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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Shakshuka

When we think of breakfast, we usually don’t imagine a dish of tomatoes, peppers and onions slowly simmered with spices and gently poached fresh eggs. Yet, shakshuka is a breakfast staple in the Maghrebian regions of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Israel. In Tamazight, shakshouka means “a mixture.” When my roommate tried the dish in Israel, he was overcome by the intensity of the spices and said it was the best breakfast he had ever had. The good news is that shakshuka is much easier to make than it is to say.

Ingredients:

• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 yellow onion, diced
• 4 medium red bell peppers, diced
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with juices
• 1 tablespoons smoked paprika or 4 teaspoons of regular paprika
• Salt, turmeric, cumin, fresh black pepper and Ancho Chili powder to taste
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 4 large eggs
• Pita bread or baguette, for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the red bell peppers, salt and pepper. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and season with more salt, cumin, turmeric, paprika and ancho chili powder.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until thick and concentrated, stirring occasionally. For this recipe, you will have extra sauce that you can save for another meal.

Stir in half of the parsley and break the eggs over the tomatoes. Cover with a lid and continue to cook for about seven to eight minutes until the eggs are set. Sprinkle the remaining parsley and serve immediately with pita bread or baguette. Serve in the pan you cooked it in.

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Many of us don’t put enough thought into scrambled eggs.  We crack some eggs into a bowl, whisk it up until blended, pour ’em into a hot non-stick skillet and call it a day. Most scrambled eggs end up with curds that are large, foamy, dry and flavorless, notwithstanding some notes of sulfur.

Before we make the eggs, we must first understand how they work:

  1. Egg proteins begin as folded chains of amino acids.
  2. As they’re heated, they move faster and faster, bump into each other and unravel.
  3. These chains re-bond to each other, forming a network.
  4. With constant stirring, solid, but moist curds form.
  • For good eggs, start by thoroughly scrambling them with a whisk or a fork until they become a homogenous mixture.
  • To avoid rubbery eggs, an additional liquid must be added. This dilutes the proteins and forms a looser, yet still stable network upon coagulation. Cream, milk or even butter are the best bets. I add a splash of cream and a splash or orange juice. Here’s why:
  • Proteins have negative charges and repel each other. Fruit juices—like orange juice—are acids and lower the pH, decreasing the repelling charge. Consequently, proteins aggregate sooner, before they have a chance to unravel completely and form strong bonds. Also, salt dissolves into positively and negatively charged ions, effectively neutralizing the proteins and, similarly, creating a more tender curd. Thus, I also add salt to my eggs for that reason and the fact that eggs too need to be seasoned.
  • Add butter to a pan on low heat. When the butter jsut starts to bubble, add the eggs and stir constantly until many small curds form. Add the cheese of your choice and mix until there is still a thin coating of liquid on the curds. This is the thin white that takes longer to coagulate than the yolk. Remove from the heat, and the thin white will start to coagulate, yet your eggs will be at the peak of moisture and tenderness. Finally, the combined efforts of the low eat and acid will reduce the eggy flavor and aroma that turns people off.
Harold McGee On Food And Cooking helped me better understand eggs.

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Poached eggs look so much nicer than any other type and they are the most pure in flavor. Without ever touching a pan, they can be cooked more evenly without tasting bitter and turning brown.

1. Boil water in a sauce pan and add a teaspoon of white vinegar; this causes the egg whites to congeal faster. Crack the eggs into individual ramekins, so that one bad egg doesn’t spoil the lot.

2. Bring the water to a simmer and add the eggs without crowding them. Sometimes, I use a ladles to hold my egg, so fewer whites can escape, but they seem to turn out well drifting unchaperoned in the water.

3. Time for 3 1/2 minutes; this will be sufficient to completely cook the whites, but leave the yolks completely oozy. The safe zone is 3-4 minutes.

4. I prefer mine on a bed of spinach, mushrooms, and onions sautéed in olive oil with garlic—add a dab of butter at the end. Use any toast you have on hand, it’s fun to make new combinations.

My sister said: “What’s the point of eating poached eggs. They’re mushy and disgusting”. That may be true for some, but to others, poached eggs mean a new level of sophistication, compared to over-easys. In the former, a  gently swipe of the fork will open the purse of yolks instead of sawing to puncture the unyielding whites of the latter. Plus, the silky yellow yolk flows down into the spinach and toast rather than pooling on the plate, causing one to chase after it with bread in hand. Finally, just the appearance of the egg: sitting with dignity on a throne of spinach raised even higher by a toasty foundation. However, some do prefer to have their egg flat against the plate, shunned to the side by a preeminent slab of home-fries.

