Tag Archives: Eggs

Persian-inspired herb frittata

So far, this has been the summer of herbs. As part of the quest to transform my cooking habits, I’ve been relying heavily on fresh herbs–parsley, dill, mint, basil, and chives–to add brightness and spark to our meals. One recipe, in particular, has been in heavy rotation around here.

Many years ago, I bookmarked Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe for spinach and herb frittata. Inspired by an Iranian dish called kuku sabzi, it’s packed to bursting with greens and fresh herbs. A few weeks ago, I remembered the recipe and dug it back out. I’ve been making it at least once a week since, tinkering a little each time.

I’ve made no secret of my love for frittatas. They’re quick, wholesome, and welcoming to just about anything in the fridge. You can eat them warm, room temperature, or cold. They make a great grab-and-go breakfast or light lunch, or you can cut them small and serve them as appetizers.

My usual frittatas are full of cheese and sausage–delicious, but on the stodgy side. This green frittata is much lighter and brighter, with the assertive flavor and leafy crunch of barely cooked herbs. I’ve mostly been eating it straight from the fridge, but this could easily be an elegant summer party dish, tucked into a picnic spread or laid out with a cheese-and-crackers board.

persian herb frittata 1

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Chopped salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette

I’m not really much of a restaurant foodie. I have no particular interest in finding the hottest or most out-of-the-way restaurant in a city, or in reviewing every aspect of a restaurant experience. I try not to spend a lot of time singing the praises of this or that high-priced restaurant dish. With one exception: the chopped salad at Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco.

I cannot shut up about this salad. I’ve been to Chaya for a few business lunches, and I order it every time. At a restaurant renowned for its exquisite sushi and pitch-perfect entrees, it’s the salad that gets me. It’s basically a Niçoise salad on steroids, with chicken and smoked salmon and olives and green beans and eggs and cheese and bell peppers and nuts and croutons and probably other stuff too, all diced into perfect miniature cubes and dressed with a gauzy lemon vinaigrette. It’s hefty and satisfying, yet light enough that I don’t have to roll down the sidewalk afterward. The mingling of textures–creamy and crunchy and fluffy and prickly–is exactly what a salad should be. It’s beautifully composed and perfectly seasoned. I dream about this salad.

But I can’t afford to eat it all the time. So I have to do the next best thing: try to make it myself. My version of this salad is rougher and less manicured than the Chaya version, like a younger cousin without quite so much jewelry. But you know what? It’s still just as delicious.

For my chopped salad, I blanch a handful of haricots verts and hard-boil a couple of eggs, chop up a pepper and flake some lox with a fork. Then it all gets piled on greens, maybe with a few herbs mixed in, and some olives and goat cheese to bump up the salty-rich factor. Then I make a quick dressing with some of my beloved preserved lemons, and mush everything all together with my fork. It’s a real riot on the plate, nubbly and colorful and full of powerful flavors. Even my boyfriend agrees that it’s one of the best salads he’s ever had.

This salad is easily a meal in itself. It’ll fill you up without knocking you out. Add a glass of wine, and maybe a nibble of something sweet, and I seriously cannot think of a better self-pampering lunch.

chaya-esque chopped salad

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Burmese egg curry

The other day I looked in my fridge and found a dozen eggs, pushed to the back and forgotten. They were well past their sell-by date–good for hard-boiling, and little else. I’m leaving town for two weeks, and these eggs needed to get eaten. Enter a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for a good long time: Burmese egg curry.

As the name implies, this is a curry built not on meat, but on hard-boiled eggs. It’s an odd combination, but a nice one, with the eggs providing a rich, chewy contrast to the sauce. And what a lovely sauce it is: clean-flavored, fresh, spicy, light. The primary flavoring agent is turmeric, which I usually rely on more for its pungent yellow color than as a spice in its own right. But as the backbone of this curry, it’s gorgeously subtle: nutty and earthy and just a little bit sweet.

Even beyond the spice base, though, this curry is deeply satisfying. The standout vegetable here is okra, cooked just until crisp-tender; it thickens the curry slightly, making it soft and glossy, while keeping the bright greeny flavor to a maximum and sliminess to a minimum. And the whole thing gets finished with a scattering of cilantro and a big handful of crisp-fried shallot rings–deeply caramelized and sweet, nicely offsetting the spicy bite of the curry and the richness of the eggs.

