When I turn eighteen, I already know what I’m going to do.
First, I’m going to buy a plane ticket to D. C. and go to Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian and leave roses. They don’t let you walk through it, but somewhere– I don’t know where — I’m going to leave a bouquet and a little note for her. Julia Child is my patron saint. She’s the queen of all reasons people can do anything they want in life. Saint Julia didn’t start cooking until she was practically forty, and she went on to do TV shows and make cookbooks and be this huge part of culinary history. She never got too fancy, she never freaked out, and she was never afraid to try new things. I want to be just like her — except maybe get famous faster.
The second thing I’m going to do is buy myself a set of knives. Pia swears by this set of German steel knives she got when she graduated, but I’ve seen the TV chef Kylie Kwong use a phenomenal-looking ceramic knife on her show on the Discovery Channel. Either way, knives are what the best chefs have of their very own.
The third thing I’m going to do, after I get back from Washington and get my knives, is… get discovered. Somehow. I know I’m going to have to pay my dues, but I’m so ready for my real life to start. It’s not something I admit to a lot, but my real dream is to be a celebrity chef. Do you know how many African American female chefs there aren’t? And how many vegetarian chefs have their own shows? The field is wide open for stardom. Every time I watch old episodes of Saint Julia, I imagine that I have my own cooking show. The way celebrity chefs do it now, I could also have a line of cooking gear, cookbooks, aprons, the works. People would know my name, ask for my autograph, and try my recipes. All I have to do is finish my trig homework and get back into the kitchen.
A la Carte
Lainey is a 17-year-old high school student who loves to cook. She wants to become a famous chef, with her own cooking show, and has chosen Julia Child as her patron saint.
I loved this young character who is really creative, talented with food and knows what she wants to do with her life. Lainey’s classmates and teachers reap the benefits of her culinary skills. I wish I’d been that talented when I was her age. Who knows? I could have had my own show on the Food Network channel by now.
All through the book, I kept thinking to myself, why didn’t didn’t I have a younger sibling like that who’d enjoy cooking for me. I guess it’s too late to ask my parents for one, huh ?
Normally, when I read about a food mentioned in a book that strikes my fancy, I have to look up a recipe for it. However, in A la Carte, part of the charm of the story is that the story character, Lainey, includes several handwritten recipes from her notebook. I couldn’t wait to try the Saint Julia’s "Perfectly Hard-Boiled" Egg Salad.
It was very interesting to make the "perfectly hard-boiled" egg the Julia Child way. I liked that my egg yolks didn’t turn green. The recipe called for pimento stuffed green olives. Since I didn’t have that, I used Greek olives. I didn’t have a sweet pickle relish or sundried tomato or tapenade. Instead, I used a few grape cherry tomatoes. Oh, and I didn’t have shallots so I used red onions, which I like. So, there were minor substitutions to some of the ingredients but it wasn’t a problem. I really liked the way the egg salad turned out. Delicious!
A la Carte is a book for young adults but adults of all ages can enjoy it. I certainly did.
This is my entry for the 7th culinary/literary blogging event, Novel Food. It’s co-hosted by Simona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste. If you’re interested in reading more about the event and would like to participate in it, go here to read the guidelines.
Ed Note: A round of up the Novel Food entries has been posted in two parts. You can find the one part on Briciole and the second half on Champaign Taste. There are a lot of fun books and recipes. Check them out!
Saint Julia’s "Perfectly Hard-Boiled" Egg Salad
A la Carte by Tanita S. Davis
4 Hard-Boiled Eggs**
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
5 or 6 Pimento-stuffed Green Olives, chopped (or 2 Tbsp. olive Tapenade)
1 small Shallot (optional), finely chopped
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/8 tsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Sweet Pickle Relish (or Sundried tomato or Tapenade)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley. Finely chopped * (or cilantro)
To taste: Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper (about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of each)
Peel your eggs – in the sink, to keep the shells close to the disposal. Carefully take out your yolks, and set the whites aside. Add to your yolks the mayonnaise, your chopped olives, shallots, the mustard, paprika, and pickle. Then chop your whites, and add to mixture. Add parsley, salt, and a litte fresh ground black pepper to taste.
