Friday, February 28, 2014

Baked Eggs and Mushrooms in Ham Crisps - by Steve Goldberg

My friend Steve is a poet, home chef and one heck of a nice guy.  I enjoy reading his work on his website and looking at photos he posts on his Facebook page when he makes something delicious.

When he posted these photos last Sunday I knew I had to share.

As you can see, these look impressive for company and cool for the kids.  

I've seen several yummy looking photos on Pinterest, Instagram and food blogs making something similar to this with bacon; but always with some kind of layering or weaving involved to make some kind of basket to hold the egg.  Steve's method seems much more simple without sacrificing presentation or taste.  Plus, it's less greasy which means less mess and less calories.  I love how some of the ham edges wrinkle almost like petals.

As for taste, his recipe calls for more than just an egg.  There is more decadent stuff hidden between the egg and ham which makes a delicious and classy surprise.   I'll be making these soon, and I will definitely be making these when we host out-of-town guests this summer.  Thanks, Steve.

3/4 lb mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
12 slices Black Forest or Virginia Ham (without holes; 10oz)
12 large eggs

Garnish: fresh tarragon leaves
Accompaniment: buttered brioche or challah toast
Special equipment: a muffin tin with 12 (1/2 cup) muffin cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare mushrooms:
Cook mushrooms and shallot in butter with salt and pepper in a large, heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and liquid they give off is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crème fraiche and tarragon.

Assemble and Bake:
Fit 1 slice of ham into 12 lightly oiled muffin cups (ends will stick up and hang over edges of cups). Divide mushrooms among cups and crack 1 egg into each. Bake in middle of oven until whites are cooked but yokes are still runny, about 15 minutes. Season eggs with salt and pepper and remove (with ham) from muffin cups carefully, using 2 spoons or small spatulas.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Easiest Way to Make Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

Making tasty, fresh mozzarella cheese is easier than you think, especially with this 30 minute method.
 I tried two other 'traditional' methods I found online.  I can see where these methods were necessary in the process and most likely had spectacular results for the seasoned at-home cheese maker with a double boiler, curd cutting knife, etc.  This newbie came upon humorous, lumpy and tasteless results.

This method was the easiest and tastiest.   All you need is milk, distilled water, citric acid and rennet.  Citric acid can most likely be found in the section of canning materials at most local groceries and even big box stores.  Or, you can buy it online along with your tablet or liquid rennet, which may be the only place you will find rennet to buy.

You will also need a cooking thermometer and thick dishwashing gloves.  

Don't skimp on the salt.  Without salt, any cheese will only taste like hard milk.  

Hey, that sounds like a cool band name: Hard Milk.  That now ranks up there with the other name for my fantasy rock band, The Meaty Bits, inspired by our cats' favorite canned food.

Whole milk of course works best.  2% will be a bit more like string cheese; just a bit.

DO NOT use ultra pasteurized milk for ANY cheese you try to make.

Distilled water IS the best, for this and any cheese you try to make, especially at the beginner stage like me.

Here is the link to my favorite, easiest mozz recipe.  I divided it by half and came up with the photo you see.