Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chorizo Tortilla Egg Bake ...with a little less guilt

hi's almost Cinco de Mayo...
so dust off your sombrero and shake out that dusty old poncho...

Chorizo Tortilla Egg Bake is a perfect way to start the day...AND if you're watching your carbs and calories due to the swimsuit season fast approaching...not to worry.
believe it or not...this version is low carb, high protein and not as much fat as you might think. 
 chorizo can be quite fatty, but cooked down and given a little tender care it can be a big flavor punch without all the grease and fat.  
tortillas ARE really full of carbs, but if you just use a couple you'll be surprised at how much delicious corn masa flavor will carry through the whole dish.
eggs...full of good stuff, but cut the real eggs with some egg beaters and you'll never know the difference in an egg bake...i guarantee.

give this a try for a fun Mexican brunch.  the dish keeps very well and reheats in the microwave for a perfect on the go spicy breakfast or snack.  oh...and it freezes well too.

approximate NUTRITION
for 9 servings
protein 16

basic concept from Kalyn's Kitchen Egg Casserole

1/2 white onion, diced
1 1/2 jalapeno, diced , seeded and de-veined
(you can substitute jalapeno with canned diced green chiles)
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 large egg whites
1 cup egg beaters or substitute
4 oz fat free sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz chorizo
1 cup cottage cheese, rinsed in a strainer and patted dry
2 1/2 corn tortillas, cut in to 1/2 inch long strips
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
a good pinch of cayenne if you can handle the heat
salt and pepper
a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
NOTE...seasonings depend on how flavorful your chorizo is.
use more or less to your liking.

preheat oven to 375F degrees
spray a 2 quart, 8 x 8 or 7 x 11 baking dish with non stick spray or olive oil.
saute the onion and jalapeno, in as little oil as possible.
add chorizo and cook 'til done.
transfer to a paper towel lined bowl or dish and let the fats absorb in the towels.  change paper towel if necessary.
layer the bottom of your chosen cooking dish with 1/2 of the tortilla strips...evenly spread out.
now start layering 1/2 the chorizo onion mixture, 1/2 cheese and 1/2 cottage cheese curds, a little cilantro.
sprinkle 1/2 of your ground spices...and a little salt and pepper.... and then start again with the rest of the tortilla strips, chorizo, cheese, cottage cheese and cilantro.
sprinkle other half of ground spices...and a little salt and pepper your salt additions due to the chorizo, grated cheese and cottage cheese all have salt in them.
ANOTHER NOTE...not exact instructions, but you get the want a little of everything in each and every bite.  the remaining tortilla strips should be evenly distributed for maximum masa flavor.

in a bowl mix all the eggs and beaters until combined (not frothy).
pour eggs over layered ingredients.
gently use a fork to make sure egg mixture is well incorporated.
grate a little extra cheese over the top.
NOTE...if it doesn't look like the egg mixture is enough,  just beat up another and add it in.  i get carried away with my additions and often need to add another egg and an egg white.

bake until eggs are firmly set and top is lightly browned
20 - 25 minutes for an 8 x 8 dish
NOTE...mine might have taken a bit longer so keep an eye after 20 minutes.
the middle should rise a little and you will know it is cooked trough.
AND sometimes i need to tent with foil if getting too brown.

serve with some fresh pico de gallo, sliced avocado and a dollop of low fat sour cream
OR...just eat as is...reheat a square for a good breakfast though the week.
LAST NOTE...pretty darn good at room temperature while driving the car in a mad dash to work.
(i tested the freezing and came out great.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roasted Bone Marrow with Tarragon Orange Gremolata and Pickled Shallots

unctuous bone marrow on crispy sauteed butter bread from 85c Bakery.

not for the meek, nor the pansy palettes allowed at this table.

