All Posts Tagged ‘Brunch

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sunday brunch: tina’s favorite breakfast sandwich.

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GUYS. Guys. Big news over here at Plumber’s Daughter. It took 35 long years, but I think I’ve finally landed on a favorite food. Say what?! Yes, it’s true. This may be an easy choice for you; for me, it’s a constant struggle. Do I choose a cuisine? A dish? A piece of meat or a vegetable? OH, THE STRUGGLE.

But. I had a good think about it, put on my big girl pants, and made a decision. And my decision is that I am hopelessly in love with the classic that is a perfect breakfast sandwich. It brings me a level of joy rarely achieved by other things, and I savor every single bite anytime this business lands on my plate.

So now I’m committed. I’ve chosen. I’m ready to get serious. Me and my breakfast sandwich can live happily ever after in favorite food harmony. Can I get a YUM and a HECK YES and a WOOOOO.

If you, too, would like to experience the level of joy I feel digging into this little ditty, I suggest you follow this lovely little recipe. It’s a traditional take on a breakfast sandwich — the rich, buttery flavor of over easy eggs, the salty, chewiness of thick cut bacon, the crunch of a perfectly toasted English muffin. Add in a little sharp cheddar for a kick and some dressed greens for a little tang and you’re in business. Serve with a small salad, some sliced fruit or your fave breakfast potatoes and you’ve got a banner meal to start your day.

It’s my favorite, and I can’t wait to dig in. Shall we?

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Tina’s Breakfast Sandwich
Serves: 2 (makes 2 sandwiches)

You will need:

2 English muffins, split in half
4 strips thick-cut bacon
2 eggs
4 thin slices sharp cheddar or 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus more for spreading
½ cup greens, such as arugula, mache, or spinach
lemon juice & olive oil or your favorite vinaigrette
garlic salt
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kitchen equipment: small nonstick sauté pan, medium sauté pan, metal spatula, tongs

Fry the bacon. Starting with a cold medium sauté pan, add bacon strips in a single layer. Turn the heat on medium-low. As the pan heats, the bacon will begin to sizzle and the fat will render. Once the bacon begins to curl and shrink, you can flip the pieces using your tongs and continue to cook. Everyone has their favorite way to serve bacon, so it’s really up to you how much longer you cook it. Obviously the longer you cook it, the crispier it will be, and don’t forget that it will continue to cook a bit longer after you pull it from the pan. Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Toast the English muffins. One of my favorite elements of a good breakfast sandwich is the crunch of the bread, whatever bread you may be using. You want the bread to be appropriately crispy as a nice texture contrast to the egg and bacon, but you don’t want it to be so crispy that it becomes difficult to eat. To get the perfect crunch, you can either toast the English muffins in your toaster on a light setting, or my preferred method, which is to spread a bit of butter on the muffins, season with salt and pepper, then place under the broiler in your oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven or toaster and set aside. You’ll toast these again when you melt the cheese, so don’t worry if they’re not quite crunchy enough yet.

Cook the eggs. This step is by far the trickiest. Cooking a perfect egg is still something I’m working on myself, but if you master the right technique, you’ll at least produce something delicious. You may have to practice a bit before it’s actually delicious AND pretty.

To get started, heat your small nonstick sauté pan over low heat and add one tablespoon butter. Crack your eggs into a small bowl or ramekin. Once the butter is fully melted and has stopped foaming, add the eggs to the pan and immediately lift the handle of the pan about an inch off the stove so the eggs pool in the far end of the pan. Hold for about 30 seconds, then slowly lower the pan. This simple step will ensure that the whites of the egg don’t spread all over the pan and will allow for easier flipping later.

Season the eggs with salt and pepper, and cook until the whites turn opaque, shaking every once in awhile to ensure they don’t stick. And now comes the flipping. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and maybe give yourself a little pep talk. You can do this, I promise. When you’re ready, raise the pan about a foot off the stove, and in a confident motion, push the pan away from you and then pull back towards you as the eggs flip. If you don’t get it the first time, try again. If all else fails, take your metal spatula and give the eggs a little push.

After successfully flipping the egg, count slowly to 10 then flip again for an over easy egg, more like 30-45 for an over medium. I don’t mess with eggs that are more than over easy, but if you prefer a firmer egg, just continue to cook until it’s to your liking.

Once you’ve flipped the egg back to its original size, it’s basically done, so you can slide it out of the pan onto a plate. Set aside and turn your attention back to the muffins.

