Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cloud Eggs For Special Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you’re being honored as the best mother ever! Or honoring your own best mother or someone near and dear to you. Here’s a recipe for breakfast (in bed 😊) that can be made with little or no preplanning, but is still super special – Cloud Eggs. Fluffy mounds of egg whites are baked in a hot oven quickly, then yolks are nestled in the center and baked again briefly. Voila, yummy puffy whites with runny yolks.

Cloud Eggs are all over Instagram and the internet. Everyone (and her mother) has been making them lately. As I was searching around for different versions, I found a Rachael Ray recipe for “Eggs in Clouds” from 2012! Did she invent them, I wonder?

It’s funny, I’ve never adored RR’s recipes. I think she’s a fine talk show host, but I've always turned her off when she got to the food part of her show. Ever since November, though, I’ve appreciated her more. Her show is a total escape from reality (essential these days) and she’s always cheerful and enthusiastic. Plus the advice that she and her cohorts give on a wide range of topics isn’t half bad either. Having said that, I will never make a thick soup or thin stew and call it stoup. But with all the incivility and lying and ugliness in our public space these days, am I allowed to say that I sometimes find Rachael Ray a pleasing relief?

Anyhoo, it seems as if almost everybody’s recipe is based on that 2012 RR one, (whether they admit or not). Mine isn’t that different either, except that I'm positive that 2 or 3 minutes is not enough to cook the "clouds" after the yolks have been added. They’re still snotty. I cook them for a full five minutes and I get completely done whites and still runny yolks.

The biggest challenge is keeping the egg yolks intact – when you separate the eggs AND when you place them on top of the egg white nests. I WAS careful, but one of my yolks did not cooperate in the oven and broke ever so slightly.

This is also a great recipe for any Paleo and Whole30 folks. You absolutely can make it with only salt and eggs, but the cheese is a good addition. I haven’t added bacon, but go ahead and add chopped, cooked bacon to the whites with the cheese. 

Beat whites.
Fold in remaining ingredients.
Place in blobs on greased baking sheet.

Baked blobs:
Place yolks in indentations.

Baked Cloud Egg
You can also pimp up (out?) the whole thing:

  • Serve it on an English muffin with hollandaise.
  • Make bacon cups and serve it in those! Here’s a complicated recipe, and a simpler one (forget about the bean part of that recipe…or not…)
  • OR take a look at this interesting presentation and vary this recipe. After you’ve framed the cooked bacon into muffin cups, spoon in the whisked egg whites, bake and then add the yolks as per my recipe. You’ll end up with Cloud Eggs surrounded by crisp bacon.  What could be wrong with that?
Cloud Eggs (makes 2)
Based on Rachael Ray’s Eggs on Clouds

2 eggs
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbls. grated white cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 450°.

Separate eggs very carefully, keeping the yolks intact. Place each yolk in its own little bowl. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in salt, cheddar cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Place 2 round blobs on pam-ed foil. Make a big indentation in the center of each blob with a spoon. Bake for three minutes. Remove from oven and carefully place yolks into indentations and bake for five more minutes. Slide a thin spatula underneath eggs and place on warm plate(s). Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Note: As careful as I was, one of the yolks still broke during baking. Argh!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Baked Meatball Extravaganza, But Please Fry Them First

I saw this recipe in Good Housekeeping’s March Issue and I just had to make it. 

The picture was drool-worthy, although I didn’t actually use their recipe (and I hate the name they gave it). But whatever you call it, the whole reason for this dish is to end up with bubbling hot, gooey-with-cheese meatballs to go over steaming spaghetti.

Use your own meatball recipe or mine…or GH’s. For my meatballs, I use whatever breadcrumbs I have handy. Sometimes they’re fresh, sometimes they’re dried and sometimes both. This time, I cut the heels off the French (Italian?) bread I was using for garlic bread and processed those. I added dried breadcrumbs to make up to one and half cups.

In spite of them being called BAKED meatballs, you’re not going to get away with NOT frying the meatballs first. Sorry. If you add them uncooked to the sauce, you’ll end up with steamy, poached meatballs. If you bake them instead of frying, you won’t get that lovely, dark, crusty edge which adds so much flavor. For the well-being of the overall dish, get one more pan dirty (which is the story of my life) and fry the meatballs before they go into the sauce. For the sauce, make your own, use my recipe or even a good jarred one is okay.

Use a scant 1/4 cup of meat for each meatball.

Pile sauteed meatballs in a baking dish.
Cover meatballs with tomato sauce.
Top with cheese.

Bake on foil covered baking sheet.
Serve with garlic bread.

Baked Meatballs Extravaganza (makes 24 meatballs)
Printable recipe here.

For Sauce:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
Optional: ½ cup red wine (just skip it if you don’t want to use it)
1 can (28 oz.) diced or crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsps. dried oregano

For Meatballs:
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1½ cups breadcrumbs
big handful of parsley
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

For sauce, cook onion in olive oil until completely softened. Stir in red wine, if using. Simmer, uncovered, to reduce for 5 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and oregano, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. (30 minutes won’t hurt.)

For the meatballs, if you need to process the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, do it before adding any of the other ingredients and then set them aside. Process parsley until chopped. Add back in the Parm and breadcrumbs along with the salt and chopped onion, and pulse until mixed.

Add contents of the food processor to ground meat in a large bowl. Mix until combined well. Form 24 meat balls. (I use a scant ¼ cup for each meatball.) Spray a large nonstick pan with nonstick spray and sauté the meatballs in two batches - about 3 minutes on each side on medium heat should do it. Remove the meatballs from the pan and deglaze the pan with a bit of the tomato sauce to pick up more flavor. Stir that tomato sauce back into the big batch.

Place meatballs in greased round or rectangular baking dish. Cover with sauce. Sprinkle over shredded mozzarella cheese. Place on a foil-covered baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375°F. oven for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling enthusiastically. Serve with spaghetti. (Reserve a bit of the sauce to toss with the spaghetti, if desired.)