Category Archives: Breakfast in Bed
Post by Alison Hein.
Ever wake up late, hungry, but not quite wanting breakfast? Perhaps not quite wanting lunch as well, but not in the mood for a fussy brunch? That’s when you should break out the egg salad. Hard-boiled eggs, chopped and mixed with mayonnaise and fresh herbs, always hit the spot. Guaranteed to go fast, I strongly recommend cooking a few extra eggs. You can always use them for a quick snack, to top a Russian salad, or for a sixties-style deviled egg appetizer. Perhaps let your kids have a go at making egg salad (no cooking required), and let them serve you in style.
I like my egg salad sandwich on a crusty roll, but feel free to use soft brioche or lightly toasted white bread. Thick rich rye and pumpernickels are also wonderful – a nice contrast of thick, grainy bread against creamy, herbed eggs.
Ever versatile, try these egg salad change-ups:
- Spice it up – chop up some jalapeño peppers, add a splash of hot sauce, or a dash of cayenne. Serve on tortillas, if you like.
- Select various herbs – depending on your palate, parsley, rosemary, thyme and fennel are all good choices. A heavy hand of paprika (reminiscent of deviled eggs) is always pleasing.
- Serve open face – spread neatly on some mini-rye bread slices, and top with thin cucumber rounds and sprigs of fresh dill.
- Skip the bread altogether – delicately mound egg salad on baby greens, or Boston lettuce. Garnish with cherry tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes.
Whatever your pleasure, I hope you enjoy and savor your late, not-so-breakfasty breakfast in bed!
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 roll, sliced
Handful of baby arugula
Place eggs in a small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat and continue to cook eggs for 10 minutes, until hard-boiled. Cool and peel. Finely chop eggs and place in small bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread egg salad mixture on one half of roll. Top with baby arugula and serve.
Makes 1 serving.
Post by Alison Hein.
While I was researching historical material for Milk Toast for last week’s post, I became engrossed in Maria Parloa’s The Appledore Cook Book. Leafing through an online copy, the recipe for Allie’s Cake intrigued me, as my husband and his family call me “Ali”. Who was Ms. Parloa? Who was Allie? As usual, one food mystery begets another, but here’s what little I learned:
Ms. Parloa was born in Massachusetts on September 25, 1843 and little is known about her early life. She became an orphan at a young age, and learned to cook in private homes and small hotels. She died at age 65, and during her lifetime accomplished many impressive feats, especially for a woman of her era. She:
- Wrote several cookbooks.
- Began two cooking schools and was associated with the Boston Cooking School.
- Is credited with the first published tomato soup recipe – Tomato Chowder – which appeared in The Appledore Cook Book.
- Was part owner of the Ladies Home Journal, and wrote regularly for it from 1891 on.
- Spent several years in France studying cooking techniques.
- Raised two orphaned girls in her home in her later years.
Of “Allie”, there was no further word. Setting out to modernize the recipe, I made several changes. First off, ingredients and preparation steps had to be separated. Next, I added a couple of eggs (who bakes a cake with no eggs?), swapped out saleratus (the predecessor of baking soda and baking powder) for baking powder, and reduced the amount of raisins (Allie wanted to use almost 4 cups!). I also determined that a “moderate oven” would be 350°, and specified a baking time.
The end result was a rich and dark, moist and fruity cake – an engaging cross between gingerbread and scones. Somewhere during this process I think “Allie’s” cake became “Ali’s” cake, and breakfast in bed became an ode to Maria Parloa and the mysterious Allie.
¼ pound (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until thick and creamy. Add eggs one at a time until well-blended. Mix in molasses and buttermilk.
Mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt) together in a separate small bowl. Stir dry ingredients into the batter, about one cupful at a time, until thoroughly blended. Stir in raisins.
Pour batter into a greased cake pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan. Let cool on rack for 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan and invert onto serving plate.
Makes 1 large cake, about 20 slices.
Post by Alison Hein.
Milk Toast is a dish that was popularized around the turn of the last century. In 1887, one of the first recipes appeared in print in Maria Parloa’s The Appledore Cook Book: Containing Practical Receipts for Plain and Rich Cooking:
Put one quart of milk in a tin or basin, and set into a kettle of boiling water. When it comes to a boil stir in two spoonfuls of flour, mixed with half a cup of milk, one spoonful of butter, and salt to taste; let this boil ten minutes, and then put in the bread, which must be toasted brown. Cook five minutes longer and serve.
Simply toasted bread, served in a warm, lightly sweetened milk bath, makes an easily digested meal. Some made it as a way to use up excess milk in the days before refrigeration. It soon became a popular breakfast for young children and the infirm.
