Tag Archives: eggs

Squash Soufflé

squash souffle

Hello, everyone.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a little while. I would like to apologize but also admit to you that I do not always prioritize my little blog: after working (and I was traveling for work a great deal in January, consuming an exorbitant amount of my time), I also like to sleep, and get outside, move my body, and yes, cook. I do sometimes cook things without telling you, or even Instagram (although it is much easier to snap a photo and post than write a whole recipe out, so that does happen more frequently).

I did have a lovely little sojourn in the city of my birth, San Francisco, where you can follow my food-biking tour around the city via Instagram. Here’s how it went: bike—Tartine (best chocolate croissant I’ve ever had)—bike—Ferry building farmers’ market—walk-Chinatown (bought tea)—walk—Rancho Gordo lunch at Ferry building, and coveting everything else—bike—Pier 39 and sea lions—bike/walk (too much hill to straight bike)—Lombard Street—bike—Ghiradelli sundae + break for digestion—bike—Chrissy Field beach relaxation—bike—Golden Gate Bridge—bike through Presidio—bike through Haight-Ashbury—tea break—bike through the Castro—bike home. Next day: Tartine round two, and a Mission burrito to take on the airplane. Not bad for a quick trip!

However, all that adventure aside, I am now home, and glad to be getting back into routine. I don’t promise to always post consistently, because I never know how life will go, but know that you are still important to me. Perhaps we can relax together.

It is time to take a breath.

You may then feel inclined to hold it for a moment, however, afraid to mess up what is breathing itself in the oven (soufflé is French for breath). Don’t worry, ovens are not as finicky as they used to be. Soufflés are not terribly difficult (although it helps to know a little French for reading about the components) but they are still exciting. I found myself warning my roommates not to yell too loudly, or open the oven before it was time. A classic soufflé is just some very good cheese in the base; but you can add puréed anything (leeks? caramelized onions? spinach?) for added flavor.

What I like about soufflés: they are showy, vegetarian main courses, good for brunch or dinner, don’t take too many fancy ingredients, are light, soft, and luscious, and present the magical powers of eggs quite magnificently.

bechamel with squash for souffle

Squash soufflé
1/2 butternut squash (or another variety with similar moisture content), roasted and puréed (maybe 2 cups)
3 tablespoons butter, plus a little for greasing the pan
3 tablespoons flour (gluten-free flour works!)
1 cup milk
A dash each of sweet paprika, nutmeg, and a little more of salt and pepper
5 eggs
1/2-3/4 cup hard cheese: gruyere or some parmesan variation if you don't have anything fancy

If you haven’t already, roast, cool, and purée the squash (can be refrigerated at this point or before puréeing if you like).

Butter a soufflé dish, or large straight-sided dish of some kind (or ramekins/small dishes if you’d like to do individual ones). If you want, sprinkle a little grated cheese in to stick to the sides. Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Make the béchamel (white sauce): Heat up the milk (I usually use the microwave, but a stove works too), warm but not boiling. Make the roux (equal parts fat and flour, the thickener): melt butter over medium heat in a medium pan, gradually sprinkling in flour and whisking to form a paste. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking, and continue heating (and whisking) until thickened. Turn off heat and stir in the seasonings. Let cool for a moment.

Separate the eggs into two different bowls, the whites in a large mixing bowl (you can put the yolks right in with the puréed squash, if it isn’t hot—you don’t want to cook them prematurely). When the béchamel has cooled slightly, whisk in the yolks, squash, and cheese. It will be fairly thick.

Whip the whites until they form soft peaks, but are still shiny. Fold about 1/4 of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then gently add it back to the rest of the whites folding it all together (gently!) until no obvious streaks remain.

Pour into the baking dish and place in the oven. Turn oven down to 375ºF, and set your timer for 20 minutes. Don’t open the oven to look, since temperature variation can cause it to fall, but use your oven light (if you have one) to watch it puff up and brown on top. After 20 minutes (although it will probably take closer to 30, so try not to be too excited), you may open your oven briefly to check. It is done when it is all puffed, golden brown, and doesn’t jiggle anymore when delicately tapped.

Remove, and serve immediately. It will fall as it sits, but remain delicious.

 

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Weekend Brunch: Omelette

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Hello, mes chers amis, mes chères amies. I hope you have been off baking bread.

During the week, I pretty much eat yogurt and fruit for breakfast every day, which I love and somehow don’t get tired of. It’s funny how breakfast seems like a much more personal affair than any other meal, and also okay to be repetitive. Perhaps it’s because we aren’t taught to take part in family breakfast the way we are for family dinner. Many people don’t even eat breakfast (silly people. Breakfast is delicious and awesome).

Brunch, however, is an occasion. Even by yourself, it feels much more leisurely, meant to be enjoyed over a long cup of tea. And that calls for something a little fancier.

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You have heard about how I am obsessed with eggs. Well, here is another rendition of that enthusiasm.

