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Though brunch provides the allure of a relaxed meal to share with friends and family, casually sipping on Bloody Marys, the harsh reality is that someone has to get all the food ready to eat early in the morning.  Beside being insanely delicious and versatile, stratas assemble the night before, so serving a crowd in the morning is a cinch!  In our family, we routinely have overnight gatherings and I often make a strata.  All the work is done the day before.    Sometimes I even put the oven on delay start, so it will preheat while I sleep.  When I wake up in the morning with a house full of guests, all I have to do is slide the dish into the oven and make some coffee.

You can make a strata with almost anything.  The eggs and bread are standard, but the vegetables, cheese, or meat that you add are completely up to you.  Bacon Breakfast Strata happens to be one of my favorite combinations.  Brown off the bacon, saute the onion and mushrooms, then mix everything up with a pile of bread and cheese and pour egg and milk over the top.  It is easy.  The bread absorbs the egg and milk overnight and puffs up in the oven.  The interior texture is light and almost creamy, while the top browns and creates a cheesy crunch.  It is delightful.

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The countdown to summer has officially begun.  Summertime is that special time of year when I hang my teaching hat and spend my days tickling my children, swimming, running through the hills, and of course canning the bounty of the season.  So in these final weeks before summer is here, now is the time to clear out the pantry and make  room for another season of dutiful and celebratory filling of jars.  While some canned goods, such as jam, may be stored for longer, I always aim to eat my preserved foods within one year.  Lemon curd is best eaten within 3 to 4 months, after which time the curd may darken, but still be safe to eat for one year.


There are many lovely ways to enjoy lemon curd, but not many that I feel justify me to eat it for breakfast.  Thanks to the ever versatile crepe, I now feel free to indulge myself!  This crepe recipe is directly from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook.  They are  incredibly easy to make and so good.  For this special breakfast, I filled the crepes with lemon curd and topped them with a warm berry sauce made from frozen berries.  The tangy lemon, sweet berry, and buttery crepe make for a beautiful and tasty treat.  It is just the thing for a special weekend breakfast or brunch.

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Spring is officially here!  Despite the heavy rains of late, there are signs of renewal all around.  At our tiny homestead, the fruit trees are blooming, the shrubs sending forth new growth, and the chickens are beginning to really pump out the eggs.  Our five chickens lay almost year round, with a solid month break around the winter solstice.  Now they are back to laying enough that we can count several egg meals a week.

What better way to welcome spring than to enjoy a pure egg, the ancient symbol of renewal, atop a bed of fresh spring greens?  These two signatures of spring work together beautifully to make a special breakfast or a light dinner.  Saute the greens and mushrooms with a little onion and garlic, then crack the eggs right into a depression in the greens mixture.  The egg will set and hold the greens together to form an attractive little basket.  The dish is beautiful to present, incredibly nutritious, and very tasty.  Serve with home fries or toast.

Eggs in a Basket of Greens

serves 4

4 eggs

1/4 cup onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

4 cups chard (or other green), washed

1 Tablespoon butter

Lay the chard leaves flat, cut out the stem.  Stack the leaves neatly and roll lengthwise into a neat bundle.  Thinly slice the bundle to create thin strips of chard (This is important because the long strips get a bit tangled in the pan and contribute to the basket effect).

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add onion, garlic, and mushroom.   Saute 3-5 minutes until softened.  Add chard and season with salt.  Cover pan and cook for 5-10 minutes until greens have wilted and begun to soften.  Stir mixture to evenly distribute all the ingredients.

Make depressions in the greens mixture for each of the eggs.  Crack eggs into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until egg white it set, but yolk is still runny (approximately 10 minutes).  Scoop one “egg basket” on each plate and serve with toast or potatoes.

Here is a printer friendly version of the recipe: Eggs in a Basket of Greens

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Breakfast is a highlight in our house.  We love it.  Eggs a million ways, pancakes galore, beans, granola, you name it.  For some reason though, I always get stuck when I try to make waffles.  The idea of them is so good, but my product tends to leave me unsatisfied. My husband makes a mean waffle, but even when I try his recipe, it doesn’t quite work to my liking.  So the other night, I was blown away when I had my first yeasted waffle at a friend’s gathering.  Sure, it looked like other waffles I’d tried in the past, but the taste was uniquely different.  This may well be my new favorite waffle. Read the rest of this entry »

Easy Cranberry Bread

December 23, 2010


How is it that cranberries have become the icon of the holidays?  Is it their crimson color or their relative scarcity throughout the rest of the year?  Whatever it is, they play a special role during this season.  For some reason, I have been craving cranberry bread.  When I set out to find a recipe, I was surprised that there are very few out there.  The recipe that follows is generously adapted from one posted on Everyday Food (that received mediocre reviews).

I was craving a bread that would celebrate cranberries rich color and tart flavor without distractions from nuts, citrus, etc.  To boost the flavor, I swapped out the whole milk for buttermilk.  The cranberries are chopped and sprinkled with sugar before folding them into the dough.  This sweetens the berries and prevents an overwhelmingly sour pop of cranberry when you bite into a piece.  The result is a quick bread that is perfect for breakfast or brunch during the holidays or any time of year. (Now is the best time to buy cranberries.  They freeze well!)

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Cardamom Bread

December 22, 2010

Every year when I bake Swedish Cardamom bread for our Christmas morning brunch, I wonder why I reserve it for Christmas alone. It is beautiful, relatively easy to make, and tastes so tender and delicious.  I love it!

Cardamom is not a spice that gets a lot of play in standard American fare.  I know it best through Swedish and  Indian recipes.  This bread features it prominently.  The key is to grind the cardamom seeds just before adding to dough.  (Do not use pre-ground cardamom powder, please.  It is not the same.)  I like to hull the pods, then grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle until they are fine, but still contain some larger chunks (think pre-ground pepper and course pepper ground in your mill for a size comparison).  The courser bits add a flavorful crunch when biting the bread.

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For the Love of Pancakes

December 9, 2010

Pancakes are a ritual in our home.   As a child, my mother would spoil me with stacks upon stacks of pancakes any day of the week I wished.  (Thanks Mom!) Now with my own kids, I’m compelled to continue the tradition though the pressures of a busy life generally restrict them to the weekend.  Our weekend is not complete without a heaping plate of steaming cakes smothered in homemade jam or syrup.

Many trials led me to develop this fabulous recipe.  It is truly simple and quick to put together.  You will not need to resort  mediocre mix ever again!  The batter produces pancakes which are thick and fluffy, but not heavy.  Add blueberries or bananas and you have a force to be reckoned with.  Feel free to replace 1/2 of the flour with whole wheat flour. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, combine 2 cups milk with 1 tablespoon  lemon juice or vinegar and let it sit for 10 minutes.

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