Tag Archives: Breakfast in Bed
Post by Alison Hein
On New Year’s Day, people around the world will be celebrating – with food! Health, prosperity, love and luck are signified by festive, global dishes. In Japan, they will ring in the new year with “toshikoshi soba”, lengthy buckwheat noodles associated with longevity. Germans will be dining on hearty pork and sauerkraut, meant for abundance and luck. And here in our own southern United States, “Hoppin’ John”, a dish made with round black-eyed peas and salt pork, is believed to bring good fortune and a circuitous close to the year.
Perhaps you’re planning a get-together with friends and family on the first day of the year, or maybe just a quiet day of reflection. Even a day of recuperation from the night before…
You may consider a hot toddy – made hot and sweet, then splashed with alcohol and wintry spices – a good old-fashioned cold remedy or insomnia cure. I recently learned it was also a favored libation at New Year’s Day open houses, or “collations”, which were popular in colonial New York. Get this – people hosting open houses took out newspaper ads to let their friends and neighbors know of the upcoming festivities. Guests were greeted with punch, hot toddies, cakes and other snacks. This practice remained popular for many years, until bands of young men started racing from home to home, grabbing food and drink before hieing off to the next party. It makes me laugh to think of trying this in present-day New York. ☺
Hot Toddies are simple to make, but be careful, just a hint of brandy and spice makes them alarmingly addictive. Vary your toddies by using whiskey, rum or bourbon. Make them with water or tea, fiddle with the spices, or float a thin slice of lemon on top. Then serve them at your own “collation”, or simply keep them to yourself and quietly celebrate the first breakfast in bed of the year.
Happy New Year!
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon honey
6 ounces milk
¼ teaspoon mace
1 cinnamon stick
Nutmeg, for garnish (optional)
Add brandy and honey to a small heat-proof glass, such as an Irish coffee mug. Pour milk into small, heavy pot and heat over medium to medium-low heat until warmed. Stir mace into milk. Pour warm milk into glass containing brandy and honey. Stir. Add cinnamon stick, sprinkle with nutmeg if you like, and serve immediately.
Makes one Hot Toddy.
Post by Alison Hein.
Get out those apples again – we’re making fritters!
As autumn turns to winter each year, I’m reminded of my mother, who would heat up a batch of oil, and fry us up some old-timey fritters. A wonderful contradiction of tangy, sweet, crispy, and soft… But these are not your mother’s fritters – yesterday’s pancake batter has been updated with bubbly effervescence – beer! Carbon dioxide, foaming agents, and, of course, alcohol conspire to form the perfect triad for creating light, crispy crusts.
Webster’s dictionary describes a fritter as “a small mass of fried or sautéed batter often containing fruit or meat”. This foodstuff is age-old, ancient and across-the-board. Burmese make small fritters similar to falafel called a-kyaw; there are both sweet and savory Indonesian gorengan; and let’s not forget Japanese tempura or Phillippine kwek-kwek!
But back to my mom and her apple fritters. She did do something a little different. Instead of commonly adding chopped apples to the batter before frying, she merely sliced the fruit in rings before dipping them in a floury egg bath and cooking to a golden perfection. I like the beer dip, though. Not only for the light crispiness it helps to achieve, but for the modern, edgy flavor that lets you know you’re in for something special. In other words, a breakfast in bed that happens only once in a Blue Moon.
1 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chilled Blue Moon beer (or other beer or club soda)
2 tart apples, like McIntosh or Cortland
Oil for frying
Deep-fry or candy thermometer
Pour oil at least 2 inches deep into a small, heavy pan. Heat over medium heat to approximately 350°. Mix together flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in large bowl. Whisk in beer or club soda until just mixed. Do not overmix. Set batter aside to rest a few minutes.
Pare and core apples, then slice into ¼-inch rings. Using long tongs, dip apple rings into batter, gently shaking off any excess, then into hot oil. Cook until batter is crisped and golden, carefully turning once, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and cool slightly on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot.
NOTE: Monitor oil with candy thermometer to maintain stable temperature.
Post by Alison Hein.
I just read an article by the Natural Resources Defense Council about food waste in the US (http://www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf). Did you know that 40 percent of food in our country is wasted annually? Estimates indicate this is equivalent to approximately $165 billion per year! Kind of hard to believe, considering that one in six Americans currently lacks a steady food supply.
Most of the time, I’m pretty good about consuming all the groceries we buy. I’ve got lots of neat tricks for using celery leaves and aging vegetables to make nourishing soups and stocks. You will also find me freezing leftovers, or carting care packages to friends and family. When I fall short, though, is during holiday season – I always overestimate the amount of baking that actually occurs.
