Friday, October 31, 2008

It's back! - LI Restaurant Week

Yes, the one event I wait for all year - Long Island Restaurant Week is starting tomorrow!!!

I urge everyone to take advantage of it.

You know you wanna...

Check it out.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breakfast Experiment: Baked French... Canned Biscuits?

It was a lovely, lazy morning.

The Fiance and I ignored the sunlight stubbornly invading our bedroom, dug deeper into the covers and had a glorious sleep-in.

We don't get too many of those.

In the spirit of enjoying the day, we decided to forgo our usual breakfast (eggs over easy, bacon, toast) and do something different.

The Fiance decided he wanted toast. And who am I to argue when a loving male creature is offering me tasty treats?

So off he went. He dug out the eggs and milk, mixed those well, added sugar and cinnamon, mixed again.

Then he went to the closet to get the bread.

...and there was none.

So there we were.

The Fiance.


And a bowl of forlorn egg mixture.

Then, we were generously joined by inspiration.

I tend to buy canned biscuits whenever they're on sale without any regard for whether or not we need any. I stockpile them if you will. Because you just never know when they might come in handy.

And this, this was their day to shine. Or try to, anyway.

I got out a reasonably deep pan, buttered in and then filled it with buttermilk biscuits. Then I poured the egg mix over them and added more brown sugar. And baked the whole shebang at 400.

I admit it. It was eh. All the liquid evaporated. The biscuits didn't absorb any goodness in the middle. Overall a middling success.

So I moved the remains of the cooked biscuits into a smaller pan, made a new egg mixture with a ton of milk, added vanilla, and used a spatula to break up the biscuits into bits. This time I baked it at 350 (or maybe 375?).

It took much longer this time but reports say it all worthwhile.

Next time I plan to do this:

Baked French Biscuits
-2-3 eggs
-good splash or three of milk
-vanilla extract
-orange flower water
-brown sugar
-2 cans of buttermilk biscuits

Make the egg mixture with all the ingredients (I didn't give amounts cause really it's all about what YOU want) except the biscuits. The orange flower water is sort of a secret ingredient that will make give that "Hm, what's that?" sort of hint to the dish but you can omit it or use orange extract just as easily. Do what moves you.

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the pan and dust with brown sugar. Trust me, don't skip this step. Then carefully chop up the biscuits. Use a light hand when you do it so as not to deflate them too much. Drop them into the pan and pour the mixture over them. Add some more brown sugar for fun. Then bake till it looks done.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Leftovers in a Pan

The Fiance has been in the mood for Outback a lot lately. I don't know what it is - it's not the steak since he always gets pasta. It makes no sense really but I've come to accept that he's just full of adorable, incomprehensible quirks. And I've come to terms with his Outback obsession, aided by the way they do their sides - any restaurant that can manage to keep their asparagus and green beans tender-crunchy gets a gold star in my book.



Unlike the very odd Fiance I get steak. The problem is after the salad and the sides and the baked potato, I almost never manage to finish the steak itself. But I do always take it home.

A few days ago, we were in a conundrum. The Fiance wanted dinner, he didn't want to cook and I wanted to use up leftovers.

Thus was born:

Leftovers in a Pan
-the second to last bacon slice
-two leftover steaks of medium size (maybe 12 oz?)
-half a zucchini
-the last carrot
-a scrounged up onion
-the last tablespoon of diced garlic (I peel and food processor several heads of garlic at a time. It's a weird nervous habit.)
-a can of broth - I used chicken but you can probably use anything you like
-2 tablespoons flour
-a dash of brown gravy mix
-dried thyme
-salt and pepper

First up. I heated a stainless steel (do not use a non-stick for this - if you do, you will regret it) pan with olive oil. That's my default fat but you can easily use butter or regular oil. Whatever you like. (See how democratic I am?) Then all those veggies got a very small dice (my baby doesn't like veggies, he thinks they're icky), but you can dice them larger if you prefer. They went into the pan with the garlic and were left to play on their own. If you discount me occasionally stirring them that is.

