Eggs in a Vegetable Nest

Skillet with vegetable hash, 2 eggs, salsa, and feta.This quick dinner is neither a true hash nor a true succotash, but combines elements of both depending on the ingredients available to you in the moment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied on this simple equation on nights when I’ve been out all day long and don’t even have the energy to be extroverted enough to call for delivery. The execution is simple: take 2-3 cups of finely diced vegetables, some herbs or other seasoning to give it a flavour foundation, 1 or 2 eggs, and a few of your favourite toppings. Sauté the vegetables in a little bit of olive oil or butter until they begin to soften and are heated through. Crack the egg(s) over the vegetable mixture and put a tight fitting lid over the pan, allowing the eggs to cook until they’re done to your liking. Take off the heat and slide the mixture onto a plate, generously top with anything that looks like it would make your dinner taste wonderful.  As you can see, this recipe is open to wide interpretation which is what makes it so perfectly flexible when your fridge feels empty.

Here are some of my favourite combinations for Eggs in a Vegetable Nest:

Roasted corn, sweet peppers, banana peppers, scallions, cumin, lime juice, salsa, and Macedonian feta (as seen above)

Cubed sweet potatoes or yams, shallots, zucchini, red peppers, dried basil, Greek yogurt, Monterey Jack, and cilantro

Ripe tomatoes, cubed eggplant, shallots, garlic, dried oregano, chili flakes, fresh basil, and crumbled chèvre

Polenta and Poached Eggs

picture of a hot bowl full of polenta and 2 poached eggs

This is one of those recipes that epitomizes what comfort food really means. It’s hot, it’s filling, it’s starchy, and its taste is soothingly mellow. I know instant polenta is frowned upon, but when making this for one person it seems silly to make a whole pot of authentic polenta. Besides, instant polenta is so enticingly and even blandly perfect as a foil for the other ingredients that it holds a soft soft in my heart for this particular recipe. The addition of Greek yogurt and butter emulsifies the whole mixture into an extra creamy bowl of calming warmth and the vivid orange yolk seeping into the polenta rounds out the entire meal. I tend to use spinach as a stir-in green because I almost always have a bag of it in my fridge but fresh herbs like parsley, dill, basil, and even scant amounts of thyme and oregano are also delicious.

polenta and poached eggs:

(serves 1 hungry person)

1-2 eggs

2 tsp. white vinegar

1/4 cup instant polenta, I like to keep it in the measuring cup with a spout so I can easily pour it into the water

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup of water

2 cups of spinach

1 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt

1-2 tsp. butter

About 1 Tbsp. of grated parmesan

1. Poach your desired amount of eggs in plenty of water and the 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. As soon as the eggs are beginning to cook heat up the 1 cup of water for the polenta  over medium-high heat in a separate small saucepan.

2. Take the eggs out of the water and gently transfer them to a plate lined with a clean tea towel. Quickly make the polenta by whisking the premeasured instant polenta into the water in a steady stream. The polenta will come together very quickly, as soon as it looks and tastes done take the saucepan off of the stove and stir in the spinach, Greek yogurt, and butter (the spinach will wilt into the polenta within seconds).

3. Decant the polenta into a bowl and place the poached eggs on top, dust with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan before eating.

I have such a soft spot for Kylie Minogue – I love her! Besides the brilliant campiness of her music she’s made several appearances on Kath & Kim, one of my favourite shows ever, as Ebo-NAE: Kim’s deluded and ridiculous future daughter. Also, this is a Michel Gondry music video and that inevitably means impressive, playful, and fun to watch.

