cheesy egg sandwich & a chat about breakfast

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. It sets the tone and establishes the comforting  idea that I have eaten today. Even if I can’t eat for the rest of the day– I forget to pack a lunch, I get caught up doing something and can’t find time, I end up stranded in a desert somewhere– it’s okay because I had a nice, hearty breakfast. This is the reason why as much as I love Italy, I seriously don’t understand how Italians forgo breakfast. Cookies, pastries and coffee are delicious, but it just doesn’t cut it for me as a start to my day.

When we were in Sicily this last December, Paolo (the husband of my 5th cousin, Francesca) shook his head as I described how we typically eat eggs for breakfast in America. He would frown and say pesante (heavy), cautioning us that eating eggs at the start of the day would make us fat. Cookies however, are totally cool.

The real tragedy is that for the first couple days during our stay they did give us eggs in an effort to make us feel at home, and they were the BEST eggs I’ve ever eaten: fresh from a nearby farm, deep-colored yolks, cooked in butter and served with the most delicious bread.  So good. But after seeing them look on in horror, we finally decided we would do as the Sicilians do and nibble on our biscotti and sip our cafe in the morning, and then proceed to eat our weight in pasta at lunch.

California apricots are so delicious this summer

My daily at-home cappuccino

Although I was sad to leave Sicily, I definitely longed for my California breakfast. Normally in the morning I take a cappuccino and an egg in some form (I love soft boiled and poached eggs) paired with one or two of the following: a piece of toast, a good-quality frozen (or fresh) waffle, juice, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, bacon, a sourdough muffin, a pancake or a smoothie. This combination of fruit + protein + carb will lead to a happy Danielle. The only thing I will NOT eat for breakfast is cereal. I just don’t do cereal. The bottom line is, I won’t waste my time with unfulfilling, processed bits of flakes, whether they are sugar-coated flakes or cardboard flakes. Cereal is a soulless food and a horrible way to begin a day, in my humble opinion.

Today is the boyfriend’s day off, so I offered to make him my “famous” egg sandwich. Now, let me say that the boyfriend and I do not eat these regularly and neither should you if you want to avoid heart attacks and gallstones. Nevertheless, these make a great treat for the occasional brunch.

Ingredients (for one sandwich… double or triple it if you intend to make more than one).

  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 Tablespoons buttermilk OR half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons butter OR butter substitute (I used ghee because we’re out of butter and Earth Balance)
  • 4 Tablespoons cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 slices Italian, French or sourdough bread

Recipe:

  1. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork until well-blended. Add buttermilk, salt & pepper to taste.
  2. Heat up a skillet on medium. Put 1-2 teaspoons of butter in the pan and then add the egg mixture, continuing to scramble with spatula or fork. If the pan is well-heated, they should cook for literally 20 seconds. My secret to great scrambled eggs is to remove them from heat while they are still a little runny because they continue to cook. Nothing is worse that overcooked eggs.
  3. Toss grated cheese into the eggs & allow the heat to melt the cheese.
  4. Meanwhile, take the two slices of bread and spread butter on one piece and mayo on the other. Take the eggs with melted cheese and carefully stack on one slice of bread, and cover with the other. Then spread mayo on the outside of the bread– this is my “secret” for amazing grilled sandwiches.
  5. Let the pan re-heat to medium-low, and place the sandwich on the skillet, heating up and getting perfectly crispy and hot. Flip and repeat.

Want to make this even worse for you (read: more amazing)? Cook a couple pieces of bacon and then cook the scrambled eggs in the bacon drippings instead of butter and add bacon to it.  This is what I did in these photos, which is why the eggs look kind of “off.” I found this version AMAZING, but Dhiren prefers his egg sandwiches straight-up sans bacon flavor (which makes sense since he is a recently converted vegetarian and doesn’t know any better).

You can also add: avocado, tomato and/or make this healthier by choosing a higher-fiber bread, using egg whites and cutting way back on the fat. I actually ended up eating a poached egg with some fruit and bacon in my effort to keep it paleo, but the boyfriend offered me a bite of his sandwich (not like he had a choice!)

