Category Archives: Breakfast/Brunch

Smørrebrød- Shrimp

smørrebrød shrimpI have more than a few close friends that don’t eat chicken, beef, pork, etc.  They confine their meat sources to seafood, for health and ethical reasons.   On the other hand, husband is an unabashed carnivore.   So, this blog won’t veer too far from animal meat sources.  However, every once in a while, I will come across an awesome sounding recipe and make a seafood dish as tribute to my wonderful seafood eating friends.  When research items for my smørrebrød post, I came across this pretty amazing version of the Danish open faced sandwich and couldn’t resist giving it a go.

If you are looking for an easy appetizer, or luncheon dish, this is it.  It’s pretty much just assembly.  No real work of any consequence, yet you end up with a very high impact dish.  This is a fairly minimal, clean dish and the flavors work very well together.  While the look is amazing, the taste is not overly complicated.  Some of my taste testers preferred a pinch of salt added to the sandwich, so you may want to consider that as a finishing touch.

This recipe is inspired by a recipe I found on Epicurious.

Shrimp Smørrebrød
Makes 8 Sandwiches

1/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 slices rye bread
2 firm-ripe California avocados
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 leaves Boston lettuce, rinsed and dried
1 pound large-jumbo shrimp (16), steamed, peeled, chilled and deveined
Cut Chives
1 1/2 tablespoons drained bottled capers

In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add sour cream and horseradish and whip until stiff. Set aside.

Cut the crust off of the rye bread and make uniform squares or rectangles. Generously butter bread. Set aside on serving plate.

Peel and slice avocados, place in a bowl and toss with lemon juice until thoroughly covered. Set aside.

Place a lettuce leaf on each piece of buttered bread. Layer avocado, shrimp, cream, chives and capers on each sandwich. Serve.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, a traditional American breakfast dish

My first brush with a variation of biscuits and sausage gravy was something kindly called sh$t on a shingle, or creamed chipped beef on toast.   I couldn’t understand how anyone had a disparaging word to say about this wonderful dish.  It was amazing!  Creamy gravy, salty beef and crunchy toast.  Keep your breakfast pancakes, this was awesome!

Then, I had biscuits and sausage gravy.   Combine a white gravy with my favorite breakfast meat and you have me at “gravy”.    Let’s be clear, there’s not a single redeeming value about this dish.  Sure, you could try to say you are getting “calcium” from the milk in the gravy.  I use that justification for ice cream and milkshakes.  However, let’s be real, this is a fairly empty calorie carbohydrate extravaganza.   It’s up there with a doughnut for breakfast.  Maybe a bagel with cream cheese.  You get the drift.  Not health food.

Biscuits and gravy have a storied history in America.  The morning meal was terribly important, but, the meal needed to be economical.  A meal that used flour, milk and scant meat was very well received. It kept people full for a day of hard labor in the field. It may have also been a small sign of rebellion, as it was entirely different from anything the British ate for breakfast. I picked recipes from the 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer.  They mirrored other recipes and had exact measurements.  The instructions were sometimes lacking and the ingredients weren’t necessarily listed in the order they were used.  However, I love seeing the differences in preparation.  Now, when you make pie crust or biscuits, you are admonished to keep everything cold, or the biscuits won’t be flaky.  Mrs. Farmer makes no such admonishment.  It just wasn’t an option during her time.  Mrs. Farmer was more concerned about the  oven being “hot”.   If the biscuits were baked “too slow”, Mrs. Farmer warned that “the gas will escape before it has done its work”.

