Archive for the ‘Breakfast and Brunch’ Category

Last weekend I had some friends over for brunch. I picked some goodies out of the garden and brunch began to unfold.

I had been craving this carrot salad so I made some using the parsley. I sliced the radish and tossed it with some english cucumber and salt for another fresh treat, perhaps now is a good time to mention that I love salads. We also made some gently scrambled eggs with garden leeks, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and capers. I tossed a sprig of thyme and rosemary in with the leeks to give some aroma and extra flavor.

K and A brought over some delicious Humboldt Fog goat cheese, a perfect accompaniment to the Whole Emmer (Wheat) Sourdough I had made the day before.

For dessert we had fresh fruit and some of the Sachertorte I made in class last week (I have moved on from the bread portion of baking school to pastry.)

Between the brunch and the lovely sunny weather, we had a perfect picnic.

After lunch, we retired to the lawn with several baking books and enjoyed the sunshine.

(photo credit: Angel Trumpet Tree)

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Egg decorating

Yesterday morning, my friends and I decorated eggs for No-Rouz (Persian New Year.) We decided to try coloring them with onion skins. We collected red and yellow skins and soaked them separately in some water, so they were soft enough to wrap around the eggs. We also used some basil leaves for designs.

We tightly wrapped the eggs in red and yellow onion skins and then in (new) nylons.

We put the egg bundles in a pot of boiling water with some purple cabbage (in hopes to add a little more color.) When they were cool enough, we got to unwrap them!

I look forward to playing with other vegetable for color, maybe beets would result in a brighter purple?

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I am visiting some friends in Colorado. Yesterday we celebrated No-Rouz, the Persian New Year. The exact time of No-Rouz changes yearly in accord with the exact time of the beginning of Spring (This year it was in the late afternoon.)  We began by preparing the “Haft Sin.” or “Seven S’s.” As you might guess from its name, Haft Sin includes seven items that begin with “s”, however it is not exclusive to these items.

Our Haft Sin setting included the traditional seven:

Sabhez- lentil sprouts, symbolizing rebirth

Samanu- a sweet pudding made from wheat germ, symbolizing affluence

Senjed- dried oleaster fruit, symbolizing love

Sir- garlic, symbolizing medicine

Sib- apples, symbolizing health

Somaq- sumac berries, symbolizing the color of the sunrise

Serkeh- vinegar, symbolizing patience

Plus some more recent additions:

Sonbol- hyacinth flowers

Sekkeh- coins, symbolizing wealth

Sohun asali- Sesame honey cookies

Shirini nokhod chi- Chickpea flour cookies with cardamom

Haj Badoom- Crispy almond cookies

Nargili- Coconut cookies

Ayeneh- a mirror, symbolizing honesty

Sham’- lit candles, symbolizing happiness and enlightenment

Tokhm e Morgh- decorated eggs, symbolizing fertility

Mahi-goldfish, symbolizing life within life

A book of Hafez (a highly respected Iranian Poet), and or the Qur’an

We prepared the Haft Sin setting together, each adding a little bit of the different items. After the sun passed over the equator and we had a quiet celebration, exchanged gifts, and gathered at the table for a traditional No-Rouz dinner.

We had sabzi polo – rice pilaf cooked with lots of fresh herbs and saffron, kookoo – a frittata like dish that is heavy on the greens and light on the eggs, maast – yogurt with shallots (a different variety than what we are used to in the states), and a tray of olives, mint yogurt, and naan khoshkeh – a crispy flatbread (literally “dried bread”) from Isfahan, and fish.

Sabzi polo:

3 cups basmati rice
3 tablespoons salt
3 cups finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, young leeks, cilantro, dill, fenugreek)
3 spring garlic shoots*

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 tsp. saffron powder

Rinse rice thoroughly. Combine rice and boiling water (cover about 1″ above the rice) and soak for about 4 hours. Strain the rice. In a large pot, boil some water, add some salt and the rice, cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until the rice is tender but not to soft (you can 2 or 3 Tbsp. of yogurt to the water if you like). Strain.

In a large pot, place about 2 Tbsp. oil and 3 Tbsp. water add the spring garlic shoots, cut in half lengthwise and saute for a few minutes over medium heat. Layer rice and herbs on top of the garlic and cover with a clean cloth or paper towel and the lid. This prevents the excess steam from going back into the rice and making it mushy. Let cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.

