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Archive for the ‘Breakfast/Brunch’ Category

A break from 68 Days of Gourmet to recap my fun-filled culinary weekend in Atlanta! Several months ago we bought tickets to see Muse and Silversun Pickups in Atlanta. We decided that since we knew so far ahead of time that we were going to be in Atlanta that we should make reservations to eat at Woodfire Grill. It’s the restaurant where Top Chef contestant Kevin Gillespie is co-owner and executive chef.

My parents moved to Atlanta last year and when I visited last summer they took me to Woodfire for dinner. I came home and told Brandon it was one of my top five meals ever and couldn’t wait to take him there. I was so surprised and excited to see last fall that Kevin was a contestant on Top Chef. We watched and rooted him on all season. Even though he didn’t win in the end, I think it’s fair to say that he’s the true winner in all the fan’s hearts! So needless to say, since Kevin enjoyed great success on Top Chef, it’s next to impossible to get a reservation at Woodfire – especially on the weekends. We made our reservations three months in advance!

Our dinner was phenomenal – the food and service was truly outstanding. We were greeted right when we walked in the door and shown to our table. I was excited to find that I had a view of the open kitchen. Our server was extremely knowledgable and friendly and made some great wine suggestions over the course of the night. We chose to do the five-course chef’s tasting dinner. Kevin had decided to go with a Southern theme for the tasting so all of our dishes had a little bit of a down-home feel.

A very quick overview of what we remember from the courses (I should have taken notes – and FYI – Brandon forbid me to take pictures).

First Course
Chef’s take on shrimp and grits – rock shrimp over a grit cake

Second Course
Fried oysters over what I would describe as a cauliflower risotto served with a hot sauce and garnished with watercress

Intermezzo
Horseradish/black truffle deviled egg

Third Course
Veal sweetbreads, a little slice of perfectly cooked lamb, collard greens and a boiled peanut sauce. This was the shining star of the night. Each element of the dish went together and complimented the others perfectly

Fourth Course
Pork belly, slice of pork tenderloin with some sort of vegetable hash. I’m fuzzy on the details here but the pork belly was delicious!

Fifth Course
Curried chocolate molten cake, curried ice cream and a crispy peanut wafer. The curry with the chocolate was interesting…at first you just tasted the chocolate then you really got the curry taste in the finish

After dinner we were able to chat with Kevin for a minute and snag a picture. Of course, I was totally losing my voice over the course of the night and could barely talk by the time we met Kevin – boo! He is so nice and I am so amazed by his talents given he his only 27 years old! So jealous! :)

And I’m sure you’re thinking this post is over now but no…I have more for you! My friend Michelle ended up having a kitchen shower the same weekend in Atlanta. Love when things work out like that! When I arrived at the shower I was so surprised to learn we were having a cooking demonstration! So up my alley!

Chef Natalie in action

The shower hostess hired Chef Natalie Vallo to demonstrate brunch-themed dishes for us. She demoed mini quiches (recipe and picture below), savory palmiers and bistro mustard vinaigrette. It was such a nice change of pace from your typical shower and I loved that Chef Natalie focused on seasonal, sustainable ingredients. If you live in the Atlanta area you should definitely check out her website! She offers all kinds of services ranging from personal chef to special needs diets to cooking demonstrations.

The bride-to-be (right) enjoying the shower and cooking demo

So if you’ve made it to the end of this marathon post, I reward you with the recipe for mini quiches that Chef Natalie made for us Saturday! Sure to be a hit at any brunch!

One year ago: Buffalo Sloppy Joes

Mini Quiche and Easy Food Processor Pie Crust
(Recipe source Chef Natalie Vallo of Food Optimist)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

FOR THE PIE CRUST
3 tablespoons ice water (plus more if needed)
1 stick butter, frozen and cut into tablespoons
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

FOR THE QUICHE
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
A bit of freshly ground nutmeg
A sprinkle of kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Fillings of your choice (no more than three) – we had roasted red peppers, sauteed spinach and goat cheese

Directions:

FOR THE PIE CRUST
Add flour, frozen cut butter and salt to bowl of large food processor (at least 9-cup). Hold down and pulse for 10 seconds. Add the 3 tablespoons of ice water and hold down and pulse for 7 seconds. Mixture should resemble cornmeal so if it does at this point move to the next step. If not, add water one tablespoon at a time and pulse for 3 second intervals until you get the cornmeal texture. Be very careful not to overwork the dough.

Gather dough and wrap in plastic wrap for at least 2 hours. Roll out and use as needed. For mini quiches you should be able to fill 12 muffin tins with one pie crust recipe.