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tips for making homemade ding dongs

I’ve been meaning to bake my Mom homemade Ding Dongs for a while now since she loves the wrapped-in-tin-foil version. Since her birthday is fast-approaching, I decided to give A Cozy Kitchen’s recipe a whirl (which is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe). I’m very grateful I tried this out a couple days before as a test-run, because these cakes were way more temperamental than I ever imagined.  So here are my tips, tricks and observations in the event that you try out this recipe yourself.

1. Get a a high-quality chocolate for both the cake AND the ganache. This does not mean Nestle-brand quality folks. I made the error of using a random baker’s chocolate form Ralph’s, and next time I will totally splurge on the pricier, high-end chocolate because I can taste a difference.

2. Second, if you decide to make these in the shape of smaller cakes (as opposed to Smitten Kitchen’s regular-sized layer cake), then skip the part where you flip out the cooled cake entirely. Instead, use the pastry cutter and cut each mini-cake while still in the pan. Then, carefully pull out the outer bits of cake and set aside ( I fully intend to use these scraps for rum balls by the way). Use a spatula to slide the cake out of the pan and thus, avoid dealing with it sticking or having to use parchment paper. I used this method with half of the cakes with success (except for one little guy on the left that was accidentally diced in the wrong spot). This method will yield pretty little complete cakes.

3. Contrary to both blogs that insist on 10″ pans, this recipe worked great with two 9″ pans AND baked at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.

4. Use a larger-sized, round pastry cutter, especially if you want to stuff these with a decent amount of frosting. I experimented with both and definitely prefer the larger cake (but I’m also a glutton, so don’t necessarily listen to me…)

5. I did not have success with Smitten Kitchen’s directions for 7-minute frosting. I’ve made several 7-minute frostings before throughout my life with great success. Smitten’s failed on me three times and was too “liquidy” (I think the fault could be with a too-hot temperature over the double-boiler). I ended up beating some heavy cream and then adding a tad of runny 7-minute frosting to make a thicker filling because after my third attempt I was about to have a kitchen meltdown.

Even though these turned out good with 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 marshmallow frosting, I wouldn’t recommend heavy cream as a filler for these.

6. Take time cutting out the holes in the cake in a calm and rationale way, and don’t forget which top pairs to the cake… seems simple enough, but the last thing you want to do is spend an extra ten minutes trying to match cake tops!

7. When you put the tops back on, be sure to cut off part of the bottom of the tops! I ended up pushing a lot of the frosting out from my too-big tops.

8. Be sure everything is cool… I was impatient and worked with hot cake, which is a major no-no. Impetuous people don’t make great bakers…

In the end these tasted great and didn’t leave a typical aftertaste in my mouth like normal ding-dongs. Next week I’ll post a follow-up to let you guys know how the REAL batch came out for Mom. In the meantime, my freezer is full of ding dongs. Any takers?

Rome: Getting your grub on in the Eternal City

Before going to Rome in December I spent a good amount of time practicing my Italian (food) vocabulary (“Il mio ragazzo è un vegetariano … mi dispiace, lui è strano”), studying up on my knowledge of Roman cuisine and scouring forums to figure out the all-important question of “Where the hell should we eat?” I am a somewhat spontaneous person but I don’t mess around with food when traveling, especially in this age of online resources and especially if you, like me, are hinged to a limited budget and don’t want any precious funds to go to waste on mediocre food. The resounding advice on many forums was rather depressing: “Rome doesn’t have a good restaurant culture.” I of course believed the throngs of ex-pats and locals who explain how every trattoria and ristorante is inferior, lacking in authenticy and tarred by tourism.

I tried not to fixate on the naysayers and kept reminding myself that even if we lived off rubbery pizza for a week, we were leaving to Sicily for Christmas where we would most certainly mangiare bene (huge post to come).

But, lucky for us, everyone was wrong about Rome.

Sure, Rome might be flooded with tourists, but there is a vibrant restaurant culture tucked away from the main piazzas and hidden down damp alleyways. I can promise you, that as someone who has eaten her way from Bari, Palermo, Napoli, the Amalfi Coast, Verona, Venezia, Sienna, Firenze and all the small villages in between, I can guarantee you that Rome is wearing its big boy pants. The key is to go off the beaten path, honor tradition and [wait for it] do as the Romans do (I give you permission to cringe…) But the adage is true. The majority of great places to dine at are located away from the main strips, serve locally-inspired fare and are filled with Italians (and I’m not talking about the strange hybrid-kind from Jersey.)

