Happy Mothers Day! - may 10, 2010
I know, its a day late, but I like to drag things on. It gives me more time to enjoy. My family gave me the greatest Mother's Day gifts yesterday. Naturally, they revolved around food, so I have to share them here.
For starters, I got to sleep in until nearly eight in the morning. That's a really big deal. Then I was greeted in the kitchen with coffee, and blueberry pancakes fluffing on the griddle. Blueberry pancakes are my favorite. I love their purpleness and the burst of tart I get from any still whole berries that have survived the cooking (or is it baking?) process. They make what has always been a somewhat cloying and humdrum morning ritual for me (the pancake) into an extraordinary awakening. Really, its that good. Something as simple as a handful of berries can make my whole day.
And when my name is written in blueberry pancake, well, it doesn't get much better than that. Except maybe lunch. My husband found this recipe in the paper, and we just happened to have some eggs (as usual) some salad (as usual) and some reasonably fresh bread from the bakery (not the norm, sadly). The bread was fig fennel from Arizmendi Bakery which I thought would surely be grotesque with an egg and salad on top, but it was very good. Probably any crusty bread from your local bakery will do, but try this if you're looking to up the ante in your sandwich.
He oiled and toasted the bread, fried the eggs (two eaten by each of our kids!) on our stove top griddle, and tossed some salad I'd brought in. We ate it with lettuce, but I think, as the recipe says, that a little rocket (aka arugula) would be perfect.
I've been thinking about salad more than usual, after reading Alice Waters' latest book, In the Green Kitchen. I spend a fair amount of time making salad - pull some greens from of our garden, mix up a quick dressing and toss it into something most of my family will enjoy (my son steadfastly refuses to eat anything green except kiwis, pesto and apples). But within the first few pages I'd discovered something new - combining garlic and vinegar kind of cooks the garlic a little bit, like a ceviche, tempering its zappy bite for a nice vinaigrette.
So I swapped out my usual shallot/dijon/oil/vinegar/salt/pepper combo for garlic/vinegar, pause, oil/salt/pepper. And guess what? It was really good, and my husband loved it. Far more than our standard fare, he said. If something as simple as waiting five minutes before adding the oil makes such a change in my dressing, I'm finally ready to stop washing my lettuces with the spray setting and swishing them vigorously like a small tornado.
Alice Waters warned me years ago, probably in her Chez Panisse Vegtables book, to be gentle so as not to bruise the lettuce, something I have been knowingly guilty of for years. It looks a little floppy, not quite as pretty as some other salads, and on close inspection has little lines all over the leaves. But does it really taste much worse for the wear? I get a kick out of creating a tempest in my salad spinner and like to think it does a superior job of removing bugs and dirt. But after the garlic success, I'll give the gentle handling a try too.
But this weekend I didn't get a chance, because the kids also made me dinner. Chili and cornbread, and for dessert - ice cream sandwiched between two homemade oatmeal cookies. So decadent!
Eggs on Toast with Balsamic Vinegar: (adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle, May 9 2010)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
2 slices toasted bread, about 1/2-inch thick
1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 small handfuls of spicy lettuce (such as watercress, arugula or baby red mustard greens)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not quite smoking (it will look shimmery), crack each egg into the skillet. Cook them about half a minute, then tilt the pan to roll the oil around, so that it cooks the top of the egg. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and cook until they are done the way you like them.
Place a piece of toast on each plate, then remove the eggs from the skillet and put them on top of the toast. Pour the excess oil out of the skillet, wipe any remaining oiliness out of the pan.
Put the pan back on the heat, pour the balsamic vinegar into it, and let it cook for just about a minute. Add some salad to on top of your egg, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Garlic Vinaigrette: (adapted from In the Green Kitchen)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or put through a press
2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
In a small jar with a lid, combine the vinegar and garlic. Let it sit for at least five minutes.
Add the olive oil and about a quarter teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. Put the lid on and shake it up.
After washing and drying your lettuce, put it into a big salad bowl. Dress it with some of the vinaigrette, beginning sparingly and building up to the amount of dressing you like on your salad, tossing it with tongs as you add dressing. When it is sufficiently dressed, grind a bit more pepper over the top and serve right away.