Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs

I’ve really been too busy lately to do much blogworthy cooking, but when we got spring onions, asparagus and mint in our first CSA box of the year, I immediately began to think about what I could do with it.  After a brief perusal of my pantry and fridge, it didn’t take much thought to come up with salad.  Quinoa salad.

Unbelievably, fantabulously delicious quinoa salad.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this.  So fresh, so wonderfully tasty.  We had it for Sunday brunch, topped with poached eggs, but it would be great as a salad on its own, with all of the vinaigrette and the green onions tossed in (this is how I ate the leftovers I hogged for myself) and perhaps topped with some thinly sliced steak or grilled chicken breast.

The vinaigrette may sound weird, but it’s actually really, really good, and would work quite well on any green salad.

Make this. Eat this.  Love this.

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs. Make this. Eat this. Love this.

Click the image to enlarge

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias, tips left intact
  • 1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon mild honey
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 green onions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
  • 5 large [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/poached-eggs/” target=”_blank”]poached eggs[/url]
Instructions
  1. Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute in boiling salted water; drain and place in ice water to halt the cooking. Drain again and gently pat dry.
  2. Whisk together the honey and white wine vinegar until smooth. Continue whisking while adding the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the grated eggs. Set aside 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, asparagus, parsley, cilantro, mint and all but the reserved 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Taste; season as needed with additional salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the salad between 5 plates. Top each with a poached egg; sprinkle with the sliced scallions and drizzle with the reserved vinaigrette.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 438 calories, 30.5g total fat, 259.6mg cholesterol, 194.7mg sodium, 597.1mg potassium, 28.2g carbohydrates, 5.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 15.7g protein

Fennel Breakfast Sausage

Another recipe!  Yay!

We’ve taken the last two weeks off from work, and considering the fact we haven’t had a real vacation since we got married (6 years ago today – Happy Anniversary Jan and Beloved), we really, really needed it.  Having all this time off has given us plenty of time to do wildly fun things like clean the garage,  stack 2/3 of a cord of firewood we had delivered, clean out one of our freezers and pressure can massive amounts of chicken and beef bone broths.

We live on the wild side, we do.

At any rate, it’s also given me the time (and more importantly, the motivation) to do some actual cooking.

When we first began buying whole, humanely raised, antibiotic-free hogs (has it been nearly 4 years?  It has), we had a good portion of the ground pork made into fresh sausage.  While the sausage blends that Whitefeather Meats offers are just delicious (I’m especially fond of their chorizo and hot Italian sausages), it does cost extra on top of the normal processing fees and you’re limited as to what kind of sausage you have in your freezer.

It took me two hogs to decided to get all of the ground portions of our hogs as just plain ground pork.  That way, I have plenty of unseasoned meat for things like burgers and meatloaves, and when I’m in the mood for a certain kind of fresh sausage, all I have to do is mix it up.  Really, it’s hardly any more trouble than opening a package and you control the ingredients you use, as well as the proportions.

I made this as part of our brunch New Year’s morning and boy, oh, boy – it is some of the best breakfast sausage we’ve had lately.  It is just so good!  In fact, while we were scarfing it down, Beloved said, “You know…this would be really good on a pizza.”  Like most men, he loves pizza, but he’s right – if you’re inclined to eat a pizza with sausage on it, this would be a marvelous choice.  It would also make a pretty darn good base for a meatzza, as well.

If you don’t eat pork, this would work well with ground turkey or lamb.  Omit the maple syrup, which is optional, and it’s Whole30 compliant, too.

Fennel Breakfast Sausage. Making your own breakfast sausage at home couldn't be easier; this sweet and savory version is just delicious.

Click the image to enlarge

Fennel Breakfast Sausage
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix. Using your hands, form the sausage into eight 2-inch patties.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly fry the sausage until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 329 calories, 24.2g total fat, 81.7mg cholesterol, 770.6mg sodium, 371.1mg potassium, 7.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 6.1g sugar, 19.4g protein

Ham and Cheese Quiche

You know, I could get used to this empty nest thing.  It was kind of nice this weekend; we picked up our eggs as well as a double share of our CSA Saturday morning (we are flying to Vegas to visit Darling Daughter Thursday afternoon and won’t be able to get the last share of the season) and spent most of Saturday afternoon and early evening processing what will freeze/can/keep well.

