Archive for the ‘breakfast items’ Category

Who doesn’t love a popover? Bready and eggy at the same time, they are a delight. I’ve been playing around with a savory Dutch pancake for a while and could not seem to get it quite right. Then it dawned on me … Dutch pancakes are just popovers in bigger form so let’s just do popovers. I even have that damn pan around here somewhere and its clearly not getting enough use. Time to change that. 

Popovers are incredibly easy – a simple flour-egg-milk batter mixed up in a blender, very similar to a crepe batter. The pan is heated, a bit of oil goes in each cup, heated again and then filled with the batter to bake and puff and brown. Delicious. At first, I tried what I was doing with the Dutch pancake, adding ham and grated swiss cheese toward the end of baking. Just Ok. Certainly, these could be better.

I went off on a tangent and started thinking about croque monsieur – that crazy good French sandwich of bread, ham and gruyere blanketed in a rich creamy cheese sauce. It’s even better with a fried egg on top – a croque madame – completely over the top and mind boggling good. What if I put all that inside a popover? I could combine all these ideas and make a full meal in a pretty little package. This had potential.

First, I made the batter and let it rest for 30 minutes. Well first I dug out the popover pan and washed it. It has been a minute since it had seen daylight. Then I made a mornay sauce – a creamy bechamel with cheese – let it cool a little and put in in a piping bag thinking it would be easier to get it inside the baked popovers that way. (I was right.) Then I got my filling ingredients ready – diced some of the leftover Christmas ham I had in the freezer, grated the cheese, cracked some eggs into ramekins (again, for ease later) and preheated my pan.

When the popovers were mostly baked, I cut a hole in the top of each and filled them with a squirt of the sauce, a spoonful of ham, a spoonful of cheese and slipped that egg in. Baked for another 10 minutes. Perfection. 

They were delicious. Split open, a puddle of cheesy hammy egg yolk magic runs everywhere, begging to have the popover dragged through it all. It’s a self-contained bread and dip, all in one. This is a fantastic brunch dish and I’m wondering why I didn’t think of it sooner. If you want to do things ahead, I think you could bake the popovers up to that last 10 minutes a few hours ahead then fill and finish baking just before serving. I haven’t tried it but it sounds logical. The mornay sauce can for sure be made at least a day or two ahead and refrigerated (bring to room temp before using).

Do you need a popover pan? I’m going to say yes. Because the pan cavities are tall and narrow, allowing the batter to puff nice and tall, they have plenty of room for fillings. Could you use a muffin pan? Probably but they’d be smaller with less room for filling and would bake in less time. That said, I think it could work with that in mind.

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: OH MY GOODNESS. There’s something special about this one. It’s relatively easy for such a fancy little thing. A beautiful little brunch dish or a nice dinner. Yes it’s rich. Yes indeed and that’s the best part. If you’ve got some leftover ham tucked away, bring it out, grate some cheese and make yourself something special. 

fourteen years ago: Khachapuri (cheesy Georgian bread) 

thirteen years ago: Won Ton SoupBlood Orange Marmalade  

twelve years ago: Dark Chocolate TartChocolate Ganache Tart

eleven years ago: St. John Dark Chocolate Ice CreamChocolate Malt Pots de Crème

ten years ago: Chocolate Snack CakeChocolate Raspberry TartPeppermint Patty Brownies

nine years ago: Dulce de Leche FondueChocolate Linzer CookiesChocolate Crème Filled Cupcakes

eight years ago: Flourless Chocolate Cookies

seven years ago: Orange Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Candied ClementinesMexican Chocolate PoundcakeChocolate Mint Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

six years ago: Dark Chocolate PuddingChocolate Cardamom Shortbread Hearts

five years ago: Ethiopian Doro Wat (Spicy Chicken Stew) 

four years ago: Piggy Coconut Buns for Chinese New Year

three years ago: Dirty Chai Cookies

two years ago: Spicy MaPo Tofu Dumplings

last year: Small Batch Raspberry Rhubarb Jam

CROQUE MADAME POPOVERS – popover recipe adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe

Makes 6

for the popovers: 

1 cup whole milk 

2 large eggs 

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 

½ teaspoon kosher salt 

¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, optional

For the pan: 6 teaspoons vegetable oil 

for the mornay sauce: 