Kylie Minogue – Come Into My World

Warm Pita Topped with Caramelized Onions and a Fried Egg

Eggs and Caramelized Onions

There’s something to be said about a meal that is inexpensive to make, elegant to look at, and exceptionally easy to eat. This all-in-one recipe is great for nights when you get home from your run after work, sopping wet from the rain and in dire need of a shower and a warm pair of pyjamas. The ingredients are ones that might be lingering in your fridge and pantry even if your grocery shopping trip is a week overdue. Pita can be substituted with store bought naan or even thickly sliced and toasted sourdough bread. Any knob of leftover cheese that’s languishing in your crisper will work in this recipe, I’ve listed a few of my favourites but truly feel free to use anything you like. Fresh basil isn’t a strict requirement, you could omit it all together or you could use fresh parsley, dill, chives, or thyme. Generally you’ll need about one medium sized onion per person so adjust accordingly, changing the number of eggs and pita bread to suit the number of people you’ll be feeding.

warm pita topped with caramelized onions and a fried egg:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

2 medium sized onions, I like to use 1 red onion and 1 yellow sweet onion

5 scallions, whites and greens cut into small pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

A good pinch of kosher salt

150 g of cheese, grated or crumbled (my favourites include old white Cheddar, Gruyere, Asiago Pressato, or Macedonion feta)

2 pita breads

Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

About 6 basil leaves, cut in a thin chiffonade

2 extra large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a heavy skillet melt the oil and butter together over medium heat. Add all of the onions, scallions, garlic, and generous pinch of kosher salt.

2. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the onions, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until a deep, sticky brown colour (this takes upwards of an hour, just reduce the heat further if the onions seem to be cooking too quickly). When the onions are completely cooked scrape them into a bowl and return the still greased skillet back to the heat.

3. Wrap the pita bread in aluminum foil and warm up in the oven for 10 minutes. While the pita gets soft and warm, fry the eggs in the skillet until they’re cooked just the way you like.

4. Layer the pita bread, warm caramelized onions, grated or crumbled cheese, fried egg, and finally the fresh basil and pepper. Take the civilized route and eat with a knife an fork, or fold it onto itself and eat messily as is with your hands.

Brian Eno always sounds like such a skilled escape, a soft implosion into the dreamiest dream place you could ever hope to land in. I need that in my life right now, for my inner life to act as a cushion for all of the things happening around me. Safe and floaty, that’s the name of my brain’s motto right now.

Brian Eno – Deep Blue Day

 

Egg Salad Sandwiches

picture of an open faced egg salad sandwich garnished with cornichons and radishes

What do you do with leftover hardboiled Easter eggs? If you’re the type of person who loves egg salad, and I feel there is a firmly divisive line between the two camps, then you’ll make this simple sandwich filling and have an easy dinner ahead of you. Greek yogurt, avocado, and horseradish aren’t traditional ingredients, but it’s what I put in my egg salad and I think it has just the right texture and a subtle yet tangy flavour. The cornichons and radishes are slightly twee in their miniaturized state but as with almost all things, I can’t resist tiny in any form. Capers are also a delicious addition or try replacing the Greek yogurt with creme fraiche for a richer flavour.

egg salad:

6 hardboiled eggs, peeled

1 ripe avocado

3-4 heaping tablespoons of Greek yogurt

1/4-1/2 tsp. horseradish

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Slivered cornichons and radishes

Green lettuce

Butter or mashed avocado

Bread

Paprika

Mash the eggs and avocado together with a fork. Add the Greek yogurt, horseradish, salt and pepper, stir and add more yogurt if it’s looking too dry. Toast the bread and spread with butter or mashed avocado. Top with lettuce, then a generous layer of egg salad, then radishes and cornichons, and last and most beautifully of all a light dusting of paprika. Finish with extra salt and pepper and eat open faced or add an extra slice of toast.

 

Ian has this album on vinyl and I’m so glad because the album art is beautiful, it’s great being able to hold it in your hands and look at it. This whole album is just ridiculously, serenely, and seamlessly gorgeous to experience.

Tycho – Montana

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Greens and Bacon

whole wheat spaghetti kale bacon

This whole wheat spaghetti with greens and bacon is the happy result of an experiment in emptying out my fridge. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I’ll need a near empty fridge for groceries; I’m hosting a dinner for 12 on Sunday evening and I’m going to be cooking some amazing food (but no turkey, I’m at best indifferent towards turkey.) This recipe that follows is flexible in its use of ingredients: use any kind of pasta you would like, use broccoli/spinach/Swiss chard/arugula and adjust cooking times as necessary, use a different type of cheese and experiment with different textures and flavours, etc., etc. The egg could also be omitted, but I love the creamy texture that follows when a soft boiled egg is cut open over a bowl of pasta. Getting creative when I feel stumped in the kitchen at the end of the day can be very therapeutic. Maybe it’s because the sensation of repetitive movement is comforting to me, but quietly concentrating on chopping up vegetables is an immensely calming experience each night. Each time you allow yourself to be playful in the kitchen you are fostering your culinary instinct so that on those nights when your cupboards look bare you won’t be quite as devastated but rather tentatively excited.

