Category Archives: Breakfast

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Baked goods, Breakfast, Dessert, Recipes

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Recipes, Vegetarian

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Mushrooms, Recipes, Vegetarian

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

When do you find yourself reaching for comfort food?  Is it when you are tired or stressed, when the weather is cold and gray, when you aren’t feeling well?  For us, it is really all of the above.  This past week has been a little stressful and rather tiring.  The weather hasn’t been the greatest and I have been fighting a cold.  Luckily, when all of those unfortunate things converge in the space of one week, there is this casserole to make things seem much brighter.

Simple but good quality ingredients

There is nothing fancy about this dish.  It doesn’t use any fancy ingredients, nothing special in the prep, and it doesn’t really even look all that pretty.  However, it tastes really, really good.  It is warm and hearty fare that is great for any time of day.  It makes a nice brunch dish, since much of it can be prepared ahead of time, great as left overs for lunch, and of course, the best comfort food ever for dinner.

Bake sans parmesan and panko layers

To really make this dish stand out, make sure to use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on.  Choose really good ham, flavorful cheese, and potatoes as fresh as you can get them.  When the casserole comes out of the oven all brown and crunchy on top, loaded with ham, and dripping with melted cheese, you won’t be sorry.

Golden brown and delicious

Mashed Potato, Ham, and Cheese Bake

Recipe adapted from Marc’s Italian neighbor growing up, Maria Paolucci

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb all purpose potatoes

4 tablespoons butter

1 tbls bacon fat (or butter or cooking oil)

8 oz smoked ham steak

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 small sweet onion, finely diced

8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

4 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded

1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely shredded

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

To Make:

Scrub potatoes and quarter them (if you have potatoes with tender skins, leave them on, otherwise peel them).  Place potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover by about an inch and bring to a boil.  Boil until tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and melt the bacon fat.  Add the ham steak and heat until cooked through.  Remove the ham steak from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into bite size pieces.  Add the onions to the juices left in the pan and cook on low until lightly browned (or turn off the heat in the pan and let the onion brown from the residual heat).

Preheat the oven to 450F.  When the potatoes are ready, strain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter and mash until very smooth.  Fold in the Monterey Jack and Gruyère cheeses, along with the ham, onion, and eggs.  Grease a 2-qt baking dish (lard works well) and spread the mixture evenly in the dish.  Top with bread crumbs in one layer and then parmesan in a second layer.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese bubbles up on the sides. 

To Serve:

Serve hot and enjoy.  Serves 3-4 as a main course, 6-8 as a side.

1 Comment

Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Meat, Recipes, Side Dish