Green Eggs and Ham

“How dare I tamper

  with a recipe that

  literally breaks every

  Masterchef contender

  and elevates all

  Italian nonnas

  to culinary sainthood?”

 

This recipe is one of my weekday staples for one major reason –  it takes only 5 minutes which coincidentally happens to be what you need to poach your eggs and fry your bacon!

The trick is to par cook your rice in a reduced amount of water so that the center still has some bite. But if you just cook that further in the pan with stock until it becomes creamy, you’ll end up with congee, because the additional liquid means that the rice will eventually absorb more water and lose its perfectly cooked center. To fix this, we want to keep the amount of time the rice spends in the pan as short as possible.

But how do we get the stock to become creamy and “one” with the rice without the 20 minutes of stirring? Oldest trick in the book – corn starch. While I’m usually not a proponent for thickening agents in sauces (I prefer to either go through the pains of reducing it, or I’ll add some sort of ingredient that is meaningful in more ways than just to add body to the sauce), starch is a perfect fit in this case because the creaminess of a risotto comes from the starches released from the rice through relentless stirring anyway.

So there you have it – a risotto that’s essentially been segmented into

a) perfectly cooking the rice, and

b) adding liquid and adjusting the consistency

And how dare I tamper with a recipe that literally breaks every Masterchef contender and elevates all the Italian nonnas to sainthood? I’m a fourth-year UW student who can’t find it in her to shovel out 20 minutes to make dinner after a long day of class, that’s how. So if you want to go all traditionalist/purist/conservative on me, be my guest, just know that I am hangrily jealous of all that time you have on your wooden-spoon-holding, risotto-stirring hands.

Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.

-Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham

Kale and Arugula Risotto with Poached Eggs and Bacon

Arugula and Kale Risotto with Poached Eggs and Bacon

Serves 2 to 4

Herb Puree

  • 2 c lightly packed baby arugula
  • 2 c lightly packed baby kale
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. To make the greens puree, bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil and add the baking soda. The alkaline baking soda will help intensify the green colour of the herbs.
  2. Blanch the greens for 10-15 seconds, or until wilted.
  3. Fish out the greens with a slotted spoon and plunge into an ice-bath immediately and stir until completely cold.
  4. Drain the greens and transfer to a blender to puree until smooth. Add a splash of water to help the blades grab onto the greens if necessary, and be careful not to blend for too long – the heat caused by the friction from the blades will dull the bright green colour.
  5. Push the puree through a fine sieve and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days until needed.

Note: the water will separate out into a layer on top of the puree after a day in the fridge – I actually prefer to let the puree settle slowly in the fridge for that reason. When I use it, I can just pour out the clear liquid, and I’m left with an ultra-concentrated shot of chlorophyll.

Risotto

  • 1 1/2 c al dente cooked short-grain white rice, chilled**
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 c vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 batch herb puree (above)
  • Extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil, to drizzle
  • Poached eggs and fried thick-sliced bacon, to serve
  1. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the oil and garlic gently on medium heat until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the cold rice and stir to coat each grain in the oil.
  3. Add the stock, stir, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes, meanwhile in a small bowl mix together the corn starch with 2 tbsp of cold water until smooth.
  4. Add the corn starch water and salt to the rice and stir until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the herb puree.
  5. Spoon into small bowls, top with a poached egg and a slice of bacon, then finish with a few drops of good olive oil.
  6. Serve immediately!

**to par-cook rice, reduce the amount of water by 25% to 33% depending on how much bite you like in your risotto. For example, 1 cup of rinsed uncooked rice should be cooked with 2/3 to 3/4 cups of water in the rice cooker (with additional water in the outer pot). If you don’t have a rice cooker, reduce the amount of water in your usual stove top recipe by the same amount. Once cooked and completely chilled, you can store the rice in the fridge for up to a week and turn it into risotto in under 10 minutes on any week night (or morning)! You’re welcome.

 

Don’t put all your eggs in the same…pan?

I could be vegan, if I didn’t know how to make proper eggs.

The truth is, eggs are far more interesting than the most ripe-but-firm avocado, the most perfectly-round head of cauliflower, and a low-sodium can of chickpeas (including the aquafaba). No PETA, I don’t see anything wrong with eating eggs when they come from a farm where I can run around along with the chickens. Heck, they live an even more stress-free life than I do.

And then of course there eggsists the millions of ways eggs can be incorporated into a dish, or pun while I’m at it. But let’s just focus on the eggs for now.

Due to the unique properties of the yolk and the white, an egg can be manipulated to fall anywhere on a continuous and mind-blowingly wide spectrum of textures and even flavours. Take a look at the list below, which are the ways I constantly revisit as well as how I like to use them, though each is delicious already in their own right without any gussying-up.

