Tasked to Bring

Passover in itself isn’t really an exciting holiday. I mean, sure the soup is great – but its not high on the list of things to look forward to I’m sure.

This year I was asked to bring the hard boiled eggs for the seder, which can be a stressful request. What if I don’t do a good job and they all peel awfully and I’m left with a bowl of hardboiled yolks? There’s no way to know if you did a terrible job until its too late really, so that only makes things worse. At least with cooking I can sort of season as I go, and figure out how to fix most issues ahead of presentation.  But eggs – nope.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I did some hefty research. Yes on how to boil eggs. [Yes, I’ve boiled eggs before that came out fine.]

Hot start. That’s the secret apparently, according to a few blog posts I came across and the eggs that were so incredibly perfect.

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Lets be real, have you ever seen a bowl of entirely perfect hard boiled eggs?

The theory I was led to believe previously, was that the older the egg, the better it would peel. But these eggs were purchased on Thursday, and boiled on Friday. Now I know that supermarket eggs are specifically fresh, but these weren’t lingering in my fridge for a week or so prior to boiling.

My normal go to method, is to put the eggs in a pot of water, bring to a boil and let simmer until my little egg timer says they’re cooked enough.  But its the hot start that might be the trick here. Out of sheer dread, I cooked 18 eggs in total via two different but similar methods.

9 eggs were carefully placed into a pot of already boiling water and allowed to simmer, covered, for 11 minutes.

The other 9 eggs were placed into a steamer insert in a pot of boiling water, covered, for 11 minutes.

There were only two that didn’t peel with ease, and I think they came from the pot of boiling water [not the steamer].

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There was no green line, the middle was almost creamy, and the whites were all fully boiled. I’m only writing this post with so much detail so that I can fully remember how to boil perfect eggs in the future.

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Sur La Table: Pasta Reinvented

For my birthday, my sister in law gifted me a cooking class at Sur La Table. After a few back and forths, we nailed down a date and class that worked with both of our schedules.

We met up at The Westchester location, which is between where she lives in CT and my house in lower Westchester. We didn’t plan on the class starting at the same time the mall opened, so we had to do a few laps to kill time before we got started.

I had taken cooking class in Albany with Chef Gio while living in Albany [highly recommend for all levels of cooking!!] but hadn’t taken any cooking classes at a more commercial type setting.  The kitchen set up at Sur La Table was impressive, and the chef we had as an instructor was great at keeping things moving while entertaining us on a Saturday morning.

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We definitely started off on the right foot with complimentary cappuccinos and focaccia. Since the class started at 10am, it was the perfect timing for a pick me up.

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One thing about the kitchen that was really well thought out – there was an angled mirror above the chef’s work station so that the whole room could see what was going on without straining to peer around or stand on their tip toes. We were lucky to be part of a small class [ 8 people total], but it still felt very Food Network.

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The title of the class was Pasta Reinvented – meant to be twists on traditional pasta dishes.

Menu: Sweet Potato Gnocchi & Hazelnut Gremolata – Corn Flour Pappardelle & Slow-Cooked Beef Rib Ragu – Caesar Pasta Salad with Anchovy Croutons

Class Description: Bored with boxed noodles? Rethink pasta—put a delicious twist on classic gnocchi and use corn to create a classic pappardelle with an alternative flour. Plus, we’ll show you how to add depth of flavor with easy braising techniques and round out the meal with a jazzed-up Caesar salad.

I learned a great tip for how to hold my knife the right more correct way when chopping – and it was really interesting to go through some basic prep for each dish. It was definitely a hands on class, with lots of time for questions.

The most surprising thing about the class, was what I ended up liking the most; while I started the class really interested in the short rib ragu – it was a tie between the gnocchi and the ceasar for my favorite.

The Chefstructor [yes I made that up] wasn’t shy to explain that he didn’t create the recipes, and he would’ve thickened the ragu up more. That was one of the biggest differences between going to a more commercialized class like this Sur La Table class sponsored by Kitchenaid versus an independent class like Chef Gio. With Chef Gio – they were his recipes that he tweaked, and he was showing you exactly what he recommended and how to duplicate it. This class, however, was more of a direct cookbook demonstration with some expert level instruction.

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The corn pappardelle was a miss for me, but maybe would be popular for someone maintaining a gluten free diet. It was too dense and for some reason reminded me of a soup noodle in a bad, off-brand freeze dried soup mix.  I can’t really pin point that correlation though.

029.JPGI almost don’t want to admit how many serving spoonfuls of this Caesar salad I had. The dressing was made fresh in a blender [so easy, I will actually try this soon], while the oil from the anchovies was used to make the croutons. I said it at least five times while eating, but I want to eat this for lunch every day. Forever. It was so light, and crunchy, and had so much flavor without any salt or pepper being added anywhere.

