Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Egg in a Hole for Breakfast

It’s entirely possible that I’m the last person to arrive at this party, but these days I find I really, really like soft-cooked eggs. Growing up I thought I only liked scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, and deviled eggs (who doesn’t?) but recently, I’ve discovered the pleasure of the slightly runny yolk.

And THIS, it turns out, is the best way I’ve found to enjoy it. I feel a little generous even calling this a recipe because it’s SO quick, SO easy, and amazingly, deliciously good.

Simple ingredients
I’ve seen this recipe with a number of different names. Egg in a Hole, Frog in a Hole, Egg in the Middle… but the principle remains the same. You take a piece of bread. And you punch a hole in it. And then you put an egg in the middle and cook. Simple!

Making the hole
I like using a round cookie cutter for this, but you could get cutesy and use a heart, a square, or whatever shape you want. The important thing is to not make it too small. Trust me, if there isn’t enough hole, the egg will just overflow and not cook and you won’t be able to flip it and all will be ugly for your breakfast.

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Whole Wheat English Muffins

I don’t eat a lot of sandwich bread. Brad can finish off a loaf of bread in three or four days, even faster if he’s trying to eat at home. I, on the other hand, have a tough time getting through even half a loaf before it takes a turn for the moldy.

I’ve always tended to prefer my breads in other forms. Tortillas, bagels, biscuits, cornbreads, and baguettes are much more likely to appeal to me than a loaf of sandwich bread. And more recently, English muffins.

Homemade English Muffins

Considering that I love finding ways to replace my store-bought staples with homemade versions, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I really haven’t spent a lot of time focusing on breads. I do have some go-to recipes for quite a few quick breads, but not many that I cook on a regular basis (the dramatic exception being my favorite, favorite cornbread, which ends up on my menu quite frequently).  So when I ran across a recipe for this, my current bread-of-choice, I decided it was time.

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Cheddar Swirl Buns

The internet is full of food blogs, and though I’ve been a bit busy for leisurely reading lately, I read quite a few of them. I love to see what other bloggers are cooking, writing, and photographing; each one is hugely inspiring. One of my favorites — I adapt quite a few recipes from her posts — is Smitten Kitchen, crafted by the clever, snarky, and talented Deb Perelman. Her site is gorgeous, her archives well-organized, and if you’ve never taken a look, I highly recommend it. In fact, Smitten Kitchen was the first food blog I ever read, and was a major source of inspiration for me to start a food blog of my own.

Today is a special day here at 30 Pounds of Apples… it’s my two-year blogoversary! And to celebrate, I have a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook — signed by Deb Perelman herself — to give away to one of you!

Lots of tabs

Last fall, Deb’s work jumped out of the internet and onto my bookshelf when she released a cookbook. After receiving a copy as a Christmas gift from my fabulous sister, I spent quite a bit of time and many post-its paging through her book marking up recipes I wanted to try. And this one, for these luscious, savory breakfast buns, was at the top of the list.

Cooking from the book!

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Fancy breakfast

There are some foods that have always been magic to me. Tortillas, croissants, tortellini, cream puffs… those dreamy little bites that all seem borderline impossible for a person in a home kitchen to make. Incidentally, jam also mystified me. Perhaps it was really the canning part that seemed so out of reach, for until a couple years ago, I never canned my own.

I’ve learned, however, that jam is actually quite simple to make, and it doesn’t necessarily require large batches and canning. It seems you can boil together almost any fruit and have jam in a matter of minutes, ready to serve warm or to store in the fridge for many days.

This treat is a celebration of quick jam, a blend of two early harbingers of spring: strawberry and rhubarb.

Pretty little berries

While bundled stalks of rhubarb have graced the tables of the farmers market since early February, strawberries have only recently returned to the scene. Last week, a few pints of these precious red fruits have appeared between towers of broccoli and leafy greens, and just like every year, I could hardly wait to get my hands on some.

