Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This is a recipe perfect for the transition from winter to spring. After I cooked it on Sunday night, while we were digging into plates piled high with lemony, juicy chicken, tender browned potatoes, and perfectly roasted asparagus, I mentioned to A that I’d found the recipe on the Martha Stewart Web site.

“God bless Martha!” he proclaimed, sucking a leg bone clean and wiping his fingers. “Winfrey and Stewart in ’08!”

I pointed out that, as a convicted felon, Martha can’t even vote, so it’s doubtful she can hold an elected office. Neither of us was sure whether this also means she isn’t eligible for an appointed position, but we tentatively settled upon naming her Secretary of State. Surely (even though it was more likely created by her minions at the magazine) Martha deserves some sort of honor for bringing us this delectable, insanely easy recipe. Seriously: toss potatoes and butter in pan and bake; add chicken and bake; add asparagus and lemon and thyme and bake; eat. That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s the kind of thing that sounds so simple it can’t possibly taste like anything special, but not so! After dinner, while ostensibly cleaning the kitchen, I kept delaying rinsing out the roasting pan so I could dip leftover potatoes in the remaining pan juices.

1½ pounds small new potatoes, halved
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1 whole cut-up chicken (about 3 pounds)
1 pound asparagus
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
6 sprigs fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. Place potatoes and 1½ tablespoons butter in a large, shallow roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until potatoes are golden, 20–25 minutes.

3. Place chicken, skin side up, on top of potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken begins to brown about 20–25 minutes.

4. Scatter asparagus, lemon, and thyme around chicken. Cut remaining 1½ tablespoons butter into small pieces and sprinkle on top. Roast until asparagus is tender and chicken is opaque throughout (and nicely browned), 5–15 minutes. Serve chicken and vegetables drizzled with pan juices.

Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


Made this last Thursday night. Be forewarned, it’s not falafel as you might expect to find it in a restaurant; maybe a better term would be “chickpea burger” or “hummus fritter.” Whatever it is, it’s good: light, healthy, not hard to make. Basically you’re just making a modified, thicker, cheerfully green version of hummus—pureeing garbanzos in the blender with seasonings—and then pan-frying it. The cayenne adds a nice, subtle heat, nicely balanced by the cool, refreshing cilantro-lemon yogurt sauce.

I’ve had this recipe for ages, taken from some long-forgotten source. I made it for the first time when I was living the swingin’ studio-apartment life in St. Paul, and it didn’t turn out so great, so I shelved it. When I unearthed it again after my move to California, I nearly got rid of it. Instead, I gave it another try, and I’m so glad I did. With a bit more cooking experience under my belt, I realized my problem the first time around had been that the recipe was just bonkers. Pureeing the ingredients in the blender creates a smooth, sticky, semi-liquid batter, like a stiff hummus. Yet somehow, the recipe was asking me to form this mess into patties with my hands and dredge them in flour, an endeavor that naturally led to less-than-perfect results. It seemed much more sensible to treat the mixture like a fritter batter, which is what I did: I just stirred in a bit of extra flour to give it some body, spooned it into the pan in four separate dollops, and squashed each one down. I also made sure to get the oil good and hot, something I was always too lily-livered to do as a beginning cook. With these modifications, the falafels fried up perfectly, making the recipe a keeper. Finally, my obsession with fritters pays off!

1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped onion
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons plus ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 large egg
olive oil
4 warm pocket pita breads, cut in half
sliced tomatoes

1. Whisk yogurt, ½ cup cilantro, ¼ cup onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

2. Blend garbanzo beans, 3 tablespoons flour, cumin, remaining ½ cup cilantro, 4 garlic cloves, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in a blender or food processor until almost smooth. Add egg and remaining ¾ cup onion and blend until onion is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gradually mix in about ¼ cup more flour, until batter reaches desired consistency.

3. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy skillet to coat the bottom; heat over medium-high heat. When fully hot, drop in ¼ of the batter and press down with the back of a spoon to make a patty. Repeat with remaining batter to make 4 patties. Cook until crisp and golden, about 8 minutes per side.

