Tag Archives: eggs

Zucchini & eggs

10 Sep

This won’t take but a minute. That’s the way comfort foods work. Time-wise you’re in and you’re out in a flash. It’s the feelings that linger on.

To my way of thinking few foods provide more comfort than Zucchini & Eggs. It’s right up there with Pasta & Peas on the warm-and-fuzzy scale — and precious few things ever make it into that territory.

I am not alone in this. Many of the people that I grew up with in Brooklyn will back me up here, I am sure. Their mothers and grandmothers and aunts sliced many summer zucchini from their family gardens, and even cracked eggs fresh from the chicken coops in their backyards. The olive oils that they lovingly fried the zucchini and the eggs in were fresh and fragrant, the breads accompanying the completed scramble crusty and fresh from the bakeries down the street.

It would be an unprofitable use of time trying to estimate how often I have gone running to zucchini & eggs for nourishment. I wouldn’t even try.

What I will try is to get you to give it a go and see how it feels.

Just slice up a zucchini and fry it in olive oil until golden.

Add a couple eggs (three here) and salt and pepper to taste.

Once the eggs start to set, lightly toss into a scramble and then serve.

Feels pretty good, am I right?

Onions and eggs

16 Oct

When the garden gives you nice onions (or even if the good people at the supermarket sell them to you) …

… you saute them in olive oil real slow, until they’re nice and soft and caramelized, season with salt and pepper, toss in a couple eggs and scramble them up real nice.

A favorite comfort food around here — for breakfast, lunch or even dinner.

Not much of a story here, I know.

Damn fine thing to eat, though. So get on it.

Italian egg drop soup

25 Mar

Okay, so it’s actually stracciatella. I went with the “egg drop” headline figuring that it might draw some more people in. What do you want from me?

Other than making your own chicken broth, which I highly recommend, there really is nothing to preparing this soup. In fact, with the holidays coming up this weekend, it would make a lovely beginning to the family meal.

Stracciatella (yes, chocolate chip ice cream goes by the same name in Italy) definitely ranks high on the comfort-food scale. I mean, c’mon. It’s eggs, broth and cheese. What’s more soothing than that?

I’ve always made this soup by instinct, not by recipe. But. Since I am suggesting that you serve it to your loved ones this holiday weekend I decided to play it safe and let somebody else stand in on the recipe front.

You’re welcome.

And have a good holiday.

Roman Egg-Drop Soup
Adapted from Cooking the Roman Way, by David Downey

8 cups homemade chicken broth (you can use store bought but only do this if you’re in a real hurry)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher or coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Bring the broth to a slow boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the cheeses and stir in the parsley. (I know people who also add a little breadcrumb at this stage.)

Whisk the boiling broth so it swirls clockwise. Pour in the egg mixture and whisk vigorously until the eggs tear into tiny shreds, about one minute. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste and also the nutmeg.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve immediately. (I’ll often sprinkle some more cheese into the bowls, and always broken pieces of stale bread if I have it around.)

Ravioli al uova (with egg yolks)

19 Jan

This is gonna be fun.

If you like soft egg yolks, that is. And fresh pasta. And cheese, of course.

I sure enjoyed making these ravioli, a specialty of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region if you wondered. And they aren’t nearly as difficult to put together as you might think.

No lie.

It helps if you are comfortable working with fresh pasta dough (here’s how I make it). These ravioli are large (5 inches around) and so make sure to roll out a wide pasta sheet (say, 8 inches or so). These sheets aren’t rolled to the thinnest possible setting, but they are fairly thin (just under the No. 2 setting on my machine.)

The filling? Basically what you have here is a “nest” made out of ricotta and goat cheese (see the filling recipe below). After placing the cheese mixture on the pasta sheet, hollow out a place in the center large enough to accommodate an egg yolk. After the yolk is placed (be careful here, you don’t want it to break) make sure that the cheese is higher than the yolk. If it isn’t gently add more cheese all around the circle.

Lay another pasta sheet on top. (If the dough is on the dry side use an egg wash first; that’ll help the two pasta sheets come together.)

And cut with whatever tool you have around. This 5-inch pastry cutter works great, but even the rim of a wide wine glass can do the trick.

Press down on the edges to make sure they’re secure, and they’re ready to be boiled.

These ravioli need to be handled gently, and so I put them into the water and take them out with a large slotted spoon. Do not dump them into a colander!

Don’t bother doing a complicated sauce because it isn’t at all necessary. This is a brown butter sauce, which I managed to ramp up with some black truffles I had around (it was a special occasion). But the brown butter alone would be great too, especially with a little grated cheese once plated. What I do is take the ravioli right out of the boiling water and place them into the pan with the butter, then gently spoon the butter over the ravioli while on medium heat.

Plate it (again, gently).

And there you go.

Like I said, fun. And easy.

