Category Archives: Breakfast

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

For my birthday this past year my mother-in-law gave me The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving to further encourage my canning aspirations.  Marc and I have been making jam and applesauce for years, dabbling in the occasional fruit butter.  However, I was looking to move beyond the traditional strawberry, blueberry, and peach jam and into the world of unusual jams, marmalades, conserves, and pickles.  Unfortunately, my birthday is in January so I have been staring longingly at the book and waiting for the day when I could pick it up and start using it.

The key players

The key players

Finally, those days are here.  In anticipation of the start of u-pick fruit season and our veggie CSA I sat down with the book a few weeks ago and found myself tagging lots and lots (and lots) of recipes that I want to make.  The first one I picked was for a strawberry lemon jam made without added pectin and cooked in the microwave.  I made two pints of that yummy, deep red jam and I was hooked.

Lots of honey

Lots of honey

Next up, this rhubarb and honey jam.  I was fortunate to be able to take an armload of fresh rhubarb stalks from the many plants at my in-law’s house and immediately set about prepping and chopping.  Overall, this recipe is pretty easy to make.  The prep time is relatively low as all you have to do is clean and chop two cups of rhubarb and one tart apple (I used a Granny Smith) and zest and juice a lemon.  The fruit cooks with a little water until is is bubbling and starting to break down.  Then you add sugar, a lot of honey, lemon juice and some candied ginger.  You cook the whole thing until it forms a gel, ladle into prepared canning jars, and process for 10 minutes.  Because it is a small batch (makes 3 cups plus a little more) it cooks relatively quickly.  In fact, it only took about 6 minutes of strong boiling for my gel to form.  The finished jam is balance of tart and honey-sweet with the occasional bite of ginger.  It is a nice option for those who like their jams a little less sweet than typical commercial products.

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Make sure to follow the most recent guidelines for safe boiling water canning.  Properly preserved, this jam will last for a year in a cool, dark place.
  2. Take a few minutes to read about how to test to see if your jam is set.
Gel is almost set

Gel is almost set

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam
Ingredients:
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced (reserve 1 tbls lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 1/2 tbls diced candied ginger
To Make:
Prepare your jars, rings, lids, and canning vessel.  I used a small stockpot with 5 jar rings tied together to serve as a rack.  A nice thing about small batch canning is that I don’t have to bust out my large speckled canner which uses an enormous amount of water.
Combine the rhubarb, apple, and lemon zest in a stockpot or large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer until fruit is tender and starting to break down, about 15 minutes.  Add the sugar, honey, lemon juice, and ginger to the pot.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat back up and bring the contents to a rapid boil that can’t be stirred down with the spoon.  Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently until the jam starts to set, anywhere from 6-12 minutes. I recommend using the freezer test (link above) to test if your jam is gelled.  If you watch it closely, you will see when the mixture starts to thicken and change into its gelled form.
Once the jam is set, ladle into your hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Get rid of any bubbles, wipe the rims, top the jars with the lids, put the rings on, and tighten until they are finger tight (don’t crank them on).  Place the jars in the canning vessel, cover, and bring the water to a rapid boil.  Once the water is boiling set your timer and process for 10 minutes.  Once the 10 minutes is over, remove the canner from the heat, take the lid off, and let the jars sit for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes, carefully and gently remove the jars to a towel or rack set in a draft free area.  Then walk away.  Leave them alone and don’t touch them until they are sealed and cool (can take 12-24 hours).  If you are lucky, you will hear the tell-tale “pop” of the jars sealing.  If you have a jar that doesn’t seal you can either reprocess with a new lid or simply put it in the fridge and eat it first.  Once the jars are sealed and cooled, remove the rings, wipe off any wayward stickiness, and store.
Apple and lemon juice both add nice amounts of pectin so you should be able to achieve a good gel.  However, pectin levels vary by individual fruit so if you can’t get a good gel, process it anyway and use it as a delicious ice cream topping.
To Serve:
I probably don’t need to tell you how to serve jam.  This jam is delicious on toast or biscuits but would also work well in more savory applications such as on top of a piece of roasted chicken or pork chops.  Makes 3 1/2 cups.

