When I was little, I had a restaurant. It was only open on Sundays and only opened for my mother. It had a fancy name, Chez a la Me and fancy décor. My sister and I hung a Strawberry Shortcake sheet set from the ceiling. When you were in front of the sheet set, you were in the front of the house and were whether a waiter or a hostess. It was easy to tell the difference between the two because not only did we have name tags bearing a man’s name (which was weird I know) but when you were the waiter, you were forced to don a construction paper mustache.

The back of the house contained the crazy chef, which was always me. I would often shout during the cooking process at my imaginary kitchen staff. I was heavily into Yan Can Cook and though screaming was part of the culinary process. We had a full menu, written in crayon, complete with all the fancy names of dishes I heard Julie Childs say; however, we were often out of everything except scrambled eggs. Often times they came with cheese and sometimes they remained un-scrambled and came in a buttery toast frame instead. That was our most famous dish.

We were very popular. Every table in our restaurant was taken, the minute we got my mom out of bed and sat her in it. Chez a la Me was open for many years. Eventually the décor changed, the mustaches were left behind, and the food got much better, but through the years, our mother and only customer (of course non-paying) remain constant. So thanks mom for sitting at our table and just as I promised at 8, I will never tack a sheet into the ceiling again unless we are building a fort.

Mother’s Day Brunch

This year for Mother’s Day, I opened the restaurant one more time and cooked for two important people in my life. And unlike the early years of Chez a la Me, the food was not only edible it was great. The recipes we served are listed below.

Fruit BruschettaFruit Brus

From the fabulous blog The Way The Cookie Crumbles; Her blog is an inspiration and her comparison posts are the greatest. You must check it out.

Makes 16 bruschetta

16 ½-inch-thick slices crusty Italian or French bread
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1½ tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons cinnamon, or to taste
4 Kiwis
2 banana, cut into fine dice
10 large strawberries, cut into fine dice

2 tablespoons of orange juice
3 to 4 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
honey for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Arrange bread slices in one layer in a shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Brush toasts with butter on one side. Toasts may be made 1 week ahead and kept in an airtight container.

In a small bowl stir together 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over buttered side of each toast. Broil toast about 5 inches from heat under preheated broiler 30 seconds, or until tops are bubbling, and cool.

In a bowl stir together fruit, the orange juice and remaining ½ tablespoon sugar and mound about 1 tablespoon on each toast. Top each toast with about 1 teaspoon yogurt and drizzle with honey.

I did not eat these because of my texture issues with bananas but everyone who did really enjoyed them. The thought the flavors complimented each other very well and it was a semi-healthy way to start the meal.Hash

Potato Hash

This recipe comes from my boyfriend Tyler Florence. It was part of a whole recipe for salmon hash with a poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The potato hash was perfect. The potatoes were crisp and the onion and the red pepper gave them dish some complexity. I made have also added some crumbled bacon to the mix.

About 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 russet potatoes, rinsed in water and cut into large dice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, finely chopped

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once heated add the potatoes and shallow-fry for about 8 minutes until evenly browned on all sides. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl.

Remove most of the oil, leaving only a couple of tablespoons. Place over medium heat and add the sliced onions, sliced peppers and garlic and allow to caramelize. Add the green onions, thyme leaves, paprika and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Add the potatoes back to the pan and stir to combine.rolls

Honey Yeast Rolls

Come from Annie’s Eats. I cannot say enough about her blog. There are some many great recipes; hers is often one of my go-tos. These rolls were airy and delicious. The honey made them just sweet enough. I make them all the time and they are always a huge hit.

Honey Yeast Rolls
Ingredients:
2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 cup warm water (105°-115° F)
¼ cup honey
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups bread flour
vegetable cooking spray
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp honey

Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water.  Add the honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well.  Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass.  With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining 1 cup flour and mix until it is incorporated into the dough.  Switch to the dough hook, and continue kneading on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a ball and place into a round, lightly greased baking dish, spacing evenly.  Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 20 minutes.  Mix together the melted butter and honey, and brush lightly over the tops of the rolls.  Bake at 400° for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

FrittatasEggs

The last piece to this Mother’s Day puzzle were two types of Frittatas. I double them the Boy and Girl Frittatas.

The Boy Frittata

This was Giada recipe and was very good. Although, I thought some of the flavors, the ham and cheese, got lost in the eggs. I even cooked the ham beforehand and there was still nothing more than an undertone. Everyone loved them but I thought they could use a little tweaking.

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

8 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 2 mini muffin tins (each with 24 cups) with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the ham, cheese, and parsley. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter. Serve immediately.

