My grandfather, who celebrated his birthday this week (Happy Birthday, Grandpa!), reads my blog on his Kindle only he can’t see anything past the jump. (We’ve tried to fix it; can’t figure it out.) So as a birthday treat for him, here’s a whole post in one paragraph. It’s a recipe I came up with last weekend because I had pork/fennel/garlic sausage in my fridge and I wanted to make tomato sauce with it and use that sauce to make something with eggs. I could’ve cracked eggs on top and baked it in the oven like this, but that sounded boring. So here’s what I did: I cut two sausages out of their skin, added them to a non-stick skillet with olive oil, and broke them up over medium heat until the pieces were brown all over. Then I added some chopped onion and a pinch of salt, allowed that to soften, then added 3 cloves of chopped garlic. Once that was fragrant, I added all the tomatoes out of a can of San Marzano tomatoes with a minimal amount of the liquid, plus some more salt. Then I cooked that down for a while, allowing the tomatoes to break down and the liquid to reduce, until there wasn’t any liquid at all in the pan. At that point, I added six eggs which I’d whisked together with more salt, turned the heat to high, and allowed the eggs to set, sprinkling in some grated Pecorino cheese. Gradually, I stirred the eggs around a bit and when they were just firm, I scooped everything on to a plate and served with thickly sliced bread which I’d broiled on both sides, rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with olive oil, sprinkling Pecorino on everything at the end. Voila. If you make this over the weekend, send some to my grandpa.
I didn’t experiment much in college (well, except in the ways of improvisational comedy and musical theater directing), but as an adult I’ve become a hardcore experimenter, specifically on weekend mornings when Craig’s out of town. That’s when I let my soul run free, tapping into my inner being, and cooking up whatever springs to mind. Sometimes, my ideas are pretty gross (see here); sometimes, though, I hit on something so good, it enters the repertoire. This breakfast, thankfully, falls into the latter category.
The issue was this: Craig bought the bread. Can you imagine the gall? When he’s in a relationship with one of the most important food writers of his generation, buying the bread? Without asking questions like “what kind of bread” or “should it be sliced or unsliced” just going out and buying bread? I mean, really. So there I was, on a Sunday morning, staring at a loaf of perfectly nice white bread from the Village Bakery with only one problem: he bought it sliced. If I tried to make French Toast with those individual slices, it would be super wimpy French Toast. No one likes wimpy French Toast, not even wimps.
How to transform already-sliced bread into bread thick enough for everyone’s favorite butter-fried breakfast treat? A solution suddenly appeared: I could make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and treat those like French Toast. PB&J French Toast. Genius!
Picasso had his blue period; I’m having my “smoked trout, pickled onion and kale” period right now. You may recognize these ingredients from some earlier posts this week–Fun Times with Farro, the very popular Chicken Sausage with White Beans and Kale–and now they’re all reuniting, once again, for a breakfast that had Craig and I leaping from our chairs, we enjoyed it so much.
Adam in the Bible was good at naming things, Adam the food blogger, not so much. I first called this “Caramelized Cauliflower Frittata with Onions, Cheddar and Nutmeg” then thought it was weird to emphasize the nutmeg, even though that gives you a clue as to the flavor profile. Next title was “Caramelized Cauliflower Frittata with Onions” which makes it sound very oniony though, actually, it is quite oniony: golden brown onions in with the eggs, pickled onions sprinkled on at the end. Finally I settled on “Caramelized Cauliflower Frittata” because that’s really what this is, a chance to use up leftover cauliflower on a weekend morning. And you know what? It’s one of the best breakfasts I’ve made in a long time.
Is there any dish with more rules attached to it than risotto? Watch any episode of Top Chef where someone tries to make it, and you’re bound to see someone packing their knives and going home. There are rules about the kind of rice you use (Arborio vs. Carnaroli), what kind of stock you use (dark stock, light stock) and the consistency it should have when it’s done (toothsome? pliant? mushy?). These rules matter if you’re cooking on television, but at home these rules go out the window: I’m here to tell you that risotto is a cinch to make–you can even make it with water! (something I learned watching Lidia Bastianich)–and, best of all, you can make a really good one, with bacon and egg and cheese, for breakfast.
Sorry for the slow posting this week, folks; we had to take a California Driver’s Test yesterday and, based on everything we’d heard, we had to really study for it (a very smart friend, who shall remain nameless, failed the first time he took it). As we went into the written exam, Craig said: “Whoever does better will be the ultimate victor of our relationship forevermore!” Turns out, we each passed with only two wrong. We are both victors, which sounds like an Oscar Wilde play in the making. Needless to say, no time for big, thoughtful posts; but I did post those lamb burgers on Tuesday and here’s something fun you can do with the leftovers, should you make those burgers this weekend.
It’s a new year, folks, and as the weekend approaches, it’s time to ask yourself some serious questions, specifically about how you start your day: are you tired of eating the same thing over and over again? Is it possible that your boredom reflects a boredom with your life itself? Is it time for a new job? A new spouse? A new child? Well, before you make any hasty decisions, might I suggest that you start with breakfast. Here’s one that I created based on a dish that I love at Ruen Pair (my favorite Thai place in L.A.) and, as nervous as I was to make something that I didn’t fully know how to make, the results were so astonishingly delicious, I nearly toppled my kitchen table over with my enthusiasm. We’re talking, of course, about a salty turnip omelette–a strange concept, yes, but follow my directions, and you’ll be so blissed out, you won’t even realize how much you hate your life.