whole wheat spaghetti with greens and bacon:

(this serves 3-4 people)

About 8 oz. of whole wheat pasta

2 strips of bacon, cut into very thin strips

1 tsp. olive oil

3 cups of kale, destemmed and cut into fine ribbons

5 small bok choy, rinsed and cut into thick pieces (separate ribs from leaves as they take longer to cook)

1/2 cup of stock (I used beef stock, chicken or vegetable would also be good)

1/2 cup fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade

One egg for each person, soft boiled*

Shaved Parmesan or Grana Padano

Freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste

1. Cook the whole wheat spaghetti according to package directions while you’re making the rest of the recipe, it will take the same amount of time if your ingredients are prepped ahead of time.

2. Cook the bacon over medium heat in a saucepan with a fitted lid until crisp (leave uncovered while cooking the bacon.) Drain on paper towel.

3. Discard bacon grease from the pot and add olive oil, kale, and bok choy ribs. Stir to coat with the oil before adding the stock. Cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Add the bok choy leaves and fresh basil, cook for 1 minutes before taking off the the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Combine the greens with the pasta, tossing to combine. Serve with a warm soft boiled egg  broken over the pasta with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

*To soft boil an egg: bring a pot of water to a rolling simmer. Carefully lower the eggs one at a time into the water and simmer for 5-7 minutes depending on how set you like your eggs. Remove eggs from the hot water and run under cold water for 1 minute. Peel immediately  but be watch your hands as the eggs will still be ver hot.

When I think about it, a lot of the music I like as an adult is a natural extension of the melodic emo I was really into as a teenager. I still love Sunny Day Real Estate and The Appleseed Cast and I think that bias shows when I listen to bands like DIIV, this whole album resonates with my experience of high school seamlessly. Now it’s what I listen to when I’m running through the leaves at 7:30 on dark October nights. There’s something comforting to be said about being in a cocoon of music in the dark, feeling completely invisible as you pass other people.

DIIV – Past Lives

Yam Hash Browns and Eggs Breakfast on Salad Greens

DSC_7902

The possibilities and inspirations behind the salads I make are near endless. I get so much pleasure from composing a rainbow plate of salad from seemingly random combinations of ingredients. I have a salad almost everyday for lunch and am always bringing out containers of grated carrots and beets, deeply green leaves, pomegranate seeds, pickled shallots, pitted Castelvetrano and Niçoises olives, leftover roasted vegetables from the night before, toasted nuts and seeds, etc. to assemble an impromptu salad at the kitchen table where I eat my lunch at work. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect, but when I eat salads regularly I feel like I’m genuinely doing something nice for my body. It’s such a good feeling to experience a revitalized sensation of lightness after eating a gigantic meal of plants and other nutritious ingredients in their most honest state. Lately I have been combining my two favourite meals, breakfast and a big salad, into a sort of hybrid series of recipes. These yam hash browns couldn’t be simpler to make and can easily be adjusted in terms of quantity depending on the number of people you’re cooking for.

yam hash browns and eggs breakfast on salad greens:

1 yam, washed and cut into small pieces (leave the peel on)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. dried dill

Kosher salt to taste

2 cups of mixed salad greens, my favourite combination right now is spinach, iceberg lettuce, and Italian flat-leaf parsley

5 or so cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 lemon, juiced

Drizzle of olive oil

Freshly cracked black pepper

1-2 eggs, either poached, soft-boiled, or fried

*Lately when I make this I have been using some smoked Maldon sea salt as a finishing touch, this adds a wonderful subtle flavour reminiscent of the bacon that so often accompanies eggs.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the yam on a small baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, stirring to coat. Add the chili powder, dill, and salt and stir once again until evenly distributed. Bake for 45 minutes or until browned and crispy on the outside.