You will want to prebake the crust a little for the quiches. Poke holes in the bottom of the crust in tins and line with parchment paper and fill with dry beans. Bake at 375 degrees until crust appears pale and dry, about 10 minutes.

FOR THE QUICHE
Combine everything from egg through pepper in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Place quiche filling the the bottom of the prebaked crusts and pour egg mixture over filling until about 2/3 full. Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet before placing in the oven. Bake for 375 degrees until quiche is set, about 15-20 minutes. Quiche should be about the consistency of jello when you shake. Let cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature – it will finish cooking.

Yield: 12 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 46

It’s been a great weekend! Full of beautiful weather, spending time with our adorable nieces, running (!!!) and pancakes. As my regular readers know, it’s kind of a tradition of ours to make a big Sunday breakfast. This morning Brandon chose pancakes and turkey bacon. We are usually waffle people and I will totally admit that I am not skilled at making pancakes. They’re just one of those foods I can’t seem to master – kind of sad!

I decide to test out two recipes from The Gourmet Cookbook in hopes that I would find a better, more successful pancake recipe. For Brandon, I chose Ruth’s Pancakes (from editor in chief Ruth Reichl) which were described as the pancake to choose if you needed to “pull out all the stops for an extremely special breakfast.” Given the amount of butter the recipe called for I would hope that you would only use this recipe for special occasions! For myself, I chose Whole Grain Pancakes with plans of covering them in almond butter and Greek yogurt.

The results were interesting. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the way Ruth’s Pancakes cooked. I tried two different skillets (cast iron and non-stick) and couldn’t seem to get them to cook and brown evenly. Also, they were not as light and fluffy as I hoped. I was going to consider them a failure until I served them to Brandon and his first comment was that they tasted delicious – much better than they looked. I’m guessing that the problems I had with the cooking might have been related to the amount of butter in the batter. These were passable this morning but not the perfect recipe to solve my pancake cooking problems.

On the other hand, the Whole Grain Pancakes totally exceeded my expectations. They were fluffy, perfectly golden, cake-like and had a true whole grain flavor. I don’t know if I loved the addition of cornmeal to the batter because they definitely had a cornmeal taste to them but they were still great. I would definitely make them again. I topped mine with almond butter, plain Greek yogurt and maple syrup. Very filling and stayed with me through a big afternoon.

The weather was amazing here this weekend. Sunny and highs in the 60s. Made it through a 4.5 mile run yesterday with minimal leg pain and minimal post-run soreness. Maybe whatever muscle I pulled is finally healing. Saturday night we headed over to my in-laws house for homemade pizza and visiting time with our cute nieces. I can’t resist sharing this picture with you! Happiness!

I was going to take today off of running and go to my Sunday afternoon yoga class but Brandon suggested a trip out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center for trail running with Sullie and I couldn’t say no! He never wants to run with me so I wasn’t going to pass this opportunity up. We got in about 4 miles and had fun checking out the trails.

It’s been a great weekend! :) Up early tomorrow to teach my 6 a.m. BodyPump class.

Ruth’s Pancakes
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Whisk together milk, eggs and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Whisk in butter until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk in egg mixture until just combined. Do not  over mix.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/3-cup of batter into skillet, working in batches of three. Cook until bubbles have formed on top and popped, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until undersides are golden brown, about 1 more minute.

Serve immediately with maple syrup or hold in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

Yield: 3-4 servings (8 pancakes)

Whole Grain Pancakes
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for skillet if desired
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used skim)

Directions:

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together yolks, oil and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Let batter rest for 5 minutes, batter will thicken. (If batter is too thick to fall from spoon, add another tablespoon or 2 of milk.)

Beat egg whites with a handheld mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently whisk into batter until well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil (I skipped this because I was using nonstick). Pour about 1/4 cup batter into skillet and work in batches of about 3-4 small pancakes (or freestyle whatever size you want!). Cook pancakes until bubbles appear on surface and begin to pop and edges are set, about 2 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for another minute or 2, until underside is golden brown.

Serve immediately with maple syrup or hold in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

Yield: 4-5 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 40

Part two of Sunday’s impromptu brunch. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for this frittata and it was delicious and easy. A great change from our normal eggs over medium. Also, this really stayed with me all day. I wasn’t  hungry for hours after eating this.

