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Posts from the ‘Breakfast or Brunch’ Category

Farmers Market Haul, A Guest Post, Zucchini Fritters And A Big Salad

The farmers market in my neighborhood is absolutely brimming with a fabulous variety of beautiful fruits and vegetables. I love going there and am always inspired by what I see and feel and smell and taste. The wheels are turning and I am so excited to announce that I will be doing another guest post with Teagan, her latest story is amazing and magickal. She brilliantly involves her readers in the stories, remember the Three Ingredients series?

What you see in the photo are pink gooseberries, sour cherries and plums. This guest post has been cooking for a while and I specifically shopped with that in mind. The fruit is so fresh and delicious and I am really looking forward to sharing the recipes with you, but that has to wait.

In the meantime I am going to share a recipe that I saw on Instagram, Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill. The recipe comes from Chef Michael Symon, some of you may have seen him on “The Chew”, Food Network or maybe you have eaten in one of his restaurants, well he is a wonderful chef and these fritters are so easy to make and really delicious.


They were delicious for breakfast with a 5 minute egg and salad. A light and satisfying meal.

My tomatoes

I am happy that my tomatoes are growing and it looks like they may just be turning from green to red soon. But in the meantime it’s great that the Farmers market has some beautiful tomatoes and the bounty this summer is phenomenal. I went again this morning and as usual my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I bought a lot, every year I plant basil and almost every year it dies, this year was no different. I was lucky to find a huge bunch of fresh basil and I plan on making some pesto with it.

Perfect summer dinner, fresh salad, simple vinaigrette and Rosé

Percy

I will leave you with a photo of Percy, he recently had dental surgery, 6 teeth pulled and he lost 3 or 4 while they were cleaning his teeth. It was a rough day post surgery and the day after, he was pretty sick. Percy can’t tolerate the heat and boy has it been hot out, my poor boy is miserable so we limit our time outside and I walk him very early in the morning between 5:30-6AM when it’s a little cooler out.

 

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

This banana bread recipe has been featured on this site many times, as banana bread and also using other fruits like apples and figs. It is IMHO the best banana bread recipe I have found. While perusing recipes I saw a gorgeous chocolate marble banana bread and although I have added chocolate chips never a chocolate swirl. I used my go to recipe and copied how the chocolate marble swirl was made. The bread is delicious, simple and I like to make 3 mini loaves and freeze them, it freezes beautifully.

It’s moist and chocolaty with lots of banana flavor. The spelt adds some texture and a delicious nuttiness that you only get from spelt.

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

Makes one 9 inch or 3 mini loaves

Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart

1 stick 4 oz softened butter

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup flour

1/2 cup spelt flour

1 heaping cup mashed very ripe banana (2 1/2 large or 3 medium bananas)

1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche

1 tsp vanilla

3 oz dark chocolate melted

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Prepare your baking tins by greasing generously either with cooking spray, butter or shortening. Place flours, baking soda and salt in bowl and whisk to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter and sugar. Cream until light and fluffy scraping the sides occasionally. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium high speed just until combined. Now add the banana, sour cream and vanilla and mix to combine.

Remove one cup of the batter to a small bowl. Melt the chocolate and add the cocoa powder, stir. Add to the 1 cup of batter and fold in.

Spoon some of the regular batter into the baking pan if using a 9 inch loaf pan add half the batter, now half of the chocolate batter in two spoonful. Add the rest of the plain batter and spoon the rest of the chocolate batter on top. Swirl gently with a knife or skewer being careful not to over swirl, a few times back and forth will be enough.

Bake the 9 inch loaf approximately 50-55 minutes and the 3 mini loaves approximately 25-30 minutes. A cake tester or toothpick should come out clean when inserted in the center. The loaves will be browned and feel firm.

