avocado baked egg

I’m sad to say that not every cooking adventure is a success. This is too bad because not only do I have to share my defeat with you, I also have to find something else to eat. I believe this is my first inedible meal. Ever. I’ve made plenty of mediocre dishes but none so disagreeable. We wanted try this baked egg and avocado dish. In theory this doesn’t sound so bad, I like eggs, I like avocado, they sound like they would taste good together, this could work.

The recipe called for a firm avocado cut in half and seeded, easy enough. The next step was to scoop the cavity to create a nice even center. Once a cast iron pan is pre-heated in the oven, place the avocado halves in the skillet and break an egg into the cavities, bake until set. Finally, season with salt, pepper, and paprika.

Unfortunately nature doesn’t provide perfectly even avocados. Even when attempting to carefully slice the avocado in half to ensure two even sides, I failed. The seed was off center; one cavity was deeper than the other. I scooped out some of the flesh to create a deeper cavity. This was also difficult; I didn’t really care to remove the flesh from the avocado. Why remove the flesh only to keep some thin membrane of avocado? I cracked an egg into a ramekin and tried to carefully transfer the egg into the avocado cavity. Of course the egg white over flowed, and this only reinforced my inability to estimate space/quantity. Once in the oven I waited for the eggs to set, not surprisingly the shallower half of the avocado cooked faster. It was too bad though that I couldn’t remove the shallower half sooner, the deluge of egg whites welded together making it rather difficult to separate the two halves of the avocado. Once the second half was set, the pan was removed from the oven and with great force the cemented egg white was separated.

I was hopeful that perhaps the flavor would still be okay. This too was a disappointment. The texture of the egg was similar to that of the avocado. The yolk was firm in one half and runny in the other. Even with salt, pepper and paprika, this was a disaster. Steer clear friends, steer clear.

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spinach and cheese strata

Eid Mubarak friends! I hope you had a wonderful day, full of food, laughs, and naps. I’m grateful to have such great friends to celebrate Eid with when I’m not able to visit my own family. Yet, I still can’t stop thinking about them. So I thought I’d share with you one of my childhood memories.

A distinct Eid al Adha memory for me is going to a slaughterhouse with my father. It’s a bit strange, I know. I decided to go with him out of curiosity and while I never witnessed anything that would traumatize me, I do still remember my brother telling me he could see fear in the animal’s eyes as the men were preparing to slaughter it. It was a weird feeling. I distinctly remember after visiting that slaughterhouse that an animal really had to die, a life had to be taken, so that I could enjoy dinner. Despite this strange episode, I’m grateful for it. I am forced to think of the sacrifice that was made for my own sustenance.

I realize that this isn’t your average American childhood experience anymore. Though there once was a time not too long ago when most children were able to witness animals being slaughtered. But it is clear we have all moved far away from that reality. Meat has become a convenient portion wrapped in styrofoam and plastic. Before I bore you to death or turn you vegetarian, I’ll suggest a great read that looks at our relationship (as collective humans) with animals: Hunters, Herders, and Hamburgers by Richard Bulliet

And now, on a less carnivorous note (minus the nine(!) eggs that went into this) here’s what I made for the wonderful Eid brunch we went to:

Spinach and Cheese Strata
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

Serves 6 to 8

1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze off all excess liquid
1 large onion finely chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere
1 cup finely granted Parmesan
2 ¾ cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1. Using a large heavy skillet over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes
2. Add ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, allspice and cinnamon, continue cooking for one minute
3. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.
4. Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart oven proof dish. Top with ⅓ of the bread cubes, ⅓ of spinach mixture and ⅓ of cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.
5. whisk eggs together, mix in milk, mustard and remaining ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata
6. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for at least 8 hours or up to one day.
7. The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through 50-60 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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Recipe notes: I was looking for an alternative brunch egg dish. I usually serve this AMAZING quiche, but I needed some back-ups. This was pretty solid, however I would change a few things next time. It ended up being too deep making the top layer amazing but the bottom layers seriously soggy. Next time I’ll go with two layers of bread, spinach, cheese and spread it out into a 9×13 pan. I would also try different cheeses, as delicious as Gruyere is, it just didn’t shine in this recipe. I imagine a stronger, sharper cheese would be better, maybe feta, or an extra sharp cheddar. Finally, the recipe suggested Dijon mustard, but the wine in Dijon makes me nervous so I went with whole grain mustard.

huevos rancheros

As promised here is another recipe featuring queso fresco. I mentioned in a previous post that we’re experiencing a surplus of this unique cheese. Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is sold in a size-able wheel. I wanted to see how the cheese melted and, well, what better way than to make huevos rancheros. Sure one could make a quesadilla, or just stick said wheel in the microwave but there’s something dangerous about huevos ranchers, perhaps it’s the name or maybe even the runny egg. The problem however was that I couldn’t find that perfect huevos rancheros recipe. I found several recipes, but each of them different in some way.  The problem was they just were not how I imagined huevos rancheros. I wanted the egg runny – we like to live life on the edge. I also wanted the yolk of the egg to cook just a bit, and cheese, I wanted melty cheese. Finally, I wanted salsa verde, a spicy salsa verde. I suppose I was being picky, but I really just wanted all of these flavors and textures together in one corn tortilla-omelet mess.  Oh, and it was a mess…a delicious and satisfying mess.
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Huevos Rancheros

