What is about the parental visit that makes us want to appear more adult than we actually are? We scramble around our tiny apartments or houses, tripping over roommates and nubby rugs and moth balls to vacuum and put everything in order while the cat stares at us with a smug grin, as if to say, “Finally going to clean my litter box, huh?”. In reality, it’s the days and weeks and months that our parents aren’t around when the real adult stuff happens, like unclogging drains and running errands, but it all culminates the moment Mom and Dad cross your threshold and peer around your adult surroundings. We need to prove that we’re making it in the real world – paying bills, washing our sheets, dusting shelves – so that our parents don’t grab us by the ears, drag us home and put us in timeout. But to be quite honest, all I really want to do when my parents come to town is go to fancy restaurants where they foot the bill, let them do my laundry and dishes and crawl up in my mom’s lap for a nice, long snooze.
But it has never happened like that with my parents (except for fancy restaurant part). My parents roll up into town, take three seconds to look around my place, and then are off to the races. There is no time to do laundry and dishes never cross our mind, and naps are not allowed. I lost track of the number of times my parents came to see my in New York, but every time I remember waving them goodbye from my stoop, turning around and barely being able to turn the doorknob from exhaustion. Sometimes I barely remember when my mother came to India with my, seven whizzing, whirling days filled with vague scents and lots of planes and trains and automobiles, with the occasional museum or monument thrown in. And now, my parents descend on Guatemala, the San Juan House and everywhere in between and it’s up to me to once again show them I can pay my bills, wash my clothes and do all the other things parents want to make sure their kids do when they aren’t watching. And here’s how I’ll do it (don’t be shocked) –
I am going to cook. For the first time in my life I not only have a kitchen a) bigger than my parents, b) that has windows, c) has a mountain of groceries and d) space enough to fit more than 2 (or 10!) people comfortably. And while, yes, in case you all who have had a desayuno tipico in Guatemala before think they are leaving without one, you’re wrong. But I can’t serve them huevos y frijoles every day! That’s where Yotam Ottolenghi comes in. I honestly can’t talk about him or his cooking without becoming excited. The author of several cookbooks including Plenty and Jerusalem knows vegetables like no other and can turn anything with an egg into a form of godliness. Cindy and Bob will be dining on his Skillet-Baked Eggs with Spinach, Yogurt and Spiced Butter, although the spinach will end up being chard and broccoli greens and the yogurt with end up being fresh-skimmed cream from Carmona. When I make it for brunch on Sunday it will be about the gazillionth time I make it, because since I saw it in Bon Appetit last winter, I. Have. Become. Addicted.
So I turn my attention now to dust bunnies and clean towels, because I know I have my ace-in-a-hole. Breakfasts are covered!
More photos to come, in the meantime, here!!
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Skillet-Baked Eggs with Spinach, Yogurt, and Spiced Butter
Active time: 20 minutes, Total time: 40 minutes; serves 4. Adapted from Bon Appetit.
2/3 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, chopped (white and pale-green parts only, about 1 cup)
4 scallions, chopped (white and pale-green parts only)
1 pound fresh greens, like spinach, chard or kale
1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
8 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon kirmizi biber (Turkish chili powder), or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch of paprika
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Special equipment: 4 baby cast iron skillets or over-safe ramekins
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Adjust oven to center rack and preheat oven to 300°F. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat until the foam subsides. Lower the heat to low, then add the leek and scallion and cook until completely soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
Add as many greens as will fit and lemon juice to the skillet, along with a pinch of salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently and adding greens a handful at a time as it wilts until all the greens is just wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt or more lemon juice as needed.
Using tongs, divide greens among skillets or ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking spray or wiped with butter; leave any excess liquid from greens behind. Make 2 indentations in the greens in each vessel and crack the eggs into them, taking care to keep the yolks intact. Sprinkle each egg with a pinch of salt, then transfer to the oven and cook until the whites are just set, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the last tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the chili powder and/or paprika and continue cooking until the butter just begins to brown. Add the oregano and cook for 30 seconds longer, then remove from the heat.
Serve the baked eggs with the yogurt mixture, and top with the spiced butter.