Though I haven't joined one, I am thrilled with the trend emerging from online food communities: Cook the Book Clubs. A good example is at Loulies, offered here. The premise is simple: for one month, cook everything you can out of a single cookbook and optionally share your experiences with others doing the same.
I love cookbooks, and even though I'm not yet a full-fledged collector, I already have more than I regularly use. How does this happen? I get a new cookbook, get my panties in a twist about making everything in it, then for the next year or more it gathers dust on my shelf and a good splattering of grease (note to self: get books away from the stove!).
Well, the "cook the book" idea has been nagging at me for months, so this last week I took several minutes to degrease and dust a cookbook my dad gave to me last year for Christmas (he even got it signed by the author, aww), Everyday Dining with Wine. Armed with determination and a grocery list to drain my newly plumped checking account, I set out to cook several meals from it in December. Oh boy, have I begun to do just that.
The meals are decidedly simple but emphasize quality ingredients and classic methods. I have found the "everyday" aspect is in regards to the modestly priced wine recommendations and not necessarily the ingredients. Expensive vinegars and oils abound, though I happily oblige since reading David Lebovitz' blog post, "10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Cooking," specifically numbers two and four, "upgrade your oil" and "rethink your vinegar." Come to think of it, I have started cooking with a lot of shallot as well, so that knocks out number three without even trying!
The scrambled eggs with Spanish chorizo and manchego frico called out to me in the beginning because I never realized there were different kinds of chorizo. I never even ate chorizo until I lived in Austin in a Mexican community and shopped at grocery stores that offered cases of it. Jimmy Dean even sells chorizo, though in places like Seattle you would never know it (but really, we want the real thing anyway. Sorry, Jimmy). I have since learned that I was eating Mexican chorizo, which is an uncooked variety of chorizo, one which the Spanish would call chorizo fresco. This time around, my more equipped self sought out Spanish chorizo, which is cured. I couldn't find Spanish chorizo, or Manchego cheese for that matter, at Safeway but had luck with both at the gourmet market.
The combination of flavors in these scrambled eggs makes it so much more than "scrambled eggs." It becomes a perfect breakfast-for-supper dish, especially on those nights that you are short on time or just feel lazy. The frico is really just a fancy word for cheese crisp. Manchego is a sheep's milk cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain, and broken over fluffy eggs laced with heat and spice from the sausage, offers a unique peppery bite. My food substitution book suggests Monterey Jack as a replacement, though I don't think it would suffice in this case.
Scrambled Eggs with Spanish Chorizo and Manchego Frico
1 ounce Manchego*, grated
1.5 ounces Spanish chorizo, diced
3 T red onion**, chopped
splash half and half
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
pepper and sea salt
To make the frico, heat grated Manchego in a small nonstick skillet until it melts into a lacy circle and begins to brown on one side. Remove from heat for about 30 seconds to let crisp, then flip and crisp on other side. Drain on paper towel.
Cook chorizo on medium heat until fat begins to render, then add chopped onion and cook until softened. Beat the eggs with splash of half and half and salt and pepper, and pour over softened onion and sausage. Scramble. Garnish cooked eggs with fresh chopped parsley and frico.
*The Manchego was difficult to grate. Next time I will freeze for 5-10 minutes just prior.
**A sweet yellow onion would have been ideal, had I had it on hand.