4. Cut each patty in half. Slide a half patty, sliced tomato, and lettuce into each pita pocket. Spoon in some yogurt mixture.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes


I continue to lag behind in my postings; I made this recipe a week ago. But even though it’s old news, I thought you should know about it, because it’s a reliable, no-fuss way to dress up a chicken breast. I’ve made it at least six times before, often to use up mozzarella left over from another recipe. But I never got around to writing it up, probably because it’s almost too simple to talk about, just sautéed chicken breasts with cheese and basil and a classy pan sauce. This recipe is good to make on a weeknight after a long workday and commute, or on a summer evening when you don’t feel like using the stove for more than 15 minutes or washing more than one pan. Have salad on the side or, as I did this time, roasted asparagus. Since A was working late, I experimented a little, making my cheesy chicken breast (drizzled with the pan sauce and nestled into a handful of on-the-verge-of-wilting salad greens from the bottom of the crisper drawer) into a sandwich on toasted leftover no-knead bread. It wasn’t amazing, but it was nice.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds)
* Or 2 large breasts, each cut in half horizontally to make 4
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and slightly crushed
½ cup dry white wine
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 slices
4 large leaves fresh basil

1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Add the chicken breasts and cook 6–10 minutes, until golden brown on both sides and almost cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and place on a plate.

3. Add the wine to the pan, scraping to release any browned bits on the bottom, and simmer briefly to reduce the sauce by half. Return the chicken to the pan and cook 1 minute.

4. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf on top of each chicken breast. Cover the pan, remove it from the heat, and set aside for a few minutes to let the mozzarella soften and begin to melt. Sprinkle with chicken with additional salt and pepper as desired. Remove the garlic clove from the pan and discard. Place each chicken breast on a plate and spoon sauce over it.

Serves: 4
Time: 25 minutes

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Monday was my thirtieth birthday. Birthdays, especially milestone birthdays, are always an excellent excuse for gluttony, so even though I’d be receiving cake at the office, a Chinese dinner on Monday night, and a beach bonfire with a homemade-marshmallow smorgasbord the following weekend, I decided that on Sunday night, my birthday eve, I should cook some treats for myself. Plus, we had a guest, A’s mom, so I could pass my feast off as hospitality instead of selfishness. I made the infamous Brie pasta (which, due to its all-out decadence and my passionate love for it, I’d prudently avoided making for more than a year) and a nice green salad. Then I made strawberry shortcake.

I’d bought an obscene amount of strawberries at the farmers’ market that morning (a half-flat, six pint baskets, for $8). I sliced about a basket and a half of them and put them in a bowl with some sugar to macerate (hee, I love that word) while I made the biscuits.

Though I’ll contentedly eat strawberries and whipped cream over pound cake or angel food cake, or even those round divoted “strawberry shortcake” bases from the grocery store, I don’t call that real strawberry shortcake. Real strawberry shortcake should be made with biscuits. But since I’m not a baker or a glutton for punishment, and it was my birthday and I felt I deserved to take a shortcut, I made the biscuits from Bisquick, using the recipe on the side of the box (I halved it, so it conveniently made just three). They were easy and they tasted great. But to compensate, I made real whipped cream, which I’d never done before. I chilled the bowl and the beaters in the refrigerator. I poured the cream into the bowl and beat it with the electric hand mixer. It took long enough that I started to worry it would never firm up (and started sighing for a KitchenAid stand mixer), but it finally started to thicken, at which point I added a little sugar and vanilla. Finally, after a bit more beating, I achieved soft peaks. To serve, I broke up the still-warm biscuits with my hands into three bowls, spooned the juicy strawberries on top, and scooped on the whipped cream.

I don’t eat strawberry shortcake often, and whenever I eat it, a tide of nostalgia washes over me. It reminds me, intensely, wistfully, of childhood summers. (Actually, what it truly reminds me of is strawberry pie, absolutely my favorite treat my mother ever made, probably because, given the briefness of strawberry season in Minnesota, it was so rare and fleeting. I never felt like I got enough of it. Now I don’t get my mom’s version at all, and even the inferior store or restaurant versions are hard to find.) Anyway, what I’m trying to say was that this strawberry shortcake was heavenly. Now that I know how easy it is to make, I’m going to be tempted to make it often throughout California’s ridiculously long strawberry season. Certainly I might have to make it again this weekend; after all, I’ve still got at least three pints of strawberries to use up.

1½ pints fresh strawberries
2–4 tablespoons sugar
1 and 1/6 cup Bisquick
1½ tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup milk
1½ tablespoons sugar
whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 drop vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut strawberries into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with 2–4 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet your strawberries are). Mix well and set aside at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

3. To make biscuits, stir Bisquick, melted butter, milk, and 1½ tablespoons sugar together in a mixing bowl until a soft dough forms. Drop by 3 spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Whip the cream to soft peaks in a cold bowl, adding a teaspoon of sugar and a drop of vanilla.