2. In a large bowl toss together the salad greens, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, and a small pinch of salt. Arrange on a large plate, adding the halved tomatoes to the salad in a small mound.

3. Pile the baked yam hash browns beside the tomatoes and cover with an egg (or two) before finishing with smoked sea salt if you have it, although kosher salt would do just fine.

I’m going to see Slowdive in November and I am !!so!! excited about it (especially because I just found out that Low are going to be the openers! As a result I’m in full shoegaze British invasion mode. Lush reminds me of some of My Bloody Valentine’s  more obvious pop songs and are correspondingly lovely and ethereal.

Lush – For Love

Tofu and Egg Scramble

I’ll admit, I’ve never been able to make a really impressive tofu scramble despite several efforts and recipes that (I feel) should have produced something delicious and flavourful. I’ve been to restaurants and had lovely tofu scrambles for brunch, the best ones almost always own the tofu scramble as its own separate identity without even attempting to taste like traditional scrambled eggs. This tofu and scrambled eggs dish is my favourite breakfast for dinner meal and was born by virtue of necessity; one night I didn’t have enough eggs for both Ian and I but I did have some medium-firm tofu lurking in the back of my fridge. Never being an avid scrambled eggs fan I now prefer this happy marriage of proteins to either form on its own (at least for this particular recipe.) I almost always make this with salsa and cilantro in mind, but try it with dill, capers, cream cheese and smoked salmon or garam masala, red chillies, grated lime zest and chutney. In other words, think of the tofu and eggs as a soft and custardy canvas on which to place your favourite vegetables, condiments, cheeses, etc. I like to serve this tofu and egg scramble with wholegrain toast slathered in salted butter from Prince Edward Island and a tart Granny Smith apple cut into segments, packed in its own little bowl, alongside a hot cup of tea (rosehip is my favourite to sip alongside this meal) or an ice cold glass of orange juice.

tofu and egg scramble:

(for two servings)

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/3  cup thinly sliced zucchini

1/3 cup finely diced sweet pepper

1/3 cup finely diced red onion

6 grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup of crumbled medium-firm tofu that has been first been drained of any excess water*

1/2 tsp. turmeric (this is mainly to mimic the colour of vibrant sunny egg yolks, the recipe will in no way fail if you haven’t any turmeric lying around your spice cupboard)

1 tsp. chili powder

Kosher salt to taste

Diced cucumber to garnish

Cilantro, haphazardly torn, for garnish

As much salsa as you like to top the scramble, I used a bean and corn salsa for this particular entry

*from the extremely useful WikiHow page on tofu preparation: “The best way to make the texture of tofu more appetizing is to press it for 1-2 hours before cooking or marinating it. Cut the block of tofu into 4 slices longways, and spread these out onto a plate covered with two layers of paper towels. Cover the tofu with two more layers of paper towels and another plate. Apply pressure with something heavy, like a few books or a toaster. When you’re done, the paper towels will have absorbed a lot of the tofu’s moisture, and it will have a better texture and absorb marinades better.”

1. In a large skillet heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat; add the bell peppers, zucchini, red onion and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes while stirring periodically to prevent excess browning or sticking.

2. Combine the egg and tofu together in a bowl and lightly whisk them up with a fork, all you want to do here is make sure that both of these ingredients are mixed together. Add the turmeric and chili powder to the vegetables and stir until everything is coated in the spice mixture before adding the egg and tofu mixture into the hot pan.

3. Using a rubber spatula push the tofu and egg concoction around the skillet until the eggs have set; like plain scrambled eggs you want your tofu and eggs to be velvety and  custard-like. Serve with the diced cucumbers, cilantro and a generous spoonful of your favourite salsa.

The merrier the meal, the merrier the music. Here is Cassius 1999, one of the catchiest and danciest songs that I have in my iTunes library. This song, along with others by Cassius and Daft Punk, keep me awake and full of energetic bounce either in the morning or evening. Anecdotally, this song is living proof of music’s ability to transform a mood or state of awakeness, as is the tofu and egg scramble; by combining both elements you’re creating an environment of elevation and a sure start to a happy mood.

Cassius – Cassius 1999