Deep Fried Poached Eggs


Last Saturday Joey and I were catching up on our DVR shows and watched Claire Robinson's Five Ingredient Fix on Food Network. The concept of the show is to make a delicious dish in five ingredients or less. The first few times I was skeptical, but after trying several of Claire's dishes I have to say she knows what she's doing and you really can make something delicious with only five ingredients.

The episode we watched last Saturday, "Reservations for Brunch," featured three brunch items and one cocktail. All looked delicious, but one really caught my eye - Deep Fried Poached Eggs. These little decadent treats looked amazing, but to me, they looked way to fiddly to make. I mean, poaching eggs in and of itself is a huge pain, so the throught of breading and frying them seemed way beyond my patience level. However, I was intrigued and watched as Claire skillfully poached the eggs and gently placed them in the flour, beaten eggs and panko. While I was watching I thought there was no way I would ever make these things no matter how delicious they sounded. That was until the next morning.

When I woke up on Sunday the first thing I thought of was those darn eggs. I just couldn't get them out of my head. Yes, it was just like that Kylie song, over and over and over. To keep myself from going mad I decided to make them despite my hesitation. I have tried poaching eggs before and always failed miserably. However, maybe Claire had a secret poaching method and I would never really know until I tried. Besides, I knew I was going to keep thinking about these things until I made them.

I followed Claire's instructions to the letter. I made an ice bath, boiled the water, lined the cookie sheet with paper towels and prepared my work station with all the ingredients. The first thing that went wrong was the poaching. Claire said you didn't need vinegar in the water. Well, my eggs looked like jelly fish. When I took them out of the ice bath and placed them on the paper towels they stuck. Breading them was a nightmare and each egg broke in the panko. Grrrr! I was mad, but still determined so I started over. This time, I did put vinegar in the water to stiffen the eggs. (I probably added a bit too much, but remember I was cranky by this point.) Another thing I did was line the cookie with wax paper rather than paper towels. The rest I left exactly the same. The result? Success!!! I did it! My eggs poached perfectly and with a little love and care I was able to bread them with no problem. Frying them was the easy part and they were delicious. Per Claire's suggestion I placed them on heirloom tomatoes and nothing else. If I were to do it again, and I probably will, I would add a little basil on the tomato with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. They also would be great over spinach.

So, a dozen eggs later I mastered deep fried poached eggs. The recipe is below. Just make sure you have lots of patience and plenty of eggs in case you mess up!

Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs, whole, plus 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 7 to 8 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, cut into 4 thick slices

Instructions
  1. Prepare a bowl with ice and water. Line a sheet pan with paper towels.
  2. In a 5-quart pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil over moderately-high heat. After the water has reached a boil, turn off the heat. Crack each egg into a ramekin and quickly add to the water. Once you have added all the eggs, cover the pot and set aside for 3 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, very carefully lift the eggs out of the water and directly into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Remove from the ice water and place on the prepared sheet pan.
  4. Spread the flour on a plate and put the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, stir the panko with salt and pepper.
  5. Carefully dust 1 poached egg in the flour, dusting off any excess. Transfer the poached egg to the beaten eggs, and then transfer with a slotted spoon to the panko. Coat with the panko and carefully place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over high heat until a candy thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Using a slotted spoon, place 1 panko-coated egg into the oil and fry until golden brown, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer the fried egg to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
  7. Season the tomato with salt and pepper. Place 1 tomato slice on each plate and top each slice with an egg.

Happy Pride!

Today is the start of Pride weekend in San Francisco and for some reason I really have my pride on this year. I think I am getting to an age that I really am appreciating my community and feeling it's importance in my life.

When I was very young I remember watching TV with my Great Grandmother and seeing the Pride Parade on the news. I looked over at her to see if she would start spouting anti-gay slurs like my Grandma always did, but she just looked at me and said, "Well look at that" and smiled. I was 12 and that one gesture let me know that it was okay to be who I was no matter what anyone said.

