instant pot: breakfast

So far there has only been one Instant Pot failure—steel cut oatmeal, from a recipe I found on a random blog. That's one of the problems with the IP--there just aren't that many trustworthy recipes yet. With a lot of ad-libbing I finally got the oatmeal to be oatmeal and with a better recipe, it can be done.

Unfortunately just the idea of tasting the somewhat unusual looking oatmeal sent Nate running into the other room. "You win some you lose some" I said aloud which Mack and Michael turned into a song about tornados and dragons called "The worst hike ever." So at least the creative juices were flowing and eventually Nate came out and joined us. 

A better turnout (not that Nate ate it but the rest of us loved it) were these egg muffins which were softly steamed and juicy. 

kale and chickpea soup

I combined a couple similar recipes to come up with this one but you can really use any green and any bean (or even skip the beans.) It's fast and flavorful and keeps for a long time. A great quick reheat for lunch or dinner. And it's healthy and filling enough that it makes you feel like the Green Lantern. Maybe Batman on a good day.

Super Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed, rinsed, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP parmesan cheese (more to serve)


    1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a pot. Add onion, carrot, and celery; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add garlic, salt, and pepper; sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
    3. Add kale; stir to wilt. 
    4. Add stock and chickpeas; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 10 minutes. 
    5. Mix eggs and parmesan in small bowl. Add a ladle full of hot broth to temper. Stir and pour into soup. 
    6. Serve with more cheese and a sprinkle of olive oil.

can someone get a sandwich around here?

Sandwich dinner is many family's cop-out meal. Not ours. For us, sandwiches for dinner turned out to be an emotional journey and a major turning point on our road to better times. Some people don't know this but my husband, Michael, is actually the self proclaimed king of sandwiches. See this post. Our kids however shun sandwiches. Last week Mack ate a few bites of salami and cheese sandwich and Michael was glowing for days.

The idea arose this morning. Me: Nate you've eaten 85 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this summer. Can we try another kind? Nate: no. Michael  "Nate I'm going to make some sandwiches for you to try tonight at dinner," translation: mommy is going to make sandwiches for us.

I bought some new breads and salami, then made egg salad. (It occurred to me that Nate likes hard boiled eggs so what if they were just mashed up?) I'll admit, I was somewhat hopeful that this dinner would change the rest of our lives,

An hour before dinner Nate fell into a funk. I don't want sandwiches for dinner, Don't worry, I said. There are lots of options...." he looked intrigued. "Like hot dogs," I lied. Nate made his way to his room saying he wanted to be alone. I gave him some cool down time then entered to find him crying. I held him, then threw a couple hot dogs in the microwave.

When we sat down to dinner, I was nervous, standing up a lot, making announcements and stopping Michael from saying anything that might ruin my master plan which was anything at all. I quickly spread some egg salad (but refrained from calling it "salad") on a lenders bagel and gave it to Nate, then proceeded to pretend to not care what happened next. Michael made Mack a salami sandwich  and I started to make myself a sandwich when a crazy thing happened. Nate ate the open-faced egg salad bagel and liked it. Next we tried a closed egg salad bagel with toothpicks and he ate that too. I was so excited that I rewarded him with no carrots required AND candy. Michael was pleased. Well done he said.

My theory is that seeing foods that Nate could reject (salami, ham, etc) gave him the leeway to choose something that looked familiar even if in a different form.

Unfortunately neither of us noticed that Mack didn't eat anything and he was up all night, hungry. It was a big cleanup and Michael had to leave early to play tennis in Queens. Looking back I will probably realize what a ridiculous person I have become, with fucked up values and an unhealthy need for my kids to eat well. But for the night, I called it a triumph.

cauliflower rice for people who don't have private chefs

We went to the Fagen/Rose East Hampton estate this weekend (omfg) and they still employ that lovely chef Glenn who made the shakshuka. He is incredibly talented and inspiring, and he cooked five healthy gourmet meals for 20 people in 2 days alone without blinking. Meals that you wouldn't believe and I wish I could produce a picture of the luxurious beautiful spreads but I was too busy oohing and eating and trying to suck up to Glenn so he would tell me secrets. I did get a photo of the table though...I know, I know.

A few culinary highlights from the weekend before I forget: Fresh fava beans (Glenn removed beans from pods then boiled to remove skin from beans) and feta salad. Deconstructed Nicoise and paella with cauliflower rice...I've heard of cauliflower rice before. I know it's the next new best thing. Watching Glenn hand grate 15 cauliflowers however made me think it was not for me. However, after a little research I found a recipe from thekitchn.com for using a food processor to pulse the florets into a couscous. And it really is like a couscous in taste and appearance. I sauteed some onion and then added the cauli-couscous and a little butter and spices. Then I got fancy and added some cooked broccoli, raw yellow peppers finely diced, diced and sauteed turkey deli meat seasoned with smoky paprika (optional) and some herbs. I put a fried egg and some avocado on top and was pretty proud if it. Glenn would do it better but I'll keep this cauliflower couscous/fried rice recipe in my repertoire.

everyone has been lying to me about eggs

When I was a kid, my parents told me the story of our friend's daughter who set out to make herself a hard-boiled egg for dinner by putting the egg in the freezer. "Boiled, duh," my dad said. I would never have made that mistake, even at age 10, but hard boiled eggs have remained somewhat of a mystery to me. Sometimes the shell slips off, sometimes it doesn't. Everyone has tricks: put eggs in water before it boils. Turn heat off and let sit for 20 minutes. Old eggs won't work. The water to egg ratio is critical.

