Tag Archives: eggs

Asparagus With Boznersauce, A ‘Sauce from Bolzano’

'salsa bolzanina'

‘salsa bolzanina’

Boznersauce is a springtime specialty from Bolzano in Alto-Adige, the Italian province that together with Trentino forms one of Italy’s five autonomous regions, Trentino-Alto-Adige. Annexed from Austria by the Kingdom of Italy at the end of World War I, Alto-Adige—Südtirol in German or South Tyrol to English speakers—has retained its culturally Austrian identity in the decades since, despite an aggressive Fascist-era ‘Italianization’ program and a significant influx of Italians in the post-WWII period. Officially part of Italy for nearly a century, today Alto-Adige is still comprised predominantly of native German speakers, though Italian and German are both official languages.

The intersection of Italian and Germanic influences in South Tyrol characterizes many aspects of local culture, including cuisine. Further shaped by Viennese and Hungarian traditions, Alto-Adige’s culinary scene has earned a reputation in recent years as a gastronomic mecca, with 23 Michelin stars as of 2016. Interestingly, many non-Italian dishes, items like speck, würstel, strudel, and knödel, have entered the Italian national food canon via Alto-Adige.

The people of the Bolzano area enjoy this hollandaise-like sauce, whose name means ‘of Bozen’ (German for Bolzano), alongside fresh asparagus during Easter Sunday lunch.

Ingredients for 4

2 bunches green or white asparagus
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water

For the sauce:
4 eggs, hard-boiled
100 ml ‘light’ olive oil or seed oil of choice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1-2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
3 Tbsp beef broth
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt

Instructions

To make the Boznersauce, start by boiling the eggs for 8 minutes and remove from the water immediately. Heat the broth and keep warm.

When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs. Slice them in half and remove the yolks, placing the yolks in a bowl and setting the whites aside. Add the vinegar, mustard, broth, salt and pepper to the yolks. Whisk until creamy (a few lumps are fine). Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking continuously until you have a thick, smooth cream. Add the minced parsley and combine. Chop the egg white to a medium-fine mixture. Add to the egg cream and combine. Set aside at room temp while you make the asparagus.

Bring the water and wine to a simmer. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and cook in the simmering water for 5 minutes and remove promptly. Arrange the asparagus on serving dishes and place generous scoops of the Boznersauce over them. Dust with the chopped chive.

IMG_20160304_151639

Figliata, or Egg Panzanella

egg panzanella, for your expanding 'litter'

egg panzanella, for your expanding ‘litter’

Towards the end of Julia Moskin’s recent article in The New York Times on Ischian cooking traditions, Enoteca la Stadera owner Ivo Iacono’s mention of an old family recipe caught my notice:

One of his childhood favorites was a dish called figliata — a word meaning “litter,” as in puppies — made of eggs, basil, cheese and stale bread. “When you had another child,” he said, “you could just add another egg.”

Up until that moment, reading this article had me in a familiar emotional state, one best described as a mixture of interest, appreciation, and a Schadenfreude-esque delight at any hint, however minor, of dilettantism. To be clear, the article is very good: aptly descriptive, engaging, informative. Why wouldn’t it be? Moskin is a pro food reporter and accomplished cookbook writer/editor. She highlights Iacono’s activities as a restaurateur and outlines Ischia’s intriguing history while staying astutely focused on the real star of the story—Ischia’s food, specifically long-practiced cooking methods that make use of the island’s natural heat sources (hot springs, sand). In truth, I felt only a wee bit superior when reading her explanations for the unversed—such as ‘Ischia (pronounced ISS-kee-ah)…’ or ‘a popular lunch dish called caponata,’ and the like. The truly gratifying moment, though, I’m not ashamed to admit (perhaps I should be) came when I realized Moskin had all but overlooked what for me is the most intriguing part of the story: the family recipe Iacono calls figliata (from figlio/figlia = son/daughter).