2 ¼ teaspoons unsalted butter

2 ¼ teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup whole milk

2 ounces grated swiss cheese, about ¾ cup

Good pinch each kosher salt and ground black pepper

1/3 cup diced cooked ham, about 2 ½ oz

1/3 cup finely grated swiss cheese, about 1 ¼ oz

6 large eggs

chopped chives for garnish

  1. For the popover batter: In a blender add the milk and eggs then the flour, salt and pepper and blend on a low speed until smooth, about 15-30 seconds. 
  2. Add the melted butter and blend for an additional few seconds. 
  3. Transfer to a two-cup measure or something similar with a spout, stir in the chives if using and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  4. For the mornay sauce: in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter then whisk in the flour to form a paste. 
  5. Continue to whisk for another 1 minute to cook out any raw flour flavor. 
  6. Whisk in milk until smooth and cook, whisking frequently, until sauce comes to a simmer and begins to thicken slightly. 
  7. Turn the heat off but leave the pot on the burner and slow whisk in the swiss cheese, a little at a time, until smooth. If needed, turn the burner back to low heat if needed to fully melt the cheese.
  8. Let cool a bit then transfer to a piping bag or a freezer type Ziploc bag and set aside. Can be made at least one day ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before proceeding.
  9. Crack the eggs into ramekins or small bowls to make it easy to pour them into the popovers. Set aside until needed.
  10. To cook the popovers: While the batter is resting, preheat the oven to 450°F along with the popover pan for at least 10 minutes. 
  11. Just before baking, remove the pan and add 1 teaspoon oil to each popover cup. 
  12. Return the pan to the oven for 2 minutes to heat the oil. 
  13. Remove the hot pan and evenly divide the batter among the six cups.
  14. Immediately return the filled pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 450°F. Do not open the oven. 
  15. After 20 minutes, rotate the pan and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until popovers are lightly golden brown.
  16. Remove the pan from the oven and make a small opening in the top of each popover with a paring knife.
  17. Snip the tip off the piping bag and pipe 1-2 tablespoons of the mornay sauce into each popover, then add about 1 tablespoon each of ham and grated cheese. Pour one egg into each opening and top with a pinch of cheese. You might have to make the openings a bit larger to accommodate the egg.
  18. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes until hot and bubbly and the egg is just cooked but still runny.
  19. Serve hot, split open and garnished with a pinch of chives.

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Biscuits are a long on-going thing with me. I never can seem to nail down exactly the one I want despite the fact that I make them regularly and have no less than 6 biscuit recipes posted here. Don’t get me wrong; I make delicious biscuits but I have this image in my head of what they should be, and I’ve only just realized that these ideals are formed by commercial biscuits – fast food or refrigerated tube kinds. Not sure that’s a good thing but it is what it is. It’s got to be the salt; the constant factor is these types of biscuits always tip the to the edge of saltiness. They might be tender or they might be flaky but they are always salty. As for the type of biscuit, I’m undecided. Should they be flaky, tender and buttery/salty, like a Popeye’s or McDonald’s biscuit? Or should they be layers piled upon layers, that you can pull apart in sheets like those Grands biscuits you get in the tubes? I’m not too sure how natural either are but the truth is I like both. While I don’t exactly want to recreate a mass produced biscuit, there are some elements I’d like to borrow. 

For years, I’ve adhered to the flaky type of biscuit where the dough is treated more so like a laminated dough – butter is rubbed in but left in pea size bits and the dough is folded, rolled and chilled a few times. It makes for a spectacularly flaky biscuit that is really nice but lacks the tenderness I sometimes crave. It’s also not a quick process. There are times when you just want warm biscuits without a whole lot of effort (um, this may be where the whack-a-tube types come in to play). I’d been reading about cream biscuits lately, where heavy cream is simply stirred into dry ingredients. Seemed easy enough, maybe too easy, so I tried it this weekend to learn more.

I’m lucky to have dear friends with a lake house and being a good guest, I usually bake a lot while there – quiche, brownies, pies, tarts. I decided to give these biscuits a try so at home, I measured all the dry ingredients into a Ziploc and threw it into my travel bag along with some heavy cream and a jar of homemade raspberry jam. A really easy breakfast, I thought. No mushing butter, no rounds of folding and rolling and chilling. Just dump and stir, and really, who doesn’t love a hot biscuit with butter and jam in the morning? Much to my delight, they were incredibly easy – I had hot biscuits on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Not expecting much from such a simple recipe I was thrilled at how tender and even a little flaky these were. But what really surprised me was how, even a few hours later, they remained tender. That is one of my biggest peeves with fresh biscuits – they’re really great right out of the oven but stale quickly. We had a few leftovers around lunch time, and they made a fantastic sandwich. That doesn’t always happen with biscuit leftovers.

