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We all know I suck at presentation. It’s something I’ve learned to deal with, because for the most part, I can make it taste good.

I’ve made cheesecake without the top cracking.  I’ve made creme brulee the perfect shade of golden, caramel brown.  I’ve even made chicken pot pie without a pie dish!

But there was one thing that I’ve just never been able to achieve. I’m not talking “It didn’t look pretty, but it was edible” or “I made some mistakes but ended up with something almost as good.”

No, since I started this fun, laughable, delicious culinary journey, I have always wanted to poach an egg. Folks, it’s harder than it looks.

I’ve seen the tutorials. I’ve watched Julie & Julia more times than I’ll admit.

And I’ve wasted so. many. eggs. It saddened me. So I tucked it away in the back of my mind, in that place where I store things that nag me. Things I can’t admit to anyone else for fear of ridicule. What self respecting food blogger can’t even poach an egg?

Me.

Months after I had given up on my poached egg dreams, I got a call from my mother in law. She was visiting family, and someone brought up how delicious but difficult poached eggs are. In her sweetness, her blind faith, she said, “I know someone who can do it for sure!” And then she proceeded to call me.

I had to admit–out loud, no less–that I had never successfully poached an egg. The shame! It was too much. I knew I had to do it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I did it. On my very next try. I freaking did it!!

Start with hot water. Put it on the stove over medium/high heat.
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Crack an egg into a bowl. Cracking it right into the water isn’t going to cut it. You don’t want it hitting the bottom and then spreading out everywhere. Putting the egg into a bowl allows you to gently tip it in right at the surface of the water.
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When bubbles just start to form:
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Place the bowl right at the surface of the water and tip the egg in.
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And then leave it be!
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You don’t want to move the water around and break up the egg. After about 30 seconds, you can gently ever so gently start to lift the edges from the bottom of the pan.
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After awhile, you can gently ever so gently start to move the egg around.
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Then, after about 7-10ish minutes in the water, you can lift it out with a slotted spoon.
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I was so excited to try making a poached egg that I hadn’t really thought about how I’d serve it. Fortunately, I had some feta and an English muffin. Perfecto!
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I feel it is my duty to inform you that runny yolks can pose health risks. You’ll notice that my yolk wasn’t runny at all, but I didn’t know that until I had bitten into it. To be on the safe side, make sure you err on the side of more done, probably at least a 10 minute cooking time, depending on how hot your water stays. (It felt like it took foooooreverrrrrrrrrrrrr to cook, but I was really hungry at the time.)

Poached Eggs

Add about an inch and a half to two inches of hot water to a deep skillet, place on the stove over medium high heat. Crack each egg into its own bowl.
When the water starts to form bubbles on the bottom of the pan, turn the heat down slightly.
Place the edge of the bowl right at the surface of the water and let the egg slide into the water.
After about 30 seconds, use a wooden spoon to gently nudge the edge of the egg to loosen it from the bottom. If you get too overzealous with your nudging, the egg will separate and you’ll have a pan full of nastiness.
The more done the egg, the easier it will be to move around. Eventually it will “solidify” and you can take it out of the water.
***It’s important that you never actually allow the water to fully boil. Especially when the egg is in the water. You just want it right on the verge of bubbles.

Try this soon, and if it doesn’t work, give it a few months. Don’t give up!
Poached egg victory tastes so sweet.

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No, I’m not technically single.
But Nick has been gone for over a week, so it’s kinda like being single.

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It seems like when Nick is home, there’s all kinds of things I want to try that he’s just not that into. But as soon as he left, I couldn’t think of a single one.
Go figure.

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I think the truth is that both of our tastes are evolving to be a bit more similar. I’ll have to see what he thinks about that.

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I was also sick for part of the week, and then the kid was sick for part of the week, so big to-do dinners just weren’t in the cards.

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This recipe was perfect because it was simple, relatively quick, and super easy to clean up after.

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Sweet Potato Wraps
Serves about one and a half

1 large sweet potato, diced as evenly as possible
1/2 cup black beans
1/3 cup feta cheese (I had roasted tomato and basil feta. It was fancy)
several cabbage leaves, shredded (I just tore them apart)
2 flat breads

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and spray or brush with olive oil. Spread the sweet potato out on the baking sheet, then bake for 10 minutes.
After the ten minutes, add a little bit of hot water to the baking sheet and return it to the oven. Not so much water that the potato is drowning, but enough to give it a nice steam. Repeat this process one or two more times, until the sweet potato is very tender.
Warm up the black beans, and then the flat bread. Combine all the ingredients and wrap in foil.

This is probably one of those meals that Nick wouldn’t be wild about, but I guess I’ll have to make it again this week to find out.

Darn ;)

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I used to hate mushrooms.  (I used to hate a lot of things, apparently.)  I would flip if I found an occasional mushroom on my pizza or in a salad.  “They’re rubbery, slimy, and gross!”  Dude.  How could I have been so wrong?

The first time I had these I was at our friends’ wedding.  It was a beautiful, classy, and dare I say it, foodie friendly wedding.  So much food, and five different kinds of cake!!  I tried the stuffed Portobello mushrooms paired with roasted vegetables and white wine.  My mouth is watering again, sorry.

That wedding was this summer, and I’ve had these on my mind ever since.  I knew I could make them myself, but for some reason I had it in my head that my family wouldn’t like them, and I’d have to find some sneaky way to convince them to eat these for dinner.  I’d see them in the store, think about it, but then put it off and forget for awhile.

And then we happened to be standing next to the mushrooms one day, and Nick just picked them up and put them in the cart.  No discussion, no convincing, just nestled right in between the onions and sweet potatoes.  And he claims we don’t like the same foods.

These couldn’t be easier, but they seem like they should take hours and a chef hat to prepare.  Very cool to break out for parties.  Which we did.  And somehow, our friends ended up doing all the work, leaving my hands free to take pictures.  (We have seriously awesome friends)

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Mushrooms, stems removed, brushed with olive oil. You can use a spoon to remove the gills, but for some reason we didn’t find it necessary.

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Red potatoes, cooked in the microwave. I put them in the microwave, she mashed. We made an excellent team.

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Freshly grated cheese rocks my brightly colored socks. (Teehee) We went with something a bit salty, and it worked out really well.

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Here are the mashed potatoes mixed with green onion, kalamata olives, grated cheese, garlic, chopped artichoke hearts (from a jar), salt and pepper.

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The mixture was spooned over each mushroom in heaping piles. Even still, we ended up with a little bit of extra filling. I just made a tinfoil pouch and cooked it with the mushrooms, and we served it alongside dinner.

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These went into the oven at 350F, and it took about 20-25 minutes. Enough to make the tops of the mashed potato mixtures golden brown, and the mushrooms very tender.

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Admittedly, the mushrooms get overwhelmed by the stuffing and you can barely tell that they’re under there. Until you take a bite! The mushroom flavor doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds, but you know it’s there. It’s tender and juicy, and the salty cheese and tangy artichoke hearts give it a kick.

I know that my sisters are reading this, and if they’ve made it this far in the post, I’m quite proud of them! ;) (I come from a long line of mushroom haters) But don’t just read this, try it! You might become a convert, like me. And if you make these for your friends (or they make them for you), don’t forget the chef hat.

Update:  1/13/2011

I remade this dish using sweet potatoes and feta cheese, and it was AMAZING!!!  I could eat it every day of my life and be a happy lady. It may not look pretty, but if looks were everything…you know the rest.
Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushroom

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