For such a surprising and exotic dish, this is a great pantry cleanout. Most of the ingredient list is pantry staples–eggs, onion, garlic, canned tomato products, spices. I keep fish sauce around, because I love the salty funk of it, but plain old standby soy sauce works just fine. I also had a knob of ginger hanging around from another dinner, and it turns out this is a great use-up. All I had to buy were cilantro, shallots, okra, and a chili or two. In 45 minutes, I had dinner for three nights in a row–I fried as many shallots and eggs as I wanted each night, ladled on some warm curry, and tore a few cilantro leaves over the top. Easy, delicious, and just odd enough to be special.

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Eggs in spicy minted tomato sauce

There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked egg. Nothing. When the yolk quivers as the plate sets down, when you can dig in with the side of a fork and let loose a sticky marigold gush–not runny, not firm, but oozing like syrup–it’s high on my list of my favorite things. Poach the egg in a fragrant and spicy tomato sauce, and it’s even better.

I got the idea from Daisy, who blogged about this a few weeks ago. In form at least, her dish as well as mine resemble the Israeli dish shakshuka: a spicy, jumbled mess of tomatoes and swirled egg whites, with delicate yolk-peaks nestled on top. When you break into them, the richness of the yolks infuses and tames the tart spiciness of the sauce, mellowing the whole dish into something warm and exotic and primally comforting. It’s glorious.

My version includes mint, which is an ideal partner for tomato and spice. When I want an easy no-effort dinner, I take some storebought tomato soup and spike it with Sriracha and chopped mint leaves–it impresses people like you wouldn’t believe. In fact, you could very easily grab a bottle of tomato sauce, stir in some hot sauce and mint, poach your eggs in it and call it a day. I’ve included a little more of a recipe here, but it’s still not complicated; the mint is what makes it special.

As usual, this is a flexible little dish. I like a smoother sauce, so I left the onion, garlic and jalapeno whole and fished them out; if you want a chunkier sauce, you could dice or mince them and leave them in. You could add cumin or smoked paprika for a smoky backbone, or stir in olives or capers for brininess. You could render some bacon and use the fat to saute the aromatics. You could soft-scramble the eggs in the sauce instead of poaching them. You could crumble fresh feta cheese over the top (note to self: do this next time). And you can serve this over just about anything you like–I used tortellini in the photo, but any other pasta, or rice or couscous or quinoa or crusty toasted bread, would be terrific.

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A little leek magic

And now, for something completely different.  (Brought to you by not enough sleep and a really comfy blanket.)

Last week I found a couple leeks in the back of the fridge.

I cast around for a while trying to think of what to do with them.  Then I went to the local produce stand, and found some cute little endives.  (Excuse me–on-deeves.  We’re classy here.)

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From leftovers to lunch

Okay, I’ve tried to find some unifying theme for this post.  I’ve been typing and then deleting cute, smart-alecky intros for the past twenty minutes.  But you know what?  Here’s the upshot:

I made kimchi fried rice.  And it’s freaking delicious.

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My mama loves me; she loves me…

A day late and a dollar short, but…Happy Mother’s Day anyway!

My mother is, without doubt, the most bestest mama I’ve ever met. She’s five feet tall, 100 pounds, and the purest example I know of the Mexican jumping bean in human form. She’s always moving, always doing, always thinking and wondering and checking up on business. She’s a bottomless well of unconditional love and nurture, mixed with a healthy dose of clear-eyed practicality. She’s endearingly, sometimes cringe-inducingly silly; she will regularly crack herself up to tears before even reaching the punch line of a joke. And she’s the only woman I know who has never given her firstborn child grief for the horrific length of time she spent in labor with her. (Sorry, Mom. I hope it was worth it.)

So of course, when Mother’s Day came around, I jumped at the chance to cook for her. I’ve written before about my impulse to shower people with love in the form of food. So I made dinner.

And, if I may say so, I knocked it out of the park.

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