Time: 1 hour
Basic idea; hard boiled egg yolks are dry and boring. So, remove them from the white, mix them with stuff to make them moister and tastier, and put them back in again. Suddenly the boring breakfast becomes the appetizer that’s finished first. As with pizza, soup, etc. this is a very flexible idea. If you’re into jalapeno, wasabe, etc., go for it. Here’s what I do:
- 8 eggs
- 5 TBSP mayonaise
- 1.5 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp apple vinegar
- 1 tsp paprika
- Put the eggs in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover them. Boil; when bubbles rise to the top, start a timer for 8 minutes.
- Cool the eggs under running water.
- Peel them, by gently bumping them all over on a hard flat surface and breaking off bits of shell. A boiled egg has an air pocket somewhere between the flesh and the shell. If you can find it (try the big end), that’s a good place to peel. Get the thin membrane between the shell and the egg flesh started, then you can tug it and the shell away pretty easily. If the flesh starts to tear, peel it in another direction until you can approach that bit from the other side to minimize the damage. If it’s hot, back to the water. Rinse away shell crumbs.
- Cut the peeled hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise.
- Remove the yolk from each half into a mixing bowl. Often I can pop out the yolk by pressing the tips of the white toward each other to start the separation, then gently pulling the tips away from each other while pushing on the back of the white with my thumbs. With luck the yolk falls out and I don’t punch a hole in the white. Without it, once the edge of the yolk protrudes I flip it out with my fingertips. Remove any lingering yolk by scraping it out with a grapefruit spoon.
6. You’ll notice that each yolk is about a tablespoon in size. Aim to double that volume with additives; it’s better to overshoot a little than to leave someone staring disconsolately at a half-empty egg. Add the mayo, mustard and vinegar. Give it a good shake of salt and pepper. Stir it and adjust ingredients if needed for a stiff frosting-like consistency that will be workable but not runny.
7. Load up a pointy soup spoon (which is about a tablespoon in size; hmm, maybe that’s where the name originated?) so it’s slightly rounded. Point the tip into an egg white cavity, and urge the filling into the hole with the back of a second soup spoon. Ideally you’ll make a nice mound of filling that stands up out of the cavity like a whole egg yolk would do.
8. Garnish with paprika; this is a pretty mild spice that we’re using mostly for color. I found that, if shaken, paprika comes out in big globs. So instead I put it on the rim of a saucer, hold it over an egg filling and urge a little onto its top with the tip of a sharp knife.
9. Should any eggs be less than perfect, or for quality assurance purposes, add a couple of them to the cook.
Time: 2 minutes
Can’t drink coffee? You can still enjoy a hot, fluffy, flavorful latte. Try this quickie treat and you’ll be searching the kitchen for the biggest mug on the premises. You’ll need an Aerolatte or some other way to make milk froth. In this recipe, by “cup” I mean the cup you’re going to drink it out of.
- 1/3 cup milk, or a milk substitute that contains enough oil to make foam
- 1/3 cup water
- Tea bag (I like a strong black tea, maybe it’s coffee envy?)
- 7 drops of vanilla-flavored stevia, or your favorite sweetener
- In a microwaveable pitcher, microwave the milk for 1 min. 15 sec. (old style microwave; half that for new, more powerful ones). Heat it close to boiling; ideally, 190 F.
- In a microwaveable mug, microwave the tea bag in the water for 1 min. 30 sec., boiling it. While it’s running,
- Add the sweetener to the hot milk.
- Whip the hot milk into a wettish foam with the Aerolatte. Stop when it has grown to about 220% of its original volume. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll get stiff, undrinkable foam.
- When the microwave dings, brew the tea to the strength you like and take out the bag.
- Help the milk foam into the tea by urging it over the brink of the pitcher with a spoon as you’re pouring it.
I like to gently, vertically stir the beverage. That way, I get both tea and foam all the way down. But stirring is a debated topic among baristas.
Time: 45 minutes
Serves 3 (or 2 with enough leftovers for 2 lunches)
I can’t cook, so my recipes cannot fail. This one has lots of flexibility. If you like something, put it in; if you don’t, leave it out. You’ll need:
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce, no salt
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 0.5 lb. ground meat
- About 10 white or brown mushrooms
- 4 tsp. basil
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tbsp. sherry
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic
- Brown the meat in a frying pan. If it’s ground turkey, use a little oil.
- Clean the mushrooms; I peel their caps under running water, rub or trim away other dirty parts, and cut off the tips of their stems. Slice them 1/8 inch thick; if the mushrooms are very big, cross slice them in half.
- Put the tomato sauce and paste in a saucepan and keep it on low. Add water to get the consistency of sauce you like; I add about 3/4 cup a little at a time. You can always add more water but you can’t take it out again.
- Put the browned meat in the sauce.
- Fry the mushrooms in the same frying pan, in a little oil. As a bonus, they’ll clean up your pan and taste better too. If water oozes out of them, pour it into the sauce. Fry them until they’re brown colored and about half their original size. Put them in the sauce.
- Add the spices to the sauce. Grinding them up with mortar and pestle will make them more effective. It’s hard to use too much basil. Don’t worry about the fennel seed cases, they just add texture. Careful with the oregano, it’s potent.
- Add the sherry, or any cheap wine you have around that you’re trying to get rid of. Don’t add it to the cook; he deserves better.
