Tag Archives: Recipes
Post by Alison Hein.
Next up in the Food Song category – Simon and Garfunkel’s ubiquitous “Scarborough Fair/Canticle,” title song of the1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
I’ve listened to this song countless times – once softly, straining to hear through bedroom walls to my sister’s room as she listened over and over and over again. Later, more audibly, out on my own but lonely for home. And more recently, quieter again, as I remember and reflect on times past. It always fills me with love and melancholy, and pulls at my heart strings. But, I never once questioned the song’s history or meaning – until now.
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.
“Scarborough Fair” is an old English ballad, possibly with older Scottish roots tracing back to the late 1600s. Sometimes the place name changed, and often the refrain changed, with “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” not appearing until the 1800s.
And the meaning of the herbal refrain? Theories abound. Here’s mine: every herb has its own meaning, translating “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” to “festivity, wisdom, remembrance, and courage.” A perfect love potion to overcome the impossible tasks set forth in the lyric, and return two hearts to one. Sigh.
Love is inspiration for great food, and a savory bread pudding is a thing of wonder and delight. Lovely as a dinner side, pleasant with a luncheon salad, and surprisingly just right for breakfast. The fresh, fragrant herbs add richness, depth and color to a simple poor man’s dish. Maybe Savory Scarborough Bread Pudding will pull at your heart strings a little too, and become your one true beloved breakfast in bed. 😉
Savory Scarborough Bread Pudding
1 loaf stale French or Italian bread
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese, such as Swiss or Gruyere
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut or tear bread into bite-sized cubes (should be around 6 to 8 cups) and set aside. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, or if you prefer, 8 ovenproof serving-sized dishes, and set aside.
In large bowl, add eggs and whisk until slightly thickened. Whisk in milk. Add shredded cheese, chopped herbs, butter, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add bread cubes to egg mixture and stir well to make sure the herbs are evenly distributed. Pour egg-bread mixture into serving dish (or dishes) let sit for 20 to 30 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid. Preheat oven to 350°.
Bake bread pudding for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is puffed up and the top is golden brown. If you are using individual serving dishes, check for doneness after 30 to 35 minutes. When done, the bread pudding will be puffed up and browned, and egg will be fully cooked and not jiggly. Serve hot with fried ham or bacon, if you like.
Makes 8 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
Albert Einstein once said, “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.” Take bacon and eggs, for example. If you’ve ever eaten undercrisped bacon and overcooked eggs you’ll know what I mean.
My husband, Kevin, makes the best bacon and eggs I’ve ever eaten. Turns out he once worked as a short order cook. So I asked him to make breakfast for me and watched carefully as he chopped, fried, and flipped. Here are the culinary secrets I uncovered:
-Timing is everything.
-Cook the bacon low and slow.
-Don’t crowd the eggs.
On the evening prior, Kevin baked a Russet potato tossed with olive oil and sea salt. In the morning, he got his hash browns going, then started slow-cooking the applewood bacon. Kevin made sure to turn the thick slices several times, keeping them nicely coated with bacon fat as they edged toward a crisped brown. Finally, he cracked the eggs right on the rim of the oversized cast iron frying pan, quickly, then dropped them in one at a time leaving plenty of space between them. After frying the eggs for a minute or two, he gave them a final flip, then cooked them a few seconds longer to over-easy perfection.
I helped him out by making some toast, and by savoring the absolute best kind of breakfast in bed imaginable – one made to order with love and care.
1 Russet potato, baked
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon paprika
4 to 6 slices bacon
For the hash browns, lightly spray a medium-sized heavy frying pan with cooking spray and place on stove over medium heat. Coarsely chop baked potato, skin on, and place in pan. Add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally and adding additional oil as necessary, until potatoes are golden and crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. When done, turn heat to very low and keep warm.
Start the bacon right after the potatoes are seasoned. Spray a very large heavy frying pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add bacon and cook steadily over medium heat, turning each slice several times, until bacon is browned and crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Monitor heat as necessary to keep bacon cooking evenly. Let bacon drain on paper towels, and keep warm until eggs are cooked.
To make eggs, carefully remove excess bacon fat from frying pan, and place back over medium heat. Crack eggs into pan one at a time, making sure to leave enough space between the eggs so the whites don’t run together. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook each egg until white is solid, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip egg and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Transfer eggs to plates and serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
Shimmery, jewel-toned costumes; exotic bird-like glittering faces; fantastical winged creatures dancing on air – I was snapping photos like crazy at the Grand Mardi Gras parade in Marigot, St. Martin. Not caught on film were the pulsing, thumping rhythm of the crew bands; the beating of traditional wooden drums; the keening of lustered conch shell trumpets; or the tantalizing, honey-sweet to spicy-savory scents of festival food.
After the parade, Kevin and I roamed the temporary alleys formed by vendor carts and tents. We purchased a handful of Mardi Gras Beignets from a grey-haired local woman. She fried them up fresh for us – perfect delicate spheres, lightly dusted in sweet, white sugar. The outside of each beignet was delicate and warm, the inside subtly sweet with a hint of fragrant spice.
