Tag Archives: eggs

So we beat on, boats against the current

There’s new scaffolding up by the New York Life building. This time it’s far more imposing and permanent.  Walking home late the other night, I noticed it and that it half obstructs the old “Interboro Subway Line” sign. A relic of the past, certainly, but a personal anchor, nonetheless.

At the very least, I liked seeing it.

Thankfully the neon glasses on 27th street are still there, bright as ever, reminding me at of Dr.T. J. Eckleburg.

Even so, there’s no doubt about it—the neighborhood is changing, again. If you can even call it a neighborhood, which I don’t suppose you can, since it’s mostly hotels and office buildings, but it suits me. And, it’s home.

You can’t stop progress.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this cake and the story behind it for more than a month now.

Time gets away from me.

And, so, to go back to December 2011—each year, I cook my mother an elaborate birthday dinner. I’ve talked about it here before. It’s an all day affair. Think: cosmopolitans with freshly squeezed key lime juice, risotto, any manner of dessert, well, you get the idea. This year, however, owing to a new job with a different vacation policy, I only had a few days off around the end of the year which, among other things, meant less time visiting my family and by extension, less time to cook.

I suppose, then, my mother can be forgiven for suggesting that I make her birthday cake from boxed mix. Yes, boxed mix. I was incredulous—definitely not a good way to start a birthday meal. I couldn’t help it, for a birthday it seemed to defeat the whole purpose.

For me, cooking, opening up my table, is an act of respect and affection. The whole point is taking the time out, of telling someone that they’re worth the extra time and steps it takes to make something from scratch. So, a boxed mix simply wouldn’t do. Not for the occasion and certainly for my mother. After all, she was the woman who taught that baking was a meditation of sorts. To this day, when things get stressful, she takes out her measuring cups.

It’s getting cold here and the work shows no signs of abating. I’ve taken to leaving my own measuring cups on the counter, rather than putting them away.

Make of that what you will.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
Adapted from here

For the Cake
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract, divided
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cup boiling water

For the ganache
18 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp butter, cut up
1 tsp vanilla

To Make the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Dust with flour, tap out excess.

In a large bowl, beat together 3/4 cup butter and sugar with electric mixer or medium speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat until well blended. Add melted chocolate and beat 1-2 minutes; set aside.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture in two additions alternately with buttermilk. Beat until well blended. With mixer on low speed, add boiling water and beat until smooth (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes, then unmold onto racks and let cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate Ganache:
In a 2 quart glass measure, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream. Heat in a microwave oven on HIGH 3 minutes or until melted and smooth when stirred. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, or until ganache holds its shape and is thick enough to spread on cake.

To Assemble the Cake:
Cover a cake layer with a little more than 1/3 of chocolate ganache. Set second layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining ganache. Refrigerate cake 3-4 hours, or until ganache is firm, before serving.

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Wherein I reveal a little more about myself.

Remember how smug I was when it came to baking extra cake for the New Year, Same Us brunch?

About that. I think it’s time I come clean, lest you think that I’m completely insufferable.

There’s something very important that you should know about me. Once I’ve had a few drinks, I begin planning elaborate events. And, so, although I had toyed with the idea of hosting a New Year’s Day brunch for a few weeks before making any sort of decision, it was only two days before that I was willing to commit. I was at another party that I had helped plan and keeping track of my wine glasses solely by the charms on them.

I’m reminded here of that famous Mark Twain quote, Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That’ll teach you to keep your mouth shut.

I’m overstating here, as I was making plans and really just looking for a reason to take the leap. If you’ve been reading along here, I’m sure that my love of brunch is apparent. But, I knew that hosting one on New Year’s Day would mean waking up early to make sure that everything was just so because who wants to start their year off with lukewarm eggs and soggy bacon? And, I wasn’t confident in my ability to do so—on most weekends I’m not. It seemed wise that I should plan for any and all contingencies. And, so: strada.

Do you know about this? It’s essentially a savory bread pudding. It’s rich although adaptable—you can make it with milk if heavy cream seems a bit much. It’s infinitely adaptable and—mind you, this is the best part—it needs to be made at least eight hours ahead. In other words, this is the ultimate brunch dish. On the day of, all you need to do is let it warm to room temperature while your oven is heating. Then you can enjoy it with your guests. And, isn’t that the whole point of brunch, anyway?

