Thursday, September 27, 2012

Green Eggs (and pasta?)

Before this even gets started, I must implore you: If you ever have a child in a Dr. Seuss phase, and you want to make him/her Green Eggs (+/- Ham), you must promise that you will never ever ever try to stir pesto into beaten eggs and scramble them.  Bad things happen to good eggs when you do that.  (They don't taste that bad, but they are so visually unappealing that you want to unsee them.)

Little Gurgly isn't really in a Dr. Seuss phase yet, but I made green eggs anyway.  I started by making a very slight variation of this recipe from 101 cookbooks. It was a great quick dinner for Mister and Little Gurgly a few nights ago while I met friends for dinner.  I was bummed out about missing it, but I figured it was a good night to make that since I'm trying to limit how much grain I eat.  As I taste-tested the sauce, I *really* wished I had made it a different night so I could have some.  I simply *had* to figure out a way to share in this goodness.  I had leftover sauce, and today I came up with exactly what to do with it.  I used it as a base for baked eggs.  And Oh my goodness...what a great idea.  I do wish that my egg had been just a little less done, so there would have been a bit of yolk to mix in with the sauce...but then again, without a slice of buttered toast to mop it up, what good is a runny yolk, anyway?  The sauce lends a nicely seasoned verdant flavor to the dish, and gives it a bit more substance.  You could substitute spinach for the kale, but I don't imagine it would be quite as good since the kale is a bit sturdier texturally.

Green Pasta Sauce (barely adapted from 101 cookbooks)
1 large bunch kale, double washed and roughly chopped (I used lacinato, aka Tuscan or dinosaur, kale)
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 oz goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil (or broth) as needed for consistency
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional, but adds a nice brightness to the dish)

Boil a large pot of water, salted to taste.  If you will use the sauce for pasta, boil enough that you can cook the pasta in the same pot.  Add the onions and boil for about five minutes, then add the garlic and kale to the pot.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until the kale is nicely wilted and soft.  Be sure to test an onion for softness also.  Scoop out the vegetables with a strainer (I used a Chinese "spider" type strainer) and add to the bowl of your food processor.  If you are using this sauce for pasta, add the pasta now and cook per package directions.

Give the contents of the food processor a quick pulse, scrape down the sides, and pulse again.  Add the goat cheese and pulse once more.  Taste and adjust seasoning (it will most definitely need pepper, and will probably also need some salt).  If the vegetables were drained very well, it may need a little moisture, so add some olive oil, broth, or even some pasta water to thin to desired consistency.  Drain pasta when complete, toss pasta with sauce, and serve.

Baked Green Eggs
4 large eggs
1 cup of green pasta sauce (recipe above)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray four ramekins with cooking spray (bottom and sides).  Add 1/4 cup of green pasta sauce to each ramekin.  Crack one egg into each cup, over the sauce.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Check for doneness by giving the ramekin  a little shake.  When it is done you will not see any egg white jiggle on the top. (If you want a runny yolk and are okay with a little jiggle in the white of the egg, take it out as you like it.)  Serve in ramekin, on a plate, with a side of toast and/or fruit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Savory-sweet Microwave Baked Apples

I'm not sure how I did this, but I just blurred the lines between salad and dessert, and am eating it for breakfast.

I'm currently (and temporarily) avoiding grain.  This sucks most at breakfast, especially in the early fall when I'm done with smoothies and none of the fruit is that good in a smoothie anyway.  I so want a warm bowl of scratch-made oatmeal, or a spicy-nutty granola bar.  Their time will come, but in the meantime, I have had to get creative to avoid egg monotony. 

I've been eating a lot of apples since it is just that time of year, and my grain-less evening snacks have often consisted of raw apples with nut butter, or microwaved baked apples with cinnamon, or dried cranberries in the place of the core.  But this morning, I had a revelation: stuff the apple with cheese for a little more "staying power" and a little less sweet than I want first thing in the morning.  I love apples with cheese (Oh, who am I kidding? I love everything with cheese), and sharp cheddar is always a good pairing for an apple.  But I also really enjoy those autumnal salads that include apples, nuts, dried fruit, and blue cheese on a bed of greens.  I bought gorgonzola dolce this week as it was on sale (along with the apples and pears that are now in season) and decided that this would be my cheese of choice.  Gorgonzola dolce is a semi-soft blue cheese, similar in consistency to a brie or camembert. It is sweeter and softer than standard gorgonzola, with a little less funk due to the shorter aging process, and is well-suited for this sweetish preparation.

I kept it simple this time with just the apples and cheese, because it is first thing in the morning and I didn't want to fuss, but this could be taken in so many different directions.  This could be presented as a salad course, perched on a bed of lightly dressed baby spinach (with perhaps the aforementioned dried fruit, candied nuts, or maybe some croutons), or as a first course with crostini for spreading the softened cheese and apple.  I immediately thought of a balsamic reduction being delicious with this combination.  It could be made into a simple but sophisticated dessert with a drizzle of good honey, and maybe sweet bread toast (I'm thinking the kind of date-nut bread that often accompanies a cheese course).  Of course, it could be baked in the oven instead, but I've chosen to microwave it in this case and it came out wonderfully.

Savory-sweet Microwave Baked Apples

1 apple (mine was a Cripps Pink)
1-1.5 oz gorgonzola dolce

Core the apple, leaving the peel intact. Microwave in a bowl for 2 minutes, uncovered.  Remove from microwave and stuff gorgonzola into the hole where the core was.  You are looking for it to be a little bit overstuffed and the cheese becomes almost liquid when melted.  Return to microwave for an additional 20-30 seconds, until cheese has melted.