As I write, the wind chill factor in Indiana is negative 3-degrees, and there is almost 4 inches of snow on the ground. These photos were taken just over a week ago in sunny Phoenix where the temperature reached 88-degrees! The images of the Desert Botanical Gardens, afternoon markets and open air restaurants are warming, but the memories shared with a dear friend are even more so.
one d.c. afternoon
One D.C. afternoon, I took the Red Line to Dupont Circle station. I walked one block west on Q Street to 21st Street and entered the doors of the Phillips Collection. Next, dreams came true. Sitting on a bench in the Rothko Room, standing in the Laib Wax Room, turning the corner to encounter Bonnard, Diebenkorn, Grandma Moses, and The Migration Series. I consciously reminded myself to breathe.
Hours later I walked back onto the street and consciously reminded myself to eat. Crabcake pasta at Afterwords Cafe, and a buy-one, get-one-free good fortune at Astro Doughnuts (cinnamon and lemon-blueberry, respectively). It was more than two weeks ago, and I am still gathering my thoughts about that one May afternoon.
breakfast at wimbledon (in indiana)
When the players take the grass on center court in England, it is 9am here in the States. We turn the TV set on, and John McEnroe welcomes us to breakfast at Wimbledon. But where’s the grub, Johnny Mac?
One year during the tournament I was staying with my aunt and uncle who are also tennis fans. I will never forget my Uncle George bringing eggs, bacon, and orange juice out to us in the living room during the championship match. “It’s breakfast at Wimbledon, dummy,” he said. Yes it is!
Most years for me, it’s coffee at Wimbledon, but this year I put together a breakfast for my folks (not to mention that they get ESPN, so I can actually watch the sportscast). I baked everything in a 350-degree oven, and the results were nearly trophy worthy.
Nutty Zucchini Boats w/o Nuts
Start with halved zucchini (thank you Mary for sharing your abundance!) and scoop out the middle. Lightly coat in olive oil, sprinkle with raw sunflower seeds, shredded pecorino romano cheese, and a pinch of salt & pepper. Bakes about 35 minutes.
Bacon Wrapped Figs & Pineapple Chunks
Halve raw figs (I used California Mission Figs this time) and chop up chunks of fresh pineapple. Get the best bacon strips you can find and cut them in thirds. Wrap each fig half and pineapple chunk in bacon and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle smoked demerara sugar (ordered some from 240Sweet) over the tops. Brown sugar will substitute. Bakes about 30 minutes.
Ramekin Baked Eggs
Sautee onions, mushrooms, and spinach in olive oil over low heat until the spinach wilts. Place this mix (or whatever mix you like: add peppers, ham, etc) in the bottom of a ramekin. Crack 1-2 eggs over the mix. Spoon 1 teaspoon of heavy cream over each egg. Sprinkle shredded pecorino romano (or your fav. cheese) over the tops, dot with olive oil, and a pinch of salt & pepper. I put my ramekins in a casserole dish and filled the bottom of the dish with water. This step may not be necessary. If you prefer a runny yolk, watch the oven. Bakes about 25 minutes.
Serve with toast, jam, and beverages. CONGRATULATIONS SERENA & ROGER. Hooray over 30 club; looking forward to the Olympics!
yeast-raised pancakes with ginger syrup & oranges
I never met a pancake I didn’t like, and I met a tasty new one this weekend. After flagging the recipe at SweetFineDay over a year ago, I finally got around to making Mark’s Yeast-Raised Pancakes. I remember reading the entry from the Pastry Chef of Whimsy & Spice and thinking to myself, those sound too good to be true: lighter, fluffier, slightly-yeasty pancakes that are ready to cook when you wake up?
Believe it, folks. Whip up the batter before bedtime and by morning you will find that your recipe has raised overnight! All that remains is cook time.
I burned the first few, because my skillet was too hot. After turning the dial down to between the 2 & 3, the pancakes puffed up and cooked throughout while staying golden on the tops and bottoms. The addition of ginger syrup and oranges to the yeasty pancake plate was reminiscent of a Belgian White beer brewed in orange peel. Welcome to the breakfast table at Summerflavorville.
orangina french toast clouds
There’s this magical thing that happens when you slice up a loaf of challah: yeasty cumulus clouds fill the board! The braided kosher egg bread is so beautifully golden and perfect for french toast that it makes any cloudy day feel sunny. Since I had the eggs blown out from my little seasonal decorating project, I made my Orangina French Toast and decided to share the recipe here.
