Making X: Don’t ASAP Your Scrambled Eggs

scrambled eggs gordon ramsay CDB William Steig

Perfectly Scrambled – Not abbreviated

We were all abbreviating things long before we starting LOL-ing or telling each other that we’d BRB.

Please, verbal and written abbreviations go back to Before Christ – BC to be exact. I mean you don’t think Julius Ceasar was all ‘hey Mark A, wanna head down to the 4-M? Heard Lady C will be there?’

In the AD years – FYI – we started using abbreviations like ASAP, PDQ and tons more well before anyone had a cell phone.

CDB book kids William Steig

Best Book Ever

Growing up, my professor brother (please address him as Doctor James, but don’t ask him to write a prescription) found, loved and shared a book by William Steig called C D B!…as in See The Bee.

The book is written in phonetically fabulous single letters or 2-letter combinations. Each letter or short letter combo becomes a word when read correctly – kids, this is like when you write ‘Gr8’ instead of ‘Great’. Get it?

This approach is way toats more difficult than just using the first letter of a word to signify that word. Steig’s approach requires the reader to use sounds and maybe even the ol’ noggin to determine what the writer is saying.

William Steig C D B scrambled eggs

This Hen Has 5 Eggs

Because of our family obsession with C D B, we often spoke Steig shorthand at home. Like if we wanted eggs for breakfast, we might ask our mother ‘F U N-E X?’ to which she might reply (if we were lucky) ‘S, V F X’.

I’ve been making myself scrambled eggs for years. I have a method. I have a taste and consistency that I love and a cheese that I had determined to be the ideal cheese for scrambled eggs…I could scramble those puppies up in no time flat.

Some egg-making – though – just shouldn’t be abbreviated. And, if you ask Gordon Ramsay, there’s really only one RIGHT way to make perfect Scrambled Eggs. And, it takes a little extra time.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs (not X) (serves 1 – test kitchen just me today)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Don’t worry about the fact that you only have a 1.5q sauce pot – it’s the perfect thing for perfect scrambled eggs
  2. Let the pot cool before soaking it to clean – soaking a hot pot is bad. Just is.
  3. Add whatever testifiers and flavinators you want – but don’t stir anything in – not even salt, pepper etc until the eggs are almost completely done

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Eggs – you can buy organic if you must, but you know that cost like 2X non-organic ones
  • 1 Pat of Butter – just like a TBSP
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used to use Port Salut….but, for these eggs, a harder, sharper cheese is really better)

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan on the stove, crack the two eggs and throw in the butter

perfect scrambled eggs gordon ramsay

Do Not Scramble B4 Putting In To Pot

2. Turn burner heat up to Medium and begin stirring the eggs and butter in small stirring circles (if you have a Power Burner…Med/Low is A OK)

scrambled eggs Gordon Ramsay perfect

G Ramsay Describes Technique as similar to making Risotto

3. The butter will melt and the eggs will come together as you continue to stir

scrambled eggs breakfast vegetarian

C, it’s working….

4. Once the eggs begin to scramble – I O W begin to form eggy scrambly pieces – remove the pot from the heat…but keep stirring

perfect scramble eggs vegetarian breakfast

D trick is the stirring – Scrambling Away – Gently – Remove from Heat

5. As the pot loses heat, return it to the burner, still at about medium and continue to stir

6. Keep on active burner just long enough to reheat the pot…then remove it ASAP! Keep Stirring

scramble breakfast all -clad pot

B patient – Scrambling Away! Sorta Shocking How Well This Works

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the eggs reach the desired consistency. Normally, I prefer a drier scrambled egg…but with this technique, a more creamy, grits-like consistency works better

NOTE: Gordon Ramsay stirs in some creme fraiche and some chives…but you really don’t need the creme fraiche and chives just make it a very expensive scrambled egg dish – unless you have some on hand.

