Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roses Bakery & Cafe, Frying an Egg and an Egg Sandwich with Tomato, Bacon and Arugula

Roses Bakery & Cafe is a place that could easily do well in any culinary focused city, but for imagery, if you plopped it down in the middle of Napa Valley it would fit right in. It has a deli attached to the cafe that sells a variety of cheeses and deli meats as well as a small handful of bulk items like salads which are sold by the pound. They have a small selection of mustards, oils, vinegars, pickled items and kitchen utensils. They sell baked goods and my children consumed an astonishing number of their chocolate croissants during our short visit to Orcas. In the freezer case are pies, meats and frozen mains. Everytime we visit Orcas on holiday, which is tending towards once a year, we spend some time at Roses. They serve good coffee and great food. The portions are not huge but I am never hungry when I leave.

They have a well thought out menu with things like baked eggs with gruyere, homemade granola with fruit and a breakfast bread pudding. They offer lunch too but we always seem to end up there during the morning meal.

Our waitress offered to do a plate of scrambled eggs and toast for our kids when she arrived to take our order. My son agreed to the eggs, while my daughter opted for a bowl of their homemade granola served with milk and fruit.  I had an egg, cheese, tomato and arugula sandwich that was delicious. It was served with thinly sliced french bed, toasted and smeared with butter and a perfect fried egg sitting prettily on top with a very cheery yolk. The arugula was a smart addition and the bacon was flavorful and tasted like the bacon we get from the best butcher in Seattle. I love a good breakfast sandwich but sometimes I forget to think outside the box. The arugula was a good reminder that an egg sandwich can be so many different things.

I have read in numerous cookbooks, cooking memoirs and online that to test a cook's real ability, hand them a dozen eggs and watch them scramble, fry and hard (or soft) boil them. I guess I think there is some truth to that.

The consistent message for fried eggs seems to be to warm the pan and butter (or oil) first, add the egg and then turn down the heat.

Outside of that, the advice is all over the place. For example, I have read not to put salt on the egg while it is cooking, as it reduces moisture and can cause the egg to be rubbery. Or for sunny-side up, Delia says to start the pan on high and turn it down to medium. She also says to tilt the pan and let the hot fat run over the top of the egg - I assume to ensure the yolk is properly cooked and to enhance the flavor. For sunny-side up, Saveur says to cover the egg while it is cooking, which is what the Joy of Cooking recommends too. The Kitchn offers both as an alternative, depending on how the egg is behaving. I find covering a sunny-side up egg to be easiest for even cooking. For over-easy, most people advise not covering the egg, which I have also found to be what works for me.

Egg Sandwich with Tomato, Bacon and Arugula
Derived from a delicious egg sandwich at Roses Bakery & Cafe
Serves 1

2 thin slices of french bread, cut from a loaf wide enough to hold an egg
2 slices of cooked bacon (optional)
1 egg
a small handful of arugula, washed and dried
2 thin slices of tomato
1 tsp butter
olive oil
salt and pepper

Put a frying pan and some olive oil or butter over medium heat. Let it warm up. Crack your egg in the pan and turn the temperature down a little, leaving it alone until the white firms up. Flip it over if you prefer it that way or for sunny-side up, consider covering it to let the yoke set while it cooks over medium low heat.

While the egg sizzles away, pop your bread in the toaster.

When the bread has turned into toast, spread butter on each side. Place the cooked egg on one slice and follow with the arugula, tomato and bacon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy.

Roses Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jicama, Radish, Avocado and Cucumber Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

We are on Orcas Island this week staying in a house that overlooks East Sound. There have been rain clouds sweeping in over our home so thick that the bay will suddenly disappear into a sea of gray until the clouds suddenly float away and the view seems to magically reappear. It is perfect reading weather.

I brought along four cookbooks from home and yesterday I was flipping through Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis. It is a fabulous book with beautiful pictures and nicely put together menus. He also has stories and suggestions and tips throughout the book. My favorite was reading about his bafflement at why someone would want to rush through baking bread. It is sweet and a great reminder for slowing down in the the same time though, it is a hint that this guy has never cooked with two little kids running around his feet.

I grew enchanted with one menu of roasted pork, hominy and a prepared plate of jicama, radishes, avocados and cucumbers sprinkled with lime juice dipped in chili power. The menu sounded fantastic but I wanted a salad (as I almost always do) so the recipe below is a modified version of his ingredients with a lime vinaigrette. The flavors of the whole meal were distinctly Mexican, the roast pork shoulder recipe I made (a different recipe than his) had cumin, chili adobo, limes, green onions, garlic and a few other things. This salad was a perfect accompaniment as it seems like it would be with almost any Mexican inspired main course.

Jicama, Radish, Avocado and Cucumber Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Serve 4

~10 radishes, washed and cut into wedges (eighths)
2 avocados, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into halved or quartered rounds
1/2 medium sized jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks

2 T lime juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp (or more) chili powder
2 T extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, add the lime juice, vinegar, salt and chili powder. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste and add more salt and chili powder if desired.

