butterscotchblastoff

Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Simple Bites–Simply Adorable!

While I was Googling to confirm that beets are still seasonal in February, I found SimpleBites.net. I love it! Clean and concise, filled with information on urban homesteading and cooking fresh, it’ll be a regular resource from now on. When I looked through the list of recommended reading, I saw Ruth Reichl, Pam Anderson, Joy the Baker… we are def on the same wavelength (I’m also reading a contemporary re-telling of Pride & Prejudice which is like a crash course in 21st century slang–totes adorb!). Simple Bites has also convinced me to re-up on Twitter. No doubt will regret this in near future, but I better give it a whirl if I wish to be employed in a world that’s stampeding away from old media. And what does this have to do with breakfast?
I’ll be trying Simple Bites’ Chai-spiced Granola With Dried Apples and Almonds as soon as humanly possible.

chai spiced granola

 

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Sunny Side Up

When things are going less well than you’d like, it’s a comfort to retreat to the refuges of your youth: a double-decker ice-cream cone, a game of LIFE, a good book. In my case, I’m going with the book, this year’s John Newbery Medal winner, Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.

jacket of flora

It’s an odd little thing, quirky and tender. Ten-year-old Flora is the only child of divorced parents, obsessed with superheroes. Ulysses is a squirrel, mistakenly vacuumed up which imbues him with the ability to understand Flora, to read, and to write. Still, he’s a squirrel, and he’s always hungry.

Illustration copyright (c) 2013 by K.G. Campbell

Illustration copyright (c) 2013 by K.G. Campbell

“How, Ulysses wondered, had things gone so wrong?

Only moments ago, he had been looking at the Giant Do-Nut menu, captivated by the glossy pictures of food and the dazzling descriptions that accompanied the pictures.

There were giant donuts with sprinkles, giant donuts powdered, iced! Giant donuts filled with things: jelly, cream, chocolate.

He had never had a giant donut.

Actually, he had never had any kind of donut.

They looked delicious. All of them. How was a squirrel to choose?

And to complicate matters, there were eggs: scrambled, poached, over easy, sunny-side up.

Sunny-side up! thought Ulysses as he clung to Rita’s hair. What a wonderful phrase!”

Text copyright (c) 2013 by Kate DiCamillo

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I feel a little bit better now.

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Around the World on a Loaf of Bread–Day Five

After this whirlwind trip, I’m coming back home to chopped liver. What can I say? It’s so right! So humble, so ubiquitous that it’s made its way into a classic NY retort, “And what am I? Chopped liv-ah?”

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The New York Times columnist and ex-restaurant reviewer Sam Sifton wormed a recipe for chicken liver pâté out of a line cook at a Red Hook, Brooklyn tavern he likes called Fort Defiance: it’s cheap, fast, and absolutely delicious.

fort defiance

This line cook’s talented. The meek shall inherit the tocque.

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Around the World on a Loaf of Bread–Day Four

man of la mancha

I know that tapas are meant to be served with wine or sherry, but a cup of good coffee will have to do here at home first thing this morning.

I adapted a recipe for Deviled Eggs With Tuna (Huevos Rellenos De Atun) to pile the egg filling on toast (I’ll save the egg whites to add protein to a salad later.)

And what are we signing in choir this morning? "His Yoke is Easy" from Handel's Messiah--haha!

And what are we signing in choir this morning? “His Yoke is Easy” from Handel’s Messiah–haha!

What is cooking if not “To run … where the brave dare not go ….”

 

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Around the World on a Loaf of Bread–Day Three

above rome

Bruschetta is a terrific breakfast on a freezing midwinter morning: fresh tomatoes, a whiff of balsamic vinegar and basil, gooey, hot melted mozzarella. I used this recipe for Double Tomato Bruschetta (with its fresh and sun-dried tomatoes) as a guide, omitting the garlic–not a good choice on a morning full of meetings.

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I’m always stumped by “ch” in Italian.  This is pronounced “broo-skett-a,” just as porchetta is pronounced “pour-kett-a.” I have ample opportunities to humiliate myself in NYC, with its abundance of Italian restaurants, so I’d better find some trick to remember this!

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Around the World on a Loaf of Bread–Day Two

Have no fear, bunny...sticks and stones may break your bones, but recipe names will never hurt you.

Have no fear, bunny…sticks and stones may break your bones, but recipe names won’t hurt you.

When I looked up Welsh rarebit in The Joy of Cooking, Ethan Becker brought up the “rarebit/rabbit,” “you say tomato and I say tomahto” question. Ditching his recipe which called for an egg, I turned to Jean Anderson’s Doubleday Cookbook. No egg and she calls it Welsh rabbit.

My mother used to make  this when I was really little–oh, the anticipation! Here’s Jean Anderson’s recipe, cut down from four servings to one.