That was 1976 and things have changed a lot in my lifetime. I am so thankful for all those people who have fought so hard for the rights I now enjoy. It amazing to me how far we have come, but equally amazing that there is still so much work to be done. This weekend I am going to celebrate who I am and give thanks to those that have made it possible for all of us to enjoy the freedom we have today.

Happy Pride!

750 Words

For the last couple of months, well 63 days to be exact, I have been keeping a journal on the site 750Words.com. The concept is simple - write 750 words each day which is the equivalent to about three pages. You can write whatever you want in how ever much time you want to take but it has to take place on one day and it has to be at least 750 words. Once a day is over that entry is locked. If you didn't write that day, you can't go back and make up for it.  There are no frills to the site and those are the only rules.

To make things interesting they have added badges to the mix. The first badge you get is for writing three days in a row. Next you can one for 5 days, 10 days, 30 days and so on. You can also enter their monthly writing challenges competing against other or just yourself to complete daily writing for an entire month.  Each day after writing you are taking to a report page which gives statistics into that day's entry as well as some insight into your feelings. The site is free, but you can make a small donation part of which goes to a Seattle charity.

I started 750 Days because I was finding it hard to make time to write in my blog. My thought was that if I trained myself to write daily, the blogging would come more naturally to me. I think it's helping because I am indeed writing in my blog at least two or three times a week. That's a huge step for me! I was barely writing once a month if that before!

750 Words has become a part of my morning routine and I have not missed one day for the last 63 days. It's one of the things I look forward to each morning. I take care of my birds, make a cup of coffee then sit down with 750 Words and my thoughts. I don't write anything in particular, but each day something comes out and I gain new insight about myself. I like doing stream of conscious writing and by the end of the session I feel much more grounded than I did before.  It gives some order to this chaotic mind of mine. Nothing really profound comes out of my writing, but I am doing this for me and no one else. This is my time.

If you have been thinking about having an online journal but can't seem to keep it up, I totally recommend 750 Words. It will give you just enough structure to keep you motivated without feeling confining. If you stick with it I promise you will get hooked with that first badge and after a week or so it's going to be part of your routine as it is mine.

Russian Tea Cookies

I know it's strange that one day I am writing about Weight Watchers and the next I am back to cookies, but this is the final recipe in my Joey Baking Series.  Besides, Weight Watchers isn't really about denying yourself things, but rather portion control. You can have all the baked goods I am writing about as long as you don't have too many in one sitting like Marya.

Russian Tea Cookies always remind me of Christmas and this most recent Christmas was the first time Joey made them. As with all of Joey's baking these are perfect. I always find that Russian Tea Cookies are the cookie that you only end up getting one of for some reason, so what a treat to have an entire plate full! Joey most recently made these for Karolyn's baby shower and we also put them in the gift bags.

They key to making these perfectly is a good cookie scoop. If you don't have one I totally recommend getting one. They are only about $11 and, if you bake, you will use it often. Another thing you need is patience, of which I don't have, so we let Joey do all the baking. He's better at it anyway. This recipe is based on Anne Thornton's from the Food Network show Dessert First.

Ingredients


  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 1 1/3 cups roasted, salted, chopped pecans
  • Confectioners' sugar, for rolling


Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add the butter to your standing mixer, put it on medium speed, then add your sugar right into the bowl. Turn it up so it gets nice and fluffy. 
  3. Stop the mixer and scrape down the edges. Continue to beat it until it's almost white. 
  4. Add your eggs. Keep the mixer on low and add them 1 at a time. 
  5. Wait to add the other egg until the first one is fully incorporated into the butter and sugar. 
  6. Add the almond and vanilla extracts.
  7. Add the baking powder to the flour and whisk really well, fully incorporating the baking powder into the flour and making sure any little clumps of flour are broken up.
  8. Add just a pinch of salt. 
  9. Add the flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture. 
  10. Add in the pecans on slow speed.
  11. Scoop the batter with a small ice cream scooper, melon baller, or even a soup spoon, just make sure they are all the same size. And don't worry about spacing them out too much on the baking sheet, they aren't going to spread out, they're going to stay like little balls.
  12. Put the trays in the fridge for an hour or so. You want the butter to harden up, making the cookies crispy and delicious when baked.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes until they are golden brown. 
  14. While still warm, roll them in confectioners' sugar. It will adhere slightly to the cookies, looking like snowballs.