 

Watercress Ricotta Torte

I  got a bit sidelined recently and although I made this recipe over a week ago it is just getting posted today, this recipe is delicious, easy to make and feeds an army. I was immediately drawn to it because there is no pie crust involved and it is similar to a quiche without the carb laden crust. The recipe is from Saveur, I made a few changes as I didn’t have quite enough watercress and I had some pea shoots in the crisper. They say to make it in a 9 inch spring form pan,I only had a 10 inch so added extra ingredients so it would t be as flat as a pancake. I also added more whole eggs and only 2 egg yolks. The beauty of making savory food is that you can adapt and get creative with ingredients. Here is the original recipe Watercress Ricotta Torte .

I am still trying to post using my iPad until I can purchase a new computer. Hoping that I am able to retrieve all of my documents and things that were on there, won’t know until I take it into the Apple Store and they take a look at it. I really don’t like using the iPad probably because I am not used to it. At least I can post albeit with some difficulties.

Watercress and ricotta torte

serves 6-8 generously

unsalted butter softened for greasing the pan

2 cups cleaned baby watercress chopped

1 cup pea shoots

3 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

1/2 cup asiago grated

8 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

zest of 1/2 lemon

4 scallions ends trimmed and left whole roasted until softened and lightly browned

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease well your springform pan. Microwave the watercress for 60 seconds and set aside. Chop pea shoots.

Add to a medium bowl the ricotta and sour cream, most of the grated cheese (reserve a little to sprinkle on top of the torte), the nutmeg, eggs and yolks, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Beat to combine and add the watercress and pea shoots stir just until combined.  Pour into the prepared pan top with the roasted scallions and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 45-60 minutes. The middle will slightly jiggle. Remove from oven and turn on the broiler, place u dear the broiler until top is browned. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan, best served warm or at room temperature.

 

Mary’s Secret Ingredients Spring Box And A Smoothie Bowl

I need to apologize to Mary Frances, she was kind enough to send me her beautiful spring box of goodies. I told her I would include on the blog and post a recipe for one of the items included in the box. Time, life, stuff got me busy and I am afraid I am late in posting.

Mary’s Secret Ingredient Spring Box

I have used just about every item in the box, and love how varied and versatile they all are. I always look forward to the kitchen gadget which is always included. The stainless steel soap bar is so cool. When you cut garlic the smell of the garlic is transferred to your fingers,  I always knew that stainless steel removes the odor and pull out the nearest stainless steel utensil that I can find and rub my fingers on it using soapy water. It works every time but this handy gadget makes it easy, you fill with your favorite soap and rub away, it even comes with it’s own little caddy so no mess. Love it!

I really wondered what to make with the ingredients, I used the Get Dressed as a marinade for chicken, it was delicious but didn’t have good light and couldn’t take a photo. Honestly, I am not much of a mustard eater and don’t eat sandwiches so I still haven’t opened the mustard although I am certain it’s delicious. The whiskey infused chocolate truffles were so good I quickly downed them and, they were just fine on their own so why mess with perfection. That left the Soom chocolate tahini, I was a bit skeptical, I like tahini in hummus and halva is delicious but mixing with chocolate was something I never thought of. Tasting a spoonful of it, and then another I sort of became obsessed with the flavor, it’s delicious, not too sweet, you can definitely taste the tahini but it’s so well balanced with the chocolate I really liked it a lot.

I am on Instagram all the time and see these amazing smoothie bowls posted, every morning I have a smoothie or shake but never made a smoothie bowl. It came to me, use the chocolate tahini in a smoothie bowl, decorate with some fresh fruit and crunchy stuff and it would make an awesome breakfast. So that is exactly what I did. I always have frozen fruit on hand, for this smoothy I used frozen banana’s and strawberries, some coconut milk and the chocolate tahini. Blend it, pour it in a bowl, decorate. Simple and healthful and delicious.

Thank you again Mary Frances for the amazing box of goodies, I totally enjoyed it and apoligize again for the late posting. You all should give one of Mary’s boxes a try, visit Mary’s blog for amazing recipes and information about ordering her boxes, you will be introduced to some really great products, part of the proceeds goes to charity and I feel very strongly about always supporting small business. I believe the Spring Box may be sold out but you can order the box for Summer here.  Hurray for Entrepreneurs!

