Category Archives: Brunch

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

3 slicesHappy Mother’s Day! I fully intended to post about this cake last week so you would have ample time to plan ahead and make this cake for your mom. But unfortunately, the ultimate mother (Mother Nature), did not cooperate. Local rhubarb only showed up at my market yesterdayfresh rhubarbThe hardest part about making this cake is arranging the rhubarb in this gorgeous chevron pattern. I have been going through a chevron phase for a few years now and I’m still not tired of it. I alternated the rows, cut side up and cut side down, for an ombre effect. Rhubarb Cable Knitbaked 1It really links like a chunky cable knit sweater! Sadly, with my poor fine motor skills, this is as close to knitting that I am ever likely to get. Arranging the rhubarb is really not that difficult to do. It just takes some planning, patience and precision. If that’s not for you, feel free to slice the rhubarb into 1/2 inch thick pieces and just scatter them on the bottom of the pan.

I created this video to walk you through the process.

If you were one of those kids that excelled at Leggo and puzzles, this will be a piece of cake for you. Once you get the main chevron pieces in place, you need to go back and fill in the top and bottom gaps with little wedges of rhubarb. For the record, I am spatially challenged, so if I can do it, anyone can. spooning batter Raw rhubarb is quite astringent, not to mention tough and fibrous. But blanket it with butter and brown sugar and it just it melts into silkiness in the oven.  The sour cream in the batter makes for a super moist cake.

Click here to print recipe for Rhubarb Upside-down Cake.

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one slice

 

 

Asparagus Ricotta Galette

BakedOnce local asparagus shows up, you know that flip flops and a chilled glass of rosé can’t be too far behind. This tart is a splendid way to showcase asparagus, Post-Asparagus Stinky-Urine Disorder, be damned.one sliceMild, milky ricotta is the ideal partner for asparagus. They complement each other perfectly. Ricotta can be a bit bland, so I added  lemon zest, lemon juice and red pepper flakes to ramp up the flavour. Some grated Gruyere cheese and a beaten egg add some heft to the filling.

For the dough, I decided to use Kim Boyce’s Rustic Rye Dough, from her book Good to the Grain. The hearty rye dough stands up quite well against asparagus’ strong flavour.

This dough takes a bit of time and needs several hours to chill. If you don’t have the time or the inclination, I think that this tart would still be very delicious using my go-to simple Galette Dough.making rye dough 1Rye flour, all purpose flour sugar and salt are sifted. Cold butter is worked in with your hands. Ice water and cider vinegar bring it all together.making rye dough 2Once the dough comes together, let it rest in the fridge for about an hour, then roll it into a rectangle, and fold the rectangle into thirds, like a letter. This is similar to the process of making puff pastry. The dough gets rolled and folded two more times and is then chilled for an additional hour. You can make the dough and the filling components a day ahead and then just assemble and bake before you are ready to eat. making rye dough 3making rye dough 4I decided to roll the dough into a rectangular shaped tart, but feel free to to roll it into a circle. I have a strong aesthetic sense and I prefer the linear way the asparagus line up in a rectangular tart.

To punch up the flavour profile even more, I spread the tart with a pistachio pesto (recipe from Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Cook.)  Whole grain dijon mustard or a jarred basil pesto would  be good substitutes.Spreading pistachio pestoSpreading ricotta fillingThe border of the tart just gets folded over the filling. No need to be too precise or precious about it. It’s supposed to be rustic. galette ready for ovengalette cut upThis would be great as a light lunch or dinner, or cut up into smaller squares and served for aperitivo with a freezing cold glass of Prosecco, on the dock. (I have big plans for this tart!)3 plates

Click here to print recipe for Aspsaragus and Ricotta Galette.

Click here to print recipe for Rustic Rye Dough or here to print recipe for Galette Dough.

galette with a glass of wine

E.A.T. Breakfast Sandwiches

breakfast is ready 1This started out as a post about biscuits. Specifically, the amazing biscuits from Biscuit Love, the beloved Nashville brunch hot spot. I had breakfast there last year. Their lofty flaky biscuits, slathered with butter and sorghum syrup were one of the highlights of my visit. Biscuits were added to my must blog about list.

I found their recipe online and read through it very carefully. It’s an unconventional recipe as it uses yeast as a leavening agent. Most traditional Southern biscuits rely on baking soda and/or baking powder. The other unusual ingredient was melted butter. Every other biscuit recipe I have read uses very cold, sometimes frozen butter. The theory behind cold butter is that, when the biscuits hit the oven, the butter begins to melt, causing steam, which contributes to flakiness. This recipe ran contrary to everything I knew about biscuit baking.

I took a leap of faith, mixed up the dough and baked a batch. I split a warm one open, buttered it and took a bite. It was good, but nowhere near as flaky and delicious as I remembered. These were not the biscuits of my dreams. Clearly some more research is needed here before I pass the knowledge onto you.

I decided to turn these passable biscuits into something really special. I created the E.A.T. breakfast sandwich featuring  Egg, Avocado and Tomato. I had some halloumi cheese in the fridge and fried some of that up as well, for a salty, cheesy layer.