i love bone marrow...every time i see some beautiful bones at the market i HAVE to get them.  
if you haven't had the pleasure, this is an easy introduction to a delicious savory...
primal indulgence. 
it's simply something you must try.  easy to prepare, makes a stunning presentation and a great conversation piece at your next dinner party.
 i have written about marrow in the past... Rendering Bone Marrow and Marrow with Walnut Pesto, but this time i had the idea that a nice citrus tarragon gremolata along with pickled shallots would be a good balance for the warm fatty marrow. 
i also had just bought wonderful Butter Bread from 85c Bakery.

what could be better...?

 i just discovered 85c here in Irvine.  if you haven't been to one, i highly suggest going for the experience.  there is always a crowd.  you pick up your tray and tongs, load up on all kinds of beautifully baked goodies and proceed to the zig zag line that works like a line at an amusement park.. the baked goods are warm and fresh coming out every few minutes marked by someone in uniform yelling out,"fresh bread!"'ll end up buying things unknown and way too many pastries, but it's all fun.  i have yet to try the Salted Coffee that is supposed to be outta this world AND one of their signature time.

adapted from Fergus Henderson

2 small shallots, sliced very thin 
juice of 1/2 small lemon
2 TB apple cider vinegar
pinch granulated sugar
salt and pepper

place shallots in a small bowl with lemon juice, cider vinegar, a large pinch of sugar, a small pinch of salt and enough water to barely cover.  allow to stand at least 1 hour.

more of an idea than an exact recipe...depending on how many you are serving

1/2 bunch (or less) parsley, chopped
tarragon...1/3 amount of parsley
zest from 1/2 bright colored orange
capers if you have them...i didn't have any at the time
small drizzle olive oil
juice from 1 orange wedge
salt and pepper

add oil and juice just before serving to stay fresh.


1 or 2 bones per person, depending on the size.
i usually find them about 2 - 2 1/2 inches long at a regular market.  
place bones in an oven-safe dish...standing on end.
roast at 450 F degrees for approximately 20 minutes...depending on size.  watch them...don't overcook or too much fat will render and the marrow will become slightly chewy.
sprinkle with flaked sea salt and crushed pepper.
must be served fairly quickly...they will harden the same as butter would if it gets cold, or even room temperature.serve with toasted baguette or delicious sliced and sauteed "butter bread" from 85 degrees

PS...if you are interested for more in depth information and visuals... i found this post by The Hungry Mouse VERY helpful for those "first-timers" unfamiliar with roasting bone marrow.... great pictures of "how-to" and what to expect when roasting.
many thanks to Jessie who has a wealth of information

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chawanmushi. Japanese Steamed Egg Custard

Chawanmushi might sound exotic and look complex, but it's so simple to make.
it's really just a delicate egg custard filled with delicious little savory nuggets.
i'll be the first to admit that i DO NOT know Asian cooking techniques and terms as well as i would like to, so bear with me.  if you happen to be Asian or just know more about Asian all means drop me a note.  

BUT...for now i will keep it simple.

as i understand a classic Chawanmushi is egg mixed with dashi, a touch of soy, a splash of mirin...then poured over a few ingredients like diced chicken, shrimp, ginko nuts...and steamed to a delicious silky egg custard.
typically served as an appetizer, this dish can be transformed with just about anything you want to put into it...add udon noodles and you've got a main dish called Odamaki Mushi.
i've made this quite a few times...for a light dinner i added diced roasted chicken and sauteed crimini mushrooms in the custard and topped it with carrot, chive and a slice of octopus sashimi (shown in white bowl).   for a simple version (blue bowl) i added a few mushrooms i had already sauteed from the delicious.  

NOTE...don't be scared off by the classic ingredients DASHI,  Mirin, Ginko Nuts...

this can also be made with good ol' chicken broth.
turns out this is an absolute "feel better" comfort food for any nationality.