After a day of walking from the Vatican to the Colosseum  we wanted needed some hearty food to get us back up to the historic center. This trattoria pictured below, Taverna dei Quaranta serves simple, hearty, flavorful food and is highly recommended if you want to eat close to the Forum and Colosseum. We went during an “off” time (it was rather empty aside from a lingering party of Italians finishing their wine from lunch) but were treated kindly and left full and tipsy.

Before doing the whole Vatican thing one morning, Dhiren and I spontaneously stumbled upon the Italian version of Zabar’s, Castroni Caffe di Scaglione. This place is way cooler than any Willy Wonka candy shop. Your eyes (and wallet) will go nuts. Since we were in Rome days before Christmas, it was the perfect time to people watch and rummage through the seasonal products for Natale. After figuring out how to pay, we squeezed our way into a small spot on the coffee counter between a sea of morning”commuters” and had a perfect cappuccino and cornetto. We took an extra brioche stuffed with surprisingly-not-too-sweet-whipped cream to-go and received lots of stares from concerned Italians who had the misfortune of seeing us like this:

We were lucky enough to have stayed at a one-room B&B right in the heart of the historic district with ample dining options only steps away. One of our faves was Alfredo e Ada. Always a line out the door, this place boasts a cozy, dark atmosphere with a daily menu that changes according to what’s good at the market that day. Seasonal fare like radish and artichoke lasagnas, bacaloa and a to-kill-for carbonara are offered with no options for customization. In a world with way to many choices, this was happy news to me. Sometimes, all a type-A, over-analytical girl wants is to sit down, get comfortable and be told she doesn’t have options. EAT THIS AND SHUT UP. Yes, please.

I don’t care if it is 20 degrees outside, hailing or if I’m deathly sick: when I’m in Italy, I need gelato and good luck to anyone who tries to get in my way. I definitely ate an obscene amount of gelato on this trip. But out of all the places I dragged the boyfriend to, my favorite was hands-down Giolitti. Only after stumbling upon this place did we later find out its apparent history and popularity. The gelato is light, fluffy and topped with whipped cream. Highly recommended.

Another place that was relatively close to our B&B was Osteria de Memmo. We bumped into the place on accident while looking for another restaurant and now I know: this was an act of God. The food here is LEGIT. So legit, that I begged the boyfriend to bring us back a couple days later. It does have a radically different atmosphere compared to the working-class trattorias and pizza houses we typically find ourselves at. You will be surrounded by portly Milanese politicians eating piles of food, Italian desperate housewives with their Pucci clad, model husbands and sophisticated children eating swordfish. The clientele were too classy to stare at my boyfriend and I, who were poorly dressed, sweaty and brutish, lugging around a 5lb camera. The owner, Memmo, was really friendly, albeit intimidating in a “larger than life,” Godfather sort of way. We left with an extremely awkward photo with the man himself, although it won’t be seen here on account of our troll-like appearance.

The food at Memmo’s is fabulous. Flavorful pasta dishes and some of the best veal I’ve ever (or will ever) eat in my life. Though I didn’t try any of the seafood, from the looks of the place, it’s what you order here.

I’m a major pizza addict and snob and as such I knew that I had to try whatever great pizza Rome had to offer. (And to all those people who complain about how “You don’t eat pizza in Rome… it’s all about Napoli”: F You. Naples doesn’t have a copyright on good pizza.)

We were lucky to find Dar Poeta in Trastevere. First of all, this place is off the beaten path, down a dark alley in a hip part of town. Cool kids in leather jackets puff their cigarette smoke into the air while saying extremely witty and sarcastic things in Italian. Secondly, we were the only non-Italian speaking people in this place. Third, there was a long, long, awkward wait. All good signs. We sucked in our guts in order to shuffle into a tightly-packed room, sat down, chugged back a liter of wine  and enjoyed our mushroom and fresh mozzarella bufala pizzas.

