Bfast Fiasco

This breakfast dish was something I had been dying to make and it unfortunately was a letdown. It had such potential! I saw this Maple Bacon & Apple Stuffed French Toast and was super excited. I mean I grocery shopped specifically for this and I hate to grocery shop.
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Maple Bacon? Apple? French Toast? What’s not to love, right? I don’t know if I missed the mark on this with a bunch of seemingly small mistakes or if I just didn’t have the touch. Here it is, done right, by Kitchen Runway.If you’re intrigued, and want to prove me right/wrong go ahead with Kitchen Runway’s ingredients & directions since clearly theirs was successful.

Maple Bacon & Apple Baked French Toast

Ingredients:

21 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (I used potato rolls)
10 slices of maple bacon
1 large Fuji apple, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
1 Tbs maple syrup
8 large eggs
2 C whole milk (this could be one of my problems)
½ C heavy cream
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Topping:
8 slices of maple bacon (~9 oz), cooked and crumbled
½ C powdered sugar
2 Tbs + 1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp milk

Directions:

Quarter the rolls and place in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry out while you prepare the rest of the recipe steps.

Preheat oven to 325º F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place bacon in a single layer and bake for 35 mins.  Remove from oven when done and place bacon on a paper towel to drain fat.  Crumble bacon or use a knife to chop the bacon.  Set aside.

Place sliced apples in a bowl and add maple syrup and stir to combine, set aside. (I used a mandolin and cut 2 fingers…bandaging myself delayed everything a bit. Chunks would have been better anyway.)
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In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined.
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Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter and place half of the bread in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.  Cover bread with ½ of the egg mixture.  Place remaining bread into the egg mixture and stir to coat.
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Place sliced apples on top of the bread in a single layer and sprinkle the bacon on top.

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Gently place the remaining bread on top of the apple and bacon layer.  Pour remaining egg mixture to the baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. (hmmm. I think I gave it an hour in the fridge)

The next day:  preheat oven to 350º F.  Place dish on middle rack and bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.  If the French toast is browning too quickly, tent the baking dish with foil.
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In the meantime, you can cook the bacon for the topping on the stove top or bake until crispy. (I used reserved bacon from the filling prep)

In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk.

Sprinkle bacon on top of baked French toast and drizzle with maple glaze.  Serve with additional maple glaze or syrup if you like. (my glaze needed more powdered sugar)
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Can’t win ‘em all. I re-tried it the next day, because things are better after chill-axing. No such luck. One of the very few items I bake is a chocolate bread pudding…not much different than this but that is fool-proof and this stuffed french toast proved problematic. Ohh well, onto the next.

Boston “Hahbah” Cruise

One sprinkling Saturday, Mr. J and I went on a brunch cruise in Boston for his bday. It was fun even though we’re from here. The commentary was interesting (with new info!) and it was something different than our usual weekend plans. It was through Boston Harbor Cruises
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The brunch specifically was not overly amazing, but we really enjoyed ourselves. I know there were items listed on the menu we each were looking forward to but that weren’t served, and I noticed the menu doesn’t list that it is “subject to change without notice” or “subject to availability”.

Mr. J was interested in cream cheese stuffed french toast and I wish we had crab cake eggs benedict. The brunch served was pretty basic, but OK in terms of a buffet offering.
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I was thankful that it wasn’t crowded and that coffee was available right when we stepped onto the boat. Each group had their own table! I think the weather had something to do with that, but it was fine with us.

We started with a little fruit and cheese thinking we shouldn’t go heavy on pastries since the brunch sounded pretty good. One of my cheeses was red pepper and tasted like cheddar…it was amazing! I really loved it and hadn’t had anything like it before. I liked the flavor and the spice.
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When the buffet opened we had eggs, french toast sticks (which made me feel like my soon-to-be-nephews were with us), potatoes, sausage, and a veggie medly. I tried it all and didn’t think anything was very special, very good quality, or memorable.
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I also grabbed some apple crisp thing which was stellar. I loved it. My mum makes pretty fantastic apple crisp and this was up there.
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Dessert was interesting. It was great that everything was bite sized so we shared bites of everything. We are pretty sure that the pumpkin cheesecake had salt instead of sugar. It was fun to see others also experience the same reaction we had.
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Had they asked my opinion or on a survey I would have shared my disappointment in the food. I might have felt differently if they set my expectations by not listing what was served. It also wasn’t really brunch. I think brunch is breakfast items and some lunch items.