8. Serve topped with some lovely grated sharp cheddar cheese

perfect eggs

Just perfect

There are great occasions for abbreviations. Like texting your BFF.  There’s also the times you just need to speak in code – my roommate from college, PKO used abbreviated, acronym-speak well before the first text was sent. Never did figure out what she was saying…

But, BTW, when you want the perfect scrambled eggs. you need to take your time and not try to make them ASAP.

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Ending the Curse of the Turanos: Tuscan Grilled Chicken

tuscan chicken on the grill

Better to offer a chicken to Italians…Never send a fish

My people are Italian….like Sicilian Italian Our people take vendetta seriously – did you see The Godfather? Family feuds are way more intense than Hatfield-McCoy.

Because we are innately aware of our peoples’ tendency toward revenge, my brothers and I grew up in fear of the Turano family. See, in the 1930s our great uncles – Gasper aka ‘Cap’ and Vincent married sisters – not just any sisters, Turano sisters. Uncle Cap, the eldest, led the way – the oldest must marry first in traditional Italian families. Vincent, the second son, followed shortly thereafter with his own Turano bride.

italian family feast chicken

Sal and Grandma – not a Turano. and my brother, no Turano blood.

It would have naturally followed that my grandfather, Salvatore – the youngest – would then choose one of the two remaining Turano sisters as his wife…and both families urged him to do so. Sal, as he was known, would, however, buck this trend and spurn the Turano girls. He instead married his high school girlfriend, my grandmother.

Ever since Sal made the choice to disregard tradition, the Turanos looked at us funny. Funny, like with evil, spell-casting glares, slanty eyes and stuff. We felt their hatred and sensed that they were cursing us behind closed doors. We blamed mysterious happenings throughout our lives on the Turanos…a bike went missing, a pet passed away, the car ran out of gas…must be the effing Turanos.

But, now, 80 years since Sal’s jilting of the Turano sisters…It’s time to bury the hatchet and end our fear of the effing Turanos. So, I offer the descendants of Cap and Vincent, (some of whom are kind enough to read this blog) an olive branch….a feast from a neutral region of Italy…Tuscan Grilled Chicken.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken (serves 8)

Tiny apartment tips:

  1. You could do this in your apt…just use a much smaller (3lb ish) chicken
  2. Open windows and doors to vent during grilling as the chicken should and will smoke up
  3. Yes, the butcher at Food Emporium, Whole Foods etc WILL de-backbone the chicken for you. Just ask.
  4. Plan ahead…chicken needs to marinate for at least 4 hours, though I’d recommend marinating overnight

Ingredients

  • rosemary lemon chicken on grill

    Always mise en place. Always.

    2 4-5lb whole chickens

  • 2/3 Cups Olive Oil – you can order DiGiovanna Olive Oil online – that’d really get the Turanos mad….
  • Lemon Zest from 4 lemons
  • 2/3 Cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic = about 5ish cloves
  • 2 TBSP minced rosemary leaves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

1. Ask the butcher to remove the backbone from the chickens and flatten them. We actually bought Perdue wrapped chickens and took them to the butcher who gladly helped us out. Put the flattened birds into baking dishes.

2. Sprinkle the chickens with salt on both sides – don’t be shy here, the salt will help crisp up the skin

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and 3 tsp of pepper

tuscan lemon marinated chicken

Green-y, Lemon-y, Garlic-y marinade

4. Pour the marinade over both sides of the chickens

chicken tuscan marinade

Marinating

5. Cover the chickens with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

wolf range stove dinner chicken

Guest-Chefing and a Wolf Oven – bonus

7. Heat a gas grill to low heat

8. Remove the marinated chickens from the fridge and temperate for at least :15 mins

9. Spray the grill with non-stick spray

10. Place the chickens on the grill breast-side up

chicken on grill flattened

Breast side up…lefty is a little slanty

11. Weight down the chickens with a heavy pan or baking dish to ensure that the entire surface of the bird is in contact with grill

weighted down flattened chicken on grill

We weighted lefty with a baking dish. Righty was weighted down with a cast iron skillet

12. Cook for :20minutes – leave the lid of the grill open as it’s a smoky deal

13. Flip the bird (not at the Turanos) – literally and re-weight down so that the entire breast-side is in contact with the grill surface

tuscan grilled flattened chicken

Our two little guys flipped

the flipping is hard

the flipping is hard

14. Cook for another :20 minutes

15. Transfer the browned birds to a baking dish and bake in the oven for :15 more minutes to ensure bird is wholly cooked.

16. Remove the birds from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, cover in tin foil and let rest for :15 mins before slicing

17. Slice and serve

tuscan chicken on grill

Sliced and ready

I hope that enough time has passed to heal the relationship between us and the effing Turanos. And I hope they see this chicken as the olive branch they may have been waiting for.

That said….when eerie things happen, I still have a thought in the back of my head, that it just could be the curse of the effing Turanos.

Great Guestification: Smoked Brisket with Dad Salt(tm)

beef brisket smoked on the grill

But Dad, It’s Smoky!

There’s a way old Steve Martin bit about teaching kids to talk wrong. The skit takes place in a classroom filled with young children. One child raises his hand and when called on asks; ‘May I please go to the bathroom?’. The teacher, a bewildered look on his face, says ‘I’m sorry?’ The student replies: ‘Sorry, can I moo-moo dog face to the banana patch?’ And, he is sent on his way to the bathroom.

As kids, we used ‘moo moo dog face to the banana patch’ all the time when we wanted to be excused from the dinner table or elsewhere. We all thought making up words or speaking wrong was a great idea. My brother took his own spin on Steve Martin’s craft and teaches his own kids wrong words…To be fair, he just elongates words, sometimes creating verbs out of nouns or adverbs out of …doesn’t matter. Just know that this happens and now his people (son and daughter) are also doing it.

spices salt mixes beef brisket

Dad Salt

My brother is also an inventor of sorts….and created a magical new mix of spices called ‘Dad Salt’. Don’t ask me what’s in it, cuz it’s like a secret… just know that you should put the stuff on everything. Still working on marketing and margins, but soon to be available everywhere.

I was recently with them all – GUESTIFICATING at their home in Cincinnati. And, we made a giant Smoked Beef Brisket as people in Cincinnati are wont to do. As the brisket was my brother’s creation, I have tried to channel his spirit in CRAFTIFYING this post.

Tiny apartment tips:

  1. Be a good GUESTIFIER – to ensure future invites
  2. Find GUESTIFICATION locations with outdoor grills
  3. Don’t try this in your tiny apartment
  4. LMK if you are interested in purchasing ‘Dad Salt’

Giant Smoked Brisket (serves an army….of 8)

NOTE: This is a two day process. A commitment to meat. COMMITIFY yourself.

Ingredients:

  • brisket dinner smoked

    Meats En Place

    1 Giant 12lb Beef Brisket – we got ours at Costco, the land of giant meats

  • 2 Cups Apple Juice
  • 1 14oz Can of Beef Broth
  • 2 TBSP of minced garlic – I never use the jar stuff, but a guest really shouldn’t say such things
  • 1 TBSP EVOO
  • Loads of DAD SALT(tm)
  • NOTE: If you haven’t yet ordered or received your Dad Salt, you can create your own poor imitation by mixing together – sea salt, bacon salt, garlic powder, paprika, ground pepper, onion powder
  • A meat injector
  • 2 cans of Darkish beer or ale – we used 1 can of Boddington’s and 1 can of Guinness
  • Applewood chips for the grill
  • Buns
  • Store bought sweet bbq sauce

1. HEATIFICATION of the Injecting Agent:  Heat 1 Cup of the Apple Juice and 1/2 of the can of beef broth with the garlic and olive oil over low heat in a sauce pan

meat injecting beef brisket smoked

Injecting agent heating on STOVIFIER

2. Once the flavors have come together and the mix is FRAGRANTIFIED – about :05 mins…let the mixture cool slightly

3. TRIMMITIZING: Pat dry the giant brisket and trim off most of but not all of the excess fat. The fat lends flavor and moisture to the meat…so leave about 25% of it on the giant beef

beef brisket trimmed dinner grill smoking

Giant knives scare me. Note some fat remains.

