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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goat Cheese and Basil Omelet

I've recently discovered the wonder of omelets. Yes, I've had them before in diners, but it seems that diner omelets are a bit flat and don't have the nice golden brown spots on them. I won’t say I’ve perfected the art of omelet-making, but I’m getting closer. The key is to take a risk. After pouring the beaten eggs into the hot, oiled pan, let it cook just a bit longer than you think it should. This ensures that nice golden brown color. Then, once the edges firm up and it starts wiggling around the pan easily, use a big spatula to flip it. It's alright if it's a little sloppy - you can nudge the omelet back into shape. I've only tried this with a 2-egg omelet in a small saute pan. Alice Waters, author of "The Art of Simple Cooking", recommends sliding your spatula underneath the omelet to allow the uncooked egg on top to run underneath, thus ensuring a fully cooked omelet. This method would probably work well for a larger omelet.

Back to the wonder of omelets. They're quite tasty, you can use almost anything as a filling (cheese, herbs, leftover meat or veggies, even caramelized apples), they're quick, and they're very filling. Even more wonderful -- they're good for you! Eggs were villain-ized for awhile due to their high cholesterol levels. And yes, they do have a good amount of cholesterol, which our bodies need. It's been discovered, though, that a bigger influence on the amount of cholesterol in our blood is the amount of saturated and trans fat that we eat. Eggs are relatively cheap, compared to other protein sources (so splurge for cage free and organic -- you're still getting a good deal!), they are a complete source of protein, and they're packed with nutrients. So although you shouldn't eat eggs for every meal, an egg a day is OK.

I filled my fluffy golden omelet with goat cheese and basil. This simple combination was delicious. Each ingredient brought out the best in the other. The measurements below are estimates; use more or less depending on how you like your omelets.

Tell me: what is your favorite omelet filling?

Goat Cheese and Basil Omelet
Serves 1

Olive oil
2 eggs
scant 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
scant 1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese

1) Heat small saute pan over medium-heat (I set mine at "4" on my gas-range). While it's heating, crack two eggs in a small bowl and whisk until almost blended. When pan is hot, spray with olive oil.

2) Add eggs to pan. You'll know it's the right temperature if you hear a loud sizzling noise. If you don't hear that noise, turn up the heat a bit.

3) When the edges begin to firm up and you can nudge the omelet around in the pan (about 1-2 minutes), it's time to flip it. Coax a large spatula underneath and quickly flip it over. If the egg is a bit sloppy, reform the omelet back into a circle.

4) Immediately add your goat cheese and basil to one half of the omelet. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer until the underside is golden with splotchy brown spots (you can lift up the underside to check).

5) Fold over the empty half to get a half-moon shaped omelet. Slide it onto a plate, guiding it with your spatula. Sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baked Apples

I've been getting winter apples from my winter co-op. I didn't even know apples could be available in the winter! They don't compare to apples in the Fall, but they're still quite good. Eating a whole apple is a big commitment for me. I'm not sure why. I get tired of them after only a few bites, but then I'm stuck with a half-eaten apple. I created this recipe to spruce them up a bit and to get away with eating only half of an apple. I cut the apple in half, put it in a plastic container, and save it for the next day.

For this recipe I slice the apples and bake them in a toaster oven, which heats up more quickly and uses less energy (and therefore less money) to bake things. I finished off the fragrant apples with a drizzle of molasses and a sprinkle of flax seeds and toasted walnuts. It's so healthy! Go make it!

Baked Apples
Serves 1

1/2 of Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into 6 pieces
1-2 tablespoons molasses
1-2 tablespoons flax seed
handful of toasted walnuts
sprinkle of cinnamon

1) On oiled baking sheet (I used the toaster oven baking sheet), arrange apple slices evenly. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until soft (I used a toaster oven). During the last 5 minutes of baking, sprinkle walnuts over apples to toast.

2) When apples and walnuts are done, sprinkle with flax seed and cinnamon, and drizzle molasses over the top.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pantry Sandwich

This four-ingredient sandwich is made entirely of items that could be stocked in your pantry! For some reason, this really fascinates me. Probably because I’m so used to having fresh ingredients in every meal. I love fresh ingredients, of course, but sometimes dinner just doesn’t work out as you planned, or you get snowed in, or something comes up, and you need good food that can be found in your pantry.

Justin and I cook all of our meals for the week on Saturday afternoons. Toward the end of our cooking spree last week, I announced that I was excited to use our new can opener since our previous one had stopped turning and you had to clunk, clunk, clunk all along the edge to open a can. He mentioned that it’s pretty amazing we spent hours cooking, and only once did we need to open a can.

I created this recipe soon after Justin and I moved into our new house. There were still boxes everywhere and we needed something for dinner. We hadn’t yet had the luxury of spending hours cooking fresh-ingredient meals in our new kitchen. I new we had a can of sardines and some whole wheat bread. We had eaten this combination before, and it works, but it’s not exciting. So I thought to myself, “Why don’t I add some sun-dried tomatoes and see what happens? And, oh! What about those pimiento-stuffed green olives that I don’t have any plans for?” Voila. The pantry sandwich was born. And now I schedule it into the rotation even if I’m not desperate for a pantry dinner. It makes cooking for the week even easier.

Sardines are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. If you buy U.S. sardines, they’re also sustainable (according to my handy Pocket Seafood Selector fish guide that you can download here). Olives are loaded with heart-healthy fats, and sun-dried tomatoes are high in lycopene, which is thought to prevent cancer. So, while this sandwich may seem indulgent, it does lots of great things for your body. Pair it with a low-fat side, such as a salad or minestrone soup, and you’re all set.

Pantry Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches

1 can sardines (1/2 cup)
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, minced
½ cup olives, chopped (I used pimiento-stuffed green olives, but I bet black olives or Kalamata olives would be equally tasty)
4 slices whole wheat bread
Butter, if desired

1) Mix together sardines, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives.

2) Lightly toast whole wheat bread, and spread a bit of butter on each slice.

3) Spread sardine mixture over bread and make into two sandwiches.