Monthly Archives: July 2012

Quail Eggs & Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)

I was shopping at our local farmers market looking for inspiration for a small gathering at our home that evening, when I discovered some real gems. I’ve learned the hard way that before I stop and shop at ANY booths, I always walk the market in its entirety and take a close look at all of the offerings. This way you avoid the disappointment of stumbling upon fresher produce after you’ve already purchased: buyers remorse.

While making my rounds I came across the first gem of a find: some tied bundles of freshly cut chickpea plants. I became VERY excited. I love to serve new and unusual things to our guests and these little orbs certainly fit that bill. I’ve never prepared chickpeas in their pod before, so this was going to be a nice lesson for me, too.

Fresh quail eggs were the second gem of a find. In my humble opinion, quail eggs are a work of art. I just love putting out a clutch of these beautifully speckled eggs. It makes me happy.

Both of these items are easy peasy lemon squeezy to make. Let’s start with the chickpeas. First, you have to pick each and every precious little pod off the plant. Then you line a baking pan with aluminum foil and drizzle EVOO over them. Now season them with sea salt/pepper and rub them all together so each pod has some EVOO and seasoning on its skin. Bake at 400 until the garbanzo bean inside is al dente, or softer. Timing depends upon how firm/soft you like your bean. Peel back your foil and test them occasionally until you get your preferred consistency.

Make a chickpea burrito with your aluminum foil.

Al dente beans.

Ready for consumption.

I boiled my quail eggs just like I boil hen eggs: in water with a touch of white vinegar. Unlike hen eggs, however, I didn’t boil them for 10 minutes. After 5 minutes I pulled the beauties from the boiling water and plunged them into ice water to stop the cooking. The yolks were perfectly yellow. Sadly, I neglected to get a photo of the peeled eggs. I didn’t want to harass my guests by pulling out the camera while they were trying to eat their meals.

Sliced heirloom tomatoes, feta, fresh basil, quality EVOO, and balsamic vinegar with cooked quail eggs in a nest of micro-arugula. This made for a yummy salad course!

Breakfast radishes from the farmers market with butter and Maldon sea salt. The tomato and quail egg salad were the first course. The chickpeas and radishes were an appetizer.

Another appetizer. This one is made of fresh figs from the farmers market. I wrapped them in pancetta, roasted them, and added gorgonzola cheese during the last 5 minutes or so of cooking.

Ready for our guests!

The main course was a tomatillo and papaya salsa, ancho and chipotle chili pepper marinaded chicken kebabs, and rice with black beans. I’ll post these recipes in next weeks blog.

Eat well!

April

Waffle Sandwiches?

This is the first summer two of our kids have REAL jobs. One son is working nights at the Pageant of the Masters while the other is working for the city. Our daughter’s doing odd jobs like babysitting, house watching, and dog walking. Needless to say, we’re over the moon with joy that they’ll be earning some pocket change (and it is only change, alas) this summer.

My son (the one working for the city) has considerably more hours per week than the other son. He also has to climb out of bed at the unthinkable summer hour of 7AM on some mornings, which is quite an accomplishment for a teenager. Since I knew he was pulling a “double” a couple of days ago, I decided to make him a hearty stick-to-your-ribs breakfast (oh, and, let’s not forget that he has the metabolism of an 18 year old male and can eat ANYTHING he wants without gaining an ounce…makes me sick!). I looked around in the cabinets and fridge and came up with eggs, Prosciutto di San Daniele, maple butter, but, sadly, no bread. I looked at the maple butter again and thought of waffles. Could there be anything better to use as an envelope for crispy prosciutto and a sunny-side up egg? Probably not. So I set forth on mixing up a simple waffle batter.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 1.5 tsp of baking powder
  • 1.5 cups of milk (you can use buttermilk, too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2.5 tbsp of sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • cinnamon to taste (optional)

Preheat your waffle iron. In a large bowl mix your dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat your milk and eggs together. Slowly incorporate your wet ingredients into your dry. Brush some butter or oil on your iron. Now, depending upon the size of your waffle maker, pour out enough batter (I used about 3/4 cup) into the center of your iron to ensure a full-sized waffle. This recipe makes about 4 regular sized waffles.

Before I began mixing up my batter, I preheated my oven to 400 and laid out the prosciutto on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. I baked these delicious strips of cured piggy until they were nice and crisp.

