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Mini Breakfast Bakes

Posted on: Friday, January 23, 2015

For Christmas, Marni and I were giddy with excitement when we received twin Mini Cocottes from our mom. While my cadmium red duo looks absolutely adorable positioned on my kitchen window sill, I instantly started brainstorming how to use the vessels in cooking as well. Do I go sweet or savory? Hot or cold? Breakfast or dinner? 
Whenever I am perplexed, I think back to my travels for inspiration. While living in Spain for the first time in college, I lived with a host family that introduced me to classic Central Spanish cuisine. One of my favorite dishes was my Señora’s pisto. It’s a Spanish take on ratatouille with a thick, tomato-based sauce mixed with stewed vegetables. Pisto is commonly served either over a bed of white rice or with an egg cracked on top and baked. To mix up my morning routine, I spooned the pisto with some spicy chorizo sausage into my mini cocottes, cracked an egg on top of each one, and covered the bubbling beauties with Manchego cheese.
Baked Eggs over Pisto with Chorizo and Manchego

2 T EVOO
1 link chorizo, diced
1 medium-sized Spanish onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large zucchini, diced
1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
1/3 c tomato sauce (I used Newman’s Own) 

1 roasted red pepper, diced (I used canned)
1/4 c water
1 T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper throughout
4 large eggs
1 c Manchego cheese, grated
fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish


On medium-high, heat the EVOO in a large skillet. Add the chorizo and brown for 2 to 3 minutes. Next add the garlic, onion, zucchini and sautee for an additional 5 minutes until tender. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, water and vinegar and stir to combine. Reduce the temperature to low and simmer for 20 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more water. Stir in the salt and pepper to taste. While the pisto is stewing, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spoon about 1/4 of the pisto mixture into each mini cocotte. Using the back of a spoon, create a well in the middle of each cocotte. Crack an egg and carefully drop the raw egg into the center of the hole. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Manchego cheese. Repeat with remaining 3 cocottes. Cook for 15 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are set and opaque. The yolk will remain somewhat runny. Sprinkle with flat leaf parsley and serve. Serves 4.

This recipe can also be prepared in one large skillet and spooned out. I enjoyed the baked eggs for breakfast but they could definitely be served for any meal!

A Fresh Start to 2015

Posted on: Monday, January 5, 2015

In the spirit of healthy living and continued celebrations in 2015, I gathered a few family members for an interactive summer roll-making party. Fresh summer rolls are one of my all time favorite poppable bites and always provide a burst of clean, fresh flavors. The Vietnamese version gỏi cuốn are steamed wraps filled with various ingredients like pork, shrimp, mango, cabbage, and Vermicelli rice noodles and are served alongside simple dipping sauces. I had never attempted to make the rolled wonders on my own, but Kara urged me to give them a try when she had the opportunity to learn how to make them from a neighbor from Southeast Asia.
With shopping list in hand, I hopped across Mass. Ave. to my beloved Asian market, H Mart and grabbed the rice noodles and rice paper rounds. I prepared all of the filling ingredients including an array of vibrant matchstick veggies ahead of time and arranged them on small plates. I also set out soy sauce, Sriracha, hoisin and a spicy peanut sauce for dipping.
Assembling our round rice paper canvases was a blast. The improvement from everyone’s first rolled creation to their last was staggering - even our brother James got the hang of it! While sipping cocktails, we quickly filled a platter with the soft, translucent rolls ready for dipping. They disappeared pretty quickly soon after.
Fresh Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/3 c peanut butter (I used Jiffy’s All Natural)
2 T soy sauce
2 T Sriracha (add more if you want more of a kick)
1-3 T hot water
chopped peanuts for garnish

Fresh Summer Rolls
4 oz (1/2 package) Vermicelli rice noodles
1 package rice paper wrappers
2 carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks
2 cucumbers, seeded, peeled, cut into matchsticks
1 mango cut into matchsticks
2 avocados, sliced thin
1/2 head red cabbage or romaine lettuce, shredded
1 bunch fresh mint or cilantro leaves
1 lb large shrimp, cooked, cut in half

In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter, soy sauce, and Sriracha. By tablespoons, whisk in the hot water to create a smooth sauce. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve. Can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.

Next, prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain, and run under cold water to cool.

Fill a large bowl or deep plate with hot water for softening the rice paper wrappers. Put a rice paper wrapper on a plate in front of each guest. One at a time, dip one of the rice paper wrappers into the hot water. Allow the round to soak for 10-15 seconds until soft and pliable. Remove from the water carefully and set back onto the prep plate.

Place 1 or 2 strips of each vegetable, a couple pieces of shrimp, a few sprigs of mint or cilantro, and a small handful of noodles on the bottom third of the wrapper (be careful not to overfill them as they'll be difficult to roll). Pull the bottom edge of the wrap tightly over the filling, and then fold over the 2 sides. Roll tightly from the bottom to the top until the entire wrapper is a cylinder. Cut in half, place on a platter and enjoy with the Spicy Peanut Sauce and any other favorites.
These fresh appetizers are not only addicting, they are nutritious too. They can be made gluten free, vegetarian or vegan. I think the next time I might try a dessert spin!

