Sunday, April 30, 2017

Baked Gruyere and Sausage Omelet

Today I'm bringing you a hearty and satisfying baked omelet with some of my very favorite ingredients: Gruyere, eggs, and sausage! I first discovered real cave-aged Gruyere cheese while I was cooking the recipes of Jacques Pepin and let me just tell was love at first bite! The nutty robust flavor combined with the ooey-gooey melt factor... there is no other cheese quite like it!

Nowadays, I am never without a wedge of Gruyere. It comes in handy for making one incredible French Onion Soup, is delicious grated over pasta, and is a star ingredient in many egg dishes, such as this recipe. 

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand to make this flavor-filled baked omelet, although I will say that you could just as easily cater this dish to whatever you have on hand, just keeping the ratios in tact.  Of course I highly recommend using a good Gruyere no matter what, but this is a perfect recipe to make your own and is well-suited for entertaining. We enjoyed this straight out of the oven for breakfast and it was also just as good leftover the next day. A staple recipe for any cook to keep in their arsenal!

Baked Gruyere and Sausage Omelet
Adapted from Food Network
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

Butter, for greasing baking dish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 pound mild sausage, casings removed
8 large eggs
1/3 cup milk (whole preferably)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced
1-1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup plus a few tablespoons freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Set the pan aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper, to taste, until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the red bell pepper, 1 cup of Gruyere cheese and 1/4 cup of parsley. Stir in the onion mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut the baked omelet into wedges and sprinkle with remaining parsley before serving.

Cook's Note: To make individual servings, divide the batter between 4 buttered 8-ounce ramekins. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Upside-Down Onion Tart

This Upside-Down Onion Tart is something you can throw together with "bare-bones" ingredients. You only need two essential ingredients: puff pastry and onions!

Now, if you do not consider puff pastry a pantry, or rather a freezer essential, then you should.  Having a couple sheets of puff pastry around is like having an insurance always comes in handy.  It's not only perfect for throwing together a quick and fruity dessert, like this gorgeous Winter Citrus Tart with Rosemary Whipped Cream, but it's also a lifesaver if you want to whip appetizers, or top a soup or stew, like this Irish Beef Stew with Puff Pastry Dippers, or even use as a make shift pie crust, like I did when I made these Mini Corned Beef Pot Pies. I am simply never without a box (or two) in my freezer!

And hopefully, we all have onions in our pantry! Not only are they the base of so many dishes, but they are even better when they are allowed to shine as the featured ingredient, such as in this absolutely incredible Onion Soup Lyonnaise-Style. Trust me when I say that soup has become such a staple, and I am never without the ingredients to make it.

This tart is another way for the humble onion to play center stage.  Pair this with a green salad, or even on the side of any beef dish, and you're in for a true caramelized onion delight!

Upside-Down Onion Tart
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4-6

About 7 ounces/200g all butter, ready made puff pastry
3 or 4 onions (about 12 ounces/350g)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
salt and ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Optional: Sprinkling of thyme leaves and/or cheese of your choice. I used opted for a few crumbles of blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8 inch thickness and cut out an 8-inch circle. Wrap the pastry disk and place it in the fridge.

Peel the onions and slice each one into 6 or 8 wedges, keeping the root end attached. Heat the butter and oil in an 8-inch tarte tatin pan or ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, arranging them roughly in a pinwheel pattern. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once or twice, until they are fairly tender and starting to caramelize around the edges.

Trickle the balsamic vinegar over the onions and cook for a couple of minutes more, so the vinegar reduces a little.  Remove from the heat and make sure the onions are fairly evenly spread around the pan.

Lay the pastry disk over the onions and put the pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is fully puffed up and golden.

Invert the tart onto a plate so the sticky caramelized onions are facing up, on top of the crispy pastry. Serve right away, ideally with a green leafy salad. You could also crumble or grate over a favorite cheese.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Bowl {Plus a Roundup of my Favorite Egg Dishes}

Okay friends, so this week we're celebrating the wonderful and versatile world of eggs over at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Since eggs are one of my favorite ingredients I knew that I wanted to come up with a special dish, something more original. After browsing through hundreds of egg recipes this week I ended up taking inspiration from Jamie Oliver's Mexican Fried Beans served with beautiful poached eggs on top.

Now, believe me, I use the term "inspiration" loosely. My inspiration comes in the form of being lazy. So there I am standing over the black beans in my cast iron pan and I'm thinking...I do not want to get out another pan and mess with the fussy poaching of these eggs SO...what can I do to get around that? A simple glance over at my cast iron casserole dishes gave me the answer. Bake it!

