From the category archives:


This week, I make a salad that is the perfect summer meal–easy to put together, little heat required, not heavy but still nourishing.

***PLEASE NOTE: Due to some tech problems, the egg boiling in this episode does not happen in real time–I had to cut out about three minutes. So set your own egg timer, and don’t rely on the recording. Sorry about this!***


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Shopping list

    Grape tomatoes
    Green beans
    Potatoes (Yukon Gold are good; Red Bliss also work well)
    Tuna (packed in oil)
    Olive oil
    Red-wine vinegar
    Dijon mustard

Salade Nicoise

nicoise-013This French composed salad makes a nourishing summer dinner. The basic ingredients are included here, and you can also add black olives, capers and/or fresh herbs (toss the herbs with the warm potatoes, or mix them into the salad dressing). Don’t skimp on quality tuna, however–you definitely want the kind packed in olive oil. For more on boiling eggs, see Episode 4, Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs. For more on salad dressing, see Quick and Versatile Salad Dressing in Episode 2.

For one serving
1 egg
2 or 3 baby potatoes (Yukon Gold or Red Bliss)
3 or 4 large lettuce leaves
Handful grape tomatoes
Handful fresh green beans
Half small can tuna packed in olive oil

For the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar, or more to taste
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper

Boil the egg according to the directions in Episode 4 (short version: boil 9 minutes). When done, run under cold water and set in a bowl with ice.

Wash your potatoes and cut them into quarters (or more, if they’re larger potatoes) and boil in heavily salted water for about 10 minutes, until a potato piece slides easily of a fork. When done, rinse in cold water then drain well.

Rinse lettuce and dry well.

Slice grape tomatoes in half (see note).

Wash and trim green beans, and boil briefly in salted water, until bright green but still crisp, about 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water.

Make salad dressing, following instructions in Episode 2 (short version: shake everything together in a tightly sealed jar). It’s a good idea to make more than the amount given here, so you have the extra for future salads later in the week.

Assemble salad: lay out lettuce leaves, then place additional ingredients, including the tuna, around the plate. Keep warm ingredients (egg, potatoes, beans) off the lettuce so the lettuce doesn’t wilt. Pour over dressing. You may also want to sprinkle a little salt on the tomatoes, eggs, potatoes and beans.

Note: If you’re making enough for two servings of salad, try using the nifty slicing trick I describe in the podcast, which I learned from Saveur magazine recently. Take two lids from plastic quart containers (often used for takeout food–at least here in New York). Place one on the cutting board with the rim sticking up, and arrange the tomatoes on the lid.


Then set the second lid on top, upside-down.


Hold the top lid in place and slide a serrated knife across to slice through all the tomatoes.



This week, I make a very quick omelette for dinner, along with the simplest of all side salads–just pick a good tasty green, and let that do all the work for you. The omelette filling is only a suggestion–it’s really up to you.

Note: Cooking in Real Time will be on vacation next week, May 17.


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Shopping list

    Shallots or onions
    Goat cheese
    Olive oil

Omelette with Asparagus, Mushroom and Goat Cheese

omelette-014Endlessly variable, a delicate French-style omelette like this makes a great dinner. Get creative with leftovers from your fridge, mixing various cheeses, herbs and vegetables. One of the best combos I ever came up with was cream cheese and ajvar, a Balkan red pepper spread–invented only because they were the last two things in the fridge (both have a long shelf life).

For one omelette
2 small shallots, half a small onion or one scallion
1 large mushroom
1 spear asparagus
Small sprig tarragon (or any other fresh herb you have; totally optional)
About 2 tbsp soft goat cheese
2 eggs

Chop up your shallot in relatively small pieces, your mushroom into large pieces and your asparagus into thin rounds.

Melt about 1 tsp butter in a small (6 inches or so) nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the shallot and fry, stirring, until translucent. Add the asparagus and mushroom, turn the heat down to medium, and let cook until spotted brown, stirring occasionally.

omelette-008Rinse your tarragon and tear the leaves into a bowl. When the vegetable mix is done, scrape that into the bowl with the tarragon.

Crumble the goat cheese into another small bowl, or at least break it into a few clumps. (If you’re using a firmer cheese, grate it as finely as you possibly can, ideally with a Microplane.)

With a fork, briefly whisk your two eggs together with a pinch of salt, just until white and yolk are combined.

Wipe your skillet clean if necessary and add another 1 tsp of butter. Let it melt over high heat, swirling the pan to evenly coat the bottom and sides. When the foam has just subsided, pour in your eggs. Let set for about 5 seconds, while you rinse out your egg bowl. Start jiggling the pan to create a little texture in the eggs. With a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, quickly poke small holes in the bottom of the omelette and tilt the pan to fill the holes with liquid egg.

When most of the egg is set but there is still a film of liquid egg on the surface, take the skillet off the heat and turn off the burner. Lay the cheese across the center of the omelette, perpendicular to the handle, then add the filling. Fold one third of the omelette over itself, then tip the omelette onto a plate.

Serve promptly, with good buttered bread or toast.

Watercress Salad

Rinse a big handful of watercress well, in at least two changes of water. Dry and place in a salad bowl. Drizzle on a very small amount of olive oil and toss to coat the leaves. Lightly squeeze half a lemon over the salad, and add a pinch of salt. Toss again, and you’re done.

You can also use arugula or sweet dandelion greens (where “sweet” means relatively less bitter).


This week, I show you how to make a really good basic omelette. I’m doing it on video because it’s quick, and it’s the sort of thing you have to see to believe. It’s also an attempt to correct some very poor omelette-making advice by the Amateur Gourmet (more commentary on this on my blog). With this technique, you get a fluffy, tender omelette with perfectly melted cheese–and you don’t have to do any fiddly flipping. In a future episode, I’ll do an audio-only version, making an omelette as part of a full meal.

(Apologies…this takes a while to load. Watch on YouTube for faster service.)

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One of the keys to a good omelette is the size of the pan, as you don’t want the eggs to be too deep or too thin in the pan. I usually make a two-egg omelette (three eggs is just too much of a project) and use a 6-inch skillet. For a three-egg omelette, I’d use an 8-inch skillet.

You also want to have your cheese and any other filling prepared beforehand, and you should grate your cheese as finely as you can. I use a Microplane zester.

Contrary to the advice of the Amateur Gourmet (or, to be fair, his chef mentor in the video), you don’t want to whisk your eggs a lot. The fluffiness of the omelette comes not from whipping air into them beforehand, but in how you treat them in the pan–you want to give them high heat to set the bottom up, but ultimately not let the eggs get too hot all the way through.

After that, you just have to watch the video to see… The real key to success is knowing it’s OK to turn off the heat while the eggs are still a bit runny. When you get the hang of it, you’ll have a very satisfying addition to your kitchen repertoire.

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Episode 4: Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs with Guest Peter “The Egg Whisperer”

April 5, 2009

This week: Just in time for Easter, esteemed egg expert Peter (er, my husband) cooks the perfect hard-boiled egg in real time. Use this episode as your own egg timer at home!

Read the full article →