  1. hard boiled – in dilly, potato salads that have lots of grainy mustard, or with poached salmon and aioli.
  2. medium boiled – on its own with the crunch of a nice dipping salt. Don’t mess with my fudgy yolk.
  3. soft boiled – with blanched asparagus and gribiche
  4. soft poached – to complete an “avo-and-poached” on sourdough with thyme and extra virgin.
  5. hard poached – this one’s odd, but delicious in hotpot. Crack the eggs straight into the broth once you’ve passed all the meat and vegetables through. The loose proteins in the egg will grab onto the flavourful floaty bits in the broth and become coated in the savoury layer of fat sitting near the top.
  6. creamy scrambled – with butter and creme fraiche to go with toasted brioche and garlicky sauteed mushrooms.
  7. fluffy scrambled – with a handful of very thinly sliced chives mixed in to go with congee or be stuffed in a flaky scallion pancake.
  8. french omelette – aux fines herbes et au chevre, with arugula salad dressed with lemon and evoo.
  9. souffle omelette – with brandied apple compote and mascarpone tucked inside.
  10. american omelette – loaded with mushrooms and white cheddar, bacon and home fries on the side. And ketchup – lots of ketchup.
  11. thai crepe – stuffed with peanut sesame slaw, topped with crushed peanuts and sriracha.
  12. broken-yolk fried – stuffed in a chinese mantou, with sticky soy glaze and pork floss and a few sweet and garlicky pickled radishes.
  13. well-done – in a sandwich, with fat kid white bread, grape jelly, and a slice of Kraft Singles, semi-melted from the warmth of the egg.
  14. over easy – on its own, but fried in a month’s worth of sesame oil with mandolinned ginger that turns into chips as you fry.
  15. sunnyside amber-n’-crispy – on toast that’s been graced with a thick slick of miso honey butter, and topped with togarashi shichimi.
  16. steamed – chawan mushi style with a few flaked lumps of blue crab sitting on top.
  17. onsen – or sous-vide these techy days. Alone, chilled, drizzled with tsuyu and garnished with fresh grated daikon and shredded nori. Mind you, once you cross into sous-vide territory, a whole new universe of tender eggy textures will bow down to you.
  18. cured – parmesan made of just egg yolks and salt. Make it snow – yellow snow – on that carbonara.
  19. century – sliced up, with chilled silken tofu, very thinly sliced scallions, bonito flakes, and sticky soy glaze.
  20. brined – shell on, in shaoxing and a ton of salt – the salted duck eggs yolks you find in moon cakes all the time? Well the eggs are totally delicious too, half an egg will get you through a bowl of pearly steamed no problem.
  21. cracked – straight into a bubbling shakshuka or blistering pizza, when you absolutely don’t want to cook your eggs in a pan and want to cook them in food instead.

Microwaving didn’t make the cut. There’s not a single respectable thing a microwave can do to an egg that a pan and some oil, butter, water, or cream can’t.

So there, with a few flopped attempts and some broken yolks, you could easily get through two dozen eggs no problem. Plus, an omelette for one usually annihilates three. Unless you’re a legit kitchen nerd (I’m not quite there yet…right?) I would steer away from 18, 19, and 20. Leave those to the pros.

But there are three you absolutely must know how to do if your mother no longer makes you breakfast (or lunch, or dinner): poached, fried, and omelette. Friends over for brunch? Soft poach half a dozen in a pan and throw an avotoast DIY. Alone for dinner? Fry up a sunnyside amber-n’-crispy to go with roasted brussels sprouts and pancetta. As for a french omelette, make it only if you love the person you’re feeding very, very much. Like your mom – she made you omelettes didn’t she? (But I bet you never when you neglected the sanitation of your room!).

My son,

hear the instruction of thy father,

and forsake not

the law of thy mother:

For they shall be an ornament of grace

unto thy head, and chains

about thy neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9

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Poached Egg with Arugula, Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, and Fennel

Poached Egg with Arugula, Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, and Fennel

  • 1 large farm fresh egg
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of a quarter of a lemon
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 cup baby arugula or half and half arugula and mint
  • 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 pink grapefruit, pith removed, sliced
  • fennel fronds, for garnish
  1. Fill a non-stick pan with 1 inch of water and heat until the steam begins to creep from the surface and tiny bubbles are forming in the bottom.
  2. Crack the egg into a sieve and let the loose white drip away. Carefully slide the egg into the water and turn off the heat.
  3. Let the egg sit undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until the whites around the yolk are just set. Carefully lift the egg out and lower into an ice bath.
  4. For the arugula salad, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt. Toss with the arugula and plate up. Garnishing with the avocado and grapefruit slices, then a few fennel fronds.
  5. I also topped mine with a bit of black truffle kelp caviar, but a bit of black pepper should do just fine.
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Poached Egg with Arugula, Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, and Fennel

