Vegetable Eggs Benedict

Vegetable Eggs Benedict

Vegetable Eggs Benedict

I think I’ve discussed before the fact that I rarely eat eggs, that is up until this past year when suddenly I discovered I liked them. This isn’t to say I crave eggs the way I do chocolate or even peaches, but at least now I like them and sometimes even order them in a restaurant for brunch. Yes, I was that person who used to order a chicken sandwich off the breakfast menu, sorry.

Surprisingly, I’ve found that I prefer eggs to be little raw, be it poached or fried I like a runny yolk. Also, if I’m going to eat eggs the dish needs to have more than just eggs to it. It needs vegetables at the very least, and maybe something starchy like toast.

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Earlier this summer I had lunch at Nookies, a casual neighborhood restaurant, and found “grilled vegetable eggs Benedict” on their summer menu. Essentially, it was grilled vegetables served on an English muffin, topped with a poached egg and salsa. And it was fantastic! This dish was light with bright and fresh summer flavors, and was one where I instantly thought I needed to make this myself.

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In my version of vegetable eggs Benedict, I like to saute the vegetables rather than grill them because, well, I don’t have a grill. Also, I use fewer types of vegetables because I like to be able to taste all of them. I use whole wheat English muffins and – please don’t judge me for this one – store-bought salsa. One of these days I’m going to make a big batch of salsa and freeze or can it, but for now I find that a chunky, mild store-bought salsa works just fine.

As for poaching eggs, I want to be clear that this is really easy to do and you don’t need any of those weird poaching gizmos. Remember to always use cold, fresh eggs and add 1 to 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar to the poaching liquid to ensure the eggs stay together. The rest is all technique which is described in the recipe below.

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Here’s the recipe:

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The Flavor Bible: Ultimate Guide to Recipe-Free Cooking Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary

Seared Sea Scallops with Purple Asparagus, White Wine Sauce & Balsamic Glaze Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherry Mousse Mint Pea Soup with Greek YogurtCreamy Mushroom Polenta Peach Almond Milk Ice Cream sm Stuffed Ball Zucchini

Today is the 1st birthday of my favorite cookbook, The Flavor Bible, which is actually a reference book/guide to ingredients and flavors. It’s a book I use constantly that has had a tremendous influence on my cooking. In fact, I’m not including a new recipe in this post as there is evidence of The Flavor Bible all over the blog: Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherry Mousse, Mediterranean Stuffed Ball Zucchini with Lamb, Seared Sea Scallops with Purple Asparagus, White Wine Sauce and Balsamic Glaze, and so many more.

Already a fan of their previous books Culinary Artistry and What to Drink with What You Eat, I was excited last October when I found out Page and Dornenburg were going to be signing copies of their latest book at the Green City Farmer’s Market. I got there early and was so excited and a little anxious about meeting them. They were role models for me, afterall. It turns out I was being silly as they were two of the nicest writers I’d ever met.

Luckily, there wasn’t a line so they had a few minutes to chat and it wound up being a very interesting conversation, at least for me. It started when I shook hands with Page and she immediately asked if I was “in the industry,” which I am. She then asked if I was a pastry chef or baker, which I’m not, although this encounter was during my pretzel bread phase. I asked Page how she knew, and she said it was because of my grip and that part of my hand was stronger than most. She explained that assessing peoples’ handshakes was something she did on the book tour to keep herself entertained. Let’s just say that I now pay more attention to handshakes when meeting new people.

Since then the The Flavor Bible has been invaluable to me, spending more time off my bookshelf then any other book. I’d classify it as an intermediate level book for cooks because it’s important to have a strong cooking background in order to use it effectively.

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Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Yummy superfood.

I’m so tempted to leave this post with just those two words that sum up this dish so succinctly, but then you’d miss out on what makes it so delicious AND healthy.

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Back story: I went hiking last weekend with a group of friends. Yes, us city girls escaped for a weekend and traveled south to Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL. We left Saturday morning and planned to have a picnic outside the park, then hike, and maybe picnic again. I wanted to make a dish that would travel well, offer much needed protein and carbohydrates to give us energy for the hike without being heavy, and suit the needs of my vegetarian friend.

This chickpea quinoa salad turned out to be the perfect solution. Not only is quinoa itself incredibly healthy and nutritious (and gluten-free), but the addition of fiber- and protein-rich chickpeas, along with summer vegetables like red peppers and corn, balance it out for a delicious and light grain salad.

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Oh, and did I mention it tastes great, too? Health and nutrition are important but so is flavor and this salad is a winner in all categories. Also, note that I call this recipe a “salad” because it can be served at room temperature but it’s also fantastic warm.

Here’s the recipe:

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Mushroom Risotto: 7-step method plus recipev

Mushroom Risotto l

Creamy. Rustic. Classic.

Oh, how I love a good risotto. Especially mushroom risotto with the glorious earthiness of the mushrooms showcased so cleanly against a perfect canvas of starchy arborio rice.

I use mushrooms two ways in risotto to take full advantage of both flavor and texture. First, grind most of the mushrooms in a food processor so the fantastic flavor can be deeply infused within the rice. The remaining mushrooms are sliced and sauteed in butter and used as a garnish to provide even more mushroom flavor and a contrast in texture.

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Risotto has a reputation for being difficult, I think because people are intimidated by recipes that call for “constant stirring for 45 minutes.” In a word, that instruction is crap.

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White Peach & Blueberry Buckle

White Peach & Blueberry Buckle

White Peach & Blueberry Buckle

It amazes me how something neither myself nor most of my friends had heard of could so quickly become a most requested recipe. Until a few weeks ago a buckle was known as something belonging on a belt or a cool pair of boots, certainly not something to eat, which was why the first time I announced I was going to make it the common response was “what’s a buckle?”

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It turns out a buckle is essentially a fruity coffee cake that gets its name because the top “buckles” as it bakes. But seriously, this buckle is so much better than any coffee cake I’d ever eaten. First of all, it’s extremely light and fluffy, not to mention moist. The crispy crumb topping adds a perfect touch of sugary goodness, and the peaches and blueberries throughout make you think you’re eating something healthy.

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In fact, as far as baked desserts go, this one is relatively healthy. The total amount of butter is just a bit more than one stick and I like to tell myself that the fruit cancels out all the sugar.

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As for feedback, this buckle was such a huge hit at the first dinner I brought it to that it was demanded for an overnight hiking trip just two weeks later where it was eaten as both dessert and breakfast. Sadly, I used up the last of my peaches on the second buckle so there won’t be another one this year, but the results were so worth it.

Here’s the recipe:

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