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

Eggs with Mustard Sauce

I was soooo frustrated yesterday while making this for lunch.

Farm fresh eggs are extremely hard to peel when hard cooked.  You can prick the ends, add baking soda to the water, peel them under cold running water, whatever it is you do and at least half of them are going to come out a ragged mess.  The trick is to leave them in the fridge for a couple of weeks before cooking them.  So I did; in fact, I left this particular dozen in the fridge for three weeks and half of them were still a ragged mess.

Ah, well.  First world problems, and all that.

Anyhoo, this little recipe is ridiculously easy and surprisingly tasty.  As written, it is a great light lunch with some fresh fruit, which is exactly how I ate it.  May I suggest a perfectly ripe, juicy peach since they’re in season and I have a peck of them on my kitchen table?  Individually, with a tomato wedge, they’d make a marvelous appetizer or picnic fare.

The “sauce” is really just a mustard vinaigrette, but it is absolutely delicious and would make a great dressing for a salad topped with chicken or steak.

Eggs with Mustard Sauce. Tangy and delicious, this makes a great light lunch when paired with fresh fruit.

Click on the photo to enlarge

Eggs with Mustard Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives
Instructions
  1. Combine the garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar in a small bowl. Add the oil slowly, whisking it in with a fork until well blended. Set aside.
  2. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Arrange the sliced tomato on four plates; place 2 egg halves on each. Top the eggs with the mustard sauce, sprinkle with the chives, and serve.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 259 calories, 21g total fat, 373mg cholesterol, 232.5mg sodium, 252.6mg potassium, 3.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.4g sugar, 13.3g protein

Mexican Breakfast Meatzza

Happy Monday (or so I keep telling myself).  I’ve got a bit of a case of the fuzz-brain today, so just bear with me for a bit.

I got an interesting comment on Facebook this morning, re: the Baked Eggs with Ratatouille recipe.  At the beginning of that post I wrote, “It’s August 1st – welcome to Day 1 of the Whole30.”   A very nice woman pointed out that August has 31 days, and thought I’d made a typo.  I’m so glad she said something.

I automatically assumed that everyone who reads my blog understood what that meant, entirely overlooking the fact that I get a ton of traffic from Facebook/Foodgawker/Tastespotting/Photograzing etc. and not all of these people – darn few, in fact – know what the dickens a Whole30 is.

Whole30 is a very strict paleo diet protocol that one follows for at least 30 days.  By strict, I mean no grains of any kind, no sugar or sweeteners of any kind (even stevia), no dairy of any type, no legumes (including peanuts), no soy, no industrial seed oils, no white potatoes and a few I probably am missing but can’t think of right off the top of my head.  Paleo “treats” are also a no-no, as are paleofied versions of “problem foods” such as pizza.  If it sounds boring, it can be if you let it (I disagree with the reasoning behind some of the restrictions, which I’ll probably go into at a later date), but as they say – it’s just 30 days, and for the most part it is a great way to detox and take stock of your diet.

I gave up grains for the most part (gluten-bearing grains all together), cut down on dairy, eliminated refined sugars, legumes, processed soy and industrial seed oils three years ago while embracing grass-fed/pastured meats and eggs and locally grown, sustainable fruits and vegetables 3 years ago and haven’t looked back since.  I lost some weight (although not nearly enough) and my health improved vastly.

Now, having said that I have periods where I begin to “drift” – too many gluten-free baked goods, a few too many white potatoes, too much alcohol, etc.  I successfully completed a Whole30 last August, and while I didn’t see the results I’d hoped for – my biggest reason for doing it was to find some relief for the worst of my menopause symptoms (I’m 50, in case you’re new here), which was a bit of a bust – that doesn’t mean it didn’t do me any good.

Over the last six months or so, those very symptoms that were driving me so crazy last summer have greatly decreased in frequency and severity; I can only conclude that after an extremely rough five years, I’m finally on the downside of the peri-menopause mountain I’ve been climbing.  And since I know what’s coming, and have a different set of expectations this time around, I’ve decided that it certainly couldn’t hurt to do another Whole30 again this August – if I feel it is hurting me, there’s no law that says I’ve to stick it out for the entire 30 days, is there?

