These eggs are a refreshing change from typical brunch fare.
Serves 4 as a first course
6 eggs 3 large tomatoes 1/4 cup olive oil, more for drizzling Salt and pepper to taste 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Put the eggs in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil and simmer them until hard-boiled, 10 to 12 minutes. Plunge the eggs in cold water to cool them and stop the cooking. Peel them under cold running water, dry them, and halve them lengthwise.
Meanwhile, cut each tomato crosswise in 4 thick slices, discarding the ends. Set 3 tomato slices on 4 serving plates, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set them aside.
Stir together the oil, vinegar, pepper, and a large pinch of salt in a frying pan and heat it. Add the egg halves cut side down, and cook over low heat until the vinegar has evaporated. 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the eggs once or twice during cooking. With a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to the serving plates, putting an egg half, cut side up, on top of each tomato slice.
Add the garlic to the frying pan and saute over low heat until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook them until golden brown, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture over the eggs and sprinkle with parsley.
Getting ahead: Boil the eggs and slice the tomatoes an hour or two ahead, then heat the eggs in vinegar and finish the recipe just before serving.
Those gutsy chicken legs invite eating with your fingers. You'll need to allow two or three per person.
6 tablespoons soy sauce 1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla) 6 garlic cloves, chopped 4 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger 2 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes 1/4 cup vegetable oil 8 to 12 chicken legs (about 2 pounds)
In a shallow dish, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, 2 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes, and vegetable oil. Slash each leg 2 to 3 times so the marinade can penetrate. Roll chicken legs in the mixture to coat them and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Light the grill and brush the rack with oil. Grill the legs, turning them often and brushing with the remaining marinade, until browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
To make this a complete meal, add some vegetables to the casserole 1-1/2 hours before the end of cooking. I'd suggest quartered carrots with celery root or turnip, cut into chunks. The vegetables will color deep red in the gravy and taste delicious.
Serves 4 to 6
1 piece of beef chuck or round (about 3 pounds) 3 tablespoons flour 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon Salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/4 pound thickly sliced bacon, cut in 1/4-inch dice 1 onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, chopped Bouquet garni made of 1 bay leaf, 2 to 3 sprigs basil, and 2 to 3 sprigs marjoram 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Roll and tie the roast neatly with string. Mix the flour on a plate with the cloves, cinnamon, and a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Coat the meat in the flour mixture, patting with your hands so it adheres.
Heat the oil in a casserole, add the meat, and brown it very thoroughly on all sides over medium heat, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the meat and wipe out the pan if there are black specks. Add the bacon and fry it until the fat runs, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and fry, stirring, until the bacon and onion are browned, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Put the meat back with the garlic and bouquet garni. Pour in the wine, cover the casserole, and bring it to a boil. Transfer it to the oven and cook until the meat is so tender it can almost be cut with a spoon, 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours. Turn the beef from time to time during cooking, adding water if the wine evaporates -- the meat should always be half covered.
Transfer the beef to a serving platter and keep it warm in a low oven. Strain the cooking juices and taste them. If necessary, boil the gravy to reduce and concentrate it, up to 15 minutes. Taste again and adjust the seasoning. Discard the bouquet garni and trussing strings and carve the meat in generous slices. Spoon some gravy over the meat and pass the rest separately.
Getting ahead: Pot roast improves on reheating, so make it up to 2 days ahead.
Bearnaise is traditional with red meats, particularly grilled steak and lamb chops, and with salmon it's world class.
Makes 1-1/2 cups sauce to serve 4 to 6
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter Small bunch of tarragon 3 tablespoons white wine or tarragon vinegar 3 tablespoons dry white wine 1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns 3 shallots, finely chopped 1 tablespoon water 3 egg yolks Small pinch of cayenne pepper Salt to taste 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil or parsley
Melt the butter, skim froth from the surface, and set aside to cool to tepid. Pull the tarragon leaves from the stems and chop the leaves. Put the stems in a small, heavy saucepan with the vinegar, white wine, peppercorns, and shallots. Boil until reduced to a glaze, then discard the tarragon stems and stir in a tablespoon of water to cool the mixture to tepid.
Whisk in the egg yolks with cayenne pepper and a little salt. Set the pan back on low heat and whisk constantly until a mousse is formed that just holds the mark of the whisk, slightly thicker than for hollandaise. This should take at least 3 minutes.
Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the tepid butter, starting a tablespoonful at a time until the sauce starts to thicken. Once an emulsion has formed, you can add the butter more quickly in a slow, steady stream. Leave behind the milky whey in the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the chopped tarragon leaves and chervil. Taste and adjust seasoning, including cayenne pepper.
Getting ahead: Keep the sauce warm in the pan in a bath of tepid water, and stir it from time to time. I would not advise leaving it more than an hour.
Recipes from THE GOOD COOK by Anne Willan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; October 2004; $40.00/Hardcover)