I could find no information on this dish. There’s no mention of figliata in any of my cookbooks, not even the unfailingly comprehensive La Cucina Italiana encyclopedia. (While searching the web I did discover something called pizza figliata, a sweet pastry reminiscent of strudel that’s popular in Campania.) I asked around, resisting a temptation to contact Iacono directly for a quote. Niente. So, based on Iacono’s description, I reasoned that figliata must basically amount to a kind of panzanella with boiled eggs. This is what I came up with:

Ingredients for 4 servings circa

400 grams of stale Tuscan bread (a stale ciabatta would work)
4 eggs
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
fresh chopped chives (optional)
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white vinegar
salt & pepper

Instructions

Soak the bread in cold water for about 20 minutes. Strain and squeeze out all the excess water, then crumble the now-soft bread into a large bowl. Boil or steam the eggs for about 7 minutes, then cool, peel and roughly chop them. Add the eggs and basil to the bread and combine. Now add the oil and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and blend well. Garnish with more fresh basil and some chopped chive (my addition, optional).

Add one egg for each additional child, per Signor Ivo Iacono.

Cherry Tomato & Zucchini Flower Tart

Hello. I'm your new favorite tart

Hello. I’m your new favorite tart.

Ingredients

for the pastry:
1 & 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup very cold butter
ice water

for the topping:
1 large or 2 small zucchini
2-3 zucchini flowers
1 handful cherry tomatoes (about 7-8)
1 egg
3 heaping Tbls fresh ricotta
1 Tbls fresh thyme leaves
2-3 Tbls grated parmigiano or pecorino romano
salt & pepper

Instructions

Make the pastry crust first. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Chunk in the butter with a knife or try my own favorite method: put the butter in the freezer for about 5 minutes then grate it into the flour using the large holes of a cheese grater. Crumble the butter into the flour with your fingers until you have a uniform crumbly mixture. Add a few spoonfuls of the ice water and continue combining with your fingers. Keep adding water and blending until a dough forms. Transfer to a flour-covered work surface and knead lightly and quickly. Form a ball and close it in plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Slice the zucchini into very thin strips (I used the slicer of the cheese grater). Gently clean the flowers and cut them in half length-wise. Whisk the ricotta and egg together with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 180° C / 350° F.  Roll out the pastry to about 1/8 inch thickness and cover the bottom of a 10″ or 12″ pie dish or cake pan with a spring form release. I used the latter, after having lined the bottom and trimmed the excess pastry from the edge. Spread the ricotta and egg mixture evenly across the crust, then arrange the tomato and zucchini slices and flowers as you prefer, gently pressing the ingredients into the soft mixure. Dust with another bit of salt and pepper and sprinkle with the fresh thyme and grated cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. The flowers and thyme will crisp and turn brown, so you could add those ingredients to the tart half-way through the cooking time to maintain their color (they will be softer, too). Let cool slightly before releasing the spring form and serving.

Oeufs en Cocotte

un œuf très chic

I am a great fan of the egg and am always on the lookout for new ways to make them. This is Julia Child’s recipe for oeufs en cocotte aux fines herbes, or eggs baked in ramekins with herbs. While a bit more work than your average egg dish, these are very flavorful, and not a little stylish on the table. Bon appétit!

Ingredients for each serving

1 – 2 eggs
1 tsp butter
2 Tbls cream
1 Tbls of mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, or thyme, chopped
salt & pepper

Instructions

Heat the oven to 190° C / 375° F . Bring a panful of water to simmer, enough to reach about the halfway mark on your ramekins (about 3/4 to 1 inch of water, depending on your cookware).  Chop the herbs. Butter the ramekins and add 1 tablespoon of cream to each and sprinkle with the fresh herbs. Place the dishes in the simmering water. When the cream is hot, break in the egg(s), pour in the remaining cream and add a small tab of butter. Now remove the ramekins from the water and place them in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Child recommends removing them from the oven when they are slightly undercooked: “…when they are just set but still tremble slightly in the ramekins.” I removed them after precisely 7 minutes. This is really a matter of individual judgment, but do note that the eggs will set more after you remove them from the oven, and you do not want to overcook them. Season with salt and pepper and serve with good bread. Pictured here: rosemary focaccia.

