butterscotchblastoff

Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Baked Beans for Breakfast

I’m choking down B&M baked beans on toast, but I figured I had to recognize the BoSox for their World Series win, being related to a family who’s worshipped the team for generations.

Main Street in Wenham, MA c. 1969

Main Street in Wenham, MA c. 1969

Here are my three siblings and I with the Browns, my mother’s sister’s family…well, a few of them anyway. Nancy and Dick Brown raised seven kids in Wenham, Massachusetts. Dick’s mother, whom we all called Nana, rooted for the Red Sox through the thin years. Even toward the end, darn near deaf and blind, she never missed a game on TV. If she could only be here to see this! She’d say, “Go straight into the bathroom and shave!”

bosox with beards

I love my aunt and my cousins, miss Uncle Dick, and wish we could get together more often. I’m sure they’re beside themselves for the BoSox. All right, this Yankee fan has to say, “Well done!”

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Holiday Breakfast A Little Early

I’m like a kid again–anticipating the heft of the sack of candy I’m going to collect, imagining just how scary/pretty/funny my costume’s going to be, counting the hours until I can scurry around outside in the dark. Gettin’ in the spirit!

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The Breakfast Bar–Chocolate Chip-Cranberry Bars

Imagine! A happy celebration at the office!

wild office party

A colleague is celebrating 13 years with the company on October 30, but why wait? I brought the Ooey-Gooey Chocolate-Chip-Cranberry Bars from Nancy Baggett’s Simply Sensational Cookies to our weekly staff meeting to add a little levity to the morning.

They couldn’t be easier! I turned them out this morning before I left for the office at 8 a.m. Pardon the blurry photo… it’s probably the shakes from the sugar rush!

Chocolate for breakfast? Everything in moderation!

Chocolate for breakfast? Everything in moderation!

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 6-oz package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate morsels

1 cup (4 1/2 oz) chopped pecans or walnuts

1 cup (5 1/2 oz) dried sweetened cranberries

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and/or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Baking Preliminaries: Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F. Generously grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan or coat with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the butter and graham cracker crumbs until blended. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking pan press down firmly to form a crust.

Sprinkle the chocolate morsels, nuts, and dried cranberries over the crust. Wipe out the bowl used for the graham cracker mixture, then with a  fork, beat together the condensed milk egg, and vanilla in it. Spoon the condensed milk mixture evenly over the top.

Bake (middle rack) for 25 to 30 minutes until tinged with brown and just slightly darker at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. For easiest cutting, firm up in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. Then cut crosswise into sixths and lengthwise into fourths (or as desired), using a large sharp knife.

Yield: Makes twenty-four 2 1/8-inch squares

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Breakfast Tribute–Lou Reed

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It’s sad to say good-bye to another unique performer in New York’s music history. Patti Smith must be feeling very alone. While I strenuously disagree with Lou’s New York-centric complaint that San Francisco’s Grateful Dead is “tedious, a lie, and untalented,” I couldn’t admire more his unfailing pursuit of new insights into life and love and artistic expression.

Reed’s obituary in today’s Times would no doubt have bored him to death, but I appreciated it for its inspiration for this morning’s post. Today’s generation of iTunes’ buyers don’t know what they’re missing when they buy one song that flies through the ether and lands in their player without context or the graphic talent of a marketer like Warhol.

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Sunday Morning Breakfast–Bourbon’d Fig French Toast

What a wonderful surprise! I found a jar of Bourbon’d Figs in the back of the pantry.

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I’d bought them at the Carrboro, N.C.’s farmer’s market when I was down in Chapel Hill to see Elizabeth Ruhl graduate from UNC.

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I’d had lunch with the staff of the UNC Press and, to a woman, they raved about Farmer’s Daughter’s preserves. I bought a bunch of jars, gave some as gifts, heard the compliments, but let my Bourbon’d Figs get pushed back into the shadows of my cupboard. This morning, they re-emerged and I tried them on French toast.

Richer and more complex than maple syrup!

Richer and more complex than maple syrup!