Hot Cross Buns

Last year I made hot cross buns, I liked them so much that they have become an Easter tradition. The recipe I made last year was really good,  but I’m always on the hunt for one that could be better. I use King Arthur Flour and love their recipes. My go to dinner rolls are from their site and they are the best, last years hot cross buns were also a King Arthur recipe.  In reading over this recipe I noticed that there is very little rising time involved, 45 minutes for the first rise and 20-30 minutes for the second rise, thats it. I chose to make them on a warm day to make the rise that much easier. The dough comes together quickly, it’s a very wet dough and now I know why they say to use a scoop and plop them in muffin tins, it does give the option of making them free form in a round pan (I chose that option). If you make them be warned the dough is hard to handle, it’s very sticky and soft. I first oiled my hands to try to form the balls and then changed to flour and let me tell you my hands were a sticky mess. I can deal with that but it makes forming the dough balls difficult. The recipe makes 18, I made them larger and it yielded 14. They also are not exactly round, sort of mishapen but they are very soft and fluffy.

Both recipe’s are similar in technique, I like the use of potato flour in these rolls, potato always yields a very soft moist roll, the flavor is good, however I liked the look of the other rolls I made more. Maybe I will play around with this recipe and see if I can’t get them to look better because they sure are delicious. So pillowy soft, a wonderful recipe and after tasting them I forgot about the sticky messy dough.

Ready to rise

Hot Cross Buns

Recipe from King Arthur Flour site

1 cup raisins, golden raisins or dried fruit (I used mixed dried fruit soaked in rum)

2 tbs rum or water

3 3/4 cup all purpose flour (Because the dough was so wet I added 3 tbs of flour to make it cohesive)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup potato flour or potato flakes

1/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg (next time I will use 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 3/4 tsp cinnamon)

1/4 tsp allspice

2 large eggs

4 tbs melted butter

1 3/4 cup lukewarm water

Glaze (Optional but recommended)

1/3 cup sugar

4 tsp water

1 tbs vanilla extract

Icing for cross

1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

2 tbs soft butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs cream or milk

  1. Mix together the raisins and rum or water in a non-reactive bowl. For best absorption, use a microwave-safe bowl, cover the bowl, and heat for 1 minute, or until the mixture is simmering. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the Princess Cake Flavor (if you’re using it), eggs, water, melted butter and the raisin mixture (including any remaining soaking liquid), then beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be cohesive, but not smooth; that’s OK.
  4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest/rise in a warm place for 45 minutes; it’ll get a bit puffy, but won’t really increase much in size.
  5. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 18 muffin cups. If you have just one 12-cup muffin pan, use aluminum foil cups for the remainder of the dough; or make free-form buns, and place them in an 8″ round cake pan.
  6. To make the glaze: Stir together the glaze ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat in the microwave until the sugar dissolves when you stir the mixture. Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
  7. Use a muffin scoop or 1/4-cup measure to fill the muffin cups; each should be about 3/4 full. If you have a scale, use about 77g (2 3/4 ounces) dough in each cup.
  8. Brush the lukewarm glaze atop the shaped buns.
  9. Let the buns rise, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’ve risen just over the top of the cups.
  10. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and quickly turn them out of the pans onto a rack; if you wait too long, the glaze will cause them to stick.
  11. Allow the buns to cool for 10 minutes before icing.
  12. To make the icing: Combine all the icing ingredients in a small bowl and beat until thick.
  13. Use a pastry bag and tip to pipe thick crosses onto the buns. If you don’t have a pastry bag, fill a sturdy plastic bag with the icing, squeezing it down into one corner. Snip the tip of the bag off, and squeeze the frosting onto the buns.
  14. Store, well-wrapped, for 2 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to a month.

