Friday: Breakfast in Bed

While everyone is thinking about Easter brunch and egg hunting this weekend, all I want is breakfast in bed. On Sunday I’m planning lying in our light filled bedroom, reading the travel section, and eating pancakes. I will sip my tea and chat with the husband about far away places and adventures while our little dachshund, Minnie, sits at the foot of the bed chewing her bone. The American Finches will chirp outside the open window as a soft breeze blows in. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I often wish that the day would never end, but it does. And then comes Monday.

Let’s not dwell on Monday, though. This is about Sunday, and pancakes! I always have a jar of homemade instant pancake mix in the cupboard. The recipe is from the Nigella Express cookbook. These pancakes are small by American standards, about the size the saucer that comes with your teacup. I love them because they are soft and buttery and not too sweet a batter. In the description Nigella writes, “This is going to change your life irrevocably. Forgive any scintilla of self-congratulatory preening and accept my boast as simple, enthusiastic exuberance.” It’s true! How great is it to have your own instant pancake mix at the ready so when the mood strikes, pancakes are only a minute from your plate?

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Storyboard: Eggs

Egg Collage



The Egg in Your Pantry

Eggs are certainly a mainstay of the pantry. I’m amazed by all the different things an egg can do. Their protein and lipid makeup is important to the physiology of cooking and baking so many dishes. In his book, Eggs, Michel Roux covers the many functions of the egg: a leavener in cakes, breads, and soufflés, a thickener in sauces and custards, a base for dressings, a coating for breaded fried foods, a glossy wash to brown baked goods- the list goes on and on. Eggs give structure to meringues and sponges. They act as a binder for meatballs. Eggs give form to batters for pancakes, waffles, and crêpes. Seriously, what can’t an egg do? Thank you, egg.  You are amazing!

Buying Eggs

When you set out to buy eggs for your home pantry, ask yourself, “What do I want in an egg?” Reading egg carton labels can be confusing, but if you think about purchasing eggs this way it becomes a lot simpler. I want to support farmers who treat chickens humanely. I want eggs from chickens that are healthy, allowed act like a chicken should: grazing in fields and eating bugs. I want local eggs that are tasty and fresh.  I do not want eggs from conventional farming where the chickens are treated with antibiotics, given feed that contains pesticides or GMOs, caged, or de-beaked. Ideally, you have access to local, farm-fresh eggs at a farmer’s market. If not, I suggest taking a hard look at what your local grocer has to offer. Read the labels carefully, research the company online, and taste eggs from several different producers. My grocer carries eggs from two local farms, and I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the taste of one farm’s eggs over the other. Be a smart consumer and make a conscious decision to support farmers you believe in. The way you spend your dollars in the store will have a direct effect on the choices you will have in the future.

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Cook in the Moment: Scrambled Eggs

Spring Farmer’s Market Scramble

served with a side of sautéed market spinach

Here in Colorado, the spring growing season has barely begun. I look at pictures of fava beans and strawberries with disbelief and a bit of jealousy. The harbinger of spring, asparagus, hasn’t even arrived here. I wander the produce section of the grocery store and everything seems to be from Mexico. Dedicated to following the seasons, I bide my time and try to enjoy the few pleasures available now. At the Boulder Farmer’s Market I see spinach, green garlic, and locally grown Hazel Dell mushrooms. I pick up farm fresh eggs and start feeling a bit more optimistic.  Tomorrow’s breakfast will be scrambled eggs.

The most important thing about cooking eggs any way is to be gentle. Eggs should be prepared with a low heat and ample time. I spent a year as a morning baker and short order breakfast cook, and eggs were a source of constant performance anxiety- until I learned this lesson. The pan should be given some time to warm up before the eggs go in, but it should never be screaming hot. We’ve all had that experience of an egg hissing and popping while cooking fat splatters everywhere- the pan is too hot. So, heat the pan and slide a nub of unsalted butter in.  The butter will melt and then begin to foam. For a scrambled egg: lightly whisk your eggs and pour them into the pan, stirring constantly as the eggs cook. Always under cook your scrambled eggs slightly, as they will continue to cook on the plate. This makes the difference between a creamy soft scrambled egg and a dry, rubbery scrambled egg. In his book, Eggs, Michel Roux writes, “Scrambling is the finest way to cook eggs in my opinion.” I totally agree. The fancy omelet gets a lot of attention, but there is something luxurious and really comforting about a perfectly scrambled egg.

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10 Ways Tuesdays: Eggs

Eggs - 10 Ways

 

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use eggs in your spring pantry:

 

1.  Curd

I love lemon curd in the early spring, when there is precious little fruit in the cupboard. Curd, which is a custard,  can be used as a condiment spread over toast, drop scones, or pound cake.  It is also a lovely layer in tarts and cake filling. In Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook there is a recipe for grapefruit curd, which I think could be amazing with the addition of elderflower flavor.

2.  Olive Oil Cake

Instead of the old standby pound cake, why not try an olive oil cake? Here’s how the Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual describes olive oil cake, “Our olive oil cake works after a meal and is great for breakfast, but it’s also ideal 3p.m. pastry- not too sweet, not too heavy, great with a good espresso.” I personally am a huge fan of olive oil cake, and would love to slather a bit of lemon curd over it.

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Ingredient of the Week: Eggs

Ingredient Of The Week - Eggs

As Easter approaches eggs are everywhere you look. Maybe I’m feeling a little left out- I don’t have any little ones eagerly awaiting the Easter bunny, and dying eggs isn’t really my thing. I do like to eat eggs, though. As a matter of fact, I love to eat eggs. And so, eggs shall be the ingredient of the week! Throughout the seasons, eggs play many roles in cooking. Eggs are a practical part of the spring pantry, as the longer days and warmer temperatures prompt hens to increase laying. For many of us there are few vegetables ready for harvest just yet. Even so, we crave spring flavors. While we wait for the bounty of vegetables to arrive, we can savor a farm fresh egg.

Tackling the subject of eggs is a bit daunting. Not only can you eat eggs cooked as the main dish: boiled, poached, fried, scrambled, baked, and as an omelet; eggs are an essential component in many dishes: pastry, pasta, custard, sauces, pancakes, soufflés, and more. While you will find eggs in the fridge of most of our homes, I think many are stuck in an egg rut, making the same thing over and over again. This week at la domestique, be inspired to try something new. Shake up your routine and prepare eggs in a different way. Let the season of spring be your guide. The mild temperatures and cool spring breeze create a perfect atmosphere to enjoy the rich, unctuous egg with bright greens and herbs, a light soup, or maybe a delicate spear of asparagus. When summer comes we will be too hot to enjoy a poached egg with hollandaise sauce or decadent goat cheese soufflé. Now is the time for egg salad sandwiches and deviled egg picnics.

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