This solved two dilemmas. The first being the fussy poached eggs mentioned above. The second being the lack of cheese in Jamie's recipe. Problem solved! Baking this dish makes cooking the eggs and adding cheese a cinch!

So, it went like this. Add a diced jalapeno, clove of garlic, and handful of cilantro to a skillet with a touch of oil and butter and allow to soften.  Stir in the drained black beans until mixed with jalapeno mixture and warmed. Spoon mixture into ovenproof casserole dish, or dishes.  At this point I wanted cheese so I dolloped about a tablespoon of cream cheese evenly over both casserole dishes. You could use any cheese you like. Take a tip from me and use whatever cheese you see first or whatever cheese  is the easiest, because, you know...that's how it is. Then top with four eggs, or if making individual dishes, then two eggs each.  If you want to be all dainty then you can even make four servings.  Totally up to you. Bake at 350F according to how you like your eggs. In all, I think 10 minutes is a good jumping off point. Then garnish to your liking, but do not leave off green onions. I didn't add them to this dish and wish I had! They bring it all together. Serve immediately!

This comforting and satisfying dish would be perfect for so many occasions. Today it was the perfect consolation prize after my ten year old son woke up at 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. What can I say....nothing will wake a kid up faster than Easter candy!

Happy Easter!!

A Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Bowl
Inspired by this Jamie Oliver recipe
Serves 2

1 jalapeno pepper, cored, deseeded, and diced
1 large clove garlic, diced
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
a drizzle of oil and bit of butter
1 (15 oz. can) black beans, drained
2 tablespoons cream cheese, divided*
4 large eggs
tortillas, for serving
Optional: sliced green onions, diced red onion, avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, lime, salsa, and/or cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

 In a skillet, add the oil and butter. Once butter is melted add in the diced jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the jalapeno is softened, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Once softened, add the rinsed and drained black beans, mixing together the jalapeno mixture with the black beans until warmed through.  You can add the cheese at this point and mix it through the beans OR add the beans (dividing the beans) to your ovenproof casserole dish and add the cheese on top of the beans.  Your choice! At this point you could also add additional cilantro, salsa, red onion or green onion OR not. Again, this is your bowl and your choice. They can be customized to your liking! Add two eggs to the top of the beans and again, your choice....garnish the eggs to your liking if you chose. 

Bake the eggs to your liking.  Again, if you like your eggs over easy then bake for around 9-10 minutes. If you like them overhard, bake for around 12 minutes. Remember, depending on the size of your egg, the times will vary so carefully watch your eggs! I used 4 extra large eggs because it's what I had on hand and baked mine for 12 minutes.  Once the eggs are to your liking, quickly garnish the dish with whatever you chose. It's worth noting that green onions should be a must! Their flavor really rounds out the whole dish. Serve immediately, with warm tortillas.

If you've been with me awhile, you know I am absolutely crazy for eggs! In fact, eggs are my go to when all else fails. I always have them on hand and I can almost always put together an amazing egg dish with very little ingredients. Below are some of my current favorites, in order. If you make one, let it be Jacques Pepin's Egg and Onion Gratin. It is surprisingly delicious. Click on recipe names below to be directed to the original post.

This humble dish will surprise you. Hard-boiled eggs tossed in a creamy Gruyere cheese and onion me, this is heavenly! In fact, it is one of my hands down favorite dishes on my blog! Serve a little bit of of the gratin on a slice of toast and you will be in for a mind-blowing treat!

 Jacques Pepin sure does know how to write a tasty egg recipe and this one is certainly a favorite. Easy, healthy, and simple this is a breakfast I could wake up to each morning.  An egg baked into a softened poblano pepper and then topped with cheese. It really hits the spot!

 In my opinion, you simply will not find a tastier quiche or breakfast casserole than Giada's Breakfast Tart! This one packs a punch in the flavor department with a hefty dose of pancetta and green onions and it is extremely creamy and cheesy with both Mascarpone and Gruyere. Perfect for entertaining! It is hands down incredible. Definitely worth a little extra fuss in the morning.

 If you're suffering from the effects of a long night out, or simply in the mood for something light and healthy, Jamie Oliver's Nasi Goreng is a unique and tasty way to start your day! A fried egg sits atop a spicy fried rice mixture with some fresh pickles on the side. A bright and snazzy meal that will really wake you up and put some pep in your step!

