I love big, fluffy, and eggy popovers. There is something innately elegant about this oh so simple treats. Served in their simplest form with a dab of butter and a dollop of jam they are the perfect breakfast treat. Or you can follow an old Maine tradition and eat popovers and chowder on the lawn of the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. In college I discovered Judie’s Restaurant in Amherst, Massachusetts where oversized popovers were served as the foundation for hearty sandwiches, as an accompaniment for soup or salad or all on their own. (When I was back in Amherst this past summer I went to Judie’s with the sole purpose of eating a popover).
I tend to forget how easy popovers are to make. This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen only has six ingredients. Instead of using a blender I use a stick mixer which makes cleanup a breeze. With a little prior planning (the batter needs to rest before baking) they are a snap to make. If you want to serve them for breakfast you can even make the batter the night before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. If you do this there isn’t any excuse for not serving them for breakfast.
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Blend the eggs and milk in a blender until smooth. Add the flour, melted butter, and salt and continue to blend on high speed until the batter is bubbly and smooth, about 1 minute. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- While the batter is resting, measure 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil into each cup of a popover pan. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place the pan in the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- After the batter has rested, pour it into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and divide the batter evenly among the 6 cups in the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes without opening the oven door.
- Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown all over, 15 to 18 minutes more. Gently tip the popovers out onto a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving, about 2 minutes.
A few weeks ago I was asked to organize snacks at my school’s literacy night. Wanting to carry the theme of books and reading into the food portion of the event, I decided that each food we served would be derived from a favorite childhood book featuring food. It all started out as a vague idea and ended up being a lot of fun for children and adults alike.
Some books had easy pairings but when I came to the Doctor Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham, I found myself pausing. First, I was looking for bite-sized food that could be made ahead of time which ruled out the majority of the Seuss themed dishes I found on the Internet. Then I also wanted to be able to incorporate both title components into a single dish. And finally, there was the issue of making the dish green.
Deviled eggs have always been one of my favorite appetizers and whenever I make them they disappear in minutes. Plus unlike scrambled eggs and the like they are portable and can be made ahead of time. So I took to my old stand by recipe and tweaked it a bit to include bits of minced ham and green food coloring. The food coloring is definitely optional but this version of my classic dish is a keeper.
GREEN EGGS & HAM DEVILED EGGS
12 eggs, hardboiled, cooled, peeled & sliced in half
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon dried Coleman’s mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sweet curry powder
1/4 cup minced cooked ham
Green food coloring (optional)
Parsley sprigs and paprika to garnish
- Using a small spoon, carefully remove the egg yolks from the egg whites. Place the yolks in a small bowl and move the whites to a serving platter.
- Using a fork, mash the yolks to form a thick paste.
- Stir in the mayonnaise, dried mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and curry powder, mixing until the mixture is smooth and lump free.
- Stir in the ham, mixing until the meat is evenly distributed.
- If you are using the food coloring, add one drop at a time, stirring well between each addition, until you have achieved your desired color.
- Scoop the filling into the egg whites.
- Sprinkle with paprika and top with a sprig of parsley.
With their tangy orange appeal, crepe Suzettes are a classic. And while they may seem to be intimidating to make, they reality is that they are quite simple. As I’ve discussed before, making the actual crepes takes some practice but once you have perfected your technique, the options as to how you dress these paper thin pancakes are unlimited. And crepe Suzettes are one of my favorites.
For the crepes:
1 cup cold water
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree for 1 minutes. Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a large deep bowl and use a stick blender to puree for 1 minute.
- Cover and allow to sit for at least two hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the crepes, pre-heat a 6″ crepe pan over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. When the pan is hot, lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Lift the pan off of the direct heat. Using a small ladle (a gravy ladle is perfect) place a heaping spoonful of batter in the center of the pan and swirl to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.
- Return the pan to the stove and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the edges of the crepe begin to curl and small bubbles form on the top of the crepe.
- Lift the pan off of the heat again and give the pan a firm shake to release the crepe. If it sticks return the pan to the heat again for a few more seconds.
- Gently flip the crepe with the shake of your wrist. Return the pan to the heat and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the pan upside down over a plate to remove the crepe and repeat the process until all of the batter has been used.
Yields 25-30 6 inch crepes (you will have plenty left over)
For the orange sauce:
Juice from 4 oranges
Finely grated zest from 1 orange
1 small lemon, juice an finely grated zest
1 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Extra Grand Marnier, for flaming (optional)
- Stirring occasionally, combine the orange and lemon juices, the zests and the sugar in a small saucepan set over medium high heat.
