Pasta with Fried Eggs, Arugula & Lemon

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 22nd. That is silly because It feels like summer now. It is humid. We have a rickety fan in the window so that we can deny it is time to haul the air conditioner up from the basement. Weird half mosquitos-half flies found their way into our bedroom.

But I’ve become close with two old friends though: fried eggs and pasta. My summer best friends.

the ingredients

This recipe for fried eggs + pasta is inspired by a recipe in reliable cookbook in my collection: Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express. The recipes here are bare bones and organized only by season. No measurements are even given, just general instructions that work with for time pressed but discerning cook. Pasta with fried eggs stuck out immediately as a spring recipe well suited to become a summer dish too.

The process is second nature now that I’ve made the dish a few times: Boil pasta in salted water. Right before the pasta is ready quickly fry eggs just until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Toss the egg on the pasta with a dash of pasta cooking liquid and generous amounts of grated Parmesan cheese, cutting the fried egg with a knife and fork so that it is mixed into the pasta. Salt and pepper finish it off.

I decided to add peppery arugula and lemon juice to add some color and fresh flavor. The result is a refreshing take on pasta without tomatoes, lots of garlic, or olive oil.  The lemon, arugula, the richness of the yolk melding with the Parmesan is all pasta really needs in the summer in my opinion.

recipe note:

I’m providing approximate ingredients to serve four. Realistically, I make this dish for one or two most of the time, just feeling out the ingredients as I go. So in the spirit of Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express take this recipe as a guide. To make for one just scale back to 1-2 eggs and using less of everything else.

Pasta with Fried Eggs and Arugula
Adapted from Kitchen Express

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound pasta
4 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2-3 cups arugula
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Boil pasta in salted water.

2. Right before the pasta is ready, quickly fry the eggs until the whites are set but the egg yolks are still runny. Set aside.

3.  Drain pasta reserving a bit of the cooking liquid. Toss the eggs into the pasta. Cover with Parmesan and cooking liquid. Cut the egg, releasing the runny yolk, with a fork and knife. The eggs with be evenly distributed in the pasta and the yolk will make a sauce of sorts.

4. Toss in arugula and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 

 

Soba Noodles in Ginger Broth for One


Kitchen failures. That is the theme of January so far.

First, my pita breads did not puff up in the oven. I pleaded with them. I rolled them thinner. But they ended up as limp mini pizzas. Was it me or the recipe? I can’t tell. Worst of all is that I just don’t have it in me to retry the recipe yet.

Next came Guinness brownies that wouldn’t be no matter how much melted chocolate I spread on top. I got inventive–a little cinnamon here, a little Guinness syrup there–but I baked bad brownies in the end. I actually threw them away. I never throw things away either. I finally made a dark beer cake that was pretty perfect except for the fact that it collapsed in the middle. A sunken cake that tastes great doesn’t quite fix everything. It worked a little bit, though.

Oh well. I guess failing is part of getting better? It still bothers me, but I can move on.

I’ve decided instead to write about the easiest recipe I’ve ever invented. Best of all it feeds one (me) so I can make it fast, without thinking too much or writing a recipe. And it is the kind of comforting warm and carb loaded dish that in the bitter temperatures and icy air I crave.

I came up with the dish this past week out of boredom. I’ve adapted it twice already. I was stuck inside because of a rain, sleet, and snow. I made a huge bowl of soba noodles in a ginger broth and just lingered, sitting, reading, and watching tv. The nutty soba noodles and the light ginger broth work perfectly, the kind of creation that owes a lot to the fast food Asian dishes I’ve come to love.

The fixings are customizable. Collards, carrot matchsticks, and scallion seemed easy enough, but sliced cooked chicken or pork could be added at the end. Not to mention the affinity this dish has for an egg in any form. Fried egg on top? Why not! Hard boiled may even be better, sliced thin and topped right before serving. Chili garlic sauce, for me, is essential. A heaping tablespoon adds a spicy depth.

Sometimes food that is so basic you forget about it altogether is the best kind to eat because it won’t end up like failed brownies, lonely in your trash. And it will keep you warm.

I present the cure for kitchen disasters in January:

Soba Noodles in Ginger Broth (for one)

Ingredients for broth:
3 cups of water
1 tablespoon of soy sauce, with more for serving
1 chunk of peeled ginger (about a tablespoon)
1 garlic clove
1/2-1 bunch of soba noodles
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
fixings:
1/2 cup of chopped greens
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
sesame seeds
optional fixings:
chili garlic sauce
hard boiled or fried egg
sliced cooked chicken or pork
whatever your heart desires

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan heat 3 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce with chunk of ginger and the peeled garlic clove. Bring to a boil. Remove the garlic clove but let the ginger remain. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Drizzle with a teaspoon of sesame oil.

2. Add the soba noodles and fixings. If using meat, add here. If using fried or hard boiled egg, wait until the end. Chili garlic sauce can be added now or at the end. Cook for 3-5 minutes. The noodles will be done quite quickly, so the fixings should be sliced thin so that they cook fast as well.

3. In a large bowl serve the noodles first with the fixings on top. Then pour broth into bowl. Serve with additional sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce (if using). Top with additional fixings if you decide to like: egg, meat, additional vegetables and scallions, etc.