Chocolate for Breakfast

Posted on: Monday, December 29, 2014

After a holiday week full of ham biscuits, pimento cheese and sweet tea down in Richmond, I found myself with an abundance of one of my favorite Christmas stocking stuffers, Lindt chocolate truffles. While I enjoy eating the popable creamy treats as is, I decided to use the rich and creamy chocolate orbs in a sweet breakfast dish. Yes, chocolate for breakfast.
I was inspired by my time in Amsterdam where chocolate sprinkles were a common topping on buttered crusty bread. I sprinkled a layer of the chopped Lindt milk chocolate truffle bits in between two french toast-style slices of bread. Paired with a cup of coffee, these chocolate sandwiches are a devilish start to the day.
Chocolate Truffle-filled French Toast
3 eggs
1 c whole milk
2 T orange juice
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt

8 slices of sliced white bread, crusts removed
12 milk chocolate Lindt chocolate truffles, chopped
4 T unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar

In a large shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange juice, cinnamon and salt.
Lay 4 of the pieces of bread on your working surface. Spread the chopped Lindt chocolate bits evenly atop each slice of bread. Cover chocolate-topped slice with another piece of bread.Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 T butter to the pan.

One at a time, carefully dip the first side and second of each sandwich each into the egg mixture. Once the skillet is hot, place two sandwiches into the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side until the sides are golden and slightly crisp and the chocolate is melted inside.. Remove the toasted sandwiches from the skillet and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining butter and sandwiches. Cut each crispy grilled sandwich on a bias and dust with Confectioners’ sugar. Serves 2-4.

Breakfast of champions! You could also cut the toasted sandwiches into smaller squares for a decadent dessert too.

Peppermint Bark Ice Cream Brownie Sandwiches

Posted on: Monday, December 22, 2014


When it’s chilly outside, sometimes a chilly treat is all you need. In the arena of small batch local vendors out there, one standout in particular is The Galley Ice Cream in Cambridge, MA. Founder, Kelly Williamson started churning her quality and creative ingredients in her galley-style kitchen almost a year ago and has been playing around with various techniques and flavor combinations ever since. Kara and I are thrilled to feature the ice cream of a like-minded entrepreneur who is passionate about her craft, influenced greatly by her surroundings, and coincidentally grew up in our small town, Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Kelly’s inspiration for such standout flavors as Coconut Cajeta, Banoffee Pie, Malted Vanilla Bean, Lemon Curd and Magic Bar comes from a myriad of places. She looks to her friends and family, various articles, television shows and even daydreams (Kara and I can relate to that!) for ideas. One night in particular, Kelly couldn’t sleep so tuned into The Mind of a Chef series on PBS and April Bloomfield was making an English classic, Banoffee Pie. She instantly grabbed her notebook from her nightstand and jotted down a rough recipe.
When Kelly begins the ice cream-making process, it usually takes about two days. On the first day, Kelly will start with the base and prepare any of the mix-ins. The base then chills overnight so it can age and develop flavor. On the second day, churning begins and takes under an hour, and then the custard goes back into a very cold freezer to harden for at least a few hours longer. Once the waiting game is over, it’s time to delve in. I had the pleasure of sampling Peppermint Bark this past weekend.
At a friend’s holiday party in Cambridge, in lieu of beverages, I decided to bring some of The Galley Ice Cream-inspired treats. The Peppermint Bark flavor is super creamy with a minty twang, rosy hue, and big chunks of chocolate peppermint bark. Since peppermint and chocolate are a dynamic duo, I sandwiched the ice cream in between rich layers of fudgy brownies. Kelly’s ice cream truly stole the show at the party.
Peppermint Bark Ice Cream Brownie Sandwiches

2 (8 x 8) pans of baked brownies, uncut (I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe here)
2 pints The Galley Ice Cream's Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, slightly softened
Chopped Candy Canes, for serving

Slide the brownies out of their pans. Spoon the Peppermint Bark Ice Cream on top of one of the brownies. With a knife or spatula, spread the ice cream evenly atop the entire brownie surface. Place the second set of uncut brownies on top of the ice cream layer and press down lightly. Wrap the layers in aluminum foil and return to the freezer for at least 1 hour. Remove the layers from the freezer, remove the aluminum foil, and with a sharp knife, cut the layers into thick squares. Dust with candy canes. Makes 22-24 ice cream sandwiches, depending upon your size squares.


To sample The Galley Ice Cream’s fun flavors, email thegalleyicecream@gmail.com to place an order or send a message via The Galley Ice Cream Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/thegalleyicecream).

Pumpkin Burrata Swirls

Posted on: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

While Kara hosted a wonderful Winter Wonderland gathering last weekend, I had a blast whipping up some holiday bites to accompany her festively-hued cocktails. Keeping in mind the party’s focus on chatting, nibbling, and sipping by the tree, I selected ingredients for finger-friendly hors d'oeuvres.

As Kara and I first discovered last spring when we arranged burrata over a pool of minty pea pesto, this cheese is above the rest. While the rich and creamy interior is stellar on its own, it is amplified when accompanied by crusty bread and sweet and savory seasonal flavors. Since I’m still on a pumpkin kick, I whipped up a pumpkin puree with touches of maple and cinnamon, spooned a pool onto a platter, placed the burrata beauty on top, and scattered some, salty, nutty pepitas all over. Our friends slathered the melding ingredients atop crispy toasts and eventually found no need for a knife, dipping the bread right into the swirled medley of flavors.

Maple Pumpkin Puree, Burrata and Pepitas

1 baguette cut into 1/4-inch slices
EVOO
1 (8 oz) burrata ball

Maple Pumpkin Puree
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 c pumpkin puree
3 T maple syrup
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

1/2 c Pepitas (pumpkin seeds, shelled), toasted

Preheat oven or grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with EVOO. Toast in the oven about 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cinnamon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Allow the puree to cool slightly and then pour in a thick, even layer on a serving platter.
Place the burrata ball on top of the pumpkin puree and sprinkle with pepita seeds. Arrange the toasts around the fancy cheese display and enjoy with a knife for spreading. Serves 6-8.

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