Everyone has been lying to me and I finally figured it out. Making hard boiled eggs in which the shell easily slides off is actually not that hard. I've done it three times with this method that I found in The Silver Spoon (love this book) and it's worked every time.

Fill pot with salted water (it helps soften the shells) and when it boils, slip in your eggs. Boil for 10 minutes then remove eggs and cool in cold water/ice bath. Peel under running water. 

the sun will come out

As summer approaches with the speed of lightning, our apartment is back to bright, hot mornings when we all fight for a shady spot at the table. And now we have a new breakfast that mirrors the outdoors. As Mack says, "Sunny-side Schtup." The kids love to break their own yoke and dip bacon or toast into it. Today Mack said: the sun is coming out from the clouds. Outside and on our plates!

shakshuka

I first had Shakshuka at the Fagen estate in East Hampton. Their chef who used to work at Mimi's Hummus, prepared the Middle Eastern dish for 10 people and we ate it at a long table by the pool. I've been wanting to make it since and when I found out Aimee and Marc were coming to brunch (she's allergic to seafood so no lox) it was the perfect time.  I made Melissa Clark's shakshuka — delicious, cheap and easy. You don't need a private chef for this. In fact you can make it mostly ahead of time (add eggs after guests arrive) and serve family-style in middle of table with warm pita.

breakfast pasta

A stupid-simple, obvious ripoff on carbonara, but the kids liked it (mostly for the name though nothing about this dish is not delicious) and it added some protein to the usual plain pasta dinner. It also inspired our enthusiastic discussion of: "why can't you eat pasta for breakfast or breakfast for dinner?!" Next up: veggie pancakes?

BREAKFAST PASTA

  • 1/2 lb spaghetti
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices turkey bacon
  • Parmesan cheese

    Cook spaghetti and add 2 tbsp of the cooking water to raw egg. Beat egg and stir into pasta with crumbled bacon and cheese. 

DIY egg muffins

It was Michael's morning to sleep in so when the kids lost interest in the epic car race across the living room, I came up with this project. I greased some muffin tins and beat some eggs in a pourable measuring cup. Then I gave them a choice of toppings on a plate: crumbled turkey bacon, cheese, sauteed red peppers/onions and pumpkin seeds (a new favorite in our house—we pretend they are little bugs.) I poured the egg and they added their choice of toppings to their muffin tin. We made one for Michael too even though he was still sleeping. 

I can't say these were a huge hit but many factors other than their inherent yumminess may have contributed to their failure. First, kids were now fighting because they had been indoors too long. Then Michael, hungover from a night of whiskey with the boys, was not hungry because he had had a late night love affair with a taco stand. I did get credit for trying. Michael said he appreciated my spirit in the face of adversity. Met with continued resistance I continue to try to entice the boys to eat new things. I am Super-Feeder. I will not be defeated!!

favorite recipe of 2014

My favorite new recipe this year, and the favorite of many New York Times readers apparently, is Velvet Chicken Breasts with mustard sauce  It's very easy to make and can be prepped ahead of time. The actual cooking only take a few minutes on the stove. The chicken is incredibly dense and moist almost like you'd find from a sous vide machine.

The Velveting technique--used in a lot of Chinese cooking to marinade meat pre-wok-- involves soaking the chicken breasts in a mixture of egg whites and cornstarch. (You whip the whites then blend in the starch to create a foam.)  Breasts can sit here for a few hours.

Next you make a simple sauce of mustards and creme fraiche which can also hang out in the fridge until dinnertime. When it's time to cook, saute the chicken very briefly in vegetable oil or melted butter. It's not long enough for them to even brown but when the egg white marinade touches the hot oil, it turns into a thick skin-like coating around the still raw breast. Remove the breasts and heat the sauce mixture in the pan. Then finish the chicken in the pan by gently heating through. 

crack sauce and other spicy stuff

In February we went on a week-long family vacation with the Davis/Chases. We stayed in Puerto Adventuras- a gated community about an hour south of Cancun on the Riviera Maya. In a beautiful house! With a chef!

We didn't intend to have a culinary-themed trip but it sort of turned out that way, mostly because we met Martine, the house chef. Every day he cooked us breakfast (huervos rancheros, eggs and cheese on tortillas, a chicken casserole), and on a few lucky nights, he made dinner (like baked fish fillet: Marinate fillets for five minutes with lime, salt and pepper, olive oil and garlic. Bake for 10 min.)

He was incredibly skilled and inventive, especially with his hot sauces of which he claimed to have created 100. Here are the secret recipes for my favorites:

Spicy Sauce #52*
Wrap 1 and 1/4 red onion quartered, 5 peeled garlic cloves, 2-3 habeneros* in tin foil and put on high burner on stove for 5 minutes each side. Then place veggies in blender w.3/4 c olive oil, 2 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tsp salt and ground pepper. Blend until smooth.

(* It turns out after trying this at home that habeneros in the US are WAY more spicy then the habaneros in Mexico. Martine used 7 which in the US would blow your mouth off so I decreased and feel free to go even lower for a milder sauce. )

Spicy Red Sauce #75
Grill 4 tomatoes cut up, 4 peeled garlic cloves, one onion quartered and a few chilies until soft. Blend with olive oil, chicken broth, salt and pepper. (serve w. fish

Garlic Butter Sauce (for fish*)
Heat minced garlic, butter, olive oil, lime juice, salt/pepper and cook on stovetop

Chile Oil
Guajillo peppers chopped and olive oil. Cook on stovetop.

** PHOTOS BY BEVERLY CHASE