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LOW CHOLESTEROL BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

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There are six zillion recipes out there for breakfast casseroles, and they are all pretty much the same – lotsa eggs, cheese, milk, sometimes one of the porky breakfast meats, sometimes bread, sometimes a random vegetable. Mix together, bake, eat.  They all taste about the same, and they’re all really fatty.

We had two nice elderly neighbor ladies coming to brunch, so I made the apricot upside-down cake in my previous entry. I also wanted a savory something, but this was right after my husband got his cholesterol reading, so I needed to cut way back on the egg yolks &  cheeses. What to do?  This is what I came up with.

One of our guests loves cheese and asked what kind was in the casserole – she was quite surprised to find it was just cottage cheese and a little bit of Parmesan. This has a great savory cheese flavor with a fraction of the cholesterol & fat found in most baked egg casseroles.

LOW CHOLESTEROL BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

  • 16 ounces (2 cups) nonfat or lowfat cottage cheese
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 cups raw shredded kale, Swiss chard, or spinach
  • 3 or 4 thinly sliced green onions (scallions)
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or similar dry grating cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine cottage cheese, egg whites & whole eggs, and salt & pepper.

Spray a large (about 9″ X 11″ or larger) baking dish with nonstick spray.

Scatter the shredded kale and the green onions in the bottom of the dish.  Pour the cottage cheese mixture on top of the kale. Arrange tomato slices on top and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over.

Bake at 350 until almost completely set, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let residual heat finish cooking the casserole.

Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature with salsa, hot sauce, or ketchup.

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MAYONNAISE: EAT IT RAW

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I like underdone (runny) fried eggs, carpaccio, beef tartare, extra-extra rare beef, sushi and sashimi, raw cookie dough, and unpasteurized cheeses. And I eat yogurt past the expiration date.

I have been making my own mayonnaise for over 30 years and not once has anyone gotten sick from it.

But for liability reasons, I feel I need to make a disclaimer here:

Eat raw eggs at your own risk.

There.

Now then. Mayonnaise.  It may have been invented in Mahon, Spain. It might have been named after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, or it might have been invented in England in the 15th century. I suspect some version of this sauce might have developed in several places over the centuries, and eventually took its current name by popular use. Does it matter?

I actually personally know people who hate mayonnaise, but I like them despite this inexplicable flaw. (Ditto for people who like Miracle Whip.)  So this is not for them.  But for people who love mayo – the world extends beyond Best Foods (or as the label reads, Hellman’s East of the Rockies). (Why is the dividing line The Rockies? Why not the Mississippi or the Louisiana Purchase?)

Making your own mayonnaise is easy. My niece was making it when she was three years old (she did need some assistance getting up on the kitchen counter). It tastes far better than commercial mayonnaise. And you can jazz it up to suit yourself.

The basic principle of making mayonnaise is that you are forcing two different substances – egg yolk and oil – to blend together (emulsify) harmoniously. Technique is crucial. But even if the worst happens and it breaks/separates, it can be repaired.

Mayonnaise can be made in a bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer, in a food processor, or blender. The first method is a sure thing but tedious, and I only resort to that when I have screwed up and the mayo broke/didn’t thicken. In theory the food processor should work well, but I’ve had more failures than successes with it. I think the blender is the way to go.

Separate two eggs. Put the yolks in the blender. Put the egg whites in a covered container in the refrigerator; use in scrambled eggs, baking,  or omelets, or freeze for longer storage: when you collect enough, make an angel food cake.

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Add 3 tablespoons vinegar or fresh lemon juice, and blitz for 30 seconds.

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Let stand for 3 minutes. This is to kill sick-making bacteria. (Yes, I know someone will pipe up and cite some kind of study that shows this won’t kill .00182 % of the bacteria. If you’re about to do that, perhaps you should go read another blog. This is my blog, dammit, and if you don’t like it, leave.)

Where were we? Yes. Eggs and vinegar.

Now add the seasonings.

1 teaspoon dry mustard or 2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

good hit hot sauce

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And blitz again for 30 seconds.

