Friday, June 24, 2016

Avocado Toast Meets Eggs Benedict Meets Chicken BLD

How Oprah gave us permission to love bread, Rachael Ray gave us permission to have breakfast for lunch or dinner. 

My friend’s Instagram account of all the great brunch places she has been enjoying around NY, Philly, and Maine had inspired me to go out for brunch three times in the past month, when I would normally be lucky to get that within a year.   

So over the past couple of years, I had taken to making brunch or brunch inspired items for lunch or dinner.  I had defrosted some chicken with the intent to make the Chicken Breast Burger with Poached Eggs - http://cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2015/05/chicken-breast-burger-with-poached-eggs.html but I could not find the brioche buns from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to serve it on. 

However, I did see English Muffins on sale this week and switched over and made a dish that could only be described as Avocado Toast Meets Eggs Benedict Meets Chicken. 

As Rachael would say, this would be a perfect BLD, for breakfast, lunch, or dnner!  I served it open faced but feel free to combine the two and make a sandwich that would hopefully be good enough for Daym Drops to give it 5 all day!!

Ingredients

Chicken Breast butterflied & cut to English Muffin size
1 avocado sliced across
2 English Muffins Split in Half
2 Eggs
Vinegar
Fruit Flavored Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Salt and Pepper

Directions

  1. Poach eggs – see http://cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/11/take-your-pick-eggs-benedict-kalua-pork.html for directions
  2. Sprinkle the chicken breast with salt and pepper and cook on George Forman Grill for about 3 minutes until it has cooked thoroughly
  3. Toast the English Muffin halves
  4. On two muffin halves, place chicken and top with poached eggs with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. 
  5. On the other two muffin halves, place chicken and top with avocado slices with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. 
Price:  $5 for 2 servings = $2.50 per serving




Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Spring Minestrone Verde with Pistachio Pesto

From someone who makes a tradition to do Thanksgiving in May every year, you would think no timing of the dishes would seem unusual.  But there is a bit of irony to wait until the first day of summer to make spring minestrone especially since I came across this recipe a month ago.  On the flipside, I like to think that I am taking advantage of the beautiful spring veggies that are still fresh and available with no calendar telling them to move over since it was the longest day of the year. 

After a week of rich béchamel laden Greek dishes last week, this dish was a perfect refreshing change.  It was surprisingly delicious that we easily consumed 2 bowls of it, realizing afterwards that it was heartier than we expected! 


Notes:

1.      I did not find snap peas so left them out but to be honest with so many great ingredients already in there, I did not even miss them. 

2.      I did not have parsley but bought cilantro for a future recipe so substituted with it and it was just fine.
 

Price:  $12 for 4 Servings = $3 per serving
 

 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Greek Mac and Cheese

The recent Greek Festivals and e-mail from Saveur that happened to focus on Greek comfort foods had me making two heavier Greek dishes that I am not use to cooking.  Normally when I hear Greek food, I think of healthy lemon and spiced marinated meats like souvlaki.  With the exception of moussaka which to be honest I did not even know all the ingredients that went into it until I made it myself, I never realized Greek food can be this rich. 

Saveur had a recipe for this Greek Mac and Cheese which sounded great as it reminds me of the flavors of a spanakopita with the spinach and feta, but I did tweak this to make it slightly less caloric per serving. 

Greek Mac and Cheese Saveur Recipe -http://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/Greek-Mac-and-Cheese

Notes:

1.  I did double the amount of macaroni and used the full pound so it was less cheesy and more of a casserole
2.  I did not get a chance to get fresh spinach so used frozen instead. 
3.  If you cannot find the graviera or kefalotyri to melt into your cheesy béchamel sauce, you can use gruyere that you find in traditional mac n cheese.
4.  Since I used pre-made bread crumbs, I did not feel a need to melt the 3 tbsp of butter into it, to save a smidge on calories. 

Price:  $12 for 8 Servings = $1.50 per serving


 
 
 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sausage and Cheese Pancakes

With any home cook, once in awhile you run across a recipe with an end product as disappointing as  Game 6 of the NBA finals last night. 
 
In theory, a savory pancake sounds great especially when having it outside of the breakfast/brunch time frame.  I am not sure if something was wrong with the recipe as this is our second attempt (my husband tried it 5-10 years ago) but just like any good food critic, decided to give it another shot.  I admit one mistake we made was the pancakes we made were way larger than it was probably suppose to be therefore making it hard to cook thoroughly.  However, like last time, the batter even before adding the sausage and cheddar ended up being very thick, not even close to pourable so that was already a red flag that there might be a problem with the recipe itself. 
 
