Guys, a menu is just not happening this week. I only actually cooked for three nights last week, one of those nights was rotini and meat sauce which almost doesn’t count because it’s just sauce and pasta and most people just get that from a jar, and this week has just been an off one so far in terms of blog-prep because I have a lot of other little things on my mind. The middle weeks of June are rough for me every year, I like to think most families have a period of the year where a bunch of holidays all get mashed together, and whether or not that’s true, this is mine.
It’s impossible to know how many times I’ve heard the phrase “put an egg on it!” in my lifetime. Just typing it triggers a montage in my brain of my dad, grandmother, and several of my aunts all enthusiastically proclaiming their easy post-holiday breakfast policy. It also makes me wish there were an egg version of this gif, which I came across a few years ago and has since become infamous in my family. It never gets old and is so funny because it’s too close to the truth to be anything else:
Turkey and stuffing, enchiladas, soup, rice, salad, any kind of bread, you name it and I’ve probably seen someone put an egg on it. Or two.
And why not? Eggs are one of the most versatile foods around. Eggs contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need, including an array of vitamins, omega-3, and 7 grams of protein, in an average of just 77 calories. Besides which, the variety of ways in which they can be prepared range from solid hard-boiled eggs to light-as-air meringue so, naturally, they can be found in every course from breakfast to dessert. They are what huevos rancheros and Italian (or French or Swiss) buttercream have in common.
There have been countless studies over decades as to their cholesterol content and the possibility of it increasing blood cholesterol, thus possibly increasing the risk for heart disease, but it seems there is no hard answer and science has gone back and forth over how much is too much. There are also studies that have concluded that food cholesterol has little, if any, impact on blood cholesterol. (I’m not going to link to them because there are a ton, and a simple google search is all you’ll need to do if you want more information or even just to see how many different opinions there are.)
The point seems to be, like everything else, to enjoy them in moderation. Each of our bodies may respond differently to any number of dietary choices that we make on a daily basis, my philosophy is to do the best I can with the information I have and pay attention to how my body responds.
That being said, if I haven’t made it clear, I’m a big fan of eggs. There have been a few times in my life where my stomach was so sensitive there wasn’t much I could eat, but eggs have always remained a constant. There aren’t very many foods that fit into the niche they hold, being at once nutritious and versatile while light on both the waistline and wallet. I have at least two every day. Sometimes for breakfast, sometimes for lunch. I buy an eighteen pack every week, whether we’ve finished the previous one or not, because I know I don’t have to worry about them spoiling. My current favorite way to have them is simply over-medium with a piece of buttered toast (and often a hefty splash of the jalapeno sauce I mentioned last week) but I’m certainly not above putting a couple on last night’s dinner for round two.
So next time you need an excuse to have your favorite dinner, but you don’t want to wait until it’s appropriate (because apparently, some people have rules like that), just remember the simple trick that magically turns anything into breakfast food:
Put an egg on it!
I sort of piloted this series back in April with my post on Herbes de Provence. Anyone who knows me well could tell you easily that I love well-seasoned food. I’ve learned a lot about spices, herbs, and the seasoning styles and techniques associated with them from having people in my life that are knowledgeable and willing to share that knowledge (and also watching a lot of cooking shows and reading cookbooks just to read them) – so much so that I think I took it for granted a little bit and kind of thought most people had similar or complementary knowledge. But when I left the food industry and started spending more time with non-foodies I realized how completely and utterly wrong that was. I found myself in the minority when it came to talking about how to season one thing or the other and “tips and tricks” that were commonplace to me made me seem like a supernatural spice goddess to them.
That’s not really a mantle I could wear, even if I wanted to. My knowledge is cursory when compared to most real chefs, and I’m willing to bet that some of their knowledge is cursory when compared to my Dad’s. He’s not a chef but he loves to cook and he loves to eat – and in the words of our patron saint Julia Child “…one learns by doing.”
Thus, in order to advance both sides, I’ve decided to combine my thirst for knowledge with my knack for communication and bring you what I do know whilst learning more myself. Continue reading “Spice Cabinet Deep Dive: Bay Leaves”
But it made me laugh all the same! Note the tag versus the label. The lady next to me in the spice aisle watched me like I was nuts while I took the picture, but it was totally worth it. While they do have many of the same ingredients, this wasn’t the ratio I was looking for. Even if they look the same, and especially once you’re a bit more familiar, you can certainly tell by the aroma when you open the jar.
Also, my Aunt Cathy, The Herb Lady, saw my post about Herbes de Provence yesterday and had this HDP origin story from a friend (and a bit of advice!) to add:
Napoleon was on one of his “trips” (aka attempts to conquer) when he stopped overnight at a hotel in Provence. The owners and chefs were worried about trying to make a meal worthy of this great personage. After much thought and preparation, the chefs presented Napoleon with a meal. He declared it the finest he had ever eaten. He inquired on what the seasoned the food with. The reply was “Why Herbes of Provence!” The hillsides of Provence had provided the people and cooks of the area with an array of herbs for centuries. Each chef or cook had their preferred blend of herbs. Herbes de Provence are a mix of something robust (rosemary), anise/licorice (chervil or anise), and an anchor herb (thyme). Lavender is an Americanized addition but was also used by the French.
When making your own blends, use Thyme to anchor the blend. You will see it listed in most blends because if forms the basis of a good blend. FYI in France they prefer Marjoram instead of Oregano. Marjoram lacks the bite of Oregano, instead having a citrus back note.
The short answer? A shortcut. Poultry, pork, fish, stew, potatoes, rice… Fragrant and delicious, it’s one of my secret weapons.
The long answer:
Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs typical of the Provence region of southeast France. Formerly a descriptive term, commercial blends started to be sold under this name in the 1970’s.
It’s become something of a generic term, but typically contains some combination of thyme, fennel, rosemary, summer savory, oregano, bay leaf, tarragon, mint, and marjoram. My current bottle contains lavender as well (a little much for my taste, to be honest) and, in my research, I found that orange zest is also sometimes included!
As much as I love my spices, I so much prefer my kitchen to stay organized that I have become quite the minimalist. Especially by contrast to my Dad – who offers me some type of kitchen appliance that he “just couldn’t pass up” almost every time I see him. (Not a jab – I promise. We do actually use the moka every day.)
Anyway, I’m a big fan of blends (and I love Mrs. Dash), but herbes de Provence is probably at the top of the list of most versatile for me. I could certainly make my own, but I like that I don’t have to have all of the things that go into it separately taking up their own space in my cabinet.
Try adding a bit to baked sweet potato fries, sprinkle over fish before baking, or toss a pinch into your next pot of soup. It also makes a great addition to any dry rub or salad dressing. Add a bit to some olive oil with a pinch of salt and serve alongside sliced french bread for dipping.
P.s. I’ll update with a picture after my grocery trip tomorrow!