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3 simple soup recipes your grandma would be proud of

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soup-recipes

“As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again.” ~Leslie Newman

As a kid, the return of cold weather meant one thing: the return of my grandma’s soup. My grandmother’s soup was slightly different each time depending on what leftovers remained from that week’s cooking. Sometimes there was beef, other times chicken, and occasionally, only vegetables – but it was always the gut-and-soul warming concoction I needed to make me feel that all was right with the world. A big bowl of grandma’s soup along with a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich equaled toe-curling goodness.

As much I used to enjoy soup eating, soup making wasn’t something I ventured into until fairly recently. I think somewhere along the way I convinced myself that only grandmas could make good tasting soups, and that I should steer clear of such foreign territory. In reality, though, soups are fairly easy for even novice cooks. And they’re an excellent way to make a meal that’s quick, budget-friendly and full of feel-good flavor. Plus, soups are universal. Every culture has at least one signature recipe for slow cooked veggies and meats in savory broth that’s a beloved dish at almost any dinner table.

The basic formula for most soups is the same. Step 1: Saute or roast aromatics and seasonings. Step 2: Add other ingredients. Step 3: cover with liquid. Step 4: Bring to a boil, or simmer until everything reaches desired texture and flavor.

As Ina says, “How easy is that?”

Here are 3 of my favorite soup recipes that any grandma would be proud of.

 

Lentil Soup with Root Vegetables

Lentil Soup recipeIngredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
ground spice mixture (1 Tbsp cumin, about 1 tsp each of: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, paprika)
2 cups of green lentils
root vegetables: your choice of carrots, parsnips, and/or potatoes
6 cups vegetable broth or stock
salt and black pepper to taste
Optional (but highly recommended): 2-3 leaves of fresh culantro (not cilantro)

Chop or thinly slice all of the vegetables and the garlic (chopped veggies give a more homestyle feel; sliced veggies, a more refined one). Heat olive oil on medium high in a large pot, and add celery, onion, and garlic. Saute until onions begin to turn translucent. Add ground spices and saute for a minute, stirring constantly so you don’t burn the spices. Add remaining vegetables and lentils and stir to combine all ingredients. Add enough vegetable broth to cover everything. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. If using culantro, add to the soup. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and lentils are cooked through (about 40 minutes to an hour), adding more broth as needed. Stir occasionally during cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Why you’ll love this soup: It’s very low effort. It’s 100% vegan so you can feel good about eating it. The blend of spices gives an earthy Middle Eastern flavor that’s exotic without being weird.

 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:curried-butternut-squash-soup-recipe

olive oil
salt and black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1 not-so-sweet red apple, peeled cored, and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp garlic powder
approx. 5 cups chicken broth or stock
special tools: blender, immersion blender, or food processor
for garnish (use any or all): chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, dried cranberries, coconut flakes, chopped cashews

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut each squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds/pulp with a spoon. Drizzle chopped veggies, apple, and squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chopped veggies and apple on 1 baking sheet and squash on a separate baking sheet, skin side up. Place in oven and cook until very tender (about 20 minutes for apple/onion and 45 minutes to 1 hour for squash). Allow roasted ingredients to cool. Scoop out squash flesh and add to blender or food processor with roasted ingredients, and about 1 cup of chicken broth. Depending on the size of your blender or food processor, you may have to do this in batches. Blend mixture until you have a puree. In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium high and add curry powder and ginger. Saute for 1 minute, then add squash puree and enough chicken broth to reach desired consistency. Heat on medium until warm. If you’re using an immersion blender, add all of the roasted ingredients to the sauteed curry powder / ginger mixture in the pot. Cover with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and blend in the pot until you reach the desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garnishes on the side.

Why you’ll love this soup: The color is beautiful. If you’re used to sweet butternut squash soups, you’ll enjoy this savory alternative. You can customize the flavor and texture to your heart’s content with the garnishes.