*You can use cilantro and sundried tomatoes as a variation. Some people like their bread cold for cool egg salad — For a fresh egg salad, you might use warm rolls. Yum.
** Saint Julia’s notes on boiling eggs are easy. All you have to do is make sure your eggs are covered at least an inch deep in cold water in the pot, so make your pot deep, not flat and wide. Boil for exactly 17 minutes. Transfer the boiled eggs to ice water immediately to chill for 2 minutes. Take them back into the boiling water for 10 seconds: This will make sure your yolks aren’t green and that the eggs won’t stick to the shells. Now move them back into the cold, and let them sit — if you can — for 15 minutes. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter, but cold eggs peel better.
When Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice recommended the cookbook, à la di stasio by Josée di Stasio, as a nice holiday gift, one of the recipes she tried from the book was Ham and Egg Ramekins. One look at what she’d made and I knew I had to try them, too! I love that it was a really easy meal to prepare, I love that the ingredients were simple (bread, egg, ham) and I love its unique presentation (the bread, itself, acts as the ramekin and holds the eggs and ham!) Love it!
Ham and Egg Ramekins
From à la di stasio by Josée di Stasio.
4 slices of whole wheat bread (trim off crusts)
1 tablespoon softened butter
4 slices Black Forest ham
4 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a rolling pin, think out your slices of bread as much as possible (don’t go too thin or they’ll rip).
Divide the butter equally among the four slices and spread it on side of each slice.
On the unbuttered side of bread, lay a slice of Black Forest ham.
Carefully transfer the bread and ham to a muffin tin, making sure that the buttered side of the bread is the side that goes into the muffin cup.
Once all your bread and ham slices are in, crack open an egg and carefully drop one egg into each ham and bread cup.
Bake for 20 minutes and check the bread cups. If the egg is cooked, then remove otherwise keep it in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.
Once out of the oven, let rest for a few minutes before carefully popping out the bread ramekins. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and serve immediately.
November 27, 2008 | Filed Under Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once blog, Corn, Eggs, Fellow Bloggers, Green Onions, Scallions, Spring Onions, Holidays, Poultry, Soups/Chowders/Gumbos, Thanksgiving, Vegetables | 18 Comments
Yes, more soup. It’s still cold here and I’m still tired and stressed. So, I decided to make more soup, using a recipe I found on Hallo’s blog.
Today, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the States. I never had Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup before as part of a Thanksgiving meal, but this is what I wanted to eat. It was definitely a good soup for a weary body and soul like mine. I felt much better after eating it.
What am I thankful for this holiday season? Many things. I’m especially thankful for all of you who stop by my blog with your very kind and encouraging comments. Without you, it would be no fun here.
Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup
1 litre chicken stock
4 slices ginger
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
4 chicken thigh fillets, skinless, sliced finely
420 grams canned creamed corn
2 cups corn kernels
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons corn flour mixed with a little water, optional, to thicken soup
1 egg white, lightly whisked with 1 tablespoon water
Place the chicken stock and sliced ginger into a pot and bring to a simmer so to allow the ginger to infuse into the stock.
Separate the white from the green parts of the spring onions. Slice both finely.
Heat a little neutral oil in a large pot and when it’s come to temperature, add the sliced white part of the spring onion and the ginger. Let this gently sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the chicken pieces – just add a quarter of the chicken at a time. When the chicken has changed colour, add the creamed corn and corn kernels.
Turn the heat up a little and stir this well before adding the stock (strain off the ginger slices). Add half the sliced green parts of the spring onion and let the soup simmer until the corn has cooked through.
Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper and a few drops of sesame oil.
If you prefer a thicker soup, then at this stage, stir in the mix of corn flour and water.
Just before serving add in the remaining sliced spring onion greens and while stirring the soup, drizzle in the lightly whisked egg white – this sets as soon as you add it to the soup so it’s important to keep stirring to break it up and get a speckled finish.
Please help me welcome guest blogger Sra of When My Soup Came Alive! Thanks for being here, Sra!
2008 © When My Soup Came Alive – All Rights Reserved
I’m honoured to be a guest blogger for Paz, whom I came to know even before I set up my own blog.
When Paz invited me to write for her blog, I only had one dish in my drafts, and no story to go with it. And I had promised to send her the post as soon as I could, so ever since we spoke to each other before I sent this post, my hours were filled with thoughts about how to put the egg curry in context.
