Thursday, February 27, 2014

Deconstructed Hollandaise Raw Egg Appetizer

I belong to a traditional nutrition club that meets once  a month. It is based on the work of Dr. Weston Price and Dr. Francis Pottenger, among others. Every month we have a speaker or a topic for discussion. Last year we had a meeting about about raw animal foods. Every traditional society ate some animal foods raw. One example is steak tartare. I wanted to bring something unique, as someone had already said she was bringing steak tartare. I thought about it and searched the internet for ideas.

Earlier that year I had tried eating raw egg yolks and loved them. It wasn't that far from soft boiled eggs, which my mother made for me as a child. When eating eggs over easy, I always try to cut away the white and pick up the whole yolk on my fork so that none of it breaks onto the plate. I searched for raw egg yolk appetizers that I could make for the meeting. There were a few but none really caught my imagination. One night my family was having asparagus and I made hollandaise sauce to go along with it. That became my inspiration for Deconstructed Hollandaise. I brought the lemon butter in a thermos to keep it the right temperature. I separated the eggs into plastic shot glasses and topped them with the lemon butter. It was a hit with most people. It's Hollandaise! What's not to like?

Warm 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a dash of white pepper.

Put one tablespoon of lemon butter into the serving cup.

Separate the yolk from the egg

Add the yolk to the cup. 

Deconstructed Hollandaise Raw Egg appetizer

1 stick of salted butter
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
dash white pepper

Warm 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a dash of white pepper. Put one tablespoon of lemon butter into the serving cup. Separate the yolk from the egg.  Add the yolk to the cup. Enjoy!

There is lemon butter left over, so you could make it smaller buy using 1/3 stick of butter and 1 tsp lemon juice. After you try it, you might decide a tablespoon per yolk is too stingy or maybe too lavish. Play around with it.

I'll bet you think I left something out. How do you eat it, you say?  Plop it into your mouth like taking a shot of tequila. I suppose you could use a spoon but why dirty another utensil?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Too many greens? Make this Green Chowder

This is my third year having a subscription to a CSA. (what is a CSA?) Each farm has been excellent to work with. The customer service and food quality have been great. The problem I still have is getting too much food of what I don't want and not enough of what I do want.  Last year I got a huge box of food every week. It was an extremely hot summer. There was a little wilting from the heat. I had to hurry to pick up the box and quickly get the greens into the cold water bath to reinvigorate them, wash them and put them into the fridge. This chore took up to 2 hours every Thursday. I still have spinach in the freezer from those days. Every delivery is a new adventure. I am delighted to receive things that you only get if you grow them your self like garlic scapes and heirloom varieties. The boxes contain foods I love and my kids will eat. Usually we never got enough of those kinds of veggies. I also have a medium size garden. Sometimes there is just too much food to manage. It stresses me out because I don't want to waste any of it. Only a few of the foods don't freeze well, so I just need to time to work on it.

In the early part of the season comes a lot of known and unknown greens. I didn't grow up eating cooked greens. I have learned to grow and cook them but a little goes a long way. I'm not too fond of them.  I know kale smoothies are all the rage these days. I think eating kale raw is a mistake if done more than once in a while. It's a digestion and assimilation issue. Plus, raw kale is goitrogenic. I purchased Greens, Glorious Greens!, a cookbook with some new ideas. I tried a few recipes with varying results.There are more I need to try, though some are too carby for me.  I recommend this cookbook (caveat: the song from Ice Age 2  might get stuck in your head. Yes, I know it's from Oliver but I like this one.)

I love supporting local food. It makes sense economically, nutritionally, and sustainably. The food is fresher, more nutrient dense and uses less energy to deliver it to the customer. The CSA I have this year is a very small one. I was friends with the farmers before they started the CSA. I respect them 100%. Having heard their lectures on gardening, I know their food as the very highest quality available. Yet, I'm still frustrated by the greens.

Here's one of my coping mechanisms - Green Chowder. (I was going to call it WTF CSA!? Chowder, but I thought I should be nice.) I got the idea from this Onion Puree Soup Recipe, which the author used to alleviate  urinary tract infection symptoms. That recipe starts with sauteing four kinds of onions in a stick of butter, adding water and pureeing it with the blender. It is a pretty good soup and successfully worked for the intended purpose. It is a very nice base for any kind of cream-of soup and it doesn't call for any flour. The idea with the recipe below is to create a thick chowder base and change the seasonings to make different soups. I have made it with chard, spinach, kale, arugula, dandelions and stuff I can't identify. The first CSA year was a cold spring. I got LOTS of green onions from the CSA plus from my garden.

Green Chowder Base
Ingredient amounts are based on quantities of the greens you are using up. Use more fat and broth as needed.