4. RUBIFICATION: Rub Dad Salt(tm) generously all over the giant meat

brisket smoked dinner grill

Rubbified with Generous Amount of Dad Salt

5. INJECTIFICATION: Fill the meat injector with the garlic, broth, apple juice mixture and inject liberally all over the meat

meat injector dinner smoked brisket grill

Injectifying Juice – messy job, so yes, do this in a large roasting pan lined with foil – those are my brother’s man hands, btw.

6. Cover the INJECTIFIED, RUBIFIED meat and refrigerate overnight

THE NEXT DAY……

7. RE-RUBIFYING: Remove the meat from the fridge and rub AGAIN liberally with Dad Salt

8. SMOKIFIER; Early, like way early in the morning, prepare the grill with very low indirect heat.

9. Prepare a large drip pan with 2 cans of beer (a darker beer is better here) and a 1/2 cup of Apple Juice AND the fat trimmings from the brisket and place it on the low rack of the grill

smoked brisket grill dinner

BEERIFYING – step 1 to SMOKIFIER prep

beef brisket recipe grilling smoking meats

Setting up the Smokifier – note coals are contained by large pieces of hickory that have been soaked for over an hour

10. SMOKIFICATION: Replace the second rack and put the Brisket over the side with the beer/juice/fat pan. On the other side, place several applewood chips that have been soaked for at least an hour in water in a smoker box

smoked beef brisket dinner grill

Let the Smoking Begin

11. Cover the grill and let meat smoke forever….Like 8 hours

12. FOILIZING: After 8 hours, remove the brisket from the smoker, put in a large roasting dish lined with foil….And, then seal the meat in foil.

beef brisket smoked on grill

FOILIZED – Ready to be ovenized

13. OVENIZATION: put the giant meat into a 250 degree oven for an additional 2 hours

14. REJUICIFICATION: Remove the meat and let it rest for :20 – :30 minutes

15. SLICERIZING: Serve warm by the slice

beef brisket smoked service dinner

Slicerizing the meats. Note fab smoke ring

We served the tender, smoky slices atop potato buns with some cole slaw and sweet bbq sauce.

I’m not sure it’s a great idea to TEACHIFY kids to speak wrong….But, I will say that now that the kids are older and able to make up their own words…it’s fun to watch. Plus, I’m sure it helps keep their creative juices flowing.

Listen, when in Rome, right? Being with my Cincy peeps is always a great GUESTIFICATION.

IMG_7457PS – LMK if you want to know more about Dad’s Salt(TM)

Cro-Nutting: The Privilege of a Great Houseguest

cronuts trader joe's frozen croissants dessert

Cro-Nutted Croissants

Cro-Nutting, v. The Art of Frying That Which Should Not Be Fried.

Truth – I don’t like to fry, deep fry, stuff in my apartment. A few good reasons…

  1. cronuts kitchen frying

    Coffee Tin

    It’s a bit messy and the hot oil can escape the cauldron and dirty surrounding cabinets and counters.

  2. When the frying is over and after you’ve overindulged in a good fried treat, you’re left with a large vat of used oil and no where to dispose of it…OK, you’re supposed to put in into an empty coffee tin and freeze it before throwing away…But, I think you have to go back to 1985 to find an empty coffee tin.
  3. The frying leaves a certain odor – note, not really aroma, but odor – in your tiny living space and on your furniture, walls, carpets, floors and towels.
  4. OH, yeah….and technically frying anything is super fattening.

So, I only fry during away games. Listen, I’m a great house guest. Someone even recently named me guest of the decade. I mean, I keep a clean room, cook, entertain people’s kids, run errands and always wash my sheets and towels before my departure. So, letting me do a little frying in your kitchen seems like a small price to pay.

On a recent visit to the middle – that space between New York City and LA where my brother and his people live – I decided to entertain my two favorite teenagers with a frying bonanza.

Prior to my arrival, I emailed the kids with some culinary options that we could deep fry in their large suburban kitchen.

