Baked Eggs and Black Pudding Hash

I really didn’t “do” St. Patrick’s Day–but I’d love to have had this. Love black pudding!

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

I see Irish eyes a smiling I see Irish eyes a smiling

There are many high quality pre-packaged black puddings on the market. Finding them in the states is a difficult task and always expensive.

For a long time I had planned on making it from scratch but finding a butcher who sells fresh blood is impossible. All those vampire shows and movies where every corner has a butcher selling fresh blood are more of a myth than the vampires themselves.

By chance we found an authentic English restaurant in Little Rock that doubles as a grocery store stocked with true biscuits, bangers, sauces and other English specialties including black pudding.

Baked Eggs and Black Pudding Hash

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb red potatoes diced small
  • 8 ounces black pudding quartered and diced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno diced fine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 6-8 basil leaves sliced into ribbons
  • 10-12 grape tomatoes…

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Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Hash

A very rainy day (Andrea is passing through here–or close at least)–the kind that promotes leisurely activity and thoughts of good food–warm but not too heavy. I’m being leisurely and browsing food blogs–and have found some very appealing recipes that I thought would be good to share.

In search of flavor

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So I am back to my regular routine of working in the lab.  Which means, I need to start making lunches and dinners ahead of time.  This recipe a healthy take on a classic hash….no potatoes, no oil, no bacon–but packed with flavor ! Here goes !

Ingredients:

1, 16oz bag of frozen chopped spinach

1 jar of roasted red peppers ( choose your own size based on how much peppers your want)

6 eggs

1/2 tsp of nutmeg

1 tsp of crushed red pepper

salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Sauté spinach, sliced peppers and seasonings till everything has wilted.

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Crack the eggs directly into the pan and transfer then pan to the oven.

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Bake for 10-15mins till the eggs set.  This also based on personal preference.  Some people like their yolks runny and some like them set.  So adjust your back time according.

Serve family…

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Fried Eggs, Spanish-style (Huevos Fritos a la Española)

For a leisurely (but easy) meal–especially weekend breakfast, try some Spanish-style fried eggs.  The combination of the olive oil and good free-range eggs is absolutely wonderful–right up there with eggs Benedict as far as I’m concerned–and do love those, too!  A good friend who has lived in Spain introduced me to these.

Huevos Fritos à la Española

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs of size of your choice
  • olive oil
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Preparation

These are best made in a skillet that is just large enough to hold your eggs; otherwise it takes a lot of olive oil.  I have a small (4-inch) cast iron skillet that I got very inexpensively at the hardware store.  It’s the same skillet that I use for toasting small quantities of spices, et cetera.

  • preheat your skillet
  • pour enough olive oil into your skillet to be about 1-inch (2.5 cm) deep and heat the oil.
  • break each egg into a saucer and slide it into the hot oil.
  • gently fold the whites over the yolks.
  • cook only until the white is set–one to three minutes over moderately heat–or to your preferred doneness.
  • meanwhile, make toast
  • lift the eggs out of the skillet and place on toast.
  • season with the salt and fresh-ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Spanish potato omelette (Tortilla Española)

Another favorite egg dish (though I don’t make this as often as the basic omelette) is tortilla Española or Spanish potato omelette–this takes a bit more time than basic omelette, but it is serious comfort food.  Though most recipes that I’ve seen recommend serving it at room temperature (and I love it that way too), I like the first serving still warm.  I don’t mind having some of this around to eat as recommended, at room temperature, especially in hot weather.  I usually make the entire 4 servings of this.

This recipe is adapted from The food of Spain and Portugal: The Complete Iberian Cuisine by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz (p. 231) and allioli (p. 239).

Tortilla Española

Ingredients

  • 500 gm/1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced or thinly sliced (preferably waxy potato–red or Yukon gold).
  • 250 gm/8 ounces (about 3 medium) onions, finely chopped or sliced thin
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 250 ml/8 fluid ounces (1 cup) olive oil
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preparation

  • season the potatoes and onions with salt and pepper.
  • heat the oil in a large, heavy frying pan (skillet), preferably nonstick.
  • cook the potatoes and onions covered over low heat until soft, but not browned; stir gently from time to time.
  • drain the potatoes and onions through a sieve, reserving the oil.
  • stir the eggs with a little salt and pepper
  • add the potato and onion mixture, mix gently and allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • wipe out the frying pan/skillet and add 4 tablespoons of the oil, and heat
  • add the egg, potato, and onion mixture and spread it evenly
  • cook over moderate heat shaking the pan occasionally to keep it from sticking.
  • when the omelette begins to brown underneath, put a plate over the skillet and invert the pan and slide the omelette onto the plate.
  • heat a little more oil and return the omelette to the pan with the browned side up.
  • cook it just long enough to brown the underside.
  • transfer to a warmed plate and serve hot or at room temperature.
As a garlic lover, I love to accompany the with allioli (garlic mayonnaise) so here is a recipe for that accompaniment:   
 

Allioli à la Catalana  (Garlic mayonnaise, Catalan-style)

Ingredients

Makes about 1 cup; will keep in the fridge for several days.  This is for serious garlic lovers–there is a less potent variation given in the book, as well as variations using egg yolks.

  • 1/2 large head of garlic, peeled and crushed.
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) olive oil at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preparation

  • put the crushed garlic into a small bowl (or a large mortar).
  • add the lemon juice or vinegar
  • stir to mix
  • gradually add the oil, stirring in the same direction until the oil is absorbed and the mixture has a mayonnaise-like consistency.
  • stir in salt to taste.

You don’t need to use expensive oil–the garlic flavor is very strong.  This can be made in a food processor or blender, but I think that it’s more trouble to clean either of those than to make it by hand.

If you don’t care to make the allioli from scratch, you can add crushed garlic to a good commercial mayonnaise, and adjust seasoning to taste with lemon juice (or vinegar).  When I do it this way I use Hellmann’s® mayonnaise–it is quicker, but not quite as good as making it from scratch.

Fast food: basic omelette

Whether you choose to spell it omelette or omelet, it’s still a god-send when cooking for one,  when you need fast food (even for several), or when you just want to make a meal without going to the grocery store.

Omelettes come in several styles–thin and rolled or folded, or thick and puffy; usually with filling or other added ingredients.  It’s the filling/topping possibilities that make this a meal in itself–these can range from a simple cheese filling to mixtures of vegetables, and even jam or jelly for a sweet treat.

My favorite style is the thin, folded (not puffy) with a filling of some sort–even “leftover” caprese salad in the summer time, or cheese, mushrooms, onions, and spinach–there are lots of “classic” fillings for omelettes that you see on restaurant menus–Denver, Spanish, Mexican, Greek, et cetera but there are virtually endless possibilities.

First, choose the appropriately sized pan:  I use an 6- to 8-inch skillet (All-Clad) when cooking a 2- or 3-egg omelette just for me (and the cat).  Too small and All-Clad stainless steel skilletthe omelette will be too thick to fold and too large, the omelette is too thin.  Just like other cooking for one, the size of the pan is important.

An omelette is most easily made in a skillet or frying pan because the slanted sides allow you to roll or fold the omelette easily.  You may see ads for “omelette pans” but the plain skillet or frying pan is the only thing that you need so long as it is of good quality and heat is conducted evenly.  Nonstick is not necessary–any good skillet, if preheated and oil added appropriately works fine.

If your filling needs cooking, e.g. mushrooms, onions, peppers, or the like, prepare that by sautéing the ingredients and setting them aside. You should allow about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling for each two eggs.  Your imagination and your taste are the only limitations on what can be used as a filling for your omelette.  Cheese of your choice is always good–add a salad and you’ve a meal right there.  Fresh herbs with tender greens such as spinach can be quickly sautéed with a little butter and/or olive oil and used as a filling.  In the summer, tomatoes, summer squash are possibilities.  Leftover boiled or roasted potatoes or roasted root veggies–certainly.  Even “tough” greens such as kale or chard can be used if precooked. Leftover fish or smoked salmon works well.  Even creamed spinach from the freezer, or just some of the salsa from a jar.  Recycle some of the sausage-potato casserole as omelette filling….

For a flat, folded (or rolled) omelette, I start with two large eggs, add a splash of milk or cream, a pinch of salt, and beat the eggs until yolks and whites are well blended.  I like to beat them with chopsticks or a fork since I don’t want the omelette to puff.

From Cook's Illustrated

French omelette

Using a whisk will incorporate air and those bubbles will expand and give you a somewhat puffy omelette, which I don’t like as well as the thinner, folded or rolled style.  I also prefer not to have my omelettes browned–I want that nice cooked, but still moist style.

For an evenly cooked omelette without spotty browning, you need to preheat your pan thoroughly (5 or 6 minutes) before adding the eggs so that they will cook evenly.

Over medium-high heat, add some butter (about 1-1/2 teaspoons).  When the foam subsides, pour in the beaten eggs, and pull the edges as they set toward the center of the pan, allowing unset egg to run to the edge–maybe 30 rule out 45 seconds.

Spread your filling over the surface of the omelette, cover (foil or a plate if you don’t have a lid that fits your frying pan) and remove from the heat for about 60 to 90 seconds to allow the residual heat to finish setting the eggs on the top of the omelette; it should appear moist, but not runny.  If it’s not set enough, return to the heat briefly with the cover still in place.

When cooked to your taste, use the chopsticks or fork to roll or fold the omelette.  I usually simply fold it into thirds, or even in half, rather than rolling it up. Turn out on a plate, and it’s ready to eat.

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Omelettes are ubiquitous…for an interesting survey of variations (including some seen on restaurant menus) see the Wikipedia article on omelettes.  Your taste is your guide to making this a quick, delectable meal.

A son goût!  

Egg basics

In my kitchen, being out of eggs is right up there with being out of onions, garlic, and chocolate!