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Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd… just the words make me start drooling.  I happen to love sour foods (read: vinegar, citrus, mustard, rhubarb, etc.) and pairing sweet and sour together makes me even more happy.   On a recent trip to London I enjoyed some lemon curd spread on scones with my afternoon tea.  The British are so darn civilized with their little sandwiches and scones in the middle of the afternoon.  When I came home, I was itching to make some curd of my own.  Lemon curd is one of those things (like custards and pie crusts) that have always intimidated me.  Turns out, I really didn’t need to fret.  Making lemon curd was surprisingly easy and the results were fantastic.

Curd ingredients

Curd ingredients

Marc helpfully picked up a sack of organic lemons from Trader Joe’s and set about juicing them over a fine mesh sieve using a lemon reamer.  On the other side of the counter I zested the spent lemon halves, measured the sugar, and cut up the butter.  Then came the stirring, and the standing in front of the stove, and more stirring.  Admittedly, the stirring part took a long time.  I kept my heat on the low side of medium because I was afraid of scrambling my eggs.  Next time, I might turn it up a bit to speed things up (keep in mind, I have an old electric stove that takes quite a while to heat up. I might not try this if I had a powerful gas version).

Spent lemons

Look at all those spent lemons

Luckily, all the stirring time was absolutely worth it. The finished curd is a thing a beauty… deep yellow color, thick, satiny-smooth texture, and the best tart/sweet lemon flavor.  I had my mother-in-law do a taste test – our curd vs. Trader Joe’s.  We did not tell her one was homemade.  She picked ours “hands down because it tasted more like lemon and less like sugar.”  Now that is a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one!

Straining the thickened curd

Straining the thickened curd

Lemon Curd

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 tbls plus 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1-1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

14 tbls salted butter (if you use unsalted butter, make sure to add a pinch of salt to the curd)

To Make:

Choose a 2 quart, heavy-bottomed sauce pan to make the curd in.  Set the pan over medium-low heat and whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs until smooth.  Adding the butter, a few tbls at a time, and whisking constantly, cook until the curd is done.

How to tell if the curd is done:

After you have been cooking for a while, the curd will start to thicken noticeably.  It is done when the curd is thick and bubbles are just starting to form on the top.  The original recipe said this take about 10 minutes.  Using medium and medium-low heat it took us closer to an hour.  So don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you think.  Just keep whisking and be patient and you will be rewarded with a rich, thick curd.

As soon as the curd is finished cooking, run it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Let it cool to room temperature on the counter, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cool, refrigerate covered until it is cold.

To Serve:

Lemon curd is a remarkably versatile condiment.  You can spread it on toast, spoon it over ice cream, or use it between the layers or on top of a cake.  You can fold it into whipped cream to make an instant “mousse”.  Spread it on a muffin, scone, or waffles.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  The original recipe says to consume within a few days and once you taste it, I assure you that won’t be a problem.

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Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

 

Breakfast pizza recipes can be found all over the internet.  They have a sort of siren song.  There is something about taking one of our favorite foods, pizza, and making it a breakfast food that feels fun and just a little rebellious.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are completely delicious.  Cheese, bacon or sausage, and a chewy crust, all topped with an egg that is baked until it is just set… sounds like breakfast nirvana to me. 

Mmm, butter

 

You can imagine how intrigued we were when we came across a breakfast pizza recipe with a bit of a twist.  Instead of using a traditional pizza dough as the base, this recipe called for a biscuit dough to serve as the crust.  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical.  I was afraid that the biscuit would be too heavy or that the top of the pizza would be cooked before the biscuit crust was properly browned and crisp. 

Waiting crusts

 

Thankfully, Marc was not afraid and convinced me to try it.  Not only were my fears about the biscuit crust unfounded, it was actually one of the most delicious breakfast pizzas I have ever had.  The crust was superb.  Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.  The flavor of the biscuit complemented the cheese, sausage, and of course, the egg.  I encourage you to put aside your skepticism and make these pizzas for breakfast this weekend.  You will be very glad you did. 

Who's hungry?

 

Breakfast Pizza 

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook 

Ingredients: 

For the crust 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp salt 

1 stick (8 tbls) cold butter, cut into small pieces 

1/2 cup plus 2 tbls milk 

For the toppings 

1 tbls butter 

1 medium onion, sliced into half moons 

1/2 pound bulk sausage, bacon, or ham 

1 to 1 1/2 cups finely grated cheese (a blend of cheddar and monterey or colby jack works nicely but feel free to use whatever you have on hand) 

4 large eggs 

To Make: 

Put your oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Preheat to 450 degrees.  Butter two baking sheets. 

Cook your sausage or bacon until cooked through.  If using bacon, coarsely chop into small pieces.  Set aside. 

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Blend in the butter with your fingers or with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the milk and stir just until the mixture forms a dough.  Gather the dough into a ball and gently knead it six times on a lightly floured baking sheet.  Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.  Pat each portion into a round that is between 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Using your fingers, create a rim around the edge of each crust.  

Top each crust with onion, meat, and cheese.  Make a little well in the cheese and carefully crack an egg into the middle of each pizza. 

Bake pizzas, switching positions of the sheets half way through, until the yolks are almost set, about 12-15 minutes.  If you want firmer yolks, feel free to add another minute or two to the cooking time. 

To Serve: 

Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Your family will thank you.  Serves 4.

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Crispy Seltzer Waffles

Crispy Seltzer Waffles

If you are hosting Easter brunch this Sunday and are struggling with the menu, consider these waffles.  It’s true that waffles can be kind of a pain because you need to make them individually and they are best hot off the iron, but these waffles are worth it.  

A Winning Morning Combo - The Beginning of Waffle Batter and a Hot Waffle Iron

 

They are great for two reasons.  First, as far as Belgian waffles go, they are very easy to prepare (one bowl, plus something to melt the butter in), no egg whites to whip separately.  Second, they are absolutely perfectly crispy outside.  It can be difficult to get waffles that are light and fluffy but with a crisp outer shell.  This recipe manages to do both of those things.  Seltzer water provides moisture, lightness, and a crispness that rivals deep frying.  While the original recipe calls for plain seltzer, it would be delicious to use lemon flavored seltzer and toss in some lemon zest.  Then you could top your waffle with a squeeze of lemon juice and powdered sugar.  Or use raspberry seltzer and top with fresh raspberries.  The possibilities are delicious. 

Time to Make the Waffles

 

Crispy Seltzer Waffles 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 tbls sugar 

2 tsp baking powder 

slightly rounded 1/2 tsp salt 

4 tbls (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 

2 large eggs 

1 3/4 cups (14 fl oz) seltzer or club soda (from a new bottle) 

cooking oil for brushing waffle iron 

To Make: 

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter, eggs, and seltzer and whisk until smooth.  Lightly brush a very hot (preheated) Belgian waffle iron with cooking oil.  Pour in enough of the mix so that the batter just barely fills the bottom grid (the amount will vary based upon the size of your waffle iron, we used about 2/3 cup of batter).  Cook according to your manufacturer’s instructions.  You can use a regular waffle iron if that is what you have. 

To Serve: 

Serve warm topped with pure maple syrup or whatever else you desire.  Makes about 6 waffles (this will depend on the size of your waffle iron).

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Flourless Almond-Citrus Cake

Flourless Almond-Citrus Cake

I have been on a cake bender lately.  My cakes of choice have been those that have copious amounts of citrus and/or nuts.  There is something about this time of year that begs for tea and a simple, elegant cake.  I started with this one and was totally hooked on the simplicity but depth of flavor provided by toasted walnuts.  Then, I made this one and thought I might pass out from the sheer deliciousness of the bright-tart-sweet-slightly-bitter flavor of whole oranges and lemons.

