The Daring Kitchen November Cooks’ Challenge: Chinese Tea Eggs

About a month or so ago, I heard about the Daring Kitchen from another blogger who writes Live the London Life. The basic premise is this: The Daring Kitchen comprises of two groups, The Daring Bakers and the The Daring Cooks. You can sign up for one or both (I am just signed up for The Daring Cooks). Once you sign up, you will be tasked with cooking one recipe each month from what the monthly host has selected as the cooking or baking challenges. Everyone posts their dishes on their blogs on the same day (also known as the reveal day).

So today is the big reveal day for my first challenge: Cooking with Tea.

I’ve never cooked with tea before, with the exception of maybe duck breast a long, long time ago. So long ago that it doesn’t count anymore. Of the three dishes I could have chosen from, I perhaps chose the easiest (the other options were a green tea noodle soup, and a beef and sweet potato stew made with rooibos).

But hey, I made the decision right after I whacked into my thumb with that folding knife!

And sometimes the simplest recipes are the most challenging . . . or at least that is what I am telling myself 😉

So here are the blog-checking lines: 

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

Ingredients:

6 eggs

2 tablespoons of loose black tea, or four tea bags (I used loose Keemun)

2 teaspoons of Chinese Five-Spice Powder

1 tablespoon of coarse salt

Sesame seeds for garnish

How to prepare:
(taken from The Daring Cooks’ November Challenge PDF)

1. In a large enough pot to avoid overcrowding, cover the eggs with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for twelve minutes.

2. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and keep the cooking water.

3. With a spoon, tap the eggs all over until they are covered with small cracks. This can also be done by tapping and rolling the eggs very gently on the counter.

4. Return the eggs to the pan and add the tea leaves or bags, Chinese five spice powder, and salt. Cover the pan.

5. Heat gently and simmer, covered, for one hour.

6. Remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs cool down in the liquid for 30 minutes.

7. Remove the eggs from the liquid. Peel one egg to check how dark it is; the others can be returned to the liquid if you wish to have the web-like pattern darker. Allow the eggs to cool fully.

8. To serve, peel and slice the eggs in halves or quarters. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Meat Week NYC Starts Today!

Organized by our friends over at Jimmy’s 43, Meat Week NYC kicks off today with a Meat and Cocktails party at City Winery. General tickets are $45, but include lots of goodies like duck liver-beef brisket boudin balls and beer, and crispy pan seared polenta crostini topped with braised buffalo short ribs and Cabernet Franc. A complete list of nibblies and drinks can be had here.

There are also tons of other great events going on throughout the week, should tonight not work out for you.

Go to Meat Week NYC’s official site for more information.

I’ll be at the event tonight, as well as at the Sustainable Meat Panel and the Film Screening at Jimmy’s to represent High Point Farms!

So that means you should definitely come out 🙂

Sign-up for High Point Farms Winter CSA!

High Point Farms still has space for more members! Sign up today for their Winter CSA, beginning December 14 and running until February 22.

This is a fantastic opportunity to plan ahead for delicious dishes for the holidays, Valentine’s Day (nothing says lovin’ like red meat), and the Superbowl (mini-meatballs? nachos? chili?).

Plus, you get that warm, wonderful feeling knowing that you are supporting sustainable local farming and Earth-friendly agricultural practices!

This season there are three pick-up locations:

In the East Village:

Jimmy’s 43 (43 E. 7th Street between Second and Third Avenues)

In Williamsburg: 

CrossFit Virtuosity Williamsburg (221 North 8th St, between Driggs and Roebling)

In Fort Greene:

Five Spot Soul Food (459 Myrtle Ave)

The pick-up dates for this distribution cycle are:

• December 14
• December 28
• January 11
• January 25
• February 8
• February 22

Pick-up time:

4:30PM to 7:00 PM, every other Wednesday

Two share options are available:

• Beef, chicken, and pork
• Beef and chicken

There are also absolutely amazing eggs and cheese too!

Sign up and come meet your meat! Also, download our flier and help us spread the word about the farm! Click, print, and get the word out!

High Point Farms: Fall CSA Membership Drive is on!


CSA sign-ups for the fall have begun!

The upcoming distribution cycle will run every other Thursday from September to November.

Pick-up dates are as follows:

• September 8
• September 22
• October 6
• October 20
• November 3
• November 17

Pick-up will run from 4:30 to 7:00PM.

There will be two pick-up sites this round:

Manhattan (with yours truly):

Jimmy’s 43 (43 East 7th Street, between First and Second Avenues)

Brooklyn (with awesome Sam):

CrossFit Virtuosity Williamsburg (221 North 8th St, between Driggs and Roebling)

Sign up to meet your meat here.

Steak and Eggs

Do you really need a recipe for steak and eggs? The title pretty much says it all. However, I did manage to distill the instructions into three easy steps . . . and in haiku too!