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Spinach, Scallion and Feta Frittata

I have a really bad habit of planning my weekends too much. I always make a list full of more than I can possibly do, gradually shifting things to later in the week as the impossibility of my plans becomes clear.

But every once in a while, one of the items on those lists turns into a relaxing, inspiring, reflective endeavor with delicious results. As with this frittata.

Breakfast!

My initial impulse to make this crowd-worthy breakfast came from a delightful alliance of ingredients currently in season. “Egg season” (yes, there is one) has begun here in the Carolinas, and every week I see more and more vendors with teetering piles of egg crates on the corners of their tables.

Eggs!

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Breakfast of leftovers
I don’t really recall eating much rice before I was thirteen. It was then that I had my first delicious bites of Chinese takeout (strangely, in Disneyworld). My sister and I were hooked, so suddenly, stir fry became a regular meal in our household. My dad would bust out a giant wok, a pound of chicken breast, and a smattering of stir fry vegetables, and within minutes the house would fill with the sounds and smells of the quickly cooking meal.

Rice, too, was always part of these week-night stir fries. And it was the rice that yielded the best leftovers, because the following morning, dad would make rice cakes.

Tasty breakfast of rice

Rice cakes, as I grew up with them, are not comparable to the puffy, crunchy discs of rice you can buy at the store. These rice cakes are rather more like pancakes, cooked in a frying pan and slathered with butter and maple syrup to make a scrumptious breakfast.

Whether you make your rice for stir fry, curry, or something like this, make a little extra and you can set yourself up for a week’s worth of awesome breakfasts.

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I spend a lot of time contemplating my groceries. And frankly, rather a lot of time getting them. The bulk of them come from the farmers market: stall by stall, I buy some eggs here, zucchini there, a pound of pecans or cheese when I’m feeling flush. But I am rarely able to get everything I need at this weekly market. Due to rather restrictive small dairy laws in North Carolina, it’s nearly impossible to get liquid dairy products (like milk or cream) from a small farm. Needless to say, my cart at the grocery store often suggests that I need a cow of my own. Milk, cream, yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese… I get a lot of funny looks from cashiers.

Well I can’t have a cow. I’m sure the neighbors below us wouldn’t appreciate it. But I CAN mark another dairy product off the list of things to buy. It turns out yogurt is really, really easy to make. No rennet, no citric acid, no stretching, no aging (well, 8 hours), no cheese wax: all you really need to start yogurt is milk. And, of course, a little bit of yogurt.

At the risk of sounding icky, it’s important to know what yogurt is to understand why this method works. Yogurt is essentially milk that has been fermented by bacteria, and in most yogurts, the bacteria remains active. Seen the phrases “pro-biotic” and “active” on your yogurt? That’s a nice way of saying it’s basically alive. But don’t be grossed out! These are happy yogurt bacteria. With smiling little bacteria faces.

Anyway.

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This morning, we’re here to talk about breakfast.

Most of the other breakfast-y treats I’ve posted here are warm, savory treats: they tend to revolve around potatoes, eggs, or bacon. You might assume that I eat these hearty country breakfasts every day, when in truth, breakfast is usually more of a poached egg and apple sort of affair.

But maybe there’s a happy medium. Something hearty and tasty, but quick enough to pack before I run out the door in the morning. How about some homemade granola?


This granola is not boring. This granola is not bland. This granola is full of oats and almonds and coconut, all toasted together on an ugly old cookie sheet.

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Raise your hand if you like the following:

a) pancakes
b) cornbread
c) corn on the cob
d) bacon
e) breakfast

If you raised your hand for none of these things, I question your culinary sanity. If you raised your hand for all of these things, THIS, my friend, is a recipe for you.

Here’s how this happened. I had corn on the cob and bacon in my fridge. I recently saw a recipe for a breakfast hash featuring them, and wanted to make it immediately. Buuuuuuut I wondered: could I make it a little cake instead? Like a latke? Or wait! Even better… a pancake? Or what about a cornbread?

