Monday, October 25, 2010

Scrambled duck eggs with piperrada

The summer produce keeps on rolling!  Last week, we got about 2 gallons of peppers and a gallon of tomatoes.  We also did a special order of a dozen duck eggs.  I had never had duck eggs before this... so I wasn't sure what to expect.  For our first duck egg breakfast, I just cooked them over easy and we had them with some toast and grilled tomato slices.  They were only okay.  I didn't love the texture; the yolks are a bit stickier than an over easy chicken egg yolk, and the whites were much firmer.  But they were very rich.  It made me think they'd be better scrambled.  And I have to say, they definitely were.
The peppers and tomatoes that went into the piperrada
I made this for breakfast by myself on Friday.  I had some time to kill after dropping Andy off for the airport shuttle at 5:30am (he went to Montana, and his friends got their elk, he'll be coming home on Monday with a cooler full!)  I love cream cheese in scrambled eggs, and at the risk of over-rich-ifying the duck eggs, added a small amount.  I think they went great together.  Inspired by a NY Times recipe, I stewed some of the peppers and tomatoes from the CSA, trying to mimic a Basque piperrada.  Not sure how close I got, but it tasted great!  I thought about cooking everything in the same pot, but decided against it cause I wanted to be able to control the heat on the duck eggs.  Also had some leftover roasted red potatoes.  Now that's a breakfast.

Piperrada (makes a good amount!)
1 T. olive oil
12 small peppers, cut into strips (probably equivalent to 8 medium sized bell peppers.  Use a mixture of types, if possible, I think it imparts some depth... our CSA calls our peppers "Italian peppers" which look like bell peppers, and "chile peppers" which look like hatch or poblanos)
4 tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 t. smoked paprika
1 t. thyme

1.  Heat the olive oil over low heat.  Add the peppers and some salt and cook about 10 - 12 minutes, stirring only occasionally (longer's fine too, this is basically a stew).
2.  While the peppers are cooking, boil a medium pot of water.  Cut a shallow cross into the skin on the bottom of the tomatoes.  Submerge the tomatoes in the water for about 15 seconds.  Plunge the tomatoes into ice water.  Slip the peels off.  Roughly chop the tomatoes.
3.  Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, smoked paprika, and thyme.  Cover and cook for 12 - 15 minutes, stirring only occasionally.
4.  If it looks watery after 12 minutes, remove the cover and turn the heat up a little.  There should be liquid, but you probably want it more sauce-y than liquid-y.  Mine probably could have used a little more time but I was hungry.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Scrambled duck eggs (serves 1, multiply as you wish)
1 t. butter
2 duck eggs (size?  most of the ones we got were close to the size of chicken eggs... except for one giant one.  I used the chicken egg sized ones)
2-3 t. cream cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Salt, Maldon smoked sea salt if you have it

1.  Heat the butter in a sautee pan over low heat.
2.  Whisk the ducks eggs, add in some salt and pepper.
3.  Pour into sautee pan.  Use a spatula to stir and break up the curds nearly constantly.  You want to cook these guys slowly, it probably took about 5 minutes to cook my two eggs.  More than 2 eggs will take longer.   The texture at the end is closer to a small curd cottage cheese than, say, the egg patty you might get at a bagel shop on your breakfast sandwich.
4.  When they're nearly done, add the cream cheese and break apart with the spatula.  I like it mostly broken up but with an occasional tasty little chunk. 
5.  Season at the table with the smoked sea salt and more pepper.

Does anyone else have ideas on ways to cook duck eggs?  I have 6 left.  If you have an idea leave a comment!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rice cooker polenta! ... and ratatouille

I will be making polenta more often now.  I made it in my rice cooker the other night, and I think it's better, and WAY easier, than making it on the stove.  Traditional polenta calls for nearly constant stirring for 20-30 minutes.  I think the reason for this is to prevent burning and clumping, not to significantly improve the texture, as is the case in traditional risotto.  With the rice cooker, the heat is low enough so that it doesn't burn, and I'm willing to bet the tight seal and slightly elevated pressure quickens the cook time.
Kinda hard to see but I was trying to capture the creamy texture.