How to prepare:

1.

Room temperature.
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil till smoking.

2.

Sear steak on both sides.
Will have a very nice crust.
Let it rest a bit.

3.

Fry up your two eggs.
Sunny-side up is my thing.
Please keep yolks runny

4.

Sometimes toast is nice.
It is not necessary,
But it is tasty.

Sliced Egg and Black Truffle Mayonnaise on Toast


My first year of graduate school, I lived down the street from an appallingly awkward airline-themed café. The space was pleasant with floor-to-ceiling windows. It had those lovely columns that fewer and fewer downtown places seem to want to retain. Apart from the odd collection of 1960’s memorabilia (Braniff, Pan-Am, and TWA), there were these nice, fat couches strewn about a lofted area — perfect for passing out after too much coursework.

There was also the food, which thankfully was nothing like what was served on airlines. The coffee was strong, good, and Italian. They never burned my espresso. They served little panini, cut into neat quarters that you could eat while burying your nose in a book. My favorite was simple: sliced egg on toast with truffled mayonnaise.

Laura gifted me with a little tub of black truffle salt a while ago. Admittedly, I have parked myself on it for too long. When I finally decided to put it to some good use, the smell took me back to those early years when my worries were fewer.

As I have expounded on how to hard boil eggs, and how to make mayonnaise on this blog before, I will refrain from further exposition. I will just say that you should use a neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola. Add about half a teaspoon of truffle salt to the mayonnaise at first, and then build up from there. I tend to make a saltier mayonnaise to compensate for the unsalted eggs. Slather each slice with the mayonnaise, and layer the sliced egg on top. Factor in about one egg per slice of toast.

Truffles, mayonnaise, and eggs. I do the sandwich open-faced these days. It is wonderful. I was in such a hurry to eat it that I hastily, and sloppily sliced up the egg. I had crammed half of it greedily down my gullet before it occurred to me that I should take a photo. So please excuse the photographic evidence of my gastronomic enthusiasm!

Egg Salad with Basil on Toast


When people say that so-and-so “can’t boil an egg,” they generally mean to say that the person in question can’t cook.

Insofar as idioms go, it’s a pretty silly one; there are a lot of people out there who cook all the time, who cook all kinds of things that people like to eat, who can’t boil an egg at all.

Because boiling an egg is both ridiculously easy, and easy to mess up at the same time. It’s really kind of tricky. I see badly boiled eggs all the time. Overcooked, horrible things with sulfurous dun-colored yolks, ringed with a nasty grayish-green penumbra.

So gross. They taste awful too, chalky and rank. No wonder there are so many people out there who don’t like their eggs hard-boiled: they have only ever had bad ones.

But a good, really good hard-boiled egg is delicious. It has a soft, silky white that cushions a rich and velvety yolk. A egg salad made with properly boiled eggs is creamy, full, and wonderfully fatty. It is very very satisfying.

Here are some ways to properly hard boil an egg:

Technique #1:

1. Carefully prick the bottom of the egg (the widest end) with a needle, or a pin (I use a push pin). You want to pierce the shell, but not the membrane separating the air pocket in the base of the egg from the egg itself. Don’t worry: you won’t “ruin” the egg, it won’t “go everywhere,” it will not leak, it will not explode. It will be okay.

2. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan filled with cold water. The eggs should be covered with about an inch of water. The eggs might bob around, pricked end-up. Don’t worry. If it bothers you, you can just hold them down a little bit until the air in the bottom-end of the egg escapes, and they sink to the bottom of the pan.

3. Bring the water to a boil. When the water starts boiling, turn off the heat and put the lid on the saucepan. Set the timer for 10 minutes. 10 minutes. No more, no less.

4. Meanwhile, set up a nice ice bath. After ten minutes, lift the eggs out of the hot water and plunge them in the ice water. Leave them there for 5 minutes. 5 minutes.

5. Now your eggs are perfectly boiled, and ready to peel.

Why is it important that you prick the bottom of the egg’s shell?

Each egg has a small pocket of air at its base. Hot air expands, and by pricking the bottom of the egg, the small hole allows this air to escape. This will relieve any pressure caused by the expanding air, instead of cracking the egg while it is still cooking and making a mess. You can just boil the egg without doing this (see Technique #2), but why risk being sorry when you can be safe?

Technique #2:

1. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan filled with cold water. The eggs should be covered with about an inch of water.

2. Bring the water to a boil. When the water starts boiling, turn off the heat and put the lid on the saucepan. Set the timer for 10 minutes. 10 minutes. No more, no less.

3. Meanwhile, set up a nice ice bath. After ten minutes, lift the eggs out of the hot water with tongs. Right before submerging them in the ice water, bang the widest end of each egg against the countertop. You want to crack the shell at the base. Leave the eggs in the ice water for 5 minutes. 5 minutes.