Spinach & Ricotta Fritters (with Poached Egg)

dressed up for lunch

These spinach & ricotta fritters are intended as a side dish but can easily be dressed up into a main course. In summer they are lovely atop a plate of mixed greens with sliced tomato, a little fresh cream and chopped chive. Today I served them for lunch topped with a poached egg and dusted with fresh ground pepper and dried oregano. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 large bunch fresh spinach (about 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups when cooked)
3/4 cup fresh ricotta
2-3 Tbls grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 Tbls grated Gruyère or similar cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
olive oil for cooking

Instructions

Blanch the spinach (leaves only) in low-boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, strain, and thoroughly press out all the excess water. Chop the spinach, give it another squeeze to press out any liquid, and add it to all the other ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Spoon in dollops of the spinach mixture and cook for about 5 minutes or until the underside is golden and firm. Gently turn the fritter and cook the second side. Transfer the cooked fritters to a paper towel-covered plate and lightly salt. Serve warm.

 

Pancetta & Egg Salad

caption caption

not for the fat-wary

One of the things I like about Nigella Lawson is she never shies from fats. Drain, skim, or trim off excess fat are indications you just don’t associate with her. For this salad, inspired by the recipe for bacon and egg salad in Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, fats from the cooked pancetta cubes make the dressing base. Don’t judge. It’s amazing.

Ingredients

mixed salad greens or 1 head of escarole
3 or 4 eggs
125 grams (½ cup) cubed pancetta
1 small bunch parsley
1 tsp each of Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbls olive oil
salt & pepper

Instructions

Arrange the greens/lettuce in a salad bowl. Rinse and chop the parsley. Boil the eggs for 7-8 minutes. When the eggs have cooled, peel and slice them lengthwise into quarters. Set aside.

Cook the pancetta over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the cubes turn dark and crunchy. Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, scoop the pancetta from the pan and leave the residual fats. Toss the pancetta cubes in with the greens. Add the mustard, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce to the pan and turn the heat back on low. Combine until a sauce forms. If the dressing is too thick, add a bit more vinegar. Let the sauce cool slightly and drizzle it over the salad. Now add the eggs, parsley, and olive oil to the salad, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss gently but thoroughly.

Provençal Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

tart art

My dear friend Emily, who is both a diligent reader of The New York Times and a thoughtful recipe-sharer, sent me the link to this recipe of Martha Rose Shulman’s tart made with tomatoes, goat cheese, and mustard. I’d likely never have discovered this particularly scrumptious tart otherwise, which I’ve made a good five or six times over the past year. Thanks, Em!

I followed Ms. Shulman’s recipe exactly, and served it with a yogurt sauce with herbes de Provence. There’s no improving a recipe as perfect as this Provençal Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart!

Chickens for Change! Or, Another Reason to Love France

eggs

there’s nothing like farm-fresh eggs

Residents of Barsac in the Bordeaux district of southwest France recently participated in an unusual public ceremony—adopting chickens. Mayor Philippe Meynard launched his ‘chicken program’ in February, an initiative that grants households a pair of hens for two years, in response to the issue of food waste management in his 2,000-inhabitant-strong city.
One hen can consume an estimated 150 kilograms (over 300 pounds) of food waste per year, and produces about 200 eggs. By lowering the amount of waste to be processed and incinerated, Barsac will save money, help lessen environmental impact in the form of garbage bags and service vehicles, and contribute to reducing emissions from incinerators. Some 150 Barsac families paid the nominal fee (a couple euros) and signed a contractual agreement that binds the adoptive parents to provide for and protect the hens from predators, and prohibits them from purchasing (or adopting) a rooster. Extra eggs may be sold at markets or to local school cafeterias. Meynard, whose website features a news clip on the chicken giveaway, intends to continue and expand the initiative. Towns throughout France are said to be copying the idea.

Provençal Recipes: Galettes with Wild Greens

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wild green galettes

This recipe for ‘galettes of wild greens’ is adapted from Georgeanne Brennan’s The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence. If you don’t know of Brennan—a fellow Northern Californian who is to Provençal cuisine what yours truly would aspire to be to Tuscan regional cooking—definitely have a look at her lovely and impeccably written cookbooks.

