Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nothing French About this Toast!

Beach Breakfast Blues
There's not much "French" about this breakfast, except the roast on the coffee beans!  Just a quickie to try to get back into the blog, this cold grey Sunday at the beach following Thanksgiving.

Here a few slices of Coppacola heated, and served alongside a scrambled egg accompany the main attraction: Italian bread "toast" that's been sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and topped with crumbled ricotta salata.  Let us not forget the romano that permeates it all.  These are not your mother's left-overs… well OK, so if your name is Jason or Justin they are!

I've been eating better for longer than any one person should probably be allowed, I realize that now (and I didn't start until I was 15 or so… makin' up for lost time, I am!)

To know'a good food is'a to be close'a to God, ah?  Si.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The "OMG let's go back to bed" Bacon & Blue Cheese Frittata

The Bacon & Blue Cheese OHM'GODDA FRITTATA
Bleu cheese makes a quick return this week, because it's what I had tasty in the fredgimator. (This by the way, is what I find to be the key to creative cooking: keeping some good stuff in the house and letting the magic happen!)

This week, I found bacon (yes Bohdi bacon, sit down) and bleu cheese (yes bleu cheese, sit!) in my fridge along with some eggs and an onion. OOH, I thought... Frittata!

Ingredients (for a 6" CI pan*):

(1) small onion
(4-5) eggs, size dependent, beaten
(4-6) slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
(2) oz bleu cheese* crumbled (I used Maytag Bleu - YUM)
(1) medium russet potato, diced
(1) Tbsp butter
(1) Tbsp olive oil

Instructions (this is 30 min all-in, so stick with me):

  • Preheat the oven to 350F & melt the butter w/ the oil in the CI pan on the range
  • Dice the potato and simmer over med/med-low heat in the CI pan
  • Dice the onion to your liking (I like thin slices ~1/2" long)
  • Add the onion to the cooking potatoes (stir to prevent sticking)
  • When the potatoes & onions are cooked soft add the bacon, stir to heat thru
  • About now you should hear "OMG WHAT ARE YOU MAKING?!" fr the bedroom
  • Remove the pan from the heat, and add the egg mixture (smile to yourself)
  • Stir well with a wooden spoon (freeing any goodness stuck to the bottom)
  • Return to the range top over med-low heat and cook 3-6 minutes
  • Using a spatula separate it fr the sides helping it to cook, and preventing stick
  • Add the bleu cheese on top and place it in the oven.
  • Bake 10-15 min til cooked through  (watch, ovens differ, don't burn the bottom.)
Serve with amazing coffee of your choice and when she looks up from her plate with an "OMG look" in her eyes... THAT is when you suggest... ... ...

Happy Weekend my friends and remember - to know good food IS to be close to God.

* Options:
  • for an 8" CI skillet plan on 7-8 eggs, a large potato, and a medium onion.  Increase cheese and bacon as you like.
  • for a cheesier frittata, try adding 1/4c shredded white cheddar and/or more bleu cheese and mixing it in with the egg (I went easy on the cheese today.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"The Quattro-P"

"The Quattro-P" - Poached Parmigiano Prosciutto Polenta
It seems that polenta is enjoying a resurgence in the restaurants lately.  My mom was a fan, and although it took a long time for me to catch on (believe it) I've been a fan for a long time now too.

This breakfast is a reminder that as my mother taught me, if you keep good ingredients in your house, you don't need a lot to create tasty stuff "on the spot."

After a crisp morning walk with my pup (ok, so crisp is a stretch for 33F in almost April, but I'm being positive here) and a hot mug of french press... I'm thinking "I don't have much in the house to eat, and I'd like something tasty with my Saturday morning Jazz" (thanks Uncle Gep.)

I've had spectacular polenta and eggs most recently at Nick's On Broadway so when I saw the polenta in my pantry my mind went straight to work... there was also fresh prosciutto, a nice piece of Parmigiano Reggianito, and some fresh Oregano... breakfast had taken shape and here's how you do "The QP":


  • White Polenta (~ 1/4c per serving)
  • (2) eggs (poached 3 min)
  • (1) slice of fresh, paper thin prosciutto
  • Parmigiano Reggianito, shredded (~1/4c per serving, reserve a bit to top the egg)
  • freshly ground black pepper & sea salt
  • fresh oregano (for garnish, but it's garnish I'm eating!)

Polenta:  Prepare the polenta according to your tastes and the instructions.  I disregard the water recommendations and add water/cook to a smoothness and consistency I like... it takes about 5-10 minutes, and then I let it stand in the pot - it holds heat just fine.

