Saturday, June 26, 2010

time to relax

A simple breakfast with a strong cup of coffee and time to sit and leisurely enjoy the morning, are times that probably most of us see ourselves enjoying but seldom have the chance to realize.

I’ve had some schedule changes in my life recently that have challenged those moments as well as countless others (including posting for this blog). But I am determined to carve out those quiet, re-building times that help me to energize for the busier times.

Eggs are the quintessential comfort food as well as quick and simple to prepare. And this recipe for herbed baked eggs is delicious and satisfying. With a touch of cream, a knob of butter and some freshly grated parmesan you can elevate eggs to glory.

The herbs for this dish can vary with what is in your garden or that you have on hand in the fridge. My garden right now is abundant with fragrantly woody rosemary, thyme and summer savory, the more delicate sister of winter savory. It is related to the mint family, the flavor is slightly peppery, as well as reminiscent of both mint and thyme. It has a wonderful affinity for tender young vegetables and I enjoy using this herb to flavor vinegar, which is a way to preserve that fresh, summery flavor at the height of the season.

So put on a fresh pot of coffee, crack a few eggs and take some time to relax.

I did.


Herbed Baked Eggs
inspired by Ina Garten

1 clove minced fresh garlic
2 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs. (I used rosemary, thyme and savory. Or parsley, tarragon and chives would work well also)
2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, herbs and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The idea of agra-dolce is essentially to try to achieve a balance between contrasting tastes-salty (or savory) and sweet. Where each ingredient will both compliment but also pull against the other as well, to create a harmony of flavors that both satisfy and excite the palate.

In my kitchen the principle of agra-dolce has its base in chutney’s, relishes and spicy-sweet tomato jam. Using ingredients such as maple syrup, honey or molasses and then contrasting it with soy sauce, vinegar, chile, or citrus is the perfect way to achieve this idea.

The recipe below is a perfect “in season” chutney. The base uses apricots which are at their peak right now. These golden orange fruits with velvety skin and flesh are smooth and sweet with an almost musky flavor, with a faint tartness that lies somewhere between a peach and a plum. The addition of sweet plump raisins, golden syrup and cider vinegar help to create that opposing flavor balance of agra-dolce.

This chutney would be a lovely accompaniment to a roast chicken or any pilaf made with aromatic rice such as basmati. It would also be a welcome addition on a cheese board, either with a creamy goat cheese or even a nutty Manchego.


Apricot-Raisin Chutney
Adapted from Living Magazine, June 2005

2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ small onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 pound apricots, pitted and roughly chopped
½ cup sugar
½ cup good quality honey or golden syrup
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.

Transfer onion to a large saucepan. Add apricots, sugar, honey, raisins and vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened, about 25 minutes.

Pour chutney into a large bowl. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature. Chutney can be refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

makes 2 cups

Monday, June 14, 2010

welcome refreshment

When citrus, herbs and other bright ingredients are added to an ordinary carafe of water, it is deliciously transformed.

We have all heard that we need eight glasses of water every day for health, but if you’re like me that can seem a little mundane. So why not mix it up a bit and raid the fridge for some inspiration.

For the citrus-rosemary water I used some slices of fresh ginger, added some large strips of orange zest and gently crushed a sprig of rosemary that I had in my garden. For the lime-cucumber water, try some slices of lime, cucumber ribbons and either some fresh mint or in my case some summer savory. Steep the ingredients in water and refrigerate for an hour to develop in flavor.

I think you’ll agree these simple additions will make those suggested eight glasses of water that we are supposed to drink a much more interesting and flavorful endeavor.