2-3 tablespoons fat (chicken fat, lard, bacon fat, beef tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, butter - whatever you want to cook with)
bunches of greens, washed, stems trimmed as needed
1 quart of bone broth
1 onion, chopped  (optional)
1 few cloves of garlic (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim your greens. Chopping is unnecessary (but it depends on your blender). Heat the stock pot to medium high. Add fat/oil until shimmering. Add onion and garlic if using. Add a bunch of greens. Put the lid on and let it wilt. Check on it in a few minutes and stir it around. Add broth. Do you have more greens? add them in batches. Put the lid on until wilted.

Get out the blender or immersion blender (preferred). Puree the whole thing until no identifiable particles remain. If you didn't chop the greens beforehand, you may need to turn off the stick blender and pull pieces out of the blade from time to time. Taste your creation  to know how much salt and pepper to add.

Ideas for this chowder: 

  • eat it as is
  • add meat and vegetables for texture and flavor
  • Add some heavy cream or butter and make cream-of asparagus soup, broccoli soup, carrot soup, cauliflower soup, mushroom soup... 
  • Add chicken and lemon juice or make it into Avgolemono.
  • It  might make a nice green Vichyssoise
  • Thai inspired: 2 cups chowder, 1 can of coconut milk, 1 teaspoon chili paste, 1-2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, garlic, lime juice, fresh cilantro or basil
  • Southern greens inspired: add bacon and 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Tex Mex inspired: chorizo, onions, bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, green chilies (or spicier kinds like jalapeno), chili powder, fresh cilantro
  • Gazpacho: who says you have to eat it hot? Chill it, then add tomatoes, tomato juice, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, avocado, Tabasco, etc.. then blend it all again
  • Italian inspired: tomato sauce, italian herbs (basil, oregano), olive oil, Parmesan cheese, some ground beef or italian sausage
  • Italian wedding soup: sausage, meatballs, cooked chicken or maybe pasta, italian herbs
  • German green bean soup - fresh or frozen green beans, potatoes, ham, bacon or polish sausage and the key herb is summer savory
  • Sauerkraut soup: 1-2 cups sauerkraut, pork or polish sausage
  • Goulash: tomato paste, beef stew meat, paprika, onions. 
  • German potato soup: cook peeled, diced potatoes in the chowder with a bay leaf and black pepper. Add some bacon, ham or ground beef.
  • New England Clam Chowder: clams, potatoes, celery, bacon, cream
  • Bean, split pea or lentil soup: I would cook the legumes separately, mix them into this chowder and simmer it some more.
  • chill and mix it with sour cream or cream cheese and fresh herbs as a dip 
  • Curry: cook down this base, add curry spices, meat, paneer, or chickpeas. Maybe base it on Saag Paneer

    So you get the idea. It can use up greens you don't really want to eat and maybe other leftover foods too. When I want to make a specific soup like Italian Wedding Soup or Goulash, I google it and read a few of the recipes until I have an idea of what is generally in the dish. I compare that with what I have on hand and try it out. 

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Enormous Zucchini

    I happened upon a fantastic thing today - Disappearing Zucchini Quiche. I had a baseball bat sized zucchini from my garden. I didn't know what I was going to do with it. To start, I peeled it, cut it in quarters lengthwise and seeded it. Then I sliced it vertically into spears and ran it through my food processor with the shredder blade. I mixed it with salt and sat it in a colander in the sink for a few hours while I went back to work. I considered fermenting it like sauerkraut.

    Later I found a recipe for I Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Crab Crab Cakes, which are basically, Old Bay seasoned zucchini latkes. I never do a good job with these. They never firm up. They stick to the pan. I get the pan temp wrong. It's awful. They ended up mushy and reeking of the fat I cooked it in. Blech.

    While I was researching what to do with this zucchini, my oldest daughter said that she LOVES quiche. My sister-in-law bakes quiche often and she had tried it over there. So I threw together a crustless quiche with the rest of the zucchini completely based on what I had. Here goes:

    Disappearing Zucchini Quiche

    Preheat oven to 350F.

    whisk together

    7-8 eggs

    1/2 cup milk

    toss with

    ~ 2.5 cups of shredded, salted and drained zucchini

    ~ 2 cups of shredded cheddar

    ~ 1 cup bacon bits

    Grease rectangular baking pan. I used a 8 x 11.5 x 2in pyrex dish. Pour whole thing in there. Move it around a little to make sure the zucchini is well distributed. It was done in about 25-30 minutes. I turned off the oven and tossed a cup of shredded cheddar on the top. and let it melt. Notice I added no seasonings. There was already a lot of salt from the zucchini, cheese and bacon.

    The amazing thing was that I COULD NOT tell that there was zucchini in this dish. It completely melded with the texture of the egg. My oldest daughter loved it. She is taking it for lunch tomorrow.