Acorn Squash and Kale Strada

3 cups kale, with stems removed
1 acorn squash, diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 cup water
3 TBS olive oil, plus an additional 1 tsp reserved for greasing the baking dish
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups french bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste

The night before:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the acorn squash with 2 TBS olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the pieces are beginning to get soft and brown, 30-45 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

While the squash is baking, place a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Once it was warmed, add in the onion and the thyme and saute until the onion is translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in the kale and stir. Add 1/4 water to the skillet and allow the kale to steam until it has wilted, covering as necessary, and stirring occasionally. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, heavy cream, and nutmeg, whisking until the eggs have all been combined. Set aside.

Using the remaining oil, butter a shallow oven safe baking dish. Spread one third of the bread cubes at the bottom of the baking dish. Top evenly with one third of the kale, one third of the acorn squash, and one third of the grated cheddar. Repeat the process twice, ending with the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over evenly over the layered bread and vegetables and cover the baking dish with plastic wrap. Chill for at least eight ours.

Day Of
30 minutes before you are ready to bake the strada, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the strada from the refrigerator. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and bake, uncovered, in the middle rack of your oven until the strada has turned golden brown, puffed up and cooked completely through. This will take 45-55 minutes. Allow the strada to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves twelve

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This is not a blog post*

I’m fairly certain that only three words are necessary here: Gooey Butter Cake.

If I were you, I’d skip all the way to the bottom of this post, straight to the recipe.

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to miss much.

I’ll wax rhapsodic for a while about how, as I was cooking, I kept sneaking tastes of the cake until I was concerned that I might not be hungry at all when my main dish was ready. Then, I might make a joke.

I’ll tell you about how, some sort of alchemy happens when the cake bakes, so, despite the short ingredient list, there’s a rich and deep flavor. Think cotton candy mixed with creme brulee. If you didn’t know what went into the cake—butter, sugar, flour; the basics, really—you would think that it had to have a secret ingredient. Your guests will. Indeed, this is one of those things like whole wheat chocolate chip cookies or the bacon pizza at the Famous Ray’s on 9th Avenue in Chelsea where the sum is better than its parts. I’ll go on a little bit about this.

And, after a few paragraphs, I’ll ultimately conclude that, while everything I’ve said is true, it also simply doesn’t do justice to St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. It’s one of those things that you really just have to try yourself.

So, what are you waiting for?

*With apologies to René Magritte.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
Recipe courtesy of
The New York Times

For the Cake:
3 TBS Whole Milk, at room temperature
1 3/4 tsps active dry yeast
6 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature
3 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:
3 TBS plus 1 tsp light corn syrup
2 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
12 TBS (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 TBS all-purpose flour

In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly.

Cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Beat dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.

Press dough into an ungreased 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap, set in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is heating, prepare the topping. In a small bowl, mix corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.

Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done.

Makes 16-20 servings

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We’re problem solvers here

By now, my love of brunch has been well documented as have my not quite disasters.*

*hangs head in shame



Which is all to say that, while I have the starch part of brunch mastered, I’ve been struggling a bit with serving eggs—there’s the whole business of keeping them warm without overcooking them (no small task when you like your eggs as runny as I do). My poached eggs come out, well, disappointingly, to put it mildly. And, that’s when they come out at all. Although I’ve masted the art of the Frittata, my omelettes always end up as scrambled eggs with stuff in them. My fried eggs? I can cook great ones just for me. When there’s company, it’s all pear shaped.

Now you know.

But, I have a solution: Shakshua, which aside from having a hard to pronounce name, has the selling point of being flavorful and easy to prepare. The eggs poach gently, in a sauce base, so there’s no worry about fishing them out at the end. And, it comes together fairly quickly. Really, it’s a matter of simmering and a little bit of patience. In other words, you can prepare it while enjoying your mimosas and your guests.

Now you have no excuse not to make eggs.

