sauce: beef broth, green peppercorns, cognac, and cream.

The first step of this sauce is deglazing the pan in which the steaks were cooked, which is done by adding 3/4 C of beef broth to the pan and scraping up any browned bits in the pan.

Let the broth reduce for a few minutes over high heat. Next, add 3 T cognac to the pan (this is about one miniature bottle), along with 1 T green peppercorns, drained and lightly crushed. Follow the peppercorns up with 3/4 C cream.

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Cognac, green peppercorns, and cream stirred into broth.

Let the sauce reduce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

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Reducing the sauce.

Spoon the sauce over your cooked steaks and enjoy!

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Strip steak with pepper cream sauce.

This is sauce is really quite delicious. It is indulgent without being heavy, and the spice from the green peppercorns is excellent with meat. The cognac gives the sauce a sweet, fruity character and the cream makes the sauce rich and smooth. You could pair this sauce with any meat, really. I would be quite happy to be served this sauce in a high-end steakhouse. The next time you serve steak, whip up a batch of this sauce to kick your steak game up a notch.

Hollandaise

Hollandaise sauce was something my mom made fairly regularly, usually serving it over asparagus or broccoli. While I knew Hollandaise could be a bit finicky, my mom did not solely reserve her Hollandaise efforts for holidays. We are so fortunate to have a mom who was such a good cook, and who served us things like Hollandaise! I have only made Hollandaise a couple of times myself, and making Alton’s recipe made me realize it is something to make more regularly. For Alton’s Hollandaise, you will need a heavy saucepan with about an inch of water, and a mixing bowl that comfortably nests on top of the saucepan. I’m sure a double boiler would also work. Begin by bringing the water in the saucepan to a simmer.

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Simmering water.

While the water heats, place three egg yolks and 1 t water in the bowl and whisk – do this off of the heat. Whisk the yolks until they are lighter in color, which will take a minute or two.

Add 1/4 t sugar to the yolks and whisk for another 30 seconds.

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Sugar added to yolks.

Place the yolks over the simmering water and whisk them continuously for three to five minutes, or until they thicken, lighten in color, and fall from the whisk in a ribbon.

At this point, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in 12 T unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time; you will need to place the bowl back over the simmering water occasionally to melt the butter.

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Sauce after adding all butter.

When all of the butter has been incorporated, add 1/2 t Kosher salt, 2 t lemon juice, and 1/8 t cayenne pepper.

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Kosher salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper added to sauce.

Serve the Hollandaise immediately, or store in a thermos until you are ready to use it. I served my Hollandaise for dinner over Eggs Benedict and steamed asparagus.

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Alton’s Hollandaise, served over asparagus and Eggs Benedict.

First off, we should all eat Eggs Benedict for dinner more often! Alton’s version of Hollandaise seems pretty foolproof to me, and is rich, creamy, and buttery. My only complaint about his Hollandaise is that I prefer my Hollandaise to have a bit more lemon. Otherwise, his Hollandaise hits all the marks of this classic sauce.

Omelet

My dad used to make amazing omelets. He went through a bit of a phase, studying Julia Child’s omelet method, and cooking omelets for all of us on the weekends. His omelets were always filled with one ingredient:  sharp Cheddar. To this day, my mom swears she only likes eggs in two forms (weird, I know):  hard-boiled and Dad’s omelets.

As I sat down to watch the Good Eats omelet episode, I realized that I had never before made an omelet. While I have cooked eggs pretty much every other way, somehow I had never before attempted the omelet. It was time to give it a go.

Alton’s omelet recipe begins with heating three eggs in hot water for five minutes; omelets are more tender when they are cooked quickly, and beginning with warm eggs helps this process.

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Three eggs, warming in hot water for 5 minutes.

Crack your warmed eggs into a bowl or large mug, beating them with a fork (Alton says a whisk will add unwanted air). Add 2-3 pinches of salt (not Kosher) and beat some more.

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Three warmed eggs, cracked into a mug. Ready to beaten, along with some salt.

Place a 9-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. If you have an infrared thermometer, you will want to heat your pan to 325 degrees. If you do not have an infrared thermometer, heat your pan until butter foams briskly in the pan.

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Non-stick skillet, heated to 325 degrees.

Once your pan is hot, lube the pan with butter, distributing it evenly with a pastry brush.

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Heated pan, lubed with butter.

Pour the eggs into the center of the pan and stir them vigorously with a rubber spatula for five seconds.

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Eggs poured into pan and stirred.