- Once the mixture is hot but not simmering, stir in the Grand Marnier and butter and mix until melted and combined.
- Move the sauce to a wide, shallow bowl. (A pasta plate works well for this).
- Working with one crepe at a time, dip the crepe into the sauce, coating it on all sides.
- Allow the excess liquid to drip back into the bowl before moving the crepe to a plate and folding in half then half again. Move the folded crepe to a platter.
- Repeat the process with the remaining crepes.
- If you want to flame your crepes, heat a small amount of Grand Marnier in a metal ladle. When the alcohol is hot light it with a match and pour the flame over the top of the platter of crepes.
- Serve immediately, topped with additional sauce if desired.
Breakfast is undoubtedly my favorite meal of the day yet it is one that I am more apt to skip than not simply because I’m not a fan of cooking before I’ve had my morning dose of coffee. On weekends I love lounging around and sipping my coffee while I catch up on the news and plan my day ahead. By the time I am ready to get moving the breakfast hour has passed or what I want to make simply takes too long to get from bowl to table. But when I am really craving breakfast a Dutch baby is my go-to dish.
A Dutch baby is essentially a giant popover and it comes together and cooks up so quickly that it is silly not to make one. The key to a puffy Dutch baby is a very hot oven and eating it the minute it comes out of the oven. To achieve the hot oven I turn mine on before I start any of my other preparations. I cook the apples in the same cast iron skillet that I will bake in then pop the pan in the oven the minute my apples are done. It truly is fast; you can have go from bowl to table in twenty minutes. Why that’s just enough time to enjoy a second cup of coffee.
APPLE-CINNAMON DUTCH BABY
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 semi-tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I like Pink Lady)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Melt the butter in a 9 inch cast iron skillet set over medium high heat.
- Add the sliced apples and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Stirring occasionally, sautee the apples until they are soft and the sugar begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flour, sugar and salt.
- Add the batter to the apples and immediately place the skillet in the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until puffed and browned.
- Serve immediately.
One of my favorite memories of my trip to Spain was eating tapas. Regardless of the hour there was always a tapas restaurant open on just about every street corner in Madrid. Tapas are a social meal; you can order a variety of the small plates and share them amongst your table mates. They are also a great way to try new dishes and flavors since by ordering one you aren’t committing to a full entrée. And I would always try new dishes each time we sat down at the table. However, in addition to the plentiful little bowls of olives that graced every menu, tortillas made regular appearances. If a restaurant made a good tortilla I knew everything else they made would be good as well. I had forgotten much I liked tortillas nut after Spanish friends brought one to our house I knew I had to make my own.
Tortillas are actually quite simple; tender potatoes and onions are combined with eggs and fried. It sounds so basic but the flavors are anything but. This recipe is courtesy of Fine Cooking. If you want to save time you can find pre-cut potatoes in your grocery store’s fresh food case. (I’ve recently discovered these and now swear by their convenience). You can serve the tortilla as part of a tapas dinner, as an appetizer or a snack. I love to eat the leftovers at room temperature the next day washed down with a glass of crisp rose wine. Now that is summer living.
SPANISH POTATO TORTILLA
1 3/4 cups olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 3/4 pounds low starch potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch slices
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pour the olive oil into a 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet and set over medium-high heat.
- While the oil is heating, place the sliced potatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the salt, tossing to distribute it well.
- When the oil is very hot (test it by slipping a single potato slice into the oil. It should sizzle vigorously without the edges browning), slip the potatoes into the oil with a slotted spoon. Fry the potatoes, turning occasionally, taking care not to break them up. Adjust the heat if necessary to the potatoes cook without crisping or browning.
- Line a plate with paper towels. When the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, transfer them to the plate.
- Add the onions and garlic to the oil. Fry, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat as necessary, until the onions are very soft and translucent but not browned, 7-9 minutes. Remove from the pan and add to the plate with the potatoes.
- Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pan. Heat over high heat until both the oil and the pan are very hot.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper with a fork until blended. Add the drained potatoes, onions and garlic and mix gently to combine, taking care not to break up the potatoes.
- Pour the potato and egg mixture into the hot skillet, spreading it evenly. Cook for 1 minute then lower the heat to medium-low, cooking until the eggs are completely set at the edges and cooked halfway into the center and the tortilla easily slips around the pan when you give it a shake, about 8 to 10 minutes. You may need to use a thin spatula to loosen the edges.