So, for those of you who are new or happened to stumble upon my humble little corner of the interwebz, that’s my story in a nutshell – what a Whole30 is and why I’m participating this month.  All of the recipes posted here between August 1 – 30 will be Whole30 compliant…and they will be delicious.

Anyhoo.

We had this Sunday morning; it’s the result of a suggestion from Beloved when I asked what he’d like for Sunday brunch (always a big deal in our house).  Frankly, I simply took my Mexican Meatzza recipe, scaled it down slightly and changed the toppings to make it suitable for breakfast.

And Holy Mother of Pearl, is it good.  Even The Young One ate it (minus the vegetables, of course).  It was a great brunch dish, and could easily be doubled if you’re serving a crowd.  It went very well with the fruit salad I’ll post later this week.

This can, of course, be modified in any way you like – if you’re okay with dairy, by all means, put some cheese on it (The Young One did).  Might I suggest a good quality Mexican cojita?  It would be nice topped with salsa, too, or hot sauce (I believe my better half doused his in Tapatio).

Note:  I used an 11″ x 17″ cookie sheet for this, and it shrank quite a bit as the fat rendered out; the “crust” cracked in a couple of places, as well.  It didn’t affect the taste at all, but it might work a little better in a slightly smaller pan.

 Mexican Breakfast Meatzza. Pizza for breakfast? You bet - South of the Border style!  Gluten and dairy free.

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican Breakfast Meatzza
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo
  • 1/2 recipe [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 8 large eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix the pork and chorizo together in a large bowl. Pat out into a medium-size cookie sheet or other shallow, rimmed baking sheet to a uniform thickness, pushing it up the sides slightly to form a rim. Spread the enchilada sauce evenly over the surface of the meat.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through, or until the meat is cooked through. Carefully pour off any fat and liquid in the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Scramble the eggs in the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat until done to your liking.
  5. Scatter the eggs evenly over the surface of the meatzza; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cut into eight equal pieces and top each piece with the tomato, avocado and onion before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 503 calories, 40g total fat, 267.9mg cholesterol, 686.8mg sodium, 693.9mg potassium, 9.8g carbohydrates, 2.8g fiber, 3.3g sugar, 25.9g protein

Baked Eggs and Ratatouille

It’s August 1st – welcome to Day 1 of the Whole30.

I am determined to not get bored towards the end of the 30 days like I did last year, so I’ve pulled out all sorts of cookbooks (I own over 200) for inspiration.  I’m finding it, too!  Especially in the classic cookbooks – Joy of Cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Pepin Essentials.  This particular recipe is based on one from The Joy of Cooking; in fact, very little was needed in the way of modification to make it Whole30 compliant.

And it is simply scrumptious.

Which is surprising, at least for me – I’m not a huge fan of eggplant.  The ratatouille, though, is wonderfully savory and fresh-tasting; something that is not surprising, since we received tomatoes, onions, eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers in our CSA share this week.  If it had been any fresher, I’d have had to slap it.

The ratatouille itself is a little time-consuming, although it’s not difficult at all; you can make it ahead of time if you like (I didn’t because we had this for Sunday brunch, a meal that is never rushed in our home; it would also make a marvelous light lunch or supper).  Just make sure it’s at least at room temperature before adding it to the ramekins, or the eggs will get done before the vegetables are warmed through.

Note:  The eggplant will absorb all of the olive oil when you saute it with the zucchini – you can add a little more oil if you like, but resist the temptation to add a lot.  The eggplant will just soak it up and become oily and heavy, which you do not want.

Baked Eggs and Ratatouille. Seasonal vegetables and farm-fresh eggs make this light and tasty dish perfect for any meal.