I sliced up some pretty heirloom tomatoes, salted them well and drizzled them with olive oil. tomatoes and avocadoesI decided to mash up the avocados to give the sandwich a creamy base. A bit of lime juice, olive oil, salt and some red pepper flakes were added to the mash. Fried halloumi cheese and some fried eggs added the final two layers.ready to assemble

I took an adequate biscuit and turned it into a spectacular breakfast.

I did a bit of research and discovered that Biscuit Love makes 3 kinds of biscuits. The yeast raised ones that I made (also known as Angel biscuits) are what they use for their biscuit sandwiches. They also make a beaten biscuit, which are tiny and firmer, more like soda crackers. And finally, they make a traditional drop biscuit, which is what I must have been  served with butter and sorghum syrup. Those were the lofty flaky biscuits of my dreams. The quest is on to reproduce these biscuits. I’ll be back with something soon, I promise.

In the meantime, feel free to use store bought biscuits, english muffins or even some great bagels for this sandwich.

Click here to print recipe for E.A.T. Breakfast Sandwiches.

 

Mexican Frittata

cooled and ready to cutI struggled with what to call this dish. To give you a better idea of what I created, try to imagine if Shakshuka and Nachos were to hook up. This dish would be their love child.

I first had Shakshuka a few years ago in Israel. It is essentially eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin. My husband loved it and kept asking me to recreate it at home. While I loved the classic rendition, I couldn’t resist tampering with it. Ingredients for sauceI began with the usual base for a Shakshuka sauce; canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and sweet peppers. I took a page from Mexican sauces and added a few dried chile peppers. I used an ancho and a guajillo pepper. Dried peppers add a depth of flavour you just can’t get from chile powder. Here is a great primer if you want to learn more about cooking with dried peppers. Many of the more popular dried peppers are not that spicy, so don’t be afraid. I added corn to my sauce because corn makes everything better.cheesesI knew that I wanted to top the dish with cheese, because, Nachos need cheese. I settled on a mix of cheddar, Monterey Jack and Queso Fresco, a mild cow’s milk cheese. If you can’t find it, Ricotta Salata would be a good substitute, or just use extra cheddar and Monterey Jack.

Rather than fooling with poached or fried eggs, I decided to make it easy and use scrambled eggs. Inspired by matzoh brei (fried matzoh), I briefly mixed the tortilla chips with the eggs, before pouring them over the tomato sauce. I added some chopped pickled jalapeños to the eggs for a bright bit of heat. ready for oveneggs and tortillasready to assembleready for ovenI served it with black beans, salsa and sour cream. Diced avocados or some guacamole would also be very welcome at this fiesta. ready to eat

Click here to print recipe for Mexican Frittata.

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Breakfast Pizza

cutting-leek-pizzaI blame my addiction to online shopping on my late paternal grandmother, my Bubbe. I grew up in Toronto, but she lived in Philadelphia. At least twice a years would send us her special poppy seed cookies. She always packaged them in a shoe box for mailing. I was conditioned to anticipate the arrival of apparel boxes at a very early age. It’s not my fault.

If you think about it, online shopping is really just the evolution of 20th Century catalogue shopping. If you are Canadian and of a certain age, you will remember The Eaton’s Catalogue. As a child, I spent many happy hours lusting after Barbie clothes and accessories. Not much has changed.

I recently discovered an unexpected bonus of online shopping. With my Amazon Prime subscription, I have access to Amazon TV. While making these breakfast pizzas, I began binge watching Good Girls Revolt. I had been feeling a bit lost after finishing Downton Abbey, and this series is filling the void.

Feel free to use store-bought pizza dough, or make your own. I am a big fan of Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough. All you do it mix flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Cover it and let is sit overnight until it becomes all bubbly. I have included the recipe for it at the end of this post.

My breakfast pizzas were inspired by an episode on Cook’s Country

The first one I created starts with a ricotta and feta base and is topped with nests of sautéed leeks cradling golden eggs.leek-pizza-mise-en-placespreading-ricottapouring-egg-into-leek-nestEach bite delivers a perfect combination of texture and taste; crispy, bubbly crust, creamy ricotta, gooey mozzarella, tangy Gruyere and golden brown caramelized leeks.  Topping this pizza off with eggs may seem like excess, but trust me, when your fork breaks the sunny yolk, and you drag the crust through that golden eggy goodness, you will thank me. slice-of-leek-pizzaMy second breakfast pizza is Southwestern, featuring tomatoes, corn, jalapeño, avocado and cilantro.tomato-nestsThinly sliced grape tomatoes form the nests to hold the eggs. pouring-egg-into-tomato-nestThe avocado and cilantro are added after cooking. tomato-avocado-pizza-sliced

 

slice-of-tomato-pizza

Click here to print recipe for Ricotta-and-Leek-Breakfast-Pizza.

Click here to print recipe for Tomato-and-Avocado-Breakfast-Pizzas.

Click here to print recipe for Jim-Laheys-No-Knead-Pizza-Dough.

breakfast-for-2