4. Eat with a fork and a spoon if you don’t own chopsticks (regretfully, like me)

Chipotle Diner Home Fries

It was a weird week. The weather was cool and calm in the morning, thick with humidity by lunch, and then pelting my car with torrential downpours by dinner. Just today in the early evening at the sign of the rainstorm leaving, Brian and I finally walked around on the main strip of Brighton center. I settled on a not needed by definitely craved iced coffee from a new bakery. By the time we rounded the corner, I found myself drenched and running in slippery flip flops.

This fickle weather has made me kind of lazy when it comes to preparing meals, to say the least. Dinners this past week were mostly handfuls of this and bowls of that, with tons of yogurt and fresh fruit eaten at all hours. I also ate a few gigantic bowls of fresh popcorn with hot sauce (don’t ask, I just love it that way) instead of a square meal. What can I say? I’m definitely a food fanatic, but I’m also easily drawn away from the kitchen after work by movies, books, walks, and ice cream instead of dinner.

But this afternoon I actually took out a skillet and reacquainted myself with the stove. I made a deal with myself before cooking. It went like this: I’d cook some real food but in exchange I’d only make easy and delicious comfort food. These home fries are also a small triumph. I’ve long struggled with making diner quality home fries at home. They were always either undercooked or overcooked, but never the right combination of soft, crispy and delightfully greasy, until now.

I thank the America’s Test Kitchen Television Show 10th Anniversary Best Recipes magazine for my success. The simple advice of par-cooking the potatoes solves the problem of under-or-overcooking, creating delectable cubes that are browned just the right amount on the outside but still tender inside. This technique has solved an epic struggle to bring the diner into my own kitchen.

Fried potatoes spiced in chipotles in adobo sauce are really worth braving the stove in humidity, especially when they look and taste like home fries from a much beloved greasy spoons. Eaten with a runny poached egg and hot sauce, I’d say actually using the kitchen was a pretty good idea today. Such a good idea that I’m currently finishing up the leftovers as I write this post.

I always forget that the real perk of cooking yourself is leftovers. I love leftovers.

Chipotle Diner Home Fries
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons of a neutral oil
two large Yukon Gold potatoes (the best, next to all purpose, for home fries), scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced, with 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce if you want things smokier (who doesn’t?)
salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan cover the cubed potatoes with 1/2 inch of water. Bring just to a boil then remove from heat and drain the potatoes.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet. Arrange the potato cubes in a single layer.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other side. Repeat again until the potato cubes are evenly browned on all sides. Taste to make sure the potatoes are just right.

3. Remove from heat and add in the paprika, chipotle chili and adobo sauce. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Sesame and Agave Roasted Tofu


Before you assume it, I am not agave obsessed. Really. I know it is so cool to use agave these days. I keep seeing recipes in Bon Appetit calling for agave left and right. But, I was just curious about it as an ingredient. I live so close to a Trader Joe’s, and their agave is pretty inexpensive…. so one thing lead to another and now I have agave sitting in the kitchen. That reminds me, Trader Joe’s reps out there: how can I get a job writing the recipes you provide in that circular? I could definitely do that.

Anyway, this post is about roasting that wiggly blob called tofu. I usually don’t eat tofu unless it is deep fried, like I can get in Chinatown or at the Wholefood’s buffet. But, how do I prepare a great tasting tofu at home? What a dilemma! It has been a challenge of mine for awhile now. I’m still trying to perfect a tandoori inspired tofu recipe. In general, though, I have found roasting to be one of the best at home preparations. Roasting gives the tofu slices or cubes a nice crispy and chewy texture. I also love the look of the browned edges that roasting creates.

I created Sesame and Agave Roasted Tofu from scratch, only using some general instruction found elsewhere like “what temperature is best for roasting?”. I was compelled to dream up this recipe mostly because I just can’t get enough of the sesame tofu at the whole food’s buffet.

These roasted tofu cubes have a subtle sesame taste, perfect for salads and soba noodles. I decided to toss mine with greens, shelled edame and a poppy seed vinaigrette. The Agave in the marinade gives a nice kick of sweetness that plays off the cayenne pepper. I’m such a fan of sweet, salty and spicy all in one.

To achieve the best results with roasting, press the drained tofu between two plates for 20-30 minutes before marinating. This squeezes out a lot of extra liquid, improving the crispiness of the final tofu. Also, feel free to marinate longer. I was in a hurry (aka very hungry) so I just whipped everything together and threw it into the oven. But you could up the ante by marinating this anywhere from an hour to a whole day.

The best part about this recipe is that the tofu pieces, once roasted, keep well in the fridge. You can easily use them to spice up salads for the next work day lunch.

Sesame and Agave Roasted Tofu

Ingredients
1/2 tablespoon of canola oil
1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon of agave
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
dash of red pepper flakes aka 1/2 teaspoon in my mind
dash of cayenne pepper aka 1/2 teaspoon in my mind
1 package of extra firm tofu

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 450.

2. After pressing the tofu, cut into desired form. You could do flat squares, perfect for sandwiches, or cube the tofu.

3. Mix all the oils and spices together. Toss the tofu in the marinade.

5. Roast for 15-20 minutes on a flat baking sheet. Turn halfway through ensuring even browning.

6. Optional: Once roasted, toss with some sesame seeds.