Take Thanksgiving, for example. I baked two apple pies and two pumpkin pies, yet I still have four cans of pumpkin in my pantry! Anyway, a long serious spiel to get to the point of providing you with an excellent remedy for holiday overstocking – Pumpkin Spice Bread.
This is a simple recipe that warms your home with pumpkin pie scents, and neatly rounds out a breakfast or brunch menu. Rich and filling pumpkin creates a moist, dense bread that works well when lightly warmed and topped off with a schmear of whipped cream cheese. Stash a slice or two in your children’s lunch boxes, or treat yourself to a spicy, pumpkin breakfast in bed.
Then come join me in donating some of my overstocked pantry to our local food bank. 🙂
4 tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs until smooth. Add pumpkin and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Add dry ingredients all at once to pumpkin mixture, stirring to combine. Spread batter evenly in a well-greased loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack at least 1 hour before slicing.
Makes one loaf of pumpkin bread.
Post by Alison Hein
It’s about this time of year that I give up on my usual healthy breakfasts of yogurt or poached eggs, and convince myself that its okay to eat anything during the holiday season. Coffee cake, pie, and pistachio nuts come to mind as good options. 😉
As a young teen, I was often invited to traditional Italian Sunday dinner at my friend Juliet’s house. Aunts and grandmas began cooking several days prior. Mouth-watering aromas rising up from the basement kitchen became more dense and elaborate as the weekend neared. Courses were numerous and staggering – salad course, soup course, pasta course, meat course – a three hour food extravaganza. Desserts were surprisingly humble. Some fresh fruit and nuts, maybe spicy homemade wine or a bottle of stinging grappa.
On one such occasion, Julie’s grandmother decided to ramp it up. With a small paring knife, she deftly pitted several dates. Each one was quickly stuffed with a walnut half, then rolled in granulated sugar to a shimmery sparkle. She saw the hesitancy in my eyes, and urged me to try one. Wow! One amazing bite of sweet-on-sweet, soft-on-crunch, nothing-much-but-nature and I was hooked for good.
Here, cream cheese is added for depth and texture, and liquid gold honey replaces the sugar to keep the tender dates moist and juicy. With only four ingredients and a small investment in time, you may also be saying “wow” to this humble, remarkable, not-just-for-Sunday breakfast in bed.
8 dates (Medjool dates are a good choice)
¼ cup whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
¼ cup honey
Slice dates lengthwise on one side and remove pits.
In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts. Fill dates with cream cheese mixture using a small spoon. Wipe off any excess on outsides of dates. Dip each date into honey to cover completely and set aside. Pour remaining honey into small, heavy pan, and heat on low. Place dates in heated honey, and continue to warm on low heat, about 5 minutes. Dates should be warm, and cream cheese will be slightly melted.
Transfer dates to a small serving plate, and garnish with remaining chopped walnuts. Honeyed dates may be served either warm or at room temperature.
Post by Alison Hein
I recently picked up a small smoked ham from my favorite German butcher. Perfectly sized for a dinner for two, it needed only half an hour in the oven to bring out its delicious smoky flavor. Roasted baby potatoes and pan-fried Italian zucchini completed the evening menu.
Seeking inspiration for breakfast the next morning, I spied the scant slices of ham in my fridge. That’s when this got stuck in my head:
Do you like
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
It was more than 50 years ago that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) penned this now ubiquitous verse. Many of us have taught our children to read with the help of Sam-I-am, beloved character in one of the most famous children’s books of all time. What better inspiration was I hoping to find behind my refrigerator door? So I went with it. For the “green”, I used a bunch of fresh baby spinach leaves (I probably would have used the pan-fried zucchini, but we had polished that off the night before).
Fortunately, a handful of roasted baby potatoes still remained. Sliced super-thin, tossed with olive oil into a hot pan, and seasoned liberally with salt, pepper and paprika, they were the perfect companion for my green, ubiquitous breakfast in bed.
Of course I like green eggs and ham, and I’m pretty sure you will too. Thank you, thank you, Sam-I-am. ☺
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup loosely packed fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon milk or cream
2 to 3 ounces thick-cut smoked ham, cut into approximately ¼-inch cubes
Heat olive oil in small, heavy pan over medium heat. Place baby spinach leaves in pan and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Break eggs into small bowl and whisk well with milk or cream. Add eggs to heated pan and allow to cook slowly and gently, folding over around wilted spinach. Stir and lift frequently with wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Toward the end of cooking, add cubed ham to the top of the eggs, just to heat through.
Slide green eggs and ham out onto plate. Serve immediately. Add a side of home fries, if you like.
Makes 1 serving.