Another Weight Watchers Goal Met - 5%!

Last Saturday Joey, my friend Gregory and I threw a baby shower for our girlfriend Karolyn. Naturally, there was lots of food and naturally we ate it! We had cookies, baked brie, spinach dip, barbecue....we had a lot. I was completely prepared to have not lost any weight or even gained weight so image my surprise on Sunday when I weight in and found that I lost weight and met a new target! That's right, I lost 1.2 pounds and reached my 5% Target. How I managed that, I am not sure, but who cares! I am still on track and you know how I love getting those little stars!

One thing that is making me giggle a little is how the Weight Watchers tracker keeps telling me I am losing weight too quickly. Now if this were really the case, I would be worried, but in reality it's not. I am averaging about 1.5 pounds a week. So why is the tracker so worried about me? Well, one week when I put in my weight I put the decimal in the wrong place, putting me at 21.5 pounds. The tracker totally freaked out and changed my daily points to 95 points a day and put me on a maintenance program. (For a reference I am currently at 41 points per day.) I corrected my weight but the tracker was not listening to me. One would think it would know I hadn't shrunk down to 10% of my body weight in one week, but whatever. I needed to fix this, but could not figure out how. I tried everything even putting my weight at 400 pounds. The tracker still wouldn't reduce my daily points. Long story short, I finally figured out how to fix it, but the tracker is holding on to that 21.5 pounds and reminds me with each milestone that I am losing weight too quickly. Who knows, maybe it's really smart and thinks I am trying to trick it. Whatever the case, I am healthily losing weight and am very happy with the program.  The tracker can warn me all it wants as long at the program works!

Raspberry Bars

One of our most requested recipes is for Joey's raspberry bars. These have to be the most delicious and dangerous things he makes. He just made a batch for Karolyn's shower and thank goodness we gave them all to Gregory because otherwise I could kiss my Weight Watcher's good-bye for the week.

There aren't a lot of ingredients in these, but sometimes it's the simplest things are taste the best. While Joey almost always sticks to raspberry preserves for this, he did make them with the lemon marmelade I made a few weeks ago and those were equally as good. He did, however have to remove all the rind in the marmelade so I don't know how often one would want to do that.  I think these are something that are perfect just the way they are - simple and delicious.

Ingredients

Crumb Mixture
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened
  • 1 Land O Lakes® All-Natural Egg

Filling
  • 3/4 cup raspberry preserves*

Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Combine all crumb mixture ingredients in large bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 
  3. Reserve 2 cups crumb mixture; set aside.
  4. Press remaining crumb mixture on bottom of greased 8-inch square baking pan. 
  5. Spread preserves to within 1/2 inch of edge. 
  6. Crumble reserved crumb mixture over preserves.
  7. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  8. Cool completely; cut into bars.

* You can substitute any type of preserves, but I am still partial to raspberry.

Birdie Muffins

A few weeks ago we took our lovebird, Ray, to the vet for his annual checkup. We don't actually take all the birds each year, but rather cycle one bird in each year. It's pretty expensive and, unless there seems to be something wrong, every few years per bird seems just fine.