Being realistic, the brunch is fine. Nobody is there for the food and I really had a great time overall. I’d recommend a fun brunch downtown or enjoying food truck fare on the Rose Kennedy Greenway with the Historic Boston Sightseeing cruise instead.

Eggy Toast

Mr. J has a new signature dish! He has perfected this bfast dish and all I can say is keep ‘em coming! Eggs and toast make this a great go-to meal. We’ve had it for dinner when it seemed like there was nothing.
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Ingredients:

4 slices of wheat bread, buttered
4 eggs

Directions:

Grill buttered bread lightly on both sides
Using a biscuit cutter or jar top cut out holes in the center of the bread
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Return the bread to the pan and crack an egg into each hole
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Cook the egg until set and flip
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The eggs were perfectly cooked through with a runny yolk and the toast was crispy. Also, the gently toasted toast circles popped out of the toast make for a great bite while waiting for the real thing.
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Mr. J thought toasting the bread in the pan before popping out the center made for a crispier edge. He served a little potato red pepper hash on the side. Yum!

Now, for the serious stuff. What do YOU call this? What SHOULD we call this? Let me know!

A1 Gets an A+

A1 Diner
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Mr. J and I LOVE diners and it was always surprising to me that we hadn’t been to the famous A1 Diner in his hometown in Maine! Their website calls themselves “Maine’s Most Unique Restaurant”. I recently went to “Boston’s Friendliest Pub” so this amused me greatly.

During a quick visit a few weeks ago we stopped in right at the cusp of breakfast and lunch. We decided on breakfast and I loved every minute of it.
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I got an Orange Poppyseed Waffle. It was amazing. I never see orange and poppy seed as a combo but it was great! I liked the fluffyness of the waffle and the citrus flavor. It was a good deviation from my usual bfast choices since I tend to go savory rather than sweet.
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Mr. J got an egg, bacon, toast, combo which is his standard. Use your imagination since I deemed it not quite picture worthy, much to his dismay.

Mrs. C got an Orange Pecan or Orange Walnut waffle and real maple syrup. I forget which nut but how cool to put nuts in there?!
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They had some interesting dinner meals/specials that make me want to go back. I’m sure the grilled sandwiches and burgers are only as diners can make them.
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Their website has some recipes so maybe I’ll have to whip one of those up sometime. I’d like the Hungarian Mushroom Soup, but I don’t have tons of mushroom eaters in my life. Or crabcakes, or pistachio lime salad, or lemon sauce for dessert.

Just as The Terminator would say: I’ll be back.

Love-ly Potluck

My office decided to have a Valentine’s Day potluck with the theme: food we love. I made sis guess our theme for Valentine’s Day and she guessed: food that bad for your heart. Also, a fun theme…for another time.

I love breakfast so I made Ebelskiver. These stuffed pancakes are fantastic and highly portable. Potlucks are so much pressure because reheating with only a microwave and toaster oven doesn’t do everything justice. Also, since I travel to work on public transit my choices can also be limited.

These stuffed pancakes became fast favorites of ours after I gave the pan to Mr. J for his birthday. I did 2 fillings: raspberries and chocolate chips. Some other favorite fillings are: jelly, sausage, brown sugar, coconut, and peanut butter.

Generously spray pan with non-stick spray. Pour pancake batter half way, add filling ingredient and add more batter on top.
ebilskiv_choc_290_200Williams Sonoma sells fancy turners but after a $40 pan I decided we would get creative. I can whole heartedly recommend cheap bamboo skewers.
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Some other loved items at our potlucks include:

Somebody loves: Thai Noodles in Peanut Sauce with Asparagus and Cucumbers
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Somebody loves: Matzo Ball Soup
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Somebody loves: Kale Salad with Mango & Sunflower Seeds
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Somebody loves: Queso Dip
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Somebody loves: Care Packages (you can’t see the neutella brownie inside and I ate it before taking a photo)
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Some others love salad and pasta salad.