Nearing the end of our week in Rome, we wanted to spend less money and eat some down-home, no-frills food. Our B&B owner recommended a place around the corner from Piazza Navona called Navona Notte. We were seriously skeptical, mainly because of the name and its proximity to the Piazza. We also made the mistake of trying to come here for lunch only to find it closed. Our B&B owner Luciano pointed out rather sarcastically that this restaurant has the word “Notte” in it for a reason. This is duly noted. When they were open, we were surprised to find a humble restaurant full of working-class Italians looking to get their grub on. The food is simple, cheap and delicious. They also serve pizza from a wood fire oven. I warn you that this place is located in a highly touristy area and so you will have several restaurant owners misguide you if you ask for directions. Many people will laugh at your face when they hear “Navona Notte” and try to distract and lure you by screaming “SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!!!!” in your face. Do not falter my friend.

If you’re heading to Rome anytime soon, I recommend:

Taverna dei Quaranta
Via Claudia, 24  00184 Rome, Italy
+39 06-700-0550
(For great lunch and dinner fare close to the Colosseum)

Alfredo & Ada
Via dei Banchi Nuovi, 14  00186 Rome, Italy
+39 06-687-8842
(For their daily-changing menu. Fabulous spot for lunch or dinner. In the antique district.)

Castroni di Scaglione
Via Cola di Rienzo, 196, 00196 Rome, Italy
+39 06-687-4383
(For grocery products, sweets, souvenirs and fabulous pastries and coffee. Close to the Vatican.)

Giolitti 
Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40  00186 Rome, Italy
+39 06-699-1243
(Great for gelato & coffee; historic and quaint)

Osteria de Memmo
Via dei Soldati, 22/23, 00186 Rome, Italy
Phone:+39 06-6813-5277
(Great for a special lunch or dinner; fantastic seafood, meat and pasta in an elegant atmosphere)

Dar Poeta
Vicolo del Bologna, 45  00153 Rome, Italy
+39 06-588-0516
(Located in a hip, youthful neighborhood, fantastic pizza)

Navona Notte
Via del Teatro Pace, 44  186 Rome, Italy
+39 06-686 9278
(Great for a dinner on a budget)

Sage & Butter Filet Mignon with Yam Fries and Asparagus

Wow this blog has gathered a lot of dust! 6 months worth of dust… my excuse has always been that I don’t have enough time, but I finally admitted to myself that since I spend hours watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (judge away) and staring vacantly at Facebook, I have no excuse. Since I last posted we moved to a (way better) apartment closer to L.A., I started grad school and the boyfriend and I traveled to Rome and Sicily in December (major food post to come). Things have definitely been on the up and up and I am now settling into 20 days of spring break (thus, the rekindling of this site!). I’m hoping to infuse this blog with some broader topics though as I move forward (because there is more to life than grub) so be on the lookout for posts on fitness, music, health, DIY, fashion and general rants. I’ll first start by posting an easy recipe from last week.

As some friends and family know, I’ve been slowly leaning towards eating more and more Paleo (a.k.a. “the caveman diet”) and for a solid two weeks I was following Whole30, which is an even stricter version of Paleo where you only eat high-quality meat & fish, vegetables, fruits and certain fats like olive oil, seeds and nuts for 30 days. Well, I didn’t make it to 30 days. I technically didn’t make it past four days, but I’m going to be delusional and not count a certain night of excessive drinking post-performance. It just didn’t happen, alright?

I nonetheless feel amazing while eating Paleo and the more I research, read and experiment the more it makes sense. For the first time in a LONG time a lot of my stomach issues disappeared and I am now 10 pounds away from weighing what I did in highschool. How do you like them egg rolls? My only complaint is that we (non-cavemen) have unfortunately been conditioned to have something called variety. So, I am trying to figure out how to eat paleo “most of the time” while being able to dip into my fav non-paleo meals without getting too cray-cray. I mean, a life without pasta and wine is not a life.

With that said, let’s talk about STEAK:

Filet mignon is seriously my favorite cut of beef and is one of the many perks of eating Paleo. It melts in your mouth, is tender and soft and is a super low-maintenance cut. All l I did was salt & pepper it and then seared it over high heat until rare. I took some fresh, chopped sage and simmered it on low heat with a couple teaspoons of clarified butter (also know as “ghee”). I chopped up some yam fries and sautéed some fresh asparagus with shallots and olive oil, and had dinner ready in 20 minutes.

[I always cut the ends off my herbs, stick them in some water and cover to keep them fresh throughout the week.]