I'm pretty sure you could just throw in whatever seasonings, cheese, butter, etc. that you want.  I used a 4:1 water to polenta ratio and used Bob's Red Mill Brand polenta.  I thought it would take a while, so I put it in the rice cooker, flipped the switch to cook, and didn't check it for probably half and hour.  It had already finished cooking and switched to "warm," and I think it had been done for a little while.  But I don't think there's any harm in letting it stay in warm mode, making this a perfectly flexible side dish.  The parmesan rinds imparted a nice flavor... I learned a trick at some point to save the rinds from wedges of hard parmesan cheese after I've grated the gratable parts for topping pasta and other things... just throw the rinds in a ziploc and keep them in the freezer.  Then add them to risottos, soups, and apparently polenta for extra flavor.

We ate the polenta with ratatouille.  It is based on a Cook's Illustrated method and recipe.  I just discovered Cook's Illustrated.  The website and magazine are by paid  subscription only, but I really like it and think it's worthwhile.  I love their emphasis on methods and explanations of why things happen as they do in a recipe.  They approach cooking scientifically.  I changed the recipe just enough to not feel bad putting it up here, but really the awesome method not at all my own.  I used to make ratatouille just by kind of sauteeing everything together, and usually using canned tomatoes.  The CI method of roasting the eggplant and zucchini first makes a much chunkier stew than I used to make, and I think that's a good thing, given my predilection towards vegetarian dishes with texture.  So I think I'll stick with this method, it's still infinitely adaptable, and though it might take a little longer than a simple sautee, it's not any harder and more closely mirrors the traditional French preparation.  Also any combo of fresh basil, oregano, thyme, or rosemary would only make the ratatouille better.  Add them if you have them!
I love eggplant even though it makes my mouth itch.

If anyone makes the rice cooker polenta and has thoughts on how it compares to a traditional polenta, I'd love to hear them.  I don't make polenta often enough to know for sure how it compares.

Rice cooker polenta
1 c. polenta
4 c. water
1 T. butter
2 T. grated parmesan or pecorino
1/2 t. salt
a few parmesan rinds, if available

1.  Combine in rice cooker.  Stir once.  Push down the switch to cook.  Come back when you're ready for it (at least 15-20 minutes, probably).

2 lbs. eggplant, cut up in 1" chunks
2 medium zuchinis (about 1-1.5 lbs), also cut up in 1" chunks
About 4 T. olive oil
5-6 small carrots (or 2-3 big ones), sliced into coins
2 bunches scallions or 1 medium or large onion, chopped (I would have used an onion but only had scallions)
2 large, very ripe tomatoes, cut up in 1-2" chunks
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
1 t. thyme, dried
ground black pepper

1.  Place eggplant in large colander set over large bowl; sprinkle with salt and toss.  Let eggplant stand for 1 to 3 hours.  Rinse eggplant well under running water to remove salt and spread in even layer on a clean towel.  Cover with another towel.  Press down firmly until eggplant is dry and feels firm and compressed.
2.  Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.
3.  Toss eggplant, zucchini, and 2 tablespoons oil together in large bowl, then divide evenly between prepared baking sheets, spreading in single layer on each.  Sprinkle with salt and roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until well-browned and tender, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through roasting time.
4. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrot and onion (if using, if using scallion add in about 10 minutes after the carrot); reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes total.
5.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
6.  Add tomatoes and cook until they release their juices and begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
7.  Add roasted eggplant and zucchini, stirring gently but thoroughly to combine, and cook until just heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and thyme; adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve over polenta.

PS - I would be remiss in not thanking Grant Family Farms for the incredible late season zukes, eggplant, and tomatoes.  SO good!!

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Kohlrabi puree

    Wow, I am so backed up on posts.  I have about four I want to put up.  Oh well, if I ever want to graduate I might need to not do everything I want to do, but I'll at least try to get my favorites up here.  

    Kohlrabi has really grown on me.  I mentioned not too long ago that I was proud of myself for doing something with kohlrabi besides quick pickles.  Well, here's another kohlrabi recipe!  I think this is my favorite kohlrabi so far.  It could be classified as comfort food for sure - especially when served with a nice over-easy egg on top, some good whole grain bread (this one was a free sample from our CSA hoping to sell more bread shares; it was great but I don't think we'd eat it all), and a nice little salad on the side (tomatoes, mint from the garden, balsamic and olive oil).

    4 kohlrabi bulbs
    1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced

    1 handful parsley
    a few T. cream

    salt and pepper to taste

    1. Peel the kohlrabi, and cut the bulbs into ~1" chunks.
    2. Boil some salted water, and add the kohlrabi. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
    3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until somewhat caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Lower the heat, add the garlic and cook another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. Drain the kohlrabi.  Put kohlrabi, onions, and everything else in the bowl of a food processor.  Purée until smooth.