 Donna Hay's Potato and Ham Fritters are a must make with your leftover Easter ham. Fluffy little cakes of mashed potato, peas, and bits of ham come together with a crispy crust to bring you all kinds of spring goodness on a plate. I love to dip these in a little Dijon mustard, but they are fabulous on their own. A must make this spring!

What's your favorite egg dish?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall's Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are beginning a new adventure as we cook the recipes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the next six months! I didn't have any of Hugh's books in my cookbook collection, so I began my adventure by purchasing his River Cottage Veg cookbook, which happens to be chock-full of purely veggie recipes.

The first recipe that jumped off the page was Hugh's Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad.  This salad initially caught my eye because it was so very gorgeous! Long strands of noodles tossed in a fresh Asian-inspired dressing with lots of verdant green veggies and a sprinkling of crunchy peanuts. Who wouldn't enjoy something with all that color and texture? Of course it helped that I had all the ingredients on hand and I also knew the dish would keep extremely well.

So I got started by whisking together a bright and zingy dressing composed of lime juice, chile, garlic, rice vinegar, with a touch of brown sugar, oil, and soy sauce. Then I mixed the dressing with a couple handfuls of steamed snow peas and snap peas, noodles, thinly sliced cucumber, and topped it all off with crunchy roasted peanuts and a good hearty sprinkling of mint, basil, and cilantro for a very light and refreshing pasta salad that satisfies.

This is the type of thing that is even better the next day and is therefore great for packing up in mason jars and taking on the go. I plan on throwing it in my bag to enjoy for lunch throughout the week.

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
By Hugh Fearnley-Whittstall
Serves 4-6 generously

1/2 cup raw peanuts
 7 ounces noodles (spaghetti or similar)
5 ounces green beans or snow peas, or combo
1/2 English cucumber
6 green onions
12 basil leaves (Thai, if possible) coarsely torn
small bunch of mint, coarsely chopped
small batch cilantro, coarsely chopped 

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime (depends on how juicy)
small fresh red chile, finely chopped or hot pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus extra to serve

Roast peanuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool, then lightly bash the nuts to break them up a bit, or leave whole if preferred.

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain and rinse under cold water. Add to the dressing and toss until well coated. Leave to cool completely in the dressing.

Cook the beans and/or snow peas in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water until just tender and still a bit crunchy, about 3 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water, then drain well. 

Halve the cucumber lengthwise and slice thinly.  Finely slice the green onions on the diagonal.

Toss the cooled noodles with the peanuts, cucumber, green onions, beans and/or snow peas and herbs. Serve with soy sauce on the side, for everyone to help themselves.

Welcome Hugh to I Heart Cooking Clubs!
Every Sunday @ Kahakai Kitchen

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Top Five Heidi Swanson Favorites!

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we've spent the last six months cooking the recipes of  Heidi Swanson.  Usually I like to wrap up each six months with a final dish and a recap of my top favorites, but this week I'm out of town and didn't get a chance to make a final dish, so instead I'm just sharing my top five favorites.  In order.

I didn't realize how much we loved this Green Chile Whipped Cream Cheese until after I blogged about it. We finished the dish in record time by smearing it on bagels, layering it on sandwiches, and dipping our veggies in. The heat from the serrano paired with the garlic just makes this incredibly flavorful. I can see this being my most repeated Heidi Swanson recipe.

In her cookbook, Heidi says she gets more requests for this recipe than any other and I can understand why.  The beans go all crispy with rich and creamy centers and the greens add an extra punch of flavor. I could eat this meal every night for dinner and be perfectly happy.

Barley and I did not make friends until I made this Risotto-Style Barley w/ Winter Citrus & Arugula. This slow cooking risotto method produced the most fun-to-eat little balls of barley and I was instantly in love with the unique texture. I found myself hoarding this recipe, not wanting to share at all. I'd go so far as to say that I like barley risotto better than the original arborio rice risotto!

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits so it was a given that I would be crazy for this recipe! If you find yourself craving fresh cherries and they're out of season, as they're prone to be, then whip up this smoothie using frozen cherries. I love that this smoothie is full of fruit: banana, orange, pineapple, and cherries.  A delicious way to meet your five a day!

Last, but not least, is this glorious and simple way to enjoy one of my favorite veggies: Brussels Sprouts!  We all know and love Brussels prepared with bacon or pancetta, but this preparation with melted crusty Parmesan cheese is right up there with that, and much healthier.  Try it if you're looking for a new way to prepare your sprouts and I guarantee you'll be impressed!

Big Thanks to Heidi for all of the fabulous recipes and kitchen adventures!  Next up I Heart Cooking Clubs will be tackling the recipes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall!