Scrambled Eggs – A Simple Morning Treat

EggsMushroomsZucciniAhh, eggs for breakfast this morning. It can a simple meal, sometimes nostalgic, and can be incredibly satisfying. There are 100 million variations on how to put them together, and each chef has their own preferred method. In fact, each person has their own preferred style, and that’s partly why there are so many ways to eat them. Ok, perhaps 100 million variations is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea, right? So, how did I do my eggs this morning? And why so much talk about simple meals from a chef? I’m glad you asked.

Today’s eggs were quite simple. I took a handful of mushrooms and sauteed them in ample amounts of coconut oil. The flavor of coconut oil on a stir fry or an egg is incredible – very subtle and hard to detect, but the slight sweetness is excellent. While the mushrooms were sizzling quietly away, I pulled out a zucchini, and chopped it up in to large pieces, approximately 1 inch square. I did one whole zucchini for 2 people, and a similar amount of mushrooms. For me, they both amount to a large handful of chopped food, but less than 2 handfuls. I don’t usually worry too much about measuring, though I suppose I will have to get in the habit of it when writing up actual recipes for this site. More to come on that later…

I tended the pan for a few minutes, making certain that all of the vegetables were well coated in the coconut oil, and there was just a trace of oil on the surface of the pan. Any more and the oil will take over the flavor of the food; but less and the eggs will stick, requiring vigorous stirring. So, when I do scrambled eggs, I do some things a bit differently than most chefs: I generally do scrambled eggs when I am adding large chopped vegetables, particularly if I like the flavor of the vegetable, since an omelet often hides the flavors. Also, I typically do not whisk the eggs in a bowl, I will crack them directly in to the pan, and stir them vigorously in the pan until they are mixed directly with the vegetables. There are quite a few personal-preference reasons for these differences. But a few would make sense immediately: I don’t have to worry about a customer complaining that the consistency or color of their eggs is “weird”. Also, I find that I like the slightly varied color of the white mixed with the yellow. I find that it’s appetizing for me. But, as usual, everything comes down to the combination of preference, presentation, and flavor. And the way I prepared my eggs this morning was based on my preferences, my presentation, and the way I like to showcase the flavors. The flavors of today’s breakfast, again, being the mushrooms and zucchini.

And here they are!

Apple Ham Salad – A Thanksgiving Throwback

Mmm… My palate inspiration from yesterday carried forward. And it worked beautifully. Today I started the day with an Apple Ham salad, where Apple was the star of the show, and really shined. I’m not sure if you have noticed yet, but I work hard to blend ingredients in a way that lets them really speak for themselves, and wherever possible, I augment their voice with some supporting ingredients. Let’s take a look at how I did that today:

The salad was a wonderful blend of greens, as usual, some flavor ingredients, and the leading ingredients. The greens today were wild arugula, chopped in 1 inch squares and some sliced celery. I really like the flavor of the wild arugula, when it’s available, over the standard stuff. It could just be me of course, but I feel like the leaves are a little more crisp, the flavor is more nutty and a little more sharp. I always take wild arugula when it’s available. The celery was used to bring out the sharp or crisp flavor of the Apple, in the hopes that the Apple comes out more in the food. Again, it’s a supporting food, so it’s flavor should either support the Apple, or offer a contributing flavor which adds, but does not subtract from, the overall intent of the dish.

The flavor ingredients consisted of crimini mushrooms (also known as baby bella), avocado, carrots (today I used chopped baby carrots), milled flax seed, and as always: olive oil. The crimini mushrooms contribute a wonderfully subtle nutty flavor, an excellent supporting flavor for the Apple; similarly, the flax seed offers an additional and slightly different fresh nutty flavor. Since both the crimini mushrooms and the flax seed are very subtle flavors, and slightly different, they combine quite nicely without overpowering the Apple, which is itself a subtle flavor.

And finally, we have the Ham and the Apple. The Ham I chose was a “cooked ham,” a cold-cut off the shelf of any grocery store. I am always careful to select cold cuts which have no added ingredients, and where possible, I try to further select on the basis of what the animal was fed. Though, that’s not always possible, or reasonable. In this case, no salt was added, nor preservatives, only water after cutting and packaging. That is, if you believe the package… And the Apple: I chose a McIntosh for the salad for today. I like McIntosh a lot because it’s the perfect combination of sweet and tart – and that flavor comes out really well in foods. It’s a great choice for pies, cakes, etc. and for a more simple dish like a salad.

And there you have it. The salad came out great, and the Apple flavor stood out just like I planned!

Maintaining my tools

I woke up this morning with a ravishing hunger. Really, my stomach was grumbling audibly, almost like it was trying to actually physically speak to me. So I went to wash my face, thinking about how to satisfy my stomach’s complaining, and headed to the kitchen looking to rustle up some morning grub.

I walked in to the kitchen with pie-in-the-sky visions of smoked salmon, some bacon and eggs, all over a bed of lemon washed arugula; or a bacon and sun dried tomato Paleo Style quiche; or a good old breakfast salad. My mind and body were in sync! Unfortunately, my kitchen was not. There, spread around my kitchen were the reminders of my revelry from the previous day. As you can see from the picture below, there is no small mess.

And as the mess in this picture sank in, those delightful breakfast visions fizzled, the bubble in which they were cooking popped in my head, letting the reality of the situation put cold water on my creative fire. I needed to clean up. And the truth is, I should have taken care of it last night. I put it off, then, in favor of some other task, which seemed important at the time. But now, hungry, my creative juices begging to be set free on the tools of my art, I am in the position of preparing those tools, much the same as I might chop some mushrooms or onions, for the food to come.

I set to work washing, scrubbing, cleaning, drying, soaking. It was slow going. Each piece demands it’s own maintenance. The knives need to be carefully hand washed and dried before being returned to their rack. The wine glasses need to be hand washed, dried, and returned to the wine-glass cupboard. The salad bowl and cutting board need to be hot rinsed, lightly oiled, and set aside to rest the wood. The remainder of the dishes and the counter need to be scrubbed. It’s a big job, but important. Can a painter ignore his brush? Can a musician ignore his instrument? Well, neither can a chef ignore his knives, board, serving tools, and work space.

There, done. Now, where were those breakfast creations I was cooking up?

Breakfast Salad – Coconut Ham

Good morning!
Mornings are a busy time for me. I get up early because I have a lot to get done before heading to work. I like to get a workout in, so I need to be up s little extra early, to give the coffee some time to do it’s magic. My morning workouts are short – just enough to get a good sweat, get the blood pumping, and clear my head. Then I’m in the kitchen. Now, it’s still early; I have 2, and sometimes 3 meals to prepare for the day, and they each have to serve 2+ people! But fear not: the food is always treated with the care and thoughtfulness that will result in a delicious meal. And on that note…

Coconut Ham Salad.
As usual, I start with the greens: Spring mix, with a hand full of wild arugula, mint, clover sprouts, and green onions. The salad and arugula are chopped to about 2 inch squares, while the onion and sprouts are chopped down to 1/2 inch, and the mint is more finely chopped.

Next, the stars of the show: Coconut and Ham. I use dried Coconut chips, this batch was baked, and the flavor is amazing! The Ham is a rosemary spiced ham. The nice thing about rosemary is that the flavor is subtle so, like the green onion and mint, it can take it’s place as a supporting flavor. The Ham gets chopped to 1 inch cubes, or smaller when I have the time. Of course, time and value need to be carefully balanced – I want the texture and flavor to mesh, but I don’t have infinite time to fuss over the details. And to finish it all off: some olive oil. Mixing it, again by hand, and serving it in some plastic containers to bring it with me to work, and I’m off!

Gourmet Leftovers

I know that the word “Leftovers” conjures up images of gross slimy stuff which has been sitting in your fridge for days, or longer. The “Fridge Flavor” is one of the most feared extra flavors I have heard of among friends and family. And that’s for those of you who even keep their leftovers, that is. Plenty of people I know consider each meal to be a one-shot deal, and anything which is not consumed is thrown away, or fed to the dogs. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Leftovers are a great source of food, and in some cases, even better than the original meal. Have you ever noticed that Tuna Salad is actually better the day after you made it than it is on the first day? Or maybe an Avocado dip, like guacamole, is better after an hour in the fridge than if you had served it immediately? There’s a reason for that – provided you kept them in a properly sealed glass container, where the flavors of the food can mature itself, without any of the added “Fridge Flavor” people so carefully avoid.

Well, take a look at what I served up last night for dinner, and tell me that you wouldn’t want that served to you? Everything on the plate is a “Leftover” from a previous meal; either extra food made for the sole purpose of leftovers, or extra un-prepared vegetables, stored properly, to be used at a future date.

The ground beef was amazing. I originally cooked it in a touch of bacon grease with mushrooms, and seasoned it with just a pinch of sea salt, some ground turmeric, and some thyme. Across the back of the dish you can see the cucumbers I use as a functional substitute for chips, basically something delicious in it’s own right, but which can be used to pick up my dip. The baby carrots in the middle were steamed. I have to admit it: occasionally I am lazy enough to use “baby carrots” rather than full sized ones… Usually if I get home late and need to put together a meal quickly. And on the right is the Cilantro dip I made several days ago. As I mentioned above: there are things that turn out to be better the second time you eat them. This dip is one of them. The garlic in the original dip was almost as powerful as the cilantro, but a few days in the fridge helped the garlic mature in to the supporting role it was meant for. Similarly, when the dip was fresh, it was a little too much on the liquid side; but after some time in the fridge it thickened nicely.

Dinner was amazing! And there’s no reason “Leftovers” cannot become a gourmet meal.