Considering that the sponsor herself at thursday night smackdown was unable to keep her deadline (for good reasons) I am hoping that my tardiness will not eliminate me from participation. And since I am relying on her good nature (HAHAHA) I am going to confess that not only did I not make this on Tuesday for Hobo Tuesday; I did not even make it for dinner! It was my lunch, today, Thursday.

Whew, I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest.

Actually, I don’t know if I would let myself participate, because I didn’t even follow the theme. I don’t do spicy, but I do do things that could be spicy if you wanted them to be. Take this:

Heuvos Rancheros en Cocotte

You got your Mexican in my French! No you got your French in my Mexican!

In a fit of literalness I have decided to call this exactly what it is:

Huevos Rancheros en cocotte from my own demented little mind

Hardware: a cute oven safe ramekin and an oven.

Software:
1/3 C doctored up canned black beans
2 eggs
2 T milk
2 big pinches of shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 C salsa (I use Pace, so sue me)

My beans were left over from burritos a few days ago, I start with a can of black beans and add a bunch of garlic, cumin, oregano and Liazano Salsa until they taste good; hence doctored up. Take your cutsey little ramekin and lube it up with butter (hey, this dish is 1/2 French – gotta work butter in somewhere) and pre-heat the oven to 375 or so.

Put the beans into the ramekin and make two beds for your eggs by pushing things around with a spoon and then carefully crack the eggs into their little troughs. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them and then drizzle the 2 T of milk over top. Put in oven for about 8 minutes (or until things start to bubble and the whites look opaque) and then pull out and sprinkle the cheese around the bubbling edges and slide it back into the oven for a few more minutes. Take the eggs out when they still look underdone and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Spoon salsa over top and you are done.

Talk about a protein bomb! I guess you could work in some veggies with the beans if you are so inclined – but I thought it was great as is. Now, there are several locations where one could make this spicy. Jalapenos in the beans would be an obvious choice, but more sneaky would be sprinkling some cayenne over the eggs so that it looks like paprika. The hotter the salsa, the hotter the entire dish. I am a wuss, so mild all the way baby!

The Damage:
1/3 can black beans = .30
2 eggs = .42
Milk = .05
Cheese = .15

Everything else is pantry. I feel comfortable including Salsa as a pantry item considering it outstripped Ketchup as the most purchased condiment in the US.

The total comes to .92. I only cooked for one, but my hubby would have loved this had he been here – doubling the cost comes to $1.84 to serve 2 people, actually, to fill my husband we probably would have had to use more beans so lets call it an even $2.00.

My neighbor is a rather old chap who lives to garden, quite literally. A couple of years ago his wife passed away and now pretty much all he does is tend his land, I think he is in his late 70’s early 80’s. Last year he purchased and restored a classic Tractor from the 40’s and he eagerly awaits the day when I will allow him to haul my toddler up to the seat and drive around with him. I haven’t prevented this but the E-man is very skeptical of the entire plan and you have to admit, a big tractor can be scary. Of course this is a wee Tractor, just big enough for Mr.N’s “garden”.

That is if you can call a cultivated acre of land a “garden”. When I asked him last year how many potato plants he put in he said “Oh about 100 lbs”. That is 100 lbs of seed potatoes. What the yield on that would be I have no idea. This year I have started my own, slightly less ambitious, garden and when I proudly told Mr.N that I had planted peanuts he asked me how many. I told him 5 plants. He grinned at me and let me know that he had planted 3 rows of the goober-pea. Ah well, I am content to be small potatoes.

And small potatoes is what this post is about. Mr.N was kind enough to give me a few of the earliest potatoes that he robbed from his hills. These are very young potatoes, skins as thin as tissue. If you are skilled you can reach in from the side and sneak a few out without disturbing the production of the main crop. I am quite sure that I would bungle the procedure with my sissy hands, but Mr.N’s gnarled mitts are nimble with experience.

I needed to make something that would let these precious yet ugly jewels shine and I was determined that I could make a meal of them. No side-dish billing for these puppies – they were Marquee talent. I perused my trusty The Best Recipes in the World and decided on something based on the Spanish Tortilla concept. I say concept because I played fast and loose with the recipe. Why? might you ask?

Tortilla, open faced Potato Omlette, Fritatta, who cares?

Tortilla, open faced Potato Omelet, Fritatta, who cares?

Bittman’s recipe called for an entire cup of olive oil. Cutting the recipe in 1/2 for the amount of ‘taters I had still left me with a 1/2 cup of olive oil – and I couldn’t do it. Nor did I want to include the onions that were called for. No supporting cast was desired – let them stay at the talent scout’s – I had my star!

Faux Spanish Tortilla

Hardware: really sharp knife, large non-stick skillet that you can chuck into the oven (make sure that it doesn’t have a melty handle because a melty handle sucks), lid of sufficient size to fit the pan

Software:

I am afraid that this isn’t one of those measurement type recipes because I was really flying by the seat of my pants – the show must go on.

4 medium new potatoes
2 eggs
a couple of “glugs” of milk
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg
Garlic Powder
Olive Oil (less than 1/2 C)
Cheese (I used mozzarella)

Put the skillet on the stove on medium heat and add a goodly amount of olive oil. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oil is heating slice the potatoes super duper thin. I was too lazy to use my mandolin – I hate the clean-up. Separate the slices and dump them into the hot oil. Stir and flip like a madman to get them all coated with oil, adding oil if it seems necessary. Salt and pepper generously, these are potatoes after all.