In a separate pot, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and stir in 1/4 tsp. saffron powder.

Stir a little of the cooked rice in with the saffron butter to use as a garnish. Mound the rice on a platter and decorate with saffron rice.

*For a potato version: replace garlic shoots with a potato or two, thinly sliced. Add a little salt and a touch of saffron while sauteeing.

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This morning I took a quick break from some serious knitting and made myself some pancakes. When I went into the cupboard to get a batter bowl I saw a pig cookie cutter and thought it would be fun to make pig shaped pancakes. I put some milk and an egg in the bowl and whisked them together. I added some flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and mixed it again. I melted some butter in a little saucepan and added that to the batter.

I peeled and sliced several small pears and tossed them into the still slightly buttery saucepan and let them stew in their juices while I cooked the pancakes. After several attempts at using the cookie cutter I ended up with one recognizably pig shaped pancake. I came to the conclusion that I need to try it again with a larger cutter. When the pears were tender and I had used almost all of the batter, I added some fresh cranberries to the pears and cooked the fruit until all of the cranberries had popped. I added a big pinch of sugar and poured them on top of my stack of pancakes, topped it with a little whipped cream.


1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

2-3 Tbsp butter, melted

* lemon zest

Mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix again. (It’s okay to have a few small lumps in the batter, you don’t want to over mix it.) * Lemon zest is a great addition if you have it on hand, you can also use orange zest.

I always use my cast iron griddle pan to make pancakes. My stove is pretty hot and the pan holds the heat really well so I have found that I can set the burner quite low (3) and the pancakes come out very well.


5 medium-sized pears, peeled, cored, sliced

1/2 – 1 cup fresh cranberries

small pat of butter

sugar to taste

Melt the butter in a pan and add the pears. Let them cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until they are tender. Add the cranberries and continue cooking until they all pop. Add sugar to taste. Let sugar dissolve, stirring frequently. Serve.

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I was introduced to buckles recently and I can’t seem to get enough of them! The idea behind a buckle is that you load the (coffee cake) batter with so much fruit that it buckles in on itself. My sister got a big box of Missouri peaches the other day so this morning I crept into her house while she was still sleeping, and snatched several. I had to resist an urge to take one of her pies from her kitchen counter.

I rinsed the peaches and cut them into little pieces about the size of blueberries (which also make really really good buckle!) I prepared the streusel topping (brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon) and then mixed up the batter.

I folded in the peaches, poured the batter into a buttered baking dish..

… sprinkled on the streusel, and put it in the oven at 350*F. 55 minutes later…

I made a pot of coffee while it was cooling at sat down and devoured a piece with my coffee.

(I am feeling a little guilty that I don’t have anyone home to share it with.)

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It’s canning season again! The other day I sat down with a notebook and started to plan out all of the things I want to make this season, the first being orange-rhubarb jam. I love, love, love rhubarb! This was the first time I have made rhubarb jam so I decided to follow a recipe, exactly.

I started by chopping rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces and letting them simmer with a touch of water. While they were simmering I zested and juiced an orange.

I added the orange to the rhubarb and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, until it was tender.

I then mixed in sugar and boiled it “until it mounded on a chilled dish,” or at least that’s what I would have done if I had a chilled dish and didn’t have to run off to work. I settled for boiling as long as I could, which I think was about 15-20 minutes. I like runny jam so I wasn’t worried about it not setting.

I quickly poured the hot jam into sanitized jelly jars that were warm in the oven. I always seem to under-estimate the amount of time it takes to can, but I had just enough time to process the jam in a hot water bath before leaving for work.

The jam was pretty thin, as I expected, and pretty sweet, also expected. Next batch, I plan to cut back on the sugar. The next morning, I went over to a friends for a pancake breakfast and brought a jar. The orange and rhubarb jam goes really well with Blueberry Buttermilk pancakes!

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My friend just moved into a new apartment, in honor of her move we made some breakfast. I found this recipe on Heidi Swanson’s blog. She always has beautiful, tasty, and inspiring recipes to share. I collected some ingredients and headed over for breakfast.

There was a lot of crumbling, grating, and mixing involved in making this crust-less Quiche. First I grated a zucchini, set it in a colander sprinkled it with salt and let it de-juice (the result came in two parts, a Quiche that was not soggy, and some vibrant green zucchini juice!)

