nica waters

How to poach eggs

poached eggs on toast I love poached eggs. For a long time the only time I’d get them was as a special treat at a brunch restaurant (full disclosure – with hollandaise sauce as part of Eggs Benedict!) – frankly, I was scared of trying to make them at home. Something about the boiling water and getting the eggs just right (cooked whites, yolks runny) had me thinking this was harder than quantum physics.

Then a friend posted a picture of her poached egg breakfast. And I thought about the health benefits of eggs (too numerous to count) and the fact that if I figured out how to poach them, I could eat them with no added fat for the pan.

So I figured it out. There might be more niceties – people tell me adding vinegar to the pan will help with the setting of the white, or swirling the water into a whirlpool will make the egg a pretty shape – but the basics are pretty basic. Get a hold of fresh-from-the-farm eggs, find a good skillet, and experiment with the timing so you get it perfect for you! Check out this Tasty Thursday video for a tutorial . . . 

POACHED EGGS – technique. (ingredients? Eggs and water. Or salsa or spaghetti sauce. But we’ll stick with water here.)

  • Fill a small non-stick skillet about an inch deep with water and bring to a good simmer.
  • Carefully crack eggs into a bowl, working to not break the yolk.
  • Slip the eggs into the simmering water. Cook until the white is just set and the yolk is still runny, maybe about 3 minutes (? I have never timed it.) The yolk will have a thin film over it, and the whites will white through, not opaque – you can also slip a spatula underneath and lift the egg up as a unit.
  • CAREFULLY pour the water out of the pan. I use a slotted spoon to hold the eggs in place, then to kind of slip the eggs (one at a time) out of the pan – this way most of the excess water drains away.
  • Amazing served on fresh homemade ww toast – no butter needed at all. Yum.

 

How to cook rice!

Rice is pretty simple, really. It’s a staple all around the world, though for some cultures it’s sticky rice and others prefer more separate grains. The sheer variety of rice can be overwhelming. Brown, white, jasmine, black, purple, red, basmati, wild. Instant. Long grain, short grain, Par-cooked.  Organic, non-organic. . . . my head is spinning just writing this.

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But for most people reading this, you’re probably wondering about how to cook brown or white rice. Basic, simple. You’re probably cooking for 2-4 people. So here you go! (and the video is here!)

A little background:

  • Brown rice is rice that still has the bran and germ attached. It’s got more flavor (to me) and more nutrients (because the bran and germ have a bunch of nutrients in them), but it takes longer to cook and is chewier (which I like.) Any rice can be found in the brown “variety”.
  • White rice has had the bran and germ removed. It’s generally more refined-looking than brown rice. It’s got a more delicate flavor and texture.

Basic cooking technique:

  • 1 cup rice to 2 cups water (can use stock or some juice or wine to flavor it!)
  • Bring water to a boil in a saucepan (as opposed to a skillet)
  • Stir in rice, cover and turn down to a simmer. (I turn the stovetop all the way down) You can stir once or twice during cooking, but you don’t have to.
  • For white rice, cook 20 minutes.
  • For brown rice, cook 45 minutes.

1 cup rice will make enough for 4 people with some leftovers. You can double this recipe safely, but when you start really scaling it up the water to rice ratio changes a bit. If you like your brown rice less chewy, use an extra 2 TBS of water.

Peanut Sesame Noodles!

There are times when you need to get dinner on the table, and a jar of spaghetti sauce just won’t cut it. You’ve got a crisper full of veggies, some spaghetti (or other long thin noodles) and the ubiquitous peanut butter jar. This dinner, fast and easy, is so satisfying in every way. Check out this video for a tutorial! Gorgeous, creative, inventive, thrifty, and completely delicious. Give it a try and wow your family!

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Peanut sesame noodles

Adapted from Gourmet magazine

 INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ c creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • ½ c warm water
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (you can leave this out if you wish)
  • 1 lb linguine – this is a good recipe to use ww or whole grain pasta
  • 2 colored peppers (red and yellow, or orange – not green!), thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ½ lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces on the bias and steamed to crisp done
  • 3 TBS sesame seeds, toasted and cooled
  • optional: ½ bunch cilantro, chopped fine
  • optional: 1-2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced thin

 TECHNIQUE:

  • Put first 8 ingredients in a blender and whir until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Cook linguine according to package instructions. Drain. Add the sauce immediately to the pasta and toss well. There will look like a LOT of sauce! That’s okay!
  • Arrange pasta on a platter. Decorate the pasta with the vegetables – it will look so pretty . . .
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds for the final touch.

 Good hot or cold or in between!

 

Snow Ice cream

March 20, 2014

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This spring has been crazy here in Central Virginia. Our poor maple tree has had buds on it for 3 weeks now, and the snow just keeps coming. White snow on red buds.  I prefer the normal temps, please, the 50s and sunny with only the occasional snow.

But this week, on Monday, we wound up with yet another snowstorm. (another one is scheduled for a week from now.) And I decided to make a fast simple dessert.

SNOW ICE CREAM!

Ingredients:

Clean snow

Maple syrup

 

Technique:

Scoop clean snow into a bowl. Drizzle with a measured amount of maple syrup (preferably Vermont maple syrup.) Too much will be too sweet, which, if you are my kids, you will tell me is impossible. If you heat it, you will melt the snow – so don’t heat it up.

 

Eat with a spoon.

 

Might be enough to make even me like spring snowstorms.