The egg is packaged by nature to have a long shelf-life–as long as they are treated properly between hen and home.  I want the hen to be treated properly as well so I buy my eggs from the farmers’ market where I know the farmers.  That gives me better eggs–yellower yolks and more omega-3 fatty acids nutritionally, and better flavor.  (Cook’s Illustrated had a blind tasting of eggs with differing levels of omega-3 fatty acids and guess who won?  High omega-e fatty acids did give yolks a richer taste.) Color of the shell has nothing to do with quality of the egg–that has to do with the breed of chicken and how its diet.

The down side of eggs?  Well, there’s Salmonella but a little care is purchasing, storage, and cooking really takes care of that–buying fresh eggs from someone you know is a good start.  Your vendor should have the eggs refrigerated and you should keep them cool until you get to your refrigerator.

Once home, store eggs in the refrigerator, either in the carton or in a closed container.  If your refrigerator has those little plastic dents on the door to hold a dozen eggs, ignore it.  That’s not the place to store eggs for several reasons: it’s not cold and there are frequent temperature changes as you open the door.  Eggs need some protection to avoid moisture loss, and agitation of opening and closing the door can affect texture/consistency of the whites particularly.  You can also store eggs in a closed container to further retard moisture loss, but can accentuate

The expected “shelf-life” of eggs is really several weeks past the sell-by date (for supermarket eggs).  Eggs seldom spoil, although  some moisture loss will occur, nutritional value remains good for a long time–after all, think of the purpose of the egg.  Eggs can pick up odors in the refrigerator since the shells are porous.

Because of the potential for Salmonella food poisoning, eggs do need to be cooked carefully, but from one or two eggs anyone with a normal immune system is very unlikely to get Salmonella enteritis from a sunny-side, over-easy or soft-cooked egg if handled properly.  For one thing, egg dishes should be served promptly and not left sitting out.

For soft-cooked eggs, it is possible to “pasteurize” them by holding them at a temperature of 140 ° F for 30 minutes–this is a temperature that does not continue to harden the yolks, but will kill bacteria.  Eggs which reach a cooking temperature of 160 ° F are safe.

Sometimes you need to know egg sizes since they are not interchangeable. Harold McGee, in Keys to Good Cooking gives the following weights for egg sizes:

  • jumbo = 2.5 ounces or 70 grams
  • extra-large = 2.25 ounces or 63 grams
  • large = 2 ounces or 56 grams
  • medium = 1.75 ounces or 49 grams
These equivalents will let you correct for the size eggs that you have and what is called for in a recipe, since eggs purchased at the farmers’ market are not likely to be of uniform sizes.
For more detailed discussion of eggs, see Keys to Good Cooking and Kitchen Science by Harold McGee. There are also lots of fun and useful egg facts in these two books.

Epazote & Mexican Mint Marigold

Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosiodes)

Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosides) is an herb that is used in Mexican cooking (sometimes even referred to as “Mexican herb”).  It’s difficult to describe the flavor.  I’ve asked a number of customers at the farmers’ market who have used it and we agree that flavor is a bit like cilantro (or culantro) with a bit of citrus thrown in for good measure, with perhaps a bit of bitterness.  It is one that has become a part of my kitchen garden each year now.  It’s not really a pretty herb, but it is tasty. (Image from Mountain Valley Growers).

It is a tender perennial (dies back to the ground at frost but emerges again in the spring) hardy to USDA zone 8.  It is an heat-loving herb that will develop best flavor in full sun.  It is tolerant of some, but not complete, drying out.   In colder regions it may be over-wintered indoors.

Young leaves can be treated like sorrel–added to other greens, wilted and added to soups, but use sparingly until you’re acquainted with the taste as it can be potent. It is said to reduce the flatulence that can occur after eating beans, and had other medicinal uses by Aztecs.

As with most herbs, I think it is best used fresh, although it can be dried, and is available from Penzeys Spices.  That is how I first used it, but extrapolating from that use, I decided that I wanted to try the fresh herb–and it’s become permanent part of my herb garden.

Mexican mint marigold/Spanish tarragon (Tagetes lucida)

Spanish/Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida)

If you find it impossible to get French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus sativa) to thrive, but would like a reasonable tarragon flavor, the you might want to investigate Spanish tarragon (Tagetes lucida) or Mexican mint marigold.   This plant does better in hot, humid weather than French tarragon.  It is an annual/tender perennial that likes sun, even moisture (but not wet feet) and average soil.  It can be up to 3 feet in height. 

The flavor is anise/licorice rather than what you expect of other “marigolds”.   It is a better substitute for French tarragon than is Russian tarragon.  In recipes calling for French tarragon, you can substitute this herb is the same quantity.  It does break down more quickly than French tarragon with cooking so might need to be added later, or additional added at the end of cooking if the flavor has weakened with heat.  In vinaigrettes, flavored vinegar and sauces it can be used as French tarragon.  Good with eggs, chicken, mild seafood and tomatoes as is French tarragon.