When a mass of curds begins to form, lift and swirl the pan, allowing uncooked egg to flow beneath the omelet edges (Alton calls this the “swirl and sweep” step). Using your spatula, go around the edges of the omelet, loosening them from the pan and forming a nice, round shape. This is when Alton tells you to walk away for a solid 10 seconds, letting the omelet just cook on the burner, but if your eggs are sputtering, turn the heat to medium-low.

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Omelet after “swirl and sweep.”

When your omelet is cooked to your desire (it should still be somewhat wet/soft on the top), jiggle the pan to ensure that the omelet is not sticking. Now it is time to fold the omelet. Lifting up the far edge of the pan, snap the pan back toward you, so the omelet slides toward you. Then, use your spatula to fold 1/3 of the omelet over the center from the side nearest you.

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1/3 of omelet folded over center.

Finally, change your grip on the pan handle to underhand and slide the omelet onto a buttered plate, letting it flip over itself as it rolls onto the plate. I will be honest that the whole flipping process did not go as easily for me as it did for Alton, but I made it work with a lot of help from my spatula. Add some more butter to your omelet, sprinkle it with some chives, and enjoy!

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Omelet, flipped onto buttered plate. Chives sprinkled on top for a garnish.

This was a good, but very simple omelet. It was light, fluffy, and tender on the inside. Alton’s method made it very easy for me to cook a decent omelet, so this was a great way to learn. I do, however, like to have some extra pizzazz in my omelets, so next time I will add some fillings.IMG_4259

Omelet for a Crowd

When I saw the title for this recipe, I was envisioning a giant omelet. Instead, this is Alton’s method of prepping enough eggs to make several omelets in rapid succession. Oddly, in this recipe, Alton did not warm the eggs as he did for the previous recipe. For this recipe, you will want to allot 5 eggs plus 1 ounce of water for every two people. Place the eggs and water in a blender, adding a heavy pinch of Kosher salt and some fresh herbs, such as basil, dill, parsley, tarragon, or chives (I used basil and parsley). Blend everything together until smooth.

Meanwhile, heat a 9-inch non-stick pan to 325 degrees (or until butter foams) over medium-high heat. Once hot, lube the pan thoroughly with butter. Using a 4.5 ounce ladle, place one ladle of eggs in the center of the pan and stir briskly for five seconds with a spatula.

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One 4.5-ounce ladle per omelet into a hot, buttered pan.

Next, lift and swirl the pan, letting any loose egg run under the omelet to cook. Let the omelet cook until it is still soft in the center, but set on the bottom, and add any desired fillings (I used Greek olives, spinach, grape tomatoes, and cheese) over the 2/3 of the omelet furthest from you.

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Fillings added to 2/3 of omelet.

Lifting the pan to slide the omelet toward you, use a spatula to flip the 1/3 of the omelet nearest you over the center of the omelet. Change your grip on the pan handle from overhand to underhand, and flip the omelet onto a plate, letting it fold over itself.

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Omelet, flipped onto a plate.

My omelet was definitely not picture perfect, but it tasted good!IMG_4298 The method of cooking the omelets in this recipe is the same as for the single omelet above, though this omelet was “dressed up” a little more. I liked the additional flavor of the herbs in the eggs, along with the variety of fillings. This would be a fun/easy way to make customized omelets for a group. If you follow Alton’s method, it is very easy to produce tender, fluffy omelets.

Frittata

Alton’s frittata is last in this episode, and is also the easiest of the three, as there is no fancy flipping involved. For this one, heat your broiler to high and place a 12-inch non-stick skillet on a burner to heat. Once warm, lube the pan with butter and add 1/2 C roasted asparagus and 1/2 C chopped ham. You can use any ingredients you want here, but asparagus and ham were what Alton used. I added some pickled peppers also.

Regardless of what you choose to use, you want to have a single layer of filling. While your fillings heat, mix 1 ounce of Parmesan with 6 eggs and 1 t pepper.

Pour the egg mixture over the fillings, letting it flow between them.

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Beaten egg mixture poured over fillings.

Once the egg starts to firm on top, add some chopped parsley.

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Parsley added once frittata began to set.

Place the frittata under the broiler for 2-4 minutes, or until golden and set; my frittata took only two minutes.

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Frittata after cooking under the broiler for 2 minutes.

Slide the frittata onto a cutting board, cut it into wedges with a pizza cutter, and serve with some sour cream.

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Frittata, sliced with a pizza cutter and served with sour cream.

I had made a frittata previously, and this one was very good. The frittata was golden brown on the top, while light and tender in the middle. This would make a super easy weeknight dinner or a great breakfast, and you could customize it to your heart’s desire.