 

Pancakes

I added blueberries

A basic pancake recipe should be in everyone’s repertoire and for many years I have used the pancake recipe in a vintage Betty Crocker cookbook, it’s good but I am constantly searching for a recipe that is even better. The pancakes should be tender and fluffy and light. I’ve tried separating the eggs and beating the whites, folding them into the batter and that works well but let me be honest, in the morning I don’t really feel like the extra work. I saw this recipe on Food52 by The Kitchn and the pancakes looked great I was intrigued by the directions, you do separate the egg, but add the white to the batter unbeaten. It didn’t really seem like that would produce a pancake that met my expectations but I had to give it a try.

I’ve mentioned before that I am an Air Bnb host and I had guests from England, they chose pancakes from the menu for breakfast and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try this recipe.  The batter took only a few minutes to put together, it calls for full fat buttermilk which is kind of difficult to find. The buttermilk most readily available is reduced fat and the smallest size available is a 32 oz carton, the unused milk is frozen in an ice cube tray and stored in a freezer bag. I always have a jar of homemade creme fraiche in the refrigerator, so to make full fat buttermilk I add creme fraiche. The recipe calls for 2 cups of buttermilk and to make it full fat I used 1 3/4 cups buttermilk and 1/4 cup creme fraiche. You can also make buttermilk by adding lemon juice or vinegar to whole milk.

This is now the only recipe I will use for pancakes. I have removed the bookmark from my Betty Crocker cookbook, these pancakes are wonderfully light, fluffy, tender and tasty. I cut the recipe in half, I didn’t want that many pancakes and accidentally added the whole tsp of baking soda and baking powder (pre-coffee and very early) instead of cutting the amount in half and the results were great so I will continue to double the leavening agents when I make this recipe.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Food52 Genius Recipes – The Kitchn

Makes 18-20

2 1/2 cups flour (Editor’s note: in testing, we used 300 grams unbleached all-purpose flour)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, separated

2 cups buttermilk (for extra, extra fluffy pancakes, seek out thick, whole milk buttermilk)

1/2 cup whole milk

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp vanilla (Not in the recipe but I added and it does make a difference)

Canola or unrefined peanut oil for frying

 

Heat the oven to 225° F and prepare a large baking sheet by setting a cooling rack inside. Place both in the oven.

Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the egg yolks, buttermilk, milk, and vanilla. Add the melted, cooled butter and whisk until well combined.

Pour the yolk and milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until barely combined. Add the egg whites and stir just until a thick batter is formed. Set aside for 5 minutes. Note: I added extra milk as the batter was too thick, I only added enough to thin a bit approximately 1/4 cup added a tbs at a time.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, film with 1/2 teaspoon of neutral oil such as canola or peanut oil. After about 30 seconds, when the oil shimmers but is not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and use a soup spoon to drop in heaping spoonfuls of pancake batter.

The batter will spread into a pancake about 3 inches wide. Cook for about 2 1/2 minutes. (If the pancake scorches or the oil smokes, lower the heat.) When the bubbles that form on the edges of the pancakes look dry and airy, use a thin spatula to gently lift one side and peek underneath. If the pancake is golden brown, flip and cook on the other side for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown.

Remove from the skillet to the baking sheet in the oven. Wipe any stray crumbs or scraps out of the skillet with a paper towel, add a little more oil, and continue to cook the remaining batter.

I added blueberries after I had spooned onto the griddle.

pancakes and fried egg

Irish Soda Bread, Happy St. Patricks Day

There is a wee bit of Irish in my lineage, my Dad was Italian and my Mom French/Scottish Irish. Every year for St. Patricks Day my Mom made something green, now I love the color green, but with the exception of vegetables I don’t necessarily like to eat food that is colored green unless it is a result of the natural color of the ingredient used in the recipe. It always made me chuckle when we would all sit at the breakfast table to green biscuits or eggs. This recipe is not green but soda bread is Irish by origin. The recipe comes from my friend Cynthia, The Solitary Cook and Boulangere on Food52. I have always been challenged when it comes to biscuits but have overcome that with a great biscuit recipe, I have made soda bread a few times and it is not usually light and fluffy it’s heavy and hard. I noticd this one when it was featured last week and when I saw that it was one of Cynthia’s recipes I knew it had to be good, she is an extraordinary cook, baker and person.  The bread has potatoes, beer and yogurt for moistness, which sounded really good to me, as my soda bread tends to be on the dry side. She used celery and scallions in her version but I chose to skip the vegetables and make it plain. I also thought it would be fun to make mini loaves that bake faster and are smaller in size. Cynthia calls her recipe Nouveau Irish Soda Bread  it is not your traditional soda bread, I have never seen a recipe that uses potatoes but it works and works really well yielding a flavorful and super moist loaf.  It is however exactly what I wanted, light, moist and delicious. The title is linked to the original recipe on Food 52 and I am posting the recipe as I made it.