You do not want the potatoes to brown, but you want them to become tender. I reduced the heat to low and kept flipping/stirring. When it seemed they were fixin to brown I added some water and clapped a lid on so that they would steam. Of course I frequently lifted the lid and stirred/flipped them so who knows how much actual steaming occurred. During on break in the action when you are not compulsively checking the potatoes, crack your eggs into a bowl and add a couple of glugs of milk. Season with salt, pepper, a generous amount of freshly grated nutmeg and a dash of granulated garlic. Beat the tar out of them with a fork.

Check potatoes. When they are moving towards tender take your lid off so that you can evaporate the water. When almost tender and mostly dry (except for the oil) pat the ‘taters out in an even layer and then pour the egg mixture all over them. Kill the heat to the pan and then decide that you cannot leave well enough alone and sprinkle some cheese over the top. Because hey, who doesn’t like cheese on potatoes?

Put the whole mess into the oven and let it bake until the eggs are set, maybe 10 – 15 minutes. I decided that I really wanted my cheese to be more than just melted so I cranked up the broiler for a couple of minutes and literally stood there and watched it go GB&D. Please, please, please remember that the handle of the pan will be WHITE HOT and use an appropriate protective device to remove it to a safe landing zone.

The Verdict

‘tateriffic! By dialing back on the eggs and making this dish more about the potatoes I really feel like my special produce was able to be all it could be. I had to serve up 1/2 of it to myself and put the rest in the ‘fridge right away – otherwise I would have eaten it all without a second thought. The E-man even deigned to snitch a few chunks of potato off of my plate which is made out of win. Reheated in the same oven I cooked tonight’s uneaten fish sticks (well, they were eaten eventually by me) in it still was very tasty. It wasn’t quite as good as it was fresh out of the oven – but it was better than the fish sticks.

Update! So I have been watching my stats to see what is bringing people to my site and apparently I have been attracting people who, like me, cannot spell Avgolemono correctly. Heh. So I thought I would add this and see if I can catch people who can actually spell. And just for kicks lets say “Greek Chicken and Lemon Soup”. HaHA take that Google analytics. 7/30/09

Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Post

In the recent months I have seen numerous posts in the food-blogoverse singing the praises of homemade stock, and I couldn’t agree more. It is an awesome thing to have around, and the feeling of satisfaction I get from making something delicious out of stuff that is pretty much garbage is wonderful. But, I am not going to tell you how to make stock.

Many people have done it much better than I have. For my most recent stock making endeavor I made use of advice from Michael Ruhlman. I didn’t try his oven method, I think that might work for a big manly man like him who doesn’t have a problem moving around a large stock pot full of very hot liquid, but I did avoid allowing any bubbles. I brought the stock up to 180 – 185 degrees and then reduced the flame to low so it would stay there for … oh … 5 hours or so.

Also from his tips, I didn’t put the veggies in until the last couple of hours of cooking. This didn’t seem to effect the flavor and it made the straining much easier because the veg didn’t disintegrate. Speaking of straining, in the past I have tried the flour sack cloth and the cheese cloth and they both end up being a pain in the butt. But one thing that I always have laying around the kitchen is coffee filters. They fit perfectly in my hand strainer and allow me to strain the stock only once. So there, I do have a secret for you. Another little secret that I have is that I like using coriander seeds in my stock. But I do not like straining out all of the seeds and stuff, so I cram it all into a tea ball that I have and let that dangle off of the edge of the pot. Because who has those fancy pants sachets hanging around?

Most of the stock that I make goes nigh on directly into the deep freeze, but I always like to make something a little special to use it when it is fresh. And I never have enough freezer boxes to freeze it all. What can you make that really showcases the flavor of your newly minted stock?

Golden, Liquid Love

Golden, Liquid Love

If you have some dumplings hanging out in the freezer now would be the perfect time to make chicken and dumplings. But I sent my last batch away with the Hubby so he could have some home cooking away from home. So instead I made Avoglemeno Soup, also known as Greek Lemon Soup in Joy of Cooking.

Avoglemeno Soup: adapted from Joy of Cooking

The Hardware:
Saucepan, liquid measure or small bowl.

The Software:
3 C Chicken Broth
3/4 C Cooked Rice or raw Orzo
2 Eggs
2 – 3 T Lemon Juice

1) Put broth in saucepan and add rice or orzo. If using rice, you just need to get it to a simmer, if orzo – cook until tender. If you are using orzo you will probably need to use more stock because some of it will boil off.

2) Make sure you stock tastes good, I like to add some granulated garlic at the beginning to give it time to bloom. I think it makes it tasty, also consider adjusting with salt and pepper to your taste.

3) Put lemon juice into liquid measure (or the small bowl, but something with a spout is really better for this). Break in the eggs and beat with a spoon until a consistent color.

4) Turn the heat off of the soup and stir swiftly. Pour the egg/lemon mixture in a thin, steady stream and try not to hit the stream with your spoon (DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS RAY). Continue pouring until it is all in and the soup has gone all opaque and stuff. Serve and devour.

Hacks:

You can add lots of nummy stuff to this soup. Some people add greens (spinach and the like) and I have been known to put diced carrots in, so that I can pretend that I am eating vegetables. If I am feeling like a thicker soup I have been known to add a third egg. But I love the eggy goodness. Once I even added meatballs – but I guess that makes it some sort of bastardized Italian weddingglemeno soup.

So, what is your favorite thing that shows off your mad Stock making skillz?

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