I went through a phase a while back using fizzy beverages in my cooking (Limonata, Jarritos, Ginger Ale, you name it). In my head it perks up anything; who knows if something really is happening there. I may just like the excuse to purchase single soda bottles, add a portion to the recipe, and finish drinking it while cooking (if you cook with wine, you know what I am talking about). The first time I had Orangina was at the rooftop cafe of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Needless to say, it was a good day.
Since Christmas, I have been keeping my new recipes and cards in the book in the first picture: a gift from my brother-in-law’s folks! I will treasure it till the cows come home.
Orangina French Toast for 2
1/3 C milk or cream
1/2 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon or cloves
4 slices challah
Orangina & orange zest
Whisk together first four ingredients. Soak challah in mix for several minutes. Sprinkle with zest and splash with Orangina. Melt one tablespoon of butter (sub oil or use bacon drippings) in skillet. Fry orange clouds over medium heat until golden. Dust with powdered sugar, fruit, or your fav. light amber syrup. Buongiorno!
jingle balls brunch
The holidays are a great time for brunch, don’t you think? This year I put together a brunch where the menu items (except the eggs and beverages) were ball-shaped! It was fun to come up with flavor combos using that shape limitation, and I do believe the meal “made spirits bright.”
Kumquats with Chèvre rolled in Brandied Pecans / Aged White Cheddar & Brown Sugar Bacon Monkey Bread / Twice Baked Mini Mashers / Roasted Cappellini Onions and Grape Tomatoes / Macaroons with Tart Cherries & Key Limes.
Half of the food was prepared in advance. Day before: bake mini mashers once, bake bacon in oven, roll goat cheese balls, make macaroons, wash fruits & veggies. Day of: bake bacon cheddar monkey bread, hollow out mini mashers, roast mini mashers, onions & tomatoes, stuff mini mashers with filling, make eggs.
Black Diamond & Brown Sugar Bacon Monkey Bread (Amy’s Adaptation)
2 Tubes crescent roll dough, balled up (a revelation in semi-flaky monkey bread)
12 slices good bacon, baked with dark brown sugar, broken up (bake your bacon!)
One little block Black Diamond aged white cheddar, chunked up (I used to live on little shrink wrapped packets of this cheese)
Half stick unsalted sweet cream butter, melted
lightly grease loaf pan.
coat each dough ball in butter and fill bottom of pan with dough ball layer.
sprinkle bacon and cheese over the layer.
repeat a few times.
finish with a dough ball layer.
takes about 35 minutes in 350-degree oven. let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to plate.
brunch at marie’s
I always say that my first college roommate was a saint, and she still is. When I visited her last week, she treated me to a super brunch in Grand Rapids at Marie Catrib’s. I loved everything about this place from the people to the flowers to the font all over the restaurant. Not to mention the food! We split two dishes: Marie’s own gluten-free pancakes made with sweet potato and cranberries, served with real maple syrup and honey butter & Esperanza’s Omelette with Marie’s seasoned potatoes. I was having such a good time I had to cut myself off from my fourth coffee refill. Sharing joys and sorrows of the past year goes best with brunch.
skillets and smoothies slow tempo
I went out of town with my sister’s family over the weekend to visit the Museum of Science and Industry and see a baseball game before my nephew starts kindergarten this week. The rain and cooler temperatures were to our advantage, and we enjoyed every minute in the Windy City. Yesterday we filled up with breakfast on the patio at Tempo’s on State & Chestnut. I ordered a Michigan Omelette (cheddar and apples!) and liked the atmosphere that was busy & laid back at the same time. It’s not so hard to wait for malted pancakes if you have a fruit smoothie to keep you occupied!
my grandma’s birthday
My mom’s mom was born on July 3rd the same year as Shirley Temple and Mickey Mouse. Because of her birthday, the 4th of July holiday is among my favorite family holidays, too. As long as I can remember, she invites relatives over to her house on Elizabeth Street for a cookout to celebrate. Some aunts and uncles just walk up the street to her front yard, while the rest of us drive in from different corners of the state or country. The configuration of people varies from year to year, but you can usually count on breakfast at Wimbledon, Lay’s potato chips, Uncle George at the charcoal grill and a coconut cake (Grandma’s favorite). I am thankful for both the verbal and silent support that comes from my family and for the sustained comfort that my grandma has instilled in all of us. These are the days when the familiar beats the new and fancy.