It’s no wonder, “Our Bourbon’d Figs were selected for Cooking Light’s 2012 Taste Test Awards in the Artisanal category,” as April McGreger says on her web site.

And that’s my secret to quick, easy, fresh breakfasts: let the experts contribute their best. I’ve done a little preserving and enjoy it, but I don’t have the time to do more than a dozen jars of bread-and-butter pickles for summer.

DSC00942I love to support small business, be it the independent bookstore in the neighborhood, the family-owned hardware store, or farmers at pop-up greenmarkets. Without them, this would be a tasteless world, in every sense of the word.

 

 

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Eating Breakfast Out–Upper East Side

If you’re here on the Upper East Side of Manhattan around East 72nd Street to visit a friend at New York Hospital, to see an exhibition at the Whitney, or to watch the NYC marathon, there are breakfast options galore.

Our “local,” Finnegans Wake on First Avenue at 73rd Street makes a delicious Irish fry of eggs, bacon, white and black sausage, and scones. Here are Chuck and Grace at an outside table a few summers ago. If this pub weren’t here, I’d have to open it. It’s everything a pub should be: friendly, cozy, and damn-near cell-phone free!

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If you’re a coffee lover, you’ll want to pop into Java Girl on East 66th Street between First and Second Avenues. This has the vibe of a 1950s East Village “club,” tiny tables, a cushioned window seat, lots of rough ceramics for sale. I could spend hours in here–and have!

If you crave a classic NYC diner experience, The Green Kitchen on First Avenue at 77th Street will oblige (down to service with a snarl, according to some reviews on-line, though I’ve never had that happen). It’s been there since the 1940s, was renovated a couple of years ago, and I’ve used it as a treat after running around the Reservoir in Central Park. Nobody cares if you’re in sweaty running clothes.

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Finally, le hot hot hot boite for UES breakfast: Maison Kayser  on Third Avenue at 74th Street. Such a pretty looking French patisserie, but since the wait to get in has always seemed an eternity, I haven’t been able to try it. Tout le monde of the young parent set has to be seen here with beautifully dressed infants in tow.  If you can’t bear the wait but want an incomparable French nibble, you can walk down to Ladurée on Madison Avenue between 71st and 72nd Street for macarons.

Laduree

I’m so hungry now, I’m going to head to The Green Kitchen, Saturday Times in hand, for an order of Adam and Eve on a raft, burn the British.

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TGIF Treat–Fall Picnic

North end of The Mall, Central Park, NYC

North end of The Mall, Central Park, NYC

I have the best commute in the world…well, maybe not as fine as someone who can walk barefoot from her kitchen to her home office in jeans and a T-shirt or the lucky so-and-so who only needs to put on a jacket and wellies to tromp along a leaf-strewn path to a nearby studio.

I walk through Manhattan’s Central Park nearly every weekday morning so I can take a straight shot on the #1 train to my office in Herald Square. Right now, I look forward to watching this glorious tree glow brighter and brighter every day.

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I’m always excited to see where the next shot of bright red will come from in various bushes along the path to Strawberry Fields.

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Of course, I’m usually racing to get to the office on time, but this week I could feel that very first hint of colder, wetter weather to come and planned a picnic while I can still eat outside without my gloves on.

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Looks like I’m running away from home, doesn’t it?  Peanut-butter and honey sandwiches and a carton of milk like I used to pay 5 cents for in my second-grade classroom make me feel like a little kid again. Actually, I’d love to play in the park and run away from work!

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Breakfast Two-fer

It’s always tempting to eat an entire five-inch pizza in one sitting, but today, I restrained myself and saved half of it for my lunch. When my husband Chuck is working, I come home to walk my corgi Grace and eat lunch quietly, finishing the newspaper or reading a book, under the hungry gaze of the mistress of the house.

You don't stay this trim by eating whole pizzas in the morning!

You don’t stay this trim by eating whole pizzas in the morning!

It sure beats eating over-priced fast food in the din of canned music and other people’s work complaints.

girl on cell phone

For breakfast pizza, make this dough ahead of time and freeze it in small batches for up to 3 months.