Click on the image to enlarge

Baked Eggs and Ratatouille
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant, about 8 ounces, peeled and cubed
  • 8 ounces zucchini, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 6 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the eggplant and zucchini until the vegetables are golden and just tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggplant and zucchini from the pan; set aside. Reduce the heat to medium; add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onion, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften. Add the bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf; return the eggplant and zucchini to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium -low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Stir in the fresh basil; taste and season as needed with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  5. Divide the ratatouille between six ramekins; crack an egg carefully into each on top of the vegetables.
  6. Place the ramekins in a large glass baking dish large enough to hold them comfortably. Pour boiling water around the ramekins until it comes about halfway up the containers.
  7. Carefully place the baking dish into the oven and bake until the egg whites are set, but the yolks still liquid, 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. Remove the ramekins from the baking dish and carefully wipe dry. Serve immediately
  9. Nutrition (per serving): 169 calories, 11.9g total fat, 186mg cholesterol, 78.4mg sodium, 412.3mg potassium, 8.5g carbohydrates, 2.9g fiber, 4.7g sugar, 7.9g protein

Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing

I’ve been a wee bit depressed this summer.  Nothing serious, but we’ve been getting so much rain – 16 days straight until yesterday, and quite a bit before then – that we haven’t been able to go swimming.  The pool we use is a very nice community pool, for which we pay a membership fee every summer; a good investment, since it costs $8 to get in if you’re not a member.

Well, usually it’s a good investment – not so much when the darn thing is always closed to due the flippin’ weather.  We’ve been once this summer, and didn’t stay that long because the water was freezing since it’s been rainy and overcast every damn day.  I’d really been looking forward to it, and am so disappointed.

I’ve also been feeling a bit guilty about my utter and complete lack of exercise lately.  Again, it’s been too rainy to really do anything outside and I just haven’t been in the least bit motivated to go down to the basement and get on the treadmill or the Bowflex.  The guilt is compounded by the fact that The Young Diabetic Friend has been doing Crossfit for the last year; he goes twice a day, four days a week and once on Saturday and just loves it.  Jolly has been going to the local YMCA and is doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training for those who aren’t familiar with it), yoga and Zumba several days a week for at least a year, which she enjoys a great deal.

I feel like a lump in comparison.  My energy levels have also been steadily declining lately, so I decided it was time to get off my duff.  Since I am particularly uninspired by my basement equipment, the Y doesn’t appeal to me at all and the thought of even attempting Crossfit is hilarious, I decided I’d try something else.

So I joined the local Curves.

Before you rip into me, I really don’t care about the founder’s politics or to whom he donates money – I don’t have to agree with him to do business with a local franchisee.  MY health is my concern right now and the vast majority of my membership money is going to the very lovely lady who owns the Curves I’ve joined and her really wonderful staff.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

At any rate, I went for the first time this morning and I have to say I really enjoyed it.  I got my heart-rate up, worked up a great sweat, and was very pleased to find that the staff and vast majority of the members are my age or older.  And I’m committed for a year, so I will go or I’ll never hear the end of it from Beloved (“You’re PAYING for this – you better GO!”).  Even better, I don’t have to do the “consulting” portion of the whole thing; when I signed up, I was asked if I wanted to do the diet and consulting, or just come to exercise.

I smiled gently and said I had the whole diet thing covered.

You know me – before you know it, I’ll be a member of the only Curves stuffed with post-menopausal paleo/real food devotees in the country.

Anyhoo, today’s recipe – super, super simple and super, super good.  I just sort of threw it together the other day when making the Fiesta Deviled Eggs as a way to use up the mayo, lime and cilantro I had left over.  I was rather astounded at how much I liked this dressing and how well it went on a salad of mixed greens, tomato, grated carrot and chopped bacon; it would make a lovely dip for vegetables, or a great topping for baked or grilled fish.

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing. A tangy, creamy dressing that is also a great dip for veggies or topping for fish!

Click on image to enlarge

Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to marry before serving.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 112 calories, 12.2g total fat, 16.9mg cholesterol, 38.8mg sodium, 9.6mg potassium, <1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein