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Hiromi's eggs florentine with rapini

jason

Well, ok, I may have done a fair amount of work on this one. But I tried to use a guiding hand rather than take over.

Hiromi got hooked on Eggs Benedict after we made a stop at Fremont’s 35th St. Bistro for brunch early in the year. I’ve made Eggs Florentine or other vegetarian variants at home, and when we’ve found ourselves at brunch at a place which offers Eggs Benedict, there’s a fairly good chance Hiromi will order it. Her favorite so far was made with a sort of truffled hollandaise with mushrooms at Volterra in Ballard.

Hiromi wanted to learn to make hollandaise sauce before leaving, so I walked her through one of the effective “cheating” methods that involves melting the butter with the warmed egg yolk and lemon-water mixture. I’ve done the traditional method, the blender method (particularly effective when a rescue effort is required), and  this approach, and I think it’s the most fool-proof.

Eggs-florentine-rapini

I had blanched some rapini for ohitashi the night before, but we had a bit leftover. The slight bitterness of the rapini is a good way of balancing the luxurious richness of the hollandaise and poached egg.

We also had some crispy fried potatoes, which I oil-blanched and fried like frites.

Mushrooms en croute

jason

One of the oddball recipes I internalized when living in Germany was the idea of “stuffed bread” filled with mushrooms in a bechamel sauce.

I don’t remember where I first saw it… it may have been in one of the cheap, slim cookbooks I used to see in front of bookstores as a student there, where I would often spend a few minutes doing tachi-yomi (reading while standing, in Japanese) between classes or whatever. I just recall the concept, which usually involved taking a square loaf of unsliced “toast” bread from the bakery, chopping it in half, hollowing out the center, and oven-toasting the bread with a liberal application of butter on the hollowed-out walls, then stuffing it with a savory filling.

Unsliced breads in the US don’t usually stand up on end, as the good quality bread in the US is almost always hyper-rustic. So on the rare occasions when I feel like making such things, I choose something like this medium-sized dinner roll.

Kinoko cream cup

As in the recipe I stole the concept from, I hollow out the roll, but I use a less extravagant application of butter around the inside.

I sauteed the mushrooms a bit with some onions or shallots, added some garlic and maybe some fresh dill. I made a bechamel sauce… actually a browned butter sauce, not a true bechamel, to add a bit more of a hazelnut color than the mushrooms alone would provide… I combined the sauce and mushrooms, and filled the bread again, warming for just a few minutes in the oven while I prepared some quickly cooked brussels sprouts.

This was one of the last dinners at home when Hiromi was still here…

Better living through caffeinistry

jason

On Tuesday the kitchenette in my building where I do my little survival gig was taped off like a crime scene or city excavation project, marked with the word “Danger”. I’m not sure what was dangerous, but perhaps the “Farmer Bros.” branded coffee equipment being removed, which I lived in fear of during my 7 year tenure as a full-time employee of this company, contained toxic waste.

Walking down the halls was strangely quiet yesterday. I doubt there was any correlation between the the lack of coffee and the unusually languid vibe , but when I arrived this morning I noticed a substantially greater amount of noise, including more animated office conversations.

This new energy may have been directly traceable to particularly high doses of caffeine caused by people trying out the new Starbucks equipment.

Though the coffee itself is still mediocre, the ground-to-order brew is vastly superior to what it replaced, and the excessively roasted brew can be muted with a splash of milk. There was no hiding the stale flavor and hostile acidity of the predecessor.

Until everyone gets caffeine overload, I suspect the atmosphere at work will be unusually frenetic…

Maybe sugar will help

jason

A couple weeks ago, Hiromi got a job offer that was hard to pass up, back with her old team, and decided to go back to Japan, even though it complicates a few things… She had informally extended her unpaid internship at a quirky Seattle-based mobile phone software company, and planned to start school again in January… Hopefully the sudden change will not make her next visit in December too messy when she goes through passport control.

The post-9/11 security rules make going “out of status” (including unplanned changes) on a student visa particularly subject to scrutiny.

After a long period of having a roommate last year, and the almost continuous presence of Hiromi this year, coming home to a completely empty home is very strange. I couldn’t sleep very well the last four or five nights, as my mind and body adjust to unfamiliar circumstances. When I’m traveling, I don’t have this problem, but at home, my mind is not at ease when new stressors enter my life.

Though I’ve been eating particularly lightly and suffering from a bit of stomach irritation the last few days, I just remembered how nice this key lime meringue pie tasted…

Key lime meringue

It has been languishing, almost forgotten in my archives, from around the time Hiromi went out of town for a few days late in the summer. The meringues weren’t so pretty, but the lime curd was great. I think this might have been my first or second attempt at key lime curd. I really don’t want to over-indulge in sugar right now… my waistline has expanded over the last few months and I’m not very happy about that… Increased commute time and more eating out than average since September has puffed me up a bit.

The crust was decent, though it looks a little sad in the photo… more crispy-crumbly than crispy-flaky, it was neither a great example of an American pie crust nor a pate sucree. But it did wonders for the meringue, which likes to sabotage the crispness of pie crust; the crust stood up to the curd and retained a pleasant crispness.

Last reminders of summer

jason

My absence of late is thanks primarily to excessive exhaustion… My new old commute has been draining. In fact, the traffic between Redmond and Seattle seems decidedly more painful than it was a couple years back…

But 2004 was a painful year in the digital economy, and I know some substantial hiring has gone on in the Eastside since then.

At the end of the day, I have rarely had much energy to take photos of dinner or write about the growth of YuzuMura.com. I have a few photos that were stashed on my camera’s memory card, but they’re all reminders of the peak of summer.

Tomato

These were some heirloom tomatoes we bought from Sosio’s in the Pike Place Market… one day we got an incredible deal on seconds, and I made 4 quarts (a shy 4 liters) of really dangerously sweet and flavorful tomato sauce with minimal handling… just basil, garlic, a little wine, olive oil…

But we also made some insalata caprese…

Insalata caprese

And a spread particularly suited for a potato rosemary focaccia, made with cannelini beans, garlic, and olive oil, topped with some tiny heirloom tomatoes.

Cannelini-mini-heirloom-tomato

Hiromi’s parents actually came to visit for a couple of weeks recently. Her father professes a distaste for tomatoes, but I suspect this is due to the flavorlessness of Japanese supermarket tomatoes (which pretty much match the flavorlessness of US supermarket tomatoes); he reliably took several helpings of almost any tomato dish I served.

We only have another week or two left to get decent tomatoes in Seattle, but we’re lucky, as the season is pretty much over in the rest of the country…