 

Easy Vietnamese Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)

pho ga recipeIngredients:

olive oil
2 medium onions
3 slices of fresh ginger
6-8 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp of fish sauce
16 oz rice noodles (or angel hair pasta)
1-2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (preferably dark meat)
for garnish: thai basil leaves or chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeno, chopped green onion, lime wedges, chili sauce (sriracha), bean sprouts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel onions and cut into quarters. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Place onion and ginger on baking sheet in oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook rice noodles (or angel hair) according to package directions. Place cooked noodles into 4 separate bowls. In a separate pot, add chicken broth and fish sauce and heat on medium-low. When onion and ginger are roasted, add to chicken broth. Heat on medium-low for 15 minutes. Add a small amount of chicken and each garnish to each bowl on top of cooked noodles. Ladle hot broth into each bowl (leaving onion and ginger in the pot) and serve with extra garnishes on the side.

Why you’ll love this soup: It has everything you expect from traditional chicken noodle soup with a decidedly non-traditional flavor. It tastes almost as good with or without the chicken in the soup. It’s even easier to make than the other two soups above.

cheers,

k

photo: Vegetable soup by Lottery Monkey, on Flickr

photo: Lentil Soup by Back to the Cutting Board, on Flickr

photo: pho ga by jslander, on Flickr

spatchcock chicken recipe

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I first had spatchcock chicken a little over a year ago at The Sound Table in Atlanta. The dish was most impressive because of its simplicity – cuts of bone-in chicken, with an herby-citrusy flavor and a nice char on the skin. Determined to recreate the dish at home, I searched the interwebs and discovered that the term ‘spatchcock’ had nothing to do with how the meat was flavored, and everything to do with how the meat was cut.

Put simply, to spatchcock means to remove the spine or backbone of the bird in preparation for oven or grill roasting. Spatchocking is actually the more formal cooking term for butterflying. The whole point of spatchcocking is to allow even cooking of both white and dark meat portions of the bird. As anyone who has roasted a whole bird knows, it can be near impossible to have juicy, fully-cooked thighs and legs without also ending up with dry, overcooked breasts and wings.

Get your head out of the gutter, please.

Since my first taste, I’ve spatchcocked my fair share of birds.  I even spatchcocked last year’s Thanksgiving turkey – it cooked in record time and was the most flavorful roasted turkey I’ve ever had. Dark and white meat were equally juicy. The skin was perfectly crispy, and the under-the-skin seasoning technique I use had infused every bite with serious flavor.

Plus, I get to giggle a bit every time I tell my guests what they’re eating.

 

Recipe for Spatchcocked Chicken

 

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 lemon

2-3 cloves of garlic

salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, marjoram (or use whatever blend of herbs/spices you prefer)

1-2 Tbsp butter (optional)

 

Kitchen Tools

sturdy kitchen shears

latex gloves (optional) – I get kinda squeamish when handling raw chicken, so I always don a pair of latex gloves for the prep.

mini food-processor (optional)

 

Prepare  the seasoning mixture by combining the oil, butter, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs in the food processor and processing to a thick paste. Alternatively, mince the garlic and stir together in a small bowl with the other ingredients. Half the lemon and squeeze juice of one half into the seasoning mixture. Stir to blend. Cut the whole lemon into thin slices. Set lemons and seasoning mixture aside.

Rinse the bird well, including the inner cavity. Place the bird on a stable surface or inside of a large baking pan, breast side down. Using the shears, cut vertically along either side of the backbone from one end of the cavity to the other. Depending on how good your shears are, this may be easy or it may be pretty hard. Use a bit of elbow grease. Rock the shears back and forth to break the bones on either side of the spine. Channel your inner Hannibal Lecter. Sip a Chianti. You’ll get through it.

 

Irony

 

At the end of that gruesomeness, you should have a spineless bird in front of you, and a bird spine in your hand. Save the spine for making stock, or toss it out.