Place the radishes, avocados, cucumbers and jicama in a medium sized bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently.

Serving Suggestion: Slow roasted pork shoulder and hominy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Penne with Roasted Garlic, Cauliflower and Parmesan

The other night dinner started out as a single head of garlic roasting in the oven. I was reading to my kids and imagining its beautiful golden color as its delicious smell filled our house.

Sometimes I fall silent when I am reading and thinking about cooking. My kids usually poke me until I start up again but this time I was trying to figure out where it was going to take the meal. Roasted garlic can be a versatile tool for your meal. Add it to the top of a pizza or mix it in a tomato sauce or put it on crostini. I started wondering what would it taste like in pesto?

I ended up adding it to a butter and olive oil sauce with pasta. I had parsley, cauliflower and parmesan so the meal was formed. I wasn't sure if one head of garlic would be enough but it was, though if you love garlic or your heads are small, you might put in two.

The cauliflower is parboiled so that it is just cooked through but still firm. This adds a nice texture balance to the pasta.

The quantity of parmesan is very flexible, I just grated a pile that was close to a 1/2 a cup. If you want a bit of spice, the red pepper flakes can provide that for you.

Penne with Roasted Garlic, Cauliflower and Parmesan
Serves 4 - 6

1 lb penne
1 large head of garlic
1 small head of cauliflower
1.5 T olive oil plus 1 tsp
1.5 T butter
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
small handful of parsley, washed and chopped
salt and pepper
2 tsp dried red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the top off the garlic. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 50 minutes.

Put a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat for the pasta.

Cut the cauliflower up into small florets, bite-sized. Put in a small stock pan, cover with cold water and sprinkle in a little salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for about a minute, until cooked through but still firm. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Cook the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter and mix with the remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skins into the bowl and mash with the back of a fork, mixing with the butter and olive oil.

Add the pasta to the large bowl along with the garlic mixture, parsley, parmesan and (optional) red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Serving Suggestion: Belgian Endive, Raddichio and Grape Salad and Sole Meuniere

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Belgian Endive, Radicchio and Grapes with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette

Belgian endive and radicchio are fantastic partners. Their colors compliment each other, as do their textures. The radicchio has a bit of bitterness to it while the endive has a softer more gentle flavor.

I have been eating a lot of different variations of this salad. It is great with apples or pears and some parmesan or blue cheese. It is tasty with a mustard vinaigrette or a lemon vinaigrette or an apple cider vinaigrette.

The Belgian endive leaves make a lovely appetizer when they are filled with any of the above combinations and drizzled with one of the vinaigrettes. The other night I opened my fridge and saw grapes which ended up being my favorite fruit for this salad. The grapes are sweet and sit well in the endive leaves; they add another flavor and texture dimension to the already complimentary pair of lettuces.

It is a good idea to tear and prepare the Belgian endive at the last minute because they bruise and brown easily once they are removed from their base.

The optional and annoying step of cutting the grapes in the recipe below is still one I would strongly recommend. They sit better in the salad and are more easily speared with a fork if they have been cut.

Belgian Endive, Radicchio and Grapes with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
Serves 2

2 heads of Belgian endive
1/2 head of radicchio
1/2 cup grapes
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)

1 tsp honey
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Tear the leaves of the endive off their base and wash. Slice the radicchio into thin strips and wash. Spin the lettuces dry.

Cut the grapes in half.

In a small bowl, add the honey, lemon juice and whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put the endive, radicchio, grapes and (optional) cheese in a medium sized bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the top and mix gently.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Romaine, Blue Cheese, Avocado and Almond Salad
with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

I love romaine lettuce.  It is sturdy but somehow delicate, crisp but more persistent than iceberg with its light pale green insides and dark green exterior making it seem like two different lettuces in one bundle. I love its ability to act as a strong canvas to whatever you want to do with it and I felt like using it to pretend it was summer.

Standing in our central coop in the produce section always leads me to good things. In went the romaine, along with various other fresh fruits and vegetables. I walked away from the produce section in search of more dried mango, which my daughter and one of her little friends have been consuming at an amazing clip. The mango was out of stock, I am guessing due to our recent consumption rate, so my thoughts returned to romaine when basil vinaigrette and summer popped into my head.

I figured if they had fresh basil at the coop from a, (I feel I can assume), sustainable and organic source, then my desire to eat it was somehow justified despite it being a summer produce. Hence this salad.

Romaine, Blue Cheese, Avocado and Almond Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
Serves 4

1 head of romaine
1 - 1.5 ounces of blue cheese
1 avocado
1/4 cup of slivered almonds

1 cup loosely packed basil
6 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1 T champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar
zest of a lemon
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Tear or cut the romaine into bite sized pieces, wash and spin dry. Place in a large bowl. Crumble the blue cheese and sprinkle it over the salad. Cut the avocado into bite sized pieces and add to the salad along with the almonds.

Wash the lemon, zest it and then juice it. Put the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, zest, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss gently.