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Archive for January, 2011

The story:

I’m never sure about the definition of “comfort food”, but I’m pretty sure that eggs would qualify, however it’s defined. Eggs take minutes to cook, and are also very versatile. You can scramble them, fry them, steam them, bake them, and cook them many other ways, none of which takes more than 15-20 minutes.

First work day in 2011. For someone who suffers from serious post-holiday depression, this is not a good day, especially after a wonderful and relaxing holiday + vacation. Therefore, I decided to bake a couple of eggs to cheer myself up.

I brewed myself some coffee, and then poured a little cream, a little butter, two eggs and some cheese into a gratin dish. 15 minutes later I got my colorful and fresh-out-of-the-oven baked eggs! The egg white was cooked and a little bouncy, the yolks were soft but not too runny, and the cheese was melted and hot… The look, the smell, the warmth, and the taste… Everything was just perfect… For the first time, my post-holiday depression was cured before I even arrived at the office! And I was wondering why most of my colleagues looked stressed and depressed… 😉

But oh WAIT!

That is, well, the day-dream version of the story, my la-la-land.

Now let’s rewind for what actually happened…

Rolling out of bed reluctantly, I decided that I needed something to kick my butt and get me to work. I had some baked eggs at a really cute and nice restaurant in the Village called August the day before, so I googled the recipe for baked eggs that night. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to buy any ingredients.

So there I was with eggs, butter, cream and nothing else, and was too lazy / groggy to turn on the computer. How hard could it be to bake some eggs?

I put a little cream and a generous amount of butter in a gratin dish and put it in the preheated broiler. Three minutes later, the cream and butter was bubbly (and a little burned), and it’s time to pour the eggs in. Apparently I missed an important lesson from Physics class in middle school that water is a great conductor for heat, so when I held onto the scorching baking rack with my wet kitchen mitten, I started screaming at the top of my lungs. As if that was not disastrous enough, the smoke detector started screaming even harder… I completely panicked… I threw the eggs into the gratin dish and started fanning the smoke detector!

A few minutes later, I took the eggs out. In order not to ruin everyone’s appetite today, I will refrain from describing my “baked eggs” in detail. Let’s just say that I couldn’t even make myself taste it.

That moment, I hated everything… I hated eggs, I hated my wet mitten, I hated baking, I hated cooking for myself and I hated living alone and pretending that I enjoy it…

When I left home, hungry and frustrated, I was actually a little glad that I had somewhere else to go…

… …

I had decided to wait for a few days before I wrote this entry. There are often moments like this one in life… I like keeping them aside for a few days… They are like bad milk, disgusting first and then somehow turn into yogurt or even cheese after a while… Still sour or even bitter sometimes, but I can enjoy them with a cup of fresh coffee and be grateful for moments like this to make me appreciate the happy ones a lot more and to keep me from getting bored.

UPDATE:

After swearing that I would never make baked eggs ever again, I gave it another try on Friday night. This time, I bought all the ingredients, and followed the recipe as well as I could. They turned out much better but still not perfect. A few notes for my self and whoever is going to try it:

  • Don’t put any salt in the herb/cheese mix, only sprinkle it directly onto the eggs
  • I put my broiler on “high” and the eggs were a little burned after 6 minutes, but some egg white was still a little runny. I think 7 or 8 minutes on “low” might work better.

 

Tear index: 2

Best remedy for: the first work day after a wonderful holiday / vacation, well, if it works out, that is.

Cook Time: 9 min; Level: Intermediate; Yield: 2 servings

How much it is worth: $20

Created by: Barefoot Contessa; Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/herbed-baked-eggs-recipe3/index.html

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Directions

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won’t be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It’s very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren’t cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

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Happy New Year Apple Pie

The Story:

OK, I can’t lie but I did not have a heartbreaking New Year’s Eve. I celebrated it with my best girlfriends in New York, as well as chocolate fondue, wine, champagne, my own signature cocktail, and, of course, something homemade…

Nothing can warm a heart as well as a homemade dessert. We can laugh at the mothers’ “cookie exchange parties” all that we want, but when it’s my New Year’s Eve party, and when I’m with my friends, I know that I just want to spoil them with something that I can make from scratch and serve hot from my own oven J.