BUT...i must say...making your own Dashi is too easy.  once you make it, you will recognize that distinct flavor.  Japanese cuisine uses it as a background stock in a lot of cooking. you'll find the Konbu Seaweed and the Bonita Flakes at most health food stores.  i really suggest going out and finding an Asian market near you.  they are a lot of fun with all kinds of goodies you've never seen.  i go just about every weekend and always find something new.  if you're in So. California, look for 99 Ranch's like a big Asian Ralph's.  they will have whatever you are looking for...and MORE.

check link for other's comments and original recipe

2 large eggs
3/4 cup dashi (see below) or broth of choice
NOTE...some recipes call for more broth.  i like this amount of broth, but you can experiment with the ratio of eggs to broth.
1 dash mirin or sake
1/2 tsp soy
1/2 cup cooked diced chicken
shredded carrots
a few Ginko nuts if you can get them
just a few sauteed crimini or shitaki mushrooms, diced or left sliced for topping.
your choice for more toppings.

set up a steamer that your bowls of choice will fit in.  start the will want it hot and ready to steam when filled bowls go in.
in a medium bowl, whisk eggs gently with broth, mirin and soy.  divide diced chicken and diced mushroom into 2 - 3 small bowls.  pour egg mixture through strainer into bowls, slowly as to not disturb the diced items.  you don't want to have them floating about.
cover each bowl.  i used double saran wrap a few times and it works well.  just take care removing wrap when done so as not get condensation into finished chawanmushi

set covered bowls into flat surface steamer (steamer that is good and ready).
cover steamer and turn heat to a simmer.  
steam for 12-15 minutes (depending on size of bowls) or until egg is set...firm, but soft like silken tofu.

top with chives, green onion, shrimp, seared scallop. mushrooms, etc.....

2 1/2 cups water
1 square dried konbu (kelp)
15g dried bonito flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy

briefly rinse konbu, put in sauce pan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  just before boil, remove from heat and add bonito flakes and soy.
let this steep and come to room temp...strain

NOTES...i added a heaping Tbsp of fresh diced ginger  when i added the bonito.  then strain.

store in the fridge as you would a simple stock.  i think it would freeze well so you can have some ready for chawanmushi on the fly.

you never know...this could be your new comfort food.

(woops...custard with chopsticks?...quite often my head is not using the right utensil)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Japanese Cheesecake with Ginger White Chocolate Ganache

oooh, the Japanese Cheesecake.

ever so hard to master the perfect cake, 
ever so delicious when you get it almost right.
and if this is almost right...i'm good with that...for now.

it's a whole new ball game...

on it's own the cake is fabulous, light and airy, but matched with the rich ginger chocolate ganache it makes an even more fabulous decadent dessert...perfect for any special occasion.

this particular recipe is baked in a round spring form pan, but i think it is traditionally presented in rectangular servings.  to get the rectangles you lose a bit of cake, but throw some ganache on the funny shapes and i assure you, nothing will go to waste.
i consider those little scraps..."abstract petit fours".

as shown in the photo above you can see 
i have not conquered the perfect Japanese cheesecake.
i followed the instructions and tips from Little Teochew's fabulous blog post, but as she mentions over and over again in the's all in the egg whites.  i DO know how to whip a good egg white, but i think it takes practice to get it just right for this cake...AND PRACTICE I WILL.  i love this cake... light texture, slightly moist, holds up very well, cuts crisp and clean and works as a great blank canvas for ganache and other flavorful toppings.
photo on the left shows the shrinkage that i encountered.  this is something one tries to avoid, again, by following the tips from Little Teochew...and the photo on the right is a different kind of bain marie method.  instead of putting your cheesecake in the bath and risking leakage into the cake you set small dishes of water in the corners of the oven.

Japanese Cheesecake Recipe please go to Little Teochew's blog.  read all the comments and follow her instructions to the "T".  you might not have the perfect cake, but i guarantee you will have a delicious cake.