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Then there was the sweet potato gnocchi with hazelnut gremulata. I don’t even know what gremulata means. But I like saying it over and over again because this dish was everything. Sister and I agreed this would be an epic Thanksgiving sidedish. Sage and sweet potato gnocchi broiled under cheese and topped with a combination of hazelnuts, parsley, and parmesan.  It was savory, melty, not too sweet or salty, crunchy bits.  All that aside, as a bonus its a pretty gorgeous dish.

I’m so excited that I gifted Mom a class for the holidays as well – so I’m excited to see what she picks for us to try. As a little reward for paying to take these classes, Sur La Table offers a 10% discount on anything in the store for a few days after you take the class. We definitely took advantage stocking up on a few gadgets we had used during the class [ hello lemon squeezer!], and I picked up a magnetic timer that I’m already in love with. So win win!

Friday Night Foodie

I arrived up in Albany on Friday night, and Mister and I tried out a new recipe I saw flying around my Facebook feed this past week.  I love these Tasty recipe videos that are being posted online; they simplify things enough that I’m not intimidated to try new methods.

For the Buffalo Chicken Potstickers we purchased the following items at Hannaford:

  • 1 package of wonton wrappers (recipe called for round, we only saw square)
  • 1 cold rotisserie chicken
  • celery
  • carrots
  • block of cream cheese
  • (We had some Hannaford brand “wing sauce” already in the fridge)

I shredded the chicken while Mister prepped the carrots and celery. Then, combine all the filling ingredients in a big bowl.

I love that the next part of the recipe always has to read, “Mix”.  Like I thought we were just throwing all this stuff in the bowl for fun.  But nope, we gotta mix this stuff up too.  Darn.

Once the filling is mixed, I lined a sheet pan with some foil to transfer the potstickers to as they were filled. (No, we didn’t have anything as fancy as wax paper on hand)

Filling them was a little tricky at first, and I’m not sure if it was because we purchased the square wrappers versus the recommended round. We could only put a minuscule amount of filling in each potsticker, so the ratio of filling to wrapper felt a little off in the final product.  Maybe the amount of cream cheese should be halved, or the carrots shredded?  This could use some tweaking.

Once we had a tray of filled potstickers, I heated oil in two large pans.  I essentially seared the potstickers in the hot oil, before adding water and a lid to finish them off.

We decided to freeze half the batch, prior to cooking, since we’re not quite bottomless pits.  I was particularly proud of how good the little baggie of frozen potstickers looked; I definitely pulled them from the freezer the next morning to show Mister.  Treasure the little things people.

 

Recipe: Rice Pudding

We spent Christmas in Binghamton with Mister’s family, and it was a heavenly few days of stretchy pants and food.

On a Christmas fueled sugar high, Mister and I stocked up on greens and fruit to help regain some sense of nutrition.

110We started with a great breakfast, eggs over sauteed greens and mushrooms with fruit and peanut butter on the side.

Then we decided to make rice pudding, and the nutrition was postponed for another time.

127.JPG Just looking at this picture is making me regret not packing some up for myself. [Sidenote: Mister and I are still living long distance, so he’s got the rice pudding leftovers]

I followed the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, with a few tweaks as usual.

It was my first time making rice pudding, and definitely won’t be my last.  You can certainly reference the linked recipe for specifics, but here is the main gist of what went down:

Cook rice with half milk, half water. The recipe calls for more liquid than you would usually use for making rice, I believe.  Specifically, use medium grain rice.  I picked some Goya brand up for around $3 for a big bag.  Pioneer Woman also called for cream at this point, but since we both stay away from most dairy, buying this whole milk was the most I was willing to commit to; I knew anything else would just get chucked in a few days, which felt wasteful.

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After simmering, covered for about 20 mins, you have some mushy looking milk-rice. I was actually getting a little worried here, because I’m notoriously terrible at cooking regular rice, and this wasn’t looking pretty.

But then came these ingredients:

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Vanilla, Cinnamon, and sweetened condensed milk.

123 Now that looks  more like rice pudding! I returned the pot to stove for about 5 minutes.  Then came the weird part.

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You crack one egg into the hot pot of rice pudding, and mix vigorously to cook it in the retained heat.  I’m not even sure why.

But seriously, this was really really good.  We omitted the raisins for Mister, and I didn’t bother with any topping; I ate mine warm, he ate his cold.  It was super creamy, rich and decadent while still feeling very much homemade and comforting.  I can’t wait to make this again.

Meal Prep and a Prepped Meal

Two nights ago I made up a big batch of bean and kale soup to eat for lunch throughout the week.