The rest:  I will assume you don't need me to tell you how to poach the eggs, but the "order of operations" once your polenta is standing, is to:
  1. Start the eggs poaching
  2. Add the cheese to the polenta (and a little water, if necessary to achieve your desired consistency. I like it very thick, and find I get good creaminess especially with a lovely cheese like the Reggianito, that I can avoid cream.  Certainly, cream adds decadence but sometimes we can do without... so it's your call, this will be tasty either way.) Move quickly while the eggs are poaching!
  3. Plate the polenta, I used a little crock, as you can see, but any ramekin will work equally well
  4. Place the prosciutto on top of the polenta
  5. Just as the egg(s) finish, place atop the prosciutto & polenta and garnish with the reserved cheese & the oregano.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

The beauty of the "crock" presentation is that the softer polenta (than say if you bake it into a cake) will combine with the egg yolk and the cheese, and then there's the saltiness of the prosciutto and the savory in the oregano, lions and tigers and bears, OH MY... it was good.

So please give it a try, leave me comments, and please remember:  To know good food IS to be close to God.  À salut!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cranberry & Orange Nut Oatmeal

McCann's Steel Cut Cranberry & Orange Nut Oatmeal
Inspired by my conversation with fratre John Reed yesterday, I went digging in my pantry for Oatmeal fixin's this morning.

I found my dried cherries, cran-berries and chopped walnuts and was starting my usual combination when I heard "OOH, OOH!" (like Horseshack from Mr. Cott-air) coming from the cloves and the orange zest on my spice rack - and so naturally, I investigated!

This bowl of delicious-ness is all-natural and unprocessed (enough for me, anyway!) but I'll cut right to the chase:

Ingredients (for single serving, multiply as needed):
1/3 cup McCann's 5-min steel cut oats
1 c water
2-3 Tbsp dried, sweetened cranberries (more/less as desired)
2-3 Tbsp chopped walnuts (more/less as desired)
1/2 tsp orange zest (more/less to taste)
pinch of ground cloves
1 Tbsp REAL maple syrup
1/2 Tbsp (2 pats) of butter
1/4 c whole milk (or 2 Tbsp condensed milk, which is my preference)

Follow the instructions for preparing the McCann's, adding these steps.  note:  this is all easily done in under 15 minutes, so don't start thinking "Oh, this is too complicated for me," because it's not, and I promise you it is SO MUCH BETTER than the flavored sawdust some companies try to pass off as "oatmeal" in those instant packs!  We're talking TEN to FIFTEEN minutes here!  Ok, ready? SO...

  1. Chop the cranberries to a desired fine-ness (you can also leave them whole)*
  2. Crush the chopped walnuts to a desired fine-ness (again, you may leave whole)*
  3. Boil the water (I told you this was easy...)
  4. Add the oats, return to a boil, and lower heat to simmer.
  5. Add the cranberries, walnuts, orange zest, cloves, and 1 pat of butter
  6. Cook the oats to McCann's instructions.  Add a little more water and go a little longer if you like softer (or soupier) oats.  When done to your liking, proceed.^
  7. Add the syrup & mix in thoroughly
  8. Add the milk (If using whole milk, you may need to simmer a little further to reduce again to your desired thickness.  You can also anticipate the milk addition, and call your oats "done" a little sooner in step 6.  With practice you'll find what works for you.  If you use condensed milk, you shouldn't need to simmer any longer, just mix it in and proceed to step 9.)
  9. Pour it into a bowl, add the remaining pat of butter and enjoy with your favorite coffee (or other breakfast beverage... are there other breakfast beverages?  I've heard there are, but I don't know any of them...)
* I like the size of pine nuts for this, and reserve a few to sprinkle on top if you want...
^ I like my oats al dente like my pasta, and find the 5-7 min McCann calls out does it.

I found the flavors at these amounts comforting and subtly complimentary, I don't have a big sweet tooth (or I'd add more syrup) and I like to taste the cranberries and the nuts equally with the natural flavor of the oats!  You can customize to your own palette however; I hope you'll try and leave your comments of how it goes below.

Finally, as I move on to enjoy the rest of my Sunday, with my belly full of tasty oats I will remind you once again:  To know good food is to be close to God, À salut!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lavendar & White Bean Chicken Chili

Lavendar & White Bean Chicken Chili (credit Shipley)
The Blizzard of '13 came upon Providence with full force.  With satellite pictures showing hurricane-like storm characteristics there was only one thing to do - eat!

Last summer, on a trip through Eastern Long Island's wine country, I stopped into Lavendar By The Bay because Abby, a friend of mine, had offered me some fresh lavendar from her garden, and I was looking for ways to use it.

