Tag Archives: Recipes
by Alison Hein.
My high school art teacher, Mrs. Norton, had a favorite phrase – “Simplicity is divinity.” We used to joke about it because she said it so frequently. We even worked it into a not-so-flattering poem about school in general, and our teachers in particular. But through the years, I’ve come to appreciate the sentiment behind the words. Take Champignon Toast, for example. Bread, cheese, mushrooms. Slice and add heat. And what do you get? A masterpiece! ☺
As a teenager visiting cousins in Germany, I experienced many firsts. This cheesy, melted delight was one of my favorites. Struggling through the German language, I was somewhat confused by the use of the French word champignon (until I learned that the word for mushrooms in Germany is Pilzen).
So I stuck with the French name and have been making Champignon Toast ever since. Richly satisfying for breakfast. Served with a fresh garden or cucumber salad, it also makes a wonderful light dinner. Many variations can be achieved by working with different types of breads, cheeses and mushrooms. Ham or bacon can be added for a sturdier open-faced melt. And perhaps best of all, this recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients almost always on hand.
I like my Champignon Toast pushed to the edge of burnt, where the bread is warm but still soft, and the cheese is melted until nearly crispy. You may prefer yours a little less done, so watch closely when broiling as it melts quickly. Try it, at any rate, for a simple, divine breakfast in bed that even Mrs. Norton would approve.
2 slices Ciabatta bread
2 slices Jarlsberg cheese
2 crimini mushrooms
Dash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fruit, for garnish (optional)
Turn on broiler. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil. Cut 2 ½-inch thick slices of Ciabatta bread (if not pre-sliced), and place on foil-covered tray. Cut two thin slices of Jarlsberg cheese, to evenly cover bread slices.
Clean mushrooms by brushing thoroughly with a paper towel. Trim ends, and slice into thin slices. Arrange evenly on top of cheese-covered bread. Drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar on top of mushroom slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Broil champignon toast slices 6 inches from flame, 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese is melted and mushrooms are soft. Serve hot.
Makes 1 serving.
Post by by Alison Hein.
It’s one thing to have wonderful neighbors you enjoy spending time with. It’s quite another thing when your wonderful neighbors invite you to spend a few days with them in luxurious Water Mill, NY. Nothing says summer like the glorious beaches, amazing mansions, and tempting shops of The Hamptons. We enjoyed several days in Ann and Frank’s company – sailing, sunning, shopping – peppered with plenty of good wine and food, and topped off with great conversation.
I was so pleased with myself when I came up with this great idea to repay them for their generosity – I would ask Frank to create a recipe and prepare breakfast for my blog post! 😉
Frank, an accomplished and inventive cook, decided to blend two cultures in one substantial frittata, artfully mixing the flavors of Italian fried potatoes and Pecorino Romano with Mexican guacamole and salsa. The result? A savory, spicy masterpiece that thrilled with each bite. A gorgeous presentation, just right for honored guests.
Bravo and Olé! Recipes courtesy of Frank Falconieri.
We skipped the breakfast in bed this time, and enjoyed our luxurious Frittata Italiana-Mexicana poolside, Hamptons style.
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or equivalent tubed cilantro paste
1 lime, peeled with pith removed
1 jar sliced jalapeño peppers (1 tablespoon juice + 3 pepper slices)
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons hot or medium hot salsa, drained
1 teaspoon kosher or large-grained sea salt
Coarsely chop cilantro and place 1 tablespoon in blender, set second tablespoon aside. Peel lime, slice, remove excess pith, and coarsely chop. Add lime pieces to blender. Add jalapeño pepper juice, pepper slices and salt to blender. Pulse briefly 2 to 3 times and set blender bowl aside.
Peel, pit, and coarsely chop avocados and place in medium bowl. Add onions, drained salsa, remaining tablespoon of cilantro and salt. Mash with a potato masher for a textured consistency. Stir in blended cilantro-lime mixture. Adjust taste according to preference.
