Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

It's Sunday morning, Labor Day weekend, beginning of a new month, second day into a beautiful Blue Moon, and I am thinking about breakfast. I prefer to eat breakfast after waking gently over a cup of coffee. On the weekend I like to eat brunch rather than breakfast and sometimes have it with a Bloody Mary.
Try garnishing your Bloody with different toppings such as draping a shrimp cocktail over the glass or skewer a combination of cocktail onion, cornichon, olives and roasted red pepper. Another fun combo are pickled mushrooms and fresh cherry tomatoes.


Here are two different BREAKFAST SANDWICHES

This wonderful blend of flavors goes very well with a Bloody Mary. Lightly fry an egg over easy. Try not to break the yoke. Top with a handful of fresh spinach and a generous amount of crumbled feta cheese.  Put a lid on the frying pan to steam the spinach and slightly melt the cheese. To make this sandwich even better, butter 2 slices of whole grain bread on both sides and fry it until golden brown. Serve the egg on the fried bread along with a small green salad.


Slice a few pieces of proscuitto into strips and fry it as you would bacon until it is nice and crispy. Toast a slice of bread (or fry it as above) and mash 1/2 of avocado on the bread. If the avocado is very ripe you can do this with the back of a spoon so there are still some chunks in the avocado. Top with a couple strips of proscuitto, egg fried over easy and a couple more pices of proscuitto on the top to garnish. Easy and delicious!

I have always wanted to make my own sausage and finally tried making it using a recipe from Alton Brown. I made this pork sausage pretty much just as the recipe called for, but next time I would add some fennel seed. I would really like to try some exotic sausage and stuff into casings, like smoked duck with apple or chicken sausage with sun-dried tomato and fresh basil.

2 pounds pork butt (I used ground pork as it came from the store)
Alton calls for cutting into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 lb. fat back, diced into 1/4 inch pieces. (Because I bought my pork already ground there was plentry of fat in it so I skipped this ingredient.)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. finely chopped sage
2 tsp. finely chopped thyme
1/2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake

Combine diced pork with all other ingredients and chill for 1 hour. Using the fine blade of a grinder, grind the pork or as I did buy it already ground. Form into 2 inch rounds. Refrigerate and use within 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. For immediate use, saute the patties over medium-low heat in a non-stock pan. Saute until brown and cooked thoroughly, approximately 10-15 minutes.
This plate could use a sprig of parsley or something to brighten it up!


These eggs are so yellow because they are farm fresh eggs. To make perfect scrambled eggs, lightly beat 2 extra-large eggs in a bowl, add a slight pinch of salt, and a scant 1/4 cup either milk or water. Beat lovingly with a fork until mixed. Get a non-stick frying pan sprayed with a little cooking oil hot and pour the eggs into the pan. Turn down heat to medium right away. Twirl the pan, but do not stir the eggs. When the edges of the egg start to thicken up, then you can very gently start folding the egg onto itself. Keep folding until it is cooked-3 to 4 minutes. The eggs will look soft and hold together well. That doesn't sound like much time, but the eggs keep cooking when you take them off the heat. Overcooked scrambled eggs are not good. I served with a few slices of avocado and a heated whole grain tortilla.

This is what I ended up making for breakfast this morning. It was absolutely yummy!! Start by laying out 4 pieces of smoked salmon/2 slices per poached egg. My tomatoes are just ripening so I include them with almost every meal. Slice a few tomatoes, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and garnish with a sprig of basil. To poach the eggs, fill a frying pan with water nearly to the top, add 1/4 cap of vinegar. Any vinegar is fine, but tarragon infused vinegar adds a very subtle flavor. This keeps the eggs from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring the water to a roiling, but gentle boil. Open each egg into individual small bowl or custard cup. This helps keep the egg intact as it hits the boiling water. Gently pour the egg into the water and poach until the white firms up. Skim water over the top of the eggs as they poach to form a "skin" over the yoke.

I use a fine mesh spoon to remove the eggs from the water and place on the smoked salmon. Carefully wrap the salmon around the poached egg. This is easier than it sounds. Lay the salmon encased egg on a piece of toasted rye bread. Garnish with chopped chives and a caper berry if you like.
I do not have a picture of this granola, but I want to include it because it is a delicious recipe and can be added to or changed any way you like to include your favorite fruit or nut.  It keeps well in a tightly sealed glass jar or container and also makes a great gift!  This recipe makes about 10 cups.
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup golden raisons
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large shallow baking pan with foil and oil the foil. Toss together oats, almonds, coconut and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together oil and honey, then stir into the oat mixture until well coated. Spread mixture in baking pan and bake, stirring occasionally until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Stir in cranberries and raisons, then cool completely in pan on a rack. It is important to put the cranberries and raisons in after the granola has baked. Once when I was making this I added all ingredients by mistake, including fruit, and then baked for 25-30 minutes. The fruit gets too cooked. The cranberries actually got a little burned so best to remember to add after baking.
Now you decide what you want to include: pecans, prunes, wheat germ, brown sugar or agave nectar instead of honey...whatever you like best.
This dish is also versatile and lends itself to many different combinations of breakfast meat, cheese or all vegetarian. It is prepared the night before and then baked in the morning, which makes an easy breakfast if you have a crowd. Once it is baked the bread disappears into the egg. It puffs slightly as it bakes and is light and richly flavored.
6 eggs
2 cups milk, half and half, cream or a combination
1 lb. grated cheese-I used cheddar
6-8 slices (depending on how meaty you want it) thick-cut bacon
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
3 shallots or 1 small onion, sliced
1 loaf French bread
Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish. Cut French bread into 1/2 inch slices and butter each side of the bread, then cut into 1 inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Cook the bacon until it is crisp. Remove from the pan and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Add shallot or onion, mushroom and saute until cooked. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer, add milk or half and half. Add the bacon, veg, cheese and the milk into the bowl with the cubed bread. Mix well together and put it into the buttered baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, let sit on the counter for about 1/2 hour to come to room temperature. If it looks dry, add a little more cream to the top. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the eggbake in the oven and cook for about 35-45 minutes. It is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean; same as testing doneness for a custard.  Cut into squares and serve.
I am going to conclude with one of my favorite breakfasts...
I was making this breakfast for my friend Diana one morning and she came up with the Rabbitt Hole name!
Now that is a serious face! I served Eggs in a Hole with big, fat breakfast sausages. To make the eggs, cut a circle out of each slice of toast. You can use a cookie cutter or small juice glass; whatever you have handy to remove the center. Butter each side of the bread and the hole. Fry both sides of bread and hole and drop an egg onto each piece of bread. Let it cook for a couple minutes then very carefully flip the whole piece of toast so the egg finishes cooking.
OK! That's I am having some fun!

As you can see I don't often make sweet breakfasts, much to my husband's dismay. Occasionally I will make waffles which are especially good stuffed with a sweetened cream cheese and topped with strawberry sauce and fresh sliced strawberries. You can also turn the Eggbake into a sweet breakfast. One of my Mom's favorites (she had a huge sweet tooth!) was Yankee French Toast, which is also made the night before, but instead of savory ingredients uses sugar and bakes up more like a custard. We often would have Yankee French Toast on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning.
Thanks for sharing breakfast with me!
I had so much fun this morning talking about breakfast. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and I will be back to you soon!
To see some of my previous food ramblings, go to:

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