Because I wanted them a bit butterier and yes, a tad saltier, I opted to brush the cut biscuits both before and after baking with a bit of melted butter and salt. I also gave the dough a few folds to increase the layers and flakiness. It’s very easy; once the dough comes together roll it about ½” thick and fold in half and do the same once more. This simple step made for a noticeable difference, a higher rise and took maybe an extra 2 minutes so I think it’s worth it. For a few, I sprinkled on some everything bagel spice in homage to a biscuit I had in Savannah last year from Back in the Day Bakery that I still dream about. That was one amazing biscuit. This wasn’t quite it, but it was certainly close. 

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: EXHALE. Fresh, hot biscuits in less than 30 minutes? You bet. This is one of those recipes that you can easily bake on a whim without much thought, given that you have heavy cream on hand of course. An absolute delight. Make these often and dazzle your friends and family. They’re great with butter and jam obviously but think bigger … they would be outstanding with a sausage gravy, would make a great topper on a chicken pot pie and split and stuffed with whipped cream and strawberries, you have a deceptively easy dessert. So there you go.

Other biscuit recipes: Dooky Chase’s Sweet Potato BiscuitsCacio e Pepe BiscuitsGuinness Cheddar BiscuitsFlaky Buttermilk BiscuitsSour Cherry Cobbler with Biscuit ToppingPeach Blackberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Drop Biscuit Topping

eleven years agoLattice Love, Lessons in Pie CrustSquash & Onion Tart

ten years agoRadish ButterRoasted Beets w/Whipped Goat Cheese

nine years agoConcord Grape Pie & Purple Cow Pie Shakes

eight years agoKale & Squash Salad

seven years agoMuhammara – the best sauce you’ve never heard of

six years agoSeeded Crackers

five years agoSimple Pear Tart

four years agoFinnish Pulla (Finnish Cardamom Braid)

three years agoConfetti Pork Stew

two years agoSausage & Cheddar Breakfast Scones

last yearMinestrone


Makes about 12 2 ½” biscuits

An important thing with biscuits is to minimize the scraps – the first roll will produce the prettiest biscuits with the best rise and straightest sides. While I use a round cutter here, I will often make square biscuits to keep scraps to a minimum.

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 ½ cups heavy cream

  1. In a small pan (or in the microwave) melt the butter and add the 1/8 teaspoon salt for brushing later. Set aside until needed.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and sugar.
  3. Add heavy cream and stir gently with a rubber spatula until dry ingredients are just moistened.
  4. Gently squeeze and press the dough in the bowl, picking up all the loose, dry bits.
  5. Turn out dough onto a lighted floured work surface and lightly flour the top. 
  6. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to a ½” thickness, fold in half and roll again to a ½” thickness.
  7. Fold once more and roll to a ½” thickness. If the dough sticks to the work surface or the rolling pin at any time, lightly flour. 
  8. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits as closely together as possible to minimize scraps and place about 1” apart on a parchment lined sheet pan. 
  9. Gather together scraps, pat down, give them a fold or two as above, roll to ½” thickness and cut out more biscuits. 
  10. You can roll the scraps maybe one more time but this biscuit will not be as pretty as previous ones. It’s a good one for the cook to snack on.
  11. Brush the tops with the melted butter (and sprinkle with everything spice, if you like).
  12. Bake the biscuits in a 400°F oven until risen and golden, about 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. 
  13. Brush immediately with the remaining melted butter.
  14. Let cool slightly and serve warm or room temperature. Keep any leftovers tightly wrapped but biscuits are best consumed not long after baking.

