Tag Archives: Breakfast in Bed
Post by: Alison Hein.
It is my joy to create an annual Halloween recipe. In 2011 (when I began writing for Charles P. Rogers) it was the fun and popular Crêpe Dracula – a little chocolate crêpe dressed up like the count himself. Following that, I shared my secrets for baking individual Smoky Pumpkin, Egg and Bacon Cauldrons, and last year, we enjoyed rich and colorful Pumpkin Cream Crêpes.
This time, I chose to explore an ancient and somewhat confusing tradition of Soul Cakes, which are linked to the Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain, the forbear of Halloween. It was a time of year when spirits and fairies could enter more easily into our world, and celebratory, seasonal foods were served. Soul Cakes were baked with exotic saffron, perhaps to represent the great harvest sun. Much later, Samhain evolved into a Christian holiday, and Soul Cakes were made to honor the dead. Many bakers pressed currants in the tops of their cakes in the shape of a cross.
Soul Cake recipes abound, ranging from quick breads to yeast breads, tiny muffins to giant cakes. They are sweetened and spiced, glazed and decorated. I decided to make sweet, individual golden orbs, swapping out currants for plump golden raisins – tiny little suns within the great harvest sun. Fall spices add a pie-like feel, and become mysterious and aromatic when warmed. Wrap one in a colorful napkin and give it as a gift, or hoard them and share with a special someone for a soulful breakfast in bed.
10 – 12 threads of saffron
1 tablespoon hot water
¼ pound (1 stick) butter, softened, plus an additional teaspoon for greasing pans
1 cup sugar
½ cup milk
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 325°. Generously grease two 4×2-inch round cake pans and set aside.
Place the saffron threads in a mortar and crush with the pestle until powdery. Cover with 1 tablespoon hot water and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
Add butter and sugar to a large bowl, and cream together until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until batter is light and smooth. Pour milk into a measuring cup and stir in saffron “tea”. In a separate small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Alternately add milk mixture and flour mixture into batter, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Gently stir in golden raisins.
Spoon batter equally into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until cake is golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack for 30 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and serve warm, if you like.
Makes 2 4×2-inch cakes.
NOTE: If you are as fascinated as I am by convoluted food history, I recommend reading this engaging article and recipe from T. Susan Chang.
Post by Alison Hein
The term “au gratin” translates literally from the French as “with the gratings” or “with the scrapings,” and refers to a cooking technique that requires covering a dish with breadcrumbs or cheese and baking or broiling until a golden crust is formed.
Something wonderful happens during that time in the oven – flavors are converged and merged, blended and deepened, harmonized and crisped. This habit-forming recipe results in a mélange of rich cream sauce, tangy cheddar, and softly baked eggs. The conclusion? A decadent morning mac & cheese, where the eggs play the role of pasta.
Once you’re hooked, try some of these (or your own) modifications:
- Place a layer of meat or fish (ham, cooked bacon, or smoked salmon) at the bottom of the dish before baking.
- Try some vegetables as a base – caramelized onions, wilted spinach, or roasted red peppers.
- Experiment with different cheeses (a parmesan / mozzarella combo, or a spicy jalapeño jack)
- Use a bigger baking dish, double or triple the recipe amounts, and serve this up for company (you may need to lengthen the cooking time for more eggs)
- Or, best of all, skinny it down by cutting the recipe in half. Make it just for yourself in a personal-sized ramekin for a decadent, mac & cheesy breakfast in bed.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Italian parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a small oven-proof dish (just large enough to comfortably hold 4 cracked eggs in an even layer) with cooking spray.
To make white sauce, melt butter in small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth, thick paste forms. Whisk in milk and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside and keep warm.
Pour half of the white sauce into the baking dish, then top with half the cheddar cheese. Carefully crack each egg into the dish. Cover the eggs completely with the remaining white sauce, then top with the remaining cheese. Dust the top with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cheese is melted, egg whites are fully cooked, and yolks are still soft. Cook eggs a little longer if you’d like the yolks to be cooked through, or cook under the broiler for the last minute or so for a browned crust. Garnish eggs with parsley and serve hot with buttered toast, if you like.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
The bad news is that summer is completely and entirely over. The good news is that autumn harvest vegetables are completely and entirely at their peak. Butternut squash, with its rich, buttery sweetness, is one of my all-time favorites.
You can dish a little bit of October flavor onto your breakfast plate with this Butternut Hash recipe. Best results come from fresh, not frozen, squash. Either steal a few pieces of a whole butternut when making soup (try my recipe for Butternut Squash Soup!), or use a handful of pre-cut pieces you can find in most groceries these days.
Broiling the butternut squash first makes finishing this hash a snap – do it the day before if you like to speed things even more. I like to roast the squash with a generous sprinkling of hot cayenne, infusing some heat as a counterpoint to its naturally sweet flavor. Stop here, if you like, and serve up the roasted butternut as a side dish for any meal of the day.