Recipe for the filling
Good for six to eight 5-inch ravioli

1 pound fresh ricotta
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together, in no particular order. Taste and adjust to your liking.

The best Spaghetti Carbonara

5 Jun

Tell the truth. Have you eaten more very good Spaghetti alla Carbonara in your lifetime, or more so-so?

That’s what I figured. If ever a dish proved that simple recipes are the most difficult to prepare, this one is it.

Carbonara is one of my top go-to meals, and so I figure it’s about time I shared it here. The recipe is from David Downie’s “Cooking the Roman Way.” It’s a reliable, honest, authentic Roman preparation, and I’ve been using it for several years now.

Best of all it isn’t at all so-so. Give it a shot, you’ll see.

You start out with a nice piece of pancetta (this is my homemade stuff), guanciale or even bacon if you prefer.

Dice it all up so’s to fry it in olive oil.

Mix together some grated Pecorino Romano cheese, a good hit of freshly ground pepper, three eggs, and an egg yolk.

Here’s the part that is most important (the full recipe is below). The egg and cheese mixture is added to the cooked pancetta, but only after the pan has been allowed to cool for three minutes.

You can see that the pan isn’t hot enough to cook the eggs, but it does allow for just enough of a head start on the cooking.

As soon as the pasta is cooked it’s added to the warm pan with all the other ingredients.

This is when the combination of the hot pasta and the already-warmed ingredients allows things to actually become cooked. (If it remains uncooked after stirring, turn on the heat and keep stirring, but only briefly; otherwise the eggs will scramble.)

Here’s how a proper Carbonara should look, as far as I’m concerned anyway.

And I’m concerned an awful lot.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Adapted from “Cooking the Roman Way” by David Downie

4 ounces pancetta, guanciale or bacon (I use a little more)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbsp freshly grated Pecorino Romano (I use twice that amount)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt (I use regular salt)
1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated cheese, half Parmigiano-Reggiano, half Pecorino Romano

Bring at least 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.
Roughly chop the pancetta, guanciale or bacon. You should have about 3/4 of a cup. (I use about a cup.)
Heat the oil in a very large, high-sided frying pan over medium. Add the pork and stir, sautéing until crisp. Turn off the heat under the frying pan and let it cool for 3 minutes.
Separate one of the eggs. Put the yolk in a small mixing bowl and save the white for other uses. Crack the remaining 3 eggs into the mixing bowl and beat thoroughly, incorporating 2 heaping tablespoons of Pecorino Romano and an extremely generous pinch of black pepper. Pour the mixture into the warm frying pan and stir.
Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water (I use lots of salt to cook pasta, not just a pinch). Drop the pasta, stir and cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil remove the lid and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is barely al dente.
Drain the pasta and transfer it immediately to the frying pan with the egg mixture. Stir vigorously until thoroughly coated. Cover the frying pan and let stand for 1 minute.
Serve with a peppermill and a bowl of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano on the side.

Pepperoni & eggs

9 May

It’s growing on me.

Until last weekend I had never eaten an egg with pepperoni mixed into it. In fact, I rarely eat anything with pepperoni in it, on it, or even near it.

America’s Number One pizza topping just doesn’t do it for me. It never did.

But while going through a list of favorite childhood foods that friends helped me to compile recently, this one showed up under a category termed “comfort foods.” It was passed along to me by my friend Joe and I must admit to being a little surprised by its inclusion. Joe and I are around the same age, have similar food tastes, and are proud products of the same social condition: Italian-American neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

And yet I had never heard of pepperoni & eggs, let alone tasted it.

“What is it about the combo that works?” Joe pondered in his notes. “Salt and sweet? Smooth and chewy? A mystery of life.”

“Haven’t had it in a while,” my friend added. “Should do something about that.”

Long story short, he didn’t, but I did. I have prepared pepperoni & eggs twice since Saturday (aka Derby Day, at least this year), once for breakfast and once for lunch. To do this, I needed to go out and buy some pepperoni, which got me wondering whether I had even done such a thing before.

If you are a fan of the pepperoni then this has got to be a must-try. If you are not a fan, it might still be worth a one-off, as it is nothing if not filled with flavor.

Me? There’s still enough of the spicy sliced stuff left in the fridge to make two, maybe three more servings. After that I’ll decide whether Joe and I are on the same page with this “comfort food” of his.

I’m beginning to lean in that direction, but the morning line still shows even odds.