Pizza Dough

One packet active dry yeast

1 cup hot water, separated (approximately 100º, pretty much what comes out of your hot tap)

3 cups flour, and more for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Mix all the yeast in ¼ cup of hot water. Set it aside for ten minutes. Savor that yeasty smell and watch it bubble.

2. Combine flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour the yeast mixture in, another 3/4 cup of hot water, and the olive oil. Mix until it holds together.

3. Turn onto a flour-dusted board, and knead for six to eight minutes. You’ve got to put your back into it; push the dough away from you with the heels of your hands, fold it over, give it a quarter turn…same again until it’s smooth and elastic.

4. Oil a big bowl and put the dough in, turn it over so the top is greased, and let it sit in a warm, quiet place for an hour and a half, until it’s twice its size. Punch it down and divide into eight pieces. Shape them into disks and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Put these into a freezer bag and defrost overnight, when wanted.

On my defrosted pizza dough this morning (rolled to a 5-6″ round), I spread whole-milk ricotta and lay fresh tomato slices over it, sprinkled that with dried oregano, and topped it all with thinly sliced smoked mozzarella. Baked it at 500°F for 8 minutes on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Wow! Sinfully rich.

Pop the second half in the toaster oven until the crust is crisp again and the cheeses melt and you’ll be good to go for the rest of the day. That meeting with the boss? Piece of….

Add half an apple and you've got one whole nutritious breakfast.

Add half an apple morning and afternoon, and you’ve got two whole nutritious meals.

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Breakfast From the Freezer

And I don’t mean an Eggo.

Clarence Birdseye, where have you been all my life? (I was born on June 9, 1956 and he died on October 7 of that year, so we did share this planet for four months.)

Clarence Frank Birdseye II

Clarence Frank Birdseye II

You mean, thanks to his observations of the Inuits’ and the sub-zero Labrador climate’s ability to preserve fish, I can have a delicious sweet dark cherry smoothie in the Northeast U.S. in late October? And a rich-tasting strawberry-blueberry version in January? With all their nutrients raring to hit my system? What a concept!

frozen strawberries

Having been brought up on frozen vegetables, I don’t know why I didn’t explore the freezer section of the supermarket more thoroughly. Not that long ago, I finally poked my head in there for an inventory (and of course, heard my mom’s voice in my head, “Close that door; you’re letting all the cold air out!”). I can’t wait to take advantage of all the sweetness on offer, any time the spirit moves me.

inuit on ice

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Blue Kitchen

There I was last night on the subway at rush hour, my House Beautiful magazine an inch from my nose. I turned from page 115 to 116. Suddenly, the screech of the wheels on the tracks, the press of bodies against mine, the sickly florescent light all faded into the background as I took in… the Kitchen of the Month.

Design by Beth Martell and Enda Donagher

Design by Beth Martell and Enda Donagher

You may have noticed in my various photos of breakfast trays, linens, serving pieces, and such that I, too, have a thing for blue and white.

Arden Burleigh--a tea set I bought in 1976 in Oxford, England

Arden Burleigh–a tea set I bought in 1976 in Oxford, England

A selection of pitchers, each well used and beloved

A selection of pitchers, each well used and beloved

Still, that kitchen is maybe more blue than I would go for. And such a vibrant shade. Nature’s green outside the window helps to relieve the eyes. But what happens when winter comes and the trees are bare?

Would I do my kitchen in a combination of red, blue, and white?

kitchen red white and blue

That’s retro and so refreshing. Or yellow, blue and white?

kitchen yellow blue and white

“Bonjour!” I can smell the brioches. Or pink, blue and white?

kitchen pink blue and white

Calling all girls! Bloody Marys would not be unwelcome here. Or butterscotch, blue and white?

kitchen brown blue and white

Sweet!

But a kitchen’s real charm is not derived from the decor or the appliances, the size or the luxurious details. I’ve spent my happiest moments in a crowded, cluttered room with wine stains on the formica and cabinet handles that pinched your fingers. Because that’s where the family cooked and gossiped, ate and laughed, and nourished one another’s souls.

mom at the stove

11 Woodmill Road; Chappaqua, NY

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