But the only thing they wanted was….Cronuts, the croissant/donut hybrid that is all the rage in NYC right now, a treat that is not yet available in Cincy.

The attention span of any teenager is similar to that of an ant – even my incredibly intellectually advanced niece and nephew. So, I knew that creating cronuts from scratch wouldn’t be an option. I did some research and decided the best way to go would be to cronut frozen croissants from Trader Joe’s.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Don’t deep fry in your apartment for reasons already outlined above
  2. Do be the best guest to earn the privilege to deep fry when guesting outside of the city

Cro-Nutted TJ’s Croissnts (servings…really, no one should eat any of these, so at a serving size of one bite, this’ll make about 24)

Ingredients:

  • trader joe's frozen croissants cronuts

    NOT mini

    1 Box Trader Joe’s frozen croissants – they come  8 to a box – AND the box says ‘Mini’…but, they are not mini

  • 1 Large Cauldron of vegetable oil – about 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep
  • 1 Candy Thermometer – I’ve been trying to find the one that has the temp taker attached to a long cord vs the glass one that clips to the side of the cauldron…but, haven’t found it yet. LMK if you have any ideas
  • 1 Fry Spider kitchen tool – readily available everywhere and a kitchen must
  • 1 Tub of Dolci Frutti Chocolate hard chocolate shell OR A Jar of Nutella Hazelnut Spread

1. The night before you want to make these ridiculously caloric and fat heavy treats…You have to take the frozen Trader Joe’s Croissants out of the package, separate, set on a plate and let sit out overnight. The frozen croissants magically rise while you’re sleeping and double in size – again, not mini

2. Pour 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil into a large, deep cauldron….Or big pot

3. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. OK, maintaining 350 degrees is tricky – so, heat the oil higher, then turn it way down. Oil must be between 325 – 350, so keep checking that now dangerously hot glass candy thermometer that’s clipped to the side of the cauldron and adjust the stove as needed

4. Using a tiny (1 inch) biscuit cutter (remember, buy the full set of biscuit cutters that nest) cut the croissants into little bite-sized pieces

sur la table biscuit cutters

Space Saving Biscuit Cutters

5. Gently…very gently….using a spider or other good frying tool…lower the croissant cut-outs into the scalding oil

croissant cronuts trader joe's frying with kids

Gently frying away

6. Fry each side for about a minute – you’ll know when to flip cuz they brown up nicely

7. Remove the friedness from the oil and transfer to a paper towel to blot the excess oil – this is a step that just makes you feel better…but really, these are fried, so get over it.

cronut recipe trader joe's croissants

Fried Goodness – light, flaky and….FRIED

8. While frying, in the microwave melt up some of those Dolci Frutti chocolate shell chocolate chips

dolci frutti chocolate dip cronuts trader joe's

Find in Produce Section

9. Once the Cro-Nutted Croissants are quasi cooled – hand them along with the melty chocolate to your niece and nephew who can then spoon chocolate-y goodness over the deep fried delight

10. Eat….But eat only one, seriously

I always gain about 500lbs when I go to the middle…Or does just the fat go to the middle, whatever. But, you can’t put a price on entertaining kids with the art of deep frying. And, if you want to feel a little better, Cro-Nutted Croissants are technically vegetarian. Just remember to be a good guest and clean up. You don’t want to lose your fry-privileges.

Dinner & Roses To-Go: Summer-Bries Pasta

brie pasta dinner vegetarian basil recipe

Brie Pasta Plated and Ready

On Monday nights for a series of 16 weeks twice a year, I engage in a very sophisticated evening with a select group of friends in the City. It’s a weekly meeting of the minds and

dinner pasta vegetarian roses brie cheese sauce

So much hope on one tray

exchanging of incredibly insightful and valuable information. An opportunity to explore human behavior on an intimate level. To live – just for a moment – inside the lives (and hot tubs) of beautiful women and six-pack ab-ed men on their journey, their quest for love …..For the purpose of simplifying, let’s call it ‘Book Club’ – but know that it is oh, so much more. I mean, there are roses involved.