Now, I know my baby loves bacon. It's his first love. Before women and gaming, there was bacon. So when I'm trying to sneak veggies into his tummy, bacon is a good way to go. So I chopped up the bacon slice. Then I sliced up the steak.

The veggies were more or less where I wanted them - softened, kinda translucent. I took them out of pan and let them sit in a nice, comfy bowl. Then the pan got the bacon treatment. I have to admit, one slice of bacon isn't very much and even diced up it looked kind of lonely. But I stayed strong. Bacon is delicious but not so good for you. One's enough in this dish.

When the bacon was semi browned up, I add the steak slices. There, now the bacon had friends.

When all the meat was nicely browned and the pan had all those bits in it, I removed the steak and bacon to another plate. Then pan was sad for a moment, but I made it happier by adding more olive oil and making a quick roux with the flour.

There's no trick to roux really. Just mix a lot or it will clump.

Then add a liquid. I poured in probably 3/4 of a can of broth but it's really all in how much sauce you want. Don't forget to go slow and stir a lot though.

Then I dumped in some brown gravy mix and a bunch of thyme and stirred again. It looked quite saucy at this point so I took the veggies and meat and put them back in. I gave the mess another stir, set the heat to simmer and wandered off to... do something else.

After a little simmering, the sauce was nicely thickened, the veggies were cleverly masked and dinner looked very tempting.

I served it in a bowl over bite sized, roasted potatoes.

So good.


Scrambled Eggs, Kinda Italian

Before we go any further, I will admit that I am not the breakfast maker in our household. See, I have this undying obsession with eggs over easy and The Fiance is much, much, much better at making them. So he usually makes breakfast. And believe me, I don't complain.

Unfortunately there are some times when he is too busy to do his time honored duty. (Damn those college essays!) So then I have to trudge to the kitchen and figure out what looks quick and easy.

Another thing I have to admit: I can't make omelettes. I don't have the patience to let the eggs set. I start poking at them with the spatula and before you know it I have a pan full of lovely yellow chunks. Delicious, but definitely not an omelette.

So anyway, back to my foray into breakfast.

I discovered a number of leftover stuff in my fridge and set up putting it together. The result left no complainers. (As if The Fiance would survive complaining about my cooking!)

Scrambled Eggs, Kinda Italian
-6 eggs
-liberal splash of milk
-half handful of fresh parsley, rough chopped
-teaspoon or so of minced garlic
-salt & pepper to taste
-two slices of pancetta, diced
-2-3 scallions, diced
-handful of fresh baby spinach
-hunk of fresh mozzarella, ripped into small chunks

Break six eggs into any bowl large enough to hold them. Fish out any bits that insisted on breaking from the shell. Use a fork or whisk to quickly break the yolks and mix them into the whites. Add as much milk as your heart desires, I'd recommend about 1/3 cup but that's just me. Throw in the parsley, the garlic and salt and pepper the whole thing. And stir again. Get the mixture kind of frothy - you want to add some air to the eggs so they cook up fluffy.

In a nice, warm pan on medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and dump in the pancetta. Spread it out nicely and let it brown up. Then stir around and add in the scallions and baby spinach. When the spinach looks mostly done, pour the egg mixture on top. I'm kind of obsessive (have you noticed that?) so I tend to grab a plastic splatula and scrape out every last drop.

Then step back. I know, I know your fingers must itch to grab that wooden spoon or silicone spatula and ram it right into the poor, defenseless eggs, wiggling them around willy nilly. Mine do.

But resist that urge!

Let the eggs set up a bit. Then begin to push the cooked bits towards the middle and gently tilt the pan so the liquidy goo can distribute at the edges. Repeat until the eggs are almost done, all beautiful curds of green and brown specked golden goodness. Now add the mozzarella chunks, stir a few times and take the pan off the heat so the cheese can melt slowly but the eggs don't overcook.

At this point, I'm going to recommend eating.

Have I mentioned I love eggs?

Happy breakfast!