Thursday, 13 March 2014 | 77 comments

A marmalade cake

When I was growing up, my mother ordered big boxes of citrus from Florida as Christmas presents to family members. This strikes me as a really ’80s or early ’90s food thing to do, sort of in the same category as raspberry vinaigrette or a big tri-color pasta salad. In any case, now that she’s no longer with us, my stepfather dutifully carries on the tradition. He sent me a big box of honeybells in January. I love citrus in winter, but we couldn’t keep up with 25 pounds of it. So I made marmalade.

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Monday, 10 December 2012 | 40 comments

Eggs in purgatory (Uova al purgatorio)

I have family friends who host a yearly, big breakfast/brunch (complete with mimosas and bloody marys) before tromping out raucously into the cold to find the perfect tree and bring it home. I wanted to bring that tradition into our life this year, but it was not meant to be. We squeezed in getting the Christmas tree just before Ben dropped me off at IAD to catch a flight to Ghana for work. Just 24 hours later, these grey, winter morning pictures seem pretty outlandish—it’s 90 degrees and humid here, and my hotel room overlooks the pool bar where there’s a live steel drum band playing. » Click to read more

Wednesday, 3 October 2012 | 48 comments

Fried egg with sizzling vinegar

Some of you send me nice notes that say you’re jealous of my life in the country. No offense, everyone, but it’s not as romantic as you think. I don’t live in the kind of “country” that’s 20 quaint minutes outside of a hip, progressive town. I live in the kind of country where the closest town has a 7-11 but not a grocery store. There is no Trader Joe’s in a 50-mile radius. My internet comes from a satellite, and let me tell you, it takes a long time to stream YouTube when your internet is getting beamed down from space (approximately 1-2 days per music video, which is really unfortunate for Ben’s Gotye addiction).There are lots of ways that rural living is lionized that really just aren’t true. Raising chickens is not one of them. Raising chickens is absolutely as wonderful as you think it is. By all accounts, I got chicks and raised them in the name of having fresh eggs. “They’re livestock,” I would tell people firmly. “Not pets.” The thing about these silly birds, though, is that they’re kind of sweet, have a lot of personality, and eat your kitchen scraps. They have this fascinating society that you can just sit back and watch. I loved them for the first five months they were in my life even without the eggs. They were worth keeping around already. Then BAM, they started paying their rent. It’s difficult to fathom, that we’ve bred these animals that ovulate near-every day, spontaneously. They do it without complaint (although one of them sings a little song whenever she lays an egg, strutting and bragging a little). When the first hens started laying, I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was the best day of my summer. I cracked one of the small, pale brown pullet eggs into a ramekin to show anyone within spitting distance how bright the yolk was and how tall it stood up from the albumen.

More started coming. We were getting three eggs per day, all shades of tan and ochre. And then! Then, one day, Ben approached me with his hands cupped around something. He opened them, and nestled there were two perfect blue-green eggs. I flipped a sh*t. I even knew it was coming, but that didn’t stop me from freaking out. And the beautiful eggs that taste so good keep rolling in. So you can see where I’m coming from, maybe? Maybe you want to throw my chickens a party, too? I wouldn’t blame you.

Nowadays, with a few dozen eggs in the fridge at all times, I turn pretty frequently to a humble standby: the fried egg sandwich. This is the type of food I can eat when I don’t know what I want to eat; the kind of food I can make on autopilot and be incredibly satisfied when I’m finished with it, always. My sandwiches are typically open faced: toasted bread–fried egg–a little salty cheese–maybe some hot sauce. They are good that way and I didn’t really need to mess with them, until I paged through the egg section in Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors on the lookout for egg-using-up recipes. (One does not, it turns out, make a very big dent in one’s egg supply by eating occasional fried egg sandwiches.)

Deborah’s fried egg with sizzling vinegar is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Which is to say, it is delicious, especially if you’re me and instead of being born with a sweet tooth, you were born with something along the lines of an “acid” tooth. After frying your egg, you swirl some vinegar in with a little extra butter in the same skillet and then pour it, still sizzling, over the top of your egg. I’ve been throwing my egg on top of greens and toast, and letting the vinegary butter sauce dress the greens, too.

Fried egg in sizzling vinegar

Adapted just barely from Deborah Madison’s book, Local Flavors
I like this egg served on top of toast with some baby greens, letting the sauce and yolk dress the greens. If you go this route, toast your bread as you cook the egg and have your greens at the ready, as the process goes quickly.

You will need

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
1 fresh hen or duck egg
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2-4 tablespoons red wine wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (add more or less vinegar to taste; I like it to be quite vinegar-y to cut through the rich yolk)

Directions

In a small skillet, melt one teaspoon of the butter. Fry your egg as you normally do. Remove the egg from the skillet and give it a sprinkle of salt and a couple grinds of pepper.

Melt the remaining teaspoon of butter. When it has stopped foaming, add the vinegar and a few pinches of salt, swirling the skillet to mix. It will sizzle and bubble up. When the butter and vinegar have mixed and the sauce has reduced just a bit, remove the skillet from the heat. Immediately pour the buttery sauce over the egg and serve.

Friday, 8 June 2012 | 20 comments

Cavolo nero breakfast skillet

I’ve decided I’m going to start calling Tuscan kale by its Italian name, “cavolo nero.” Despite the fact that I eat it quite a bit, somehow whenever I talk about kale I end up swallowing my words. What can you say about kale? The brassica once unknown to this country is now the epitome of “health food”; liquefied into green juices and chopped into raw salads. Also: kale chips. I am tired of hearing about your kale chips, no offense, guys. On top of everything, I feel a little sad for all the other equally wonderful leafy greens, talking about collards more than a person has a right to do. » Click to read more

Monday, 6 February 2012 | 74 comments

A grapefruit olive oil cake for a cold winter day

I take pleasure in the spareness of this season: the quiet, the grey light, the bare branches. It’s been such a mild winter so far that whenever we get a rare dusting of snow, I find myself walking around in the woods for hours.All the silence and sparseness are a bit misleading, though. I think about the secrets under the quiet white veil; the life that is there, dormant, waiting to wake up; the soil that’s teeming, always, with all kinds of micro-critters. Nature is like this, I think. She enjoys vibrance hidden beneath humble exteriors. Like seeds.And jewel-bright grapefruit. » Click to read more

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