May 10, 2009
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The last piece to this Mother’s Day puzzle were two types of Frittatas. I double them the Boy and Girl Frittatas.
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.
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
½ cup of whole milk
¾ cup of Gruyere cheese
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.
November 16, 2008
Throughout my day, I randomly talk, sing and laugh to myself but mostly sing. No song is out of my vocal range and all of the members of our house love it when I sing. The cats come running to me like the woodland animal scene in Snow White. Their favorite songs are You are My Sunshine and I Will Always Love You from the Bodyguard. No matter what my husband tells you, they all love my off key vocals and mis-timed cadence. And their favorite part is the fact that I belt out every song in my musical memory.
Yesterday was such an occasion. My song of choice was from and SNL skit: the Spartans.
Hi my name is Craig
I give great hugs
You are not my friend
If you do drugs
Accompanying the music demonstration was the clapping and body gesturing of Will Ferrel’s famous cheerleader. This caused a discussion between Alex and I about the validity of my show. He claimed that he had never seen such a skit and I most certainly had to prove him wrong and off to YouTube we went.
Unfortunately, we were not able to find the skit I speak of (we found many other Spartan skits) but we did find our other favorites. Sean Connery and Celebrity Jeopardy and Justin Timberlake’s Blank in a Box. My sister, who had never seen this tribute to the male anatomy wrapped up for the holidays, dissolved in laughter and brought it up again during a discussion about the possibility of French Toast for breakfast.
It was then that I decided that we were going to make Egg in a Toast in honor of this skit.
But, we were going to use French Toast bread for a spin. So here are the directions Justin Timberlake style:
Step 1: You cut a hole in that bread
Step 2: You put your egg in that bread
Step 3: You make her eat that bread
International House of Pancakes French Toast
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons butter
6 slices thick-sliced French bread
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
If you are making egg in a hole French Toast, cut the hole in the bread before you dip in into the French toast batter.
1. Beat the eggs in a large shallow bowl.
2. Add the milk, vanilla, flour, and salt to the eggs. Beat the mixture with a whisk. Be sure all the flour is well combined. – I put the flour in first then the eggs beat them together then add the rest of the milk.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When the surface is hot, add about a teaspoon of butter.
4. Dip the bread, a slice at a time, into the batter, being sure to coat each side well. Drop the bread onto the hot pan (as many as will fit at one time) and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until the surface is golden brown.
6. Repeat with the remaining pieces of bread.
7. Cut each piece of toast in half diagonally. Arrange six halves of the toast on two plates by neatly overlapping the slices. Sprinkle about ½ tablespoon of powdered sugar over the tops of the toast slices on each plate. Serve with butter and syrup on the side. If making egg in a hole, there is no need to cut the slices in half.
Adapted from: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes Todd Wilbur