Oeuf Poché sur son Lit de Tomates

One presentation trick I really like is food served with a soft cooked egg so that when the yolk is pierced it becomes part of the sauce for whatever is underneath.  Restaurant Sorza, 51 rue saint Louis en L’Ile, Paris, serves a dish they call "oeuf poché, confit de tomates"  or "poached egg & confit of tomatoes" that uses this idea.  This is my take on that dish.  Served with some baguette, it makes a light lunch for three or four, or dinner for two.

Oeuf Poché sur son Lit de Tomates

Oeuf Poché sur son Lit de Tomates (Poached Eggs on a Bed of Tomatoes)

6   Plum Tomatoes, concasséed
4 tbsp Sun-dried Tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
 tsp Salt, or to taste
¼ tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
4 tbsp Olive Oil
¼ tsp Ground Herbe de Provence (see Note)
3 or 4 lg Eggs
  1.  Combine all of the ingredients except the eggs, and store in a non-reactive bowl in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.  The taste should be slightly acidic, as the egg yolks will help to balance the flavor as they mix with the tomatoes.  If desired, add more olive oil to taste.
  2. Prepare one poached egg per person for a lunch portion, or two for a main dish.
  3. While the eggs are poaching, use a slotted spoon to divide the tomato mixture among plates.  If desired, save the liquid for a dressing for an accompanying salad.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the poaching liquid, gently pat dry with a towel and place on the tomatoes.  Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately.

A Note regarding Herbe de Provence - as I have said previously, traditional Herbe de Provence does not contain lavender, which is likely an affectation for the North American palate.  To make your own mixture at home, combine equal parts of dried thyme, marjoram and savory, basil and/or oregano, plus half as much dried rosemary, or more to taste.  Grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle just before use.

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Illustrated Recipes

My watercolor artist wife recently took part in an online exercise with artists who were doing illustrated recipes.  Here is her 'Go-To' Lunch Salad, a mix of diced tomatoes and cucumbers, with feta.  For every day it may be served with Melba toast, for other occasions, maybe some baguette.  To see more of Pat's watercolors, check out her artist's website here

Pats Go To Lunch Salad-w

For more illustrated recipes, visit They Draw & Cook: Recipes Illustrated by Artists from Around the World

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward

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Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward

Chef-Induced Oscillation

When I was learning to be a glider pilot, one of the things I learned about was Pilot-Induced Oscillations (PIOs), which are formally defined as "sustained or uncontrollable oscillations resulting from efforts of the pilot to control the aircraft."  Basically, the pilot tries to correct a situation, over-reacts, tries to correct for the over-reaction, and so on, making the matter worse with each attempt.  For an example of PIOs, check out this NASA footage.

There is a parallel in the kitchen that I think of as Chef-Induced Oscillation.  An example might be making French Onion Soup and finding it is too sweet so you add some acid.  Add too much, it becomes sour.  Correct with sugar and you bounce back and forth, chasing the desired flavor.

Worst case in an aircraft is loss of equipment or life.  Fortunately, most of the time in cooking the worst case is loss of food and time, and maybe some embarrassment.

So, how to avoid CIOs?  The same way pilots avoid PIOs.

  1. Study and Practice - Find out what techniques might be used to correct errors such as too sweet, too sour, too salty, too bland.  Try them.  Some are just old wives tales like using a potato to remove saltiness (pp. 58-62) .  Others may work for one dish but not be the right flavor profile for another.  Understand that sometimes the recipe may dictate one solution over another.

    Try making various dishes and leaving out an ingredient or two to see what they contribute to the overall quality of a dish. Add them back in a bit at a time to learn how the flavor changes with additions of various ingredients.
  2. Stay Calm - much easier to do in a kitchen than a cockpit.  When you taste something is not right, stop right there.  Decide what is wrong and think about your options to correct it.  There may be several options so think about what you are trying to achieve in the final dish and how each option supports or detracts from that vision.

  3. Make Small Changes - in PIOs, the pilot's mistake is overshooting the desired result and then having to correct back.  Make small changes.  Add a little salt or acid or whatever at a time. It is easier to add more of an ingredient than it is to take some out.

  4. Allow Some Time - Whenever you add an ingredient to a dish, it is likely to take a little time for flavors to merge and settle down.  Don't rush to correct and correct again, but rather wait a few minutes between corrections.

    The other facet of 'Allow Some Time' is to plan ahead.  Prepare anything that can be made ahead of time enough before to allow some time for fine tuning rather than being rushed as guests start arriving.

  5. Taste and Correct as Needed - After allowing the flavors to merge and settle down, taste again. Go back to Step 2 and assess and adjust again as needed.  Keep repeating steps 2 though 5 until you have the taste you want.

New pilots are more likely to cause Pilot-Induced Oscillations.  Similarly, new chefs are likely to have Chef-Induced Oscillations.  With knowledge and experience, they are easily avoided.

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward