KIDS BAKE MOTHER’S DAY: Apple-Pecan Coffeecake

What is it about making brunch at home that feels extravagant and comfy all at the same time? We’re all over planning changeable, healthy dinner meals complete with menus, shopping lists, and Sunday prep, but morning fare is relegated to nearly the same dish over and over again. Folks literally eat oatmeal for breakfast every single day. Or peanut butter toast. Yogurt and granola. Whatever. But take us to a swank brunch buffet at a fancy hotel and we’re putting soft poached eggs on smoked salmon dill biscuits and snarfing down raspberries in Grand Marnier with dark chocolate waffles as if there were no tomorrow. And then there’s the bottomless mimosa, isn’t there? When we finally decide to put on an at-home morning spread–for Mother’s Day, say?– that takes more thoughtful preparation than slamming down bread in the toaster and manage some actual day-before cooking or baking, it’s amazing how pampered-rich, how homey and cosseted we feel. Kinda like, “Well, isn’t this nice?!” And it is.

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Boiled Eggs on English Muffins with Asparagus and Cheese Sauce

This is a copy of a blog post (April, 2012) from my now finished blog, dinnerplace.blogspot.com. Such a fun little Easter or post-Easter breakfast made for many years in my kitchen, I thought it deserved its own spot here on More Time. I've updated only the recipe to make it printable.

One of my favorite spring breakfasts is so terribly simple, that it appears I’ve never blogged it.  I see the photos on my Pinterest board and on fb, but when I checked the blogs–no eggs on muffins!  So here it is:  a meal perfect for Easter when you have lots of boiled eggs to use up, but also perfect any other time or for any meal, come to think of it.   If you have a plethora of eggs, as does my friend Cathy (we’re trading my granola for her backyard eggs this week), this is a fine use for them.  My own kids had this every Easter for years.  Well, I served it anyway.  Whether or not they ate it is beside the point!

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FRIDAY FISH: Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa

Shown here with Red Onion-Oregano Potatoes and Cheesy Green beans.

For Hot Cross Buns and Easter brunch ideas, scroll down to bottom under LIFE GOES ON.

No matter what kind of fish or seafood you’re cooking, there are two basic secrets to its success. #1 Don’t overcook it. #2 You need a great sauce. I mean, think about it. Even everyday sorts of fish or seafood like fried shrimp or fish and chips come with a sauce you just have to have: cocktail sauce for the shrimp and tartar sauce for the fish. Right? This is also true of fish cooked by chefs in upscale restaurants, though the sauces may (or may not) be a tish more sophisticated. Sometimes butter and/or lemon are all that’s called for, as in Sole Meunière, which is not much more than thin and floured sole fillets cooked in–yes– butter and lemon, then sprinkled with, what else? Parsley. Simple is as simple does. And the dish has been top drawer famous forever! No matter the fish, it is often the sauce that counts.

That’s especially true in my quick Friday Fish for this week, Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa. Everyone knows pico de gallo and other sorts of Mexican salsas often made with cilantro and jalapeños, but a fresh tomato salsa (salsa only means “sauce”) without those two ingredients and with sweet peppers, tiny ripe tomatoes, parsley, green onions, and lemon, orange, or lime is something different. That difference is smile-worthy because instead of being overwhelmed by large-scale flavors, this mild fillet is enhanced and freshly seasoned by what is almost a baby salad garnish — which takes the dish over the top to my tastebuds.

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HAM AND BROCCOLI QUICHE: Cleaning out the Christmas Kitchen

How you can help—or get help—after the Marshall Fire

To make a tiny flute on the edges of the dough like this, use the side of your thumb instead of the pad of your index finger.