It seems odd to write a blog post about a recipe I prepared a mere 10 days ago, while it feels like my entire life has changed since then. Ted went under the knife five days ago to have a massive operation to remove the cancer from his body. He still lies in a hospital bed as I type, and likely will be there for at least a few more days. The excellent news is that they got all of the cancer out and there was zero lymph node involvement. The bad news is that he feels quite miserable. Hopefully he’ll be feeling better soon. Until then, I’ll reminisce about Alton’s angel food cake that we ate 10 days ago.

Angel Food Cake

I vaguely remember my mom making angel food cake a few times when I was little, but it was never something we ate regularly. My image of angel food cake has been primarily of the dry, sponge-like, flavorless cakes you can buy in every grocery store bakery in the country. That’s not to say that I dislike those cakes, but just that they don’t wow me. How would Alton’s recipe for angel food cake stack up?

To make Alton’s angel food cake, start by processing 1 3/4 C of sugar in a food processor for two minutes; this will give sugar with finer crystals, yielding between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 C of sugar.

Ingredients for Alton's angel food cake:  cake flour, egg whites, salt, sugar, cream of tartar, and orange extract.

Ingredients for Alton’s angel food cake: cake flour, egg whites, salt, sugar, cream of tartar, and orange extract.

Sugar into food processor.

Sugar into food processor.

Sugar after processing for two minutes.

Sugar after processing for two minutes.

Sift approximately half of this sugar (set the other half aside) with 1/4 t of salt and 1 C of cake flour. A lot of sugar is needed in angel food cake because there is no fat; the sugar acts as a tenderizer. Cake flour is used here because it has no protein, which means no gluten is produced.

Half of the sugar sifted with cake flour and salt.

Half of the sugar sifted with cake flour and salt.

Next, you will need a dozen egg whites at room temperature (room temperature egg whites are more flexible, so they foam better). Alton encourages you to separate your eggs using three containers:  a container over which you separate each white (to make sure no yolk slips in), a container to contain the yolks, and a container for the yolk-free whites. Why is it so critical to avoid having yolk mixed in with your whites? The yolks contain fat, which lubes the bonding points on the proteins in the whites, causing the bubbles to pop. Since angel food cake is a foam, the ultimate goal is bubbles.

Separating yolks and whites.

Separating yolks and whites.

Once your egg whites are at room temperature, add 1/3 C of warm water, 1 t orange extract, and 1 1/2 t cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is a mild acid, made of tartaric acid crystals, that stabilizes foams by adding hydrogen atoms.

Egg whites with warm water, orange extract, and cream of tartar added.

Egg whites with warm water, orange extract, and cream of tartar added.

Use a whisk to froth this egg white mixture. Once frothy, whip the whites with a hand mixer on medium speed.

Whites beaten with a whisk until frothy.

Whites beaten with a whisk until frothy.

While mixing, slowly add the remaining sugar. When your egg whites have soft peaks, decrease the speed on the mixer to avoid overbeating. Stop mixing when you have reached medium peaks.

Whites after reaching medium peaks.

Whites after reaching medium peaks.

Again, sift the flour mixture, but sift it over the top of the batter, just dusting the top.

Dusting the top of the batter with sifted flour mixture.

Dusting the top of the batter with sifted flour mixture.

Use a spatula to gently fold the flour into the whites, just until not visible.

Folding in the flour mixture.

Folding in the flour mixture.

Repeat until all of the flour is incorporated. Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased tube pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out almost dry. My cake was ready after 35 minutes.

The final batter, spooned into a tube pan.

The final batter, spooned into a tube pan.

Cake after baking 35 minutes.

Cake after baking 35 minutes.

Remove your cake from the oven and invert it on the back of a sheet pan. My cake pan has feet for this purpose. The cake needs to be inverted or it will collapse. Let the cake cool completely.

Cake inverted to cool completely.

Cake inverted to cool completely.

To remove the cake from the pan, you will need to run a knife around the edges, as the cake will be stuck from “climbing” the walls of the pan. While you certainly could serve your cake with accompaniments, we chose to eat ours plain.

Alton's angel food cake.

Alton’s angel food cake.

A slice of angel food cake.

A slice of angel food cake.

I have to say that Alton’s angel food cake is so much better than anything you can buy. It is moist, airy, and sweet, and has just the right hint of orange flavor. You could use any extract you would like to flavor your cake. While I still won’t be making angel food cake regularly, Alton’s version is quite delicious, and should I need an angel food cake in the future, this is the recipe I will use.