She has 3 versions of baking powder biscuits in her cookbook:  Baking Powder Biscuit I, Baking Powder Biscuit II and “Emergency Biscuit”.    I chose to work off of Biscuit I, as I didn’t have an emergency that a biscuit would solve.  It also used lard and butter, versus just butter, which was good enough for me.  I like the combination of the two fats, as they each add something different to the biscuit. Butter adds a flakiness as it melts and lard adds tenderness. I also interpreted a “hot oven” to be 425 degrees Fahrenheit.   I can’t really say that I was impressed by the biscuits.  They were very serviceable.  They had a great crunch on the outside and were tender inside.  However, they didn’t rise really high.  Maybe that’s a modern convention.  Maybe the oven needed to be hotter.  Maybe, as an American, I’m used to biscuits that are just too big.  I don’t know. They tasted wonderful, they just lacked in presentation.  So, be warned.  I passed it off as “how they ate back then”.  No one cared and there wasn’t a drop left. They were very good, just a little plain.

The sausage gravy is a different story.  Why does it have to be soooo drab?  Fat, flour, milk, salt, pepper and bits of sausage. So bland, albeit delicious.  But, what if it could be better?  So, I decided to break the mold.  I used onion.  I know, gasp.  I then added cognac.  That’s a pearl clutching ingredient there.  Look, this recipe can be fancied up.  The cognac adds a warm layer of flavor that compliments the sausage perfectly.  Your kitchen will smell amazing.  I am using a small amount to deglaze the pan, nothing too boozy.  You are free to leave these out for a more “pure” experience.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
Inspired by Baking Powder Biscuits I and White Sauce I from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
Serves 6
Prep and Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lard (or vegetable shortening)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
3/4 cup milk

Sausage Gravy
1 pound ground breakfast sausage
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon cognac
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the biscuits:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix dry ingredients together and sift twice. Work 1 tablespoon of butter and the lard into flour mixture with tips of fingers; add milk gradually while mixing with a knife. The amount of liquid needed to bring the dough together may vary depending on the flour. Place dough on a floured surface, pat and roll lightly to one-half inch thickness. Cut dough with biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on buttered pan, and melt the remaining butter and brush on the tops of the biscuits. For a crunchy surface use a cast iron pan. Bake for 10-14 minutes.

For the sausage gravy:

Over medium heat, brown the sausage and cook until thoroughly done. Remove sausage from pan. Sauté the onions in the sausage drippings until translucent. Add butter if more fat is needed. Deglaze pan with cognac. Add flour to the pan and cook until the raw flour taste is gone, about 1-2 minutes. Do not let the flour brown. Whisk in the milk and bring the mixture to a slow bubble. If the mixture becomes too thick, add more milk. Season with salt and pepper and return sausage to the pan. Serve over biscuits. Traditionally, this dish is served with scrambled eggs.

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Muffins

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When my kids were in daycare, for Mother’s Day there would be “muffins for mom” and for Father’s Day there would be “Doughnuts for Dad”.  I was so jealous of “Dad”.  The moms would get these large, dense, tasteless, mass produced muffins that sat in packaging for weeks.  Dads would get doughnuts fresh from a local shop. So not the same!

The only muffins I really remember growing up were blueberry.  I guess there were other flavors, but I don’t recall having them.  Muffins had their heyday in the 1990s.  There was an entire Seinfeld episode dedicated to the best part of the muffin:  the top.  Thanks to that episode, you can buy a muffin top pan.  Who would possibly want those terrible muffin stumps?  The tops were clearly the best part!!  I love Seinfeld.

Muffin flavors exploded, and there was a bit of a muffin craze.  No different than the cupcake phase now.   Can that be over now?  No one looks good eating a cupcake.  It’s messy, you get frosting everywhere, and those little things are expensive!  I’m really not a big fan. But, I digress.

As everyone has a muffin tin, there should be no “special equipment” required to execute this recipe.  Most people now probably make cupcakes out of their “muffin pans”, but I like the old standby of blueberry muffins.  Simple, elegant, and well, it’s got to be good for you, there’s blueberries in it!

This recipe is allegedly based on a Martha Stewart Recipe.   The blueberry recipe currently listed on her webpage is loaded with comments asking where the old blueberry recipe went. One of the commenters kindly put the more popular “old” recipe up.  I used that one as a base for the following recipe.  If the recipe was so good that people were willing to print it and save it, then comment on Martha’s site about it on another recipe’s webpage, it was good enough for me!  A purloined recipe!  Quite the scandal!

