Brunch On The Porch

If you have been reading along perhaps you already know about the most beautiful dining room in New Hampshire.  If not… well that’s okay too, but you can see it here and here.

This particular weekend we had stopped for bagels on the way up and I spotted some “French toast” bagels and grabbed a couple of those along with a honey wheat and a couple of cinnamon raisin to bring up to my mothers. I was already forming inspiration with those French toast bagels in mind but I hadn’t quite nailed it down yet.

While reviewing my “potluck” cookbook for an upcoming event I stumbled across the perfect use for those leftover bagels. A “French toast casserole!”

But of course I had to improvise partly because that is what I do and partly because I was in my mother’s kitchen with some limitations on ingredients. I also cut back on the sugar – preferring instead to bump up the sweetness with addition of maple syrup served at the table on the side.

The recipe

Start with either a regular loaf of bread (16oz) or as I did – 3 large bagels. Break up your bread of choice into large chunks and toast by baking it on a sheet pan in a 325 degree oven until dry, light and slightly browned.

Spray a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish with non-stick baking spray and pack the bread in. Next: make the custard.

Whisk together: 6 large eggs, 2 1/2 cups half and half, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 3 tablespoons maple syrup. Pour this mix over the bread (bagels) pushing down any bread that doesn’t get totally coated with liquid. At this point cover it with plastic wrap tightly and store overnight in the refrigerator.

bread and custard ready

The “golden” colored bagel pieces are the “French toast” ones.

In the morning, take the dish out of the refrigerator to get the chill off while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees and make your topping.

The topping consists of: 1 stick of salted butter, softened. 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. 1 cup of chopped nuts (measure pre-chopped) – I used walnuts but pecans would be divine! Mix it all and spread as evenly as you can in clumps on top of bread/custard. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup granulated sugar on top to give it a bit of a sweet crunch on top.

ready for the oven

The next morning, with the topping (light-colored clumps) spread on top. Ready for the oven!

Bake on middle rack, uncovered for 1 hour. It should be puffy and golden brown and firm to the touch in the middle. Pull it out- let cool for 10 mins and serve with warm maple syrup to taste. And bacon.

 

 

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Spring: Day 58 (Brunch On The Porch)

Nicest dining room in New Hampshire!

Nicest dining room in New Hampshire!

When I considered the restaurant brunch options for Mother’s Day in my mom’s hometown I couldn’t think of any place nicer then her porch. Besides I know her likes and dislikes better than any chef and I love to cook!

We had a full day ahead of us, opening up the porch to ready it for summer, changing out storm windows for screens and getting the hoses out in the extensive yard.

So breakfast on Mother’s Day was not going to be an elaborate, leisurely affair but rather a quick, nourishing start to our busy day.

And lucky for everyone her garden chives are already up so I paired that with the “corn and tomatoes on the porch” leftovers from the night before to make tasty omelets!

So fresh and yummy – even if I do say so myself! and of course it’s never really too early for a decadent dessert made with early strawberries, warmed slightly and sweetened with just a touch of honey, served over the best vanilla ice cream! (crumbled chocolate brownies optional!)

dessert

Author’s note:

I actually graduate tomorrow (yippee!) and I am looking forward to new and more frequent blog entries now that I can have my life back! Stay tuned….

Convenient Breakfast

In the true spirit of “Cabinet Stew” I managed to pull together a breakfast casserole with things that were just hanging around the freezer and fridge.

Production Notes

Spray your dish first with a non-stick spray.

This is a small dish – About 7″x 10″ – so double the filling and eggs to serve a crowd!

Not noted above but in full-disclosure; I actually used up 4ozs of leftover full-fat sour cream by whisking it into the eggs first and then pouring over the goodies. It made the whole thing that much more luxurious and delicious! (but leave it out if you are dairy- free!)

Breakfast Tomatoes

If you have been reading along you already know my obsession with tomatoes.

If you don’t know already… I am obsessed.

So this past weekend when I was visiting my “tomato dealer” I just had to have some these beauties immeadiately.

tomatoes on a plate

And the fact that it was breakfast time didn’t stop me.

Such good looking late season fruit needs to be handled simply and since it was breakfast and I was planning on eggs, I simply sauteed them lightly with some dried basil and butter* and served over fried eggs on toast!

 

It was all so good that I had most of it eaten up before I remembered to take a picture!

egss and tomatoes on toast

 

*if you are dairy-free just use oil!

Move Over Blueberries….

…You don’t have to rule the pancake world! Other berries can play too!!

Inspired the other day by Trisha’s blueberry pancakes but not having any blueberries (or sour cream) on hand, I had to make a few changes to the original recipe.

I almost always have fresh strawberries in the fridge and so I thought “why let blueberries have all the fun?”

Strawberries and lemon posing for their "beauty shot"I just cut the strawberries into smaller chunks so they would distribute evenly in the pancake batter and have a chance to “cook” a bit in the brief time that a pancake stays on the griddle.

I also went a little heavier on the lemon zest than the recipe advised, because really, “who doesn’t love a little lemon?!”

With the substitution of some low-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, these pancakes turn out so light and yummy. You don’t feel weighted down after eating 3 or maybe like 6. (they were small!)

Make sure to use real maple syrup and for a little something extra, warm the syrup and add just a tiny dash of cinnamon to it.

Also a good trick is to cool all the extra pancakes on a rack and then package them for the freezer in singles or enough to make a serving. They can be pulled out and heated up in your toaster – just like those ones that “pop” out of your toaster only with out all the artificial flavors/colors.

pancakes 2

“Breakfast Bruschetta”

2 eggs

2 pieces of toasted bread of choice

1 half of small onion that has been hanging around the fridge waiting to be used, diced.

About a cup and 1/2 of leftover tomato sauce from something I cooked last week.

Some fresh parsley because I happen to have a bunch in the fridge.

A hefty couple pinches of shredded Romano cheese.

Start out by sauteing the onion in a tablespoon of butter on med-high heat.  When onions are just browning, add the tomato sauce and when it is sizzling and starting to get thick… kinda clear out two ‘holes’ in the sauce to expose the pan bottom. Crack an egg in each ‘hole’ and pretend for a few minutes that you are Mario Batali making a very cool Italian breakfast. Then snap out of it and realize that you really don’t like runny yolks.  So try to flip the egg in the sauce without breaking it…

Opps!….Oh well. Time to commit to broken fried egg in tomato sauce scooped on top of toast and sprinkled with cheese and parsley!