by Christine | Cooking
It’s taken me almost 40 years to learn how to make the best scrambled eggs. That ubiquitous breakfast food, the food that most tender tummies can handle, the very first comfort food I remember shouldn’t be so difficult to make.
In my 20s, I went through phases of adding – milk, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese. I tried them one at a time, but none of these really made the eggs taste better. So then I thought, it must be the pan I’m using – and promptly absconded with the small copper-bottomed skillet that my mom used to use. Nope. Not the flavor I was looking for, sad to say.
Mom’s small skillet. Probably bought in the mid-1960’s. Purloined from her house in the mid 1980’s.
In my teens, I spent one memorable Spring Vacation at a friend’s beach house in Laguna Beach while my parents were in Oregon, and my friend’s older really cute brother made us scrambled eggs and he put everything in them. Cut up pieces of salami, cheese, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, worcestershire sauce, and a little bit of mustard were stirred into a whole dozen eggs before they ever hit the hot, sizzling pan. That is still my second favorite way to have scrambled eggs.
In our first house, my husband found a small skillet in the dumpster behind our condo complex, a perfectly good pan that looked like it would be perfect for omelets. So for years, I made my eggs in that pan, and it served. And slowly, I forgot about my quest for the perfect scrambled eggs.
Pan rescued from Dumpster, late 1980’s early 1990’s.
Then, this year I was talking with one of the geologists in my office about cooking, and he said to me, you know the secret to good scrambled eggs? My whole body sprang to alertness, like a hound dog on a scent. I begged him to tell me.
Fat. A good solid pat of butter or tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of the pan, melted over high heat. Then once the eggs go in, cook them as fast as you can. The less time on the heat, the better.
I took his words to heart and went back to looking for the perfect scrambled eggs. But it wasn’t until, in desperation, I ended up using a cast-iron skillet about six inches across that I got closer to perfection. And once I just kept stirring the egg, dragging the fork through it again and again and never lifting that fork from the pan, that I got it even closer.
Small cast-iron skillet with bits of breakfast egg still inside. Added to the kitchen late 1990’s, during our camping/cast iron love affair.
The last bit that sent the eggs to perfection? Taking them off the heat when they were still just a little bit shiny. I’d been so used to cooking them until they were dull that it never occurred to me that I was over-cooking them. The first time I served the eggs that way, my oldest son and I had an epiphany over them.
“Good eggs,” he muttered.
“Oh yeah,” I answered back. (Our epiphanies aren’t very eloquent.)
They were very slightly buttery, light, creamy and perfect. To recap – Good pat of butter + cast iron pan + high heat + quick cooking and lots of stirring = Nirvana Scrambled Eggs.
I discovered how to make the perfect scrambled eggs…and it only took me 40 years to do so. The lesson to be learned? In the words of Winston Churchill…”nevah, nevah, nevah give up”.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
by Christine | Cooking
On the surface of things, Smashed Potatoes and Decadent Hot Chocolate don’t seem to have much in common. But if you delve a little deeper, you’ll find the connection.
Both mashed potatoes and hot chocolate can be made via the instant, just-add-water type. Which isn’t bad if, say, you’re camping. They can both be quite tasty, depending.
But when made from scratch, when you put the time in, so to speak, you come out with something indescribably delicious. A crispy, buttery-fluffy potato, and a rich, dark chocolate drink that is akin to what they must serve in Heaven. (Or at least in some nifty Paris bistros!)
If you need a side dish that is a step above ordinary, this is it. Hearty, filling, and a taste
Yukon Gold Potatoes
treat, it all starts, of course, with the potato itself. I use fresh, hard, baby yellow potatoes, or baby reds if I’m in that mood. They both work. Slightly bigger than the baby potatoes work as well; you just need to cut them a bit smaller. I’ve never used russets or baking potatoes for this; I assume if you peel them and chop them into similar-sized chunks, they’d work fine.
Ingredients: Baby potatoes, butter, sea salt (or Kosher salt)
Kitchen ware needed: One sauce pan, one baking pan with sides (either a jelly roll pan or a 9 x 13 pan), and one slightly smaller pan of the same type (or a cast iron skillet).
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the potatoes well. If they are true babies, cut them in half. If they’re a little bigger, cut them in quarters. Your goal is to get them all about the same size so they cook evenly. Put them in the saucepan, fill with water, and boil until they are fork-tender about 10 – 15 minutes. Drain.
Put potatoes, still steaming, into the jelly roll pan. Crowd them together in the center of the pan, as much as possible, so they’re all touching. Take your slightly smaller pan (or your cast iron pan – anything heavy that you can put your hands into) and make sure the bottom of the pan is clean – you might even want to lightly spray it with cooking spray. Set the second pan on top of the first pan (I put the pan with the potatoes on the floor) and, with all your weight, press down on the second pan so it “smashes” the potatoes to about half to 3/4 of an inch thick. Spread butter on top of the potatoes; sprinkle with sea salt or Kosher salt. Put in oven for 20-25 minutes. If your potatoes are done before the rest of the meal is done, just turn off the oven and keep the door closed. The potatoes will crisp more while you finish up.
Is this calorie-free? No. More butter makes it taste better. But it’s a fabulous side dish that you can wow your friends with. To make it fancier, sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley on top. Serve directly from the oven to your guest’s plates. They will thank you for it.
thanks to dancingbranflakes.blogspot.com for the photo!
Decadent Hot Chocolate
Perfect for the Holidays, or any day where it’s chilly outside, the powdered stuff will get you by. It’ll do in a pinch. But when you want to see how it feels to be Royalty, have your kitchen slave whip you up some of this bundle of delicious goodness, and you’ll feel your holiday stress melt away.
Ingredients: 1 cup high quality 60% cacao chocolate (I use Ghiradelli – but regular choc chips are fine) 4 cups milk, 3 Tlb powdered baking cocoa, 3 Tlb white sugar, 1 cup heavy whipping cream.
Put chocolate in a pan, and add just enough milk from your 4 cups to float the chips a bit. Heat until chocolate is melted through, stirring the entire time. Once melted, add the rest of the milk a little at a time, keeping the heat on medium (don’t boil!). Then add the powdered cocoa, one Tlb at a time, whisking it in. Do the same with the white sugar. Once that is incorporated, slowly add the 1 cup heavy whipping cream, stirring the entire time. Continue to stir until the chocolate is hot again. Then drink and be glad you are human!
This goes beyond mere hot chocolate. This will put you into Holiday Nirvana. Turn the Christmas lights on, put the carols on, and get the wrapping paper out – no chore is too much to handle when you’ve got a cup of Decadent Hot Chocolate by your side!
Again, not calorie-free. But sometimes, during the crazed holiday season, we need to treat ourselves. It is seriously rich – maybe start with a small espresso-sized cup. It also is a fabulous addition to coffee – say, half chocolate and half coffee. It also goes really well with cinnamon cookies that my hubby made – pure heaven! (But that’s another post!)
I hope you enjoy. To see the original post, and how we came to steal this recipe, please hop here…
Coming up: This Friday, I talk about affordable wines. More reds – three really good ones, and a chameleon wine…see you then!
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook, as well as in paperback! It makes a great Christmas present, lol!