Crispy Fried Egg on Toast with Bacon Marmalade and Gruyere

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp, or a good glug of vegetable oil, like avocado or olive
  • 1 slice white bread, toasted
  • 1 tbsp bacon marmalade
  • 1 tbsp finely shredded gruyere
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat a seasoned cast iron skillet until starting to smoke.
  2. Crack the egg into a small bowl.
  3. Add the oil to the pan and swirl it around to fully coat the bottom.
  4. Gently pour in the egg from as close to the pan as possible – the egg should sizzle, puff, and bubble as soon as it hits the pan.
  5. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the egg cook in this state for about 3 minutes, or until the whites around the yolk are set and the edges are shatteringly crispy.
  6. Meanwhile, smear the marmalade over your toast. Slide the egg on, and finish with the gruyere, salt, and pepper.
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Poached Egg with Arugula, Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, and Fennel

French Omelette of Lovage, Mint, Tarragon, and Thyme with Chevre

  • 2 or 3 large farm fresh eggs
  • 5 or 8 grinds of sea salt, depending on how many eggs you use
  • 2 or 3 tbsp butter, depending on number of eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 or 1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh soft herbs – I used mint, lovagem tarragon, and baby thyme
  • 2 or 3 tbsp crumbled soft goat cheese, depending on number of eggs
  1. In a small non-stick skillet (6-8 inches), melt half the butter over low heat.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the eggs and salt until no lumps of white remain. Allow this mixture to sit as you mince the herbs and crumble the goat cheese.
  3. Once the butter is melted, tip in the eggs. You should not hear any sizzling – it should not even look like it’s cooking at all.
  4. Begin stirring the eggs non-stop, keeping the heat low. After 3 or 4 minutes, the mixture should start to curdle in places. Keep stirring until the mixture no longer spreads out easily. Tap the pan and use your spatula to get it to cover the entire base of the pan.
  5. Sprinkle the pepper, herbs, and goat cheese in a line down the center of the pan.
  6. Gently tease the edges away from the pan and fold one untopped third over the filling.
  7. Add the remainig butter to the vacant space you’ve just created and tilt the pan the other way to let the butter flow towards the omelette.
  8. Fold the other third over the omelette and press gently to seal it.
  9. Carefully slide the omelette onto a plate and brush with the remaining butter in the pan. Serve immediately, with a barely dressed arugula salad.

In the comments below, tell me: What’s your favourite way to eat eggs?

On Alex Colville

It’s the ordinary things that seem important to me.

This Sunday I enjoyed the rare luxury of having the entirety of an afternoon liberated from any obligation to weigh it down. So I went see the lovely mister Alex Colville at the gallery across the bridge. If you’re anyone like me, regardless of the reason (be it the need to get the most bang for your buck, pure curiosity of a three-year-old, or genuine appreciation for the arts), you’d make your way along the walls of the gallery at approximately sloth-pace for the sake of reading every single description, quote, and commentary of every single painting.

Colville’s works, in all truthfulness, did not appeal to me in the least when I stood in front of the gallery, staring into the woman with the binoculars’ forehead on the oversized promotion poster. No vivid colors, nothing provocatively creative about it, just painfully ordinary.

But as I moved from frame to frame, I became moved frame by frame. Something about the way his impeccably detailed brush strokes merged into minimalism and the way the intense reality of each subject somehow hinted at the surreal was simultaneously familiar and refreshing.

Indeed enjoyment, at least for the modern busy soul, rests in the down of the everyday, and is defined by a taste for the yesterdays.

And behold,

there arose

a great storm on the sea,

so that

the boat

was being swamped

by the waves;

but he was

asleep.

Matthew 8:24

Tomato Creamed Eggs
Tomato Creamed Eggs – fan q’ieh chow dan

My grandmother had an unwavering belief in eggs. In the mansion in southern Taiwan where my mother and her three siblings grew up, they kept chickens on the rooftop terrace. It was at once a delight and a pain to reach past the menacing beaks of the angry hens and to sneak out a couple of down-specked eggs each morning. For my ah-ma a few eggs symbolized the wholesomeness she worked so hard to provide for her children. In retrospect, the eggs tell a different story – one of contentment, and how it only decays as our haves become greater.