Melt the cheese. Turn on the broiler in your oven if it’s not on already. Take your pre-toasted English muffins and add one slice or a good pinch of shredded cheddar to each. Place under the broiler, and watching closely, melt the cheese until it is bubbling and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a pinch of garlic salt.

Dress the greens. Wash and pat dry your greens, then add them to a small bowl. If you’re using lemon and olive oil, add about a teaspoon of each, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently until coated evenly.

Bring it all together. OK, game time. Take your melty, cheese muffins and place them on your serving plate. Place an egg on two of them. Top each egg with two slices of bacon and a small handful of greens. Top the sandwich with the spare muffins.

Consume immediately. Get messy with it. Let the egg run all down your arm and don’t even worry about it. The mess it worth the experience of this salty, cheesy, rich and tangy wonder.

There are a million ways to make a breakfast sandwich, and I’m sure about 956,874 of those ways are fantastic. But this one is mine. It’s simple, it’s traditional, and it’s crazy delicious. You do you, I’m stickin’ with mine. Enjoy!

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A look back — 2015 in review.

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A week late because that’s how life works.

2015. What a year. Truth be told, it was a doozy. I got to stroll through Paris on a perfect summer’s night and I got to relish the view from atop Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai. I also experienced the absolute punch in the gut of my father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and have spent much of the year coming to terms with what that means for him, for me, and for our family. I left an old job, I got a new job, I left New York! I laughed (a lot), I cried (a lot, mostly behind closed doors but occasionally in the middle of dinner with friends because they are wonderful and they care about me immensely), I cooked and ate a lot a lot (some healthy, some not so healthy, some downright indulgent). The highs were really high and the lows were really low, and I end the year on a different coast than I started. And through it all, this little blog o’ mine was a constant source of comfort and a creative outlet and a way to connect with all of my people (all 35 of you).

So in celebration of all that was, here are a few highlights of the culinary variety that I will cherish from 2015.

Favorite Things I Ate in 2015
Dumplings with Black Vinegar & Chili Sauce in Flushing, NY: Do yourself a favor the next time you find yourself in the New York City metropolitan area: take the 7 train all the way to the Flushing Main Street stop, head across the street to the New World Mall and take the escalator down to the basement food court (just go with me on this one). Look for the two little ladies in the corner making dumplings by hand. Run to them as if they are your long lost surrogate Chinese grandmothers. Order one of each kind of dumpling (the pork and chive are my faves) and dive right in (don’t forget the black vinegar. Never forget the black vinegar). They’re cheap, authentic and crazy delicious. You’ll work up an appetite on the commute out, but your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.

Brillat Savarin Cheese in Paris, France: How can you go wrong with French cheese? The answer is you cannot. But when I laid my hands on this creamy slice of heaven for the first time (shout out to the cheesemonger in Montmartre who steered me in this glorious direction), it was like I had never eaten cheese before. Rich, creamy, perfect for slathering on a freshly baked french baguette. Did my cholesterol suffer as a result? Definitely. Was it worth it? Hoooooo boy was it ever. (P.S. they sell this cheese at Whole Foods so get thee some toute suite).

Kauai Waffle with Mango & Bananas and Coconut Syrup at Hanalei Coffee Roasters on Kauai, HI: Hi, my name is Tina and I don’t like sweet breakfast foods (Hi, Tina). I know, I’m a weirdo but give me bacon and eggs over pancakes any day of the week. Except Saturday, June 20th, 2015, when I first experienced the Kauai waffle. This tiny coffee shop on the North Shore of Kauai churns out these bad boys for locals and tourists alike, and you’d be a fool to pass on them. They’re light and fluffy and I swear the fruit gets picked off of a tree out back, sliced up and placed directly on the waffle because it is the freshest fruit I’ve ever tasted. Also, coconut syrup. Who knew? A revelation.

Sushi from Shoga in Sandpoint, ID: Yes, that’s right, the best sushi I had all year was from a sushi bar in Idaho. Deal with it, snobs. The fish was crazy fresh, the sushi rice was on point, and I’ve never had better spicy tuna. Look ‘em up the next time you’re in North Idaho (because I know that’s a regular destination for all of you); their sister restaurant, 41 South, is also a treat.