This is the best soda bread I’ve had, really good even the next day. I didn’t have fingerling potatoes so I used what I had which was red new potatoes skin on. The potatoes were mashed with good Irish butter (Kerrygold). When at the store I saw some Irish smoked salmon and thought it would be nice with the soda bread and some homemade creme fraiche. Delicious!! I’m currently hosting a lovely couple from England in my air bnb space and they brought some wonderful Whittard tea as a gift. The afternoon tea is fantastic very similar to an Earl Grey tea with a beautiful perfume and flavor. Highly recommend if you can get your hands on some. I thought my good friends at Fiesta Friday #163 might enjoy,  so I’m bringing you a wee bit of Irish Soda Bread!!

Nouveau Irish Soda Bread

Recipe by Cynthia, boulangere on Food52

Makes 1 round loaf or 3 smaller individual loaves

4 fingerling or small potatoes cleaned and sliced (enough to yield 1/2 cup mashed potatoes) (I used small red potatoes with the skin on).

2 tbs butter (Kerrygold)

1 tsp fine grained sea salt or kosher salt

Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces and place in a saucepan with cold water to cover and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, and cook until quite tender, about 15 minutes. Drain using the pan lid to hold back the potatoes, and add butter to the pan. Mash in the pan with a hand masher.  Set aside.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp fine grained sea salt or kosher salt

4 oz greek whole milk yogurt, used Fage plain whole milk yogurt

4 oz Irish lager type beer (Didn’t have Irish Lager so I used a local Brooklyn Lager)

1 tbs honey

While potatoes are cooking heat oven to 400 degree’s.
Sift the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the potatoes, yogurt, beer and honey to the dry ingredients, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon just to blend. Scatter generously some flour on work surface and dump the dough onto the work surface. Form into a ball being careful not to overwork the dough. When it’s a nice round shape transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a sharp serated knife cut an X on top of the loaf or loaves.

For one larger loaf bake 40-45 minutes until a deep brown and when tapped it should feel bouncy not soft or wet. For individual loaves bake 25-30 minutes approximately.
Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Soda bread with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill.

 

Vegetable Lasagna And A Frittata

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Whenever I hear vegetable lasagna I think of that Seinfeld episode when Elaine is on a plane, sitting next to a guy she refers to as “vegetable lasagna” because thats what he ate. That show still makes me laugh. This is not a lasagna in the truest sense of the word, there is no pasta. Instead zucchini and eggplant are layered with ricotta, grated cheese, mozzarella and sauce. This is so good I really don’t miss the pasta, at all. This is me getting back on track, cutting carbs and sugar, trying to eat clean and light. I had some homemade marinara in the freezer, just enough, not having to make sauce made this a quick and easy dinner. This would also be delicious with a béchamel rather than ricotta.

The frittata is a wonderful for any meal, breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea, for lunch/dinner with a salad, it’s a light meal that satisfies. Fritatta is so simple to make and you can add whatever you like to make it your own. I used roasted tomatoes, zucchini and shallot along with taleggio and parmigiana. Please Note, the measurements of my ingredients are not exact. I don’t really measure but they are very close, I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing it and am usually really close. You can add more or less cheese depending on your personal taste.

