Frankenstein’s Breakfast Scone

Reverse Engineering

You see something you like and decide you want to make one yourself.  Such was the case with Dr. Frankenstein.  Although the earth had no shortage of humans, he decided to reverse engineer a human, making a few key errors along the way.  The result was not pretty, nor considered a complete success.  Considering the odds Dr. Frankenstein faced, he did come pretty close to achieving his goal.  Unfortunately, close wasn’t quite enough, and things didn’t exactly pan out for him.

The quest to reverse engineer a breakfast scone from a cafe in Tofino, British Columbia may seem much less ambition than the reverse engineering of a human, but the chances of unleashing a murderous monster upon an unsuspecting world seem a lot lower.  With this in mind, I forged ahead and attempted to replicate this:

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I used a basic cheddar scone recipe, then formed the dough into nests.  The trick was to cook the egg in the nest of the scone such that both egg and scone would be done at the same time.  The first and only attempt so far was with baking the scones and eggs together for the full duration of 14 minutes. 

Don’t do this.  As the scones baked, their cupped shapes slackened, and there were a couple of dam breaks, with egg running out onto the cookie sheet.  The ones that did retain their form and hold their egg resulted in an overcooked egg, of a consistency slightly less chewable than a Goodyear winter tire (studless).

So, if one was to attempt this recipe again, I think the key would be to let the scones bake for five or so minutes to let them firm up a bit, then crack the eggs into their forms and continue baking from there.

The other issue is of “egg doneness.”  Some people like eggs soft, others hard.  So, if you want to keep everyone happy, it’s like cooking steaks in reverse.  Some eggs would have to be added earlier than others to attain the right variety of solidity.

So, in terms of reverse engineering, I’d say these Breakfast Scones are pretty comparable in their stage of development to Frankenstein’s monster– almost there, but with a few critical flaws that leave one slightly less than fully satisfied. 

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Choking on Artichokes

Fictional recipe writer Antonio Esposito had this really bad habit of listing ingredients in his recipes that never appeared in his instructions.  “What are we supposed to do with the three pounds of artichokes?” was often asked when someone was trying to make a frittata recipe from page 162 of his cookbook, The Heart of the Artichoke.  In fact, if one was to methodically examine each and every recipe in this phantom cookbook, they’d find artichokes listed in vast quantities in each recipe, yet never appeared in the instructions.  Artichoke Lasagne, Artichoke Smoothies, Artichoke Risotto, and the list goes on . . . Not one of the recipes mentioned artichokes in the instructions.

If you knew Antonio Esposito, whose real name could have been Darren Schminckleberg, you’d know this was not the result of some forgetfulness or careless error.  Rather, it was a prank played by him with full intentions.

Okay, I’ll say it wasn’t exactly a prank.  Maybe a better description was that it was an underhanded conspiracy for the general public to purchase more artichokes.  For, you see, the book’s publication was secretly funded by the Artichoke Producers of America to promote the use of artichokes and, of course, increase their market sales.

And so, when you come upon a recipe in a cookbook which lists ingredients yet never mentions them in the instructions, you have to be suspicious, and are left with two options.

1.  Leave the ingredient out and hope to use it in another recipe.

2.  Improvise, and project how the author may have intended the ingredient to be used.

Such was the case when I made Yotem Ottolenghi’s recipe for Egg, Eggplant, Potato, and Tomatoes, which I decided to call, Eggplotatomato.

The recipe is quite wonderful, delicious, and very worthwhile to make.  However, after I made it, I was left to ask, “What do you do with the red onion and Sriracha?”  To answer my own question, I improvised.  The result is the rewritten instructions for this recipe which you really should try to make.  And while you make it, the ghost of Antonio Esposito may be seen drifting about your kitchen, urging you to incorporate artichokes, but not telling you how.

Eggplotatomato

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Adapted from Plenty More by Yotem Ottolenghi

4 medium tomatoes

red onion 1/4 cup diced!!!

