Cooking For Each Other: Book Talk & Brunch
EVENT: BGSK Weekly Book Meeting
VENUE: Phoebe’s Apartment, Flatiron
PARTY SIZE: 2
TYPE: Productive Midday Nosh
MENU: Baked Eggs on a Bed of (Leftover) Pumpkin-Leek Stuffing; Savory Leek Pancake with Smoked Gouda
It sometimes seems like only yesterday that I was racing into the office at 7am to finish my post for the day or sneaking Cara messages about the awesome tagine I had made the night before in between work emails about fragrances and the rising prices of facial moisturizer. Since we’ve left our day jobs and taken on BGSK as our full time gig, communication has been at an all-time high for the two of us, as has an equally important part of our relationship as friends: face time.
Our first of what would become our standing weekly brunch meeting was back in October when, after 5 months of dating, I had yet to meet Cara’s boyfriend, Alex. Finally, I put my foot down, and dragged my butt to Brooklyn to force my introduction upon them. After a brief get-to-know-you session, we got to work, and it turned into one of the most productive mornings we’d had in a while. Since then, we’ve made a weekly date of it, and now that there is no added incentive over at her place, I usually make Cara come to me. We brainstorm stories for The Book, edit each other’s chapters, and write. But before we get down to business with the blog and book, we also eat: new creations, the occasional plate of leftovers, and many many eggs.
Even after a year of blogging and working together, very few situations have arisen when we actually get to cook for each other, and each other alone. Doing so now, on a weekly basis, presents a rather interesting set of circumstances. On the one hand, I know Cara’s tastes almost as well as I know my own. If I served her but one sad scrambled egg, threw a healthy helping of melted cheese on top, and sat her down with a piece of delicious crusty bread, I know she would be as happy as if I had placed a two course gourmet feast in front of her. This is nice, because unlike with my other guests, I don’t feel entirely bad about scrounging together the contents of my fridge for brunch, or simply serving leftovers. Especially, if these leftovers are Pumpkin-Leek Stuffing, which after reading about on my Thanksgiving blog post, she was dying to try.
On the other hand, our comfort together at the table means that there is no better person to be the recipient of my experiments than Cara. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s never a good idea to make something completely outside your comfort zone when it’s intended to feed eight friends. Unless, of course, they are very old friends, and will love you regardless of burnt vegetables. So a few weeks ago, when I came across a recipe for a savory pancake, I decided to try out my version of it for Cara, knowing that the addition of leek confit would win her over immediately, even if I accidentally messed up the batter.
The result was delicious, but it just as well could have been a disaster—one which we would have laughed about, tossed in the trash, before starting over in my small kitchen, together.
From my kitchen, where cooking for Cara is like cooking for one, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Makes 2 servings
3-4 cups Pumpkin-Leek Stuffing (or whatever leftover stuffing Thanksgiving provided)
chicken stock (if the stuffing is dry)
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese (you can use anything you have on hand, gouda, gruyere, mozzarella, fontina would all work well here)
Preheat the oven to 450.
Butter a gratin or baking dish. Spread the stuffing evenly in the dish and bake in the oven for ten minutes or so, until the top has begun to set again and become crusty. Remove from the oven and cut two small wells in the stuffing. Crack the eggs in these wells, sprinkle with cheese, and return to the oven for 7-10 minutes, until the whites have set and the cheese is gooey.
Savory Leek Pancake with Smoked Gouda
Makes 4 servings
For the leek comfit:
2 large leeks, dark green part removed, thinly sliced
3 tbsp butter
½ cup of water or stock
salt to taste
For the pancake:
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups shredded Smoked Gouda (1/2 lb)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a lidded saucepot or casserole, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté for 5 minutes until the butter is incorporated and they begin to wilt. Add the water or stock, turn the flame to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally. Cook slowly until the leeks are completely soft and beginning to turn to mush. Take the lid off and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Combine eggs, milk, flour, mustard and sugar in processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add leeks to a large oiled or non-stick oven-proof skillet. Pour the pancake mixture over the top and sprinkle the cheese in one even layer.
Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and the pancake has puffed up, about 15 minutes. Cut into four large pieces and serve with a side of greens.