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Eggplant And Zucchini Lasagna (senza la pasta)

Serves 4-6

2 zucchini unpeeled, washed and ends cut off

1 large eggplant

1 1/2 cup ricotta

1 egg

handful flatleaf parsley chopped

1/2 cup grated cheese (I used parmigiana, asiago and romano) for the ricotta mixture

8 oz mozzarella (fresh if possible) sliced thinly or grated

approximately 2 cups marinara sauce

more grated cheese used when layering

Heat oven to 375 degree’s.

Slice the zucchini in approximately 1/4 inch slices and lay on parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, turn and drizzle more so each side is covered. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven until the zucchini starts to brown, turning after approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Save the parchment and keep the oven on.

Slice the eggplant with skin on in approximately 1/4 inch thick rounds. Rub or brush olive oil on one side, turn over and rub more olive oil on the other side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until lightly browned, turn and roast the other side. You want the eggplant and zucchini lightly browned. Removed from oven and set aside. Because eggplant absorbs the oil I recommend using a pastry brush and brush each side with oil to make sure it’s evenly coated.

Mix ricotta with egg, grated cheese, parsley and some salt and pepper.

Slice or grate the mozzarella. Now you are ready to assemble. Spread some of the marinara in the bottom of your baking dish. Layer some of the eggplant, add a few dollops of ricotta, spread as evenly as you can (doesn’t have to be perfect) add some of the mozzarella, grated cheese and a few spoon full of sauce. Next a layer of zucchini and repeat the layering. I used eggplant as the top layer, spread some sauce on top of the eggplant, sprinkle some grated cheese and put mozzarella on top. Bake uncovered on a sheet pan for approximately 45 minutes until browned and bubbly.

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Frittata

Serves 4

1 zucchini unpeeled, cut into thin rounds

1 shallot, sliced

8-10 (approx) small tomatoes, cherry, kumato, zima, whatever you can find that look good sliced in half

olive oil, salt and pepper

8 large eggs

3 tbs sour cream

approx. 1/2 cup grated parmigiana or blend of grateable cheese

approx. 1/3 cup taleggio grated plus a little more to sprinkle on top before baking.

Heat oven to 425 degree’s.

Place tomatoes, zucchini and shallot on parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil lightly coating both sides of zucchini and tomato, season with salt and pepper. Roast until the zucchini and onion are lightly browned and the tomatoes start to caramelize. Approximately 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Add a little olive oil in a non stick skillet (cast iron is great) and heat on medium high heat. Meanwhile beat the eggs with a fork, add the sour cream, and grated cheese (parmigiana and taleggio) season with salt and pepper. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degree’s.

Pour into hot skillet (oven proof) and when you see the egg is starting to set on the edges move the eggs gently (I push towards the center) letting the liquid stream to the fill in where you have moved the eggs that have set. When the egg is cooked about a third of the way add the vegetables and sprinkle with the rest of the taleggio. Place in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, cut the oven off and turn on the broiler. Cook for another 5 (or so) minutes until it’s lightly browned. Remove to serving platter or board and let cool a bit before serving.

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A Green Smoothie-Fiesta Friday Healthy Recipe Challenge

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Every Friday Angie, you all know Angie right, hosts the virtual party Fiesta Friday.  We all link our recipes on her site and you can bring whatever you want,  well this is a little different, she gave all of us that participate in Fiesta Friday a challenge. She listed two ingredients, leafy greens and pineapple and asked us to make something using them. This recipe has never posted on the blog before only a photo. I found this on Williams Sonoma website and searching it’s no longer there but luckily I had posted it on Instagram,  I put my own spin on it, adding some different ingredients and it turned out great, it’s delicious and healthful and uses both leafy greens and pineapple. I am so glad that Angie gave us this challenge because this smoothie hadn’t been on my radar and I am happy to have rediscovered it because it’s delicious, easy to make, nutritious and such a pretty color green.  There will most likely be dozens of green smoothies and they will be very similar but thats ok, here is mine and I love it. You can use whatever leafy green you like. I actually mixed kale and spinach. You get great results when you freeze your pineapple and banana, the smoothie is cold and thick and creamy. Oh I also should add that there are GREAT prizes for the winners of this challenge, yes first, second and third place winners will be chosen by a panel of judges. How exciting is this! You can submit as many recipes as you like. Hope you all enter.