As always my veterinarian, Dr. Dustin, gave me the pellet speech. If you have a bird you totally know what I am talking about. "Pellets are much better for the bird because they provide 100% of the nutrients that they require and they will live longer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." Now I love Dr. Dustin.  Honestly, I do. I love everyone at Bay Area Bird Hospital and consider myself blessed to have such a great avian vet in my city. However, I do not want to feed my birds pellets. It's not that they are too expensive. I would pay any price if I meant it would keep my birds healthy. The fact of the matter is, none of my birds like pellets. I don't blame them. I tried them and they taste horrible. I wouldn't want to eat them either. I have tried all of them on the market and whether they are sunny fruit flavored or summer garden delight, they taste like cardboard. Even Wild & Spicy didn't get by flock going. (Yes, that is a real flavor.)  I have mixed them into vegetables and fruit; hidden them in seed; and tried to make them fun by hiding them for my birds to discover. No interest. I even bought birdie muffin mix and baked for them. What do you think happened? Well, look at the picture. They taste exactly like they look. They were gross.

They say that pellets provide the exact number of nutrients birds require for a healthy life and I am sure they do. I have tried to tell Max, Ray, Billy and Mojoe that but it went about as far as telling a kid to eat liver because it's good for them. I am fully aware that my birds aren't children, but they still can taste. They are are also very expressive when they like something. Max purrs when he sees a blueberry and Mojoe can hardly wait to get to his morning breakfast of Italian Parsley and quinoa. They may not be children, but they are my kids. I know what they like.

There are countless articles on best practices to convert your birds to pellets all of which, in my opinion, are just ways to force your bird into eating them. Given the choice the bird is not willingly going to eat these things - period. I could decide I want to feed Joey pellets, too, so he could live longer, but I don't think it would make him very happy. I certainly wouldn't be joining him in that little experiment.

So, why am I ranting about all this? Well, because I really started to feel guilty about not being a good provider for my birds. It didn't matter that in addition to seed I gave them fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked them grains and gave them vitamin supplements. I still felt like I was doing something wrong. Then I started thinking about how hard it must be to be a parent of real children. With all the dos and don'ts floating around out there how does one make the right decisions? It must be a total nightmare. I asked my friend, who's a mom, about this and she said, "You do your best with the information you have and follow your heart. You will do what is right." That was the wisest advice I have received in a long time.

On my follow up visit with Ray, I asked my vet to check his weight and she remarked how healthy he was, how beautiful his feathers were, and what a wonderful disposition he had. In short, he's a pretty amazing bird. I noticed she stopped pushing pellets after she told me that. I guess I am doing something right after all.

There are always going to be things I should or shouldn't do, but I am just going to do my best and follow my heart. I think we all should.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last March we took part in an online bake sale on The Tomato Tart to raise money for Japan. I really wanted to participate because it meant a lot to me, but I really don't bake. I decided to anyway and to my surprise my chocolate chips cookies raised $250! (That's right DG. Suck on that!) Since that really was a huge bid we wanted to do something special and Joey wanted to try his hand at making the cookies. We based our recipe on Bobby Flays, which is delicious, but both times we made them they came out a bit flat and crispy. After a few tries Joey came up with some additions that took these cookies from really good to amazing. That's right, he thought outside the box and took it to the next level!

You'll notice that this recipe calls for brown muscavado sugar. While you can use regular brown sugar, I would highly recommend you use the muscavado because it really adds something to the taste and texture and is the magic ingredient to these cookies.

Ingredients

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon pads.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Place the butter in the bowl on an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add the sugars and continue mixing, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes longer. 
  5. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the vanilla extract, beating until incorporated.
  6. Add half of the flour and mix until just incorporated. 
  7. Add the remaining flour, again mixing until just combined. 
  8. Remove the bowl from the stand and fold in the chocolate chunks.
  9. Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon the dough onto a baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie and bake on the middle rack until the cookies are lightly golden brown and still soft in the middle, about 14 minutes. 
  10. Let cookies rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a baking rack with a wide metal spatula. 
  11. Let the cookies cool on the baking rack for a few minutes before eating. 
  12. Repeat with remaining dough.


I know this totally goes off our diet, but we are making them for our friend's baby shower and had to share the recipe. I had just two tonight. 7 delicious points and worth it!

My Scale Must Be Shot!