Single Omelette
Cheese: asiago, cheddar, swiss...basically whatever you like (err on the light side in terms of amount)
Meat, if you want (chorizo would be good, or bacon pieces)
Veggies: zucchini, broccoli, garlic scapes, tomatoes, onions, potatoes...
2 eggs
A splash of milk (or water if you have none)
Salt, pepper, and other herbs/spices (I like oregano or parsley)
Olive oil

Grate the cheese and cook whatever meat you are using, if any. Gently sauté the veggies in oil for a few minutes until mostly soft but still a little crunchy. Take them out of the pan and put them on a plate, top with the cheese.

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Mix the eggs with the milk or water and seasonings with a fork until smooth. Heat up the pan (it helps to have a small pan. I only have one pan and it is a 10-inch cast iron, which really is too big for a proper omelette, but somehow it worked out okay) with a little oil. Pour in the egg mixture—it should form a very thin layer. You can kind of swirl around the pan (again, this is hard with a giant, heavy pan) and lift up what is cooking to get the liquid layer underneath. This whole process takes maybe 30 seconds.

When there is just a little liquid left on top of the egg in the pan, add in your veggies/cheese/etc. Put them on one side of the omelette and then fold over the other half. Turn of the heat, slide it out back onto the plate (no sense in getting extra dishes dirty), and eat. Excellent paired with some buttered toast or home fries (cut up potatoes, either raw or cooked. Salt/pepper/paprika. Cook in hot oil in a pan until cooked and crispy).

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This is from a few summers ago, and is a little thicker in a smaller pan, as you can (sort of) see.

Stir Fry: Lazy Delicious

This is another of those don’t-really-feel-like-cooking but must-use-up-vegetables kind of meals. Stir fry is awesome because you can basically cook anything and it’s still delicious and nutritious. And it takes like 5 minutes.

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As with other vegetarian meals, I do worry a bit about protein intake (although this might not be a super valid concern, I do tend to notice that I get hungry faster without it). Beans, chick peas, tofu are all great (and vegan) and I eat lots of them. But they take some time to make. Fast, easy, and delicious are eggs. Eggs are also dairy-free, in case you didn’t realize they came from chickens, not mammals. Although not vegan. I don’t really care about labels or sticking to a very particular dietary regime, and thankfully do not have any food allergies. I don’t eat a lot of meat, as has been established, but enjoy it on special occasions, which feels right to me for both environmental and ethical reasons. I think that animals are essential to any food ecosystem and eating them is a part of that, within reason (if you disagree with that, read this). A lot of my meals happen to be vegan, but mostly because I base my meals primarily around whatever fresh vegetables I have (meat has seasons too, but freezes much better and therefore is more flexible). It’s also much cheaper. Anyway, I find that I eat very well, whether vegan, vegetarian, or full-on omnivore.

And now, an ode to eggs. Those of you who know me have probably been waiting for this. But seriously, eggs are so awesome. Scrambled, poached, fried, hard boiled, soft boiled, made into an omelette or quiche or frittata, mixed with a little flour and milk for crepes or pancakes or popovers; whites can be whipped for meringue or angel food cake or marshmallow frosting (or frozen for later use!); yolks can be used for puddings, custards (even to thicken frosting…just wait), crème brûlée,  whipped up in fresh mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce… the list is endless. They are fantastic and delicious and nutritious and if you are the type of person who only eats egg whites, I’m sorry but you are silly. Unless you have a family history of cholesterol.

So there you have it. Stir fry, maybe over some rice, or pasta, or whatever else you have lying around (rice: put rice in pot. Cover with a thumbs-width of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer til soft, about 20 minutes. Same process for other grains as well as quinoa, beans, lentils, etc).

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Stir fry
Vegetables, chopped (I used Napa/Chinese cabbage here, but other cabbage will work, or carrots/onions/celery/chard/kale/beet greens/most things
Oil 
Salt/pepper/whatever seasonings you want (soy sauce, cumin, hot sauce, peanut butter...)

Eggs
Rice

Heat up oil in a pan, then add vegetables. Or just add everything all at once, it doesn’t matter that much. Medium heat is fine, although if you are in a hurry you can turn it up and just make sure to mix it a bunch; or if you need to do other things you can leave it on low and give it a stir every once in a while. Cook until soft.

To fry an egg (this will be more specific because it is actually shockingly hard to get perfect every time): Heat up the pan first with a little oil, medium low heat. Add a little salt and pepper and spices if you like (I like turmeric and oregano). Tap the egg on the counter to break it, then open with your thumbs and drop it into the pan, careful not to break the yolk. I like my eggs medium, which means cooked white and runny yolk. Let the egg cook until the white is mostly opaque, with a little translucent layer on top (shown below), then slide the spatula under the egg, making sure it’s not sticking, and flip it over in one motion. Let it cook for a tiny bit longer (maybe 30 seconds) and then slide it off. You can kind of poke the center – gently! – with the spatula where the yolk and the white intersect, since that’s the last place the whites will cook. If it’s still wobbly, leave it on a little longer (you can also flip it again if you need to, although some might call it blasphemous).

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Pile onto your stir fry, or some toast, and enjoy! Best eaten hot, although they can also be good cold. I find the yolk makes an excellent sauce. Putting eggs with some grain (quinoa is nice), veggies, and a few fried eggs into a container for lunch is also a good meal.