The secret to really crispy skin on a roasted bird is really dry skin to begin with. If you have time, let the bird rest in the fridge anywhere from 1-24 hours. I usually stick a few toothpicks into the bird and drape a towel or paper towels over them. I don’t like the idea of uncovered raw chicken in the fridge, and the towel would stick to the skin if I didn’t use the toothpicks. If you don’t have time for all that, just blot as much moisture as you can from the skin and proceed with seasoning the bird.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Run your hand gently under the skin covering the bird’s breast, separating the skin from the flesh. Go all the way down to the thigh area, being careful not puncture the skin. Using a teaspoon or your hands, take small amounts of the seasoning mixture and rub all over the bird, under the skin. You may have extra seasoning mixture left over. Take lemon slices and slide them under the skin. I usually place 1 slice on each thigh, 2 on each breast, and tuck a lemon slice under each wing. Sprinkle more salt and pepper all over the skin. Place the bird in a roasting pan and cook for 40 minutes to 1-hour, until done (3 tests for doneness: juices run clear; leg/thigh moves easily in socket; thermometer inserted at thickest part of breast reads at least 160 degrees).

 

Grill 6 - Spatchcock chicken with a cracked spice rub. Accompanied by grilled endive with olive oil, lemon, marjoram and roasted potatoes with rosemary, garlic, olive oil. The bird was a bit unevenly done requiring a regrill of the breast. Still digging.

 

Note: When I tried this recipe with turkey, I did not de-spine my own turkey. I bought the bird from the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and had the butcher there make a cut on each side of the spine while the bird was still in its wrapper. I suggest you seek similar assistance for a larger bird.

 

cheers,

 

k
Photo 1: via Leon Dale Photography

Photo 2: via Another Pint Please…, on Flickr

Photo 3: via that.turtle, on Flickr

4 cocktail recipes for halloween

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Great cocktail

For me, Halloween marks the official start of the holiday season. So let’s celebrate the spirit of the season with some seasonal spirits, shall we?

Here are 4 Halloween-themed cocktail recipes that will get your holiday season off to a spirited start.

 

Halloween Cocktail Recipe #1 – Persephone Returns to Hades

halloween cocktail recipes - persephoneAny drink that involves a muddler deserves a long name just so people are aware of how much work goes into the dang thing. Plus, with winter approaching, the myth of Persephone and her underworld lover is fitting.

Ingredients:

1 part pomegranate juice

1 ½ parts gin or vodka

¾ part grenadine or simple syrup

2-3 mint or basil leaves

squeeze of fresh lime

To make: Add mint or basil leaves to glass, cover with grenadine. Muddle together. Add ice and remaining ingredients. Shake until chilled.

Serve with a cocktail straw in a high or lowball glass. Garnish with mint or basil leaves, cherry, mini plastic pitchfork or other hellish decorations.

 

Halloween Cocktail Recipe #2 – Bitches’ Brew

Ingredients:

port wine

stout beer

To make: Fill glass 1/3 of the way with port. Fill remainder of glass with chilled stout.
Serve in a lowball glass or stemmed glass.

 

Halloween Cocktail Recipe #3 – Queen of the Damned

Ingredients:

1 part raspberry vodka OR vodka + raspberry liqueur

1 part coffee liqueur

2 parts champagne

red sugar for rim

To make: Shake first two ingredients together with ice, strain and serve in a martini glass rimmed with red sugar or with bloody candy rim. Fill rest of glass with champagne. Garnish with slice of blood orange (optional).

 

Halloween Cocktail Recipe #4 – Cool Autumn Breeze

Ingredients:

1 part gold rum

1 part sweet tea

splash of sour mix

squeeze of lemon

To make: Combine all ingredients  in a lowball glass over ice. Stir well. Garnish with lemon or orange wedge.

 

cheers,

k

sipping mummy photo by: Passetti, on Flickr

perfect recipes from my imperfect neighborhood

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neighborhood street sign

Talk to someone in intown Atlanta for longer than 5 minutes, and you’re going to get asked the question.  You may even ask it yourself just to get it over and done with. For Atlanta intowners, the question is the equivalent of the doggie butt sniff.  Sure, it may seem a little intimate for a first meeting, but it’s expected amongst our kind.