Away from home and in an airbnb for two weeks at holiday time could be a recipe for disaster for many cooks. Dull knives, warped and nicked non-stick pans, dollar store utensils, and no pantry but for the ubiquitous old oil, salt, pepper, and weak coffee are the earmarks of many rental home kitchens. There are the rare gems stocked to the nth degree with nearly everything of which you could hope to find in your dream kitchen including All-Clad waffle irons, Breville food processors, Henckel knives, Italian coffee, and, of course, the most spacious of air fryers and instant pots. I’ll give you that, but such happy deals are few and far between and are usually in upscale houses for big groups. Having rested our poor weary heads in a large variety of these smaller houses over the years — often with friends — we come prepared. A small bag of our favorite spices makes the journey with us along with a whisk, a pastry blender, one great knife, a stovetop grill pan, a pie plate, and even a big soup pot if we’re going by car. While the store sometimes (but not always) sells nearly everything you’d want, it’s best to bring a few things along to avoid what might otherwise look like the largest grocery bill of your life. Even then, be prepared for the sticker shock that moves many vacation folks to skip cooking and head to restaurants. While we’d do a bit of that in good times, we’re currently avoiding restaurants like the plague. To coin a phrase. On the road, we do a drive-through at lunchtime in the winter, but are tossing meals into a cooler along with a nice bottle of wine for in-hotel-room dinners. No searching for take-out in the cold and dark and the dogs are happy to stretch out on the floor hoping for dropped crumbs from something way more interesting than grilled chicken sandwiches. Sorry, Wendy’s.

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How to Make Quiche out of Just About Anything

French home cooks always seem to have a dozen wonderful things up their sleeves to make on the spur of the moment. Great ideas to use up leftovers come awfully naturally, as well, and they all appear to know about how to feed 6 people with a cup and a half of milk, 3 eggs, a bit of ham, and a handful of grated cheese. How DO they do it? These folks are always frying croutons, whipping up homemade hot chocolate, baking an apple tart using apples from the backyard tree, simmering cream soups or vegetable pastas, stirring up something tasty with canned tuna … or even making quiche! How is it that even carbs aren’t a problem for them? This is proven routinely by the unending ubiquitous photos of yard-long baguettes being carried home by slim citizens riding bikes down tree-lined sunny Paris streets. (Well, right now they’re limited to an hour out a day and can’t go far from home. Sigh.) Over the years I’ve been writing the blog, I’ve read and seen quite a lot about this phenomenon, but staying in France for two weeks a couple of years ago gave me a much more complete and definitely personal insight. I’m finding it all definitely useful in today’s cooking world.

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Mesa Apple Tart and Other Miracles

While our world feels like a fearful, indescribable mess — and it is, dear friends — I can handle it better if I’m baking. Especially for a holiday and, like it or not, Easter’s coming. Think renewed life, rebirth, clean beginnings — positive thoughts for anyone of any faith or none. We need this now, even if only two are gathered. A holiday for a duet is a tender occasion and while there’ll be a gorgeous lamb chop a piece and not our huge traditional Italian roasted leg of lamb for a crowd, we’ll also have dessert to remember this spring by.

One of my Easter tables.

I’m looking at Susan Hermann Loomis’ recipe for lamb chops. You might, too. (Do you know Susan’s work? She’s one of my very favorite cooking teacher/writers.) I squirreled away the chops weeks ago, but there’s still time for you to get some. Or something else you fancy more.

Need more Easter or Good Friday ideas? Just type “Easter” into the search window. You can also type “brunch,” “eggs,” “lamb,” “Friday Fish,”etc.

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes or Bunny Cake

 
 
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
 
What better for Easter dessert than carrot cake?  I’ll freely admit I love carrot cake and am happy for an excuse to make it; Easter’s one of those rare times when I whip up a big fattening dessert and don’t worry about it.   There are usually some other folks willing to eat most of it and I can send leftovers home  with children.  All right, I do keep a bite or two for Dave and I to share on Monday.  There’s a link about making the bunny cake, though it’s fairly obvious, and if you make the cupcakes, let the kids decorate them with the cream cheese icing and jelly beans.  They’re pretty on a big tray filled with Easter “grass.”
 
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Disclaimer: I decorate about one cake a year, so forgive my cake. I do always have fun doing it, whether for adults, kids, or a mix.  This old-school bunny method has been around for decades and is simple and easy for children or for anyone who doesn’t have cake decorating skills or equipment.  Icing, jelly beans, licorice whips, and food coloring-dyed sweetened coconut are all you need..
 
(below:  Miss Gab and Tucker all ready for Easter.  Miss Gab wanted a bonnet I refused to buy.)
 
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Note: This recipe has shown up on the blog before, but it bears repeating. It comes from our housekeeper at Woodlawn Plantation –where I worked years ago — Grace Herson.  If we had someone special coming for dinner at Woodlawn, Grace made carrot cake.  When I left, the women in the house wrote a cookbook for me.  Grace’s addition was this cake.
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Grace’s Carrot Cake

Warnings: This cake, while totally delicious, is prone to a sink hole at its center for the 9×13 or 2 9″ layer versions. Fill it with icing and no one’s the wiser. After years, I still can’t fix the problem.