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It seems I am incapable of cooking for one person. I try, I do, but this fact has become abundantly clear during this quarantine and I am overrun with leftovers. Browning bananas, pieces of half used vegetables, staling loaves of bread, and plastic deli containers of semi-identifiable ingredients are taking over my kitchen. I don’t like leftovers so I’ve taken on the challenge of turning them into something new. Last night’s pasta, beans and greens became today’s lunchtime soup. Dinner leftovers were chopped up, encased in pie dough and reinvented as lovely turnovers. Last week’s excess cinnamon rolls became the weekend’s bread pudding. It’s been working out pretty well. Necessity is the mother of invention after all. The other day I found a plastic wrapped chunk of cornbread, hidden behind an enormous bowl of oranges. Wonderful. Forgot about that. It was fine, but stale. I thought about making stuffing to go alongside a roast chicken but bread pudding has been on my mind. What if I turned this stale hunk into a strada, a savory pudding with whatever I could wrangle up in the fridge? I could use those little bits of whatnot tucked in plastic wrap and Ziploc baggies and make something delicious. This was how a cornbread pudding was born.


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I am baking like crazy these days, fortunate that I’m well stocked with flour, sugar and yeast. I’ve been filling my days with complicated baking projects, enjoying the feel of a rising dough between my fingers, delighting in a beautiful sourdough loaf as it emerges from the oven, making small persnickety little turnovers and pasta things that take time and concentration. It’s keeping me busy, my mind active, provides a great sense of accomplishment and delivers a steady stream of delicious, comforting things. The only problem is … it’s just so much. I’ve given some away but that gets tricky in these days of social distancing and my freezer is beyond capacity. So I’ve turned to another method – small batch baking.


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It seems we’re all giving sourdough a whirl during these strange times, myself included. The first thing you have to do is get a starter going. It’s relatively simple, just flour and water, flour and water, flour and water for several days until the wild yeasts take over and really get going. Inevitably you will run into a puzzling situation … what to do with the discard. Once you have a lively starter, you pour off half before you feed it – either to bake with or to do something else. This bit is known as the discard or cast off. If you bake every day it isn’t a really a problem but I suspect the majority of us don’t. Here’s where the challenge comes in as dealing with the discard can be a whole project unto itself.


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Every year, I invite friends over to celebrate something I call “Polish Easter”. It’s a made up holiday of mine, planned loosely around the Easter holiday when schedules allow and is primarily a reason to eat the Polish foods of my childhood. It also happens to be my favorite Sunday Lunch of the year. I put on some polka tunes, pile the table high with old and new favorites – sausage and sauerkraut, stuffed cabbage, special breads, various vegetable dishes, the traditional butter lamb and of course the reason we’re all here: pierogies. This year it was too late to purchase a butter lamb so I made one for the first time, calling upon years of watching my father carve one out of stick of butter and with the help of several YouTube videos. It was spectacular. My Polish Easter was also later this year than usual due to busy schedules and happened to fall on May 5th so I called the event “Pierogi de Mayo”. Because of course I did.


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What’s the difference between a biscuit and a scone? I’ve always thought of scones more on the sweeter side, and a biscuit as more savory but then there’s savory scones and sweet biscuits so what the hell? They have basically the same ingredients – flour, leavening, fat, dairy – but the difference lies in texture. Scones can be a bit heavier and crumbly whereas biscuits tend to be lighter and flaky. But then … not all biscuits are flaky and yes, scones can sometimes be a bit flaky too. Back and forth, back and forth. Ugh. This author has rather strong opinions about it and I must say, I agree.


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A few years ago I met a friend for brunch at The Publican, a great restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop. Chef Paul Kahan knows what’s what; his restaurants are always outstanding. We scanned the menu and settled on a few savory dishes to share but we kept coming back to the waffle. We wanted it all so she smartly suggested we order the savory dishes to start and split the waffle for dessert. It was the best decision ever made.


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Hey! So I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, but nothing really blog worthy. More so, just some old favorites, many that I’ve already posted. With Easter coming up, there are some good things in the archives for your holiday brunches and dinners so let’s recap today.


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This time of the year, I’m all about a cider donut. Much to my delight, they start popping up in shops, grocery stores and farmers markets for the next few weeks. Sometimes, when particularly motivated, I’ll make my own but I generally prefer to leave the frying to outside sources. This past weekend my friend Pete had his annual Harvest Party at his Michigan orchard and I did a little apple picking. It didn’t seem like a lot of apples at the time but … it was a lot of apples. Shocker. I came home and started combing my files for apple recipes. When I got to donuts, I knew I was onto something because while I love cider donuts I might love apple fritters more. It was apple fritter time.


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