It’s been a busy week so far. I braved the icy roads on Monday morning to teach BodyPump at 6 a.m. Although it was a small crowd we still got a great class in. After work Monday I headed to the Y again to hit the treadmill for day one of my new half marathon training schedule. I really wanted to run outside but there was still a lot of ice on the sidewalks and Brandon told me that my clumsiness + the ice = recipe for disaster. I ran a half mile warm up, 3 miles at tempo speed (about 8:30 pace) and a half mile cool down for a total of 4 miles. After a lot of deliberation I decided to use the Furman FIRST program. I’ll run three times a week – tempo, speed and long. This plan just seemed to work the best for my schedule with teaching BodyPump and maintaining my yoga practice. I don’t think I’d ever want to follow a three day a week program for marathon training (just not enough miles and time on the road) but I do think that it’s great for me to maintain a balance for half marathon training. I’ll keep you guys posted on how it works for me.

Tonight I headed to Y2 Yoga for a hot vinyasa class and it was HARD. The class wasn’t any harder than usual but I think my legs were done after my Sunday yoga practice and two workouts yesterday. My balance was off and I was just sore. But sometimes it’s good to have to dig down deep to make it through. It challenges you in a whole new way – both mentally and physically.

Back to the frittata. I will definitely be making this again. It was a Sunday brunch treat! I think this would be a great dinner too when you’re looking for something simple and flavorful. I think it would be nice with a side salad and a light vinaigrette.

Herbed Ham and Cheddar Frittata
(Recipe source Gourmet, January 1995)

Ingredients:

2 scallions, minced (I used about 2 tablespoons of minced shallot instead – delicious!)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1/4 pound ham steak or thick ham slices from deli, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat an 8-inch heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, scallions or shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 2 or 3 minutes.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Add egg mixture to scallion mixture and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes. Add ham and cook, without stirring, 8 minutes, or until edges are set but center is still soft.

While frittata is cooking, preheat broiler.

Sprinkle cheddar over top of frittata and broil about 4 inches from heat until cheese is bubbling, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with parsley and cut into wedges.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 39

At 10 p.m. last night, after a long day of cooking and prep for my niece’s 2nd birthday party, I announced that I was tired and over cooking for a while. I told Brandon if he wanted breakfast this morning he would have to brave the icy road conditions to go get bagels. And then I woke up and found myself in the kitchen making muffins and a frittata. Guess I just needed a good night’s sleep to turn my attitude around!

We got several inches of snow/ice in Charlotte this weekend. That pretty much means that normal life comes to a halt in the South. The roads are super icy and I was worried that the birthday party would be cancelled. They decided to go ahead and have it so I spent all of yesterday preparing the butterfly cupcakes, ham and cheddar pretzel bites and fruit skewers. Blog updates to come soon with the butterfly cupcakes and pretzel bites. Cannot wait to share the cupcakes – they came out better than I hoped and were a huge hit!

I took yesterday as a rest day – the weather was terrible and I had so much cooking to do. We took Sullie for a walk this morning. She had so much fun playing in the snow. This afternoon I went to my favorite yoga class at Charlotte Yoga. Just the best way to wrap up the weekend and get my mind ready for the week ahead.

I made a lot of modifications to the Applesauce Spice muffins. The original recipe called for almost a stick and a half of butter. That just was not happening this morning! I ended up using about 4 tablespoons of  butter (half a stick) and subbing 1/3 cup of plain yogurt for the rest of the butter. Also, I used half wheat flour and reduced the sugar. Felt much better about eating two of these delicious muffins this morning with those changes. They are tender, not too sweet and have a great apple spice flavor. A great way to mix up my normal banana muffin routine! The recipe below is my modification so check out the link below for the original recipe.

Applesauce Spice Muffins
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2003)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

FOR THE MUFFINS
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup pecans or walnuts (3 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped

FOR THE TOPPING
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preaheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 12-muffin pan with cooking spray or cupcake liners.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar and yogurt until well-combined. Slowly stir in butter, whisking until mixture is creamy. Stir in applesauce, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Stir in nuts and divide batter among muffin cups.

Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins. Bake about 20 minutes, until tops are puffed and golden. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 33

Greetings from Mema’s house! We arrived last night around 9 and were starving. Lucky for us, Mema had made cabbage rolls “deconstructed,” rice and green beans. So good and comforting – totally hit the spot. Finished dinner off with some ooey gooey bars (which I have had TOO many of while we’ve been here) and then fell into bed stuffed and exhausted.

This morning we enjoyed some of this Pear Cranberry Cake for breakfast along with a  fresh orange/grapefruit mixture. After breakfast, I headed upstairs to do a Dave Farmar power yoga podcast. I set up a space heater and felt right at home with my yoga practice! After yoga I was ready for lunch. I whipped up a potato/veggie/turkey kilebasa soup that Mema wanted to try while she made some pimento cheese. The soup was perfect for the rainy, cool day and Mema’s pimento cheese is always a hit! Of course I had to finish it off with another ooey gooey bar.