4. Now your eggs are perfectly boiled and ready to peel.

Technique #3:

1. Carefully prick the bottom of the egg (the widest end) with a needle, or a pin. You want to pierce the shell, but not the membrane separating the the air pocket in the base of the egg from the egg itself.

2. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan filled with cold water. The eggs should be covered with about an inch of water.

3. Bring the water to a boil. When the water starts boiling, turn off the heat and put the lid on the saucepan. Set the timer for 10 minutes. 10 minutes. No more, no less.

4. Meanwhile, set up a nice ice bath. After ten minutes, pour off the hot water. With the lid on the pan, shake the eggs enough so that their shells crackle. Submerge them in the ice water. Leave the eggs in the ice water for 5 minutes. 5 minutes.

Why is cracking the shell after cooking important?

You want to crack the shell so that any sulfurous smells inside of the egg can escape and dissipate into the ice water bath. Or so says Jacques Pépin.

Oh no, my eggs are hard to peel! What happened?

Your eggs are hard to peel, my friend, because you have very fresh eggs. The fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel it. The older the egg, the easier it is to peel.

So it’s okay if some of the egg white comes away while you are peeling the egg. Sometimes, peeling them under running water helps.

This all might seem like a fussy way to boil eggs, but believe me, once you do it right, you’ll never want to do it badly again.

Now back to the recipe . . .

Ingredients for Egg Salad with Basil on Toast:

6 hard-boiled eggs, lightly chopped

2/3 cup of mayonnaise*

Salt to taste

One good handful of basil leaves, chopped (but I did a chiffonade, ’cause I’m all fancy like that)

Juice of 1 lemon

4 slices of toasted multigrain bread

How to prepare:

1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, the mayonnaise, the basil, and a good sprinkling of salt. Add the lemon juice, a little bit at a time, until the salad is nice and creamy. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

2. Heap a large spoonful or two on top of each piece of toast. Serve immediately.

For the mayonnaise:

2 teaspoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 large egg yolk at room temperature

1/2 cup of olive oil (I like a good, vibrant olive oil with eggs)

How to prepare:

1. Whisk the lemon juice, salt, and Dijon mustard together in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Measure out the olive oil into a cup with a pouring spout.

3. Whisk the egg yolk into the mustard mixture until it is well-incorporated and creamy. Continue whisking while you add a few drops of oil to the mixture. Whisk until completely incorporated before adding a few more drops. Try not to add too much oil, too quickly in the beginning, or the mixture will not emulsify. As the mixture begins to thicken, begin to add the rest of the oil in a thin and steady stream while whisking constantly.

If using a hand-blender, hand-mixer, or food processor, just start slowly adding the oil in the beginning, before adding the rest in a steady stream.

To help you visualize how mayonnaise comes together, here is a really good video clip.

Chicken Salad with Tarragon

It’s hot out. It’s over 90°. The heat just saps my energy and makes me want to laze around the house until nightfall. I was eating celery sticks all afternoon, thinking that this was a healthy lunch. It probably wasn’t.

Maybe for rabbits, but not for me!

So I decided to do something with the extra roasted chicken that I had in my fridge, and make chicken salad.

You could use store-bought mayonnaise, but I prefer to make my own. It’s really easy once you get the hang of it. I’ve whipped mayonnaise together with a fork, with a whisk, with a hand mixer, with a food processor, and with a blender.

I used a hand-held immersion blender this time. The most important thing is to make sure that your egg yolk is fresh, and it is at a cool-ish room temperature — not ice cold, and not too warm either. Be sure to add the oil very slowly in the beginning. Don’t worry if your sauce separates, or breaks. If this is the first time you are making it (or even if it’s the hundreth time) there are things you can do; you can easily save it multiple ways.

Properly made mayonnaise takes practice, but it’s not rocket science. I’m not Harold McGee, so I won’t expound on why the egg yolk emulsifies. However, I will say that when it does, it feels like magic.

Ingredients:

1 cup of roasted chicken, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped

1/2 cup of mayonnaise*

The juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare:

1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the lemon juice, in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice a little bit at a time until the chicken salad is loose enough to be spread out easily, but not so loose that it is watery.

2. Spoon the salad on top of toasted bread and enjoy.

For the mayonnaise:

2 teaspoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 large egg yolk at room temperature

1/2 cup of grapeseed oil, or any neutral oil

How to prepare:

1. Whisk the lemon juice, salt, and Dijon mustard together in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Measure out the grapeseed oil into a cup with a pouring spout.

