Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch......

(a special guest post by Cynthia)

....the chickens have been busy and we have eggs for dinner! Okay, we don’t have a ranch and unfortunately no chickens either, but when my anti-egg husband is overseas gorging himself on Heineken and rijsttafel (Indonesian rice table), a girl has to take advantage!

Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hills Stone Barns fame, was the inspiration for my main course. Slowly cooked eggs that have a little bit of milk added were the base for the dish. Butter coated the pan, fleur de sel and freshly ground Tellicherry peppercorns were added while stirring. Boring you say? “I have eggs at least once a week for breakfast and so what?” Was the heat just high enough to melt the butter? Did you stand and stir for 10 minutes for your two eggs? You’ve not really tasted an egg until you’ve taken the time to slow cook in a saute pan or better yet, get a double boiler going and go there. Think of a lumpy hollandaise, but without all the extra butter and lemon. So the eggs go on a plate and are immediately topped with freshly shelled pistachios. Salted, unsalted, your choice. Trust me on this, pistachios and eggs are magic.

From there it gets better - a lemon honey thyme vinaigrette goes over mixed herbs and greens and then the eggs are topped with the greens. When it was first served to me, I admit, I was dubious. But Dan Barber is a genius - the warm creamy richness of the egg is a beautiful foil to the crunch and crispness of the greens. The pistachio goodness lingers on your palette and you want another bite.

If, like me, you’re also a gardener, this dish forces you out and into the garden to see what might be added. This is the sort of thing that boosts your gardening ego. I found some fennel fronds, salad burnet (a great herb you should grow with serious cucumber notes), viola blooms, Bright Lights baby chard, turnip greens and mixed lettuces. Zima tomatoes and super sweet cherry tomatoes garnished.

For dessert, I decided to punish my Wagamama eating, Heineken swilling-without-me husband. My favorite Aunt sent us a crate o’pears from Harry and David. (If you haven’t yet indulged, these are some of the peariest pears I’ve ever enjoyed. And juicy? You’ll need to eat it standing upright, bent over 30 degrees at the waist - kind of like a cheesesteak at Pat’s in Philadelphia. Or you could use a plate and knife, but where’s the challenge in that?)

So, the pears. We had three left. A little past their prime, but still serviceable. Cut into pieces and thrown in a casserole at 300 degrees, it wasn’t long until they were soft enough to send through a foodmill. Adding a little light brown sugar, a piece of recycled vanilla bean pod, a slice of ginger and a splash of port ensured fabulous flavor. Back in the oven, stir every half hour or so for about 2 hours and voila! Pear butter. Amazing silky smooth sweet spicy luscious essence of pear.

And then I pulled an Emeril. Slice of nutty whole grain baguette, stilton cheese, local walnuts. BAM!

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