As you can guess, it’s made two ways.  One for the boy and one for the girl.   She wouldn’t touch blueberries for anything.

Muffins, two ways

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

Blueberry Version (double if you aren’t making chocolate chip muffins)
1 cup of blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Chocolate Chip Version (double if you aren’t making blueberry muffins)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with baking cups or liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl, until fluffy. About 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time until combined. Add vanilla and milk until combined.

Take 1 teaspoon of the flour mixture and use to coat the blueberries.

Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir the remaining flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Divide the batter in two. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and blueberries to one part of the batter and the chocolate chips to the other part.

Add the batter to the muffin tin. Mix together the sugar and nutmeg and sprinkle on top of each muffin. If you have too much batter for 12 muffins, bake a second batch. I got 14 muffins out of mine.

Bake until the tops of the muffins start to brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

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Sour Cream Waffles, two ways

You may think I’ve only photographed the blueberry waffle, but no, the bottom waffle in the back is the Chocolate Chip one!

As followers of my blog may be aware I have a boy and a girl. The boy likes bold flavors. He makes hot sauce (like Tabasco) with his daddy. The girl eats in the “white” food group: potatoes, chicken, pancakes, waffles, apples, bananas, etc. with a few exceptions like salmon (because it’s pink!), hot dogs (ditto) and strawberries (almost pink!). However, my boy and girl have come to an impasse. The boy has tired of my chocolate chip waffles. He’d like a different flavor. The girl seeks no such change. There will never be anything wrong with chocolate chip waffles to her. Ever. She could have the same three meals forever: chocolate chip waffles (or doughnuts), hot dogs, and salmon. The girl never tires of the tried and true.

So, as I was looking through my fridge I noticed a container of sour cream I bought for a meal and forgot to put out. Oops. It’s about to expire,. I also have some blueberries that I bought as a snack for my son. Apparently, he found other things on which to snack. Imagine. Anyway, I asked him about blueberry waffles. He enthusiastically said yes and asked if I can add some lemon flavor to it, because he likes that combination. Ok….

At this point, the girl has stated that she will not eat blueberry pancakes. Of course she won’t. So, decide to divide the batter in half. Some for the blueberry and lemon waffles and some for the chocolate chip waffles. Oh the mess I will make!! The dishes I will do!

So, I need a waffle recipe to use up my sour cream. I don’t like wasting money on food I forgot I had! The White House Cookbook by Fannie Lemira Gillette (1887) and The Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book by Isabel Gordon Curtis (1909) have recipes for “Cream Waffles” that use sour cream (but ironically, not cream). James Beard has a recipe in his American Cookery (1972) that is nearly the same of the aforementioned titles. I think sour cream may be have been different back then. I made the recipe and ended up with a really thick batter that wasn’t pouring anywhere, much less onto a waffle iron. So, I thinned out the batter with whole milk to make it pourable and problem solved. The waffles are really rich and very good. Even the blueberry lemon ones!! If you want to only make one type of waffle, just double the extra ingredients of the type of waffle you want to make (e.g. 2 cups of blueberries, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of flour).

Sour Cream Waffles, two ways

Base batter:

1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 3/4 cup white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups sour cream
3 eggs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole milk

For 1/2 Blueberry and Lemon Waffles:
1 cup blueberries, rinsed
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice

For 1/2 Chocolate Chip Waffles
1 1/4 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat waffle iron, grease iron when hot with spray oil.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar) in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until combined and aerated.

In a separate, smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, and 1 cup of the milk.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. If the batter is too think, add the remaining milk in parts until the right consistency is achieved. Divide the batter in half and separate.

Blueberry and Lemon Waffles:

In a small bowl, combine the blueberries with the flour, coating the blueberries well. Gently fold the blueberries and the lemon juice into half of the batter and cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions.