There I found "The Lavendar Cookbook" by Sharon Shipley, which contains the recipe for this magnificent chili.  She lauds it to be a great "Superbowl chili" and I thought that's exactly what I would do.  Well, since I greeted the Superbowl with a nice head cold, I had to bail on the idea.  This weekend though, I got my second chance.

Out of a sense of fairness and professional courtesy, I cannot in good conscience replicate the recipe here without the consent of it's author.  However, it seems Ok to share the general process, and encourage you to obtain a copy for yourself (I'm excited to try more of it's contents soon!):

Shipley calls for 1 lb of great northern beans, soaked overnight, and 2 lbs of white meat cooked in advance and making a broth (I used thigh meat.)  The "chili proper" is made by simmering 1 lb of ground chicken with chopped onion until the onion is cooked translucent, and then adding minced garlic, jalapeño, cumin, lavendar, oregano, marjoram, savory and cayenne.  To this, you drain & add the beans and the broth (from cooking the chicken - dice & reserve the meat for later.)  Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hrs or until the beans are very tender.  Finish by adding a cup of shredded white cheddar (I used Cabot sharp white, from VT) and the reserved diced chicken meat, along with salt & pepper to taste.  Stir this until the cheese is melted & combined.  Shipley suggests serving with sour cream, salsa, cilantro, and additional shredded cheese - which I gladly did!

For salsa, I chose a local RI product by Poblano Farm - their hand made Habanero Salsa, for it's pineapple-citrus undertone and great spice that I thought would compliment this chili chili without overpowering it's flavor while still imparting a solid, "chili-kick" (I think it was the perfect choice!)

I paired the meal with Blue Moon, again for a beer that I felt would bring additional, complimentary flavor to the palette without competing for sensory attention - and I thought the Belgian White (my first) did just that, nicely.

Finally, I'd like to credit the pottery... the crock you see pictured is a NEOSHO Mailsart original, hand crafted by my cousin Denise - artiste and chef-extraordinaire in her own right.

In close, I hope this entry inspires you to expand your own culinary horizons, as my friend Abby's offer of fresh lavendar did for me, by sending me on the trek that ended in a blizzard-taming chili!

Ah Salut and please remember - to know good food, is to be close to God.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Basil-Blues Omelette

Beltane Farms Blue & Basil Omelette

Yesterday my dear friend Abby and I went to the Hope Artiste Village farmer's market in Pawtucket RI.  While sampling the local fare, we happened upon Beltane Farms (Lebanon, CT.)

Their chèvre was divine; smooth and flavorful. As I was savoring the sample he asked "Do you like Blue Cheese?" When I replied "I like ALL cheese" he smiled and said "try this..."

He went on to explain to me that it was a very young blue, aged only 1 month which led to it's creaminess and mild flavor.  I really enjoyed it, and decided to sample it on crostini from baguette by Seven Stars Bakery along with some Côtes du Rhône, by Patrick Lesec (available at ENO.)  I must say - it's a new favorite and I will be heading back to the market for more next week.

Today while enjoying a nice morning walk with my Springer Spaniel Bohdi and some local New Harvest Coffee, I decided I just HAD to have some more of that blue cheese.  My refrigerator revealed some basil in danger of losing it's freshness, a package of english muffins, and some canadian bacon.  While I'm always a fan of benedicts, I decided to go for a light omelette, in which I thought the mild blue would match well with the aromatic basil; and the Cafe 146 Basil-Blues Omelette was born.  Give this a try and remember: to know good food is to be close to God.

Ingredients & Instructions:

  • 2-3 fresh eggs
  • 1-2 oz mild blue cheese, like Beltane Farm's Bleu Moon
  • 4-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped or julienned
  • 3 slices canadian bacon
  • 1 english muffin
  • 1 Tbsp butter
Split the butter, reserving half for the english muffin, and using the other half in the skillet to cook the omelette.  Scramble the eggs and pour into the heated, buttered skillet.  Over med heat, cook the egg (as you can see, I like my omelettes a little browned.)  While the egg is still wet, add 3/4 of the cheese and 4-5 leaves of the basil, and fold over.  Reduce heat and allow the egg to cook through and the cheese to begin to melt.  Once done to your liking, plate the omlette and cover to keep warm.  Heat the canadian bacon in the skillet, and plate with the omelette.  Serve with good coffee (like New Harvest) preferably french-pressed, and the english muffin.

(Diana Krall's voice in the background makes for an exceptionally enjoyable & relaxing Sunday AM.)