A simple treat that I’ve been enjoying a lot lately is figs with melted blue cheese, drizzled with honey. It’s a really quick and luxurious side dish or appetizer. Turn on the broiler in your oven and slice figs lengthwise. Place them in a baking dish face up and put a healthy slice of blue cheese on top. Put them in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese, it only takes about a minute. After the cheese is melted, remove them from the oven and drizzle with honey. It is a really fancy seeming dish that takes all of five minute to prepare. Go ahead, treat yourself!
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.
I recently tasted kumquats for the first time. It was a deliciously intense experience. I became interested in trying kumquats after watching some moms give their little kids some to snack on. The moms were happily munching away at the fruit while the kids made the best sour faces I’ve ever seen and immediately spat them out. Their little faces were all puckered up, brows furrowed, eyes squinted tightly shut, and cheeks turned inward. It was hilarious and I knew I had to give kumquats a try.
After I bought some kumquats I had to do a little research to figure out how to eat them. Turns out it’s pretty simple, just pop the whole thing in your mouth. Kumquats are a citrus fruit about the size of a grape, so it’s not a big mouthful. But that tiny fruit packs a punch. The outer rind has a very delicate sweet flavor and the inside flesh is extremely tart. Together they balance out to a nice sweet-and-sour flavor.
The taste took some getting used to but I really began to love the extreme flavor. Plus, they have an amazingly refreshing aftertaste. I love trying out new fruits; if you haven’t experienced kumquats, give them a try sometime!
My birthday was this past week and my sweetie took me out for a lovely dinner at Gather Restaurant in Berkeley. Gather specializes in local and organic Californian Cuisine that can satisfy everyone, from vegan to carnivore. With such a commitment to sustainability you might think they would be a little precious about their food (tiny servings, weird combinations) but Gather does sustainable gourmet that delights your taste buds and leaves you with a full belly and a smile.
Andrew and I split an appetizer, entree, salad, and dessert and It was more than enough food for us both. We started off with mushroom bruschetta which was surprisingly rich and extreamly flavorful. For the main course we ordered roasted duck with pesto on a bed of duck sausage and pureed artichoke. The duck was so tender and the flavors so complex that I had to close my eyes to concentrate on the taste. The kale salad with roasted carrots, capers, and almonds was a perfect complement to the duck. For dessert we had hazelnut chocolate cake with cashew-cinnamon “ice cream.” The meal was truly amazing and I enjoyed every mouthwatering bite.
Along with the amazing dinner we had a few fancy cocktails. Delicious dinner, yummy drinks and great company: what more could a girl want on her birthday? Dinner at Gather was real treat. If your looking for a nice evening out in the Bay Area, I recommend you give it a try!
Sunday brunch is the best. Breakfast foods are my favorite and Sunday brunch is the one meal of the week that I can really indulge my love of pastries, eggs, and pancakes. This weekend my friends Justin and Katie were visiting from Seattle and I invited them over for brunch. It was the perfect opportunity to make a big-ass breakfast.
On the menu were banana bread muffins, soft boiled eggs, with strawberries, blood oranges, and raspberries. I’ve had my eye on a recipe over at Pinch My Salt for cheddar and parmesan scones and used this brunch as an opportunity to try them out. Boy, oh boy they were tasty. Not surprising when the main ingredients are cheese and butter. Plus! The scones have my favorite hot sauce in them: Sriracha. Really, its a winning combination.
It was a lot of food… but hey, brunch counts for two meals. Between the muffins, fruit, and spicy cheese scones there was a good balance of flavors and the variety kept the meal interesting. Good job, me.
We all ate our fill and then took a nice long walk around Berkeley. Brunch with friends is really a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
I’ve been tinkering with a banana bread recipe and I’ve got it where I like it. There’s just enough fruit and veggies in it to make it seem like a nourishing breakfast item, but it’s still breakfast cake in its truest form. Here’s the recipe I used for my muffins:
Banana Brunch Muffins
- 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 grated carrot
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, egg, and vanilla. Then mix grated carrot, cranberries, and sunflower seeds.
- Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
- Add the flour, mix.
- Pour into a greased muffin pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. The muffins are finished when the fork comes out clean.
Living in the Bay Area is amazing but I miss North Carolina. I was born and raised in North Carolina and moved to the Bay Area after college. The Bay Area has some of the best and most diverse food in the world, but to to remedy homesickness I make southern food. There’s nothing more comforting than fried chicken in my book.
I’m more of Southern chef now that I live in California than I ever was in NC. I never made cornbread or fried chicken when I was living in back home. (Granted, I didn’t do much cooking at all in college.) In NC, southern food is the norm; if anything, it’s harder to avoid than find. Here in the Bay Area it’s quite the opposite. Obviously, it’s not the South but there are a lot of us here! You would think it would be easier to find a good buttermilk biscuit in this town. Sheesh.
When I picked up my CSA box this week I was excited to see that collard greens were included. Then I noticed the potatoes and remember that I had some chicken in the fridge and I knew then what must be done… fried chicken, with collard greens, and mashed potatoes! Heck yes!
Did I mention I love fried chicken? Because I L-O-V-E fried chicken. After being a vegetarian for almost six years it was fried chicken that brought me back. I’m still learning how to fry chicken but I must say this was a pretty delicious attempt. The mash potatoes were creamy and soothing and the collards were the perfect complement. It tasted like home. My southern boy was happy too; he didn’t stop smiling the whole way through dinner.
What food reminds you of home?
Berkeley has many culinary treasures but one of my favorite is brunch at the Thai Buddhist Temple. It is a unique experience that draws a huge crowd every Sunday. Thai brunch is a fundraiser for the temple but it has become a Berkeley institution. It is extremely popular and tops the list of places to take visitors to give them a real Berkeley experience.
The food is served cafeteria style in a courtyard behind the temple. There is a wide selection to choose from and it is all tasty and cheap. Tents, folding tables, and chairs make up the dining area but it is often so crowded that diners spill into the front yard to sit in the grass. It is a bit chaotic but it’s a lot of fun. The temple is tucked in a neighborhood in South Berkeley and I am lucky enough to live around the corner!
This weekend my friends Stephanie and Dakota came over from San Francisco to have a taste of Thailand with me. We got there late, so there were long lines and they were starting to run out of entrees but we were still able to get a good selection of vegetarian curries. Seating was limited, so we took the food back to my apartment to enjoy it on the back porch. It has been unseasonably warm and sunny, so it was a great day for some porch sittin’. The lovely weather and sharing good food with friends made for an excellent Sunday.
If you’re ever in Berkeley on Sunday, I recommend you swing by the temple and give Thai Brunch a try!