The west 86-ers (friends who live there) generally host and always provide an incredible meal to feed our minds and souls as we solve the world’s problems and follow the young hopefuls through the ups and downs of budding romance. Once in a blue moon, I offer to bring dinner, I mean, I’m the food blogger, right, this should be my job. Yet, on these occasions, I often find myself at a loss for what to bring. I don’t want to default to the go-to easily portable casserole family – this is a fancy evening after all – there’s generally evening gowns and a champagne toast. There are always tears. I brought my chicken milanese on one occasion and it was well-received, a good complement to this intellectually stimulating evening. So, when I offered to bring dinner for what was certain to be the most dramatic series finale ever, the pressure was on.

It would have to be a rose-worthy feast. One that could not only comfort us through the disappointment of a potentially heartbreaking end to the journey but could also support an exuberant celebration should the evening end in true love. There were other factors to consider as well – it had to be easily portable, not require too much ‘cooking’ as in tiny NYC apartments any heat thrown from the kitchen is too powerful for even the strongest of A/C units during a heat wave. It couldn’t be too salty (I tried to kill this group once before with an exceedingly salty, like dead sea salty, pulled pork dinner – that was a Des-Aster).

So, I borrowed a page from me mum’s culinary delights and made a Summer-Bries Pasta.

Tiny Kitchen Tips:

  1. basil brie pasta dinner vegetarian recipe

    Basil Bunch

    Fairway NYC has the best deal on Basil in town…but, you have to buy a giant bunch of it – so, plan to use some for a freezable pesto sauce or other basil-easy delights

  2. This recipe is too much…you can easily cut in half if your ‘Book Club’ isn’t that many people

Summer-Bries Pasta (serves like 85 people…or 6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cloves Garlic  you can go to three cloves, you can do 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 a shallot – it’s your call
  • 1 1/2 Cup Basil Leaves
  • 1 Pound French Brie
  • 1 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Container of Compari Tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of Linguini or Boccacini or any other ‘ini’ pasta

Always Mise En Place – it’s just fun and makes you feel chef-like:

brie pasta dinner recipe

Mise En Place

1.  Cut the tomatoes – the entire box – into bite-sized pieces – like little cube-y-ish – and put into a large mixing bowl

dinner pasta summer brie campari tomatoes

Campari tomatoes – selected bc they are sweet and delicious

2. Mince the cloves of garlic and toss on top of the tomatoes in the bowl

dinner pasta  brie tomatoes garlic summer

No mincer? No worries, just chop super small – I used my microplane, just be careful!

3. Chiffonade the basil leaves and…uh huh…toss on top of the garlic and tomatoes

dinner pasta vegetarian cheese basil

Beautifully Chiffonade-d Basil-y Goodness

4. Remove the rinds from the brie and then tear into smallish pieces – like smaller than an ice cube and bigger than a marble…Throw the pieces of brie into the basil-y, garlic-y, tomato-y mix

brie pasta summer dinner vegetarian

Triple Cream Brie – two is too few, four is too many

5. Pour the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil over the brie, basil, tomato, garlic mix and toss gently to combine

dinner vegetarian pasta summer easy cooking

Mixed….And, now let it just sit

6. Add salt and pepper, cover and let the mixture sit out on your tiny kitchen counter for the day…at least 2 hours, but the flavors meld and intensify the longer it sits…I left it for no fewer than 5 hours…

NOTE: It will look runny and odd…do not fear — I already did that for you – no, there’s not too much olive oil or too many watery tomatoes…relax. It’s all good.

7. Boil the pasta about 1-2 minutes shy of the recommended cooking time, drain and immediately toss with the tomato-y, basil-y, garlic-y, brie-y mix

The brie will melt into an incredible cream sauce……yum.

8. Garnish with a few more basil leaves/pieces and serve warm

Book Club is more about getting together with friends than it is about watching the Des-bacle. Next time you want to bring dinner to a crew, just remember –  The journey to find love isn’t always easy, but this portable pasta dish truly is a bries.