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Posts tagged ‘breakfast’

Crepes

There's hope!

This photo has little to do with today’s post but I did want to share it to give hope to my fellow Portland-area gardeners. My tomatoes are really ripening and delicious!

So, I eat too quickly. I have ever since I can remember. I’m not sure whether it’s because I grew up in a large family and there was always a rush to get seconds before it was all gone or not. As you well know my mother is a good cook which meant we–us children, my father and whatever exchange student or visitor was at the table–always wanted more. I’d like to think I’ve slowed down a little bit over the years but it is something I really have to work on. I don’t like inhaling my dinner yet I often do, lately maybe even more now having a young child since meals aren’t quite as peaceful as they once were.

As involved as I am in Slow Food (even though we are NOT about cooking or eating slowly!) you’d think I’d ease up a bit and appreciate and savor meals more. The other problem with dinner is that by the time we sit down to eat, I’m already half full. I taste the food I make as I prepare it and I emphasize this almost more than anything else in the classes I teach. So with all that tasting and with my usually being really hungry by the time I’m putting dinner together, I taste a little more generously than I would need to.  Now it might follow that since I’m half-full already I would really not need to eat quickly when we actually sit down, but alas, this is not a rational issue. It’s funny how irrational I (we all?) can be about our food preferences, habits, quirks. . .. A topic maybe for another post.

Crepes sprinkled with cheese and a little cream about to go in the oven

In any case, a dinner I made last week inspired this confession. It was one of those truly last-minute what-do-I make-for-dinner? evenings. I looked around the fridge and the garden and came up with crepes filled with a mix of lots of onions, a few diced tomatoes and generous sprinkling of thyme that I stewed together for about 15 minutes. I didn’t taste the filling very often but the crepes were the problem. You know the first crepe always falls apart and another was just too thin to hold up, so hungry as I was at 6pm, I ate both of those mishaps flavored with the tomato bits clinging to the side of the stewed veggie pan.

I filled the rest of the crepes with the onions and tomatoes, sprinkled each with a bit of Asiago Stella (my regular aged, grating cheese I use instead of Parmesan–much cheaper and very tasty and similar enough to fool some folks–and available at Pastaworks and City Market). I packed them in a casserole dish, sprinkled the whole thing with more cheese and drizzled on about 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and baked the whole thing for about 20 minutes until heated through and the cheese was melted and bubbling. It was a really good dinner! Despite all my snacking I managed to enjoy it and the green salad we had on the side very  much and may even repeat it.

That’s the funny thing about this cook-with-what-you-have method. I find myself inventing things that sometimes turn out really well but then I rarely repeat them. The blog is a good tool for cataloging these though and in choosing to share it with you all I will also remind  myself to repeat and adapt this as the months go by. I’m thinking that they would be equally good with a mix of winter squash and leeks (one of my favorite fall/winter veggies combos); or caramelized onions and sausage; or sweet versions with stewed apples and/or plums with a bit of ginger and cinnamon. . . .you get the drift.  Oh and I did make enough crepe batter so that we had the leftover crepes for breakfast with greek yogurt and strawberry jam. So I got two meals in one this time.

I don’t think you need a recipe for the filling, just remember to taste for salt add more herbs or a little lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if it’s bland. But here’s my crepe recipe. This will make about 15-18, 8-9 inch crepes.

Crepes

4 eggs

3 cups whole milk (2% works in a pinch)

1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons melted butter

pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for about 15 seconds, scrape down the sides of the blender and blend again briefly until smooth. Let sit on the counter for half an hour (or in the fridge for longer and up to a day or so) if you have the time, otherwise, start cooking. I use a non-stick crepe pan but a well seasoned cast iron pan works well and you get more of a fore-arm workout:) like my mother! For the first crepe I add a little bit of oil or butter but after that it never needs any (especially with the non-stick) since it has butter in the batter. Ladle in about 1/3 cup of batter and lift the pan off the heat and rotate and jiggle the pan until the batter more-or-less evenly coats the surface. Cook briefly on both sides until golden around the edge and in spots. Stack them on a plate (and don’t bother separating them with wax paper or some such if you’re not going to use them immediately). I’ve never had a problem getting them apart again.

Fill the crepes, sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with cream and bake at 400 degrees, if you’re in a hurry as I usually am, for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Happy cooking and (slow) eating!

P.S. I may not blog for the next 10 days or so but will resurface after my brother’s wedding. I did just buy 7-dozen eggs, that’s 84 eggs, which will be turned into deviled eggs next week. Photos will be taken and posted . . . .

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Ratatouille

This is not the correct ratio of ingredients for ratatouille but I was in such a rush to make the dish that I did not take any photos beforehand and this is all I had on hand this morning.

I had no particular intention of writing about ratatouille but I returned from the farmers market last Saturday around 12:30 (sleepy child on the bike) with a single-minded focus on ratatouille. I postponed the nap routine long enough to get the peppers and onions sauteing in one pan and the eggplant in another. I chopped the zucchini and left my husband with instructions to finish the eggplant and start the squash while I did the nap routine. Ellis went to sleep easily and I had that ratatouille done in another 20 minutes or so!

