huevos con whatnot

It’s time to document an embarrassingly simple dish. I I threw this together in desperation some months ago, and it’s become a staple dish ’round these parts. It’s not remotely authentic, it’s so easy that it barely qualifies as cooking, and it’s not even got a proper name. I’ve taken to calling it “huevos,” purely to distinguish it from the simpler egg dishes we eat daily.

Uh, except that lately, “huevos” is what we eat daily. It’s a great hearty breakfast, a fine simple dinner, or an easy lunch. We always have the few ingredients on hand, and even if we didn’t, we could pick them up in any corner market. I like it with warmed tortillas (corn or flour) on the side, or arepas, or a handful of corn chips, or a piece of toast. Garnish it with a scant palmful of grated cheese, a spoonful of diced tomatoes, a scallion quickly cut up with kitchen scissors, or nothing at all.

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sandwich party: pantry roulette

When our town was hit by a snowstorm and subsequent parking ban early this week, The Fella and I cheerily decided to stow the car somewhere safe and not go out anymore. Instead, we huddled down in our cozy apartment, watching movies and playing Trivial Pursuit.

Among the places we did not go: the grocery store.

Accordingly, I discarded my plan to browse delicacies and craft some luxurious entry for the sandwich party. Instead, I find myself playing one of my favorite games: pantry roulette.

I regularly play this game when I’m staying with friends, and especially when visiting my mother: I offer to make dinner out of whatever ingredients they have on hand. The barer the cupboard, the greater the challenge. I rarely get to play it in my own (usually well-stocked) larder, but by the end of this week, our supplies were running pretty low, and the challenge felt almost daunting.

Digging through the cabinets for any scrids and scrads of goodies hanging around the dark recesses of the pantry, I found a jar holding a fistful of old, scabby-looking sun-dried tomatoes. That sparked the idea:

sandwichpartywithnapkin.jpgopen-faced sandwich of sun-dried tomato neufchatel with apple, onion-garlic jam, and shaved parmesan.

As the idea bloomed, I thought I could imagine the taste with some clarity. Boy, was I wrong. It is better than I thought, and though each component loses some individuality, they meld together surprisingly well. It’s sweet and tart, silky and creamy, warm and cold, and altogether surprising. ‘

On the side (and everywhere else) you see oven-baked russet potato chips (crisps). The instant I saw the Utz chips (crisps) accompanying Jagosaurus’ tuna sandwich, I knew I needed chips, but after a brief internal struggle, I simply could not face the arduous task of first finding and then donning shoes and a brassiere* so I could walk two blocks to the nearest store to buy chips.

Incidentally, that telling detail illustrates the peculiar brand of laziness that shaped this whole exercise: note that I’m too lazy to dress and walk two blocks, preferring to spend forty minutes making oven-baked potato chips.
*And other requisite garments, but it was the shoes and brassiere that proved onerous.

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onion-garlic jam

Inspired by Ximena and redfox, I started making batches of onion-garlic jam.

Whoo doggies, this is good stuff, miles better than the onion jam I used to buy, and once you’ve sliced all the onions, it can be knocked off on any evening you’re staying in. Just wander by the pan once in a while to add ingredients and stir, and otherwise let it bubble away happily until it’s time to scoop it into little glass pots. We’ll get to the recipe in a minute; first, let me tell you why you want to make this at the first opportunity.

Onion-garlic jam makes a simple and sexy last-minute cocktail snack: alongside a stack of crackers on a pretty plate, pair a big glob of onion-garlic jam with a generous blob of softened cream cheese or yogurt cheese.

Smear schmear a cracker with cream cheese, then top it with jam. Each bite is a little sensory overload: creamy, crispy, buttery, tangy, pungent, and sweet. Goat cheese and homemade crackers doll this up for your uptown friends, but truthfully, cream cheese and Ritz suit onion-garlic jam just fine. Onion-garlic jam isn’t snooty like some hors d’oeuvres we could mention. Onion-garlic jam also makes a fine addition to sandwiches: tomato and avocado; cheese (grilled or otherwise); cream cheese with anything; grilled vegetables and bean spread.

Biscuits or popovers with this suave, tangy jam will smarten up one of our favorite winter suppers: potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots tossed lightly in olive oil, dusted with salt, pepper, and chili powder, then roasted until they’re soft in the center, caramelized around the edges. A pot of onion-garlic jam and a dish of goat cheese alongside a basket of hot, flaky biscuits would make me happy to serve this menu to guests.

For meat-eaters, its complexity is just the thing to complement the salty smack of ham, or to punch up chicken or turkey. As a relish alongside a grilled chicken breast or a lamb chop, onion-garlic jam elevates an after-work dinner into something a bit special.

