These Fancy-ish Eggs Are Pretty Easy to Make
Plus, a broccoli tofu scramble, and the wonders of anchovies to enhance the flavor of lamb
Thanks for visiting The Bittman Project, a place where food is everything (or pretty close).
It’s inevitable: Some days you haven’t planned anything to cook, the afternoon sneaks up on you, and all you can do is throw your hands up and say, “Gahhhh! What’s for dinner?” For those times when you need something fast, easy, and tasty, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few recipes to help you navigate this week.
Let’s call this my 8 p.m. souffle: I started making it then, after work, the kind of day where you maybe call your new dog the name of your *old* dog (R.I.P.), and you hold off on pouring yourself a glass of wine — or you might have to take a nap before you’re done making dinner. But I was going to make us souffles and a salad, damn it. Rick and I try to have dinner together as often as possible, which can be a challenge since he owns a bakery and works all the time. Since he’s the one who cooks for a living, he’s usually feeding us; it was my turn.
The recipe calls for a 2-quart baking dish; I only had smaller ones and poured in more batter than I knew I should have, rationalizing that it would lead to a higher pouf: Nope, it’s more like a monster-lava souffle, with the overflow down the side. Then, since my partner was hungry, he stuck his spoon in while these were still on the sheet pan to let the steam out, hence the photo. Souffles: They’re lovely! They’re like a magic trick! They make the diner — and the cook! — feel special! These fell a bit short of the mark in terms of appearance.
But you know what? It was delicious. Souffles are one of my go-to dishes — I love making them and have written about them before. (I’m inexplicably excited by the fragile poof and shimmy of a souffle as it comes out of the oven.) In this round, I used eggs with close to marigold-colored yolks, so the glorious color made up for the fallen hat. If these had been truly disastrous (like I was making them for company, for example), I could have used the technique I learned from Jessica Battiliana’s cookbook, Repertoire. Turns out, souffles can have a second life and pouf up again. But I usually don’t have the willpower to wait. Onward!
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: About 1 hour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, plus more for greasing
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk, warmed until hot to the touch
6 eggs, separated
Salt and pepper
Dash cayenne or 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup grated Cheddar, Manchego, Roquefort, Emmental, and/or other melting cheese
1. Grease a 2-quart or other deep baking dish with butter. Put 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the foam subsides, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture darkens, about 3 minutes.
2. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the milk, a bit at a time, until the mixture is thick. Let cool for a few minutes, then beat in the egg yolks, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cayenne or mustard, and the cheeses.
3. When you are ready to bake the souffle, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Use a stand or hand-held mixer to beat egg whites until stiff peaks. Fold in about a third of the egg whites into the base. Use a rubber spatula to scoop the mixture from the bottom and fold it over the top; don‘t worry about deflating the whites too much at this point. Add the rest of the egg whites, using the same folding technique, but more gently. Incorporate the whites well into the base, but if light streaks remain, that’s OK. If the batter goes flat, it’s overmixed, and your souffle won’t rise much; the results will be more like a puffy quiche, so not a total disaster.
4. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake until the top is brown, the sides are firm, and the center is still quite moist, about 30 minutes. Use a thin skewer to check the interior; if it comes out quite wet, bake for another 5 minutes. If it is just a bit moist, the souffle is done. Serve right away, spooned directly from the baking dish.
Individual cheese souffles
Instead of using a single baking dish, put 4 to 6 buttered 1 1/2 to 2-cup ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the batter evenly among them. The cooking time may be reduced by as much as half; start checking after 15 minutes.
Broccoli Tofu Scramble
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 30 minutes
Mark notes this tofu comes pretty close to eggs, and it’s quick and satisfying. You can always mix it up with scrambled sweet and hot peppers or swap out red onion for scallions and broccoli for tomatoes. For the latter, use vegetable oil instead of olive oil and finish with soy sauce.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s translucent, 1 or 2 minutes.
2. Add the broccoli and 1/4 cup water and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is brightly colored but still crisp and the pan is dry, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Crumble the tofu into the pan and stir, using a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan and combine the tofu and vegetables; adjust the heat as necessary to avoid burning. When the mixture starts to stick to the pan, add the lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve hot or warm.
Roast Leg of Lamb
It’s the time of year for lamb — and it doesn’t have to be a special occasion thing, though it can be so great, I understand why it would be. Yes, it can be expensive: But it can feed your family for days. (You can freeze it and make shawarma, tacos, fried rice — you name it).
Clearly, this photo shows a giant leg that’s much bigger than the one in the recipe: It is, like, 13 pounds. I made it because someone generously gifted Elysian Fields lamb to us on Easter. We’re pretty conservative about our meat cooking and consumption. And this gift was huge. It was humbling and made me feel grateful toward the gift-giver — and toward the lamb.
You can also buy half-legs of lamb; the butt half is preferable. Plan on cooking time for a 3- to 4-pound half-leg to be about two-thirds what it is for a whole leg.
Makes: At least 6 servings
Time: About 1 1/2 hours, largely unattended
1 5- to 7-pound leg of lamb, preferably at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds waxy red or white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 onions, quartered
4 carrots, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (or water)
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove as much of the surface fat as possible from the lamb; rub the meat all over with salt and pepper. Put it in a roasting pan and scatter the potatoes, carrots, and onions around it; moisten with 1/2 cup stock.
2. Roast the lamb for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees. If the vegetables look dry, pour over another 1/2 cup stock.
3. After about 1 hour of roasting, check the internal temperature of the lamb in several places with an instant-read thermometer. You’re looking for 130 degrees for medium-rare, 125 degrees for very rare. Continue to check every 10 minutes, adding a little stock if necessary. Total cooking time will be less than 1 1/2 hours. Let it rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve with vegetables and pan juices.
Roast Leg of Lamb With Anchovies
Omit the vegetables or not, as you like. Mix the salt and pepper with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, 3 or 4 minced anchovy fillets, and 2 tablespoons olive oil or oil from the anchovies. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut small slits in the lamb. Push a bit of the mixture into them; rub the lamb all over with the rest. If you have time, let the lamb sit for an hour or more (refrigerate if it will be longer than an hour). Roast as directed in Step 2, omitting the stock if you chose to omit the vegetables. When the meat is done, transfer to a warm platter. Spoon or pour off most of the fat from the roasting pan and put the pan on 1 or 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup red wine and 1/2 cup water and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Carve the lamb and serve with the sauce.