Sunday we did a whole lot of nothing, if you can count watching movies and television (we started Orange is the New Black on Netflix) and crocheting “nothing.”  I did make us a late brunch, which consisted of the last watermelon of the season (“G always tells me, ‘No seeds in my watermelon, Meema!'” “That’s because Papa hasn’t taught him how to spit them yet”), zucchini fritters with homemade ketchup, and this recipe.

Not the most innovative meal I’ve ever made, but the quiche?  She is delicious.  And pretty darn easy to boot – what more could you ask for?

This has a ton of dairy in it – I used vat-pasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk with a great deal of the cream in it (which is why the recipe calls for half and half) and some beautiful aged, raw milk cheddar.  My sinuses weren’t happy about it later, but it was well worth it.  You can, of course, leave out the cheese and substitute full-fat coconut milk and it will still be quite good, as well as Whole30 compliant if your ham has no added sugars or nitrates.

Ham and Cheese Quiche. Ham and cheese are a perfect combination, especially paired with onions, leeks, peppers and made into a delicious, crustless quiche!

Click the image to enlarge

Ham and Cheese Quiche
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cubed cooked ham
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a 10″ deep dish pie plate.
  2. Melt the ghee or butter in a large sauté pan over medium low heat and cook the onion and leek until soft and fragrant; stir in the bell pepper and ham. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt and pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Spread the onion and ham mixture over the bottom of the buttered pie plate and scatter the cheese evenly over the top. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie plate and carefully transfer to the oven (the dish will be very full).
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned on top and a knife inserted in the center of the quiche comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 348 calories, 26.6g total fat, 251.6mg cholesterol, 1039.4mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 9.1g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 2.6g sugar, 18.2g protein

Breakfast Enchiladas

Well, hello there.

Yes, I’m back.  I didn’t post last week at all; I just couldn’t find the energy/time/inclination to do so.  It’s been a really strange, stressful summer – thank goodness it’s almost over.  I’d like to say it IS over and had fully planned to come back today with a post announcing I’d gotten my mojo back, but several unbloggable events over the course of the weekend, and the fact that I’m fighting off a particularly nasty stomach bug, have made me hesitant to think that, much less say it.

I’d really, really like to put this all past me – I’ll tell you what I can tomorrow – so I’m going to go ahead and act as if I have.  Fake it till you make it, and all that.

So.  The Young One came home for Labor Day weekend and after discovering that because he doesn’t want to get up early enough to actually go eat breakfast and had spent the week scarfing down Pop Tarts every morning (see?  THIS is what I’d been worrying about), I decided to send him back to school with an armload of breakfast tacos that he could microwave in the morning before making his zombie-like way to class.

It was a good strategy, but it left me with a dozen corn tortillas once I’d made enough tacos to stuff the freezer portion of his mini-fridge with something that resembled actual food.  Now, I like a good breakfast taco as much as the next person, I suppose, but why make tacos when you can make enchiladas?

So I did.

And they were muy bueno.

I am, in fact, lucky I got any at all, considering the way Beloved sucked them down.  Even the leftovers.

Please note that you don’t want the eggs to be completely cooked when scrambling, because they are going to cook some more once they go into the oven.  I’ve also included directions for softening the tortillas in the microwave before filling, as opposed to the traditional method of softening them in lard or oil, in an attempt to keep the calorie count somewhere in the realm of reasonable – and this isn’t a low calorie dish to begin with.

It is, however, a really nice occasional indulgence that is great served with fresh fruit and maybe even a Bellini. 😉

Note:  This can be assembled the prior evening and refrigerated overnight, so all you have to do is bake it in the morning.  Also, if you make your enchilada sauce with olive oil and vegetable stock, as opposed to lard and chicken stock, this will be vegetarian friendly, too.

Breakfast Enchiladas. Perfect for Sunday brunch, this easy-to-make casserole can be assembled the night before.