It was such a fun theme. Some of our past themes have been: picnic food; dip day; and back to school lunch food. I can’t wait for our next potluck!

Spinach & Cheese Muffin Bites

Spinach-Cheese Bake

I really love quiche but when I pack it for lunch it seems soggy and the crust flakes. I tried this crustless spinach and Monterey jack cheese version and made it in a muffin tin.
crustless_quiche_done_290_200There isn’t anything super special in this but I was glad I went with a lighter protein & veggie option for a few days worth of lunch. It would be good for a bunch item but this didn’t rock my socks.

Ingredients

4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/3  cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2  cups milk
4 eggs
1  teaspoon  salt
2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish or muffin tins with cooking spray. Place chopped spinach evenly in bottom of dish; sprinkle evenly with cheese.
crustless_quiche_spin_290_200Combine flour and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until blended.
crustless_quiche_liq_290_200Pour milk mixture over cheese. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.
crustless_quiche_assemb_290_200I omitted 1 teaspoon of baking powder, by accident. These turned out a bit more spongy than I expected, probably because I forgot the baking powder.

‘Morning Sunshine

Stranded on an island with one meal, hands down a breakfast sandwich is my choice. Everytime. I’m specifically interested in one varity: sausage, egg, cheese on a croissant. I mean I wouldn’t pass up one with bacon, or on a bagel, but for breakfast or brunch, this is a pretty regular choice for me. It is also a great way to compare restaurants!

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the egg:

over-easy or scrambled

the cheese:

preferably cheddar, but American will do just fine

the sausage:

maple is great but links or patties, I don’t discriminate

the bread:

croissants are my favorite, but again, bagels make a great choice…the caveat? The bagel must, must, must be toasted or grilled. This seems obvious but it has been a reoccurring faux pas.

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My local favorites include Kelly’s Diner, Ball Square Cafe, Bakers’ Best, and yes, Dunkin’ Donuts.

Unacceptable breakfast sandwiches are found at The Broken Yolk (untoasted bagel and a single link sausage cut in half) and Moogy’s (stringy cheese and rubbery bacon).

Normally my restaurant choices lean towards something I cannot make at home, but the fact that I don’t make them regularly adds validity to my choice. It needs to be served HOT HOT HOT. Also, the egg must be cooked through while the cheese needs to be melted. I swoon over a sharpness of the cheddar, the toasty-ness of the croissant, and the sweetness of the sausage gets me every time.

How to Cheat on Flour’s Sticky Sticky Buns

Flour’s Sticky Sticky Buns by Joanne Chang

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Sis doesn’t cook a ton, BUT she makes amazing sticky buns. She made them for Christmas breakfast and we loved them.  I learned that they are based on Joanne Chang’s recipe. Chef Chang was on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown, where she won. Check out the video.

You could make the whole thing yourself, BUT using pre-made puff pastry makes it a bit more do-able.

Ingredients Goo:

 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup  water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Basic Brioche Dough (or cheat with frozen puff pastry)
1/4 cup  light brown sugar1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Directions

First, make the goo. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok). Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

On a floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jellyroll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

See? You have plenty to do without making the brioche dough yourself.

Adorable Betsy’s Diner

Betsy’s Diner – Falmouth, MAOn a family girls trip to Falmouth, MA we went to the legendary Betsy’s Diner. Sis, Mum and I had some great meals you’ll hear about later. We rounded out the weekend with a traditional diner breakfast.

I love diner food, especially breakfast. Betsy’s Diner was great. The inside was so adorable with  great vintage tables and accessories. There was a very cool, partly 3D mural that had some seasonal inserts. Santa was there now!

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Our server was prompt and kept the coffee coming. There were a few specials featured that day: some sort of chocolate chip pancake, eggs benedict, and a Portuguese eggs Benedict with linguica.

I chose my standard: sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel. The bagel was grilled crispy and buttery. I love love love when I get to choose the cheese. My choice? Cheddar, obviously.

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Stuck on an island with only one meal I’d have sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel or croissant. This one was delectable.

The hash browns weren’t the best. At such a charming spot I expected them to actually make their own hash browns…what a bummer. Ohh well, can’t win ‘em all.

Likes: endless supply of coffee, cheddar
Dislikes: hash browns could be better.