Welcome to Naomi Kooker's blog.

At age 6 my mother let me into the kitchen, alone. By seventh grade I was feigning sick to stay home from school, "miraculously" feeling good enough to make baked-stuffed pork chops for dinner. My passion for cooking led me to a job as a sous chef in a Manhattan restaurant and, later, to stand quietly in the corner of (and eventually do one thing in) Restaurant Guy Savoy's kitchen in Paris. I overcame the ultimate cooking challenge when I made butter cream icing over a Bunsen burner at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. It was for a friend's wedding cake, the centerpiece at the reception the next day. It was midnight. With just hours to go, I managed to whip up the icing, then carefully place the last few candied violets onto the cake before the reception. Oh, how grateful I was for that Bunsen burner and the corner bodega that was open 24 hours.

It all worked out in the end. It always does.

Food, cooking and eating are inextricably linked to life. Life is better when good food is involved, and even better when good company is part of the eating.

Thank you for stopping in and being part of a growing dinner party of readers.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Patience: The 4-minute breakfast

Patience does not come easily to me. If I want something now, well, it needs to be now. Thank goodness cooking has helped curb my appetite for gotta-be-now, because there’s a lot of patience—and timing—in cooking. And there are rewards to those who wait.

Take scrambled eggs, for instance. Easy enough, right? Through the years of eggy-scum skillets and stiff brown-under eggs, I’ve learned patience and the quickest way to wonderful soft scrambled eggs in under four minutes (that includes the toast and the OJ pour, too).

What you need:

A frying pan or sauté pan

2 teaspoons butter

Rubber spatula

Two eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper

Some patience

The trick:

Put the pan over high heat. In about 30 seconds to a minute, add the dollop of butter to the center. Spread it around slightly with the spatula or by tipping the pan so the butter covers more of the pan. Place the pan back on the heat. Put the toast down. Trust me.

Wait. Watch. This is the kind of fun part, watching the butter melt from its firm, solid state into its liquid form as it starts to slightly brown. Keep an eye on it, and a nose close: when you detect the aroma of nutty butter (or as a friend who has a cooking blog says, “When it smells like itself”), you’re good to go.

When the butter gets to that stage, slowly pour the liquid eggs into the center. They should sputter and bubble. Ooooh Hot! Chase them around quickly with the spatula, push them under, turn them over, bringing the eggs back to the center heat. When they’re firm and slightly wet, in about 30 seconds, take them off the heat, turn once or twice more, and serve. The toast should be up and buttered by now.

In the end, the real patience comes waiting for the butter to get to the right stage. Can’t rush it along, but once it’s there—you get what you need, and want—faster than if you forced it.