A Healthy Green Smoothie

adapted from a recipe on Williams-Sonoma

makes 2 generous portions

1 cup cleaned baby spinach

1 cup kale, leaves only and tender stems – discard the tough ones

1/2 ripe avocado

1 cup frozen cubed nicely ripe pineapple

1 ripe banana cut into chunks and frozen

1-1 1/2 cups coconut water (freeze your coconut water in ice cube trays for a colder creamier smoothie) start with one cup and add more if you like a thinner smoothie

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk or 1/4 cup of the coconut cream scooped off the top of cold canned coconut milk

1 tsp fresh ginger grated or finely chopped

1 tbs fresh mint leaves chopped (or just throw in a few mint leaves)

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp matcha powder (optional)

Put all of the ingredients into your blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Enjoy immediately.

 

 

fiestafriday-healthy-recipe-challenge

 

 

 

 

 

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A Guest Post- Ten Times Tea

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A few months back I was thrilled when Laurie whose gorgeous blog Ten Times Tea agreed to do a guest post. Her timing is impeccable because this loaf just screams holidays. She is uber talented with such creativity,  I love her photographs and her no nonsense writing style. Thank you so much Laurie for doing this post for me and wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday. I love the way Laurie experiments and even though she may not admit it I think her results are outstanding, she loves to use whole grains  giving her baked goods a healthy twist. Can’t wait to try this, thank you for your kind words and take it away Laurie…..

Suzanne’s experience, attention to flavour, and warm style comes through in everything she makes and blogs about. And, unlike some food bloggers that I tend to admire from afar, Suzanne’s blog demands a pause, taking time to comment and marvel and laugh and sometimes even commiserate.
I was so happy to be to have the opportunity to put together a guest post. Though I was also a bit conflicted: what makes us quite different is that Suzanne’s recipes simply ooze with experience and certainty, exactly what my recipes typically lack. My blog is all about the baking (unfortunately or otherwise), and frankly, leans more towards a “log” of what disasters and otherwise I’ve been baking, rather than a reliable source of recipes. But despite this, Suzanne has been so supportive of my experiments and even the most dismal failures.

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I wasn’t sure I would be able to make anything worthy of a guest post…but then, enter this cake. This cake is fabulous. I’m still in awe. It’s based on the brown butter and vanilla weekend cake in one of Dorie Greenspan’s books, Baking Chez Moi. Would you expect anything else from Dorie?

The cake is unabashedly rich, the crumb possessing a buttery sheen, and is incredibly fragrant due to an incredible quantity of vanilla extract and browned butter. I’ve made merely superficial changes, but I highly advocate them. The prunes and chestnuts, which are two of my favourite things, are homely and warm, while still somehow glamorous in my vague imagination of 20th century whiskey glasses and pâté and feather boas. (Ah, this imagination sometimes.) They simply fit perfectly into the backdrop of a dense and vanilla-heady cake, such that even a friend who does not at all subscribe to my obsession with prunes admitted that really, they did seem to work quite well.

I also made a couple more characteristic changes, reducing the sugar and using part whole spelt flour. I wanted to use these changes to transition into writing about some general themes in baking and my approach. As Suzanne recently wrote about, lately she’s switched her eating focus. It made me think a bit about this whole baking thing—what choices I make, what I minimize and maximize, and why. But after writing it, I looked back and felt so pretentious, with these meanderings on sugar and whole grains.

The thing is, I find there are many valid perspectives when it comes to baking. And thus many valid styles of baking, which result in many, many delicious baked goods. I enjoy them all. There is nothing superior about any approach over others. Some days call for Smarties-dotted blondies just as much as other days call for raw vegan coconut oil and date squares. So I hope everything here can be taken with several grains of salt—it’s one vague approach to baking. I guess I like it so I seem to advocate for my view, but it doesn’t mean I always stick to it.

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Sugar

Sugar is something I do not try to eliminate, but I find I can typically reduce the sugar content of baked goods with little consequence. This isn’t to validate desserts or bolster excuses for eating more (well, at least I try not to do that…). But I do occasionally bake for some diabetics, and in general, if I can reduce the sugar, I think I may as well.

In fact, I do think that most desserts don’t require too much sweetness for it to still taste like dessert. I’m a bit of a cake-person as opposed to a candy-person (a very important dichotomy), where I like more moderate sweetness padded with plenty of substance and textures and other flavours. Better yet, baking can quite often fit into that ambiguous breakfast/tea sort of category as well, which entails the same richness and decadence with noticeably less sweetness. Another trick is to use sweet-associated flavours like warm spices, or plenty of fresh fruit.

I find it’s worthwhile to experiment! A 25-50% reduction in the sugar is a good place to start, at least in cases where the sugar is not a structural necessity (I’ve tried to push it unsuccessfully with meringues and buttercreams). However, in the end you may just find that sugar reductions compromise golden crusts or perfect textures. It always depends on what you’re looking for, and reductions may not be worth it.

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Whole grains

Recently I made a cake that used only white flour, and I was surprised—it tasted bland all of a sudden. I suppose it’s because in recent years, whole wheat and spelt flour have become my go-to, some somehow now taste rather “neutral.”

I refrain from using this idea of whole grains as a gateway to a certified healthy label. It’s a bit of a false rhetoric because 1) we are still talking dessert and 2) I don’t push the envelope very far. The whole grains are primarily for flavour, and I like to prioritize structure as well. (On this note, I admire the ingenuity, innovation and persistence of gluten-free bakers!) Thus, something may be only a quarter whole spelt flour, but it will taste nutty and warm and complement spices or dried fruit. Whole wheat flour is very suitable for crumbles and oatmeal cookies. I find buttery and salted whole wheat pastry perfect for tarts, and while scones have been a perpetual struggle for me, I recently made some fluffy scones with half whole wheat pastry flour.

As far as pastry-type experimentation goes (bread is a bit iffier), I think whole wheat flour can be successfully subbed for 50-100%. Spelt flour, I would normally not go above 50% due to the lower gluten content. Buckwheat and rye I usually try at 25-20% due to their low gluten content and stronger flavours. In the end, though, it does depend on what you’re making. Sometimes white flour is the best.

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This cake is a rich and buttery and sugary glory, and in no way do my changes make it at all healthy…but I like the cake even more for the changes I did make. It is only moderately sweet, with spelt flour to complement the prunes and pick up on the warm notes of the roasted chestnuts and browned butter.

So happy baking! With the approaching holidays, I’m sure there will be plenty of baking going on.

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prune and chestnut vanilla loaf cake
Based on Dorie Greenspan’s brown butter and vanilla bean weekend cake in Baking Chez Moi. Instead of part vanilla bean and part vanilla extract, you can use either: 1 whole vanilla bean or 4 tsp vanilla extract as detailed by the original recipe. I would also consider increasing the quantity of prunes and chestnuts to 150 g each.
1 stick butter
100 g whole spelt flour
138 g all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
175 g granulated sugar
3-cm length of vanilla bean
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c (80 mL) heavy cream
1 capful dark rum
100 g dried prunes
100 g roasted and peeled chestnuts, whole and broken into rough pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a loaf pan and line with a sling of parchment paper.
Brown the butter in a small saucepan, cooking until deep golden and nutty, and then set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.
Place the sugar in a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out into the sugar and rub in. Add the split vanilla bean and rub in the sugar as well to remove any excess seeds (this can then be placed in the sugar bowl for vanilla sugar and the like). Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined. Follow with vanilla extract, the heavy cream and rum, whisking until combined.
Add the dry ingredients in two additions, folding in with a rubber spatula. Next, fold in the butter in three additions. Lastly, mix in the chestnuts and prunes. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean.
Let cool on a wire rack.