Archives for the month of: July, 2011
I don’t usually keep many snack foods around the house. Mostly because I try not to eat too much processed food but also because they’re pricey. When I’m grocery shopping I never have enough money in my food budget for the ingredients I need for meals AND bags of chips and cookies. However, just because I don’t often buy snack food doesn’t mean I don’t often want snacks. A good compromise I’ve reached is making my own. That way I still get to have greasy, fatty, oh-so-delicious snacks, but the extra work of preparing it myself keeps me from constantly grazing on junk food.
One night recently, my sweetie and I were staying in to watch a movie and we wanted a salty treat to go along with the film. After a few minutes of flipping through our copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman I came across his recipe for Simplest Cheese Straws and few a variations later I came up with my own version of Spicy Cheese Straws. This recipe make 8 servings and they keep well in a sealed container for a few days.
Spicy Cheese Straws:
- One pound of grated cheese. I used a 50-50 combination of cheddar and jalapeno jack but you can really use any hard cheese.
- 2 cups of flour.
- 8 tablespoons of butter.
- A few drops ice water
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- 1/2 teaspoon italian spices.
- Salt for sprinkling.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Grate the cheese.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour with the cayenne, italian spices, and red pepper flakes.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Stir in the cheese and knead it by hand until it comes together. Add a few drops of water at the time to help bring the clumps together but don’t add more than one tablespoon of water.
- Roll the dough out into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Then cut into 1/2 inch wide strips.
- Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Okay, I know… that title is bad. I just couldn’t help myself. I’m a sucker for puns. But seriously, eggs are eggstraordinary. Ahem… extraordinary. Wait! Don’t go! I promise that’s the last one. They are packed with protein and vitamins and we all know they’re delicious. I eat an egg with toast for breakfast almost every day. Eggs are a staple of my diet because they’re simple, filling, and give me a great energy boost to get the day started.
I was contemplating potential topics for this week’s post one morning as I was making breakfast and a realized I’ve never written about my favorite breakfast food. I grew up eating plain scrambled eggs but once I started cooking for myself I began to take advantage of the limitless ways to cook them. You can get fancy with frittatas and quiche, or you can go super simple with a fried egg. This week’s post is a tribute to a few simple and awesome ways to cook eggs.
Sunny side up is arguably the simplest way to prepare eggs. The key to tender eggs is to cook them slowly over low heat. You start with a preheated pan over high and add some butter. Add the egg to the hot pan and once the whites loose their translucence immediately turn the heat to low. Season with pepper and remove from the heat when the whites are completely firm.
Shirred eggs or baked eggs take a little more time than frying eggs but they’re also more luxurious and easy to make in quantity. They’re perfect for brunch or the weekend when you have more time in the morning. You need custard cups or small ramekins, cream, salt and pepper, and of course, eggs.
Preheat the oven to 375. Put a teaspoon or two of cream in each cup, then crack one egg into each cup and place them on a baking sheet. If you want you can top add grated cheese and other spices. Bake for 10-15 minutes. They are ready when they are just set. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Poaching eggs takes practice, but if you’re not striving for perfection it’s fairly easy. Bring one inch of water to a boil in a sauce pan and add one teaspoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Break the egg into a small bowl, one at a time, and slip them gently into the simmering water. Cover the skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and serve on toast.
There is something sweet and dainty about eating soft boiled eggs from an egg cup. It’s a delicate procedure that I find really satisfying. So often, I find myself rushing through breakfast. It’s nice to slow down and really enjoy the simplicity of eating the egg out of it shell. The best way to boil an egg is to fill a sauce pan with enough water to cover the eggs and not to crowd the pan with eggs. The water has to circulate around each egg. poke a hole in the big end of the egg with a pin. This relieves pressure and keeps the egg from cracking. Use a spoon to lower the egg into the water. Boil for 4-5 minutes and remove from the boiling water and briefly run under cold water. Use a knife to crack the top of the egg and scoop out with a spoon.
Making hard boiled eggs is the same procedure as above but you boil them for 10-12 minutes. If you want really well done yolks, boil for 15 minutes. After you’ve finished boiling them, immerse the eggs in cold water for a minute or two. This cools them off rapidly and pulls the cooked egg away from the shell, making it easier to peel.