10 August 2009

Broccoli Gratin Omelette

Whether you spell it omelet or omelette, eggs stuffed with veggies, meat, and cheese are always a hit. Last Valentine's Day, I posted the recipe for a fantastic broccoli gratin in a creamy, cheesy bechamel sauce. I love to repurpose leftovers, and this broccoli gratin makes a delicious omelette the next day.

Andrew and I love to make a big breakfast on the weekends, and a giant omelette is an easy way to feed both of us quickly.

Broccoli Gratin Omelette
4-6 eggs, beaten
splash of milk
2/3 c. leftover broccoli gratin
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 tsp. butter
salt & pepper

Melt butter over medium heat in a large (9" or so) saucepan. Combine eggs and milk, pour into saucepan, and turn heat to medium high. Allow eggs to cook a few minutes - you want the edges to set.

Top eggs with leftover broccoli gratin and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Allow eggs to cook another minute - this will also allow the broccoli to heat. Using a large spatula, gently fold omelette in half so that broccoli-bacon filling is covered.

Cook a minute longer so that eggs meld together, cheese melts, and omelette cooks through. Depending on how much filling you have, you may want to press the omelette down so the eggs can touch and cook together.

You can make any type of omelette this way - just throw in different ingredients. Omelettes are so easy to prepare and they provide a well-rounded meal that you can enjoy at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

07 August 2009

Book Review: Raw Food, Real World

Though I have decided that a completely raw diet will never be for me, the lifestyle continues to intrigue me. I think there are a lot of positive aspects of eating raw, and since my experiment, I do try to incorporate more raw foods into my day-to-day life. Additionally, I'm more adventurous when it comes to seeking out new raw foods.

I recently read the book Raw Food, Real World, by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis. Part cookbook, part lifestyle guide, part novel, this book presents the benefits of a 100% raw lifestyle, providing recipes, tips for eating out, and lots of entertaining commentary. Written by a New York restaurateur and his partner, it tells their love story and their journey to a diet comprised completely of raw food. If you're just a little bit interested in eating raw, this book is a great read.

Matthew and Sarma present the concepts of eating raw in a non-judgmental way. They understand that not everyone has access to the gigantic farmer's markets of New York City, nor to a professional restaurant kitchen and all the bells and whistles that come with one. Their immersion into raw food serves as a sort of buffet for the rest of us - pick and choose the parts you like. They teach techniques, including how to make raw smoothies, cocktails, and desserts. They share fantastic recipes for dishes that they serve in their restaurant, Pure Food and Wine; everything from a fantastic Arugula Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing to King Oyster Mushroom and Dried Cherry Tomato Fettucini.

Melngailis has an engaging writing style that draws the reader in - it's almost as if you're talking with a friend over coffee (or bee protein shakes!) and learning about a new friend's lifestyle. She shares her favorite kitchen appliances, the best places to get honey, olive oil, and a million other products, and is honest about the epiphany and transition period that led to their new lifestyle.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in fresh, seasonal cooking, and of course to those with a curiousity about the raw lifestyle. Those who aren't planning to go raw but who are currently vegetarian, vegan, or eating organic will still be interested in the fresh ideas and interesting ingredient pairings in this book.

06 August 2009

Bar Harbor: Part One

Andrew and I have been to Bar Harbor, Maine together every year since we started dating. We missed out last year because we had taken all our time off from work for our honeymoon. This summer we returned, so happy to be back! We love to spend time in Acadia National Park, and this year was no exception. The photo above is from a particularly beautiful spot we found on Beech Mountain, overlooking Echo Lake. You can see Andrew and Finn enjoying a rest mid-hike.

Of course, what would Maine be without lobsters? We ate them as many times as we could, plus we had our friends at Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound pack some up to take home to Ohio. Andrew enjoys his lobster most with a Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale (above), made by the Atlantic Brewing Company right in Bar Harbor. We've visited the brewery a few times, and it's a fun place to spend an hour or two. You can take a tour, taste their beers, visit the store, and grab some nibbles at Mainely Meat Barbeque, an outdoor restaurant on the premises.

Don't worry, I do have a recipe for you! Andrew and I adore steamers and mussels, and our favorite way to cook them is to steam them in water that's been seasoned, then dip them in butter. Feel free to vary the amount of shellfish you cook and to add or subtract your favorite mollusks.

Steamers & Mussels

4 lb. steamer clams (cherrystones, though more expensive, will also work)
2 lb. mussels
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
white wine
sea salt
1 stick salted butter, melted

To clean clams: Rinse sand and grit off shells, lightly scrub with a brush
To clean mussels: Rinse sand and grit off shells, remove beard (the scraggly hair-like stuff that hold the mussel on a rock) with your hands

Place clams and mussels together in a steamer basket. Pour about 4" water into a large pot. Add garlic cloves, sea salt, and a splash from your wine glass to the water. Feel free to improvise with additional herbs and spices, but I'm a purist, especially when it comes to clams.

Place the steamer basket into the pot and put a top on to contain the steam. Steam the mussels and clams just until their shells open. This will not take long, maybe 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them - if you overcook them, they will get soft and fall apart (if they are very fresh) or become tough and rubbery (if they are a little older). Neither option is good, trust me!

Serve your shellfish however you choose - since we were camping, the steamer basket in a nest of newspaper worked very well. Give each person their own cup/bowl of butter for dipping. In my family, each person also receives a cup of the broth used to steam the seafood. The method is: remove the mussel or clam from its shell, dip in the broth to rinse, dip in the butter to coat, and EAT!

Seafood, beautiful scenery, a campsite on the ocean, family, and friends...what more could you want?

Happy Summer everyone!