Home from our trip, I was determined to replicate our beignet experience. The recipe I found on the St. Martin Tourist Office website seemed a good place to start (see below for address). Try as I might, my beignets turned out looking more like doughy squids and dolphins than the flawless festival rondures in St. Martin. Still, they were light and sweet, lavishly spiced and citrusy – a festive Mardi Gras breakfast in bed.
Oil for frying (4 to 6 cups)
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon rum (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Deep-fry or candy thermometer
Pour oil at least 2 inches deep into a small, heavy pan. Heat over medium heat to approximately 350°. Add water, sugar, butter, and salt to a second heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted. Remove from heat, and whisk in flour until batter is well-mixed and smooth. Place pan back over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough begins to thicken and pull away from sides of pan, about one to two minutes. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Add the grated lemon rind, vanilla, rum, cinnamon and nutmeg into the flour mixture. Stir until batter is thick and smooth, resembling a thick pancake batter.
Using 2 spoons, carefully drop a scant tablespoon of batter into the hot oil for each beignet. Cook about six beignets at a time, allowing oil to retain its temperature. Turn the beignets several times while frying, until they have reached a deep golden brown color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove beignets from pan and drain on paper towels. Toss with powdered sugar (I use a small paper bag) while still warm. Serve immediately.
Makes about 2 dozen beignets.
NOTE: Monitor oil with candy thermometer to maintain stable temperature.
Adapted from the St. Martin Tourist Office website recipe for Mardi Gras Fritters (http://www.stmartinisland.org/st-martin-focus-of-the-month/93-specials/369-stmartin-culinaryspecialties.html).
by Alison Hein
My husband and I are back from our extended Caribbean stay – back home (good) and back to the cold (not so much). Wintry weather calls for homey comfort food, so when Kevin requested chili for dinner, I was quick to comply. In my world, a bowl of mouth-burning, spicy chili is not complete without a fresh-from-the-oven batch of buttery corn bread. It’s so easy to make your own, with multitudes of personalization options. Sometimes I make it unsweetened, or zest it up and make Lime-Cilantro Corn Bread with Honey Butter. This time, though, I just made straight up old-fashioned corn bread – the perfect foil for our fiery stew.
In the morning, I decided to use some of the corn bread for our morning meal. But what? Then it came to me: a play on Hot Browns, the legendary late-night breakfast dish from The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. I switched it up a little, omitting the turkey and using Irish bacon. Just wait for that hot, bubbly, bacony dish to come out of the oven. Just wait for a legendary Hot Brown breakfast in bed.
Learn more about the historic Brown Hotel and see the original Hot Brown Recipe here:
2 thick pieces of corn bread
1 Roma tomato
2 – 4 slices Irish (or Canadian) Bacon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
Paprika, for garnish
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh parsley
Slice corn bread pieces in half, and place two each into two oven-proof dishes. Cut Roma tomato into four thick slices, and place one tomato slice on top of each piece of corn bread. In the meantime, fry bacon over medium low heat to a crispy brown. Drain on paper towels. Set aside and keep warm.
To make cheese 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. Add grated cheese and stir until just melted. Pour half of the cheese mixture over each dish of corn bread, covering bread and tomatoes completely.
Broil Hot Browns 6 inches from heat, until cheese sauce is bubbly and lightly browned on top, about 1 minute. Top each dish with a slice or two of crispy Irish bacon, sprinkle with paprika, garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
Short, dreary January days are perfectly suited to bread baking. Homemade bread is easier to make than you may think, especially if you own a food processor. All that’s required is a little flour and yeast, and a little larger commitment of time and patience.
Allocate several hours for the process, and don’t be dismayed if your first attempt is less than perfect – you will get better with practice. And, once you bite into your first fresh-from-the-oven steamy slice of homemade bread, there’s no going back. Three lovely. wheaty baguettes will scent your home with bakery aromas, and fill your heart with great accomplishment.
Try a cozy winter meal that calls for no more than a thick slice of sweet, salty homemade bread beside a piping hot seasonal soup. Better yet, slather a warm hunk of baguette with creamery butter, maybe some strawberry jam too. Pour a cup of dark-roast coffee, and reward yourself with the perfect cure for those short, dreary January days – breakfast in bed!
2 cups tepid water
1 tablespoon (2 packets) dry yeast
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups white flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Oil for rising
Flour for kneading, shaping and dusting loaves
Add water to large food processor, or large bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top to cover surface. Set aside until yeast begins to activate, about 10 minutes.
Add oil, honey, salt and wheat flour to food processor or bowl. Gently pulse on food processor dough setting or stir until mixed in. Add white flour, about a cup at a time, until mixed in. If using food processor, gently pulse until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Be careful not to over mix or dough will become tough. If making bread by hand, turn out onto floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon oil to large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn and flip so oiled side faces up. Cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Turn onto floured board and shape into 3 equal-sized baguettes. Sprinkle large baking tray with cornmeal. Place loaves on tray, cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let loaves rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425° about 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. Lightly sprinkle loaves with flour (use a sifter or sieve). Carefully make a few diagonal slashes on each loaf, using a razor blade or very sharp knife (I keep a craft knife on hand for this purpose).
Place loaves in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 3 baguettes.