Food Photography – Earth, Wind and Fire Scramble

Every time I go out on travel my usual diet goes out the window; it’s not really an option. For most restaurants vegetables in general are just an after thought, never mind an actual complete meal. It can be a bit frustrating, honestly, but on the upside it provides me with an “excuse” to sample cuisine I wouldn’t normally expose myself to; and that is a must when traveling. Exposure to different (and tasty) meals is a highlight of many trips.

Earth Wind Fire Scramble

This past weekend some friends and I went down to Orlando, Florida for a wedding. Disneyland World to be exact. But instead of flying, we decided it would make a great road trip; so we rented a car early Friday morning and embarked on a 15 hour drive. With two other people to rotate driving responsibilities and those two people being friends, it turned out to be a pretty fun trip. We crashed at a friend’s place who happens to live in the city and had a really good time (and ate a lot of really good food).

Earth Wind Fire Scramble Close Up

Sunday morning before the wedding Ben, Lindsey, Carolyn and I went out for brunch at a local spot called HUE and had some really excellent food. On the third Sunday of every month they feature something called Disco Brunch with a DJ and some horribly designed menus (the typographer in me died a little), giving each item some clever name like Billie Jean and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I ordered the Earth, Wind and Fire scramble which was scrambled eggs, smoked ham, Gouda cheese and potato hash. Delicious. If ever in the area for brunch, I strongly recommend HUE.

Poor Man's Potato Cakes

Several readers lately have asked Edwin or myself about how they can use what they have on hand – either learning new ways to use a specific ingredient that they happen to have an abundance of, or ways to improvise with what’s available.

potato cakes_oven ready

Tonight was a bit of an improvising night for me and my husband. We had a great time on Saturday morning at the Arlington Farmer’s Market, which means we brought home various produce that looked good but that we didn’t know what we’d use it for. Among these items were two small to medium sized Russet potatoes.

I’d been eying a recipe for Potato Latkes lately; however when I started making them last night I quickly realized that I didn’t have Yukon potatoes or an onion (how could I not have an onion?). I decided instead of throwing in the towel that I’d, well, improvise!

The result of my improvisation should not be referred to as latkes. To anyone who has had latkes or knows what they are, I’m sure I’m not fooling you! Latkes are typically a Jewish tradition, and it’s really just a simple potato pancake fried until crispy with some grated onion and an egg.

potato cakes

Yeah… that’s not what I made!

I located a red pepper in the fridge that was almost past its prime – in the “latkes” it went! Joining the red pepper were my favorites – frozen spinach and a bit of garlic. And for my final insult, instead of using 6 tablespoons of olive oil and frying my little cakes, I axed the oil completely and simply broiled them!

In the end I was left with potato cakes that were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, brimming with healthy veggies and a nice kick of salt and pepper. My adventure was a success, and I was able to use some quality produce that we didn’t want to go to waste. There are really endless combinations that you can create!

My husband and I ate these potato cakes on their own, but a side of baked beans would make a nice compliment. Enjoy!

potato cake halves

Poor Man’s Potato Cakes

2 small/medium sized potatoes, cut into 1 inch squares
1 small red pepper (or 1/2 large), diced
1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 oz.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
1 square of matzah, crushed
1 tsp kosher salt
dash of black pepper and cayenne

Steam cubed potatoes in a colander, covered, over boiling water until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Cool and mash.

Cook spinach according to package instructions. Drain thoroughly and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine mashed potatoes and diced red pepper. Add in spinach, garlic, egg, crushed matzah, 1/2 tsp of the salt and some black pepper. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Form mixture into patties and place on the sheet. The mixture should stick together without sticking to you. Sprinkle remaining salt over the potato cakes along with some more pepper and a dash of cayenne on each.

Broil (remember to keep your oven door partially open) at the top of the oven for 9 minutes, then carefully turn patties over with a spatula (don’t burn yourself!) and broil for an additional 4 minutes.

Serve, sprinkling with more salt and/or pepper as needed.

In Search of Energy – "Soldiers" to the Rescue

My husband and I are trying (I repeat, “trying”) to get into a gym routine and be more active on a regular basis. As you might imagine, this is a difficult task for someone who takes as much pleasure in baking (and eating) as I do! But I’m fairly certain I’m not the only person who struggles with that, right? (I’m hoping for a chorus of “Amens” here!)

eggs, before boiling

I was thinking about foods that I could make that might raise our energy level while being somewhat light and not weighing us down. I was also considering what to do with those hard-boiled eggs leftover from Easter. This also led me to remember something that my mom used to make on occasion when I was little.

My mom called them “Soldiers,” but a quick googling of “Soldiers” plus “hard-boiled eggs” led me to an odd dish from the UK where buttered strips of toast are dipped into soft-boiled egg yolk.

hard-boiled eggs

There actually are some similarities between what my mom refers to as Soldiers and the UK version – I wonder (and will have to ask) whether this recipe is something that was passed down and changed throughout generations like a game of telephone.

cubed bread

In any event, this really hit the spot! Eggs are a great source of protein, especially if you don’t eat meat. As long as you enjoy eggs in moderation (like most things), you shouldn’t run into any issues with cholesterol. I’m not sure exactly how to describe the taste – it’s a very simple dish with the egg yolk and pepper being the two flavors that jump out most distinctly to me. As a kid I remember thinking it was just a really fun thing to eat. It’s definitely light and is great to enjoy either an hour before a workout or after.



serves 2

3 large eggs
4 slices of your favorite bread, ends cut off
butter or margarine
salt and pepper, to taste

To hard boil the eggs – Place the three large eggs in a medium saucepan and add cold water until eggs are just completely covered. Set to high heat. When water with eggs starts to boil, remove the pan from heat and cover with a lid. Let the pan sit for about 12 minutes. Run eggs under cold water to cool. Cold hard-boiled eggs are easier to peel.

To peel eggs, roll on a flat surface (like your kitchen counter) with the palm of your hand, pressing down gently. When the shell cracks it should be fairly easy to peel off. When eggs are peeled, cut into cubes.

Stack slices of bread and trim off ends. Butter one side of each slice and cut bread into cubes. Add to a medium size bowl and then add egg pieces. Season generously with pepper and add a bit of salt. Toss to combine and serve.