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WINTER PANTRY COOKING - Eggs in Purgatory. (Guest Post by:) Kate McDonough author of The City Cook: Big City, Small Kitchen. Limitless Ingredients, No Time. &

It's not the Winter Greens with Butternut Squash Croutons.  It's not the Roasted Radicchio with Balsamic Glaze.  It's not the Cauliflower Purée with Garlic Chips.  Or the Seared Duck Breasts with Port-Shallot Pan Sauce.  Heck.  It's not even the Almond Cream Tart with Cognac Cream.  Okay.  Maybe it is. It is all of those things.  Recipes from The City Cook by Kate McDonough.  BUT.  Do you want to know what else it is?  It's 'The City Pantry'.  It's also "equipping" your kitchen; thinking about what your space will hold and what purpose something serves before food or equipment makes its way into your kitchen.  It's the fact that she talks about cooking from "the ingredients up"...about being a smart shopper.  Perhaps most of all... it's talking about how to make it all work in your kitchen.  Yup.  It's all of that and more...what attracted me to the new book by McDonough.  You don't have to live in a big city to relate to having limited kitchen space...or to know how to use a bigger space efficiently.  My favorite section of the book is actually when she talks about making everything work in YOUR kitchen...and developing your own recipe repertoire.  I think that there is tons of information packed into part one.  Info that will help the beginning cook and remind the experienced one.  And part two...well, once I finish re-organizing...I'll be making my way through some of the recipes hanging out there.

I am ecstatic to have Kate McDonough, author of The City Cook: Big City, Small Kitchen.  Limitless Ingredients, No Time and The City Cook guest posting you a little sneak peak at what she knows so well!
Winter Pantry Cooking 
By Kate McDonough, Author of The City Cook:  Big City, Small Kitchen. Limitless Ingredients, No Time (Simon & Schuster, 2010) and Editor of

Call it Snowmageddon or just an old fashioned blizzard, a winter storm can complicate making dinner if you didn't have time to buy groceries.  Yet, is there another time when having supper simmering on the stove is more appealing then when "baby it's cold outside"?

It's easy if you have a well-stocked pantry.  If the notion of a pantry seems a bit old-fashioned, instead think of it as strategy of planning -- and buying -- ahead.  Even if your kitchen is tiny, a well-stocked cabinet, refrigerator, and freezer can mean having satisfying and special meals even if you're snowed in or the temperatures are too low to venture out.

Plus a well-stocked pantry gives us flexibility.  We can buy fresh produce, meat, poultry or fish and know that at home we have ingredients to turn them into dinner.  A carefully stocked pantry can also save us money because by shopping in advance we can buy the best quality at the best prices.  Like a favorite olive oil when it's on sale.

Sometimes the pantry can generate the entire meal.  For example, if your refrigerator has eggs, bacon and grated cheese, your spice drawer has oregano and red pepper flakes, and your cabinet or freezer has a container of tomato sauce, you can make "Eggs in Purgatory" for dinner.   This simple but wonderfully flavorful and satisfying egg and tomato sauce combo is often compared to the popular Latin huevos rancheros.  Its name is attributed to Naples, Italy, where uova al purgatorio is said to have originated.

You can make your own marinara sauce by simmering a can of crushed red tomatoes and sliced garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes.  But for this dish, a jar of good-quality store-bought marinara will work just as well and reduce your dinner-making time to about 20 minutes.

If your tomato sauce seems too thick, just thin it with a few tablespoons water.  Make sure the sauce is really hot before adding the eggs so that the eggs begin to cook immediately.
Eggs in Purgatory 
Serves 2

2 to 4 ounces good-quality pancetta or bacon, sliced medium thick so that the pieces have some body, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups tomato or marinara sauce
Small pinch of red pepper flakes
Generous pinch of dried oregano
4 eggs, preferably free-range or organic
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata or Parmesan cheese

In a large sauté pan or skillet that has a cover, cook the pancetta over medium heat until the lean meat is cooked through and the fat is opaque but not brown.

Add the tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, and oregano (warm the oregano between your fingers before adding).  Stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the eggs, one at a time, so that each egg settles into the sauce but isn't covered.  You want the yolks to remain exposed.  Cover the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium-low so that the sauce gently simmers but doesn't boil.  Cook until the egg whites are cooked completely but the yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with a dusting of freshly grated cheese and spears of toasted bread for dipping.
Recipe from The City Cook:  Big City, Small Kitchen. Limitless Ingredients, No Time.  Published by Simon & Schuster.  Copyright © 2010 Kate McDonough.
photo credit: The City Cook
Kate McDonough is author of The City Cook:  Big City, Small Kitchen. Limitless Ingredients, No Time (Simon & Schuster 2010, $20.00) and editor of, a website dedicated to home cooking in small urban kitchens.

A former Wall Street business executive and a passionate urbanist, Kate attended The French Culinary Institute, has a master's degree in city planning, is a member of one of New York's prestigious Community Boards, and lives and cooks in Manhattan.
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*I was given a free copy of this book to review if I chose to.  I received no compensation for writing a review. The thoughts stated in this post are all my own.