Almonds ready to grind

My recent cake obsession culminated in this Flourless Citrus-Almond cake.  This cake cuts to the chase and dispenses with flour in favor of blanched almonds finely ground in the food processor.  There is no butter or oil.  Instead, egg yolks provide richness and some fat while whipped egg whites are folded in to create a lovely light texture.  The flavoring is equally as simple, lemon and orange zest and a hint of cinnamon.  The result is a flavorful cake that makes a delicious breakfast treat in place of the usual coffee cake, pairs beautifully with afternoon tea, or can be served to guests as a sophisticated dessert.

Almond, egg yolks, and peel

If you source your ingredients carefully, this cake is gluten-free.  You can serve the cake unadorned with a small scoop of almond ice cream, with some whipped cream, or make a simple citrus glaze to spread over the top.  I served mine with a glaze made from the juice of an orange and a teaspoon of lemon juice.  I mixed the juices with about 8 tbls of powdered sugar, until it reached a spreadable consistency.  I spread it on top of the cooled cake before serving.

Whipped egg whites

The only other modification I might make the next time I make this cake is to cut back on the sugar.  There are only 8 tbls of sugar but the finished cake was pretty sweet.  I think it would be nice to reduce the sugar by a couple of tbls to let the flavor of the citrus and almonds shine through even more.

Ready to bake

Flourless Almond-Citrus Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit “Tastes of the World” Cookbook*       

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups blanched slivered almonds

8 tbls sugar, divided

4 large eggs, divided

3 tsp packed grated lemon peel

2 tsp packed grated orange peel

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch diameter cake pan with 1 1/2-inch high sides.  Use almond meal to “flour” the cake pan.  If you don’t have almond meal, you can use all-purpose flour (however, the cake will not be gluten-free any more).  Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment or waxed paper.

Place the almonds and 2 tbls of sugar in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground (you want the mixture to be the approximate texture of sand).  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine egg yolks, 2 tbls of sugar, orange and lemon peel, cinnamon, and salt.  Beat until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Stir in almond mixture.  Using clean beaters (and a spotlessly clean large bowl) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add remaining 4 tbls sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.

Fold a large spoonful of the whites into the almond mixture until combined.  Gently fold in remaining whites.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tested inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Turn out onto platter and remove parchment paper. 

To Serve:

Glaze, top with whipped cream or jam, or serve plain.  Makes about 8 servings.

* This is not the actual Tastes of the World cookbook, this is the small, free version Bon Appetit sends when you get a new subscription

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Potato and Onion Quiche

Potato and Onion Quiche

Alex, I’ll take “Stereotypical Myths – Fact or Fiction” for $200.

A:  Real men don’t eat quiche

Q:  What is fiction?

Roasted potatoes and onions

Of course it’s fiction.  Real man absolutely eat quiche.  As a kid, I never liked eggs.  However, put a piece of my mother’s bacon, onion, and tomato quiche in front of me and I’d be stuffing it in as quick as possible so I could get to the last piece before my father could.  Today, I serve quiche to my three old and bill it as “egg pie”.  Thing One hears “pie” and will devour it, regardless of the ingredients involved.

Ready to bake

One of the best thing about quiche is that you can unleash your creativity and the sky is the limit for what you can include.  The most important rule to keep in mind is that less is more.  Pick two or three good quality ingredients and let the taste shine through.  My wife and I have made a lot of quiches in our lives but this one is one of the most delectable we have tried.  The usage of creme fraiche and sour cream instead of cream or milk adds a wonderful tangy richness to the quiche while still keeping the egg light and tender.  This base works well for any combination of ingredients.  For this recipe, we were inspired by the Spanish tortilla (a potato and egg dish traditionally served as tapas) and put roasted potatoes and onions in the quiche base.  Because of the richness of the quiche, you don’t really even need to add cheese, though it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Freshly baked

Potato and Onion Quiche

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup lard

12 tbls butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)

ice cold water

Quiche Filling

1 small potato

2 medium onions

3 eggs

8 oz (weight) creme fraiche

6 oz (weight) sour cream

2 oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded

To Make:

Crust

This recipe makes a top and bottom pie crust.  The quiche only uses half the dough so feel free to freeze half for a later date, or cut the ingredients in half and make one crust.

