Omelettes a la Julia

“How about dinner in half a minute?”

Okay, you have my attention. The truth is that I tried for years to learn to make omelettes and they were always, without fail, consistently awful. Rubbery and browned and thick and generally unappetizing. I don’t remember how who “taught” me to make them, but it involved flipping them like a pancake and the results were horrid.

One look at this video of Julia Child making omelettes and I’m converted. Did you know these could be so easy? I certainly did not! But it turns out they are. And in the time it takes The Kiddo to say “I don’t wike it” I’ve got my new standard breakfast almost ready to go. It’s insanely easy to throw in some chopped up whatever-was-for-supper-last-night and a little cheese and I’ve got a meal. This one has chopped colby jack cheese and some leftover turkey from Martin’s, one of middle Tennessee’s greatest treasures: a BBQ joint which you really, really must try at some point in your life. Anyway, the protein in this omelette keeps me going all morning, and the fresh eggs are amazingly nutritious, tasty and pretty. By the way, as long as you’ve made the trip down to Martin’s, you can’t leave without stopping at the Nolensville Feed Mill too. Julia child said she was very careful about where she buys eggs, and so am I —  the Feed Mill is the only place I’ll buy eggs. Don’t you love their gorgeous yellow color?

Your turn! What would you put in an omelette?

Oven fries

McWho? These are great! Can you believe they’re not fried?

Here’s how to satisfy your french fry craving without gobbling trans fats:

All-oven method:

  1. Slice a potato (or two — that above is actually just a half a potato) and let the slices soak in hot tap water for at least 20 minutes — just like the oven roasted potatoes
  2. Lay them out on paper towels to dry and preheat your oven to 400F with the cookie sheet in the oven
  3. When the oven is preheated, scatter the fries on the hot cookie sheet, spritz with a little nonstick spray and sprinkle with salt (or you can toss with oil and salt before they go in the oven)
  4. Bake until crispy and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Preheating the cookie sheet means that it starts crisping the underside of your fries immediately, and meant that I didn’t need to turn them halfway through cooking. Bonus! Try it and see if you like the results

Par-boiling method:

  1. Slice a potato or two and let the slices soak in hot tap water for at least 20 minutes — just like the oven roasted potatoes
  2. Now boil the slices until just starting to soften — it took mine about five minutes
  3. Spread on paper towels to dry while your oven is preheating to 400F with the cookie sheet in the oven
  4. When the oven is preheated, scatter the fries on the hot cookie sheet, spritz with a little nonstick spray and sprinkle with salt (or you can toss with oil and salt before they go in the oven)
  5. Bake until crispy, about 15-20 minutes

The bonus of the par-boiling method for me is that I can boil up a bunch of fries and freeze them (flash freeze in a single layer, then move to a zip top bag so they don’t become a giant clump of frozen potatoes). When The Kiddo wants fries with lunch I can pull some out to thaw while the oven preheats, then toss with olive oil and bake. He thinks he’s getting away with eating french fries; I’m getting potatoes and healthy olive oil in his tummy. It’s a win-win!

Take a look at the Rookie Chef’s version too — I love that there are so many different variations on these!

Ice cream cone cupcakes

It’s another episode of cooking with kids!

With The Yankee out of town, I planned a weekend of all kids, all the time. These were made with help from The Kiddo, five year old twins and a nine year old. Woohoo! With all that “help” speed was off the essence. For this project we used:

  • A box of cake mix (the kids love Funfetti)
  • Frosting (again, Funfetti for us)
  • A box of two dozen ice cream cones (with flat bottoms so they’ll stand up on a cookie sheet)

To bake them, we put a 1/4 cup of batter (it won’t look like enough, but it is) into each ice cream cone and baked them on a cookie sheet at 350 till the tops sprung back when touched (by me! No kids in the oven!) — about 25 minutes. I set them on a rack to cool while we watched a movie. Enchanted, if you must know.

After they were cooled we busted out the frosting. Did I mention speed was of the essence? Here’s how we did it:

  1. Holding the ice cream cone cupcake upside down, dunk it down into the frosting — right up to the edge of the ice cream cone
  2. Pull the cone back out of the frosting while twisting with your wrist
  3. Voila! You have a cute little twist on the top of your cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles and eat for breakfast save for a more appropriate time of day

Now then. Do these turn out the most amazingly professional looking cupcakes you’ve ever seen? Heck no. But it does let the kids get involved, and gets the cupcakes finished before you’ve they’ve eaten all the frosting with a spoon. Isn’t that a large part of the goal here? ;) And these are great for parties! The ice cream cones keep the kids from getting their fingers messy, and there are no pans to grease, and no papers to dispose of.

Enjoy!

Happy birthday, Julia Child!

From this article, in response to the question, Do you think people have become afraid of food?

“Definitely. They’re afraid of it nutritionally. They’re afraid of fat. And they’re afraid of germs. Some people are just afraid to eat. They’ve lost the joy. Not me! I eat eggs all the time, but I’m very careful where I buy them….