Chocolate Chip Waffles:

Stir the chocolate chips into the remaining 1/2 of the batter and cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions.

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Goofy Toast

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I can’t believe I am writing this post, but kids are insistent.   “You have to do a post on this!” They cried.  Now, when I made the Chocolate Chip Cookies Noir, they forbid me from putting the recipe on the blog.  They didn’t want the “secret” recipe to get out.   But for this, they thought everyone should share in the fun.  I’m having trouble because I’m not sure this is “blog worthy”, but I’ll give it a go.

Let me start by saying the reason I made this dish is that I announced we were having pork loin for dinner. You may have heard the crying and whining where you are. Let’s just say pork loin doesn’t pique the kids’ fancy. Any chance they can get, they’ll try to make a play for “breakfast for dinner”. If they sense any weakness in the resolve of the person making dinner, the begging will commence. Seriously, it is their favorite meal. You may notice a lot of breakfast dishes on this blog. We mostly have them for dinner. Tonight is no exception. Since Daddy was away, they made a play for Goofy Toast. The idea of pork loin wasn’t too hot with mom either, so they won that round.

The history of Goofy Toast begins at Disney World. We have taken many a vacation to Disney World.  Back during the depths of the  Depression Recession, Disney was deeply discounted.  So discounted, we could afford to stay at the Polynesian Resort.  Man, does that spoil you.  We went one year and got 30% off the hotel, free food AND a $250 Visa Gift Card.  Now, you may get 30% off the hotel rate, but that’s about it.  The exact same vacation is nearly twice as much money as it was 3-4 years ago.  I guess the economy has recovered? Luckily, we have pictures to relive the experience.  Anyway, at one of the many breakfasts we ate at the Polynesian during our stay was something called “Goofy Toast”.  The kids loved the name and ordered it.  In the old days we would have called it “Eggs in a Nest” or something like that.  Now, Goofy Toast.  I’m sure that’s trademarked or something.

My kids fawned all over this dish.  I looked at it and it appeared to be grilled bread with an egg in the middle.  No big.   I was perplexed as my children were not big egg eaters.  Nor were they particularly fond of toast, unless it was slathered with peanut butter and dotted with chocolate chips.  But the Goofy Toast had cast its spell.  Moving the egg from the side of the plate to the middle of the toast transformed both moderately despised food items into an edible creation. I guess those Disney people really know their target audience.

So, when we got home I asked if they wanted Goofy Toast.  I got the eye roll.  No, really, I can make it, I replied.   So, I made it and they were amazed that I could recapture the magic of the Goofy Toast.   Truly amazed.  Like I had turned lead into gold amazed. Ok…..

So, if you would like to try something ever so slightly different for breakfast, here you go.  Apparently, this is crazy kid friendly!  I will say, it is an elegant presentation of what is otherwise humdrum eggs and toast.  So, there is that.

Goofy Toast (aka Eggs in a Nest)
makes 1

butter
slice of bread
egg
salt and pepper

Melt butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat.

While the butter is melting, cut a hole in the middle of the bread.

Place bread in pan.

Crack egg into the hole in the bread. Season with salt and pepper. Dot bread with butter. When egg has set on the bottom (2-3 minutes), carefully turn over in pan. Cook until desired doneness.

Seriously, that’s it. As a variation, my daughter only likes scrambled eggs, so I scramble the egg before putting it into the opening in the bread.

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Frittata Madness

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In eating low carb, breakfast can be a bit of a challenge.  Besides eggs and your typical breakfast meats (bacon, sausage, scrapple, etc.), most of breakfast is a bit of a carbfest.  Pancakes, Waffles, croissants, muffins, pastries, doughnuts.  Oh my!!

So, when you are stuck with eggs every day and rotating the breakfast meats and adding berries, eventually you come to a point where enough is enough.  Enter the frittata.   The frittata is supposed to be a fried egg, which part of this recipe is.  With the advent of broiling ovens, the cooking style for this dish has changed from completely fried, to a hybrid of fried and broiled.   While this may not be as authentic as a true frittata, it does make the dish easier to make without compromising its integrity.