The Girl Frittata

This came from my own mind and was very good. I thought the flavors of each element really shone through and created a great dish.

7 cups of fresh spinach

1 medium onion thinly sliced

6 slices of bacon

½  medium tomato

10 eggs

½ cup of whole milk

Salt

Pepper

¾ cup of Gruyere cheese

Butter

Note: Seasoning each element is important so remember to add salt and pepper to the onions and the spinach during the first phase of their cooking.

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Add a half of tablespoon of butter to a 10 inch non stick skillet over medium high heat.

3. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until soften and caramelized about 6 minutes. Remove onions from the pan and keep warm.

4. Cook the bacon in the same skillet you cooked the onions in until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan.

5. Discard some of the bacon drippings but leave 1-2 tbsp in the pan. Add the spinach and sauté.

6. Cook the spinach until wilted about 6 minutes. Remove of pan and drain the spinach. Push on the spinach until most of the water is gone.

7. In a separate bowl, mix your eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Whisk until scrambled.

8. In the same skillet you cooked the onions, bacon, and spinach in, add the tomatoes to the pan. Cook about 2 minutes. Discard any tomato water that comes out of the tomato.

9. Add the onions, spinach, and tomatoes to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes until everything is warmed.

10. Crumble the bacon into the pan.

11. Add the eggs over the onion and spinach mixture.

12. Cook on the stove for 3 minutes, moving the eggs around slightly with your spoon. This is the time you want to make sure the onion, spinach and tomatoes are properly distributed.

13. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes.

14. If the top of your frittata is still loose (excess egg on top) you can put it under the broiler for 1-3 minutes.

15. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the frittata from the pan onto a cutting board. The frittata should come out whole.

16. Cut the frittata like a pizza into 8 slices and serve.

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He is a fruit killer

January 22, 2009

We use to have a mini shopping cart on the counter that stored our “keep out of the fridge” fruits and vegetables. I say use to because it has been deemed an unsafe zone for the perfect, innocent, not harming anyone produce. It turned anything that lived in its metal cage was turned into prey waiting for its killer. The tomatoes, avocados, apples, banana, and even potatoes would spend their lives in fear being taunted by their would be assassin. spike-012a

He had no concern for their livelihood, no care for their perfect unblemished flesh; he thought only one of thing: their destruction. He would torture his victims, throw them on the floor, rip open their skin, and carry their carcasses around the house leaving their pulpy juicy goodness in his wake. Yes, many a piece of produce has been carried home so thoughtfully from the store to only then be destroyed by the menacing horror that is Spike.

Even when they are under my watchful protection, it is still not enough. I lost one of these beautiful apples while trying to turn them into warm, buttery apple dumpling goodness. I turned my back for one second to get a peeler and it was gone. I found it lying next to Spike on the floor. Three perfect teeth marks, into its crown, oozing juice. And the murderer, he just sat there, completely stoic, licking his lips.

I think Alex put him up to these mindless massacres in an effort to make this a vegetable free house. I will not yield to their pressure. The fruits and vegetables have a new home now and the shopping cart will serve as a reminder of these tragedies.

Apple Dumplings apple-dumplings-032a1

This recipe comes from the amazing Pioneer Woman. If you have not checked out her blog, you must I promise you will enjoy.

While the ingredients for these dumplings may not be traditional, the taste of this dessert is amazing. The croissants get nice and toasty on the top and the bottom become this mixture of buttery, sugary awesomeness that you will want to spoon over everything.

I rate this a 9 (because it is not friendly to the hips) and Alex a 10 and that after he realizes there is fruit in it so it must be good.

Ingredients

apple-dumplings-002a1

One of the lucky ones

2 Granny Smith Apples

2 cans of Refrigerated Croissants

8 oz Mountain Dew

2 sticks of butter melted

1 ½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon

1. Peel and core the Granny Smith apples.

2. Cut the apples into 8 slices.
3. Butter a 9x 13 baking dish.

4. Roll the croissants around each apple slice. I like to make sure the apple slice its covered by its doughy cocoon but it is not necessary.

5. Place the covered apple slices into the buttered dish. Arrange in a single layer in rows. apple-dumplings-012a I made half  a recipe and placed in a round baking dish.

6. Melt two sticks of butter.

7. Add the sugar to the butter and barely stir.

8. Add the vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture and barely stir. You want the mixture to be bumpy and grainy.

9. Pour the mixture over the apples. You want to make sure all the apples are covered.

10. Pour the 8oz of Mountain Dew around the outside of the pan. Just covering the edges of the apples.

11. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

12. Top with ice cream if you like and enjoy the heck out of them.