Oh, this is making me nostalgic. Lately I’ve been indulging in a little too much sugar, and half and half in my coffee, and spaghetti, and Trader Joe’s appetizers, and bites of the boyfriend’s Del Taco quesadillas, etc…. and the result is, I don’t feel too snazzy. I’m planning to return to the “straight and narrow” starting on Monday. I’d start back up tomorrow but we are visiting the fam for brunch and while I am a strong woman, I don’t know if I can (or really want to) pass on my Dad’s amazing waffles. Before I head to sleep though, look! I bought some new Asics so I can look cool at the gym again. My old running shoes had holes in them (yes, plural) and they squeaked. I was getting some funny looks from the little old ladies at the YMCA. But now I’ll show them!

Braised Lamb Chops & Asparagus Risotto

I’ve classified this under “Danielle’s Favorite Meals.”

There’s really not much to say about this dish: it was amazing, and it’s definitely a pairing I want to store in my virtual cookbook and bring out when I want to woo someone or prove to people that I am sophisticated…

Once in a rare while I will come up with an original “recipe” (i.e. I’ll throw whatever I have in the fridge together in a makeshift dinner), but usually I steal other people’s tested recipes for my kitchen. Sometimes they are fantastic, others are… well, not so fantastic. That’s where this blog comes in. I want to be able to remember the good ones and let the other failed recipes fade away like a bad trip to Souplantation.

In this case, both the balsamic reduction and risotto were recipes I found online, and both turned out amazing. I’ve just copied and pasted them here- don’t judge me. I’m way too tired and behind in posts to type out these recipe and  add my personalized notes to them, and since I didn’t change much of anything in either one, there’s no need to.

Lamb & Balsamic Reduction a la All Recipes:

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 lamb chops (3/4 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the rosemary, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Rub this mixture onto the lamb chops on both sides. Place them on a plate, cover and set aside for 15 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place lamb chops in the skillet, and cook for about 3 1/2 minutes per side for medium rare, or continue to cook to your desired doneness. Remove from the skillet, and keep warm on a serving platter.
  3. Add shallots to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes, just until browned. Stir in vinegar, scraping any bits of lamb from the bottom of the skillet, then stir in the chicken broth. Continue to cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half. If you don’t, the sauce will be runny and not good. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter. Pour over the lamb chops, and serve.

Asparagus Risotto a la New York Times

Adapted from Mario Batali

Time: 45 minutes

1 pound asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved
4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add half the asparagus stalks and cook until quite soft, at least 5 minutes. Rinse quickly under cold water. Put cooked asparagus in a blender or food processor and add just enough water to allow machine to puree until smooth; set aside.

2. Put stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add onion, stirring occasionally until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine, stir, and let liquid bubble away. Add a large pinch of salt. Add warmed stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring occasionally. Each time stock has just about evaporated, add more.

4. After about 15 minutes, add remaining asparagus pieces and tips, continuing to add stock when necessary. In 5 minutes, begin tasting rice. You want it to be tender but with a bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes total to reach this stage. When it does, stir in 1/2 cup asparagus puree. Remove skillet from heat, add remaining butter and stir briskly. Add Parmesan and stir briskly, then taste and adjust seasoning. Risotto should be slightly soupy. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings.

Ricotta & Wheat Pies [start of a new Easter tradition]

Ricotta & wheat pies are not an Easter tradition in my own family, but I have declared it a new tradition from here on out. They are crusted with a pasta frolla (a kind of shortbread), and then filled with a sweet ricotta filling, either adding chocolate or wheat berries at the end. My grandmother always made Sicilian Easter Rings growing up, and next year I’ll tackle those as a new project.

I made a total of 8 pies for Easter to give away as gifts and bring to the various households (both my boyfriend and I come from split families, so there’s always double to dish out) It was not a small feat considering my sad excuse for a kitchen and erratic stove. They turned out fabulous to my surprise. I used two different ricotta bases, and the version with the wheat was the general favorite. The wheat pies turned out lighter and creamier, whereas the ricotta pies were thicker and denser.

SO, I’ve adapted the recipe so that the base is the same, and you can simply add the wheat or chocolate chips at the end.