1 pat butter

1/8 cup milk (ale or beer, if you’re making this for brunch)

1/8 teaspoon powdered mustard

tiny pinch cayenne pepper

1/4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

a scant 1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Heat butter, milk, mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce in the top of a double boiler over just simmering water 5 minutes. Add cheese, a little at a time, stirring constantly until smooth and quite thick. Remove from heat immediately and serve over hot buttered toast.

DSC01990My favorite breakfast yet! Jean Anderson, I love you.

 

 

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Around the World on a Loaf of Bread

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I’m enjoying the whole experience of baking and eating this loaf of bread so much, I’m devoting a week to some of its delicious possibilities.

Day One: Smørrebrød

Trina Hahnemann is a Danish chef whom I met in NYC while she was here proposing her cookbook The Nordic Diet which suggests this is as life-preserving as the Mediterranean Diet with its fish oils, whole grains, and dependence on local ingredients. The book came out with gorgeous photos and lovely recipes, but wasn’t able to banish that other diet to the sidelines. On her blog above, Trina insists open-faced sandwiches are always made on rye bread. I used her recipe for salmon and horseradish cream from the site with two exceptions (I also didn’t grate my own horseradish). I think she’d agree with me that cooking is personal, experimental, practical and nothing is ever written in stone.

DSC01989Hmmm…this is wild caught Atlantic salmon, but not cured like gravlax which would’ve given this a lovely salty tang. Even so, the horseradish cream was tasty and this couldn’t have been easier.

 

 

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Hot Buttered Toast

Having re-read Winnie-the-Pooh, I moved on to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. 

My beloved childhood edition, with illustrations by Arthur Rackam

My beloved childhood edition, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham

This is the only book from my childhood library I still have. I didn't own many; my mother, as am I, was a huge fan of the library.

This is the only book of mine from back then I still have. I didn’t own many; my mother, as am I, was a huge fan of the library.

Each of these animals bears a striking resemblance to someone I know (though most of the animals are nicer!) and their adventures, large and small, terrifying or gratifying are just a delight. Of course, there’s an ode to hot buttered toast. There’s a reason Nigel Slater’s memoir is called Toast–to the Brits, it’s manna from heaven.

“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, with  no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfast on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”

This morning, that black cherry jam made it onto yesterday’s homemade bread, toasted. Gracie and I enjoyed it with as full a recognition of its charms as did Toad in his jail cell.

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Rx for a Dreary Day

The skies don't even have the decency to send down some snow.

The skies don’t even have the decency to send down some snow.

I’m not complaining, mind you; I love to spend the day at home. It’s the perfect time to muck about in the kitchen. The only thing for weather like this is to turn on your favorite music and bake.

Not an expert bread baker, I'm trying French bread out of Taste of Home.

Not an expert bread baker, I’m trying French bread out of Taste of Home’s original big cookbook from Deanna Nalvar of Temple, Texas.

I spied a beautiful jar of Black Cherry Jam in my fridge this morning, so French bread seems like just the recipe to play with. So far, so good, but the proof is in the rising.

DSC01980Success!

DSC01981Sometimes I’m sad that I didn’t get started baking and cooking much earlier in life, but then on days like this, I’m so glad I’m not jaded and seeing a simple thing like dough rise is still such a thrill (OK, I’ve got to get out more).

The only creature to whom this wondrous process is more thrilling is Grace who is being driven wild by the smell of yeast. After two more rises… it’s in the oven.

DSC01983Ah, the smell and the reassuring hollow sound when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.

DSC01984No complaints, but “French” is not the adjective I’d use for this. It’s still got a lovely texture, not as a crunchy or airy as a traditional baguette.

So, that’s my dreary day’s adventure in the kitchen, ready in time for my favorite lunch of bread, cheese, sausage and pickles.

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Eggs and Bacon–Book Reviews

Oh, the coincidence! On my desk are two books: one which I’ll be selling at The Good Cook:

Chronicle Books, on sale March 25, 2014

Chronicle Books, on sale March 25, 2014

and one which was given to me by a smart, accomplished, passionate editor yesterday at lunch.

Countryman Press, on sale now

Countryman Press, on sale now

I’ve resisted offering Bacon 24/7 to the members because of that jacket–I just hate it. And the photos inside are almost all just as dark and dreary and unappetizing. The photographer, EJ Armstrong, is award winning, but the food is styled by the author, Theresa Gilliam, in unappealing serving dishes with grotty utensils.  I’ll take this home and give a recipe or two a try (without going the whole hog and curing my own slab). Breakfast Hand Pies sound delicious, though I am forgoing the clarified bacon fat in the tender and flaky pie crust for Crisco.

Eggs on Top, with its sunny yellow yolks and brilliant whites against greens, grains, breads, tomatoes, and more, is much more mouthwatering. It’s also much less daunting: the techniques for poaching, coddling, simmering, and scrambling does not require handling raw pork belly. I am a huge fan of the Worcestershire-flavored cheese sauce, so the Welsh Rarebit with Hide-and-Seek Eggs and Burnt Broccoli is on the menu for this weekend.

 

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