Whisk flour and sugar together in a bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces.  Add the butter and lard to the flour sugar mixture.  Using a pastry blender, cut the lard and butter into the flour until the mixture resembles course bread crumbs.  Slowly, drizzle in the ice water a few tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together into a large ball.  If you are making a full recipe, cut the dough in half.  Form each half into a thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Quiche

Combine the potato and onions with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil.  Roast in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes, stirring them around every so often.  Set aside.  The crust and vegetables can be done up to a day ahead.  If making ahead, refrigerate the potatoes and onions.  Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before adding to the quiche.

When you are ready to bake the quiche, roll out your pastry dough in a round large enough to fill a deep dish 9″ pie plate.  Place the dough in the pie plate and scatter the onions and potatoes over the crust.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.  Stir in the sour cream and creme fresh.

Roll out your pastry dough to fill a 9″ pie plate.  Place the dough in the pie plate.  Add in the roasted potatoes and onions.  Add the shredded cheese.  Added the egg, creme fresh, and sour cream mixture.  Bake 40 minutes at 350F, until the center is barely set.

To Serve:

Serve immediately (hot) or later (room temp) or the next day (cold from the fridge).  This makes a great brunch, lunch, or dinner option.  Serves 4-6.

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Mushroom and Onion Frittata

Mushroom and Onion Frittata

I love eggs.  I could eat them for three meals a day and be very happy.  They are so versatile; equally at home playing a supporting role in sweets like cookies or cake or acting as the star of savory dishes like quiche or a frittata.  When you are pressed for time and/or find yourself with nothing in the fridge at dinner time, eggs are a quick and easy foundation for a healthy dinner.

Eggs

If you have never made a frittata, I highly recommend you try it.  Frittatas, essentially rustic, unfussy omelets, are very easy to make, come together quickly, and can be made with whatever you have on hand.  You start with whatever precooked meat and cooked or raw vegetables you have available.  Cook them gently in an oven-proof skillet to warm them.  Add beaten eggs and cook until the bottom is set.  Sprinkle with grated cheese, pop in under the broiler, and in less than 15 minutes, dinner is served.

Mushrooms and Onions

This recipe is for a mushroom and onion frittata but feel free to use this as a guide to the basic technique and adapt to whatever ingredients you like.  Ham or bacon are always lovely additions to a frittata.  Bell (or spicy) peppers, tomatoes, roasted potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and pretty much anything that you would put in an omelet would be tasty as well.  Of course, you could always go simple and use a variety of cheeses to flavor your dish.  Whatever you do, frittatas make a lovely dinner or brunch dish.

Cheesy goodness

Mushroom and Onion Frittata

Ingredients:

5 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 small-to-medium yellow onion, finely diced

1 tbls vegetable oil

2 tbls butter

7 oz mushrooms, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

2 oz swiss cheese, shredded

grated parmesan cheese to top (optional)

To Make:

Beat the eggs along with the oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Place a 10″ oven proof skillet over medium heat.  Add the vegetable oil and the onions.  Cook until the onions are softened and slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the mushrooms.  Cook until the mushrooms have released all of their juices and have browned nicely, another 10-15 minutes.  Remove the onion, mushroom mixture from the pan and place in a bowl. 

Add the butter to the pan and heat until it is foamy and starting to brown.  Add the egg mixture and reduce the heat to low.  Allow the egg mixture to cook for a few minutes and set on the bottom of the pan.  Add the onion and mushroom mixture to the eggs and top with the shredded swiss cheese.  Continue letting the egg mixture to cook for a total of about 15-20 minutes until set and only slightly runny on the top.  Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese if using. 

Place under a high broiler for about a minute until the cheese is golden brown and the top is set.  Remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to loosen the frittata from the pan and slide onto a cutting board. 

To Serve:

Cutting the frittata into wedges (like a pizza) and eat warm or at room temp.  Serves 4.

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