“So, what neighborhood do you live in?”

About half of the time, the response I get when I answer to the question goes something like this:

“Oh. *gulp* That’s nice.”

You see, I live in a transitional neighborhood. Which in ATL-speak translates as:

A neighborhood – primarily occupied by low-income and elderly blacks – with severely depressed property values and higher-than-average crime rates that is slowly becoming populated by middle-class professionals with active social lives who want a good deal for their real estate dollar.

Living in a neighborhood like that ain’t no bed of roses. Hm. On second thought, it sorta is a bed of roses. There’s a lot of sweet-smelling good things about the neighborhood – neighbors who actually talk to each other, kids playing in the streets, and friendly older people who’ve lived here for multiple generations. There’s also our little community garden.

On a recent visit, I picked a small handful of dill from the shared herb garden a few streets over, simply because it smelled so good. As soon as I had a whiff, I got an instant craving for salmon and rushed off to get some. One of my favorite ways to eat salmon is pan seared with a little dill and lemon butter. I especially love the crispy, seared crust you get when you order pan seared salmon at a restaurant, but wasn’t exactly sure how to achieve the same result at home. A quick search on the interwebs though, and I was in business.

Perfect Pan-Seared Salmon with Dill

pan seared salmon with lemon butter dill sauceIngredients:

2 salmon filets, skin on

1-2 sprigs of fresh dill, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic or 1 shallot, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

1 ½ tbsp butter, softened

1-2 tbsp cold butter

olive oil

salt and pepper

Pat the salmon filets with a paper towel to be sure they’re dry. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Spread softened butter on both sides of the filets. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add filets, skin side down and cook for 5 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes (for medium doneness).  Remove salmon and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic or shallot and sautee until light golden brown. Add lemon juice to the pan, using the spatula to scrape up any bits left behind. Remove the pan from heat, add a tablespoon of cold butter, and stir constantly until it melts completely. Add the dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Top salmon fillets with lemon slices. Pour the butter sauce over the salmon filets and serve.

Thanks to the Gastronomer’s Guide for this technique. It yielded the best salmon I’ve ever cooked at home. A golden crust on both sides, and the neighborhood dill was the perfect accompaniment.


But back to the bed of roses that is my neighborhood. In addition to the often-overlooked flowers that come with living here, there are the all-too-obvious thorny frustrations. We have less than our fair share of quality services, restaurants, and retail outlets, and more than our fair share of shady characters, and absentee landlords. Not too long ago, one of our neighbors’ homes was burgled. Since they don’t make Hallmark cards for such occasions, and since my neighbors had not-so-subtly hinted how much they loved fried chicken, I felt the neighborly thing to do was to whip up a batch for them. Sinking your teeth into some crispy, juicy fried chicken can help ease the greatest of pains. Even the pain that comes from some roguish bastard stealing your Xbox.

 

Perfect Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

3 lbs of cut chicken pieces

1 carton of buttermilk

¼ cup mixture of ground herbs of your choice (I use: marjoram, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg)

1 onion, sliced

3 cups of flour

1-2 tbsp seasoned salt

2 cups of canola oil

a large paper bag

Rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Liberally season with the ground herb mixture. If you really want to get up close and personal with the bird, rub the seasonings into and under the skin. Place the seasoned chicken in a large bowl and cover with buttermilk. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight (8-12 hours).

The next day, add the flour and seasoned salt to a large paper or plastic bag. Drain the chicken in a colander, and add a piece at a time to the bag, shaking well before adding the next piece. Let the chicken rest from 15 minutes to an hour (the longer the chicken rests, the crispier the outer skin will be).

Heat canola oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high. The oil is ready when a pinch of flour sizzles instantly when dropped in the oil. Add the chicken a piece at a time until the pan is full, but not too crowded. Cook for 12-15 minutes on one side, adjusting the heat as necessary so that the skin achieves a golden brown color, but doesn’t burn. Using tongs, flip to the other side and cook for another 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and juices run clear when you pierce the chicken. Remove chicken and allow to cool on a rack or drain on paper towels. If you have problems getting the chicken done on the inside, finish cooking the chicken in the oven at 375 degrees until desired doneness is achieved.

