In the Kitchen: Baked Egg Leftovers

I'm stopping by to drop this in so I won't forget what I did for dinner tonight. Might come in handy again.

I had a half can of tomatoes in the frig and didn't want to waste them. Because, really, what the heck can you do with a half can of tomatoes?

Well, you can use them with baked eggs. So I did.

I also found three slices of bacon that needed to be used. I would have added some mushrooms and a green pepper but we didn't have either of those. (And the point, of course, is to use up what's on hand, not to run to the store to get other ingredients.) (I'm getting ready to go out of town for four days and wanted to clean out the frig.)

I had dried porcini, so I used those. I intended to add some Kalamata olives but completely spaced out. Still -- the final result was delicious! 

If you decide to make this with more intention than I did, obviously you can add/subtract ingredients.

For two people:

  • A few strips of bacon
  • a half can of tomatoes 
  • 4 dried porcinis (their flavor is so intense that you don't want to get carried away)
  • a bit of chopped onion
  • some dried basil
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • four eggs
  • grated parmesan to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. That sounds high/hot for eggs, but it still took 15 minutes for them to cook. (My instinct told me to set the oven at 325, but then I looked at a few baked egg recipes and they all called for 350.So that's where I set the temp. I was glad I did.)

Boil a cup of water and pour it over the porcini to soften them. (If you're using fresh mushrooms, skip this.)

Using an oven-proof ten-inch saute pan (meaning: no plastic handle!), cook the bacon. Drain off most of the grease.

Add some olive oil to the pan and, when it's warmed, the chopped onion. After a few minutes, add the tomato and a bit of dried basil. (Fresh, if you have it.) Stir and cook for a few minutes. 

NOTE: If you're using fresh mushrooms, cook those with the onion. Ditto olives, which, again, I forgot but which would be great.

Rinse the porcini to get rid of the grit, chop them fairly small, and add them to the pan, along with the parsley.

Crack the eggs over the top of the mixture and season all of it with salt and pepper. Place in the oven. Bake for about 14 minutes. Keep an eye on it. If you want the yolks runny, take it out sooner.

About a minute before you want to take it from the oven, sprinkle the parmesan over the top. At some point (depending on how long your toaster takes), toast a couple of pieces of good bread. Butter them lavishly. ("More," said my husband as I buttered the toast. "MORE!")



In the Kitchen: Chicken Pot Pie

I've been meaning to upload this recipe for awhile. In fact, I tried to last year but couldn't figure out how to create a url for it. The recipe is long (but not complicated) and I didn't want to post the whole thing here. Much easier to make a Word document and let you have at it that way.

Anyway: homemade chicken pot pie is a glory. My kids love it. When they're all here at Christmas I make it and I swear. to. god. that they sit at the table and simply inhale it, that's how fast it disappears.

I take no credit for the deliciousness of this recipe. I got the original from Sara Gruen (back when we were in a writing group together) and then futzed with it a bit. And then I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten where she made a version and I added some of her genius to it and, hey, that's how recipes get made.

Anyway, it's not nearly as complicated as it sounds. And the bonus is that you can make it ahead of time and freeze the ingredients. Plus, if you're a small household like ours, you can make the entire recipe and freeze the ingredients for individual pies and you'll have several meals all ready to go. On the other hand, if you've got a hungry crew with discerning taste, well, make this and you will be MUCH loved by one and all.

Have at it -- and enjoy! Chicken Pot Pie. (The link leads to a Word file that will "download" on your machine.) (Thank you, Dropbox!)

In the Kitchen: Chard Galette

On New Year's Eve, my friend Kay (my oldest and dearest) came up to spend the night, cook, watch "Rocky Horror Picture Show" (which I'd never seen).

She opted to make a dish from Better Homes and Gardens magazine: "Rustic Swiss Chard and Mozzarella Tart." (At the site, you'll have to sign in to see the recipe).

It was delicious! And, I thought, could be even better with a little futzing here and there. So tonight I engaged in said futzing. Result? Magnifique! (If I do say so myself. Although I hasten to add that I started with a good recipe.)

Essentially this is a galette, which I typically make in the summer with fresh fruit. I have to admit that I'd not thought about the possibilities of a savory galette, but hey! Now that that I have, well, yeah, baby! (That link to the Wikipedia entry for galette is a bit limited. See this for a better image and recipe.)

Basically the recipe consists of cooked vegetables spooned onto a round of pastry. Fold the pastry and bake. Voila! (See commentary about pastry below.)