Click the image to enlarge

Breakfast Enchiladas
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 recipe [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 12 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium poblano chile, seeded and diced
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large, heavy skillet melt the butter over medium-low heat and cook the onion, bell pepper and poblano chile until the vegetables are soft and the onion is golden.
  3. Increase the heat slightly and add the beaten eggs to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggs are softly scrambled, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Wrap the tortillas in a large, clean kitchen towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Turn the bundle over and microwave for another 30 seconds.
  5. Working quickly and carefully, fill the tortillas with the egg mixture and roll into a cylinder shape; place each enchilada seam-side down in a large glass baking dish. Pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas and top with the cheese.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the eggs are completely set.
  7. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 545 calories, 30g total fat, 418.4mg cholesterol, 495.2mg sodium, 828.1mg potassium, 43.1g carbohydrates, 6.2g fiber, 9.4g sugar, 27g protein

 

Eggs Blackstone

Life is very, very stressful for me right now, some of which is unbloggable, and some I’ll tell you about soon.  But if I don’t get some time to decompress in the very near future, my head may pop right off my shoulders.  There is just so much going on.

I haven’t had much opportunity to do much in the way of “creative” cooking lately, and that’s part of my problem – it’s hard to do a blog-worthy recipe when you’re constantly on the run.  But this Sunday I went out of my way to make something special for brunch, and I’m so glad I did.

Beloved is a huge Eggs Benedict fan; if you ask him what he wants as a special occasion breakfast or brunch, that will probably be his first answer.  Me?  Not so much, but I still make some version of the dish a few times a year, simply because he loves it so much.

I forget where I ran into this particular version – in the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, I believe – and have been meaning to make it for quite some time.  Now is the perfect opportunity, since the cool weather is keeping our abundant crop of tomatoes from ripening quickly.  In other words, I’ve got green tomatoes out the wazoo in the back yard, so why not fry them up?

I have to say, out of all of the versions of Eggs Benedict I’ve made over the years, this is one of my favorites, right up there with the Crab Cake Benedict.  Beloved devoured it (in fact, he devoured thirds), and while I’m not a fan of poached eggs, this was just as good with softly scrambled eggs.  Just delicious, and while it’s a tad labor-intensive, it’s a marvelous special occasion brunch paired with some fresh fruit.

Eggs Blackstone. A unique version of Eggs Benedict featuring fried green tomato slices and crumbled bacon.Click the image to enlarge

Eggs Blackstone
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 ounces bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
  • 1 recipe [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/fried-green-tomatoes/” target=”_blank”]Fried Green Tomatoes[/url]
  • 1 cup clarified butter or ghee, melted
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • kosher salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Make the Fried Green Tomatoes; set aside and keep warm.
  2. [i]Make the Hollandaise:[/i] Bring two inches of water to a simmer in the bottom half of a double boiler. Whisk the eggs with the cold water in the top half until light and foamy. Add a few drops of lemon juice and continue whisking over the simmering water until the egg yolks have begun to thicken.
  3. Begin whisking the clarified butter into the egg yolks slowly – just a few drops at a time. As an emulsion forms, begin adding the butter in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Once the butter has been completely incorporated into the egg yolks and the sauce is smooth and thickened, add the remaining lemon juice and Tabasco. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.
  4. [i]Poach the eggs:[/i] Pierce the large end of each egg with the pin about 3/8 of an inch deep; lower the eggs into a saucepan of boiling water for exactly 10 seconds, remove immediately and set aside – this will help the egg keep it’s shape during the poaching process. Pour 1/4 cup of plain, white vinegar into a wide, fairly shallow pan of simmering water; the vinegar will also help the egg retain it’s shape when poaching. Crack an egg sharply against the side of the pan and, holding the egg as closely to the surface of the simmering water as you can manage, break open the egg quickly and slide it into the water. Set a kitchen timer for 4 minutes and quickly repeat with the remaining eggs.
  5. Increase the heat slightly if you need to in order to keep the water simmering, and when the 4 minutes is up, remove the eggs with the slotted spoon, one at a time, in the order you dropped them into the water – depending on how quickly you got them into the water, you shouldn’t need more than 15 seconds between each egg – and place them in a large bowl of hot water. This will help keep them warm as well as remove the taste of the vinegar.
  6. Divide the Fried Green Tomatoes between 4 plates; top with the crumbled bacon. Place a poached egg on the tomatoes and bacon, then spoon the hollandaise sauce over the egg.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 593 calories, 51.5g total fat, 399.3mg cholesterol, 957.9mg sodium, 378.4mg potassium, 11.4g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 2g sugar, 19.9g protein