The amount of time invested in making this chicken is absolutely worth it. The result is tender, juicy, well-seasoned chicken with a crispy, golden crust. My neighbors seemed to really like it, and I like to think that it helped them forget about the recent theft for just a few finger-licking moments.

Yep. My little neighborhood is certainly no Pleasantville, but some days it’s absolutely perfect.

cheers,

k

photo credits: adamrice, andriesss

 

 

easy gourmet cooking: stuffed pattypan squash

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Always be careful what you ask for. When I recently relocated to Westview, I hoped that I’d be able to find a nearby community garden or small-scale farmer to get fresh produce from. I had no idea my request would be so thoroughly fulfilled.

The beau’s job hosts a weekly farmer’s market throughout summer, where local farmers and community gardeners bring out their wares to sell. Since he helps out with setting up their stands and assisting customers carry their purchases to their cars, the grateful farmers give him some of their excess to take home. Which means that, at least once a week, I get a nice delivery of local fruits and veggies right into my kitchen.

This also means that I am positively swimming in summer produce. Melons, tomatoes, okra, peaches, nectarines, corn, red potatoes, onions, and cabbages come in the door faster than I can think of ways to uniquely prepare them. So I’ve had to scramble around the interwebs in search of recipes to provide additional inspiration. One of the bumper crops that I’ve enjoyed finding new ways to prepare is squash. In addition to the standard crookneck yellow squash and zucchini that I’m used to working with, I got a delivery of pattypan squash. I’d never laid eyes on one in real life before, and was so struck with the elegant scalloped edges and blanched-white skin that I had to find a recipe worthy of the ingredient.

Fresh local ingredients call for a fresh local recipe, so I was pleased when I saw a recipe for Farm-Stand Stuffed Zucchini Squash over at Running With Tweezers. A couple of quick modifications based on the ingredients I had on hand, and… voila! A recipe that was fit for a pattypan squash.

Stuffed PattyPan Squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 pattypan squash
  • 1-2 fresh Italian sausage (I use turkey sausage, with removable casing)
  • 1 cup couscous (I prefer whole wheat)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (red, green, or yellow)
  • 1 small onion (red or white)
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic
  • fresh or dried herbs: thyme, rosemary, marjoram
  • 1-3/4 cup chicken broth or bouillon

Cooking Instructions:

Preparing the Squash: Preheat oven to 375. With a small knife (serrated works best), cut a circle around the top of the squash. As you cut, angle your knife diagonally from the outer edge of the squash towards the center. Remove the top of the squash and set aside – this will serve as your lid. Hollow out the insides of the squash with a small spoon, being careful not to pierce through the squash. Set the removed squash aside. Drizzle the inside of the squash and the bottoms of the lids with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then set on a baking sheet or pan in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, then set aside to cool.

For the Couscous: In a small pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.

For the Sausage and Veggies: Chop the bell pepper and onion and add to the squash flesh you removed earlier. Add a little olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium-high. Remove the sausage from casing, and add in small pieces to the heated skillet. Cook and crumble the sausage until brown. Add the garlic, onion, and pepper to the skillet and sautee for 4-5 minutes, or until onion is slightly translucent. Add herbs to taste, then add squash and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste. Add couscous to skillet and stir to combine with other ingredients. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over everything and stir to incorporate.

Stuff each squash with the couscous mixture, and sprinkle a little more Parm on top. Place the stuffed squash back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

cheers,

k

copycat recipe – tangerine basil mojito inspired by king of pops

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Popsicles are for kids, right?

Wrong.

Once you’ve tasted the tantalizing frozen treats from Atlanta popsicle purveyor, King of Pops, you might find yourself elbowing little kids in the forehead to get to them before they do.

King of Pops (a member of Atlanta’s growing street food vendor community) offers gourmet popsicles that feature unique pairings of fresh ingredients like pineapple and ginger, grapefruit and mint, and lime with fresh squeezed cane juice.