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This is the kind of breakfast that you drink a Mimosa with; the kind of breakfast that Daniel Boulud makes at home in the morning. I want to tell you what’s in it now, but you’re going to have to read the recipe.

Ingredients (for 1):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1 brown tomatoes (I used Kumato)
  • feta cheese crumbles
  • black truffle butter—its street name is “pleasure”
  • mache (lamb’s lettuce)
  • Wegman’s basting oil with grapeseed oil, canola oil, thyme, parsley, and garlic
  • 1 slice of toast

1. Make a double boiler by boiling water in a saucepan and placing a glass bowl on top—make sure the bowl’s bottom does not touch the water. Whisk in the eggs with the sour cream or creme fraiche. Add sea salt and black pepper. Whisk often.

2. Toast some bread. Use anything on hand. Slather with black truffle butter. Continue whisking the eggs—it takes a while. I placed a lid on the bowl, a few times to speed up the process. The eggs are done when the curds form and they are moist, but not oozy. They should be a little more stable than cottage cheese, yet more custard-like than your usual eggs.

3. Spoon eggs onto the bread along with the thin slices of brown tomato (feel free to use any good quality tomato). Drizzle the oil around the plate and on the tomatoes and lettuce garnish. Top with feta cheese crumbles and some extra Crème Fraîche or what you will. Savor the pleasures of what breakfast was meant to be: unadulterated by Bisquick, Aunt Jemima, or hash browns.

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My mom was about to eat cereal for breakfast, but I decided to make these breakfast tostadas. Although she loves cereal, I think she was happy that she decided to have my breakfast instead.

Ingredients:

  • Corn tostadas. They look like this:

  • chopped onions
  • chopped green peppers
  • corn (I used canned)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • chopped tomatoes
  • eggs
  • shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
  • 1 lime
  • sour cream
  • guacamole

1. In olive oil, sauté the onions, bell peppers, and corn until they caramelize and slightly brown. Add minced or pressed garlic and season; I used Goya Adobo seasoning and a Southwestern blend. Season to your taste.

2. Beat eggs—I usually do two per person—with a splash of milk. I seasoned my eggs with adobo as well. Just scramble these however you like.

3. In the microwave, melt a layer of shredded cheese on the tostadas (about 30 seconds). Build the tostada by layering with eggs, onions and peppers, and chopped tomatoes, respectively. Squeeze some lime juice over the top. I garnished it with half of a lime slice, twisted. Sour cream and guacamole are the perfect condiments for the dish.

My parents ate this like a pizza, and I ate it with a fork and a knife. This is a satisfying meal without the need for sliced bread. All three of us loved it. Make this dish your own. If you like jalapeños, add them!

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In my opinion, nothing from a box is “part of a complete breakfast”. Breakfast should not be a meal that is put on the back-burner. Instead, it should be a flavorful and energy-boosting meal that is always changing. This is not THE Figatner breakfast because it lacks bagels, but it is common in our household.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 mini peppers (combo of colors is best)
  • chopped chives
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • paprika, garlic pepper (includes garlic, pepper, and salt)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic

1. Microwave the 3 potatoes for about 8 minutes. Different amounts of potatoes will affect the cooking time. Be sure to poke the potato with a fork first. I didn’t, opened the microwave, and the potatoes screamed like a third-grader having a temper tantrum. (Please note: the fork technique only works for spuds!)

2. Heat a large skillet and then add oil. Sauté chopped peppers and the onion with one clove of pressed garlic, salt, and pepper. Empty it into a bowl (it will be re-added).

3. Cut the potatoes into cubes and lightly coat in all-purpose flour. Freshly coat the pan with oil and disperse the potatoes in one layer.  Season with paprika, garlic pepper, oregano, fresh pepper, and chives. Let it sizzle on high heat until one side becomes crispy and brown and flip. You may add the sautéed vegetables. I also added one chopped tomato because it was farm-grown and vibrantly colored.

4. Season again to taste and add any fresh herbs on hand like parsley or basil. We ate this with Over-easy eggs and toast.

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