Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eggs and Snow

It is snowing in Portland. Snowing, It’s-a-White-Christmas, giant, powdery white snowflakes kind of snow. The kind of snow that conjures the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and dreams of skating in Rockefeller Center and drinking hot cocoa afterwards at Serendipity.

After I have imbibed all of the hot chocolate I can possibly handle, it is precisely this kind of day that makes me crave comfort food! One of my favorite comfort dishes is one that Court introduced me to when we were first dating. In fact, I think he pulled it out to make sure I would be powerless to resist him. It is a simple Cantonese dish that transports him right back to his childhood, and for me, provides great satisfaction when I don’t want to make much of an effort for dinner.

Steamed eggs might not sound like the incredibly luxurious dish that it actually is. It is a very simple dish—with only 4-5 ingredients and a short cooking time, but the result is a silken custard of savory eggs topped with scallions and oyster sauce. I am incredibly attached to oyster sauce—it is the perfect balance of savory and sweet. I should warn you that it might take a couple of attempts to find the perfect bowl to cook it in. We like rounded bottom ceramic dishes the best, and use our double boiler as our steamer. It is hard to nail down a cooking time, as it varies so much from dish to dish, so for the first time please stand close by and check every two minutes with a fork. You will know it is set when it is the texture of silken tofu in the middle. Once you have the cooking time down, it might just become one of your go to comfort foods as well.

Let it snow!

Cantonese Style Chinese Steamed Eggs

Serves 2
• 3 eggs
• ¼ cup broth (I use chicken)
• 1/2 teaspoon of salt
• 2-3 drops of toasted sesame oil
• 1 teaspoon canola oil to coat the bowl
• 2-3 scallions, finely minced
First, bring water in double boiler or wok to a rolling boil and be sure to coat the bowl with canola oil.
Whisk the egg with salt, sesame oil and broth in the ceramic bowl.
Place bowl into a steamer or double boiler and cover with lid. (You can make your own steamer by simply adding some water into a wok and raise the bowl above the water by using a small wire rack. If you do this, don’t close the wok lid fully... leave a small gap)
Gently steam for 8-15 min (time varies greatly depending on dish). You should open the lid and check if the egg is cooked by placing a fork in the center to see if it has set. Remember that it should be the texture of silken tofu.
Remove from steamer, drizzle with oyster sauce and sprinkle scallions on top just before serving. Serve with steamed white rice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jill's Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

I am thankFULL.

I must admit that after moving away from all our family and friends earlier this year, Thanksgiving was not something I was looking forward to. This may be a common feeling for many of those who have to journey long distances to have stress-inducing conversations with extended family, but for me, Thanksgiving has always been an uproarious family event with a ridiculous amount of amazing food and hilarious conversations with people I love. My relatives plan out the menus months ahead of time and the day itself is spent imbibing copious amounts of champagne while roasting birds and vegetables to culminate in a collectively prepared feast.

Over the years, I have spent Thanksgivings apart from my family, but always in the company of friends who have felt like family themselves. This year my Thanksgiving woes were put to rest by my dear friend Emma, who also loves food, plots out feasts months ahead of time, and even better yet, loves to drink champagne while filling pies, stuffing birds and roasting squash.

We had a delightful dinner for six—starting out with one of my favorite salads: grapefruit, avocado and butter lettuce is the ultimate palate cleanser (to help wash away the many rich cheeses we had been devouring in the hours leading up to the meal).

The star of the main event was my mother’s amazing Cornish game hens dusted with nutmeg and stuffed with herb cheese. I have come to enjoy preparing turkey (I baste all day in butter and wine), but when we found out there would be just six of us, Cornish game hens seemed so much more special. We served it with caramelized butternut squash, roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta, apple sausage stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and my mom’s mashed potatoes.

As much as I loved the entree, Emma’s beautiful apple galette may have been my favorite of the night—she even made a homemade Calvados applesauce! Suffice to say, a wonderful time was had by all!

Jill’s Stuffed Cornish Game Hens:

These are ridiculously easy, and a real show stopper. I generally serve with a loaf of crusty bread, roasted carrots (with butter and thyme) and a nice bottle of red wine.


• 4 (1-2 pound) Cornish game hens
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• Salt and white pepper
• Freshly ground nutmeg
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 1/4 cup chicken stock
• 1 container of herb Boursin or Alouette cheese


*The night ahead: scoop out six 1-2 Tbsp of Boursin or Alouette cheese and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Place the herb packets in the freezer overnight. You can get away with freezing them the morning of if you forget!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and position the oven rack in the center of the oven.

Rinse hens inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck wing tips under the hens, then place them, breast side up, in a large roasting pan, alternating directions of hens so that they fit well in the pan. Rub the hens with 1/2 tablespoon each of the butter. Season the hens inside and out with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Unwrap the cheese and place inside the cavity of each bird. Tie each hen’s legs with kitchen twine. Roast hens for 20-25 minutes, then move them slightly in the pan to prevent them from sticking on the bottom. Continue to roast the hens until they are golden brown and the juices run clear, about 20-30 minutes longer. The hens are done when you can pull the leg away from the body without any resistance.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer hens to a serving platter. Cover loosely with aluminum foil while you prepare the sauce.

Pour off any excess fat in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and stock, scraping the bottom of the roasting pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon gravy over the birds and serve with crusty bread!