butterscotchblastoff

Kick start your day with a good breakfast

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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O.J. doesn’t always mean orange juice

This morning, it meant Oatmeal. Jam.

Who says you can’t eat PB&J if you’re not eating bread? I mixed in a tablespoon of each into old-fashioned rolled oats made with milk. Next time, I’ll err on the side of the preserves. The peanut butter was a little overpowering this morning.

And wouldn’t this cup put a smile on anybody’s face? (If you look closely, you’ll see a hound hungry for a handout smiling beguilingly from below.)

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Ready for October Unprocessed!

C Street, Seaside Park, NJ

C Street, Seaside Park, NJ

Just came home from another wonderful week on the Jersey Shore: swims in the clear, warm ocean, pints of beer at Bum Rogers Crabhouse, plates of scrapple at Betty & Nick’s, ears and ears of fresh corn and slice upon slice of juicy, sweet tomatoes from local farms.

I’m at a serious transition moment at my day job. How I wish I could make a life that included scenery like this every day.

The beach at Brighton Avenue

The beach at Brighton Avenue

With the chance to stop and watch the little fish.

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In the past week, with time to think and read, I’ve had 10 solid ideas for potential cookbooks: now I start the research to write the proposals. If anything, it brings me in contact with other creative people who love food and eating well. There’s Andrew Wilder, for example, whose blog EatingRules.com encourages us to join his crusade “October Unprocessed.”

I’m excited to try it. Why don’t you?

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The Cheese Plate at Breakfast

cheese cart

My favorite thing about a French meal is the cheese plate at the end. If I could incorporate that into every meal, I’d be in seventh heaven. When I saw a photo of the juiciest, sweetest-looking watermelon today, I thought, “What about watermelon and feta for breakfast?” (I can hear the howls of protest from France at this leap from their exquisite cart of Brie and Camembert, Epoisses and Emmenthaler to this trendy combo, but there is a big, wide world out there with audacious ideas of satisfaction.) I didn’t have a chance to get to the store today, so I came up with another fruit-and-cheese pairing from what I have in the fridge: tomato and pepper Jack, served with a couple of strips of warm tortilla.

 

A Roma tomato, fragrant and almost sweet, is a good complement to the spicy cheese and nutty   tortilla

A Roma tomato, fragrant and almost sweet, is a good complement to the spicy cheese and nutty tortilla

Havarti and grapes…chèvre and pears…plums and ricotta…of course, the luscious melon and salty feta–there’s no end to the choices, and what a delicious, nutritious start to the day!

 

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No Bread? No Problem!

A literal example of “man does not live by bread alone:” with not a slice, not even a heel, in the house, I’ve had to make do with puff pastry–poor me!

apple tart easter 2014

Yesterday, it was a hot dog rolled in pastry, spread with Dijon mustard and sprinkled with celery salt. This morning, it’s Red Delicious apple on apricot jam with a little dried rosemary.  I think I’ll survive.

Happy Easter to all!

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Tiny Pie

There is an adorable children’s book written by Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman, illustrated by Edward Hemingway called Tiny Pie. 

tiny pie

That little elephant discovers a tiny TV studio inside the walls of her house in which that mouse is hosting a cooking show. Alice Waters provided an apple pie recipe for the book. It’s for anyone with a pie fixation, from six to sixty.

While this is not Alice Waters’ recipe, I made a tiny apple pie in my muffin tie of which I am inordinately proud!

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Pastry from Ms. American Pie and apple filling from Mom’s Big Book of Baking. Looks luscious, no? In all humility, it was.

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I’m seeing peaches, cherries, blueberries, and more inside that crust–a whole summer’s worth of goodness.

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Girl Scout Cookies for Breakfast!

For someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, why do I get so excited when my Girl Scout cookies arrive? They’re my madeleines, one bite and my childhood is there again for me in all its happy, busy, suburban, 1960s, Technicolor glory.

Weston, Connecticut

Brownies in Weston, Connecticut

I’m in the second row, third from the left, looking rather somber. That’s my neighbor and friend Sally Rogers (in whose living room I learned to do the pony) next to me. I’m actually connected today to Dale Coykendall (top row, upper right) via LinkedIn. Amazing how the Internet brings old friends together.

 

Back to breakfast: I got my delivery of Samoas and Do-si-dos yesterday and thought, “Yes! Throwback Thursday Yogurt Parfait!” Vanilla yogurt, fruit from my freezer (strawberries, blueberries, and peaches), and cookie crumbs on top.

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What Can You Do With a Crumpet?

Well, we Americans call them English muffins (I know, I know…purists will have a long list of the differences, but I’m just looking at them as a simple bread not a clash of cultures).

drinking tea

One of my lifelong loves, the English muffin can be doctored up in every way imaginable. This morning, I bought six whole-grain muffins, so let’s embark on a kitchen experiment: “What Can You Do With a Crumpet?”

This morning, I created “The William Tell.”

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Toast the muffins. Fry half a dozen apple slices in butter until soft. Spread the muffins with grainy mustard, place the apple slices on top, drape with Swiss cheese and broil until the cheese is bubbly. If you’re looking for a healthy, quick, savory breakfast sandwich, you’ve hit the bull’s-eye!

 

 

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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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