5. Break up each biscuit into a bowl, spoon strawberries over it, and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves: 3
Time: 30 minutes


I don't intend to make this into some kind of Rachael Ray fanblog, but here’s yet another great recipe from her. It’s just that I wanted to make soup to go with my No-Knead bread on Easter, and I’m yearning for an immersion blender so much, I refuse to make any more pureed soups until I acquire one. (Update: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to A’s mother, who bought me a Cuisinart SmartStick for my birthday; it’s currently winging its way to me from Amazon, and I’m already pondering what kind of pureed soup to make first.) That didn’t leave many options in my recipe archive, so I happened to turn to my copy of RR’s 30-Minute Meals, where I happened to have bookmarked this recipe. I had some oldish ground beef in the freezer that needed to be used up, and just the right amount of homemade chicken stock left over after making risotto, and some egg noodles taking up too much space in the cupboard (RR called for ditalini, but I figured I could break up the egg noodles into smaller pieces), so it felt like destiny.

Verdict: The recipe was super-easy. And it was tasty, like chicken noodle soup crossed with meatloaf—two comfort foods in one! Besides the egg-noodle substitution, I didn’t make many changes to the recipe. RR had asked for “Italian breadcrumbs,” which I’m guessing meant store-bought, flavored ones; I improved on that by crumbling up my own fresh crumbs from an old baguette and adding dried oregano and basil to the meatballs.

Yet again, however, I’ve noticed that the version of this recipe posted online at the Food Network site is significantly different than the one in my book. I can only conclude that with her huge media success, RR (or her Food Network handlers) retooled her earlier recipes to be a little fancier. The online recipe had a few improvements I’d like to incorporate next time: it called for more vegetables (2 carrots and 2 celery instead of 1 of each; I split the difference in my typed version below and said 1–2) and had some spinach added at the end, which would be yummy, more colorful, and more healthful too. I’ve made it optional in my version. The other differences, though, seemed silly. The Food Network version asks for mixed beef, pork, and veal for the meatballs, which just adds unnecessary complication to a simple homestyle dish. And for some reason the FN version has you cook the meatballs by boiling them in the soup, rather than browning them in a pan. I suppose that might save a little time, but I can’t believe it would help the flavor; the taste of browned meat is an important component here. Even in the professionally styled photograph that accompanies the online recipe, the meatballs look pale and gray and soggy. Blecch! Do yourself a favor and pan-brown them (which, it seems to me, also lets you render and drain away some of the beef fat instead of dumping it all into the soup).

1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
½ cup plain fresh breadcrumbs
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ medium onion, chopped, plus ¼ onion, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1–2 carrots, chopped
1–2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches ground nutmeg
6 cups chicken broth
½ cup ditalini or small egg noodles
1 handful chopped Italian parsley
a few handfuls chopped fresh spinach (optional)

1. In a large bowl, combine beef, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, basil, minced onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with your hands. Form into ½-inch balls (I used a teaspoon measuring spoon to help me gauge the right amount to scoop up) and place in a nonstick skillet. Cook over medium or medium-high heat until browned, shaking pan every few minutes to brown evenly.

2. While meatballs are cooking, heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, chopped onion, and garlic; sprinkle vegetables with nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add broth and turn heat up to high. When broth boils, drop in noodles and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 8–10 minutes, until pasta is al dente.

3. Drop in meatballs and parsley. Add spinach if desired, and cook until it wilts.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes


Sheesh, I’m behind with this posting stuff. I made this bread on Easter. Which turned out to be apt timing, since the recipe is indeed miraculous. The Web has been abuzz about it ever since it was written up in The New York Times in November, and now my mom’s raving about it too. The ingredients are minimal—just flour, a bizarrely tiny bit of yeast, salt, and water—and the process nontraditional, but boy howdy, does it work like a charm. Even for me, impatient nonbaker with substandard cookware that I am, it yielded beautiful, bakery-quality loaves of bread, moist and chewy within (with “a nice crumb,” as the foodies say) and crackly-crisp without. As they sat all golden and bubbly on their cooling racks, I kept staring at them in awe and disbelief. I made that!

The recipe requires a long span of time, but the actual work involved is minimal. I mixed up the ingredients on Saturday night and let the dough rest until early afternoon on Sunday, which worked perfectly: I had bread by dinnertime. Though a little twisty, the directions were essentially easy to follow, and my slight variations in technique didn’t seem to cause any problems. The original recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon instant yeast, but through Internet commentary I learned that 1/3 teaspoon regular yeast will work just as well, so that’s what I used. The original also asks you to set the dough on a well-floured cotton towel to rise, but both Internet commentary and common sense suggested to me that that’s just silly—setting wet, sticky dough on a cotton towel, no matter how well-floured, is just going to result in a messed-up towel, and is not going to be particularly convenient when your sticky dough clings to said towel as you’re trying to ease it into a 450-degree baking dish. I used plastic wrap instead, which proved really helpful as a vehicle for picking up the dough and flipping it into the dish.