Pan Roasted Cauliflower at Imperial in Portland, OR: My first truly great meal after my return to Portland! This city knows what it’s doing when it comes to food (see here please), so I wasn’t at all surprised that my meal at Imperial was fantastic. But the star of the show was the pan-roasted cauliflower with hummus and cara cara oranges. You know when cauliflower gets nice and brown and crispy and caramelized and it’s just the best? This was that x 1000. The rich earthiness of the cauliflower was perfectly paired with the brightness of the oranges and the hummus just rounded everything out in the best, creamiest way possible. Had I not been in a public setting, I definitely would have licked the bowl. But maybe I also did lick the bowl anyway? #sogood

Favorite Things I Cooked in 2015
Ricotta Toast w/ Lemon & Honey: Simple, easy, can be done a thousand different ways. Toast had a moment in 2015 and I was right there to try ‘em all. This one, however, came out on top for me (closely followed by OG Avocado Toast), due to its simple, fresh flavors of Spring.

Cacio e Pepe: This was the dish I came back to most in 2015. There really is nothing more satisfying than a simple bowl of pasta and cheese, and it’s so easy to throw together and so easy to jazz up, I will eat cacio e pepe for many years to come.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake: Showstopper! This was a fun one. One of those recipes that you try on a whim and you probably don’t make very often because it’s, shall we say, rather labor intensive. But it was equally as delicious and was a big hit among my rhubarb-loving coworkers. Plus, it’s real pretty.

Chicken Tortilla Stew: My favorite Fall/Winter dish, this one got a lot of people talking. It’s spicy and tangy and it warms your insides, perfect for an afternoon of football or a Saturday night dinner party or reheated on a chilly Tuesday. It’s all things to all people, the everyman’s stew. And it’s just crazy good.

Cinnamon Rolls & Bacon on Christmas Morning: OK, I’ll amend my ‘no sweet breakfast foods’ to include one item — I LOVE cinnamon rolls. So this year I thought I’d make them from scratch for Christmas morning (these ones, if you’re curious). And they were great! They aren’t beginner’s baker territory (any recipe that spans over multiple days is not for a beginner in my book), but they were worth the effort. Fry up a little bacon along side and you’re all set. Heart attack! Come at me.

Favorite Food Memories of 2015
Brunch at Russ & Daughters in New York, NY: Such a quintessential New York day. You get out of bed early, throw on about 16 layers of clothing and head out into the sub zero temperatures. Gotta get those bagels, y’all. I met a few favorite friends and we sat around in our cozy sweaters and gobbled up our perfect bagels with perfect lox and perfect cream cheese and it was heaven. Lots of laughter, lots of coffee, endless potato latkes. A cozy respite of warmth from an otherwise chilled to the bone day. I love New York for days like these, they are what makes the city so goddamn special.

Dinner at Bistroy Les Papilles in Paris, France: Bold statement — this was my favorite restaurant meal of 2015. I mean, they had a bit of an advantage going in, seeing that this is a tiny bistro in Paris run by a Michelin-starred chef that is also a wine shop and you choose your dinner wine by grabbing a bottle off the wall. It feels like you’re being invited into the chef’s home to eat, and eat you do, incredibly well. The entire meal was perfection — from the delicious wine to the falling off the bone lamb shank (oh, the lamb shank), to the gorgeous cheese course to the creme brûlée for dessert. My dinner date and I stumbled out of the restaurant as if in a fever dream, not quite sure what we had just experienced was real (also, we were probably drunk). It was insane, I still dream about it, I won’t ever forget it.

Tart night in New York, NY: Bolder statement — this was my favorite home-cooked meal of 2015 (not really a bold statement). My absolute favorite nights are those that come together spontaneously. You go in with no expectations because you’d had no time to build it up in your head, and you end up having the best of times. A roof deck with a perfect view of Manhattan at dusk doesn’t hurt either. What started as a wild experiment in baking ended in a laughter-filled night with favorite friends, gobbling up summer’s bounty and washing it down with endless rosé. Good food, good friends, good wine — what more could a girl ask for?

Clamming on Long Island, West Islip, NY: One of the saddest things I can think of is the potential of a shellfish allergy. I don’t have one, THANK GOD, but if I did, there would be tears. And because I don’t have a shellfish allergy, I was able to fully embrace digging around in the sand of the Great South Bay lookin’ for clams with my favorite LI residents. Clamming is not a graceful exercise; it mostly involves wading around in hip deep water digging your heels into the sand waiting to feel the bump of a shell. Clamming is not a speedy exercise; it takes a few hours at minimum to produce a take large enough for an actual meal. But. BUT. When you take these puppies home, scrub ‘em up, and steam them juuuuust enough to open with a little white wine and garlic and fresh herbs, it is all WORTH IT. Man, is it. Company wasn’t too shabby either.

