Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Muse List and a Poached Egg

Wednesday is a day for musing. The slog of Monday is gone, the weekend is enticingly in sight, and the middle, the in-between, the thick waist of the week is now the present.

According to my nifty new magnetic poetry calendar, all of January is for musing:

"The year starts when the days are shorter and the temperatures are cold, a time well suited
to hibernation and sleep. In poetic terms, it's a time when the muse is recharging, dreaming
of the year to come. The ground is cleared and we begin again."
from magnetic poetry calendar, January

I have been musing about some cooking projects for a year of Wednesdays now. And now that I am a little less sleep-deprived on a regular basis (babies, they don't sleep like I think they should...), and now that I am in the land that I love, it is time to get cracking! The musing list (and the list of things to come) includes the simple, the whimsical, the frivolous, the laborious, and the smelly. It includes that which I have never made at home:
  • cheddar cheese
  • pressed, aged cheese all around
  • clotted cream
  • puff pastry
  • lard
  • caramel
  • meringue
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • soufle
  • dandelion wine
  • french maccaron
  • beer
  • Gelato
  • organ meats...they've got to be good, they've just got to. well as that which we simply must learn more about:
  • mushroom picking
  • meat cuts (if we're gonna eat meat, it better be good!)
  • fermentation
  • wine
  • pruning trees
  • bread science
  • cake science
  • pie science
  • canning
  • drying
  • chocolate
  • confections
It is possible that organ meats is going a little far. Maybe, definitely. But I'll keep it on there. I mean, steak and kidney doesn't sound as sexy as clafoutis, but it does sound interesting. Doesn't it?

I am definitely open to suggestions. I love food projects.

As for today's food/learning/inspiration I am happy to announce that I can poach an egg. I had never done so until yesterday, when for breakfast, I made kale and toast with poached eggs. I read the directions, did what it told me to do, and lo and behold! perfectly poached eggs.

In case you are wondering, yes, I have seen the recent book-made-movie Julie and Julia. My mother is pleasantly obsessed with the book and movie and now all things Julia Child, and I confess, I have benefited from the trend (especially through her new copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking). For instance, had she not exposed me to the movie I might not have tried to poach an egg so soon. I might have not pondered the glory of homemade Hollandaise sauce.

Fear not however. Poach an egg, I have. And it is not so difficult. The movie is a lesson to us all--read cooking directions before cooking! Always. I did, and my poached egg was exactly as Mrs. Child said it should be: the soft yellow center shrouded by the egg white in a compact oval nest. Pure poetry.

My recipe then is more of a recommendation: eat eggs. Eat poached eggs. Eat them especially with buttered toast and with some nice cooked vegetable like kale, chard or leeks. Eat them for breakfast or lunch or dinner. They are that good.

Perfectly Poached Eggs
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Bring 2 inches of water in a pan to simmer with about a tablespoon of vinegar (helps egg hold together). The easiest way to transfer the egg into the water is by breaking it into a saucer first and then, holding the saucer close over/in the water, tipping the saucer let it fall in. Immediately and gently wave the egg white over the yolk for a few seconds. Follow with more eggs if there is more room. Cook for four minutes...white set, yolk soft. Gently remove with slotted spoon.

Some say to put cooked eggs in a bowl of water, to hold them, to wash off the faint taste of vinegar. Honestly, I skip this step. Don't tell.

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