My biggest concern was that I didn’t have anything approaching a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered oven-safe pot. All I had was a 2-quart Corelle baking dish with a Pyrex lid. But the magical bread didn’t let me down. I divided the dough in half at the end of Step 2, let both halves rise two hours, cooked them in succession, and voila, I got two perfect smallish loaves. You gotta try this!

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast or ⅓ teaspoon regular (active dry) yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl, combine flour (measure by dipping, not spooning), yeast, and salt. Add 1⅝ cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Place a piece of plastic wrap at the bottom of a large bowl, dust with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal, and put dough seam side down on plastic wrap. Dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover bowl with a cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Holding edges of plastic wrap, lift dough out of bowl and turn over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that’s OK. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 20-30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: one 1½-pound loaf
Time: 21 hours (only about 1 hour actual work)

Thursday, April 12, 2007


May 2008 note: This photo shows an all-asparagus, no-pea version. I had a whole bunch of fresh asparagus this time, so I used it all--probably about 2 cups.

A has always claimed, with a little shudder, that he doesn’t like risotto. While I’ve never been a voracious risotto eater (given the choice between rice and noodles, I’ll choose noodles every time), I do have a few recipes in my vault. I like the creaminess of risotto, and its versatility—like pasta, you can dress it up with every vegetable and herb and meat and flavoring under the sun. Ever since I moved in with A, I’ve been reduced to making risotto only when he leaves town. This one I found last summer in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living that had been jettisoned in the office lunchroom. It looked so springy, velvety-white flecked with green and yellow, I couldn’t resist tearing it out and making it while A was in Indiana over the Fourth of July. It was good, but ever since then it’s been back in the vault.

Now spring is springing and I’m buying asparagus at the farmers’ market every single week and eating it every which way I can, and with a craving for lemony, cheesy, asparagus risotto, I announced to A that I’d be making it for dinner whether he liked it or not. I bet him he would like it, and I was right. When we finished eating, he pushed back his plate with a bemused expression on his face and admitted, “Maybe I’ve never had risotto before. Maybe when I said I didn’t like it, I was thinking of something different.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or sock him in the arm. All this time I’ve been avoiding making risotto for no reason? Ha! Henceforth, let the floodgates of risotto recipes be opened!

Making risotto is hard for me, because it requires a lot of patience. Often I’ve followed a recipe to the letter and then bitten into underdone rice. Those recipes were probably flawed, but I should have used my powers of sensory observation while I was cooking instead of just blindly, impatiently following the directions. After much trial and error, I can finally recognize the texture of properly done risotto, and I know it always takes longer than I think it will. I like this recipe because it calls for a generous amount of broth. I think my cooking time far exceeded Martha’s oddly precise estimates (I love the part that says, “It should take about 13 minutes”), but the quantity of broth was right on, and having to wait for all 6 cups of it to be absorbed helped me slow down and give the rice the time it needed. I was a bit handicapped by the fact that I was practically cooking in the dark—the light bulb above the stove had chosen that day to burn out, and of course we had no spares on hand—but the risotto turned out perfectly, maybe the best version I’ve made.

No edits to the recipe, except that I only used ½ cup of peas. A hates them, so my neat solution was to cook the risotto without them, dish up half of it into his bowl and a storage container, and then add the peas (thawed in the microwave) to the remaining two servings for me. I probably used more than 6 asparagus spears—just however many were in the bunch I got at the market. Of course, I used homemade stock, which I strongly recommend for a recipe that draws so much of its flavor from the broth.

6 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
6 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup thawed frozen peas
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan; turn off heat.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in another medium saucepan. Add onion; cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, 6–7 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains are translucent, 2–3 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high. Add wine; cook, stirring constantly, until wine has completely evaporated.

3. Add ½ cup stock; cook, stirring constantly, until stock has been completely absorbed and a wooden spoon drawn through rice leaves a trail in its wake. Continue adding about 4 more cups stock, ½ cup at a time, waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. (It should take about 13 minutes.)

4. Stir in the asparagus. Add ½ to 1 cup more stock, in the same manner as described above. About 1 minute before risotto is done, stir in the peas. Risotto is done when liquid looks creamy and grains are cooked but still slightly firm in the centers. (The total cooking time will be 16–20 minutes.)