As redfox points out, it’s a marvelous addition to scrambled eggs. I imagine it would make a superlative omelette filling, or as addition to, say, mushroom crepes.

As the latest batch bubbles away, wafting its irresistable savor through the apartment, I’m planning to try:
– mashed sweet potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, and a sliver of butter, topped with a blob of onion-garlic jam. I dread the gussied-up sweet potato monstrosities that haunt so many holiday tables, with their brown sugar and citrus or marshmallow, and always drenched with butter. To my palate, sweet potatoes pack so much flavor and such a luxurious mouthfeel that they’re best when treated simply. But this might be a fine compromise: a bit sweet, a bit sharp, a rich flavor that doesn’t obscure the flavor of the sweet potatoes themselves.
– baked potatoes with sour cream and onion-garlic jam.
– potato pancakes topped with onion-garlic jam.
– frittata a la anything at all topped with onion-garlic jam.

Now, who wants to give me a recipe for hot pepper jelly?

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squash pizza

Stay with me, now.

Last night’s dinner was a quick assortment of pizzas, where quick = too lazy to make dough. Though I bought a ball of whole wheat dough made by a local pizza joint, The Fella had the brilliant idea of using the last of the yeasted olive oil dough from his galettes.

Frugal soul that I am, I also used the leftover filling. I flattened out the galette dough, smoothed on a layer of spicy tomato sauce and olive oil, then mozzarella and parmesan, spooned on glops of cinnamon-scented roasted squash pureed with caramelized garlic, scattered caramelized onions over that, covered the whole thing with more cheese, and plopped it on the baking stone.

We also had our standard: Kalamata olive and sauteed mushrooms with garlic on whole wheat dough, with plenty of rosemary.

No contest. The galette dough (several days old at this point) outranked any pizza dough I’ve seen, and the creamy sweetness of the squash mixes perfectly with the tangy onion and the zing of the sauce. It all disappeared far too fast for our liking, and certainly too fast to snap a photo.

Until last night, the official policy on both the dough and the filling for those galettes was make extra. Addendum to the official policy: for pizza!

the best ever roasted squash

Dr. Beardface* and I consume astounding quantities of winter squash. Three big handsome squashes (butternut, delicata, and sweet dumpling) perch plumply on the table right now, awaiting their demise.

the best ever roasted squashThe Fella’s luscious roasted butternut squash galettes. As handsome and delicious as those are, they prove a tad too involved to stake out a spot in our daily or weekly repertoire. We’re far more likely to scarf down our squash in roasted form, and though often we simply toss it with oil and salt and plunk it into a hot oven, I like to take the extra two minutes of hands-on work that transforms plain roasted squash to the best ever roasted squash. Inspired by Laurie Colwin’s squash tian recipe**, the best ever roasted squash has been thoroughly transformed by time, habit, and hazy memory.

*a household endearment for The Fella that honors his stunning beard credentials.
**found in More Home Cooking, a book whose nominal place of honor on my kitchen shelf is usually a narrow empty space — the book itself is rarely far from my bedside, so alluring are its comforts.
I am participating in NaBloPoMo.

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somen with spicy peanut sauce

A recipe from the sands of last summer:

On a hot summer evening with a storm hanging dormant in the sky, what could be better than sitting with your sweetie by an open window with a bowl of cold somen noodles in peanut sauce?

somenpeanutnoodles It’s just as good warm on a cold night, on its own in a big shallow dish or, as here, served alongside a surprisingly suitable meal scrounged from the contents of Mom’s freezer and fridge: shrimp cakes with scallions and sesame oil, asparagus blanched and rolled in a sliver of butter, and a tangle of julienned cucumber dressed with rice wine vinegar and chiles.

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squash galettesjpg As promised, here’s a hastily snapped photo of The Fella’s roasted butternut galettes with caramelized garlic and fresh sage. These savory pastries, with their fine-crumbed dough and fragrant filling, made a heck of a hit at the Thanksgiving table, and the next day people still rhapsodized over them rewarmed with leftovers. They came from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

This is the second time he’s made them, and I’m hoping (hoping hoping!) they’ll become a staple around here. With a side of greens or a salad, you have a handsome winter meal. They would cozy up nicely to creamy broccoli or simple tomato soup or a brimming bowl of minestrone. My brother B opined that these little miracles would go with any meal, and he talked about trying one with his morning coffee, if any survived that long.

To sum up: they were much admired and quickly snarfled up despite an overloaded buffet. Happily, The Fella made a double batch. The extra dough and filling sits undefended in our fridge right now, and soon I’ll skulk in and help myself to a slapdash galette all on its own. Just the thing to warm me up on this cold evening.

I am participating in NaBloPoMo.