Meanwhile, I chopped some dill and shalots and mixed them, and the zucchini, into a mixture of fresh ricotta cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano.  I added a couple of eggs and mixed it again.

I put it in an oiled cast iron skillet, and put it in the oven to bake.

After about 30 minutes, I topped it with some fresh goat cheese from Zingerman’s creamery and slid it back in the oven to finish cooking.

Note: I cut down the over all cooking time from 80 minutes to about 45-50 minutes because I used cast iron.

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I was looking through one of my cookbooks today and I saw a recipe for apple strudel.

I have always wanted to learn how to make it and this recipe looked very thorough. There are two components, the dough and the filling.

The dough was really fun to make! It needs to be stretched out, so I used bread flour and kneaded for a good 20 minutes. The trick to knowing that it has been kneaded long enough is, pulling a little dough away from the ball and being able to see through it…

While the dough was resting:

I prepared the apples, soaked the raisins in some rum, and chopped walnuts…

I used some day, or two, old bread to make breadcrumbs that I later mixed with some melted butter.

Now it was time for the fun part! Stretching the dough. I cut the dough in half so I could make one with and one without walnuts. Then I formed the dough into a level disc…

and began to stretch it on the table…

Thankfully, I had the help of my friend Sarah. It made it a lot easier having two people to stretch the dough!

We pulled and pulled and stretched and stretched until the dough was translucent.

After the dough was sufficiently stretched, I brushed it with melted butter…

…and placed the fruit mixture in a long mound at one end.

I topped it with buttered breadcrumbs and sour cream…

Next, I rolled it up. As I rolled I continued to gently stretch the dough. I used parchment paper as a sort of guide for rolling, the technique was similar to wrapping sushi with a bamboo mat.

I trimmed the ends and folded them under, gently nudging the filling toward the center of the log. I brushed the log with the rest of the melted butter and popped it in the over. When it was finished baking and had cooled down, I dusted it with some powdered sugar and touch of cinnamon.

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Flavors of India by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff is a great cookbook. It has been my mom’s favorite for years so it only seemed natural to add it, as my first Indian cookbook, to my collection. Growing up, I loved when mom made things like fresh panir, dosa’s and coriander chutney! Last week I had some milk that was about to expire so I decided to make some panir. When I pulled out my cookbook I was quickly enraptured by all of the things I just had to make, so I spent a lovely day in the kitchen chopping and mixing and cooking away.

Making fresh panir is one of those things that intimidates most people until you try it (I know I was a little scared) and then you can’t make it enough! All you need to do is…bring some milk to a boil, take it off the heat and add some lemon juice.

Once the curds and whey have separated in the pot, pour them through some cheese cloth to catch the curds…

I let the panir hang from the faucet of my kitchen sink, catching any excess whey. If you use the whey to cook rice, it makes it extra rich and delicious.

I also made some dosa’s with a spicy potato filling. I am still trying to perfect the art of spreading/frying dosa’s but I think I at least have the filling down…

To accompany the panir and dosa’s I also made a simple cucumber  raita- with fresh homemade yogurt, coriander chutney, date and almond halva and of course some basmati rice that was “whey rich.” I love that Indian cooking incorporates all of the flavors, leaving you perfectly satisfied.

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My friend and I have been doing a lot of crepe making recently. Our latest trial was a batch of cornmeal orange-butter crepes from The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. I had to work a mini shift early in the morning so I made the batter the night before and let it rest in the fridge until we were ready for it. The recipe was for a orange-butter sauce with a little rum, we also made a savory filling.

Vanessa picked up some cremini mushrooms, leeks, and rosemary on her way over. We sauteed the veggies and seasoned them with some salt, lots of black pepper. To finish them off, we added a bit of cream.

We tend to prepare our crepes in phases, giving us time to digest the previous course of crepes…

The orange-butter sauce was very simple to make, we just melted some butter in a pan with orange juice and zest, added a pinch of nutmeg, some sugar and a splash of rum. The sauce thickened up a little, perfect to lay the crepes in and absorb the juicy goodness…

I gently folded the crepes in quarters as I lifted them out of the pan allowing some of the excess sauce to run off. We served them with some stewed wild black raspberries that a friend had picked and frozen last summer…

I can’t wait to try more variations of these glistening cornmeal crepes! And when I do, I will definitely report on them too!

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