2 tsp white wine vinegar

1/2 cup parsley

1 tbsp Sriracha sauce!!!

2 medium eggplants

Cooking oil, about 1 1/4 cups

1 1/3 lb Yukon Gold potatoes

1/2 cup tahini paste

2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove of garlic

6 eggs

1 tsp sumac OR lemon zest

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

salt and pepper

The Instructions . . . Which include the onion and the Sririacha

1.  The Eggplant

Peel and slice the eggplants into 1 1/4” chunks.

Put oil in saute pan about 1/2” up the sides.

Place over high heat.

When the oil is hot, fry eggplant in batches for 3 to 4 min at a time.

Remove and place on plate or pan covered in paper towel.

2.  The Potatoes

Slice potatoes into 1/8” thick slices. (Maybe cut slices in half)

Place in boiling water for 3 min.

Use saute pan to fry potatoes in oil for 5 min.

Add salt and pepper, and flip pieces then cook another 5 min.

3.  The Sauce

In a food processor, mix;

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Sriracha

clove of garlic

lemon zest

salt

4.  The Other Stuff

Cut tomatoes into 1/2” pieces

Dice red onion into small pieces 1/4 cup

Chop up cilantro and parsley

5.  Poaching the Eggs

Boil a large pan with enough water to float the eggs.

Add 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar.

One egg at a time, crack into a cup, then gently place in water.

Immediately remove the pan from the heat.

Let eggs sit for 4 minutes or so.

6.  Assembly

On large serving platter, spread the potatoes first.

Spread half of the sauce over the potatoes.

Spread the eggplant next.

Spread the rest of the sauce on the eggplant.

Cover next with the rest of the fresh veggies and herbs.

Place eggs on the top.

Devour!  And show particular enjoyment of the onions and Sriracha sauce.

Seven Nation Army on the Trumpet

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Doesn’t this look delicious?  Don’t be fooled by looks or preconceived notions in general.

Asparagus Season.  Eat it while it’s fresh.  To freeze asparagus is a sin, punishable with one hundred lashes on the left hand with– appropriately enough– a stalk of asparagus.  Believe me, after about eighty lashes, you’ll be begging to unplug your freezer.

The theoretical versatility of fresh asparagus is nothing short of staggering.  Boiled, fried, baked, pickled– the imagination reels with possibilities.  Asparagus flatbread, asparagus smoothies, shredded asparagus, asparagus fries, asparagus spring rolls, asparagus soup, asparagus lasagne, asparagus wine . . . okay, so I’ve never heard of asparagus wine, but I’m sure someone out there has given it a try.  My guess is that the results were quite underwhelming, so it hasn’t caught on in the wine world.

I say “theoretical versatility,” for if you look a little closer, in almost every case, asparagus is pretending to be something else.  Kind of like the guy with the trumpet trying to be a rock musician.  Or carob pretending to be chocolate.  It doesn’t quite fly.

But here’s an asparagus recipe that actually works.  Asparagus Pesto.  When you make this, don’t expect the pesto to taste like your old basil, etc. standby pesto.  Just open your mind to a new flavour, setting judgement aside until you’ve actually tasted it.  To forewarn you, I’ll just say it doesn’t have the bite that basil pesto has, which isn’t to say this is good or bad.  It’s just the way it is. 

So, keep an open mind.  Let the guy play his trumpet version of “Seven Nation Army.”  Try asparagus pesto.  Release those assumptions!

Asparagus Pesto

Ingredients

1 lb. asparagus

1 cup grated parmesan

2 cloves of garlic

3 handfuls of spinach

3/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 tablespoon juice

Directions

1.  Cook asparagus in salted water until soft.

2.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

3.  Roast or fry the walnuts.  (I like to fry them, personally.  Don’t microwave!)

4.  Puree the asparagus, garlic, spinach and walnuts.

5.  Slowly drizzle oil into mixture.  If too thick, add water.

6.  Add lemon juice and salt to taste.

Simply mixed into fresh noodles, this makes a dish worth taking up the trumpet for.