6 oz. good white chocolate, chopped.  i used Guitard white chocolate.
1/2 cup heavy cream (plus 1-2 Tbsp extra that gets lost to the pan and strainer)
1 heaping Tbsp. minced fresh ginger.
(you might need to make more (like 1/2 again) if you are doing total coverage of the cake)

put chocolate in heat resistant bowl.  set aside.
slowly heat your cream and ginger in a small sauce pan...stirring to almost boil.
pour hot cream/ginger through a strainer over chocolate in bowl.
let sit for a moment then begin to stir until all the chunks have melted.  i needed to set this over a double boiler i had ready just to melt the last chunks.  i found that i needed to stir vigorously towards the end because white chocolate acts different than regular chocolate.  it wanted to look separated.  if this happens just whisk until it comes together.
let it cool slightly so its not piping hot.  the hotter it is, the thinner your coating will be.  i like to have my cake slightly chilled when going for the "drip down the sides look".
if you want total coverage i suggest you put the cake over a cooling rack.  try to pour over the cake in one fell swoop...with ganache it needs to be one big pour for a smooth going back for a re-touch...that's why i like the drip method.  there is a little more leeway.

let sit to set...or chill in fridge for a more firm set.
i prefer the cake with ganache after it has set in the fridge.  it will have a slight dull finish, but after you bring it out and by the time you serve it should retain a slight beautiful sheen.
photos are after it set in the fridge, so you can see the sheen came back.

PS...if you have ganache left over...rewarm over double boiler.  you will need to whisk vigorously because of the separating i mentioned above.  i thought the left-overs were a gonner, but after whisking it came together and worked well for my "Abstract Petit Fours".

Sunday, April 1, 2012


creamy eggs topped with Russian caviar tucked into a perfect little egg cup...
one of my all time favorite savory treats.  
so simple, so delicious, so delicate and SOOOO EASY !...

if you have the right tool !

i spotted this little uni-tasker egg gadget about 6 years ago, but i couldn't justify paying the whopping $55.00 for something that does one thing.  well, now that Rosle is making one and it only costs $20.00 bucks...i finally snatched one up.  now I can make the fancy looking froo froo caviar egg cup that i fell in love with years ago at L'Orangerie Restaurant.  piled high with caviar... my eyes would light up as it was brought to the table by the waiter wearing white gloves.  although it's doors are closed now, i'll never forget the wonderful dinners i had there and ordering this decadent first course every time.   
i missed my delicious little caviar egg cup...until now.

the Rosle Egg Topper...a must buy.  as far as gadgets go?  this one is worth it.  it does it's job and it does it well.  i purchased mine at Sur la Table, but i'm sure you can get one on line HERE or at the Sur la Table website...HERE.

this post isn't so much about the recipe, i'm sure you can all figure it out, but here is how i make caviar eggs.  these are not your every day scrambled eggs...they have way to much cream and butter, but they work well for the presentation in the shell and the rich creamy eggs compliment the savory dollop of caviar.

(if you want concrete Martha Stewart instructions click HERE, but this is how i roll...pretty much the same idea.) your eggs with your new topper...snap the topper once on the egg, then when you see a slight crack carefully slip a thin knife in and ever so carefully pry the top off.  you'll get the hang of it quickly.
remove egg from shell and clean inside well.  carefully dunk them into a pot of boiling water for a min or two to remove any impurities and set them upside down to dry while cooking eggs.
you'll need...about 1 per egg cup
heavy cream
salt, but remember the caviar is salty
pepper (white is best)
 and your choice of topping
and toast, of course.

if filling egg cups you'll need to add one or two more eggs than you need.  the pan and the pastry bag will catch a bit...besides you might have an accident with one of your shells.
use about 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream per egg (might need a little more.  i don't measure)
dash salt and pepper
whisk well, but not fluffy
start your pan on low and add a healthy (more than usual) pat of butter to coat.
add the eggs and let them get started...these need to be cooked low and slow, stirring all along to prevent large curds from forming.
the key is to take them off the heat before you think they are done.  you can always cook them more, but you can't undo something that has been over cooked.
use your judgement...remember these need to be soft enough to go into a piping bag, but firm enough to hold shape and support your topping.

fill a pastry bag with eggs and start to assemble.  caviar isn't necessary, but it sure elevates the dish to something special.  small diced smoked salmon with a dollop of creme fraiche is delicious as well.
the toast?...i think the best way is to saute with butter in a pan...for some reason it tastes better than out of the toaster.

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