08.26.12_California Benedict

I LOVE Eggs Benedict. I would say that 90% of the time we go to brunch I end up ordering some variation of it. For some reason, I had never made it for myself though. Maybe it was the fear of poaching eggs I had until we made the Poached Eggs on Ricotta Toast, or maybe it was the thought of making a sauce with eggs that only get cooked from acid and indirect heat. Either way, I decided I needed to try and make it at home, including the hollandaise sauce. As you know, I have an obsession with avocado (it's in my top five favorite foods) so to make this benedict vegetarian, we skipped on the Canadian bacon and added avocado to make our own version of California Benedict. It was a little overwhelming, trying to make hash browns from scratch, while constantly beating the hollandaise sauce and poaching four eggs but in the end it came out great. If it's your first time poaching eggs or making the sauce, I definitely recommend making the potatoes in advance and keeping them warm in the oven or taking some help from the store and buying the frozen kind.

California Benedict
Serves 2
1. Fill a high-sided skillet with water and bring to just under a boil.
2. While waiting for the water, prepare the hollandaise sauce and set aside in a warm place, occasionally stirring.
3. Toast the English muffins right before you poach the eggs as they take very little time.
4. Once the water is just under a boil, crack each egg into a small bowl and drop the egg into the simmering water. Allow the egg to set up, then repeat until all four eggs are in the water.
5. Place a few slices of the avocado onto each half of the english muffin. After the eggs are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs and place on top of the avocado. Spoon a generous helping of the hollandaise sauce on top and serve.

Tyler Florence's Hollandaise Sauce
Full recipe yields 1 cup 
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 TBSP fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • pinch of cayenne
  • pinch of salt
1. Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. 
2. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. 
3. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. 
4. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

08.25.12_Chèvre and Fresh Herb Pizza

Making vegetarian pizza is not the easiest thing when the person you are sharing it doesn't eat a lot of the toppings you would typically put onto a vegetarian pizza (i.e. onions, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, feta). We were looking for inspiration online and saw a few pizzas that used fresh herbs as the topping. Phillip likes herbs and I LOVE chèvre so I thought the combo of the two would make an incredibly easy and delicious pizza. Instead of red sauce I made an olive oil glaze. This turned out to be one of the best pizzas I have ever had. I think this will become a staple in the Stamper-Halpin household and if you grow herbs then you literally only have to buy cheese. Amazing.

Chevre and Fresh Herb Pizza
Serves 2-3
  • One store bought pizza crust (we used Boboli Thin Crust)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • powdered Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 oz Chèvre
  • 2 TBSP fresh basil, minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. If you have a pizza stone put the stone in before you preheat the oven. Using the stone will make the crust even crispier!
2.  To make the olive oil glaze, combine 1/2 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup of powdered Parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Finely mince or grate one glove of garlic into the mixture. Spread over the pizza like you would sauce. If it seems like too much oil, don't use it all! It depends on the size of your crust.
3. Sprinkle the pizza with the mozzarella and all the fresh herbs. Crumble the chèvre over the top.
4. Brush the exposed crust with a little olive oil then bake on the pizza stone or directly on the oven rack for 8-10 minutes.

08.24.12_Buffalo Popcorn Chik'n

Phillip's new job is located right by a Hooters and a Nando's Peri Peri. Recently the smell of chicken at lunch time has been hard to resist so he told me we needed to make something with Buffalo Sauce ASAP to curve the craving. We contemplated making the Buffalo Friend Tofu that we have made several times but instead decided to use, you guessed it, seitan instead. Since the seitan comes in little bite size pieces I thought making popcorn chik'n would be a great idea.

I very rarely fry things and when I do I am often not satisfied with the crispiness I end up with. Luckily for this, the little chik'n/seitan bites came out with a nice, crispy skin. These would also be great served just plain with ketchup or BBQ sauce but because Phillip had specifically requested buffalo, after I fried them I doused them in a mixture of melted butter and buffalo sauce. Obviously they weren't as crispy after the soaked up the sauce but they were still insanely good and definitely satisfied Phillip's craving!

Buffalo Popcorn Chik'n 
Serves 2
  • 8oz box seitan cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (more or less based on preference)
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup water
  • oil for frying
1. Drain the seitan and rinse it thoroughly to remove any of the preserving liquid from the packaging.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, garlic powder, pepper, cayenne, and baking powder).
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and water. Add 1/3 cup of the flour mixture into the wet mixture to create a very loose batter.
4. Coat the seitan cubes in the wet batter, then drop them into the dry mixture. Toss until the seitan cubes are thoroughly coated in the flour mixture.
5. Put about a cup of vegetable or canola oil into a 2qt sauce pan. Once the oil starts to ripple, drop the seitan cubes into the oil. Let the seitan fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are nice and golden brown.
6. Remove the seitan from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
7. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of melted margarine and 1/2 of buffalo sauce. Toss the fried seitan in the buffalo sauce and serve hot!

    08.17.12_Baked Mac and Cheese with Smart Bacon

    Apparently we've been busy because I have not posted in weeks! Last summer we had a weekly tradition to have friends over for dinner where we watched game shows on TV and made a new cocktail. Somehow this entire summer had almost passed without us reinstating our weekly gathering, but we finally had our first Wild Wednesday Thursday of the summer!

    Phillip recently started a new job and at his going away party from his old job, everyone got him gifts under the purview of "eat well, drink well, live well." One of the gifts we got were ramekins from his coworker Rabiah. I had literally been shopping for ramekins the weekend before and could not find ones the size that I wanted, but luckily, Rabiah read my mind and found the perfect ramekins. I had yet to use them so Phillip suggested I make a baked mac and cheese for this weeks Wild Thursday.

    I did some quick Googling and found a recipe that incorporated bacon. I decided to base my recipe off this one, but sub the bacon for Lightlife's Smart Bacon. It actually worked quite well, except the "bacon" stuck together when it came out of the package making it virtually impossible to separate it into individual strips. I think it was just this package though because I don't remember having this problem when I used it in our Coq-au-vin-less Coq-au-vin. Anyway, the mac and cheese was DELICIOUS and I served it with a simple salad with craisins, sliced almonds, cheese and a homemade lemon vinaigrette. Yum.

    Baked Mac and Cheese with Smart Bacon
    Serves 4
    Adapted from Emeril's Three-Cheese Baked Macaroni
    • 1/2 pound macaroni
    • 5 slices vegetarian bacon
    • 2 cloves minced garlic
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (I used fresh grated)
    • 2 cups grated Cheddar Jack Chees
    • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
    • olive oil
    • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1 TBSP melted butter or margarine
    • salt and pepper
    1. Preheat the oven to 475°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni for 6-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
    2. In a small saute pan, cook the vegetarian bacon in a little olive oil until it starts to get crispy. Add the minced garlic and saute another minute or two until fragrant. Add mixture to the cooked pasta.
    3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, evaporated milk, spices, salt and pepper and cheese. well then add the pasta and bacon to the cheese mixture. Stir well until it is completely incorporated.
    4. Scoop the macaroni into greased 4" ramekins. Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
    5. Combine melted butter and breadcrumbs in small bowl. Carefully remove the ramekins from the oven and top each ramekin with a quarter of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle a little olive oil the top.
    6. Turn the oven to broil and put the ramekins back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes then enjoy!