By the Book: Quick Shrimp & Pea Omelette from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

Quick Omelette with Shrimp & Peas

Quick Omelette with Shrimp & Peas

Welcome to the first official installment of By the Book on Foodie Reflections! This is where I will prepare a recipe from a cookbook and write about it. Pretty simple, eh? There’s no official schedule to these posts but at least it’s a step in the right direction as I slowly work my way through the ever-growing piles of cookbooks taking over my apartment.

A few things to note: 1) Some of the cookbooks were given to me, others I purchased because I was interested in them; and 2) I’m a little commitment phobic so there’s no schedule or day of the week for these posts — yet. The point is to have fun and celebrate the work that so many amazing cooks put years of blood, sweat and tears into.

First up is The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by one of the most bubbly food bloggers I’ve come across: Jaden Hair of the blog Steamy Kitchen. I was fortunate to receive a certificate for a copy of her book a few months ago, and was thrilled when it arrived in the mail last week.

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I tore apart the package and immediately dove into the book looking for a recipe to try. The only problem was that I needed to pick just one to start with and there were SO many that jumped out at me. In the end I went with the Quick Omelette with Shrimp and Peas for two reasons: 1) it was quick to make – I mean the word is even in the title; and 2) I was freaking hungry!

Oh, this omelette did not disappoint. It was filling and satisfying, not mention a little salty but in a good way, and a little sweet from the peas. Plus I felt energized from all the protein but not weighed down at all, a good thing as this was lunch afterall.

Now, I just have to choose what to make next.

Here’s the recipe:

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Mom’s Kugel

Kugel

Mom's Kugel

One of my all-time favorite foods is kugel. A sweetened noodle casserole, kugel has been a staple at holiday meals throughout my life. There are so many different types of kugel, running the gamut from a little sweet to dessert sweet, but what makes it good really comes down to personal preference.

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My favorite kugel will always be my mom’s, which was the runner-up in last year’s kugel-off. Much to her chagrin, I spiced it up a bit with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. She claims I destroyed the kugel but it got mad raves at Rosh Hashana dinner with people specifically commenting that they liked the (slight) cinnamonny flavor.

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In our family kugel is always served as a side dish although I enjoy eating the leftovers cold, just as I used to in college when my mom would send me back to school with a fresh pan. However you choose to eat kugel, the key is to make it, and I do hope you’ll try this version.

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Here’s the recipe:

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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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Breakfast for Dinner: Balsamic Fried Egg

Balsamic Fried Egg

Balsamic Fried Egg

Hmmm… the egg. I’ve never been much of an egg person; my interest has been mostly philosophical in the context of “what came first.”

While essential for baking, I don’t often eat eggs on their own as an omelet, scrambled, poached, sunny-side up, etc. That is until recently when I discovered the balsamic fried egg.

Balsamic Fried Egg: saute mushrooms Balsamic Fried Egg: egg

Surprisingly, I’ve actually begun to crave this creation: it’s simple, quick, savory and a little sweet, and goes well with whatever vegetable I’ve got in the fridge (so far I like mushrooms best). Plus it’s an inexpensive protein. I should point out that this is always made for dinner, never breakfast. Not really sure why though.

Balsamic Fried Egg: add balsamic vinegar Balsamic Fried Egg: stir in cooked mushrooms

Also, a good quality balsamic vinegar is a must! Look for one that has been aged 18 years.

The egg (er, end).

Here’s the recipe:

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Fava Bean Egg Salad

Fava Bean Egg Salad

Fava Bean Egg Salad

Fava beans are in season! While available dried or canned year-round, it’s a treat to find them fresh in long, thick pods. With a sweet and nutty taste similar to edamame (soy beans), favas work great in soups, with fish or lamb, and also with eggs.

That is why I thought fava beans would be a good addition to egg salad, a traditional side dish ideal for summer picnics. And what better time to make this special egg salad than for the 4th of July?

Fava bean egg salad: whole fava beans Fava bean egg salad: split fava bean pod Fava bean egg salad: blanching fava beans

Fava bean egg salad: removing inner shell Fava bean egg salad: shelled and blanched fava beans Fava bean egg salad: chopped fava beans

Fava bean egg salad has very few ingredients with one noticeable absence: mayonnaise. I decided it wasn’t necessary and a little olive oil would work just as well as a binder and be a bit healthier. I did use garlic chives, an herb that tastes just like it sounds: like garlic and chives. But you could easily substitute regular chives if that’s all that is available.

Fava bean egg salad: hardboiled egg Fava bean egg salad: garlic chives

Try looking for fava beans at your local farmer’s market. I buy mine from Nichols Farm’s booth at Chicago’s Green City Market. Garlic chives are also usually available at farmer’s markets and Asian grocery stores.

Did you know that fava beans are also called “broad beans” and “horse beans?”

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