Once you remove your prosciutto from the oven, you can begin cooking your eggs. I like my waffles crispy, so save cooking those for last.

My method for sunny side-up eggs is quite simple. I heat a non-stick pan up pretty hot, crack my egg in the pan and turn the heat down to med-low. Once the albumin (the white part) has begun to coagulate, I turn the heat off and put a lid over the top of the pan until the albumin around the yolk no longer looks wet and runny. You have to keep a watchful eye on this or your yolk could become overcooked. An overcooked yolk will not create the luscious sauce you want to drip out, and all over, your sandwich.

Add some salt (I used Maldon sea salt flakes) and pepper. Remove your pan from the heat while you’re cooking your waffles.

Now you can begin cooking your waffles.

Once you remove your waffles from the iron, spread some maple butter on one side and begin assembling.

Salty, sweet, silky, and crispy all in one bite. Yummo!

Pass the maple syrup!!

“If it is true that dinner is becoming a solitary, fast-feed-yourself experience, I’m hoping that breakfast, with its easy, wholesome honesty, will be an opportunity to be with and share oneself with friends and family.” – Marion Cunningham

Eat well!

April

 

Hummus

Well, Jeffrey’s high school graduation, his Eagle Scout Court of Honor, his long-weekend college orientation, and the 4th of July are now behind us. It’s been a VERY hectic past couple of weeks. Now that all of these distractions have come to a close, and the guests have flown back home, I now have a little free time to focus on what I enjoy doing: creating recipes. That being said, I have been cooking a TON of food these past few weeks for the above occasions, it’s just that I haven’t had the ability to take the time to measure out all of my ingredients (which I hate doing!), take pictures of each of the steps (which I enjoy doing!), and posting said results.

Before I get to the meat of today’s post: hummus, I thought I’d share some photos of a few of our 4th of July guests: Maine lobsters. The plan was to host an old-fashioned New England lobster boil/BBQ at our house in the late afternoon, then watch the fireworks from our front deck.

The day before the 4th I drove over to one of my go-to Asian markets in Irvine to gather up some crustaceans. When I peered into the lobster tank, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The lobsters in there were ginormous! There wasn’t a lobster in the tank that was under 5 lbs. These lobsters could go toe-to-toe with Godzilla (seeing that I was in an Asian market “Godzirra” was the first monster that popped into my head..sorry, I couldn’t resist).  My intention was to buy a 1 pounder for each person, so I asked the fish counter guy if he could give their other store a jingle. It was the same story there, too, no crustacean under 5 pounds; therefore, I left the store with a gaggle of gargantuan lobsters.

The biggest critter in the bunch.

Striking a jiu jitsu pose!

Scaring the bejesus out of the dog.

Let’s get back to the hummus. Last night Monica and I were alone for dinner and we both wanted something quick, easy, healthy, and salad like. Since I had just replenished my tahini supply, we opted for hummus. I could literally live on hummus. Here’s what you’ll need for ingredients.

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (a.k.a chickpeas). Reserve 1/2 cup of the bean liquid to add to the blender.
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • A generous pinch of Espelette pepper
  • 2 tbsp of tahini
  • 3 sun dried tomatoes (packed in EVOO)
  • 1 tbsp of EVOO
  • The juice from 2 large lemons

Add all of your ingredients to the blender.

You can see the size of the three sun dried tomatoes on top. You could add, or deduct, one to two depending upon your affinity for sun dried toms.

Blend until smooth and creamy.

While my hummus was blending, I began to warm up some garlic naan that I had purchased at Trader Joe’s. You could use pita bread or whatever floats your boat.

I minced one shallot, diced a Persian cucumber (a seedless cuke), chopped up an heirloom tomato, and made a basil chiffonade (basil leaves cut into long, thin strips) with about 4 leaves. I put some hummus in a bowl and sprinkled some Maldon sea salt flakes over the top, gave it a drizzle of EVOO, and threw a pinch more of Esplette pepper.

I then topped the hummus with some shallot, cucumber, tomato, and the basil. If I had some feta cheese I would have added some feta crumbles, too. I placed the remaining cucumber and tomato on the platter with the sliced naan. It was Über healthy and Über delicious!

Eat well!

April

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ~ Orson Welles