Shakshuka
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 jalapeno peppers, diced with ribs and seeds removed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 water
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Warmed bread, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles, red pepper flakes, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook another 2 minutes, until the garlic has softened.

Add the tomatoes and water to the skillet, and reduce the heat to medium. Stir occasionally, and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly. This should take about 15 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Crack the eggs, one by one, into a small bowl or cup and pour them over the sauce, taking care to distribute them evenly across the sauce’s surface. Cover the skillet and cook the eggs until the yolks are just set, approximately 5 minutes. Uncover and baste the egg whites with the tomato sauce to ensure they are fully cooked.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with bread for dipping.

Serves 4 to 6

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Yolky Carnage

Remember that long ago brunch? The one where my family thought I was crazy for attempting to make bagels?

I have to admit, I was worried that they might be right.

So, I had a back-up plan. First, I would have much more food than necessary, just in case the bagels were an epic fail. Second, my sister would be on call to buy bagels from the store down the street from me. I’m all for being prepared.

A good thing no doubt, because, while the bagels were a smashing success, my eggs were not. Look closely at the photos and you’ll see that muffin liners in the set-up shots are not the ones that made it onto the table.

About that—it turns out that my natural impulse to focus on the presentation might not always guide me in the right direction. I had purchased what I thought were elegant liners that would make it easy to serve the eggs individually.

I was brilliant!

I’d serve elegant plates of food and be relaxed because the eggs would all be cooked at the same time my guests arrived. They’d be so impressed! I was on my way to being the best host ever.

Right.

Instead, I learned an important lesson: pan liners designed for thick batters, like, say, cake, should not under any circumstances be used for liquid-y (yes, that’s the technical term) things like eggs. Sure, you could try. But, you’ll likely end up with a baking try covered in half cooked eggs. While you’re frantically begging your sister (who was on call, thankfully) to go get more eggs at the deli next door.

Take comfort in the fact that the resulting egg cups, which you’ve had to make twice because of the snafu, are indeed delicious. And, really easy. Assuming that you remember that you can’t make them all pretty with decorative cups. Trust me on this one. It’s not going to be easy to clean. Instead, simply grease your muffin tin well. Your guests will be impressed and you’ll be much, much more relaxed.

Egg Cups with Broccoli and Cheddar

12 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups broccoli
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Olive Oil for brushing your muffin tin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, grease the muffin tins with olive oil.

Steam or microwave the broccoli so that it is bright green and tender. Set aside. Combine the eggs, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and whisk together.

Divide the broccoli and cheddar cheese evenly among the muffin tins. Set aside 1/2 cup of the cheddar.

Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tins, so that each tin is approximately 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for 30-35 minutes, rotating half way through and topping with the remaining cheddar cheese. Serve immediately once the eggs have set.

Makes twelve

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Baking Fail (Macarons, Take #4)

And so the Year of the French Macaron slowly trudges along.

Trudges, yes.

I’m sorry to report this latest batch was a resounding failure. Ironic, given that, at least according to the Huffington Post, chocolate macarons should have been easier to make.

It’s hard to say what went wrong here. I suspect that, with the addition of so much cocoa powder, the batter was too thick. Less lava, more brownie. So, back to the drawing board on this one.

But, lest you lose hope, all isn’t lost. These cookies are excellent in their own right. The coffee and cinnamon enhance the chocolate flavor, making it taste deeper and richer, and the chipotle finishes it with a nice kick.

Try it and report back. If your cookies end up with feet, let me know what you did to achieve them.

And, last but, not least: a quick housekeeping note: there are some big changes afoot here. All good, I assure you, but they’ll be keeping me busy. So if there’s a little radio silence from me, stay turned. I’ll be back and cooking again very soon.

Spiced Chocolate Cookies
Or, the Macarons that weren’t

3 egg whites
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 TBS coffee, cooled
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a food processor, blend the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together, about 2 minutes, until the mixture is well blended and well combined. Sift it, adding in the cinnamon, chipotle powder, and cocoa and set aside.

Heat your egg whites in a microwave for 15 seconds. Then, using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they’re foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, still whisking, until the whites reach medium soft peaks.

