Monday, November 28, 2011

Baked Egg Breakfast Souffle

With the holidays coming up, an important recipe to have on hand is always a good, fast breakfast item.  As popular as pancakes are for family breakfasts and brunches, I rarely go with them because they should be eaten hot and often the cook ends up staying by the skillet turning out food for everyone and waiting to eat last.  A better recipe is one that allows everyone to eat together and doesn't require the cook to wake up an extra 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the family.  I've used this recipe for several years now, loving it for the fact that it is fast and easy to make and yet seems fancy enough to impress everyone at the table.

These baked egg breakfast souffles are light, airy, and almost ethereal in quality while the yolk provides just the right amount of substance.  Filling without being heavy, this recipe is my absolute favorite for family breakfasts.  We ate it this Thanksgiving morning -- the first meal the whole family had had together since the beginning of August -- and we've had it Christmas morning too, but this works as a great recipe for impressing any visiting guests who have stayed over.

This baked egg souffle takes no more than 5 minutes to throw together and then the oven does all the cooking for you.  Ten minutes later -- just enough time to wash up and change from your pjs into real clothes -- and breakfast is served!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes

I believe in all things in moderation.  Chocolate is great, but I don't want to be overwhelmed by it.  Sweet is nice, but I like a little bitter.  Crumbly can be comforting, but moist is good too.  These fluffy chocolate soufflé cupcakes with crackly tops and moist interiors are the Goldilocks of desserts.

If you look at the recipe, it is essentially a baked chocolate mousse.  Now who could say no to that?  The cupcake is moist and chocolate-y, like a flourless chocolate cake, but it also puffs up in the oven and rises like a soufflé.  This recipe basically combines the best of all our favorite chocolate desserts.  It is to die for.

The coffee notes complement the darkness of the chocolate perfectly and the little dark cloud of sweetness is delicious when paired with some raspberries or slice of Bartlett pear.  I baked this with rum marinated plums tucked inside and the acidity and tartness of the plums and the warm earthiness of the rum was just what was called for on a chilly fall day.

And when storing these, if you refrigerate them and then come back to them later when they are chilled, they truly do melt-in-your-mouth.  These cupcakes are rich, complex, and  intensely satisfying.  They don't take all that long to make and they are bound to impress any company, so if you need to fix a chocolate craving, here is the Goldilocks of the chocolate world.  These chocolate soufflé cupcakes are just right.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Whole Poached Chicken & Homemade Stock

We had snow this past Saturday.  And I don't mean little flurries for five minutes, I mean a record-breaking 5.2 inches of accumulation, resulting in suspended train service, downed trees, and loss of power in some areas.  Yes, it is still October.  I slept under two sheets, a duvet cover, a coverlet, and a comforter with the heat on.  I was also wearing two shirts, pajama bottoms, and running socks.  It was cold.  Thank goodness I had this in my fridge to keep me warm.

It may not look like the most glamorous thing in the world, but this whole poached chicken in homemade stock is hands down the easiest and best comfort food I've ever had.  With less than 5 minutes of prep work and about 20 minutes of cooking, you can get an amazing broth that is out of this world and some of the moistest, velvetiest (apparently that is a word) chicken you've ever tasted.  And can I say again how easy this is?

I know I write a food blog, but here's a deep dark secret: until I made this, I'd never cooked a whole chicken before.  I know, it's a basic kitchen skill that most people who spend as much time as I do in the kitchen should have mastered a long time ago.  But I never did.  I had many excuses: I always worried about undercooking the chicken, I don't have a meat thermometer (I actually don't own any kitchen thermometers), I don't like white meat, so on.  But even with all these excuses, I knew I would had to get around to it someday.

I joke with my family and friends that every time I try a new recipe I am adding to my "dowry," as my future husband will benefit from whatever kitchen skills I've acquired over time.  It may sound a little strange, but sometimes I do work on building my recipe base with the thought that someday I will have to use my knowledge to feed someone else, someone who may not be as content as I am with eating poached eggs and arugula salads all the time.  Thus, I figure knowing how to cook an entire chicken is a fairly important skill.  (So is knowing how to properly cook a steak, but that's for another day.  [Though, for the record, I have made steak before and it was delicious, but steak is one of those things that, much as I love it, I can't justify making it for myself, and I'd much rather have someone else make it for me.])

People say roasting a chicken is easy but I find that the white meat when it is cooked that way gets to tiresome.  I can't make myself eat it.  And now that I'm cooking for one, I don't want to make something that I won't enjoy.  So instead of roasting, I found a recipe for poaching a chicken, which sounded so good I had to try it.  All the ingredients are fairly standard, and I was blown away by the simplicity of the recipe.

I spent no more than 30 minutes in the kitchen, then I turned off my stove, left my apartment, went to the lab for 4 hours, and came home to a perfectly cooked chicken.  I thought that kind of thing only happened in movies!  And this one pot recipe that gives you two amazing products at the end: some delicious chicken stock and a succulent poached chicken, which can be used in other dishes.  Think sandwiches, salad, risotto.... endless possibilities!

And best of all?  It really is the most moist and velvety meat I've ever tasted.  And the stock is amazing.  I wasn't too sold on it when I tasted it before dropping the chicken in, but the extra time at the end of the poaching makes all the difference.  Now I can't get enough of it.  It's delicious, comforting, and just the right thing for this season.  It's the perfect rainy day food.  And the perfect snowy day food.  It's also great if you're starting to feel sick or taking care of someone sick.  You know what?  It's great for any day.  The stock and the chicken make the perfect comfort food.  So if you're feeling a little down this week, here is what the doctor (okay, medical student) ordered.