UPDATE:  The hole in the center problem can be helped by either grating the carrots by  hand and pressing out extra moisture with paper towels or grating them with the food processor and letting them dry for 30 minutes on sheet pans and then pressing out extra moisture with towels. (See photo at bottom of post.)  The problem evidently comes from the weight of the extra water in the carrots.

The cupcakes easily run over and sometimes have a hole, too.  Don’t overfill the cupcake tins and, if they still over run, scrape them each back off the tin carefully and remove to cool on rack. Trim, cool completely, then cover with icing!

makes 1 9×13 cake,  2 9″ layers for one bunny cake+, or about 24 cupcakes      
 
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs (I use extra large at altitude or add an extra egg.)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I use Canola now)
3 cups grated carrots (blotted dry w/ towel if you use food processor or the extra liquid will make the cake sink-which it may do anyway.)
1 cup chopped walnuts
 
 
Icing:  8 ounces cream cheese, 4 Tablespoons softened butter, 3 1/2  cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  (If you make cupcakes, use 350 F.)

 
Cake: mix dry ingredients together and add eggs, oil and mix well. Add carrots and nuts and mix well again. Turn into greased 9x13x2″ pan  or scoop into cupcake tins* and bake 45-55 minutes for cake, 25-30 for the 9-inch pans, and about 20 minutes for cupcakes or until a toothpick stuck in middle comes out clean. Cool well in pan, if making the 9×13. Remove cupcakes from the pans and cool on racks.  For 9-inch round pans –used for bunny cake — let them cool in the pans about 10 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely.  Bang pans soundly on the counter before tipping out.
 
Ice all cakes when completely cooled, piping icing  onto cupcakes and topping with a bit of tinted coconut and 3 or 4 jelly beans, if desired.
 
Refrigerate if not eating that day. Cake freezes very well for up to one month.
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*I like muffins and cupcakes baked right in the greased tins so that the cake batter hits the hot metal directly for a nice crust instead of steaming in the paper liners.  If you’d like to use paper liners, which many bakers do, please feel free.
 
+The two nine-inch layers form the bunny:  one layer is her body and the other layer is cut into three pieces that form the two ears and the bow tie.  See Bunny Cake directions below.
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Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter together very well for 2 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar (or you’ll have a big mess). Beat in vanilla and whip icing until very smooth.
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bunny cake:   If you’d like to make this into a bunny cake, follow these directions.

 

{printable recipe for cupcakes or 9×13 cake}

 
Here’s what my 9×13 cake looks like with my oh-so-artsy carrot at center.  (Just draw a carrot with greens freehand with a toothpick and fill with orange frosting for carrot and green for the greens.)
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Sing a new song,
Alyce
 
 
below:  drying out the shredded carrots.
 
 

38 Power Foods, Week 36 — Rainbow Trout — Pan-Fried Trout Brunch with Red Pepper-Zucchini Potatoes and Fried Eggs

 
Skip the quiche this Easter and fry up a tasty rainbow trout to go with your eggs and a big platter of potatoes with peppers and zucchini. While this is a lovely and not too time-consuming brunch (no do-aheads), it necessitates planning and … well …and doing things in approximately the order (see below), as fish waits for no one.  
Servings:   One fish will serve two people generously.  There’s plenty of Avocado-Basil Mayonnaise and potatoes for four. If you do have four, you’ll need to buy two trout and cook one, putting it in the warming oven while you cook the second.   Alternately, each of the four of you could have a small serving of the single trout.  With the eggs, it’s a filling meal.
       