Eggs poached in Red Sauce

12 Mar
A storm passed through town a couple weeks back, and a lot of people scored themselves a snow day. On a late-morning drop in at my Facebook page I noticed a Friend trolling for comfort food ideas. It appeared she had made up her mind to lounge in pajamas all day while the rest of us shoveled snow and checked in on elderly neighbors and hunted and gathered to sustain humankind under desperate conditions.
Not that I’m judging.
Anyhow, I kept the attitude to myself and gave the woman what she was after.
“Since I know you keep red sauce around at all times (right?), well then you heat some of it up, crack a couple eggs on top, let ’em poach real nice, then throw ’em on top of some nice toasted bread from the baker of your choosing,” I advised. 
“‘Course, there’s always Cocoa Puffs,” I felt obliged to add. “Like, as a Plan B.”
Some time later the lazy lassie (I’m thinking those jammies with the feet attached, am I right?) managed to summon enough energy to respond. “Meatball, you’re a genius,” she wrote. “I have all of that stuffs.”
I have no idea whether she ever made use of “that stuffs,” but I did only yesterday. I am not a genius, by the way. People have been poaching eggs in tomato sauce and laying them over a nice crusty bread forever. I don’t think to do it myself very often, but whenever I do, well, it doesn’t get a lot more comfortable around here than that.
The only thing I did differently this time was to use these homemade biscuits, which to certain people might make the dish even more appealing.
I prefer bread, frankly. 
But then I also shovel snow. And help old people when they need it. Like in a snowstorm.
Just sayin’.

Eggs, Uggs & airplanes

19 Feb

Don’t worry. I’m not reviewing old Leslie Nielsen movies all of a sudden. I’ll get to the food in a minute.

As it turns out, I was on a plane to Chicago a week or so back, en route to what can only be described as a gluttonous food-and-drinkfest with friends who ought know better than to plan such events in the dead of a Midwestern winter. (Sorry, guys, somebody had to say it.)

Being an aisle seat-except-under-extreme-duress kinda guy, naturally I was called upon to rise up whenever the lovely lady stage left found it necessary or desirable to leave her seat and move freely about the cabin. And the lady found it necessary and/or desirable to move quite a lot.

The aircraft, you see, an Airbus A320 to be tiresomely precise, was crawling with an especially high-spirited band of travelers: young female gymnasts and their mommies on their way to a very important gymnastics competition. A highlight, I am certain, of the girls’ young lives.

I would not describe it as a highlight of mine.

Still, I learned many important things on this flight midway across the land. First, it is possible for one mommy to hold an entire conversation with another mommy seated on the opposite side of the aircraft, while at the same time reading “The Catcher in the Rye.” Second, I should have invested in Uggs boots when (well, if) I had the chance, for all but four persons (two girls, two mommies) in a group of perhaps thirty were wearing the furry footwear. Three, there is a magnificent place on this Earth that I simply must, MUST visit before I expire; it is called American Girl, and there is something terribly wrong with me for being previously unaware of its existence and place in our culture. And, lastly, it had been far too long since last I viewed one of the most poignant five-minute slices of film that I believe I have ever seen.

This, of course, is where the eggs come in. Because on one occasion when I was asked to go vertical, so to speak, there I saw, framed inside a 13-inch laptop screen two rows forward, Secundo (Stanley Tucci) and Primo (Tony Shalhoub) unveiling their prize timpano in the over-the-top dinner party scene from the 1996 indie film “Big Night.”

Considering the effort that goes into preparing one, the timpano is without doubt the rightful culinary star of this film. But it isn’t to me. And never has been. To me the dish that is most alluring, most romantic, is a bunch of scramble eggs that Secundo prepares in near total silence just before the credits start to roll. I did not get to enjoy this scene on the Flight of the Ugg-Wearing Gymnasts, but then the setting wasn’t quite right for that anyway.

If you’re not familiar, Secundo and Primo are brothers who have emigrated from Italy in the 1950s. They own a restaurant together, but it is failing and only weeks from being foreclosed upon, shuttered. A special dinner event (the big night) promises to save the business, but doesn’t, and the brothers have a terrible altercation, both verbally and physically attacking one another before each runs off in the early morning hours.

If you’ve got five minutes, here’s what happens once the fireworks clear. (Cristiano, the waiter lying on the counter, is the singer Marc Anthony, by the way.)

And so the flight to Chicago, with all the noise and the furry footwear and the artificially flavored cheesy snacks and the up-and-down relationship with the seat I was assigned, turned out not to be so bad after all. A couple nights after getting home I figured it was probably time to check out the movie again. Watching the final scene, hearing the eggs crackle in the pan, seeing Secundo acknowledge, then feed and then hold his brother Primo, then Primo hold him back… Well, I wouldn’t be much of a brother if I didn’t think about one of my own at a time like this. Now, would I?

I don’t eat eggs with my brother Joe anymore, what with how many years it took for the docs to finally get his cholesterol under control. I’ve never flown anywhere with him either, come to think of it, though I would gladly suffer through another flight just like this one if he were on it with me.

My brother did accompany me on the Cyclone in Coney Island last summer, though. For my birthday.

Which, to me at least, is about as close as you get to flying without a boarding pass and a tiny bag of peanuts.