My husband and I sat down with a glass of red wine and our ratatouille at 1:15 on the sunny porch. I probably hadn’t eaten this dish since last October and was just overcome by the perfection of it, as I am every year.  For about two months every summer/fall all the ingredients for this classic french vegetable dish are available and even abundant. And the combination of flavors and textures is just unbeatable.

I won’t even attempt any claim of authentic preparation since I think it’s one of those dishes that has as many versions as cooks making it, but I am a believer in my technique and will encourage you to give it a try. It may seem like a lot of steps but it really comes together quickly and just entails a bit of chopping, none of which has to be terribly precise for this dish. And it’s even better the next day and is always best at room temperature. I, however, did not take the time to wait for that on Saturday . . . .

The next morning, having no bread in the house, I decided to make Ratatouille Breakfast Burritos. I scrambled a few eggs, chopped a bunch of parsley and grated a bit of cheese (feta would have been good too I think) and rolled the whole thing up in a whole-wheat tortilla. They were unbelievably good!

Ratatouille

Quantities listed here are just guidelines so use what you have but you want to have more or less equal amounts of zucchini, eggplant, onion, and pepper, a bit less tomato and just a sprinkling of herbs and garlic at the end.

3 sweet red peppers (or 6-7 skinny Jimmy Nardello peppers–pictured above, now available in the Portland area farmers markets), cut into about 1 inch chunks

1 small-medium white or yellow onion or Walla Walla Sweet, cut into 1/2 dice

1 medium-large (or several small) eggplants, cut into  1/2 inch dice

2 medium zucchini or other summer squash such as patty pan or yellow crookneck, cut into slices or 1/2 inch dice

2 medium tomatoes, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 or so leaves of basil or  tablespoon of fresh oregano (or a combination), finely chopped

salt

olive oil

Heat 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil (don’t skimp on the oil in this dish!) each in two large saute pans over high heat. Add the onions and peppers to one of the pans. Sprinkle generously with salt. Add the eggplant to the other and do the same. Stir well to coat veggies with a little oil. Continue cooking over fairly high heat, stirring occasionally. You want to soften the vegetables and browning them a little is fine. Turn down to med-high and continue cooking until they’re soft. Turn off the peppers and onions but leave in the pan. Remove eggplant and set aside on a plate, add another tablespoon of olive oil to that pan and add zucchini, salt well and cook, stirring frequently until they’re soft. Add eggplant, zucchini and diced tomato to the onions and peppers. Over high heat bring it to a boil–the tomatoes will give off a bit of liquid–reduce to medium-high and cook for about 5-7 minutes until much of the liquid from the tomatoes has been cooked off. Add the garlic and herbs, cook for about 2 more minutes. Turn off heat, adjust for salt, drizzle generously with good extra virgin olive oil and voila!

Best warm or at room temperature but I don’t blame you if can’t resist digging right in. Wonderful with good, crusty bread, over pasta, with eggs, a green salad, etc.

P.S. I’ve just planned and posted my October and November class schedule including some soup classes, an everyday baking class, a fall preserving one focused on tomato and onion jams, etc.

Weekday Breakfast and Memories of Summer

We u-picked a lot of berries last summer–strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and marionberries. For the first time, my son was old enough to toddle among the rows, eat berries and amuse himself (for the most part – I did have to cut one trip short because he was “harassing” another little boy). And I took full advantage! We picked 25 lbs of gorgeous and perfectly ripe strawberries one day. I hadn’t really thought through how I was going to process them all and didn’t have time for much. I rinsed them, hulled them and packed them in 1 quart yogurt containers and tossed them in the freezer. I thought I’d make jam or ice cream or sauce when I had more time. Well I did the same with the blueberries and the raspberries. I never made any of those other things except for a few batches of jam. So my generous stash of frozen berries has lasted me this long. I opened my last quart of blueberries and strawberries this morning for one of our favorite breakfasts.

Throughout the late fall and winter I’ve cooked a pot of steel-cut oats (I soak the oats over night which makes cooking them in the morning a quick affair) and topped them with frozen berries and maple syrup. It is perfect in so many ways. The berries thaw and soften in the steaming cereal and cool the oats down to a perfect temperature. The berries literally taste like they were just picked. As corny as it sounds, every bite is a vivid flashback to summer–the smells, the warmth, the dirt and berry juice under your fingernails.. .. it is lovely, warm, and nourishing. And a wonderful way to start the day.

This is also an incredibly inexpensive breakfast. You can’t beat the price and quality of fresh (frozen) u-picked fruit and steel-cut oats in bulk cost next to nothing. And then you can splurge on good maple syrup. All of this to say, if you have the chance to u-pick berries this summer and have a freezer, pick lots and lots and don’t feel badly about not processing them. You will enjoy the fruits of your labor (pun intended!) all winter long. I will remind you of this come June and we’re in the swing of berry season.

Steel Cut Oats with Berries

2 cups steel-cut oats

1/2 tsp of salt

water

Fresh or frozen berries

maple syrup (or brown sugar or honey)

The night before you’re planning on making this, put the oats in a bowl and cover with a couple inches of water. By morning the oats will have absorbed most if not all of it. Transfer the oats to medium-sized saucepan, add the salt and another 2 cups of water, cover, bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes. If you forget to soak them you’ll just have to cook them for about 30 -40 minutes with much more water in the morning.

Top with the fruit and maple syrup, stir well and eat!