    My son cracked us all up with his suffering. First, his Dad said we were having eggs for dinner. He used an outraged and whiny tone of voice.

    My son exclaimed, "Eggs!?! For DINNER?!?".

    Then I said, "No, it is quiche."

    "Quiche? Why do we have to have quiche?! Oh, look there's CHEESE on top of it! Why does there have to be cheese?"

    "There's cheese inside of it too."


    I served it and said, "Wow, I can't tell there's zucchini in here at all."


    Every time he protested, we couldn't help but laugh. Poor guy. Of course, he hated it after one bite.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Have a heart for Valentine's Day!

    I'm in favor of nose to tail eating. Organ meats are very nutritious. My mother served liver often. I don't remember there being a big deal about it. One time a neighbor girl was over for dinner. Her father was a grocery store manager. She said she only ate steak, so my mother called it "liver-steak". Tongue is also delicious. It is a very tender meat.

    I have tried cooking beef heart a few times. It tastes like a cross between liver and steak. It can be cooked like steak. I researched a lot of recipes online. So far, I'm more successful when I make stew out of it. I have made Beef Burgundy from Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet. It was pretty good. I liked it but my family was lukewarm about it. I found it is a little better mixed with stew meat.

    This recipe tastes like classic American beef stew.

    1 beef heart

    2 lbs stew meat

    1 bottle stout ale

    1 can of tomato paste

    2 bay leaves

    6 cloves garlic

    1 TB dried minced onions (or 1/4 cup minced fresh onions)

    1.5 tsp dried thyme

    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

    salt and pepper to taste

    lard or tallow for frying

    water maybe

    5-6 potatoes, 5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces.

    1 small bag of frozen peas

    Chop up the heart into very small pieces, like the size of playing dice. Brown meat in lard or tallow. Deglaze pan with bottle of beer. Scrape up bits off bottom of pan. Add tomato paste, 2 TB balsamic vinegar, thyme, dried onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add to meat. The recipe does not have a lot of water so that a thickening agent is not needed later.

    (Here's the goofy part. It ended up being about 5 lbs of meat. I weighed the meat and sauce and put half in the freezer. I put the other half in the slow cooker.)

    Cover the meat with the peeled and chopped potatoes and carrots. You have to eyeball this. Use the ratio of meat to vegetables that you prefer. Cook it on low for 8 hours.

    At serving time I added water, more balsamic to taste and the frozen peas. The peas warm up from the heat of the stew.

    Friday, May 7, 2010


    I was about to post a comment on Kelly the Kitchen Kop's blog about frugal eating. I thought of cabbage. Cabbage is an incredibly inexpensive vegetable. You get a LOT of food for a little money. It is high in vitamins, fills you up and is low in calories. These are cool graphs describing its nutrition. My mother-in-law got ulcer relief by drinking cabbage juice made with a juicer.

    It has been a staple in the diet of many cuisines. I didn't grow up eating all that much of it, considering my mother was raised Mennonite. The only dishes I remember are borscht and cabbage rolls. She loves sauerkraut but we never ate it. I like it a little bit as a garnish like pickles. Cabbage is great in salads. Kalyn's Kitchen has great Thai cabbage salads and coleslaws. Cabbage is surprisingly good sauteed with bacon. Many Chinese dishes contain stir-fried cabbage.

    I threw together this borscht recipe from memory. I am totally guessing at the amounts of things. That's how I cook :) This recipe is intended for a 6-8 quart dutch oven pot. I only know how to make an enormous stockpot of this soup. When I make soup I tend to just keep adding and switching to a bigger pot. This is the kind of borscht eaten in summer because most of these ingredients are available then. It is also known as Ukrainian borscht.

    Mennonite Borscht
    beef stock or water
    3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
    1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
    1 large beet, peeled and chopped
    2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional for low-carbers)
    1 pound beef stew meat, diced (cooked or uncooked)

    1/2 green pepper, chopped
    1/2 cabbage, chopped
    1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
    1 can tomato paste
    salt, pepper, sugar

    This can be made with uncooked meat, added in the beginning or with cooked meat added with the cabbage. Pork or chicken could be substituted for beef. Other root vegetables like turnips could be included in this recipe.

    Put 1 tablespoon salt, carrots, onion, beets, potatoes, (raw meat) into a dutch oven with 1 quart of water or stock. Cook on medium heat until vegetables are soft and meat is cooked. Add (cooked meat), green pepper, cabbage, fresh dill, tomato paste. Add water/stock to fill the pot if more is needed. After cabbage is soft, taste soup to adjust seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes 1-2 teaspoons of sugar balance the flavors.

    Serve borscht with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. The freezes well except the potatoes get a little weird.