  • 1-1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. (one stick) unsalted butter, very cold/frozen
  • 1/4 c. ice water
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard (you could use kale or spinach)
  • 1 c. chopped onion (see note below)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • half pound of mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of Kalamata or other brined olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 t. dry thyme
  • 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella (see note below)

Pastry: This is not rocket science. All you're doing is mixing butter and flour using either your fingers or a machine. The main thing is not to overdo it. Don't worry if you see butter bits in the dough. No problem. If you're persnickety about it, after you've added the water and made a "dough," put it on the counter and use the heel of your hand to mush the butter deeper into the flour. But really, it's not necessary. The "trick," such as it is, is to make sure you add enough water. Most recipes say to add a couple of tablespoons. Trust me: that's not enough. A quarter cup does it.

The onion: the original recipe called for leeks, which are so expensive. So. Expensive. So I just chopped an onion. But I had some shallots, so I also diced two of those. 

The mozzarella: the original recipe called for "mozzarella." I decided to try some fresh mozzarella, along with some provolone I had in the fridge. Worked fine.

Make the pastry: Whisk the flour and salt together. Cut the butter into bits. Using your fingers (or a food processor, if you have one), cut/mix/meld the butter and flour. The usual recipe calls for "pea-sized bits" -- but really, just mix the stuff. Add the ice water and use your fingers to mix all of it into a dough. Flatten it into a circular disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the frig for an hour or more. (If you're using a food processor, google for some tips. I've never made it with anything other than my hands.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

De-vein the chard and chop the leaves. Heat some olive oil in a large pan (a 12" if you have one). Add the mushrooms and cook them over high heat for three or four minutes. Add the onion and cook another minute or two. Add the garlic and ditto. Add the chard and olives and some salt and pepper. (Be careful with the salt. If you're using brined olives, they add plenty.)

Cook till the chard is more or less wilted. I left the pan on the heat for several minutes more so as to cook off the water.

Let the mixture cool for five or ten minutes and add the cheese and, using a large fork, toss gently to mix.

Flour a work surface and your rolling pin. Unwrap your dough and have at it. Don't worry if it's not a perfect circle. You're aiming for a twelve inch circular piece of dough, more or less. If it's too sticky, put more flour on your pin and the surface. 

Move the dough to a baking sheet, preferably one lined with parchment paper. You can grease the sheet, but parchment paper is so much easier.

Using a large spoon, move the chard mixture from the pan onto the center of your dough, leaving at least a two-inch border of dough. Then fold the dough over the filling, leaving the center open and exposed, pleating the dough as you go.

Into the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. (Took 32 minutes in my oven, which runs a bit fast.)


Need A New Year's Resolution? Save Money! Cook.

By way of saying farewell and adieu for another six months (at which time I surely will have written "The End" to my work-in-progress), allow me to get on my  high horse for a moment about one of my favorite subjects: food.

As food relates to money. Which, yes, it does. Consider this:

Several years ago, I was in Oregon visiting family and had dinner with my cousins at a "nice" restaurant: entrees in the $25.00 range. Good food. I enjoyed it. Drinks, dinner, wine, dessert. 

Expensive? Yes, it was. But my cousins ate there often. If I remember correctly, they'd already been there once that week. (This was, for them, a "neighborhood" restaurant.)

During the course of the conversation, one of the cousins complained about money, or the lack thereof. In his words, it was hard to "keep the wolf from the door," and if only he could earn about $10,000 a year more, he said, everything would be just dandy.

Being a polite midwesterner, I refrained from pointing out the obvious: He already HAD that "extra" $10,000 a year. Indeed, he was chowing down on part of it that moment.

Namely, all that money he spent (or threw away) every month going out to eat. I did a rough mental calculation and concluded that he and his family spent in the neighborhood of $800 a month going out to eat. By my math, which admittedly sucks, 800 times twelve equals $9,600 a year. Pretty damn close to ten thousand.

So. Looking for a new year's resolution? How about saving yourself some money (and time!) by doing some basic cooking?

That's the point of a lovely and practical essay by Mark Bittman in this week's New York Times Sunday opinion section.

Bittman writes about food for the Times and is the author of a number of cookbooks. His take on food is basic and practical: Cooking is not rocket science. Pretty much anyone can make a good meal.

EVEN WHEN YOU THINK YOU'RE 'TOO TIRED' TO DO SO. (In all caps because I want to make sure you get the point.)

He's dead right. When I'm tired at the end of the day, the last thing, and I mean the. last. thing. I want to do is drag my tired ass out to a restaurant. Get in the car or walk to a place, wait to be seated, wait to order, wait for the food, etc.

It's sooooooooooooooo much easier on my tired body, and so much more relaxing, to fix something at home. And, yes, it's cheaper!

What I especially appreciate about Bittman is his non-preachy approach to the matter: Keep some basics on hand. Learn a few (basic) skills. You're good to go!

(Unlike, in other words, the approach taken by the Food Scold In Chief [aka Michael Pollan], whose idea of cooking begins with a trip to the back yard to plant your garden. "It's not a meal, you fool! It's a political statement! Save the fucking planet first! And THEN you can eat.")