- Peel the garlic cloves; I do this by cutting off their tips, making a lengthwise cut on a flattish side and slipping the knife blade under the papery skin to tease it off. Trim off any brown spots. Squeeze them in a garlic press into the sauce. Wash out the garlic press right away or it gets hard to clean.
- When your spaghetti or other pasta is almost ready, bring the sauce to a brief boil with a lid so it won’t spatter, stir it and make sure it’s hot all the way thru. Time to eat!
If you’re having spaghetti, half a 17.6 oz. package is enough for two people. We use whole wheat spaghetti, because the regular kind seems a bit bland. Break it in half as you drop it into a big pot of boiling water. Use a fork to gently shake it here and there so the noodles don’t stick. Do this again in a minute, then it should be fine. Boil it for 9 minutes total, then drain it. Pour a little olive oil into the serving bowl, add the spaghetti and toss it to coat the noddles so they won’t stick together. When you’ve finished a package, cut off the top two inches of the wrapper. After you’re into your next package of spaghetti, use the end you saved to cap the open end and secure it with a rubber band.
If you’re having asparagus too, rinse it a few stalks at a time. Snap off the root ends by holding them about one-third of their length from the root end with one hand, and bending that end sideways with your other hand. People who cut off the root ends are either wasting asparagus or serving tough, inedible asparagus; the stalks will break at just the right place if you do it with your hands. Steam it covered at the same time you cook the spaghetti, starting it afterward because it will cook faster. Check it often by poking a fork into it; the slight resistance of a fork going into perfect asparagus is hard to describe, but think of how you’d like it to be when you eat it. Or a sure method is to fish out a piece now and then, cool it off and eat it. When it’s ready, get that steamer out of there and rinse it in cold water to make it stop cooking. Cut a lemon in half, flip out the seeds with the tip of a knife and squeeze it over the asparagus. Yum!
Time: 1 hour
Serves 3 (or 2 with enough leftovers for 2 lunches)
A good hot bowl of soup is such a comfort on a drizzly day, which we get a lot of in Seattle. Homemade soup is way better than canned soup. And it’s not hard to make if you consider soup as a presentation rather than a process. The idea here is to get some hot, tender vegetables and meat in a tasty broth and keep them there long enough for their flavors to go into the broth. Broth is hard to make so I just start with a box of broth (canned soup tastes like a can) and add stuff to it. The best one I’ve found is corn and lemongrass soup. It has a tangy Thai flavor and doesn’t need any more seasoning, tho a well-chopped garlic clove wouldn’t hurt it. I cook with as little oil as possible because oil gives me a stomach ache, so I microwave the veggies instead of sautéing them. You’ll find that leftover soup tastes better than freshly-made soup, so don’t be afraid to make lots of it.
- 2 – 3 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- 10 – 12 white or brown mushrooms. When you buy them make sure their gills haven’t opened, and they aren’t beat up or old-looking. Some dirt is okay, we’ll wash them.
- Corn and lemon grass (or some other creamy) soup. Other good ones are squash, or mushroom.
- Hard vegetables, such as a carrot, yam, small potato, half a parsnip, etc.
- Soft vegetables, such as a zucchini, summer squash, etc.
- 2-3 green onions (I can’t eat regular onions, but you could try them)
- Garlic clove? Peeled and finely chopped. Will make your hands smell and you can’t wash it off, a happy reminder of what good soup you made.
- Some frozen chopped spinach, say a cup
- Brown the chicken in a little oil for a few minutes on each side in a frying pan for which you have a lid. Salt and pepper it on each side. I cook a whole package and put half of it aside in the refrigerator for some other purpose; usually Pat disappears it.
- Also boil water.
- When the chicken has brown streaks, pour the water into the pan so the chicken is about half-covered and put the lid on it, poaching the chicken for 8 minutes.
- While this is going on, clean the mushrooms. Rinse and peel their tops, cut away any dirty parts you can’t get clean, and cut off the ends of their stems. Slice them 1/8 inch thick.
- Start warming the broth at a low temperature, about the 9 o’clock position on our stove. Don’t boil it.
- Put the spinach in the soup now so it will thaw. I pinch it out of a larger bag and put the rest back in the freezer.
- When the chicken is done, cut into the fattest piece and peek in to make sure there’s no pink. Dice it and put it in the soup.
- Fry the mushrooms in a little oil, until they’re about half their original size, turning them over now and then. Put them in the soup. If water comes out of them, that’s extra value; pour it into the soup to capture that flavor and let the mushrooms fry better. The mushrooms practically clean up the chicken leavings in the pan.
- Clean and dice or slice the hard vegetables. Parsnip is tangy so cut it real small and just use half of one. Don’t peel the carrots, the peel is good for you. Microwave them on a plate for 6 minutes or until they aren’t quite soft enough when you poke them with a fork.
- Clean and dice or slice the soft vegetables. Also the green onions. Add them to the plate and microwave it for another 2-3 minutes. Put them in the soup.
- Carefully increase the heat under the soup, stirring it regularly or if bubbles start to appear. By this time it may seem more like stew than soup. All the stuff in it will act like an insulator, so the bottom heats much faster than the top. You might taste a little to make sure it’s hot enough to serve. If it boils much the broth is likely to separate so don’t let it.
Serve with crusty artisan bread. You can warm it, and resuscitate old bread, by sprinkling a little water on it with your fingers and slipping it into a 350 degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Also we like to have a fruit dessert, such as melon or apple slices (slice apples at the table so they don’t have time to get brown).