1.  Make the coffee.  You’ll need it.  Take four eggs out of the frig. 
2.  Set the table–including butter, jam, salt, pepper, water, etc. (Or have a helper do this.)
3.  Make the avocado-basil mayonnaise and place on table.*
4.  Slice half a lemon and put on table.
5.  Make the potatoes and vegetables; place in 200 degree oven to keep warm.*
6.  Set up toaster with bread, but don’t push down yet.
7.  Make the three large dishes with flours and wet mixtures for fish.*
8.  Heat oil in skillet to fry fish.
9.  Set up skillet for eggs; melt butter.  Turn off.
10. Fry fish.*  When you turn it over, start the eggs and push down the toast.
      A helper at this point would be nice.
11. Pour coffee.  Bring oven vegetables out and place on platter.
12. Drain fish on a paper-towel lined baking pan or platter.
13. Gently place fish on top of hot potato mixture.
14. Butter toast and serve up eggs.
15. Enjoy it while it’s hot served with the Avocado-Basil Mayonnaise.
*=Recipe included

AVOCADO-BASIL MAYONNAISE

To the work bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, pulse together until pureed:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Flesh of one avocado
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon whole grain or Dijon-style mustard
Pinch each:  kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Generous shake or two of hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Makes about a cup.  Refrigerate leftovers well-covered; use for vegetable dip or salad dressing.

POTATOES WITH PEPPERS AND ZUCCHINI

1 tablespoon each: olive oil and butter
 Pinch crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
2 large russet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small onion, chopped
Kosher salt; fresh ground black pepper
2 small zucchini, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
1 clove garlic, minced  
2-3 tablespoons water 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place potatoes in a microwave safe container with a splash of water, cover tightly, and microwave at full power for three minutes.  Drain.

Heat oil, butter, crushed red pepper, and rosemary in a large, deep skillet over low heat for a minute or two.


Pour the drained potatoes, red bell pepper, and onion into the heated skillet and season well with 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper; raise heat to medium.  Cook five minutes or until bell pepper is softening; add garlic and zucchini.  Spoon in water, stir, and cover.  Lower heat again and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Spoon vegetables onto an oven-safe platter or container and place in oven to keep warm while you cook fish and eggs.  When trout is about done (after turning over), remove from oven and place on a serving platter if needed.

PAN-FRIED TROUT

Don’t be scared; he doesn’t bite.

  • 1 cup all purpose white flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided 
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped parsley and dill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk 
  • Hot sauce 
  • 1 approximately 3/4-pound cleaned rainbow trout, head and tail left on (rinsed and patted dry)
  • Olive oil
  • Canola Oil

 

1.  Into one of three shallow bowls, place 1/2 cup flour mixed well with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2. Into another bowl, place the rest of the flour, the cornmeal, fresh herbs, lemon zest, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt,  and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.
3.  Into the third bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 4-5 drops hot sauce.
4.  Dip both sides of trout first in the flour-salt-pepper mixture, then in the buttermilk mixture, and last in the flour-cornmeal mixture.  Set on plate while you heat oil.
5.  Into a large, deep skillet, pour a mixture of olive and canola oil to fill the skillet 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep.   Heat over medium-high heat.  Gently lay fish in the oil and cook 4-5 minutes or until quite brown on one side.
6.  Carefully turn fish and cook another 2-3 minutes or until browned and, when tested inside, fish is firm and flaking.
7.  Drain fish on paper towels while you fry four eggs in prepared skillet (no recipe included.)  and make your toast.
8.  Gently transfer fish to the platter with the warm potatoes and vegetables.  
9.  Using a sharp, serrated knife and cooking fork, separate head from the body of the fish with a quick cut.  Gently pry apart the opened body of the trout to expose the spine, bones, and flesh.
Filet by removing as much of the skeleton as possible.  Cut fish in half and serve with eggs, potatoes, avocado-basil mayo, and toast.  I leave the tail on for serving.  Watch for bones!

You CAN also filet the trout before cooking; I think the trout is tastier cooked whole.

For detailed trout prep, check this out. 

… … … … …
rainbow trout are sustainable native American fish with a beautiful, delicate flavor.  To me, they’re the American version of sole, one of my favorites.  At about eight dollars a pound for fresh trout, they’re a perfect value for healthy, omega-3s and also have plenty of B vitamins and antioxidants.  Racking up a whopping! 260 calories per six-ounce serving (approximate) makes trout a top-value food.  Catch them yourself or buy farmed trout at your supermarket or fishmonger.
… … … …

 38 Power Foods is a Team Effort!

Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

All sites may not blog power foods each week.

  

ON MY DINNER PLACE BLOG THIS WEEK:

MY VERY BEST FROSTED BROWNIES, A SMALL PAN:  

 

Sing a new song,
Alyce