In 1924, cartoonist H.T. Webster, inspired by the bland nature of milk toast, created the wimpy character Caspar Milquetoast. Mr. Milquetoast was featured in Webster’s comic strip The Timid Soul for nearly 30 years, until the early 1950s.
But don’t let all this ancient history and spineless connotation prevent you from trying milk toast. It turns out that milk toast is delicious! If you have a way to steam the milk (like a cappuccino machine) mix the sugar and vanilla into the milk first and use this method. You can also try adding some fresh berries or dried fruit. Experiment with different types of bread, if you like, or chop the toast into easily edible cubes before serving.
Pretty soon all the little Milquetoasts in the house will be crying out for a Milk Toast breakfast in bed.
2 slices thick bread
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of cinnamon
Place bread slices in toaster and toast to a golden brown. Spread each slice evenly with butter.
In the meantime, pour milk into a heavy saucepan. Stir in sugar and vanilla and heat over medium heat, without stirring, until milk begins to simmer around the edges, about 5 minutes.
Place toast on a serving plate. Pour steaming milk on top of toast, sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve immediately.
Makes one serving.
Post by Alison Hein.
We had some friends over for a barbecue last week, so I bought some pistachio nuts for people to pick on while dinner was being grilled. The pistachios were already roasted, salted and shelled – my kind of nut! Sadly, they weren’t very good. The flavor was there, but the nuts were mushy. Almost as if they needed more roasting. Thinking about roasting, then re-roasting the pistachios made me think of biscotti – the traditional Italian twice-baked cookie. Could a twice-roasted pistachio be revitalized in a twice-baked cookie?
Biscotti, literally “twice-baked” in Latin, were first made centuries ago, and are said to have been a staple food of the Roman Legions. Very dry bread products can be stored and last a long time – good for travel and war. Antonio Mattei, a pastry chef from Prato, “rediscovered” biscotti in the latter part of the nineteenth century. His variation, now considered the traditional biscotti recipe, is still made today. Ingredients include only flour, sugar, eggs, almonds and pine nuts.
Unlike the traditional version, my recipe includes butter, baking powder, and of course, pistachio nuts. Your version, if you feel like experimenting, can include anything from lemon peel to chocolate chips.
It took some time to make the biscotti, baking them twice with a cool down period in between. The end result? A crisp, sweetish cookie with a hint of pistachio flavor and a satisfying nutty crunch. Eureka! Yet another biscotti rediscovery and an accidental poem:
Brew some coffee,
Steep some tea,
Then feel free
To dip your (breakfast in bed) biscotti!
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pistachio nuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly each time. Mix in vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and pistachio nuts. Dough should be thick and moldable.
Wet or flour hands, split dough in half, and shape into two long, mounded loaves (approximately 8 inches long by 3½ inches wide). Place loaves on prepared baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer to wire racks and let cool at least 15 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, slice loaves into roughly ¾-inch slices. Place slices cut-side down on parchment paper and bake for another 30 minutes or so, turning biscotti once during baking, until golden brown. Remove to wire rack and cool.
Makes about 20 to 25 biscotti.
Post by: Alison Hein
Here’s another wondrous idea from my friend Iva – Fig n’Feta Toast. Who knew the flavors of fig and feta go together like peanut butter and jelly, like salt and pepper, like prosciutto and melon? It’s a perfect pairing, a delicate secret, an idea I wish I’d thought of. 😉
In Iva’s native Albania, breakfast can be as easy as toasting a thick slice of crusty bread, then schmearing with a swipe of butter, a dollop of fig marmalade, and a generous hunk of creamy feta cheese. It’s warm and toasty, sweet and salty. I gobbled mine up in seconds.
I was able to purchase a good fig spread in a local specialty grocery, but if you can’t find any, try ordering online. Dalmatia Imports makes a very nice fig spread (as well as other interesting fruit condiments and tapenades) which can be ordered from igourmet.com. There is hardly any sweetener added, so the spread has a rich, natural fruit flavor. Try it, and you will soon find yourself experimenting – fig spread adds sweetness and dimension to sandwiches, pastries, cheese dips, even ice cream!
But for now let’s stick with breakfast. Iva recommends a tall glass of steamed milk to go with the Fig n’Feta Toast. “No coffee. Just steamed milk,” she says. “I know it’s not a common drink in this country, but it perfectly complements the sweet and salty, fruity and cheesy toast.”
What have you got to lose? Try Iva’s perfect pairing of fig n’feta for a wondrous breakfast in bed!
4 slices thick bread
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fig marmalade, jam, or spread
4 slices feta cheese
Toast bread to a light golden brown. Spread butter evenly on toast slices. Top with fig spread and a slice of feta cheese. Serve while still warm, accompanied by fruit and a glass of steamed milk.
Makes 2 servings.