If you keep going, you will love the colorful array of vegetables tossed in the pan – deep orangey-gold squash, sprightly green celery, burnt auburn bacon, and rich red onion make this hash as pretty and autumnal as a mountainside of Eastern trees decked out in peak foliage.
Cook up some eggs as a go-with, if you like. Fried or scrambled are good alongside; perching some poached atop the hash is also lovely. A bite of tender yolk completely and entirely enhances the rich, crispy, flavorful bed of vegetables beneath, for a delectable harvest breakfast in bed.
1 cup butternut squash, chopped finely into 1/8-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh thyme, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and cayenne and spread out onto baking sheet. Bake until cooked through and lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon, celery, red onion and butternut squash to pan. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisped and vegetables are cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add garlic and sauté. for 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until garlic is golden but not yet browned. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh thyme.
Serve hot, with a side of eggs of your choice.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by: Alison Hein.
Do you ever find yourself alone of a morning, craving something yummy, but don’t feel like fussing? The answer to this dilemma is a minimal-ingredient, one-pot, fast and furious, cheesy, vegetable-filled mini-frittata.
I love the meaty richness that mushrooms provide, and my fridge is almost always stocked with some kind of edible fungus or another. Adding green spinach (usually to be found in my freezer) for color and depth is a no-brainer. And of course, no frittata is complete without some gooey, sharp cheese.
If you’ve got other goodies stashed in your pantry, by all means, improvise. A tiny bit of salty bacon, ham or sausage goes a long way, and savory sautéed onions or garlic are always delightful. Tomatoes or peppers, potatoes or squash, tofu or seafood can all conspire to create your own custom-built mini-frittata.
I add a healthy dose of seasoning, and like to use a pre-blended mix which includes onion, garlic, paprika and the like. You should use whatever fits your mood and ingredients – basil, oregano and parsley for Italian flavors, or chipotle, marjoram and chili for Latin flair.
Start to finish, you’ll need about 15 minutes to concoct your very own personalized mini-frittata. Just enough time to fluff up those pillows, grab the daily paper, and dig in to your no-fuss, fast and furious breakfast in bed.
1 tablespoon high-heat olive oil
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
½ teaspoon seasoning mix
½ cup chopped spinach (thawed and drained if frozen)
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
Pour olive oil into a 6-inch ovenproof heavy frying pan, and place on stove over medium heat. Add mushrooms to pan, sprinkle with seasoning mix, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Cover mushrooms evenly with chopped spinach and reduce heat to low.
Break eggs into bowl, and whisk until smooth and thickened. Stir in shredded mozzarella cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg-cheese mixture over mushroom-spinach mixture. Continue to cook, gently moving uncooked eggs back around the sides of the pan, until edges are set, about 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle top of frittata with parmesan cheese. Place frying pan under broiler, about 5 inches from direct heat. Broil frittata until eggs are firm and do not jiggle, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Makes 1 serving.
Post by Alison Hein.
Scotland’s recent historic vote for independence has got me thinking a lot about this lovely place, its people and its traditions.
The Scots are an ingenious people. Did you know that marmalade, raincoats, tarmac, pneumatic tires, adhesive stamps, penicillin, the bicycle, and the telephone were all invented by Scottish people? I learned this from one of my well-worn and well-loved linen dishcloths gifted to me by my dear friend Anne after a visit to her native homeland many years ago. Anne brought me a second linen at that time, too – this one emblazoned with traditional Scottish recipes: haggis and clootie; cock-a-leekie soup, scones and bridies; and of course, shortbread.
Also ingenious in their simplicity, Scottish recipes require little in the way of provisions, and offer much in the way of flavor. My dishcloth shortbread recipe calls for only three ingredients – flour, sugar, and butter. I’ve modified this approach over the years, using a light brown sugar for depth and a smooth, subtle splash of vanilla for mellowing. Remember, shortbread is all about the butter, so be sure to use a high quality variety when you try this recipe. You must cut the cookies immediately after removing them from the oven, while the dough is still soft. Then, allow them to cool in the pan for a bit so they won’t crumble.
Scotland’s history is also rich with music and verse, like this lovely little snippet from the song Bonnie Scotland, I Adore Thee:
Bonnie Scotland, land of grandeur,
Where the sparkling streams meander,
Here will I delight to wander,
Bonnie, Bonnie Scotland.
So, make a quick batch of shortbread, brew some thick, dark tea the way the Scots do, hum along, and surrender – to a bonnie, Scottish breakfast in bed.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and mix well. Add flour gradually until a thick, crumbly dough has formed. Knead lightly until dough sticks together in a ball, then press evenly into a 9×9-inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned, but not crisp. Immediately cut dough into 3×1-inch strips and prick tops with a fork or toothpick. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack until firm. Store in waxed paper-lined tin.
Makes 27 cookies.