Then it became clear: a cornbread-y pancake (the latke idea was cast aside for another day) studded with corn kernels and bits of bacon? Couldn’t possibly be all bad.

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Yes, those are beach umbrellas.

Yes, that’s a coffee table on a tenth-floor oceanfront balcony.

Yes, that’s homemade breakfast.

We just got back from a fabulous weekend at the beach, a weekend filled with sand and sun and all other manner of beach-y fun. But I also couldn’t resist the opportunity to utilize the full kitchen in our room. Unsure of what this little kitchen might keep in its cupboards, I packed, um, one or two essentials and tossed them in the car with my swimsuit and flip flops.

And to cook? I didn’t really have any meals in mind, but I filled a cooler with a smattering of ingredients anyway and put them in the car along with my box-o-kitchen-gear.

It turned out that breakfast on our first morning there was a great time to cook (Brad sleeps in like a champ). Based on the ingredients I had, I found two tasty latke recipes, which sounded so good I decided to combine them. I love a good potato pancake, and adding zucchini (first of the season!) seemed like an excellent idea.  After I had set my heart on these little cakes of joy, I discovered one flaw in my plan: I had forgotten the box grater.

No grater! I know I unloaded it from the dishwasher, how did it not make it into the box!?!? After maniacally opening every drawer and cupboard in the kitchen in search of cooking utensils (and finding only a spatula, a can opener, and a corkscrew), I tried to regain control. This was no big deal. Surely I could figure out how to fry some dang vegetables into a patty without the comfort and ease of my trusty grater.

Luckily I had not forgotten a big sharp knife. After much, much, much chopping, breakfast was near! Without long shreds of potato and zucchini, I was a little nervous about the patties holding together. How could these little chunks of vegetable adhere to one another strongly enough to become a latke? But miracle of miracles! Eggs and flour came to the rescue (as usual), and with some careful, two-spatula flipping, these little pancakes came out golden-brown, crispy, and full of flavor.

I’ve enjoyed latkes before with a little sour cream, but I did not have any in my tiny arsenal of ingredients. I did have cream, though, and after a few minutes of vigorous whipping and a dash of salt, I had just the dollop I was looking for. Thank goodness I didn’t forget a whisk.

And then breakfast! Enjoyed in the warm May sunshine and a salty breeze.

And with one hell of a view.

Makeshift Zucchini Latkes & Savory Cream
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, both here and here

For the Latkes
1 1/2 c zucchini, finely chopped or grated
2 c potatoes, finely chopped or grated
3/4 c onion, finely chopped or grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
canola oil for frying

Slice zucchini in half length-wise and scoop out seeds with a spoon before chopping or grating. Finely chop or grate zucchini, potatoes, and onion and combine in a strainer. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can through the strainer. Pour vegetables into a large bowl and add garlic, egg, flour, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Stir until thoroughly combined.

In a large frying pan, add canola oil until the bottom is coated and heat over medium until oil glistens. Once oil is hot, carefully scoop a heaping tablespoon of the vegetable mixture into the pan and flatten with the back of the spoon. Use spoon to tuck stray pieces of potato or zucchini up against the latke if needed. Add three or four spoonfuls to your pan, depending on the size, to cook multiple latkes at once. Allow latke to cook for 2-3 minutes. Use a flat spatula to carefully lift latke from the pan. Then, have another spatula on hand to flip the latke onto, then returning it to the pan to allow the other side to cook. I found I had fewer tragedies using this method rather than flipping the latke with one spatula. Once both sides are golden brown and crisp, remove latkes to a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve hot with a dollop of savory cream (see below) for dipping.

For the Savory Cream

1/4 c heavy cream
dash of salt

Pour cream into a bowl and whisk/beat until cream has thickened to the point where it holds a soft peak. I found that returning the cream to the fridge every few minutes (mostly when I had latkes to flip) helped to keep the cream cold enough to hold shape.

Once cream has thickened, add just a little bit of salt to taste.