After lunch I decided it would be a good idea to demonstrate some yoga poses to Mema and practice tripod headstands. Yeah, maybe not the best idea after my big lunch. :oops:

After a lazy afternoon of getting Mema’s Christmas Nook set up and playing Scrabble, Brandon and I picked up a Mellow Mushroom pizza for dinner. Mellow Mushroom was our favorite pizza in college but they don’t have one in Charlotte. It was a yummy treat. They have the BEST dough!

Mema had a piece of the Pear Cranberry Cake for dessert. Overall I was pleased with it but I definitely thought it could have used more cranberries. The cranberry to pear ratio didn’t seem quite right. Also, the original recipe calls for a glaze but since we were traveling with the cake, I left it off. Good thing I did because Mema says she much prefers cakes without glazes. I thought the pears were a nice change of pace from your traditional apple cake.

We’re heading home tomorrow. I’m hoping to get a nice run in and attack some leftovers from the weekend before we leave!

Pear Cranberry Cake
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 2009)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Bosc pears (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup cranberries (thawed if frozen)

FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 (3-inch-long) cinnamon sticks

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a bundt or angel food cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium high speed until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and mix in pears and cranberries. Once combined, slowly mix in flour mixture until all flour has been incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Cool in pan 30 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon sticks and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Cool glaze 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks, then pour glaze over cake, letting some drip down sides.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 32

It’s been a busy week! I’m so looking forward to the weekend. We are heading to Georgia to visit my grandmother – can’t wait to see her! Growing up and in college I was usually able to visit once every week or two. Since graduating college, we’ve lived 4+ hours away so we don’t get down there nearly as much as we’d like to.

One of my favorite things my grandmother made growing up was French toast. It was a breakfast treat when I visited! I made an overnight French toast last weekend for breakfast. We usually try to have more traditional, sit down breakfasts on the weekends. This recipe is great because it’s very simple, requires minimal prep work and results in a nice Sunday breakfast.

Tonight’s been busy, busy trying to prep for our visit. I taught BodyPump at the Y after work. It was my first night teaching at the Y. I’m so excited to finally have my own class! I taught in Birmingham and have been waiting for a class to open up here.  I’m teaching twice a week – Monday mornings at 6 (eek!) and Thursday evenings.

I have a Cranberry Pear Cake in the oven (will be blogged about soon!) to take down to my grandmonther’s. I always like to take a treat :) I’m heading to yoga tomorrow morning to get one last class in before we leave. I will most likely miss my Sunday class that I always attend but Mema’s worth it!

Overnight Baked French Toast
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 (13-14 inch) long loaf soft Italian or French bread)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons butter) softened
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar

Maple syrup
Powdered sugar

Directions:

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cut 12 diagonal slices of bread. Reserve ends for another use (I made croutons for our salads this week). Generously butter one side of each piece of bread. Arrange bread buttered sides up in one layer in prepared dish. It will be a pretty tight fit.

Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until combined. Pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bring soaked bread to room temperature. Sprinkle bread with sugar and bake until puffed and golden, about 20-25 mintues. Serve immediately sprinkled with powdered sugar and with maple syrup.

Yield: 6 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 27

I love, love, love banana bread and banana muffins – one of my favorite things to bake! So naturally, I had to try Gourmet’s Banana Bread recipe for 68 Days of Gourmet. I usually just make a small batch of banana muffins because I rarely have three ripe bananas on hand. But a couple weeks ago I found myself with three ripe bananas and knew it was the perfect opportunity to make this bread.

We enjoyed this banana bread but decided that our favorite recipe is still Cooking Light’s Classic Banana Bread. The Gourmet recipe is very moist and has a great banana flavor but I think the Cooking Light recipe produces a more tender cake with a nice crust.

I sliced this bread into individual slices, wrapped and froze them for a great breakfast on the go. I just pop it in the microwave at work for 20 seconds or so and I have warm homemade banana bread for breakfast!

Check out my other banana muffins:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Easy Banana Muffins
Banana Nutella Muffins

Banana Bread
(Recipe source Gourmet, August 2003)

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups coarsely mashed very ripe bananas (6 large)
1/4 cup crème fraîche, sour cream or plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cups walnuts (4 ounces), toasted and chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 (9 x 5) loaf pans.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture is thick and pale and forms a ribbon when paddle is lifted, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add oil in a slow stream. Then mix in bananas, creme fraiche (or sour cream or yogurt) and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and walnuts until just combined.

Divide batter between loaf pans, spreading evenly. Bake until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center  comes out clean, about 60-75 minutes.

Cool loaves in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Yield: 2 loaves

*Note: I halved the recipe for 1 loaf.

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