On a recent visit to the Irwin Street Market, the beau and I sampled King of Pops tangerine basil offering. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a popsicle that tasted soooo good! The popsicle had little pieces of tangerine pulp and whole-leaf basil throughout – a very refreshing combo for a hot day. On the beau’s suggestion that flavors in the popsicle “might make a tasty beverage as well,” I decided to test out a cocktail recipe with tangerine and basil that’s a lot like the recipe for a traditional mojito.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to fight the kids over this one – it’s strictly for the grown ups.

Ingredients / Supplies (for 1 tangerine-basil mojito)

1 small tangerine or 1/2 large tangerine

3-4 fresh basil leaves

2 tsp granulated sugar (raw sugar is best, you might also sub agave, if that’s your thing)

white rum (preferably Cachaca – Brazilian rum)

crushed ice

highball glass

muddler or pestle

How to make the tangerine-basil mojito:

Cut the tangerine into small wedges and place in glass. Roll basil leaves together and slice into thin strips. Add the basil to the glass. Add sugar to glass and muddle all ingredients together with pestle or muddler. The goal is to extract as much juice from the tangerine as you can while dissolving most or all of the sugar. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Pour in rum until glass is approximately 3/4 full. Vary the strength of the drink by using more tangerine and sugar and / or less rum to your tastes.

Of course, if you absolutely must share this beverage with the little ankle-biters, just substitute the cachaca with ‘fizzy lifting drink’ – aka, sparkling water or club soda.

cheers,

k

easy gourmet brunch – the social house's farmstead eggs benedict

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When I first reviewed The Social House in 2008, I couldn’t say enough good things about the place. The homey, retro decor and the menu – featuring standard breakfast and brunch classics with a little somethin’ extra – quickly catapulted Lorenzo Wyche’s newest venture to the top of my ‘favorite places for breakfast in Atlanta’ list. Since the restaurant’s opening, however, the long waits and occasionally inconsistent food have made it lose some of its lustre for me. But there’s one favorite from The Social House that I still regularly crave for weekend brunch.

The Farmstead – one of 5 variations of eggs benny on the restaurant’s menu – includes leeks, mushrooms, gouda, and country ham along with the requisite English muffin and poached eggs. For my at-home version, I replaced the country ham with turkey bacon, though if you’re a vegetarian, you could skip the meat altogether and it’d still be very flavorful dish. The smokiness of the gouda and the aromatic butteriness of the leeks will make you forget everything you thought you knew about traditional eggs benedict. But the best thing about this dish? It can go from fridge to plate in about 15 minutes.

DO try this one at home.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):
1 leek
6 to 7 slices turkey bacon
2 english muffins, sliced in half
3-4 slices smoked gouda cheese
mushrooms (preferably crimini, aka baby portabella)
4 eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil
apple cider vinegar (optional)

Preparation:
Prep the leeks by cutting off and discarding the root end and the leafy tops. Cut the remaining section down the middle and rinse well, making sure to remove any grit or dirt between the layers of the leek. Slice the leek crosswise. Stack bacon slices and chop into pieces. Chop the mushrooms.

Put a pot of water on to boil for the eggs. If you have it, add a dash or two of apple cider vinegar to the water. The vinegar helps the egg whites hold together better – which makes for a prettier poached egg. When water comes to a low boil, add eggs one at a time. I like my eggs poached medium well, so I let them go for about 6 minutes at a simmer (not a full boil!). In the meantime, place the English muffin halves in the oven on low broil to toast.

In medium or large skillet, heat olive oil and add cut bacon. Sautee bacon for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges. Add the leeks and saute until slightly softened. Add mushrooms and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer toasted English muffin halves to serving plate, and top each half with a slice of smoked gouda. Pile bacon-leek-mushroom mixture on top. Add another slice of gouda to the mound, and finish each stack with a poached egg. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each egg, if you like.

Eat. Enjoy.

cheers,

k