1 tablespoon high-heat olive oil
1 – 1 ½ cups sliced, pan-fried or roasted potatoes (enough to cover the bottom of pan)
½ cup grilled or boiled corn kernels
7 eggs (extra large or jumbo)
1 tablespoon good quality virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 10-inch tortillas (in dairy section of most supermarkets)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup salsa
A few sprigs cilantro
Pour high heat olive oil into a 10-inch ovenproof heavy frying pan, and place on stove over medium-high heat. Preheat broiler. Add potatoes to pan and spread to cover, pressing down slightly. Add corn, distributing evenly on top of the potatoes. Allow to cook until set, about 5 minutes.
While potatoes and corn are heating, break eggs into a large bowl, add virgin olive oil, and whisk until smooth and thickened. Pour eggs gently over potato-corn mixture (do not stir), cover, and continue to cook until eggs are set around the edges, about 5 minutes. Generously sprinkle top of frittata with Pecorino Romano. Place frying pan under broiler, about 5 inches from direct heat and broil frittata until eggs are firm and do not jiggle, about 3 minutes.
As the frittata is broiling, place a separate, large frying pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray, and brown tortillas lightly on both sides. Place one tortilla on a large platter. Spoon enough guacamole over the bottom tortilla to cover, spreading pizza sauce style from center to rim. Gently free and carefully slide the frittata onto the guacamole-covered tortilla, then top with the remaining tortilla. Recommended garnishes include sour cream, salsa, and cilantro. Serve immediately with guacamole on the side.
Makes 6 servings.
Tip: Use the best serrated knife to cut, since warm tortillas tend to shred.
Post by Alison Hein.
If you find yourself in Cape May, New Jersey, make sure to stop in for dinner at the Ebbitt Room. The Virginia Hotel’s recently remodeled dining room will delight you with its shimmering charm, and its spacious yet cozy ambience. Even better, Chef Lucas Manteca employs a farm-to-table philosophy, showcasing fresh, local produce from the hotel’s certified organic Beach Plum Farm.
Sean, our friendly, professional waiter, wisely suggested the daily sampler of deviled eggs. Delicate Beach Plum Farm eggs are cleverly cut on the diagonal, artfully spiced, then creatively adorned with three different micro-toppings. Our selection? Spicy coppa with pickled garden hash and gouda crumble; cold beet purée with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and tobiko; and tuna tartare-stuffed Belgian endive with mint lime vinaigrette. (Sean kindly wrote all this down for me!) Believe me, a tiny farm-fresh egg, dressed with luscious seasonal accoutrements, is one perfect bite – a devilishly delicious, sophisticated combination of flavors.
Naturally, I had to try this out as soon as I got home. I purchased small eggs, to keep with the one-bite sizing. Then I foraged in my refrigerator for tiny amounts of topping ingredients (only ½ teaspoonful or so is needed per egg half). Here’s what I came up with: roasted asparagus with speck; fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomato, golden beet and basil salad; and smoked salmon with sour cream lemon-dill sauce. Perhaps not as sophisticated as Chef Lucas’ version, but still a devilishly delightful breakfast in bed!
P.S. If you dine at the Ebbitt Room, make sure to arrive early and enjoy a cocktail on the front porch of the Virginia Hotel. Overstuffed seating, a cool breeze, and hand-crafted drinks make it the perfect spot to people watch on quaint and busy Jackson Street.
3 small eggs
I tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon horseradish cream (or use fresh horseradish)
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup micro greens
Tiny portions of assorted meats, vegetables, cheeses, fruits, nuts, grains, etc.
Place eggs in small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat and cook for one minute or so. Turn off heat, and let eggs remain in hot water for 10 minutes, until hard-boiled. Immerse in cold water and carefully peel eggs.
Slice eggs in half at the center, so yolk openings are round, rather than oblong. Carefully slice a little bit off the end of each egg half, just enough so the egg white can rest flat on a plate. Scoop out yolks and place in small bowl. Mash yolks thoroughly, then add mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, salt and pepper and mix until smooth and creamy. Refill egg white halves, and place three halves on each of two plates.
Prepare three assorted toppings. Place a tiny bit of topping on eggs, garnish plates with micro greens, chill and serve cold.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
Due to a last minute change in dinner plans (don’t ask), I found myself the following morning with a beautiful, untouched loaf of Calandra’s Italian semolina bread. Lovely…golden…stale. ☹ Too perfect for homemade breadcrumbs, I decided to make bread pudding.