5. Remove from heat; stir in ½ cup stock. (You may have stock left over.) Stir in zest, juice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, parsley, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with more cheese.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Postscript, May 2008: Since I first made this recipe, I've discovered that an even easier method of making Breakfast For Dinner is just to break a few eggs over the hash when it's done browning, cover the pan, and cook until the eggs are done. I don't like runny yolks, particularly atop my nice crispy potatoes, so I pierce the yolks with a fork midway through the egg-cooking to let them run out and gently solidify (as you can see in the photo above). You could try to leave the eggs whole and intact atop the hash for a prettier effect when you serve it, but I usually give the whole thing a stir near the end, so that the final result is sort of a cross between a fried egg and a scramble. Anyway, I highly recommend adding eggs to your hash: it's both delicious and efficient, and in the true lazy spirit of Breakfast For Dinner, you end up with just a single pan to wash.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been craving breakfast food. Creamy eggs, buttery toast, waffles topped with fresh fruit, a colorful vegetable-studded frittata…excuse me while I wipe my drool off the keyboard. There can be something so wholesome and comforting about breakfast foods. Ironically, though, I’m a minimalist breakfast eater. I insist upon having it every single day, but all my life, a nice bowl of cereal (or granola or oatmeal), milk, and orange juice has been all I require. In fact, more complicated foods in the early morning make me feel a little queasy—and don’t even get me started on the non-breakfast foods some people claim to enjoy in the morning, like pork chops or cold pizza. In particular, I’m not a fan of the myriad sweet breakfast options—the coffee cakes, the doughnuts and other pastries, the syrup-drenched pancakes and sugar-crusted French toast. Why do so many breakfast foods look like desserts? I suppose a sugar rush is one way to get jump-started in the morning, but it usually just makes me feel ill.

I’m a devotee of brunch, though strictly in restaurants. I rarely feel like cooking (and worse, messing up the kitchen) in the morning. What I like best is Breakfast For Dinner. It reminds me a little bit of being a child (when my mom worked nights and my dad was in charge, he often made pancakes, French toast, or scrambled eggs for supper), a little bit of being an invalid (something about the cozy, easy-to-make, buttery-and-bland quality of many breakfast foods), and a little bit of being rebellious—so daring, mixing up the meals like that! It’s the ultimate in light-meal, use-up-whatever’s-in-the-fridge, I-don’t-feel-like-cooking cuisine, best eaten in one’s pajamas in front of the TV.

So on Saturday night I channeled all my breakfast-food cravings into creating an awesome Breakfast For Dinner. I had a bunch of ham left over from making fritters last week, and what better way to use it up than to make a hearty ham-and-potato hash (recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)? Thanks to the Internet, I also managed to reconstruct a recipe for scrambled eggs with cream cheese and scallions that I often used to make myself for dinner back when I lived alone (swingin’ bachelor lifestyle = eggs and toast for supper whenever you please). On the side, I served buttered toast made from Trader Joe’s cinnamon-swirl bread, and gigantic fresh strawberries from the farmers’ market.

Everything was easy to make and turned out deliciously. The hash was particularly pleasing, with enough left over for my lunch the next day. You could really experiment with putting just about anything you want in the hash—scallions instead of plain onion, sage or chives instead of thyme, other veggies, cheese on top—though I liked it as is. The scrambled eggs tasted like what I remembered, but they had a perplexing custard-like texture that persisted even after I cooked them way longer than the recipe called for. I like my eggs soft and fluffy, but this was nearly overkill. I don’t know if my technique was bad (I hadn’t scrambled an egg in years) or if it was just the amount of cream cheese. The recipe called for 2 ounces, and I’d cut back on that next time. I want enough cream cheese to keep the eggs moist, but it shouldn’t otherwise make its presence known. Breakfast For Dinner is about comfort, not decadence.


4 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
4 large eggs
1–2 ounces cream cheese, cut into bits and softened
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, until soft.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, the cream cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the scallions. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring, 3–4 minutes or until cooked through.

Serves: 2
Time: 15 minutes


2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 small baking potatoes
¾ cup finely diced cooked ham
salt and pepper to taste
fresh thyme to taste

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Scrub the potatoes, cut them in half, and cook them in the water until almost done but still firm, about 10 minutes. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Drain. Dice into ½-inch-thick pieces.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped bell pepper and cook another 2 minutes.

3. Add diced potatoes, ham, salt, pepper, and thyme; mix well. Cook hash until well browned, about 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with eggs and toast.

Serves: 2–3
Time: 30 minutes