Hi there, this is Lynn with Satsuma Press. When Alyson asked me if I wanted to write a guest post for Unruly Things, I wasn’t sure what I’d write about. She said it didn’t need to be about babies or little ones or pregnancy, but I thought – in some round about way – it should be. So what I decided to share is a simple meal that could be put together easily once her little man arrives – by her or by a friend. (One of the best things I received after Liam was born were meals made by friends, especially those first weeks of being a mama! I can remember still how very hungry I was after Liam was born seven years ago.) I love to cook and I don’t much follow recipes, so I’d like you to think of this more as a guideline, a jumping off place. Whether you have a newborn baby or not, this is a meal that comes together pretty fast, I promise. I made it for dinner for Liam and I last night without planning any of it ahead of time; I made it again for lunch today because it was so good and I needed to photograph it. (Liam wondered WHY on earth I was taking photos of my lunch!) It’s important to me to eat good food, real food – not that we don’t have lapses, which are fine – but for the most part, we sit down to a family meal every single night. My letterpress studio is here at home so depending on my work schedule, some times I make elaborate meals, sometimes not. But we eat well around here and I am glad for it. This meal I’m sharing with you is a little bit decadent, but still so good for you.
BROWN BUTTER QUINOA with BAKED EGGS (for as many as you want)
Here’s what you will need. I don’t list quantities because these will vary depending on how many people you’re feeding and how hungry they are. You have to be willing to wing it a little, but I think cooking is a lot more fun this way. It can be trial and error at first, but you’ll learn as you go – about how to season properly, how to know just when to pull something from the stove top or oven, how to look at what you have on hand and throw together a beautiful meal.
FOR THE QUINOA WITH BROWN BUTTER
FOR THE COMPOUND BUTTER if you’re making it
fresh ground pepper
FOR THE BAKED EGGS
eggs – the very best you can get
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
other ideas – gruyere, bacon, leeks, spinach, pesto
BROWN BUTTER … is a magical thing and so easy to make. Put your butter – use a tablespoon per serving – in a small saucepan like the one shown here. Heat it over a moderate flame til it melts and begins to foam. Stir and keep stirring as it begin to brown. It will smell nutty and delicious. I like to brown the butter as much as possible before it burns; this takes about 5 to 7 of minutes and you’ll need to tend to it carefully. Keep in mind that it will continue to cook if you leave it in the hot pan, so it’s best to transfer it, once browned, to a small dish.
COOKED QUINOA … the ratio for quinoa, which is full of good nutrients, is two parts water to one part quinoa. Rinse the quinoa well, place it in a pan with the water and a bit of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Many recipes say longer, but I’ve found that 10 minutes works fine for me and leaves that addictive chewiness that I like so much. Note – you can very easily make a huge batch of quinoa ahead of time. Just reheat in the microwave or stovetop when you need it. Also, I could not recommend these quinoa patties more, if you should happen to have extra cooked quinoa on hand.
Toss the cooked quinoa with the brown butter and some finely chopped Italian parsley. I serve a heaping (cooked) cup for each person, give or take depending on hunger. The nuttiness of the brown butter and quinoa are a lovely match, but if you don’t want to make the brown butter, just skip it. Toss the quinoa with extra virgin olive oil or some herbed compound butter (see below) or nothing at all.
BAKED EGGS … I made mine in individual ramekins, but you could also use a small enameled pan, like a Le Creuset if you want to bake several all together. Hungry people should have two eggs each. Preheat your oven to 400. I added the following things to my ramekin – diced rosemary ham, coarsely grate parmesan and some herb compound butter that I had made last week. (I know Alyson is a vegetarian so you could easily omit the ham.) Other things to add or substitute – crumbled crispy bacon, wilted spinach, leeks, gruyere, a dollop of pesto … Use whichever ingredients strike your fancy or that you happen to have on hand. Pour a little bit of cream into your ramekin, just enough to coat the bottom. Carefully crack an egg into the ramekin and then sprinkle with the ham and parmesan. Add a sliver or two of the compound butter and a little more cream, a tablespoon or two. Sprinkle the egg yolk with a tiny bit of sea salt. Bake in the hot oven for about 8-12 minutes or until the whites are set, but the yolk still runny. Nothing ruins an egg faster for me than a jiggly white so I make sure that it’s cooked through – and I love it when the yolk sets to a velvety softness. Grind some black pepper over the top, add some finely chopped chives if you like.
HERBED COMPOUND BUTTER … again, so easy and so delicious – and useful for so many things (think biscuits, scrambled eggs, toast, pasta). You can make compound butters in many flavors, but here’s what I used – finely chopped chives, Italian parsley, zest and juice of one lemon, fresh ground pepper, coarse sea salt. Soften one stick of unsalted butter and mix well with the everything else. You can chop the herbs by hand or give them a quick whir in the food processor. Put the compound butter it in a ramekin or glass refrigerator dish or form it into a log and wrap it in wax paper. It keeps for a long time and you’ll be very happy to have it around.
Sit down to a simple, good meal. Nice linens and plates always make a meal better, in my mind, so take the time – just a few minutes – to make it look pretty. Honest, it makes a difference. Enjoy.
Also a bonus – the perfect salad for lunch … iceberg lettuce, buttery bread crumbs, soft boiled egg, crispy bacon + homemade blue cheese dressing (buttermilk, gorgonzola, chives, salt, pepper, olive oil).