I do not recommend trying this but wanted to share this blog post as a reality check that just like yesterday's game, not everything turns out all the time so do not let a fail attempt at a dish discourage you from cooking altogether.  One of the big benefits of cooking your own meals is you control what and how much certain ingredients (sodium, fat, sugar) goes into your food or at a minimum, knows what goes into it so you can make an informed decision whether you should consume it. 
 
The recipe was from a culinary mystery series that I have had success with other recipes in the past, so I would like to think this was a one off. 
 
Ingredients
 
1 large egg
1 cup unflavored yogurt
1/4 cup cream
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (pack it down in cup when you measure it)
1/2 cup fried breakfast sausage
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
 
Directions
 
1.  Beat the egg with a wire whisk in medium bowl until fluffy.
2.  Whisk in yogurt, cream and vegetable oil.
3.  In a small bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the flour. Stir it around with a fork until it’s evenly distributed.
4.  Add dry ingredients to wet and stir well. Add sausage and cheese to your batter and stir thoroughly.
5.  In a griddle pan or large frying pan, spray it with cooking oil or Pam and heat it over medium high heat. 
6.  Fry your pancakes until they’re puffed and dry around the edges.  If you look closely, little bubbles will form at the edges.  If you’re not sure they’re done, lift one edge with spatula and take a peek.  It will be golden brown on the bottom when ready to flip.
 
Note:
Because they were larger than it was suppose to be, I finished cooking them through in the oven. 
 
Price:  $5 total (I had leftover yogurt from my moussaka recipe)

 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Open Faced Moussaka Teaser

With the moussaka taking a lot more time than I originally anticipated, I was starving by the time it went into the oven and yet it was still an hour before I could actually eat it.  Making use of the leftover egg whites since only the yolks were whisked into the béchamel, we created an open faced sandwich on a brioche bun.  Cooking up the egg whites in a pan with a little oil, then topped with the leftover slice of eggplant, extra meat sauce and béchamel, it had all the moussaka flavors running through it.  I have to admit that it was one of the tastiest snacks to hold us over and tease what is yet to come. 

Price:  FREE

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Moussaka

Attending two Greek Festivals within the last month http://aroundthebayandaway.blogspot.com/2016/05/its-great-to-be-greek-even-if-its-just.html, I took that as a sign that I should expand my Greek repertoire in the kitchen. 

I was introduced to Moussaka, a traditional Greek casserole with lamb or beef and eggplant for the first time by my best friend when I went back East to visit her after college.  Ironically, it was from a Greek restaurant in Fort Lee that we spent 9 years growing up in, but yet I never knew existed.  (If you remember, I had very limited exposure to other cuisines growing up).  Although I do not get a chance to go too often even now, whenever I do find myself at a Greek restaurant, I almost always order moussaka with my favorite so far from Dametra in Carmel - http://aroundthebayandaway.blogspot.com/2016/06/day-at-monterey-bay.html. 

I did get a chance to have it at the Greek Festival in Oakland but did miss out on my favorite at Dametra on a recent trip back from the Central Coast.  So when I saw this recipe from Saveur based on Jim Botsacos version from his NYC restaurant Molyvos, I knew I had to try making it myself.  Depending on how overwhelmed you normally get in the kitchen, it can be considered labor intensive as even with help, it took me about 2 hours from start to finish so plan accordingly. 

Although it was a lot of work, the final product was rewarding, just like a true friendship.  So I am dedicating this blog post to my best friend for introducing me to moussaka and for her unwavering friendship that I can always count on to be there for me through the ups and downs over the past 30 years.  Although she probably would not make this from scratch herself, she is lucky to live close enough to get it straight from Molyvos. 

Moussaka Recipe from Saveur – http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Moussaka

Notes:

1.      I left out the currants

2.      Since it took more time than I expected and was over an hour past my lunchtime, we did short the baking time by 10 minutes and although bubbling, it did not have a chance to brown further. 

Price:  $16 for 8 Servings = $2 per serving
 

 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Grilled Steak Salad

With pasta being my weakness, I sometimes find myself with a carb heavy meal.  So to offset my meals that is perfect for someone training for a marathon but not so much for someone who sits at his desk most of the day surrounded by chocolates, once in awhile I will throw in a no-carb dinner.  Ironically, a grilled steak salad is something I have made in Mau`i almost every year but rarely here. 

So with our new grill christened, it takes no time to cook up a garlic-rubbed steak on the grill.  Once cooked to your liking (120-125 degrees for rare, 130-135 for medium rare, 140-145 for medium, 150-155 for medium well), cover with foil and let the meat rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving over a salad dressed with just lemon juice, olive oil, and a couple grinds of sea salt. 

Price:  $5 for 2 Servings = $2.50 per serving