Sundays are our usual weigh-in days, but since Joey and I were going to a party last night, we wanted to weigh in a day early just in case we overindulged. Not the most honest thing to do, but what the heck. I have been very good on my diet so imagine my horror when I stepped on the scale and had only lost .4 pounds. That's right! Am measly .4 pounds. To make matters worse, it's the second week in a row that I have only lost that much! That makes my total weight loss for the month only 9.8 pounds. Not 10. No, no, no. 9. %*#()* 8.

Well, of course there must be something wrong with my scale! What else could explain it? You can't tell me that I have passed on company birthday cake, ignored the M&Ms dancing around the office, and dutifully took only tiny helpings of the Chinese food provided last Friday for lunch for only .4 pounds! My scale is to blame and that is all there is to it! I went right to Amazon to find a more reliable and trustworthy scale. As I was reading reviews for different scales I began to notice a trend in them. The people that were giving one particular scale negative reviews (there were over 800 positive ones) all seemed mad about one thing - they weren't losing weight. As I began to make fun of them a big ole mirror appeared in front of me. I was no better than they were. I was doing the exact same thing. Maybe it wasn't the scale's fault. Maybe it was just me.

It's hard to admit to myself that I am not getting any younger. My body is changing and with it so is my metabolism. I am just not going to lose weight at the same pace I did even five years ago.  At least not with a little extra effort. It's going to take a lot more than just counting points to lose weight this time around. I am going to have to add some serious exercise. Nothing major, just something more than waddling around the lagoon at lunch time.

So, what did I do? Well, instead of buying a new scale I got on my gazelle that has been taunting me for the last year and exercised for 30 minutes. I opted to walk to my friend's party instead of taking the bus. I also decided to put in a little weight training each week to get that metabolism moving along. If that's what it's takes then I am going to do it.

And, the scale? Well, I did end up getting a new one, but that's only to satisfy the shopaholic in me and nothing to do with the diet.

Prepara Herb Saver

Joey and I spent this past Easter with our friend Gregory. He made us the most wonderful brunch and one of my favorite items was the melon balls with mint chiffonade. The mint really added something to melon. For such a simple dish, it was delicious.

The next weekend we decided to have the same thing so we bought some melon and some mint. Now a little mint goes a long way, so what do you do with the rest? Usually I wrap it up and it goes into the fridge never to be seen again. What a waste. This time however, I had my Prepara Herb Saver that Joey had gotten me for Christmas. I hadn't really tried it yet so now was the time.

We first saw it on Oprah's Favorite Things. She said it prolonged the life of your fresh herbs for up to three weeks. I found it hard to imagine that Oprah cooked, let alone saved her leftover herbs, but I really did want one. Once I got it, I just kept forgetting to use it. Finally, I could see if Oprah was telling the truth. I placed my herbs in the herb saver and placed them in the refrigerator where they gradually found their way to the back corner. About a month later I was slicing some strawberries and thought it would be nice to have some balsamic vinegar and mint on them and remembered the mint I had bought after Easter. Surely, it still couldn't be good, but it was worth a shot. Besides, I needed to get it out of the fridge anyway. Well, to my surprise it was still fresh. Not fresh like, "Oh, this isn't so bad" but really fresh. It was like I had just put it in there yesterday. The herb saver proved it's worth and now I use it all the time. So Oprah was right, as if I ever doubted her.

During the holidays these little babies were pretty hard to find and rather pricey. Now that some time has passed you can get one on Amazon for about $20. If you use fresh herbs a lot and find them going to waste it will pay for itself pretty quickly.

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About Sean & Joey

Joey and I are just a couple of guys living in San Francisco. I love cooking and we both like trying new things. Planning our meals is one of our "together" things. I hope you enjoy our blog! - Sean

Dedication

This blog is dedicated to the two most important people in my life - my mom, Ernee Jean O'Brien, and my partner Joey Concepcion. They both have showered me with unconditional support and love and have always encouraged me to be myself. I will always miss my mom and I don't know what I would do without Joey.

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