3. Whisk the egg yolk into the mustard mixture until it is well-incorporated and creamy. Continue whisking while you add a few drops of oil to the mixture. Whisk until completely incorporated before adding a few more drops. Try not to add too much oil, too quickly in the beginning, or the mixture will not emulsify. As the mixture begins to thicken, begin to add the rest of the oil in a thin and steady stream while whisking constantly.

If using a hand-blender, hand-mixer, or food processor, just start slowly adding the oil in the beginning, before adding the rest in a steady stream.

To help you visualize how mayonnaise comes together, here is a really good video clip.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée


This was one of the first desserts that I learned to make in Paris. It’s quick, easy, elegant, and tastes better than anything you have ever tried in a restaurant.

The recipe will fill four 4.5 ounce ramekins.

Ingredients:

1 cup of whole milk

1 cup of heavy cream

1 whole vanilla bean

4 egg yolks

1/4 of white sugar

Enough butter to butter the ramekins

1/4 cup of light brown sugar

How to prepare:

1. Preheat your oven to 325°.

2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Using a paring knife, scrape the vanilla beans from each half of the pod. Here is a good video to show you how if you haven’t done this before.

2. Heat the milk, the cream, the vanilla beans, and the vanilla pod halves over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan until the mixture just begins to boil. Turn off the heat and let the vanilla bean infuse the milk and cream mixture for anywhere between 10-30 minutes.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the white sugar together until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 30 seconds. Remove the vanilla bean pod halves from the milk and cream mixture. Now you need to temper the egg yolks. This is important because if you add all the hot liquid to the egg yolks at the same time, you will be on you way to making scrambled eggs.

To temper, add a spoonful of the warm milk-cream mixture to the eggs. Stir quickly to incorporate the liquid into the egg and sugar mixture. Continue to add the liquid a little bit at a time, whisking everything until the mixture has become pale yellow and slightly foamy.

5. Carefully divide and pour the mixture into the buttered ramekins. Gently set the filled ramekins in a baking dish. Fill the dish with water until the water level comes halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake the crèmes in the oven for about 45 minutes. The centers should be jiggly, but not watery.

6. Remove the crèmes from the oven and cool them on the countertop for about 10 minutes before chilling them the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

7. Before serving, heat your broiler element. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of each crème. Broil the crèmes under the broiler until the brown sugar has become hard and crackly. Serve immediately.

New Amsterdam Market Event: Join a Meat CSA this weekend and eat better!

Photo courtesy of High Point Farms.

With all the news lately about salmonella in eggs, turkey recalls, and the adverse effects of antibiotics in meat, consciousness about what we put in our bodies and how we treat the environment is growing. Vegetarianism is always one option, but another way to ensure that you are responsibly feeding you and your loved ones the safest and best food that you can is to join a local meat CSA.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Far from the Midwestern industrial farms and feedlots that supply most East Coast supermarkets, CSA’s grow our local economy. They improve the quality of our food supply while also supporting the environmentally-friendly practices, sustainability, and humane animal husbandry.

As many of you know, I joined with my first CSA last spring. A CSA was something that I had always wanted to do, but was always hesitant because I had only heard of vegetable CSA’s. Also, I wasn’t sure if signing up for several pounds of perishable leafy greens a week would work with my schedule and lifestyle. When I heard about High Point Farm’s meat CSA, immediately I knew that this was something that would work with me. It has been a great experience, and the meat is so good and so addictive that I had to get more involved to spread the word!

Each CSA membership to High Point Farms, in Trumansburg, NY, gives you the opportunity to join the food revolution and voice your support for local agriculture and humanely-raised animals. Shares of their Harvest Meat CSA Memberships are still available.

Each share is a mix of Beef, Pastured Pork, and Free-Range Chicken.  The cows graze on grass in the summer, hay in the winter, and are not fed any grain. The pigs are pasture-raised, and the chickens freely roam the farm, feeding on bugs and whatever else nature provides. All animals raised in humane manner, without the use of any growth hormones or antibiotics. Owners Tina and Robert MacCheyne lovingly care for all of their animals. You can taste their efforts in every delicious bite.

Choose to be a part of the Manhattan, East Village distribution starting in December through February 2011. The distributions are every other Wednesday at Jimmy’s 43 on 7th Street.

High Point is also offering cheese shares from a neighboring farm, and an egg share from their own pasture-raised chickens. The eggs are a dream! The yolks are almost cartoonishly yellow, such a rich flavor and color that I find it really hard to go back to supermarket eggs.

For more information go to the CSA Page at www.highpointfarms.net or http://highpointfarmsnyc.wordpress.com/

This weekend, I’m going to be at the New Amsterdam Market, volunteering to talk up the CSA and give you the chance to have some awesome sliders made with their meat. Come and say, “hi,” on November 21st! I’ll be at the Jimmy’s 43 stand (they’re cooking, I’m talking) from 11AM to 4PM. See you there!