the Original Drive-Thru

It’s always in the simplest, purest of ingredients that you notice the biggest difference. This time, I’m shining the light on a local farm that treats their hens right. And of course, happy hens => happy eggs => happy eating.

What’s even better? I don’t even have to stand in line at the farmer’s market to get them. They have a drive-through right at the farm, and literally all you need to do is “honk for service”. Yup, an egg drive-through. Where do I even come from, right?

Maple Ridge, British Columbia. And the adorable farm is called “Never Say Die” Nursery. See? Adorable.

But back to the eggs, gorgeous doesn’t describe them. And the term #yolkporn disgusts me. Seriously, don’t adulterate something so natural and nourishing. Whenever I come across a good egg it always makes me momentarily breathless. It must be the combination of the yolk’s bright tangerine color (#f28500 hex color code, look it up), the way the yolk stands so proudly in a visibly distinct sac of albumen when you crack it open that inspires me to treat it well.

This time, it’s poaching. There’s something about the tenderness of spring asparagus, the whimsy of sweet peas, and the viridity of a jiggly poached egg that makes them, together, instinctively irresistible.

As for those limp, watery eggs that have a sad, deflated, pale yellow yolk swimming inside of them, hide them in a box-mix cake or something. Do not attempt to serve them in their form. Also, never buy them again, for those eggs are from caged, drugged hens (in the name of mass economical production! oh joy!) and should not even be produced.

Hopefully you’ve seen the light as far as the topic of eggs, now go and convince your taste buds!

Take no part in

the unfruitful

works of darkness,

but instead

expose them.

Ephesians 5:11

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Believe it or not, this is my very first time poaching an egg. So as you can see, it really is nothing to be scared of. To be honest, I was pretty terrified right up to the point I lowered in the egg, but immediately I realized that you are physically incapable of messing this up so long as you follow along this little tutorial. Also, as if I have not drilled it into your kitchen backsplash, a good free range egg is not negotiable – you and your family deserve at least that.

So here goes:

How to poach an egg

Step 1: If your egg has been sitting in the fridge, bring your egg to room temperature by submerging them in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 minutes. Pat your egg dry and crack it into a small bowl. If your egg’s already at room temperature, just crack it into a small bowl. Take care not to break the yolk. (This should not be difficult as fresh free range eggs have very robust yolks!)

Step 2: Add 2 tbsp white vinegar to a large pot of water and let it come up to a rolling boil.

Step 3: Turn off the heat and use a spoon to stir the water quickly in a clock-wise direction to make a whirlpool in the pot’s center.

Step 4: While the current is still strong, gently tip the egg into the middle of the whirlpool.

Step 5: Cover and let it poach for 150 seconds (2 1/2 minutes), then carefully lift it out with a slotted spoon.

At this point you can either serve it immediately, or place it in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Now let’s get on with the recipe!

Ingredients for the Penne with Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Pesto, and Caramelized Lemon

serves 4

340 g organic corn penne, or your preferred chunky pasta (I like penne because it’s the same shape as the asparagus)

1 large lemon, scrubbed clean and halved

3 tbsp olive oil

600 g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch sticks on the diagonal

1/2 c basil pesto (recipe follows)

2/3 c white wine (whatever you have on hand, I used chablis)

1 1/4 c frozen sweet peas

lots of fine sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil to season

To make the asparagus penne, cook the pasta as directed on the package.

Meanwhile, heat your cast iron on the stove until very hot. Place the lemon halves, cut sides down in the hot pan and hold them down firmly for 30~60 seconds, or until the surface is well-browned and caramelized. This will completely change the flavour profile of the lemon and give it a sweeter, deeper dimension. Slice off and reserve the caramelized parts only. (Use the rest for lemon water or something.)

Keep the pan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp of the oil just to coat the bottom and add the asparagus. Season generously and let it sit undisturbed for 20 seconds or so to get some browned, crispy bits. Stir a couple times, just until all the pieces are bright green.

Transfer the asparagus into a large salad/mixing bowl. Stir in the frozen peas to stop the cooking process. By now the pasta should be cooked. Drain and toss it with the vegetables.

Keep the element on and add the remaining oil to the pan and stir in the pesto to wake up its flavour. Deglaze with the white wine and stir until the alcohol burns off. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and stir through. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Divide between four plates. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, top with an optional (but definitely recommended) poached egg, and serve with a slice of caramelized lemon.

Enjoy!

To make a vegan pesto, throw 50 g sweet basil, 2 garlic cloves, 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts, 3/4 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 cup olive oil in a small food processor and whiz to a textured puree. Store in a glass jar, pour a thin film of olive oil over top to seal and cover with the lid. This will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

 

 

Green Fronds and White Froth

While my (somewhat) equals hop into re-done cars with muscle-top apes, I retreat to my favourite shops and market in the more quiet extremes of town. Bruce’s country market down by the riverside sits on the skirt fringe of my small enough gem-of-a-town Maple Ridge. It’s also my salmon place. Yes, I’m a B. C. girl and I love my salmon, but only wild sockeyes please. The farmed, beastly humongous monster fish of the Atlantic are practically lumps of hormone- and antibiotic-injected flesh anyway.

You may have noticed that I’m starting to clean up my blog, starting from the last post https://cocoetcocoa.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/casually-pudding-it-out/ in terms of style and image. Yes, and I’m not just starting now, with only what meets the eye. People, eat clean, eat less. That way you get the best ingredients, and don’t actually spend a dollar more. This is particularly true with proteins. These days, it seems the mot du jour is always along the lines of sustainability.

Hello, does buying so-called “sustainably sourced fish” in such large quantities that the following year you still find the carcass of an animal skinned and filleted twelve moons ago represent sustainable? Does cooking so much “free-range organic” ground beef into a tub of meat sauce then letting the leftovers (which is half that tub) stink and rot environmentally conscious?

I’m not saying that we should live as monks or saints. But I do find that moderation is a rather valuable trait, it will actually save you legitimate bucks.

So what does all this have to do with the plat du jour? Well, you don’t need a whole fillet to serve two. You just need 200 g of really good quality salmon.

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Ingredients for the coconut poached salmon:

1 can organic coconut milk

8 thin slices ginger root

20 lemon balm leaves

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt

200 g wild sockeye salmon fillets with skin, cut into 2 portions

2 drops sesame oil

finely shredded lemon balm, for garnish

To make the poached salmon, bring the coconut milk and ginger to the boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the lemon balm, fish sauce, and sea salt. Remove the pan from the heat and gently lower in the salmon fillets, skin side facing down. Cover and return the pan to barely a simmer for 6 minutes; you can cook it slightly longer, but I would not exceed 8 minutes. Add the sesame oil at the last minute.

Lift the salmon with a slotted spoon onto warm serving plates. To make the sauce, strain the poaching liquid and froth it up using an immersion blender. Spoon the sauce over the salmon and garnish with more lemon balm.

Serve immediately. Also, this makes plenty of sauce, which implies that you could double the amount of salmon to serve four people or mop it up with some french crusty bread. I would just throw some glass noodles and bok choi into the poaching liquid to make it a meal, though.

Enjoy!