poached egg over brioche with pistou

I must confess something. Prior to this meal, I have never poached an egg. I have eaten poached eggs, but I have never made them myself. It has been on my to do list for some time. So, today, I poached my first egg.

basil

I made the pistou in my mini food processor using some basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic. My basil plant died this winter, so I had to buy some for this dish. I fully intend to have basil in my new garden. Did I mention I’m going to be starting my first garden? It’s very exciting.

brioche

Our local bakery, The Flour Pot, makes a wonderful brioche. I picked up a loaf this morning, and it took all I could do to resist eating it before lunch.

organic brown eggs

I toasted a slice of brioche, shaved some parmesan cheese over the toast, topped it with one poached egg, and then sprinkled the pistou and some fleur de sel over the top. It was fabulous. And gone within about 30 seconds.

a delicious lunch

Lessons learned today:

  1. Poaching an egg is not rocket science, but it’s not the easiest thing either. I’m sure with practice I’ll figure out how to get rid of those trailing strands of egg white.
  2. Poached eggs are divine.
  3. Pistou is a great addition for ramping up flavor. So is fleur de sel.
  4. I need a personal photographer to capture some of the more interesting steps of the process – like the egg poaching part. I’m not sure my husband will give up his day job, though. I can’t pay that well.

simple sunday dinner

Sometimes I just crave a simple dinner, and Sunday was one of those days. After browsing through cookbooks and my latest food magazines, I just couldn’t get motivated to prep something creative and exciting. The fact that I had caught a cold over the weekend wasn’t helping matters, of course. It’s very hard to imagine cooking something fabulous when you can’t even smell it, you know?

brussels

With the warm weather we had yesterday – sunshine, low 70s – it seemed the perfect evening to use the grill. My husband made a quick trip to the grocery, and he came home with two steaks, a bag of Brussels sprouts, and potatoes.

fingerling potatoes

fingerling potatoes

The kids ate early, and during their bathtime, I prepped veggies and brought the steaks up to room temperature. The steaks were seasoned with olive oil,  Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and then grilled to about medium.  While the fingerling potatoes roasted in the oven, I sauteed the  Brussels sprouts in olive oil and seasoned them with Kosher salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar at the end.

steak dinner

Served with an easy-drinking glass of 2005 Marietta cabernet sauvignon, it was a perfect simple Sunday dinner.

(Note: the last photo illustrates what bad lighting does to an otherwise decent photo of good food. )

lovely lemon bars

Last week as I was browsing some of my favorite food blogs, I came across this post for lemon shortbread bars from La Fuji Mama. Then I discovered this lemon bar post by Smitten Kitchen. You see, I have a thing for lemon bars. You may have guessed that.

lemon shortbread bars

So, after a tough week, I thought making a nice batch of these tart but sweet treats might lift my spirits and brighten the weekend.

lemons for lemon bars

I wanted to use Meyer lemons, but my impatience got the better of me. I sent my husband to the closest grocery store to see what he could find, and regular ol’ lemons it was. No Meyers.

IMG_7784

I used a blend of recipes for these lemon bars. I slightly modified La Fuji Mama’s recipe for the shortbread crust by adding a half teaspoon of Kosher salt. For the filling, I used this recipe from Gourmet magazine, but I added a teaspoon of lemon zest and half teaspoon of good vanilla.

shortbread crust, ready to bake

IMG_7786

freshly dusted

I loved the thickness of the shortbread. The ratio of lemon filling to shortbread was essentially one to one, and this helped cut down on the tartness of the lemon in each bite. The best thing? Watching my family devour them. It worked — my spirits were lifted.

lemon shortbread bars

lemon shortbread bars

Lemon Shortbread Bars

Ingredients:

Ingredients for Shortbread Base:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cup confectioner's sugar (plus 3 tbsp for dusting the top of the bars)
1-1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Ingredients for Lemon Filling:

4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish.

Make the shortbread base: Using a food processor, combine the flour, confectioner's sugar, butter, and salt. Pat dough into greased baking dish. Bake for 18-20 minutes (crust will be slightly golden-colored).

While shortbread base is baking, make the lemon filling: Whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until combined well. Stir in lemon juice, flour, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Pour lemon filling into baking dish, over the hot shortbread filling. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until filling is set.

Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Sift confectioner's sugar over bars prior to serving.

Adapted from recipes by La Fuji Mama & Gourmet.