Lunch at Machine Shed, Davenport, IA: This was a bittersweet memory. There was the joy of having most of my Radeke family together again at one table, something we haven’t done in many years. There was some really, really good fried chicken and biscuits. Maybe the best I’ve ever had. And there was the ultimate realization, through a few simple interactions, that my father is sick, and things will never be the same. I walked away from that meal with two things: One — the belief that family is everything and moments like that are not endless, so you better cherish them while you can. And Two — a butter dish shaped like a cow.

So much good in 2015, and so much good to look forward to in 2016. I hope all of you had memories to cherish from the last year, thank you for sticking with this crazy ride of mine along the way!

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sunday dinner: baked eggs with kale & pancetta.

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Guys. As much as I would like to say SPRING IS HERE, REJOICE! It’s just not true. The sun may be a-shinin’, but it’s still frightfully cold in the Northeast. I still have to suit up in my big winter coat and my scarf and my fuzzy boots, and the wind still nips in that maddening way.

And while I’d like to be wearing a lighter jacket and skipping off to the farmers’ market to buy asparagus and ramps and green garlic and all of those other lovely spring treats, I am instead staying home under a blanket because it’s 25 degrees and there are ‘flurries in the forecast’.

Ho hum.

So what to eat when you’re deep in the ‘when the F will this Winter be over’ blues? Something homey and comforting, buttery and salty and peppery — something like baked eggs with kale and pancetta. It’s a polished and chic dish that is almost a one pot meal, and it’s a cinch to pull together. You can whip it up, then dive back under the covers and enjoy the fruits of your labor while binge watching Empire. Or Call the Midwife. Or House of Cards (OK, so I’m painfully late to the Season 3 party. Can I live?) Whatever your choice, this dish will help you forget, if even for a moment, that it’s nearly April out of doors but it still feels a whole lot like January.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Baked Eggs with Kale & Pancetta

You will need (all of the increments below are listed per person; if you’re preparing for more than one, adjust accordingly):

2 eggs
½ bunch lacinato kale
1 thick-cut slice pancetta
1 clove garlic
1 pat butter
1 tablespoon half and half
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
parmesan reggiano cheese
hot sauce (optional, I used Texas Pete’s)

Kitchen equipment: cast iron or heavy-bottomed saute pan, oven-safe baking dish

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Wash the kale thoroughly, remove the tough inner stem, and chop roughly into big pieces. Dice the pancetta into bite-sized pieces and mince the clove of garlic.

In a cast iron or heavy-bottomed pan, saute the pancetta over medium heat until browned and slightly crispy, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but about a teaspoon of the fat in the pan, then return to the stove and add the garlic and kale. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, until garlic is fragrant and the kale is slightly wilted. Remove from heat and return the pancetta to the pan with the kale. Toss to incorporate.

Add the kale/pancetta mixture to one side of the baking dish, spreading out in an even layer. Crack the eggs into the other half of the dish, being careful not to break the yokes. Place the pat of butter and the half and half on top of the eggs, then season the entire dish with a liberal amount of black pepper.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes for runny yokes, a few minutes more if you like your yokes a bit firmer.

Sprinkle the dish with some freshly grated parmesan reggiano and a few dashes of hot sauce if you like. Serve with crusty bread or toast (I made these English muffins and they are absolutely DYNAMITE) to soak up the delicious, buttery eggs.

Personally I like to make mini open-faced egg/kale/pancetta sandwiches, topped with a few more dashes of hot sauce for an extra kick. However you choose to eat it, you will find it to be rich and fulfilling and cozy. A perfect accompaniment for a winter that just won’t quit.

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sunday (breakfast for) dinner: breakfast pizza, of sorts.

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Sometimes I like to mix it up. Turn things on their heads. Take a risk or two.

And when that comes to food, sometimes that means eating non-dinnery things for dinner. The horror! No, the delicious. I’ve always been a savory breakfast person — there’s just something about eggs and bacon and potatoes that gets me — and when you combine all three together, well that’s just magic. And, just my luck, they also make a fantastic dinner; just as hearty as more traditional options, cozy and satisfying to boot.