I’m no great believer in the happy statement that things have a way of falling into place but that’s exactly what happened with this post. I came around to deciding how, in India, when there is no meat readily available to feed visiting guests or even not-so-staunch vegetarian guests, eggs come in handy. Today, I had a guest, and because of having to accompany her on her rushed schedule, we made do with leftovers for lunch, but back home for dinner, we made omelettes with coriander and curry leaf and our meal was made! Immediately special! Despite the presence of a dozen eggs in my refrigerator, I wouldn’t have thought of the omelettes if I hadn’t been thinking about the post.
Guests or not, eggs are a sort of a halfway house – they are seen as making up for the lack of meat, somewhat, and they are dressier than vegetables, or even an elaborate all-vegetarian meal. If you simply don’t have the energy to rustle up a full-fledged non-vegetarian dish, just the presence of eggs will liven up the dining table, and everyone’s minds. It’s as if you’ve made a fair effort to cook something special. Of course, you can even resort to eggs when you don’t want to spend money on meat J
Eggs are friendly – they are easy to cook, are versatile and are done fast. And the egg curry, or should I say sauté, I’m talking about here is a nifty dish that takes only relatively little time to make, and is satisfying as well.
Ed. Note: This dish takes about 10-15 minutes to make, once the eggs are boiled and shelled.
2008 © When My Soup Came Alive – All Rights Reserved
Eggs, boiled, shelled – 4
Onions, minced – 2 cups
Coriander/cilantro, chopped – ½ cup
Curry leaves (optional, but recommended) – 5-6
Green chillies – 3, chopped (or fewer)
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 1-½ tsp (or very finely chopped ginger and garlic – 3/4 tsp each)
Mustard seed – 1 tsp
Cumin seed – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil – 3 tsp
Score the eggs with a piece of the shell – this is to allow the spices to seep in. Three or four gashes will do.
In a wok, heat the oil. Pop in the mustard seed. Once it begins to splutter, add the cumin.
Now turn the heat down, add the onion and sauté. If you’re the impatient sort, add a bit of salt to the onion and continue to sauté – this is to hurry the process. Sweat the onions as much as you can. Wait long enough to let them turn pink and transparent, at the very least.
Now add the green chillies. Sauté. (If you’re using red chilli powder, wait.)
Add the ginger-garlic paste. Mix it well with the onions and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the curry leaves, stir for a few seconds.
Add the salt, turmeric, a pinch of the garam masala and red chilli powder, if you’re using it, at this stage.
Mix it all up.
Now add the eggs to the onion mixture and keep turning them around frequently (not constantly). They will break a little, or they may break up into thirds and halves but that’s the fun – they get coated with the spices, and the white, now yellow with all the spices, turns a crusty brown here and there as the heat roasts it. A slow fire is the key.
Sprinkle the rest of the garam masala over the curry and fold it in. Garnish with the coriander.
2008 © When My Soup Came Alive – All Rights Reserved
I found this very easy and delightful Greek recipe on Laurie’s wonderful blog, Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. I already had the basic ingredients (zucchini, eggs, lemons, onions, feta cheese. and bread) so I made it for dinner. With this simple recipe, I was happy I didn’t have to exert a lot of energy in the kitchen after a long day’s work. The only things missing were the olives and a glass of ouzo but my dinner was still delicious. Perhaps I shouldn’t point this out but the zucchini slices are supposed to be nicely browned but as I was preparing it, I was too hungry to wait for it to properly brown. It still tasted good — brown or not.
Zucchini and Eggs
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as part of an appetizer spread
Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
2 medium zucchini (1 pound)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup diced yellow onion, 1/4” dice
In the same pan, adding olive oil if necessary, sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, until they soften and begin to turn golden. Add the cooked zucchini and gently mix the zucchini and onion. Spread the vegetables out evenly over the bottom of the skillet.
Whisk together the eggs, and pour evenly over the zucchini. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover, turn down the burner, and cook over low heat until the eggs are set. Slide the Zucchini and Eggs onto a serving platter, cut into quarters, garnish with lemon wedges, and serve immediately.
Zafiris serves Zucchini and Eggs with slices of feta cheese, olives, bread, and a glass or two of ouzo.