- Set a flat, rimless plate that is at least as wide as the skillet upside down over the pan. Lift the skillet off of the burner and with one hand on the bottom of the plate and the other holding the skillet’s handle, invert the skillet so the tortilla lands on the plate.
- Set the pan back on the heat and slide the tortilla onto it, using the slotted spoon to push any stray potatoes back under the eggs.
- Cook until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and hot with no uncooked egg on it, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Transfer the tortilla to a serving platter and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve it warm, at room temperature or slightly cool.
- Cut into wedges or small squares.
Yields:10-12 appetizer sized servings
Bread pudding is the oh so humble dish that is oh oh so good. I mean, who would think that a dish built around stale bread cubes could end up being so impressive. And bread pudding is just that; crusty bread that has been soaked in a rich egg and milk custard and baked. It can be made as is or you can make it fancy with the addition of fruit, chocolate or even nuts. You really can’t go wrong.
Bread pudding is one of my favorite ways to use up old bread. I am so lucky to have really good bread readily available here in Belgium. It tastes wonderful when it is still warm from the oven (which is how it is most often bought here). The bread is so good that it usually disappears before the end of the day but sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t bread pudding is on the menu for the next day.
I love combining fruit with chocolate so this bread pudding is one of my favorites to make. It can be served as either a dessert or a brunch dish. I’ve served it both ways and it has always been met with great appreciation around the table. Because the chocolate chips and raspberries are evenly distributed throughout the dish, you get a bit of their sweet and tangy goodness in every bite. It is really important to use fresh fruit; if raspberries aren’t in season strawberries or even bananas can be substituted. Just be sure to fold them in right before baking so their keep their texture and color.
RASPBERRY-CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD PUDDING
1 day-old baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups milk
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Lightly butter an 10 inch souffle dish. Add the bread cubes and spread them evenly throughout the dish.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until well blended.
- Pour in the milk and whisk until combined.
- Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand for at least 1 hour or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
- When you are ready to proceed, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you have refrigerated the bread mixture overnight, allow it to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before proceeding.
- Sprinkle the raspberries and chocolate chips over the top of the bread cubes and using a rubber spatula, gently fold them into the bread. You don’t want to break the berries but you do want them to be evenly distributed throughout the pudding.
- Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean.
- Serve warm or at room temperature dusted with the confectioners’ sugar.
This time of year gardens and markets are bursting with zucchini, providing cooks with so many options. These green squashes are so versatile–your dishes can be sweet or savory; it can be eaten raw or cooked; you can bake, steam or saute the squash. The options are endless and here is yet another use for zucchini: quiche.
Quiche is a favorite summer time (or any time of year for that matter) dinner dish for me. It can be eaten hot, warm or cold meaning you can bake it in the morning and not have to turn on the oven come dinner time. And a quiche can be filled with just about any ingredient–including zucchini. This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light and combines thinly sliced zucchini with diced ham and tangy goat cheese. The results are light, flavorful and make for a perfect light dinner. Pair it with a green salad and a cool glass of white wine and dinner is served.
ZUCCHINI & GOAT CHEESE QUICHE
12 ounces zucchini, very thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 ounces lower-sodium ham, diced
2 ounces plain firm goat cheese, crumbled
2 thyme sprigs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Prepare the crust according to the recipe. Roll the dough and press it into a deep dish pie plate.
- Prick the crust all over with a fork then place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the crust. Place a layer of pie weights, beans or rice over the top of the parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Bake the for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment paper and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool slightly.
- Place the zucchini in a large bowl; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is released.
- Drain the zucchini in a colander, squeezing a handful at a time to remove liquid, and pat dry.
- Combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, thyme, pepper, eggs and flour in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
- Sprinkle the ham and goat cheese evenly over bottom of prepared crust then arrange the zucchini over the cheese.
- Pour the egg mixture over zucchini, top with the thyme sprigs and sprinkle with the paprika.
- Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until egg is set.
- Let the quiche stand for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
One sandwich served three different ways. Its a staple of French bistros and makes for the perfect snack, lunch or light dinner. Its a go-to dish that pleases just about everyone. And as such, it has become my own go-to dish to make at home as well as a reliable dish to order from restaurant menus. What it is? It’s a Croque Monsieur–or Madame or Provencal–if you like.
The concept is simple, take good quality ham and cheese, layer it on bread that has been brushed with bechamel sauce and grill it. Add a slice of tomato to make it Provencal or top it with a sunny side up to turn it into a Madam. It’s a sandwich that is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork and tastes perfect when washed down with a cool glass of Rose wine. Its so easy and so good. So go ahead and make yourself one tonight.