Serving Size: 2

2 corn tortillas
2 eggs
½ cup queso fresco
½ tomato cubed
cilantro
¼ cup salsa verde

Heat 1 corn tortilla at a time in a skillet. Lightly brown the tortilla one one side and then flip over, sprinkle cheese over the surface of the tortilla. Once the cheese begins to soften (it won’t melt the way cheddar does) crack an egg over the tortilla and cheese. Its okay if the egg white spills out over the tortilla – it’s just a part of the messiness of it all.

Once the egg begins to set, gently flip over. Once the yolk begins to set very very gently slide the spatula under the egg and (having a plate near by) flip the tortilla egg mess onto a plate – egg side up. Top with tomato, cilantro a bit more cheese and salsa verde.

Recipe notes: Like I mentioned – this is messy but totally worth it. Just so you’re prepared, the yolk may be break. If you’re worried about making a mess you could just cook the egg separately and then just place it on the heated tortilla. On my second attempt I just put a tortilla on top of the egg so that the egg and cheese were sandwiched in between tortillas. This decreased the mess significantly but also made the whole thing a lot more tortilla heavy. Finally, feel free to use cheddar or pepper jack cheese – I probably will in the future. A side of black beans would also be awesome.

Oatmeal with peanut butter and nuts



I apologize. I know, it’s ugly. And who could blame it? It’s a mess. Its probably even making it easier for you to fast. You’re welcome. This, despite its appearance, is genius.

I love peanut butter, LOVE IT. I have even been known to have a spare jar in the car (with spoons) for you know, emergencies. So when I saw my co-worker eating oatmeal with peanut butter – I was in awe. Why didn’t I think of this? It’s just genius. It also makes for a satisfying suhoor. Like most of my sad recipes, it seems almost ridiculous to share it. But I had to. I mean, I never thought of mixing the two.

Recipe:

Prepare oatmeal according to directions on package, mix in one (or two!) tablespoons of peanut butter, and mixed nuts. I also added dried cranberries. Enjoy

Recipe Notes: If you like your oatmeal a bit sweeter, just mix in some honey or brown sugar.

Skillet-poached eggs with arugula

I know. I know. Who wakes up at 4:00 am to make a gourmet suhoor?! I haven’t gone completely crazy, I promise. This is much simpler than it looks. With our small appetites we end up having a lot more left over. After the broiled salmon with arugula salad, I had quite a bit of arugula left. I find arugula a bit overpowering and bitter, but Martin loves it. To make it appealing for both of us, I found a recipe with a skillet poached egg on top a bed of arugula and crusty bread. This ended up being one of our favorite suhoors. I would even go so far as to say that this is “company worthy.”

If you too are wary of arugula, this recipe may change your mind. The soft and runny egg pairs wonderfully with the bitterness of the arugula, actually making it enjoyable!

Recipe:

2 servings

1/4 cup herbs, can include green onion tops, chives, cilantro, parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
2    1/2inch thick slices sourdough bread, each about 4×6 inches (we used 4 slices of a baguette)
2    cups arugula leaves
2 tsp parmesan or crumbled goat cheese
2 large eggs

Combine herbs, olive oil, and a bit of salt in a small bowl, whisk to blend (I made this the night before).

Brush each slice of bread with herb oil. Using the same brush, spread the herb oil all over the inside of 2 separate custard cups or ramekins (most will fall back to the bottom of the cup).

Lightly toast bread slices.

While the bread is being toasted break open an egg into the prepared cup. Pour enough water into a skillet to reach halfway up sides of the cups. Place cups into a skillet.  Set skillet over medium-high heat. Cover skillet, bringing the water to a simmer, and cook eggs until whites are just firm, and the  yolks are at the desired consistency. About 6 minutes.

Once the bread has been toasted, cool slightly, and transfer to plate. Sprinkle with cheese and top with arugula.

Using an oven mitt lift the cups or ramekins out of the water. Cut around eggs to loosen. Turn the egg out onto each prepared toast slice.

Recipe notes: The original recipe called for prosciutto, but we substituted cheese for it instead. I went for a crumbled goat cheese while Martin went for parmesan. We both enjoyed our own selection of cheese so much we didn’t bother trying the other. Also, I forgot to cover my eggs while they were being “poached” which is why they are not white on top. The second time I made these I covered them, they cooked faster and were white on top. Also, the herb oil might be a waste, the egg/arugula kinda steals the show, you can’t taste any herbs. If you leave them out, I doubt you’ll miss them.