Frittata has its origins in Italian cuisine and was considered a great way to use up leftovers, especially vegetables.  In the United States, it appears more as a brunch dish and the ingredients used vary wildly from only vegetables to a meat extravaganza.

In my house, we have used leftover taco meat and cheese to create a Mexican inspired frittata. For this recipe, we use gumbo-inspired ingredients, onions, peppers, andouille sausage and garlic.  You can use anything you have on hand, really.

The general plan of a frittata starts with a well oiled, oven safe sauté or fry pan that can handle the bulk of the ingredients.  You need a pan that can contain not only the eggs, but everything you want the eggs to contain.  I use my All-Clad d5 12 inch fry pan.  I buy All-Clad because they are still made here in America (except the lids) and are made with Stainless Steel.   I bought the cookware on sale (it was a open box set) at Williams Sonoma and have never looked back.  I can assure you, no business has given me any products to try or endorse.  I bought it and love it.  There’s no warping, it’s not thin in spots and it looks beautiful.   Plus, it’s made in Pennsylvania.  I am more than happy to support products from countries that oversee (to some extent) the manufacturing process and require a decent wage to be paid to its workers.  Not all of the All-Clad line is made in the USA, so you have to look (like if you see a certain BAM! chef on the box, just walk away).  There’s a reason it’s cheaper.

Anyway, I mention this because not all cookware is meant to be put in the oven under the broiler.  Usually the darker and non-stick pans advise against it.

So you have a well oiled pan, heat the oil and make sure it coats the entire interior of the pan.  Add your additions to the frittata and sauté until you achieve the texture you want in the additions (peppers and onions soft, for example).  Add beaten eggs to the pan.  Cook on the stove top until the bottom and sides are set and the top is less runny.  At this point, the pan should be placed in the pre-heated oven set on high broil.  You need to keep an eye on it.  Broil the frittata until puffed in the center and there’s no jiggle when the pan is moved.

In a nutshell, that’s a frittata.  It’s not hard, it’s all in one pan and easy to clean up.  It’s also an excellent way to repurpose leftovers into a sum greater than the parts.

In this frittata, my son wanted to try out his knife skills.  So, we have a very rustic version of the dish.  You can take the time to fine dice everything for a more refined appearance.  Frittatas are a nice way to stem the madness you may experience at breakfast if you are following a lower carb way of living. In my house, they are also a very quick weekday meal using leftovers in a brand new and not so humdrum way.

Frittata

Olive Oil (enough to more than cover a 12 inch fry pan), about 1/4 cup
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound andouille sausage (I used 1/2 pound andouille and 1/2 pound kielbasa)
8 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack)

Place oil in 12 inch fry pan over medium heat, swirl to coat the entire pan. When oil is heated, add onions and peppers, season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and cook until soft. Add the garlic and sauté further until fragrant. Add sausages and sauté until warmed through.

Preheat broiler set on high.

Add to the beaten eggs the remaining salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese, until combined.

Distribute the pan ingredients evenly throughout the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and cheese mixture. Cook on the stovetop over until the sides and bottom are set and the eggs are runny on top. This step is hard to describe, but you want a layer of runny egg mixture, but it shouldn’t be very deep. At this point, you want to place the pan in the oven under the broiler. Leaving the door slightly ajar, broil until the egg is puffed in the center and the mixture does not jiggle when you shake the pan.

Remove from oven, cut in wedges and serve.

Note of caution: when removing the pan from the oven, keep in mind the ENTIRE pan was in the oven. So, a few seconds later you will see the pan on the stove and may not think too much about it if you have to hold it to cut the frittata to serve. As the handle is now extremely hot, you will get burned. I avoid this by draping a hot pad or oven mitt over the handle to remind myself that while my handles aren’t normally hot, in this case it is scorching.

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