Recently in Breakfast Category
What to serve? We were hosting 12 of our family for brunch to celebrate the visit of our Philadelphia cousins and their 2-year-old daughter. Some of the guests were vegetarians, some gluten-free, everyone loves to eat, and I wanted lots of time with the relatives. I decided to make 2 big frittatas as the centerpiece of the occasion.
Eggs are my favorite morning food, but scrambling, frying, and poaching are challenging for a crowd. Frittatas, however, are easygoing because eggs and flavorings are cooked together in one pan without much attention. Added bonuses: they don’t demand toast as an accompaniment- an important consideration for those of us who are gluten free- and they can be prepared ahead and served at room temperature.
After lots of experiments at Bon Appetit magazine’s test kitchen, I favor the following technique to avoid dry or rubbery eggs: I sauté onions and other flavorings in a heavy nonstick skillet, pour in eggs beaten with cheese, stir the mixture a couple of times to mingle the ingredients, cover the pan and cook over a medium-low heat just until the eggs are mostly set with areas that are still runny. I like to sprinkle on a little more cheese before setting the skillet under the broiler to finish cooking the top. The result: a lightly browned beauty with a tender texture.
I like to feast on domestic white truffles a couple of times during the holiday season. These gems may come in small nuggets, but are compellingly aromatic and are easy to find at several Los Angeles county farmers’ markets. For breakfast or brunch, I slice them over farmers’ market eggs softly scrambled with Parmesan cheese, shallots, and chives. For lunch or dinner, they top a simple risotto. The heat of the warm creamy scramble or rice releases the truffles’ mysteriously earthy aroma, transforming the simple dishes into luxurious holiday meals.
The truffles are sold at the Clearwater Farms’ table at three LA county farmers’ markets: Santa Monica
at Arizona and 3rd Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and Hollywood
on Sundays. (Please note, the Santa Monica market will be closed on New Year’s Day.) At $15 an ounce, they are much more reasonable than Italian white truffles. I find ½ ounce per serving makes a good once-a-year treat. When I get my treasures home, I seal them in a glass jar atop arborio
rice for the risotto, and with farmers’ market eggs for our breakfast. Both the eggs and the rice absorb the truffles' fragrance, adding depth of flavor to the final dish.
The cold, windy weekend weather drove me into the kitchen to bake something comforting. In less than 15 minutes I had mixed together a cornbread batter, and in 10 more minutes enticing aromas accompanied the welcome heat radiating from the oven. It was only minutes longer and a golden, crusty loaf was ready to serve with the maple-molasses butter I had whipped together.
The bread is sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with sage leaves. Whole grain cornmeal offers crunch, and buttermilk imparts tenderness. This recipe makes a reliable starting point, but I have fun changing it around. For a healthier version, I replace the butter with light olive oil or vegetable oil, and use whole wheat flour rather than all purpose. Sometimes I season it with rosemary instead of sage, or use honey as an alternative to maple syrup. I have added generous quantities of freshly ground black pepper, and folded in corn kernels.
Williams-Sonoma Cooking at Home is a big, beautiful cookbook, filled with timeless recipes for classic dishes seasoned with modern flavors, food that is perfect for weeknight cooking and entertaining. The book is packed with helpful tips, hints, and charts too. Many of the recipes in the book were developed by excellent writers I worked with during my long tenure as food editor for Bon Appetit magazine, so I feel comfortable saying the recipes in the book are really good.
I have written 5 cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma, and many recipes from my books are in this new compendium. Chuck Williams was my editor, and with my long history of working with Chuck, I was selected to represent Cooking at Home.
Looking through the book and identifying the recipes I created was fun, So I decided to revisit some of them. I came up with this Fig and Anise Quick Bread for my After Dinner
book. I designed the bread to serve with cheese. But on Saturday morning, we enjoyed it with softly scrambled eggs enhanced with fresh goat cheese and thyme. A fine way to start off the weekend.
During the 4 years I lived in Vermont, I developed a hunger for maple syrup and cool, crisp fall days. Come September, I always experience a deep longing for New England, and couldn’t resist an invitation to visit Nova Scotia in northeastern Canada last week. The weather there satisfied my yearnings, the crenellated coast line was dramatic, and the maple trees were just starting to turn red, purple, and gold. Lobster, mussels, and scallops were abundant, as were just picked blueberries.
We visited a maple factory where I learned that northeast North America is the only region in the world that produces maple syrup. Canada is responsible for 85% of that syrup, and Nova Scotia is one of only four Canadian provinces that are rich in maples. Maple syrup is graded according to its color. Canada, the US, and Vermont each use their own rating system, which can be confusing. For details of the classifications, click on this link and then scroll down to "grades", or for ease keep in mind that the lighter the color the milder in taste, the darker the more intense. One more tidbit I found interesting, the color of the syrup darkens as the harvest progresses, the lightest syrup being the first collected, the darkest coming at the end of the season.
I spent an entire day filming a video announcing the new Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking at Home
. This volume offers classic recipes, with modern flavor twists, and is packed with helpful cooking tips. It features over 1000 recipes, including many dishes from the 5 Williams-Sonoma books I have written.
The filming took place in my kitchen, and the crew of 7 people began arriving in the early morning. I am not capable of welcoming people into my home without serving good food, so I laid out a nourishing breakfast that I had designed during the week. Video preparations were demanding, leaving little time to devote to the meal; the breakfast was easy, partially homemade, and entirely delicious.