Sometimes called Poor Man’s Pudding, bread pudding is really a custard. And, since it is still summer (and they were buy one – get one free), I had a pint of blueberries on hand. Eggs + bread + fruit = breakfast, right?
I like to leave little icebergs of bread above the custard to bake to a crispy brown, making a tantalizing contrast with the warm, gooey bread pudding center. Top this with some fresh fruit syrup for a sweet and tangy, perfectly balanced dish. If you don’t want to fuss with the blueberry syrup, simple maple syrup is always a winner. Or, if you want to fuss a little more, try crème anglaise for a rich and decadent cream on cream delight.
It takes a little time for the bread pudding to bake and set, but actual prep time is only about 10 minutes. My suggestion? Do the prep work and get the bread pudding in the oven. Then go relax, and get someone else to dish up and serve you a tantalizing, poor man’s breakfast in bed.
1 loaf stale French or Italian bread
½ cup sugar
4 cups milk
¼ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
Cut or tear bread into bite-sized cubes (should be around 6 to 8 cups). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, spread bread cubes evenly in dish and set aside.
In large bowl, add eggs and whisk until slightly thickened. Whisk in sugar and milk. Add butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes and 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. Serve hot with blueberry sauce, maple syrup, or crème anglaise. Add a dollop of whipped cream, if you like
Makes 8 servings.
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add blueberries, water, sugar and vanilla to small, heavy pot. Place on stove over high heat and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, until blueberries are soft and popped open, and syrup is thickened. Set aside and allow to cool. Syrup will continue to thicken while cooling, so adjust cooking time to your preference.
Makes about 1 ½ cups of syrup.
Post by Alison Hein.
Masa harina, a Latin American dough made from hominy, gives these sweet corn cakes a smooth, full-bodied texture and distinctive flavor. Then, whole sweet corn kernels add little pops of pure maize when you dig in for a bite. These elements are especially nice when serving the corn cakes chilled, as we do here, then alluringly topped with smoky salmon and parslied sour cream. Wonderful for breakfast or brunch, but toss together a side salad and you’ve got a light, refreshing summer meal.
Prepare the batter in advance and fry these babies up just like pancakes. Put them in the refrigerator to chill, or, if you want, stop right here and serve them warm with salted butter and Vermont maple syrup.
Parslied sour cream appears elegant and time-consuming, yet it’s a cinch to whip up – simply toss all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. It looks lovely, keeps well in the refrigerator, and its creamy herbal base adds fresh pizzazz (try it on baked potatoes, or even sandwiches).
All you need is a little smoked salmon, for a super summery meal – a sweet and smoky breakfast in bed.
Sweet Corn Cakes
1 cup masa harina, or substitute cornmeal
½ cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup sweet corn kernels, fresh or frozen
Dash of cayenne
2 to 3 tablespoons corn oil, for frying
Combine masa harina, flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl, stir together milk, egg and honey. Gradually add milk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring frequently, until well-mixed. Fold in corn kernels and cayenne.
Heat oil in heavy pan or griddle on burner over medium to medium high heat. Ladle ¼ cup of batter into pan for each corn cake. Cook one to two minutes per side, flipping once, until corn cakes are lightly browned and crisped. Add more oil and adjust heat as necessary. Serve hot with butter and real maple syrup, or chill and top with smoked salmon and parslied sour cream.
Makes approximately 10 sweet corn cakes.
NOTE: For gluten-free corn cakes, replace the white flour with an equal amount of masa harina.
Parslied Sour Cream
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup parsley (flat leaf or curly)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon oil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and mix together until smooth. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Makes approximately one cup of parslied sour cream.
Sweet Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Parslied Sour Cream
2 sweet corn cakes
1 to 2 tablespoons parslied sour cream
4 ounces smoked salmon
Additional parsley for garnish (optional)
Place corn cakes on plates. Spread about two teaspoonfuls of parslied sour cream on top of each cake, and top with smoked salmon. Garnish with a dot of sour cream and parsley sprig, if you like.
Makes 2 servings.