This recipe makes two pies. Go ahead and make the dough 1 full day in advance. It softens very, very quickly once you begin handling it. Make the wheat berries in advance too (takes about 1 hour or so).

Pasta Frolla- The Dough

  • 4 sticks of butter, room temp.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup water, room temp.
  • 4 cups flour

1. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

2. Add the zests, the honey, the baking soda and baking powder. Mix for about 1 minute until everything is really incorporated.

3. Add the water, beating at medium speed until you’ve created a liquid batter.

4. Add the flour and mix until you’ve created a nice little ball of dough. Do not over-mix or knead it like you would if you were making pizza dough.

5. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for a full day.

6. Prepare your pie pan with a cooking spray or grease. Set aside 1/4 of the dough for the lattice strips on top. Roll out the bulk of the dough so it can cover the pie tin/ plate (about 13-14″). Gently lift and drop the pie tin/plate so the dough settles, and then trim off the edges.

Tips:

  • Work quickly with the dough, because it begins to soften immediately.
  • Use plastic wrap above and below the dough while rolling it out, so it won’t stick to anything. Pull off half of the plastic wrap when you’re ready to place the dough, and then after you’ve folded it over the pie tin, peel off the remaining wrap.
  • If you’re going to use metal, disposable tins, either bake the pie with three of them stacked up OR place the tin on a pre-heated baking sheet. This will help it cook more evenly.

The Filling

  • 2 pounds ricotta
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of orange blossom water (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 orange
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 1 pound wheat berries (prepared) or 2 cups mini chocolate chips (both optional, depending on the kind of pie you want)
1. Prepare the wheat berries (if you’re making a wheat pie) by soaking them for 10 minutes in warm water. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the berries (as if you are making rice) and bring to a simmer. Add the drained wheat berries, along with the zest, juice and rind of an orange and some honey, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook for about an hour, until the berries are still chewy but soft. Stir often so the bottom doesn’t burn and then drain, and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Incorporate the ricotta, the two zests, the sugar and the orange blossom water.
4. Add the eggs one at a time until everything is thoroughly mixed and fluffy.
5. Fold in either the wheat berries OR the chocolate chips OR leave it plain!

6. Pour the mixture into the pie shell until it is about 3/4 full. Top it with a thin layer of pasta frolla or a lattice design. Use an egg wash and brush egg over the pie. Bake until it is golden brown, set but not too hard (it will continue cooking for a while). It took mine about 45 minutes to an hour.
7. Chill it and serve!
Tips:
  • It was a PAIN to find wheat berries. I went to Target (obviously futile), Sprouts/ Henry’s, Albertson’s and finally Mother’s Market, which of course has every random nut and flake you could ever dream up.
  • Be sure the wheat berries are cooked and ready to go before starting the mixture, because the actually filling takes minutes to stir together.
  • Wheat berries are cooked like rice, and make a fabulous breakfast. Swap out oatmeal for wheat berries!
  • If the pie is beginning to brown too much on the crust, cover it with foil.

How to Poach Your Eggs with Pride

I’ve been a little obsessed with poached eggs lately. They are so delicious & healthy and have a softer consistency than a fried egg. Whenever I fry my eggs, I always feel a little vulgar as well, even though I don’t actually fry them in fat. Eating a poached egg however, always leaves me feeling very refined.

Directions:

  • Bring about three inches of water close to a simmer in a large saucepan.
  • Drop a splash of vinegar in the water (this will help “tighten” up the egg- or at worst, give you a false sense of confidence). Crack one egg into a small bowl (this makes it easier).
  •  Carefully slide the egg into the water.
  • Using a spatula, help the egg keep its shape and allow the white of the egg to envelope the yolk.
  • Boil for about three minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop up the egg, and set it in a bowl. Wait for about 30 seconds, and then using a paper towel, swirl the bowl around to drain the water “run-off” (sounds appetizing, huh?) and dab. Some people like to drain the egg on the paper towel, but I always worry that it’s going to stick to the paper!
I usually do about three-four at a time for the boyfriend and me, using a large, wide saucepan. I haven’t encountered any problems doing this. I just use a spatula to help the eggs stay in their place and fold over.

Goodbye little Poachie. I mean, you’re cute and all, but I can poach four eggs in three minutes on my own, and well…. you’re just holding me back.