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chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

After a hard workout at Brick Crossfit, I stopped by Lindy & Grundy to pick up some meat. Lindy & Grundy makes unique cuts of meat to use as much of the animal as possible. Today, I picked up a chicken steak. I guess it is a cut of steak that maximizes the available meat, but is good if tenderized. When I was planning dinner, I realized that I had asparagus in the fridge, but no starch. Luckily, this morning my neighbor left me half a dozen eggs and this ominous note.

note from my neighbor

note from my neighbor

I saw his present and thought… eggs! What can I do with these? So I looked and found a recipe for spaetzle over at Smitten Kitchen. A perfect use for my eggs.

I made spaetzle once long ago when I was engaged and living in Chelsea in NYC. These single LA spaetzle were much better little pillows of buttery goodness. I topped the spaetzle with fried sage leaves fresh from my garden. Now who wants to come over and help clean my kitchen and keep my neighbor at bay?

eggs for dinnerAfter a long day, I called my mom from the grocery store and asked her to suggest something to make for dinner. She said she ate a burger. No go – I ate at 8 oz Burger Bar last night. By the way, don’t go. The burger is pretty good, but the service is horrible. Then my mom said, “well I like eggs for dinner.”

What a good idea! I have loads of eggs leftover from cooking for brunch and I even have 4 pieces of bacon left from the succotash I made the other night. I grabbed some Dutch Crunch bread, whatever that is, and 3 different types of cookies. Hey, I said it was a long day. I didn’t have regular vinegar so I poached some eggs using champagne vinegar, fried up some bacon and enjoyed a delicious dinner where I didn’t even have to buy anything. Thanks mom!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Hot on the heels of the success of the Potato Leek Soup; I moved on to the next recipe, Cream of Mushroom Soup. This one was a bit more work than Potato Leek and not vegetarian. You start by making a roux out of onions softened in butter and flour. Then you add chicken stock and mushroom stems. Since I only had store-bought chicken broth, I got to add parsley and thyme from my garden to improve the flavor. It was my first time using my home grown herbs in a recipe. Anyway you simmer the base for 20 minutes, then strain it, and then add mushrooms sliced and cooked slowly in butter and simmer more. I tasted the soup at every step and it was amazing. So rich tasting.

Right before serving, you mix up some egg yolks and cream. Slowly add the soup to the mixture so as not to just make scrambled eggs. Once it is incorporated, cook 2 minutes and then serve. For some reason, the addition of cream and eggs sort of ruined the soup for me. It still tasted good, but lost all that amazing richness it had before. It is possible I messed up on the last step. I did rush through separating of the egg yolks and may have lost some yolk in the process.

I am not sure that this counts officially as a velouté because it is a soup and not a sauce, but I am going to count is as my first velouté*. If you are wondering, a velouté is one of the four mother sauces of French cuisine. This is all making the horror on Top Chef last season when Frenchman Mattin made a velouté sauce with bacon and served it to Chef of the Century, Joel Robuchon, make a bit more sense.

*Since I started keeping official records.

poached eggs

Poached Eggs for Joe's Breakfast

The third best thing about my vacation at my sister’s apartment in JC is that I can practice cooking techniques and she and her husband, distracted caring for a baby, will eat whatever I put in front of them. That might not sound like much, but you can’t get much practice cooking for one and it is hard to judge your own work. Of course, as new parents, they seem happy to have any food plopped in front of them.

I have really been wanting to make poached eggs on my own since the Mother’s Day cooking class so I seized the opportunity to experiment. I added vinegar and salt to the water and brought it just short of boiling and then lowered the temperature. You have to do a lot of fiddling with the heat to maintain a good poaching temperature. I tried swirling the water before lowering the egg in, but that really just forced the yolk to the outside. I got the best results by not swirling the water and just slowly lowering the egg into the water. Perfect pouch! Because the temperature of the water keeps changing, the ideal cooking time changes as well. I poached the eggs around 3 minutes, but by the time I got to my own eggs, they were slightly more medium than the previous eggs.

poached eggs

my poached eggs - a bit medium

They were still really good and far from overcooked. The brioche we got from Fresh Direct was also delicious. Today I am going to make chocolate butter to go with french toast for tomorrow’s breakfast. We’re going to need a bigger brioche.

Happy Anniversary J + J!