Serve the galettes warm, with a soft, fresh cheese. Brennan calls for brousse, ‘the fresh curd of sheep cheese,’ although it’s my understanding brousse can refer to the curd of dairy or goat cheeses as well. Having no immediate access to brousse, I used a fresh, very soft goat cheese I’d brought back from Provence, that I let warm to room temp and then mashed up a bit. But you could also use ricotta or cream cheese. Neither of these will have the delightful pungency of a goat cheese, of course, which in my opinion is what these galettes really want to be partnered with.

This recipe makes about eighteen 6-inch galettes, according to Brennan. My galettes were slightly larger, about 7 to 8 inches, so I ended up with fewer.

Ingredients

1½ cups (about 250 grams) flour
1¾ cups (about 425 mls) milk
½ cup (about two handfuls) chopped fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and dandelion, in equal parts
¼ cup (one handful) finely chopped green onion
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
salt
ground pepper
soft goat cheese, ricotta, or cream cheese (optional, for topping; Brennan’s recipe calls for 4 ounces, about 115 grams)
several sprigs of fresh marjoram

Instructions

Rinse and roughly chop the marjoram and set aside.

Put the milk in a large bowl and mix in the flour a little at a time until smooth. Beat in the eggs, salt, pepper, herbs, and green onion.

Melt the butter in a skillet on medium heat. When the pan is hot (the butter foaming a bit), spoon in the batter just like you would for pancakes, and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. As with pancakes, flip only once. The galettes will be lightly golden when ready. Transfer to a plate and keep warm by covering with foil. I suggest folding them in half like crepes. Add more butter to your skillet as needed as you proceed with the galettes. Serve the galettes with the fresh cheese and generously sprinkled with the marjoram.

Provençal Recipes: Aioli, An Introduction

Homemade aioli drizzled over boiled potatoes, with grilled pork ribs.

Homemade aioli drizzled over boiled potatoes, with grilled pork ribs.

Although the base ingredients of aioli are invariable—garlic, egg yolk, olive oil—personal variations abound from cook to cook. Some versions call for mustard, others lemon juice, and there’s no clear consensus on a precise egg-to-garlic ratio. In Provence A-Z, British ex-pat writer and expert on all things Provençal Peter Mayle describes a ‘classic recipe’ with 16 cloves of garlic and three egg yolks; while a recipe I recently tried, courtesy of native Californian and prolific food writer Georgeanne Brennan’s The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence, called for six egg yolks and six to 10 cloves of garlic (this version was indeed very eggy, and a pretty bright yellow color; aioli can range from almost white to pale or dark yellow).  Julia Child’s curious version of ‘Provençal garlic mayonnaise’ lists fish stock as an ingredient, and a slice of milk- or vinegar-soaked bread to be mashed with the garlic! With respect to that grande dame of French culinary artistry, there’s something suspect about including liquid-softened bread, as this can only dilute flavor and unnecessarily alter what should be, if handled right, an already perfect consistency.

All aioli recipes concur on one point: the method. Traditional aioli is made by slowly whisking vegetable oil into egg yolk until a creamy mayonnaise forms, then adding fresh garlic that’s been pounded and processed until smooth using a mortar and pestle. (Food processors will ruin aioli.) For those dubious of raw egg, you can make a version of aioli without egg, a kind of garlic paste. It will keep longer, obviously—freshly-made aioli, like any homemade mayo, can stay in the fridge for three to four days, sealed—but this not, technically speaking, aioli.

Experiment with aioli. Take advantage of its adaptability. Add lemon juice, ground pepper, or crush a fresh chili pepper with your garlic. As a dipping sauce for boiled vegetables or French bread, a vigorous, tangy aioli works wonderfully. With fish, crab cakes and soups, on the other hand, an aioli with less punch will enhance those flavors you’d rather compliment than knock out altogether.

Be warned: once you get a taste for homemade aioli, you’ll never settle for store-bought mayonnaise again. Or at least you shouldn’t.