“I think there’s misinformation about nutrition. At the American Institute of Wine & Food” — a California nonprofit foundation dedicated to the advancement of gastronomy, which Child helped found in 1981 — “we say: ‘Moderation. Small helpings. No snacking. No seconds. A little bit of everything, because you never know what you may be missing. And have a good time!’

Who could say it better? Enjoy something fabulous today!

Garden update!

Remember this post?

This:

Turned into this:

Pretty awesome, huh? And this is after I pulled a few things, too — like the green beans, which were taken over by ants. Grr. But I did get a bunch of them blanched and frozen first.

In my little 8×4′ garden I grew:

  • Brandywine tomatoes x2
  • Early girl tomatoes
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Green beans
  • Cayenne peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Bell peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Onions
  • Carrots

Pretty impressive for such a little space, huh?  And the majority of it was grown from seeds, so I spent very little on the actual plants, and ate ridiculously good food all summer long. I highly recommend the Square Foot Gardening book! This is good stuff. And easy. This was my first garden beyond tomatoes, so imagine what I could do if I actually knew what I was doing!

You see that I had to add chicken wire. We have a plentiful bunny population around here, and they were enjoying the fruits of my labor a bit too much. Unfortunately chicken wire is merely a ladder to this guy — I have named him Vinny:

Some of Vinny’s handiwork:

I thought this one was particularly lovely. I watched him carry my tomato up to the top of my 6′ fence. He munched a while, then left, leaving the tomato there. To taunt me. Apparently came back and got it later. I am currently accepting applications for squirrel hit men. Don’t tell Vinny.

I did get hit with some tomato blight this month, but it wasn’t awful. I had to pull one Brandywine and cut back the giant Roma, but nothing tragic.

How did everyone else do? What did you grow? What did you eat?

Homemade corn tortillas

I have a new toy! After doing a few batches of flour tortillas rolled out by hand, I realized that, um, I’m not very good at rolling out an actual circle. I bought this cast iron tortilla press from Amazon and I love it! I went with cast iron rather than lighter weight aluminum because the weight of the press does a lot of the work for me, and because I just have a thing for cast iron. It makes me happy.

I started by watching this clip — Alton Brown making tortillas. The step of lining the tortilla press with a ziploc bag is not one to be skipped! The negative reviews of the tortilla press on Amazon were folks complaining that the masa sticks to the press, but the dough should actually never come in direct contact with the press. Issue solved!

I used the recipe on the back of the Maseca bag The Cousin bought when she was here for salsapalooza — for four tortillas:

  • 1/2 cup Maseca
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch of salt

Really, could that be any easier? Mix the ingredients for about 2 minutes to form a soft dough, then divide into four equal portions.

After lightly pressing the tortillas (the first time I pressed too hard and ended up with paper-thin tortillas — not good!), I slapped them on a hot griddle for about 45 seconds on each side. Since these tortillas were destined for quesadillas I didn’t want to cook them all the way through, since they’d be meeting the heat again:

See how they’re just barely cooked? And already yummy?

Then I added last night’s leftover steak, sliced thin against the grain, with some tomatoes from the garden and some cheese. Sandwiched between two tortillas, this all went in the quesadilla maker (which gets a ridiculous amount of use in our house).

End result:

Love it! Crispy outsides, warm gooey/cheesy insides. Served with sliced tomatoes, this was fantastic. And quick. And easy! Definitely give this one a try.

Crispy oven roasted potatoes

Can you tell how crispy these are? This is one of our very favorite side dishes.  And all you need is a potato, some butter, some olive oil and some spices. Yay for simple! We’ll start with a soak in hot water to remove some of the starch from the potatoes, which will allow them to to really crisp up in the oven  Here’s how to whip these up:

  1. Cut a baking potato or a few red potatoes into bite size pieces and put the pieces in a bowl of hot tap water to soak. Let them soak at least 20 minutes, but mine sat in the water for a good 40 minutes last night and were fantastic
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F, and put your potatoes in a single layer on a couple paper towels to dry
  3. In a large cast iron pan melt a pat or two of butter over medium heat and add a Tbsp. or two of olive oil; adjust amounts for how much potato you’re using — you want enough butter/olive oil mixture to thoroughly coat all the potatoes
  4. Pat your potatoes dry one more time and toss them into the skillet. Stir to coat with butter and olive oil, then liberally sprinkle on the spice(s) of your choice — I used Miracle Blend last night, but it’s also great with Lawry’s or dry ranch seasoning or…? Make it your own!
  5. Roast at 400F for about 30 minutes, stirring or shaking around halfway through to ensure even browning. They’re done when a fork goes in easily and the edges are starting to brown

If you don’t have a cast iron pan (go get one! They’re cheap!) you can mix the potatoes, butter, olive oil and spices in a bowl, then roast on a cookie sheet. Couldn’t be easier!