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Kick start your day with a good breakfast

This is Why I Love New York

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I went into this Irish pub, Trinity on East 84th Street, a “Lady” and I came out “Beth.”

I didn’t have to drive, I didn’t have to make a reservation. I recalled a good review I’d read, oh, somewhere…I thought I’d try to find my beloved old piano bar Brandy’s, so I headed down East 84th Street and found this narrow little Irish pub with a welcoming glow.

There were only three people at the bar and the bartender was on his cell phone. I sat, opened my book, and ordered a Stella. Within the hour, I was laughing with the couple beside me who’d eloped to be married in Central Park years ago and come every year to celebrate from Athens, Georgia. We talked about di Blasio, Bloomberg, the music business, publishing, airBnB, and dogs… a lot about our dogs.

By the time I left, two Stellas and a wee smashin’ later (for the road), I was “Beth” to my new friends and the bartender Barry.

And that’s why I Love NY

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The Last Minutes of Christmas

In this last half-hour of Christmas 2014, I can’t help but think of Christmases past. Why ruin a lovely day thinking of the very, very few that didn’t go well? Instead, I’m thinking of the excitement of finding the exact gift I’d hoped for under the tree (the play piano when I was seven, the Beatles album when I was thirteen, the sapphire earrings when I was…well, old enough to appreciate their purity and elegance). I’m thinking of the beautiful services I’ve gone to and sung in. I’m thinking of family and friends who’ve shared so many joys of so many seasons.

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My mother was a genius at making Christmas fun and festive. She didn’t spoil us the rest of the year, but Christmas was her moment to indulge us in whatever silly passion we had at the time. I only wish she were still here, so I could give her whatever her heart desires. Actually, I think she got it: her sister Nancy, her closest friend, died yesterday morning. I hope they’re up in heaven now, laughing and catching up on what they missed these last thirteen years.

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My husband knows how to keep Christmas well. He’s a wonderful cook and a terrific host: patient and generous. And he doesn’t discriminate in the music department: kitschy 1960s arrangements make him as happy as the angelic sound of the choir at King’s College, Cambridge.

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So, I hope you’re all mulling over (more likely, dreaming about) the holidays, including this year’s, that go into the plus column. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Breakfast très riche!

A gray Saturday in December calls for something hot and satisfying.

Mozzarella, Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Mini Quiches

Mozzarella, Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Mini Quiches

Whenever I see cookbooks for “meals” made in a muffin tin, I want to ask, “And what will everyone else be eating?” I did manage to limit myself to two of these this morning. Wow, are the flavors concentrated!

The one problem with these is the pastry crust which is delicious, but…

Simple pâte brisée: flour, salt, butter, ice water

Simple pâte brisée: flour, salt, butter, ice water

I never make each cut-out large enough. They shrink a lot when they pre-bake. It’s not easy to get these out of the cups of the muffin tin, but a lot of Pam and a large spoon make them presentable. However they look out of the tin, close your eyes, take a bite, and imagine yourself in a French country café.

Pastry for six muffin-size quiches

½ plus 1/8 cup unbleached flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces

3 tablespoons cold water

Combine the flour and salt; add the butter and use your fingers to work the butter in until the mixture is crumbly.  Add 3 tablespoons cold water and combine with a fork until the dough holds together. Knead lightly and roll thin-ish.

Coat the muffin tin with Pam.

Cut six circles of dough larger than the tops of the cups in your muffin tin and place each circle loosely inside. Prick the bottoms and sides and bake at 400° for 5 minutes. When the pastry is done, reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Filling

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Mozzarella cheese

Sun-dried tomatoes

Basil

Combine the eggs, milk, s&p, and a good shake of basil in a bowl and whisk well. Drop a pinch of mozzarella and a few sun-dried tomatoes into each cup of the muffin tin and pour in liquid. Your pastry may have shrunk down the sides, but you can still fill the cups near the top (the eggs will set). Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

 

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Breakfast in the Bank

It’s tough to make pancakes for one. Eat them all in one sitting and you’ll be sorry. Save the batter for a day and you’ll have soggy, flat flapjacks. The remedy? Make them all in one go and freeze them two-by-two for mornings when you need to get out of the house in a hurry.

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I halved this recipe I found at Taste of Home’s web site which makes cornmeal pancakes for four. It still yielded six generous pancakes. I topped two with cranberry sauce. I froze the rest and today I’m enjoying cornmeal pancakes in a pool of peach jam made by the men of a Cape Cod Benedictine community, with two slices of bacon. Ten minutes in the toaster oven at 350 degrees and they’re delicious. I’m dreaming of the last two smothered in salsa and melted cheddar cheese.

Plan ahead and make a deposit in the breakfast bank. It sure pays off!

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Still Giving Thanks!

Cranberry sauce is a versatile condiment. I put it on cornmeal pancakes this morning for a last blast of Thanksgiving flavor.

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It looks so festive, too. Happy December, everybody!

 

 

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