Super simple, and I like making the effort to eat less meat-centric meals more often.

  • sauteed garlic and onion in olive oil
  • added kale, red beans and white beans, sage
  • add vegetable stock, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • simmer as long as you want

Then last night, in an effort to honor Chanukah and stay on the lighter side of things, Mom made a twist on a latka involving a cast iron skillet and shredded zucchini.  (Along with brisket of course)

Shredded zucchini, potato, egg, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, Parmesan (I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other things) were mixed together after the zucchini and potato were properly drained. Then they were squished into a hot, oiled pan and crisped up a bit before being put into the oven for finishing.

Its always nice to have a meal cooked for you, especially on a holiday.  Along with the franken-latka we enjoyed this really great wine that my sister had picked up for my birthday.

 

Food always tastes better with wine, right?

Meal Prep: Tofu Stir Fry with Soba Noodles

After the five day binge fest that was Thanksgiving, I needed to really get a grip on my eating.  There had been wine, cheese, cake, pie, cookies, and stuffing.  Noticeably absent was adequate protein and just about anything from the vegetable category.

I knew I needed some veggies, and something that wasn’t too heavy but flavorful enough to keep me satisfied.  After perusing some vegan and vegetarian recipes online, I decided on a stir fry with as many veggies as I could manage.

After work yesterday, I went to Stop&Shop to pick up some ingredients.

  • 1 package Soba noodles
  • 2 broccoli crowns
  • 1 bag sugar snap peas
  • 1 container of ready to eat edamame
  • 1 package of extra firm, sprouted tofu
  • 1 bottle of white miso base
  • 1 red pepper
  • nub of ginger root
  • lime
  • garlic

 

By the time I got home it was almost 7 and I was tired, hungry, and ready to get cooking.  I’ve learned to just get all the prep out of the way; I know everyone says this, and a lot of people ignore it, but your timing will go a lot more smoothly when you just go ahead and chop everything at once.

I put a big pot of water on to boil and then minced the ginger and garlic, sliced the red pepper, diced the tofu, and cut wedges out of the lime.

When the water came to a boil, I added the soba noodles, and broke the broccoli into chunks right into the pot.  I don’t know if this is easier, its just the way I usually handle broccoli. [I cut the stems up into cubes to be cooked separately]

Set a time for 5 mins.

In a large pan I added a drizzle of peanut oil.  Once hot I added the cubed broccoli stems and the edamame first.  Then the tofu, ginger, and garlic.  Last the red pepper, white miso, and Braggs amino acid. I turned the heat up so everything would sear, I really like when tofu has that little char on the outside. There’s nothing worse than soggy stir-fry from low heat and/or too much liquid.

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When the timer goes off,  drain the noodles/broccoli and rinse with cold water. Put everything in a giant Tupperware to be eaten throughout the week.  Ta Da!

But wait….those sugar snap peas?! Yea yea I know.  I hate soggy sugar snap peas.  Yuck.  My game plan, is to add a handful to my bowl when I eat lunch; after either reheating everything or just enjoying it all cold.  Squeeze the fresh lime wedge over the dish right before eating. There will definitely be a splash of sriracha on top.

A Classic Twist

I’m sure any of you whom read Facebook have seen those Buzzfeed “Tasty” cooking videos.

If you haven’t, they do a really great job of breaking down recipes into short, visual instructions.  They also summarize the recipes in simple ways, without over complicating the ingredients or the steps required.

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Last night, mister and I tried the Chicken Parmesan Meatballs.  So very worth it.

As per the above recipe:

Pre Mixed ingredients

In a large bowl I mixed together 2lbs of ground chicken, 2 eggs, 1 cup of panko, some italian seasoning mix, lemon zest and juice, 1 cup chopped parsley (fresh), 1/2 cup of fresh diced onion, and 1 cup of grated parmesan.  Then form meatballs, I like them on the bigger side personally.

Formed chicken meatballs

Formed chicken meatballs

Here’s where it starts to get interesting.  Put cubes of mozzarella cheese into those chicken meatballs.  Yeah, that sounds like a great idea!

Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella cheese

Its all blissful indulgence from here on out.  I promise.

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Dip each cheese stuffed meatball into flour, egg, panko + breadcrumb mixture.  [Sidenote: everything should be served breaded in this manner. Its fantastic]

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Brown those beauties in a pan, then bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Time everything perfectly so that your sauce, pasta, and meatballs are done at the same time and sit in gluttonous indulgence on the couch.  Preferably with your sweatpants on.

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Update: Mister says 30 seconds in the microwave and 5 minutes in the toaster, just as good as the first time.