Sprinkle half of the almond/cocoa/confectioners’ sugar mixture over the beaten egg whites and fold until just incorporated. Then add the rest, folding until everything is combined. Fold in the coffee. Tap the bottom of your mixing bowl against the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag and pipe the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Each cookie should be 1.5″ in diameter and at least 1/2″ apart.

Allow the cookies to rest for at least 30 minutes, until they are no longer tacky when touched.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until the cookies are slightly firm to the touch and can be lifted from the parchment, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the baking sheets and allow to cool completely.

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These are a few of my favorite things (Macarons, Take #3)

Slowly but surely, I’m on my way to perfecting my Macaron making technique. Make no mistake, I still have a ways to go&amp&#!51we’ll say nothing of the tray of cookies that shattered, or meringue that never quite stiffened enough as to do so would be impolite. I will mention that I’ve had no kitchen fires, yet. Or rather not because due to a tray of Macarons (good enough in my book).

And, each mishap has led me a little closer to the ideal and to some interesting discoveries, as reflected in the updated recipe below.

As with most things, it turns out that little things do make a big difference, like microwaving the egg whites for a short time before beating them and grounding the nut/confectioner’s sugar mixture in a food processor before incorporating it into the ggs. Not necessary steps by any means, but worth it, I’d say.

Anyway, I’m not quite there yet. But I’m close enough to getting the technique that I’m ready to experiment with flavors.

For me, could only mean one thing. It was time to try out another one of my favorite flavor combinations: pistachio, cardamom, and rosewater.

At the outset, I found myself a bit stymied. Not from the technique or original recipe, but rather because of an ingredient.

I first learned of Dumante, a pistachio liqueur, a little over a year ago, when I had been gifted a bottle.

Sadly, that bottle came and went as bottles of liqueur frequently do. When I went to replace it, I discovered that not a single liquor store in Manhattan sold it. Or, at least not a single store that I visited had it. And I visited plenty. (Don’t cry for me quite yet—I was able to stock up on another favorite thing so all wasn’t lost.)


I’m sure that almond extract would make a fine substitution. But, I’m a purist, and, I have high hopes that it will warm up soon so that I can make this ice cream again.

Ultimately, I resorted to the internet. Worth it, I think. But, if that’s not your thing, as noted above, almond extract should do the trick.

That said, mine were delicious, if a little imperfect.

Pistachio Cardamom Macarons with Rosewater Icing

Before you get started, note that this variation of Macarons, even more than most, tastes much better the next day. The rosewater icing blends with the cookies, losing a little of its perfume-like punch, and instead providing a delicate floral note at the end of your bite.

To make the macarons:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 finely ground pistachios
3 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS Dumante
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Food coloring (optional)
Rosewater frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a food processor, blend the ground pistachio and confectioners’ sugar together, about 2 minutes, until the mixture is well blended and well combined. Sift it, adding in the ground cardamom and set aside.

Heat your egg whites in a microwave for 15 seconds. Then, using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they’re foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, still whisking, until the whites reach medium soft peaks. Add the food coloring, if you’re using it, and whisk until well incorporated. Also whisk in the Dumante.

Sprinkle half of the pistachio mixture over the beaten egg whites and fold until just incorporated. Then add the rest, folding until everything is combined. Tap the bottom of your mixing bowl against the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag and pipe the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Each cookie should be 1.5″ in diameter and at least 1/2″ apart.

Allow the cookies to rest for at least 30 minutes, until they are no longer tacky when touched.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until macarons are slightly firm to the touch and can be lifted from the parchment, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the baking sheets and allow to cool completely.

To make the Rosewater icing:
1 egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp rosewater
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 drop red food coloring (optional)

In a heatproof bowl set over simmer water, combine the egg whites, rosewater, red food coloring, if you’re using it, and the granulated sugar. Cook, whisking constantly with a handheld electric mixer, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Remove the egg-white mixture from the heat and beat it on high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Then, continue beating until the mixture has cooled and is fluffy, about 6 minutes.

At this point, add in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing to combine.

To assemble to macarons:
Once the cookies have cooled, spread approximately 2 teaspoons of icing on the flatsides of half of the cookies. Sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down.

Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies

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