CROQUE MONSIEUR (or MADAME or PROVENCAL)
To make the bechamel sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
- Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk in the milk, then add the ground nutmeg and bay leaf.
- Increase the temperature to high and whisking constantly, boil until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
For the sandwiches:
4 slices white sandwich bread
4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
2 slices tomato (optional)
2 eggs, cooked sunny side up (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Spread the bread slices with the bechamel sauce, making sure to extend the sauce all of the way to the edges.
- Place two slices of bread, bechamel side up, on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Top with the ham and half of the cheese. Add the tomato, if using.
- Top with the remaining slices of bread, bechamel side up, then top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake the sandwiches until the cheese is brown and bubbling, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- If you are making Croque Madams, cook the eggs in a hot skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
- When the sandwiches are toasted, slide the eggs on top of the sandwiches and serve immediately.
Quiche is probably one of the most versatile dishes around. It can be served for brunch, lunch or when paired with a crisp green salad, for dinner. It can be served hot, cold or at room temperature (which is my preferred serving temperature). And the fillings…..well the sky is the limit. The base is a simple combination of milk and eggs. From there you can go in a hundred different directions. My fillings will include whichever cheeses strike my fancy and whatever vegetables are in season. Meats are optional. So are herbs and spices. You really can’t go wrong.
This leek and bacon quiche has become a go to weeknight dinner for our family when time is limited yet a healthy sit-down dinner is a must. The combination of plenty of leeks and bacon make for a satisfying dish. I will bake it up earlier in the day then serve it at room temperature with the afore mentioned salad and dinner is good to go. And as an added bonus there are usually leftovers meaning you already have lunch made for the next day. What more could a busy family ask for?
LEEK & BACON QUICHE
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
8 ounces diced bacon
2 cups finely sliced leeks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch dried mustard powder
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Prepare the crust of your choice. Roll out the crust to fit a 10 inch deep dish pie crust.
- Evenly distribute the shredded cheese over the bottom of the pie crust.
- Fry the bacon until crispy in a medium sized skillet set over medium heat. Drain with a slotted spoon then sprinkle evenly over the cheese.
- Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease from the skillet.
- Add the leeks and saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the leeks to the pie plate on top of the bacon.
- Combine the milk, eggs, flour, dried mustard, thyme and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Using a stick blender, blend the mixture until smooth and the flour is thoroughly incorporated into the liquids.
- Pour the custard over the top of the leeks and bacon. Sprinkle with paprika.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of the quiche is clean. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.
I’m always on the lookout for new side dishes and with this recipe from The Splendid Table I stumbled upon a sure winner. It is cheesy, flavorful and did I mention cheesy? I love cheese and if you do as well, you are sure to love this souffle. This souffle includes three cheeses, creamy and tangy goat cheese, mild Gruyere and a nutty Parmesan. I like this combination but I’ve also experimented with other combinations as well, a small amount of gorgonzola pairs well with mild and slightly firm fresh ricotta and a sharp cheddar is nice with Asiago. Feel free to experiment to find the combination you like best.
Souffles look and sound impressive but in reality they are such an easy dish to make. The key to a perfectly light souffle, however, is all in the timing. In order to be served at their most impressive best, you must serve them immediately. For this reason I like to serve souffles with grilled or roasted meat. While the meat is resting I put the souffle in the oven then begin carving minutes before I remove the souffle from the oven. This results in a perfectly executed souffle every time!
GOAT CHEESE & THYME SOUFFLE
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 baby carrots
1 small onion, quartered
5 black peppercorns
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, separated
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, finely grated
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter then generously brush it onto the bottom and sides of a 12 in shallow oval dish. Set aside.
- Place the cream and milk into a saucepan, add the carrot, onion, peppercorns, and thyme.
- Bring slowly to a boil, and then set aside to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain, discarding the solids.
- Melt the remaining butter in a medium sized sauce pan.
- Add the flour and cook for a two minutes.
- Whisk in the strained cream and milk and gradually bring to a boil, whisking until the sauce thickens. Cool slightly.
- Add the egg yolks, goat cheese, Gruyére, and most of the Parmesan.
- Season with the salt, cayenne and nutmeg.
- Place the cream of tarter and the egg whites in a medium sized bowl and using an electric beater, beat the egg whites until stiff.
- Fold the egg whites into the cream and milk mixture, mixing gently until they form a loose consistency.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared dish, scatter the thyme leaves over the top and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until the souffle is puffed up and golden but the center is still creamy.