If you take it one step further and pop those wonderful ingredients on top of a pizza? Well, that’s just dreamy. Enhanced by the fresh flavors of basil and avocado, you’ve got yourself a treat that’s tasty morning, noon and night.

You ready? Let’s do this.

Breakfast Pizza with Bacon, Potatoes, Roasted Tomatoes & Avocado

You will need:

1 package ready made crescent roll dough
4 strips thick-cut bacon
1 cup frozen hash browns, thawed
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 eggs
¼ cup milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 avocado, chopped
1 lime, halved
4-5 basil leaves, chopped

Kitchen tools: 1 cast iron pan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First things first, fry your bacon. Heat your cast iron pan over medium-high heat until hot, then add the bacon and cook until desired doneness (I’m a chewy bacon girl myself, but if you’re a crispy bacon person, this is your show so go for it). Once cooked, remove bacon from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate. When cool, chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Pour off most of the bacon grease (DO NOT pour down the drain; it’s best to pour into a small bowl or glass to cool, then throw in the trash once cooled and solidified), then using a paper towel spread the remaining grease around the pan. This will ensure that your pizza doesn’t stick once baked.

Then, in a medium bowl, crack the eggs and whisk in the milk and half the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Next, remove your crescent roll dough from the package, unroll, and spread the dough around the pan. Since the dough is square and the pan is round, you will have some excess corners to deal with; you can stretch these and pull them around the sides to create a thicker outer crust.

IMG_0838Once the dough is situated, sprinkle the hash browns over the dough, followed by the bacon, then the tomatoes.

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Pour the egg mixture over the pizza, being careful to keep it inside the dough. Top the egg mixture with the rest of the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

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Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown, the cheese is bubbling slightly, and the egg mixture is solid in the center. Remove from the oven to cool slightly. While cooling, chop the avocado and squeeze the lime juice over the top to prevent browning. Chop the basil and sprinkle over the top of the pizza.

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To serve, cut pizza into wedges with a sharp knife. Spoon the avocado over the top of the pizza and dig in. Salty, cheesy, herby, creamy. Whether for breakfast, brunch, or dinner — this one’s a delicious winner.

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sunday brunch: spinach & bacon strata.

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Greetings from Idaho! And Happy Easter to all. I can’t tell you what a few days in the wilderness does for the soul, but I’m a whole new woman. I’m sleeping like a rock and I’ve got this peaceful, easy feeling (I could write like 67 posts about how much I love The Eagles…but I won’t).

And since I’m feeling rested and renewed, I’m switching things up over here on the blog. We’re doing BRUNCH today. What?! Yes, that’s right. Brunch. It’s my favorite meal, what about you? Easter is kind of like the Superbowl of brunches, so it seems rather appropriate. And when I reach for my go-to brunch recipes, I tend towards the savory and I like me some eggs. If it’s easy to pull together and also delicious, even better. Which is why I love this recipe for a Spinach and Bacon Strata. Homey and eggy and bacon-y, and it’s ready to go in the oven in under 15 minutes.

Spinach & Bacon Strata, adapted from Martha Stewart

You will need:

1 teaspoon olive oil
10 ounces spinach
4 slices bacon, chopped
3 cups bread cubes
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups sharp white cheddar, grated
coarse salt and ground pepper

A little note on this recipe: it is the most flexible brunch recipe that I know. You do not need to use spinach and bacon if you don’t want to. If you’d rather mushrooms and ham, do it. If you are feeling asparagus and turkey, go there. If you want to make it veg, get after it. You do you, this recipe is made for alterations.

OK, back to the main event.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread your bread cubes out on a baking sheet and toss them in the oven while it’s preheating. This will dry them out slightly so they both absorb the egg custard and keep a bit of structure.

Next, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the spinach and cook (or whatever veg you’re going with), stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander and drain, removing as much liquid as possible. Using the same skillet, sauté the bacon until it is fully cooked but still chewy (side eye to those of you who prefer crispy bacon, I just don’t speak your language).

Take your toasted bread cubes and spread in an even layer in the bottom of a pie plate. Spread the spinach and bacon over the top and set aside.

Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, the milk, and about ¾ cup of the cheese. Season with  salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, spinach, and bacon in the pie plate and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake the strata until it is set in middle and golden brown on top, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve immediately, potentially accompanied by some fresh fruit and an aggressively large mimosa. Just a suggestion. It is, shall we say, brunch-erific. Enjoy!