So. Do yourself a favor: read his essay, try one of the recipes. Please.

Here's my addition to his message: The smartest purchase I ever made (well, okay, the husband paid for it) was our small freezer. (If I remember correctly, it's ten cubic feet.) At any given moment, it's full of food I've cooked. Which means that at any given moment when I don't feel like cooking, well, hey, all I gotta do is trot down to the basement and pull something out, let it sit on the counter for a few hours, and voila! Dinner.

Whaddya waitin' for? Get cooking! Your brain, and your bank account, will thank you.

In the Kitchen: Oven-Roasted Chicken Cacciatora

This arrived in my in-box courtesy of the fine folks at Splendid Table. It's truly scrumptious and so easy that it could be called Dummy Chicken.

The recipe comes from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper. I'm probably violating a copyright law by posting the recipe, but . . . . On the other hand, it's a short recipe, so maybe I'm not. (Fair use allows free use of limited text.)

Oven-Roasted Chicken Cacciatora

  • 2.5 to 3 pounds of chicken thighs or chicken breast bone-in
  • 1/3 c. pitted Kalamata olives
  • 4 - 6 thin slices of cacciatore, Genoa, or hard salami, cut in 1-inch squares (I used Molinari brand.)
  • large red or green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (original recipe calls for red; I had a green one on hand)
  • 1 large fresh tomato or 3 drained canned ones, chopped coarse (I used an entire can; didn't want to waste it)
  • 1 medium to large red onion, chopped coarse
  • leaves from two 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary (didn't have any; used dried)
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, torn (ditto)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t. fennel seeds, lightly crushed (or not, see my note in text below)
  • 1/4 c. dry red wine
  • 1/4 c. good olive oil (this is the time to use the GOOD stuff; bold and fruity is best)
  • salt, pepper
  • juice of one lemon (which I forgot)

Preheat oven to 400.

Note: Since I didn't have fresh herbs, I just chopped up the sage, rosemary, and fennel with the garlic. Made a nice paste, it did, which served its purpose deliciously.

Arrange the chicken on a large shallow pan. The original suggested a half-sheet pan, but I used my 3 quart, shallow, round enameled cast iron pot. 

Scatter all the other ingredients, except the lemon, over the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes. Baste with pan juices, turn the chicken pieces over, and roast another 10-15 minutes. NOTE: the timing is predicated on using thighs. I used breast meat and adjusted the timing accordingly. It's done when the meat temperature reaches 180. If you wanted "browned" chicken, turn on the broiler for a minute or two. Squeeze the lemon juice over all just before serving.

Swoon. Swoon again a couple of nights later when you eat the leftovers. (Put dish, covered, in a cold oven. Turn the temperature to, I dunno, 250? 300? Heat for fifteen or so minutes.)

In the Kitchen: Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Chard

I found this recipe in the New York Times. It's staggeringly delicious and so simple. The original recipe regards it as a stew, to be served in a bowl. In my opinion, it cries out for a dish of good rice. This freezes well, so don't worry about having too many leftovers.

I'm always paranoid that links will go dead, so I'm including the recipe here:

  • 2 T. oil, olive or whatever
  • medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (I just chopped it)
  • 1-1/2 t. garam masala (*)
  • 1-1/2 t. curry powder
  • jalapeno pepper, or other hot pepper, seeded and minced (or, if you're that kind of person, leave the seeds in)
  • 4-5 c. vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch cubes (s. potatoes are the ORANGE ones)
  • 1-1/2 c. dried lentils (I used basic brown ones)
  • bay leaf
  • pound of chard, ribs removed, leaves sliced thin
  • 1 t. or more of kosher salt, ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 c. chopped cilantro
  • grated zest of one lime
  • juice of half a lime (I added the juice of the whole thing)
  • 1/3 c. chopped almonds for garnish (optional; I opted out)
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions for garnish (I forgot them)


In a large saucepan (I used a large skillet), heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, saute until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder, and hot pepper. Cook, stirring, for a minute.

Stir in 4 c. of broth, the potatoes and lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium or lower, and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. (If the lentils look too dry, add more broth.) Add chard, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until the lentils are soft and chard is cooked.

Just before dishing, add the cilantro, lime zest and juice. Garnish with almonds and scallions. Or not.

* I make garam masala using the recipe in Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking.

  • 1.5 T. of black cardamom seeds
  • 1.5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 T. whole cloves
  • 1/8 c. black peppercorns
  • 1/4 c. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 c. coriander seeds

Crush the cinnamon sticks with a mallet or rolling pin (or the nearest hard-headed person you can find). Put all the spices in a small, heavy saute pan and roast them over high heat for a minute or two, until the scent fills the room! (Watch them. You don't want to burn them.) Grind the mixture. Store in an airtight container in a dry, cool spot.