Ingredients for the Tomato Creamed Eggs:

  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 3 large free range chicken or duck eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk or water, optional
  • 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp loosely packed brown sugar
  • sea salt, to taste
  • splash of white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch, stirred well with a glug of cold water
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the milk or water lightly using a fork in a small bowl.
  2. Add 1 tsp of the oil into the skillet and pour in the eggs. Stir and break up the mixture by pushing the outer edges into the center using a pair of wooden chopsticks. Dump everything back into the bowl once the eggs just begin to set. Set aside.
  3. Preheat a wok or a sauce pan on high heat until very hot. Tip in the remaining oil, swirl the pan to cover (it should be a shimmering coat), and add the sliced tomatoes. Add the sugar and season with salt to draw out the moisture. Cook the mixture on high heat until the tomatoes have dissolved and the juices have become syrupy, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add a splash of vinegar to brighten the tomatoes, stir, and fold through the eggs, breaking them up a little. Immediately pour in the corn starch mixture in a round motion and stir through until the mixture tightens up. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a deep plate.
  5. Serve with freshly steamed short-grain rice or some crusty bread.
  6. Enjoy!

because pie is irrational

It’s a thin line, really, between oblivion and being on the fence. Neither allows you to adequately make a decision, and neither engages you enough in the consequences of a potential decision, should you make one.

So here’s a great question: meringue or not meringue?

While traditionally in France the tarte au citron is made with a lightly torched, sublimely delicate and shiny meringue, modern purists are leading a sort of revolution to overthrow the fluff of it all.

I made this tart about a week ago (and it was demolished right about then as well), and to be honest, I had no idea whether or not I wanted to pipe that meringue on. Even after finishing the pie I still had mixed feelings about it – not that its deliciousness was debatable, for it was by a modest margin at the top of my list of lemon-things-consumed – but somewhere in the back of my head was the question: what if I hadn’t put meringue on it?

Today, walking to class, watching the snow melt. Boom. Brain parfumation happened.

Like the snow, the meringue is not there to make everyone fall in love with it (you can tell I’ve had enough with this winter thing). Instead, it’s there to conceal what’s underneath, again, not because it’s anything to hide, but because it will add that much more ooh, aah, and sexiness to the lush underneath. That’s pretty romantic and french, and witty, I think.

Oh, yeah, and how does that have to do with snow? Well, if you haven’t set foot on solid ground that is not compacted snow for 5 months, you’d understand the thrills of finally seeing the black pavement again. Sure, it’s just pavement, but that’s the beauty of snow – not itself, but it makes everything underneath more beautiful when it melts.

He is a voice

shouting in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way

for the LORD’s coming!

Clear the road for him’

Matthew 3:3

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Ingredients for the lazy pate sablee:

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

75 ml half-and-half or heavy cream

To make the pate sablee, put the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the the food processor and pulse until blended. Add the chunks of culd butter, and continue pulsing until the mixture becomes a very pale yellow and looks a bit grainy. While pulsing, stream in the cream until the mixture just begins to clump together.

Cover a flat working surface with a film of plastic wrap, then dump the contents of the food processor onto the surface. Gather and press the mixture into a tight mound and flatten into an inch-thick round. Lift up the corners of the plastic wrap to wrap the dough snugly, then chill in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Lightly flour your working surface. Unwrap your chilled dough and roll it out using a rolling pin to about 0.75cm thick, or with large enough area to cover a 9-inch fluted tart pan. Slide the removable bottom of the pan underneath the dough (be gentle as the dough is quite delicate), lift it up, then place it into the tart ring. Press the dough  into the corner of the tart pan, and up the sides. Trim off any extra bits and use them to fill any areas that are not sufficiently covered. Chill in the freezer for another 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and feel free to do any cleanup to save time. Once the dough is finished chilling, dock it all over with a fork and bake, uncovered, for 18-20 minutes, or until pale golden. If the bottom’s puffed up, just pat it down gently with the back of a spoon while it’s still hot. Cool completely and chill until needed.

Ingredients for the lemon cream:

1 cup icing sugar

4 medium or 3 large lemons, zest and juice

4 large free range eggs

1/3 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup unsalted butter, placed in a large mixing bowl (preferably glass)

To make the lemon cream, combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and eggs in a saucepan. Cook on medium, whisking contents constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken. Stream in the cream, still whisking, until the mixture is well-tightened.

Pass the lemon curd through a sieve placed over the butter, and stir until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour into the baked tart shell and chill in the fridge overnight to set completely.

Ingredients for the french meringue:

2 egg whites

1/2 cup white sugar

To make the french meringue, place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can use your go-to mixing bowl if you have a hand-held) over a pot of barely simmering water. Beat with a whisk by hand until the sugar is fully dissolved, and the contents are quite warm to the touch. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on medium-high for 8-10 minutes, or until the meringue is very glossy and quite firm (the tip should stand when you hold up the beater).

Spoon the meringue into a star-tipped piping bag and pipe onto the chilled lemon tart. Torch it to make it pretty, then chill until ready to serve.

Totally redundant, but enjoy!