Archive for the ‘Recipes – Breakfast’ Category

All Over BRUNCH!

A delightful chance meeting with Chef Gail Gand, left, at the launch of “Chef’s Move to Schools”, Washington, DC June 2009. Joy Rupe, right.

Chef Gail Gand is a lovely and gracious person. You may know of her as a James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Food Network star, restaurant owner or cookbook author. Her book, BRUNCH! was just released in 2009 when I happened across it while planning a Mother’s Day event that year. I couldn’t have imagined that I would ever meet Gail but in fact I did – at the launch of Chef’s Move to Schools initiative in June at the Whitehouse.

One thing that Gail and I share is a love of brunch. Hardly any other meal can swing with such finesse from sweet to savory and elevate the humble egg to such heights. A much loved institution, brunch is most notably egg-centric. Classic menus include eggs in various forms from quiche, omelets, frittatas and strata, poached eggs, eggs Benedict, and stuffed eggs to infinity and beyond. Accompaniments include seasonal fruit, smoked salmon and steak, ham, bacon and sausage, all forms of toast, muffins, crepes, scones, waffles, and pancakes. Brunch is a wonderful way to entertain on a weekend and can be as casual or elaborate as you wish. As a late morning meal, one of its finer qualities is ample time for preparation.

In BRUNCH! Gail takes traditional breakfast staples and makes simple enhancements that don’t require additional time or add complexity.  Immediately you see that she is a teacher as her instructions are clear and to the point. She includes simple techniques that are easy to master – a trait that all of my favorite chefs share.

Brunch is not complete without a specialty drink to set expectations. Iced Coffee with Cinnamon-Coffee Ice Cubes and Tangerine Pink Grapefruit with Mint are two of my favorites from BRUNCH!  I made Gail’s Torta Rustica (below), a multi-layered, pastry covered dish that includes mushrooms in garlic butter, sautéed creamed spinach, roasted red peppers, scrambled eggs, ham, and mozzarella. Click on the photo to see the layers. It was a delicious meal made complete with a side of fresh fruit and a glass of champagne.

Chef Gail Gand’s recipe for Torta Rustica from her book BRUNCH!

I often rely on a crustless quiche for my week day breakfasts. It takes about an hour and a half on Sunday to prepare then I just reheat a slice during the week for a delicious, protein-packed meal.  Without the traditional crust I’m free to choose from various whole grain breads with more fiber and higher quality nutrients than usually found in a pastry crust.

If you would like to learn how to make pastry crust, scones, turnovers, and doughnuts, Gail’s BRUNCH! book is a great primer.  Visit her website for information about her other books.  Also, I’ve posted decorating ideas for a brunch buffet on the Photos tab.  Need a brunch recipe? Just post a request.

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More Cheese, please….

I have to confess, I’m a big cheese fan and the holidays are coming. Yes, the two are connected – what other time of year can you count on for cheese in some form or another everywhere you go? You’ll see it in cubes and on crackers, diced and in slices, in dips, with chips on display for the snackers.  Plan on cheese in parfaits, in breakfast and spreads, in salads, in sandwiches and gift baskets ahead.

My friends are rolling their eyes about now since it is July and I’m already thinking about the holidays. But they know I’ve got a planning gene, and in my way of thinking the best way to ensure maximum cheese exposure is to start planning now.

I will surely be making a Baked Goat Cheese Dip, a proven winner on the holiday table. Just three ingredients – four if you include some sort of garnish – are all it takes and you’re on your way to stardom. Start with 2 – 8 oz. logs of soft goat cheese in a baking dish that you can serve in. Crumble one log and pour half of a 24 oz. jar of a good marinara sauce over cheese. Crumble remaining log and add more marinara to taste (I usually use about 16 – 18 oz of sauce).  Bake at 350 degrees until brown and bubbly, about 20 – 25 minutes.  Serve with thin slices of crusty bread or garlic toast.  Something green, like torn fresh basil or parsley makes a nice garnish.

I also plan on sliced soft Goat Cheese on Crostini (aka garlic toast) topped with fig jam and a salty ham like prosciutto, finished with a drizzle of honey.  Then there is ricotta cheese with so many uses – it makes a nice spread with a little honey, a touch of vanilla and pinch of salt mixed in (some add grated lemon zest). I serve this with fresh berries, or on breakfast waffles along with some chopped pecans, fresh orange slices and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a tasty and pretty presentation.  Soft goat cheese mixed in equal parts with cream cheese is a good base for mini sandwich spreads that are easily changed up by layering with various jams and jellies, sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped nuts, pesto, or chopped olives. Red pepper jelly and toasted pecans is a favorite combination. The goat cheese and cream cheese mixture works as a dip for bread sticks as well, that have been wrapped in a thin slice of ham.

A Holiday Buffet Star – Gorgonzola and Pear Spread with Pistachios

Nuts are abundant during the holidays, too. I take 2 pecan halves and stick them together with the goat cheese / cream cheese mixture and slices of guava paste. Then there is the Gorgonzola and Pear Spread, pictured above, a buffet magnet if there ever was one. The simplified version is to take ½ – 1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese, 8 oz. cream cheese, 2 oz. sour cream and one drained can of pears in 100% juice (save juice).  Combine cheeses and sour cream at room temperature. When soft add about 2 tablespoons of pear juice or more to taste and mix well. If you have it, add some chopped pieces of pear paste (available in Whole Foods and some grocery stores). Add chopped pears, saving a few for garnish with other fruit and chopped nuts, if desired. Serve with some nice quality crackers. While I’m thinking of it, you can substitute the pear theme in this spread with fig preserves and fig paste, or other fruit combinations.

For a quick dessert, combine cream cheese and peanut butter (2:1 ratio), add some maple syrup to taste, and thin if needed with a little whipping cream for a no-bake parfait. Top with real whipped cream and drizzle with maple syrup for an incredibly rich and creamy dessert. Here’s another – combine Greek yogurt (about 1 cup) with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese or mascarpone, a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. Adjust flavors as needed then drizzle over fresh chopped mango and sprinkle with crumbled ginger cookies and flaked coconut. Serve in layers in a parfait glass for some holiday class.

You can substitute mascarpone for cream cheese, or Neufchatel in any of the recipes above, and know that we’ve not even scratched the surface of ways to use these cheeses. Look for obsessive ways with Parmesan and other cheeses in blogs to come. Season’s greetings! It will be here before you know it.

Breakfast Ideas for Children

Here’s a new addition to the ever growing recipe guide “2012 Breakfast Ideas for Children V3” – Ham & Cheese Waffles. I’m on a mission to stamp out all excuses for not making our kids a nutritionally balanced meal with these quick and easy ideas. Each recipe includes protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats for a full tank of premium fuel to start their day. Grandparents, keep this list handy for when the grand kids come over. They might even enjoy helping prepare their meal.

Here’s another idea….why not try these adult-friendly recipes for yourself? Although I love my protein shakes for breakfast I do like a change every now and then. Most of these recipes can be fully prepared the night before to save you time in morning. Got some breakfast favorites you’d like to share? Please post them and they might find their way in to a book some day!