I’ve never been a real pie lover, but somehow on this special night, an apple pie just felt appropriate. I searched online for a recipe and found one called “Apple Pie by Grandma Ople.” It was saved by 85,920 people, reviewed by 71 and got a five star rating… So I decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be a big hit in my party!

I also loved how we made it into a “team sport” :-P. My friend GN peeled the apples and XJ cut them while I made the pie crust and the syrup. Having your friends chatting and working together in the kitchen is such a warm scene… And an hour later, voila! What’s better than a warm apple pie to bid farewell for 2010 and to welcome a whole new year?

Best for: A winter holiday with close friends

Cook time: 90 mins; Level: Easy; Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie, 6 to 8 servings

How much it is worth: $15

Created by: MOSHASMAMA; Link: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/apple-pie-by-grandma-ople/Detail.aspx

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

A few notes from me:

  • I only used four apples instead of eight. I’m not sure how one would be able to stuff eight apples into a 9-inch pie pan.
  • Also, based on some of the comments, I baked it 65 minutes at 350 degrees F, and it turned out great.
  • From reviewer SCIOTA: “I added a teaspoon of cinnamon, a good dash of nutmeg and a tablespoon of vanilla to the syrup prior to simmering (compensate for adding the vanilla by omitting a tablespoon of that 1/4 cup of water). Next, definitely mix the syrup with the apples rather than trying to pour into the pie (save enough to glaze top crust). Do use a 9″ glass pie pan to avoid spillage. Use the middle shelf in the oven (so top crust doesn’t brown too fast).”

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Welcome 2011!

Happy new year to all my non-existent readers!

One of my new year resolution is to keep this blog live…  I may never be a great chef, but I certainly enjoy the long and never-ending journey to become one and would like to share it with all of you.

The world is always full of hope when there is someone that you want to try your best to feed and entertain. 🙂

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The story:

“Say a prayer when you bake the cake,”  She said.  “God will give His blessing to your cake and the people who bake and enjoy it.”

This is one of those moments in life.  It was a regular Wednesday morning. I was in the office, laptop in one hand, and a large latte in the other.  I passed by Pushpa, who happens to be a fantastic Indian vegetarian chef (and an administrative assistant when she’s not cooking).She has wow’d the office several times with her gifted cooking / baking skills. 

I remember that she made this walnut date cake once and brought it to the office, which made me pretty much salivate all over my desk.I licked every crumb on my plate!  So I stopped to ask whether she could send me her recipe. 

Her eyes widened when she heard that I wanted to bake a cake, and insisted to walk me through the recipe and insisted that I take notes.  I wasn’t sure what was there to “walk through,” but obliged because her passion was contagious.  She walked me through each step on the recipe and shared with me a few “tricks” J.  She spoke with such a concentrated tone that I couldn’t do anything other than faithfully take notes.

Then I thanked her, and was about to walk away from her desk when she said, “and, say a prayer when you bake the cake.  God will give His blessing to your cake and the people who bake and enjoy it.”

I’m not religious, but I did, say a prayer when I baked the cake later…  I bought all the ingredients and followed her instructions faithfully.  It took me more than an hour to prepare and another hour to bake, but my prayer was answered as all of my friends who tried the cake absolutely loved it!

Sometimes, as it says outside the wall on Macy’s on the 34th Street, you just have to BELIEVE.  There are so many reasons in the world that make us not to believe,  but sometimes, I just do, against all odds.  Sometimes it’s the lack of other not-too-depressing options, and sometimes, I actually want to believe.

For example, this moment when I was baking this date walnut cake…

Best remedy for:  The holiday season when you are alone but at the same time surrounded by great friends that you know that you will love forever…

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