Monday, January 21, 2013

ChezCindy: Shirred Eggs with Kale and Mushrooms

Shirred Eggs with Kale and Mushrooms

I am always looking for ways to add vegetables to my breakfast dishes.  When you think about it,
vegetables are often a key ingredient, or at least a side dish, for lunch and dinner.  But vegetables at breakfast are not first of mind.  Generally fruit, grains, eggs, pork meats and breads are the main players of breakfast.  The only way vegetables make a showing at breakfast is if they are used in a frittata, strata or omelet.  I load up on the vegetables when making these dishes. I recently came upon a lovely book titled, The Farmstead Egg Cookbook by Terry Godson, that included a recipe for Shirred Eggs with Spinach and Cream.  It is a terrific recipe that creates a delicious egg dish with vegetables!  Taking this recipe one step further, allows me to add even more vegetables than she calls for, but using the same concept. 

Shirred eggs are basically eggs that are baked in an individual flat-bottomed dish, and are usually served in the dish in which they are baked.  The basic recipe is one that can be varied and expanded to meet the preference of the preparer.  The flat-bottomed dish can be a number of choices which you may already have.  Consider using a ramekin, a custard cup, a brulee dish or a small gratin dish.  But definitely something that is oven-proof for temperature's of 350 or 375 degrees. 

Shirred eggs are a good consideration for serving overnights guests or when hosting a small brunch.  Simply assemble the eggs ahead of time, refrigerate for no longer than an hour, and bake when your guests are ready.  Place the individual ramekins on a sheet tray so that they are easy to handle going in and out of the oven. 
Below is my basic recipe.  I always use some type of green leafy such as spinach or kale.  I like adding mushrooms, but don't always have them in the fridge.  You could add diced tomatoes, sliced shallots or onions.  Tiny diced butternut squash or potatoes would be another good choice.  I like adding just a small amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, but you could add another cheese or none at all.  And I have omitted the cream from the original recipe, unless I am being indulgent.  You can use whole eggs or just egg whites.  I have done both and find each equally delicious.  This recipe is for one, but can be easily repeated for the number of guests you are serving.

Shirred Eggs with Kale and Mushrooms
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped kale
2 tablespoons sliced mushrooms
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon mix of finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, etc)
cooking oil spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add the butter to a 6-8 ounce oven-proof ramekin. (this is where you would add 1 tablespoon of cream if using) Spray the ramekin with the cooking oil spray.  Place the ramekin in the oven for a few minutes to melt the butter. Remove from the oven.  Swirl the butter around the ramekin to coat the bottom.  Set aside.
Working with a saute pan, saute the sliced mushrooms until they are brown; remove from the pan adding them to the ramekin.  Add the chopped kale to the pan; cover with a lid to wilt the kale.  This will take just a few minutes.  (if using spinach, you will need to squeeze out any excess liquid)  Remove the kale from the saute pan, adding to the ramekin on top of the mushrooms.  Add the eggs; sprinkle with the cheese and herbs.  (if using dried herbs, use 1/2 teaspoon or less)  Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. 
Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the yolk is set.  Remove from the oven.  Place the ramekin onto a plate to serve.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

ChezCindy: Sharing Family Recipes: Marinated Flank Steak

Marinated Flank Steak

One of the greatest treasures is the sharing of family recipes from one generation to the next.  It captures the flavor and the essence of the time and the person, extending the memory for years to come.  This marinated steak recipe was shared with me from a good friend.  Her mother has taken the time to create a hand-written notebook for her, passing down family recipes.  Kind of like a food blog.  I too have a notebook of handwritten ideas, experiments and recipe creations that eventually, I will transfer to this site.  But I do enjoy looking back at my hand-written notes and scribbles in the margins.  It truly was the origin of this site. 

There are many combinations of ingredients for marinated steak, but this one comes together particularly well.  I think it is the use of the maple syrup.  It lends a different sweetness than what I generally see in marinade recipes.  And when grilled, the syrup caramelizes on the meat, producing a great balance of sweet and savory.  It is simple to put together; cooks up quickly; but does take a bit of planning.  The steak will need to marinate for 6-8 hours or overnight.  So don't plan on having this for dinner on the same day unless you begin early in the morning.  I used Flank Steak for this recipe, but you can make this with Skirt Steak, London Broil or even Filet Mignon (if you want to spend the money!).  The marinade is a great compliment to beef, but could also be used with pork or chicken. 

Cooking Flank or Skirt Steak has some important rules to remember.  The cut of meat is inexpensive and therefore not as tender.  If improperly cooked, it will be like eating tough leather.  Follow these rules and you will be rewarded with tender, delicious steak at a reasonable price.

1. Flip only once while grilling
2. Don't cook past medium
3. Let rest for 5 minutes
4. Cut across the grain

Cutting across the grain:  If you look closely at the picture below, you will see that the grain of the steak runs across the picture, from left to right, the long-length of steak.  So cutting across the grain means you will slice across the short-width of the steak. 

Marinated Flank Steak
2 lbs Flank Steak
4 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of coarsely cracked black pepper

Place the steak in a zip top bag.  Add all the ingredients to the bag.  Close the zip top; massage the bag to combine the ingredients within, coating the steak.  Place the bag into a bowl (just to be sure you catch any possible leaks) and place in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Working with either an outdoor grill or an indoor grill pan, lightly oil the grill rack.  Preheat the grill until the rack is very hot.  Remove the steak from the bag, allowing some of the marinade to drip back into the bag.  The meat will be wet, but not sopping.  Place the steak directly onto the grill rack.  Sear on this first side for 5-7 minutes.  Carefully turn the steak over to grill the second side, cooking for another 4-5 minutes.  This cut of meat should be served medium-rare to medium.  Over-cooking to well done will produce a tough steak. 
Remove the meat from the grill and place onto a cutting board.  Allow the meat to rest for about 5 minutes.  This step is very important.  If you cut into the steak immediately, all of the juices will run out and the steak will be dry.
Cut the steak across the grain of the meat into thin slices.  Serve with your favorite side dishes. 

Cooking Times:  The cooking times directed above are for Flank Steak.  Skirt Steak is generally thinner than Flank and will require much less time; only 4-5 minutes on side one and 3-4 minutes on side two.  London Broil is a thicker cut than Flank, so this will need to cook longer; 7-9 minutes on side one and 6-8 on side two.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:  A light Spanish red wine, made from Grenache grapes.