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Start adding oil. You want to do this VERY SLOWLY, drop by drop if possible. If you add the oil slowly enough, the oil droplets emulsify with the egg yolk, creating a thick mayonnaise.

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I use about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, then switch to a vegetable oil like canola or safflower. The mixture will be thickening; when that happens, you can add the oil a bit faster. You might need as much as one cup of oil or slightly more, but once the mixture stops absorbing oil, do not continue adding it.

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When the mayonnaise is very thick and you can’t see oil being absorbed any more – i.e. it’s puddling up on top – turn off the blender. Remove the bottom of the blender carefully (sometimes the mayonnaise will all spill out at once) and scrape into a container.

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The mayonnaise will be yellower and much less sweet than commercial products. Store, covered, in refrigerator. You can use it right away or let it continue to develop flavor for a couple of hours in the fridge.

HOW TO FIX BROKEN MAYONNAISE

Sometimes the mayonnaise will not thicken, or it may break and look curdled. This could be due to adding the oil too fast or blending too long after the maximum amount of oil has been added.

Place one egg yolk, at room temperature, in a clean bowl. With a balloon whisk, beat in 1 teaspoon prepared mustard until very thoroughly combined. Then, drop by drop, add the broken mayonnaise, whisking constantly. Once the emulsion begins to take, you can add the mayonnaise a little faster.

SOME VARIATIONS

Vary the vinegar: sherry, pear, red wine, apple cider, garlic, tarragon, champagne, and so on, or try fresh lime lime juice.

For richer mayonnaise, add one or two more egg yolks.

Try different oils, or a higher/lower percentage of olive oil.

To the seasonings, add:

  •  a chipotle chili from a can, including some of the adobo sauce. This is particularly good when using lime juice.
  •  garlic, raw or roasted.
  •  fresh herbs – parsley, basil, dill, tarragon, cilantro, etc.
  •  a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil and a little Sriracha.
  •  prepared mustard to taste.
  •  sun-dried tomatoes. including some of the oil.

Homemade mayonnaise will last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. It doesn’t have the commercial stabilizers and preservatives found in bottled products so don’t count on keeping it the same amount of time, but that isn’t likely to be a problem: it’s far more delicious than Best Foods.

TWO EASY BRUNCH DISHES

My husband likes to host brunch because that’s about the only time I make crepes, which he loves. So today we had a very small end-of-year brunch. I did make the crepes (filled with, variously, Nutella & cream cheese, mangoes & Ikea mixed-berry jam, and lemon curd), sausages, gingerbread (made yesterday), and two dishes baked in the oven. If you’re going to be frying sausages and filling-rolling-frying crepes, a couple of baked dishes are  called for – you can’t really be also scrambling eggs and frying potatoes at the same time.

Oven fries are super-easy and convenient. Nothing fancy or complicated here. I peeled two sweet potatoes and cut into wedges, along with about six Russet potatoes (not peeled), put them in a baking dish and tossed with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Into a 400 degree oven they went.

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This is an egg dish I made up last year for brunch. So simple!

Melt a little butter in a frying pan and add cleaned, drained fresh spinach. Cook just until the spinach is lightly wilted, then spread in a baking pan. Here I used a 5-0unce container of raw spinach leaves. Top with one or two tomatoes, diced.

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Break as many eggs as needed onto the spinach and tomatoes, being careful to not break the yolks, unlike what I did here. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then strew grated cheese atop the eggs. If you’re in a mood to say, “Damn the cholesterol count!” then pour some half-and-half or heavy cream  over the eggs as well.

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When the potatoes are almost done – 45 minutes to an hour – put the eggs in the oven alongside them.

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When the eggs are set – the ones in the center will take longer than the ones near the edge – they’re done.

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Cut the egg dish with a spatula to serve. If you have plenty of Lipitor on hand, make some Hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce available to pour over.

Instead of spinach, you could put the eggs on top of a bed of sautéed mushrooms, sautéed zucchini, chili con queso, pico de gallo, a bag of frozen artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers,  black beans, corned beef hash,  lentils & salsa, or whatever else you think baked eggs would be good with.

See also the brunch tags for other brunch suggestions.

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