English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches

One of my favorite things about English Muffins is that they are the perfect size to hold one egg in a sandwich. An easy breakfast can be made by toasting an English Muffin and cooking an egg your favorite way. For me, I like a fried egg best, so that’s what I make. But what about adding a little extra to your sandwich. In the sandwich I made yesterday, I put some butter down on a medium cast iron skillet. I cooked my egg in the center, on one side, I cooked a small handful of spinach. On the other side, I toasted the English muffin, melting some thinly sliced Havarti cheese on it. Put the muffins on first, then the egg, then the spinach. To keep the egg from spreading out too far, I put it in a metal one cup measuring cup and  flip it on the griddle, leaving the cup in place. It holds the egg in place pretty well. You can also cut both ends off a can of tuna or cat food, and use it as a shaper to keep the size right.  The creamy Havarti is a perfect complement to the umami of the spinach.

This morning I made another sandwich. I started with the tomatoes first. I put 8 grape tomatoes in a small pan on medium. I did not add oil at first because I wanted a bit of char….it deepens the flavor and I always like a little char anyway. Meanwhile I heated my skillet for the egg, melting some butter in the center where I would cook it. When the first tomato burst, I put the egg on to cook with a dash of salt and pepper, put the English muffin in the toaster. Then I started to finish the tomato sauce. I added 2 tsp of olive oil, 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and then zested some lemon on top. When the muffin was done, I flipped the egg to cook the other side slightly, put it on the muffin. I then squeezed about 1 TBSP of lemon juice on the tomatoes and stirred. I spooned the cooked tomatoes on the other side of the muffin. It was delicious. The tomato sauce is rich in flavor, sweet with some heat and tartness and of course, the over easy egg added a creamy richness. Yum!

Roasted Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash and peel 1 pound of fresh, raw carrots. Cut into approximately 2 inch long pieces. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast about 30 minutes, turning once so they brown a bit on both sides.

About 15 minutes before the carrots are done, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until transparent, about five minutes.

Crush two garlic cloves and toss in to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add one can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and  4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Remove the carrots from the oven and add to the soup. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool and puree in a blender, Magic Bullet, or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drain 2 cans of cooked black beans. Strain and rinse the beans with water. Add to the soup and stir in gently. Cook on low heat about five minutes, until beans are done.

Serve. You could top with parsley, if you have it. Cilantro or pumpkin seeds would be delicious, too. Some red pepper flakes would heat it up if you dare. You could also add a dollop of sour cream, but then it would not be vegan. Makes 10 cups of soup.

This is a delicious blend of heat from the tomatoes and chiles and the rich, deep sweetness of the carrots with a bit of smokiness from the roasting. It’s delicious.

Smoky Split Pea Soup

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So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.

 

Apricot Pear Sandwich Slaw

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Chop about 1 cup of red cabbage and lightly salt, setting it aside while you make the dressing.

Chop up 5 dried apricots into small pieces. Heat a clean, empty saucepan (no oil, no butter) to med. Add about 5 anise seeds and warm until aromatic. Toss in the dried apricots and an equal amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Cook until the apricots fall apart and are tender, adding more water if necessary. When the water is all soaked into the apricots, add 2 TBSPs of rice vinegar and stir quickly. Toss into cabbage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

With just four ingredients, this achieves a subtle and complex flavor, blending the aromatic pungency of the anise with the sweet tartness of apricots, the bite of the vinegar and the fresh crunch of cabbage. It’s delightful on its own but I made it as a sandwich slaw to use with slice pork roast on bread.

However, before I started to make this, I got a wild idea to make a different kind of sandwich and ended up using it in an amazing sandwich made with Bacon, Eggs, Onions, Pears and Parm. This is plenty for 4 to 6 sandwiches, or a couple small side salads.

Pear & Delicata Squash Soup

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I have an abundance of pears so I decided on making a pear soup. One of my favorite soups is Pear & Parsnip Soup but I didn’t have any parsnips. I had a delicata squash though and thought it looked promising.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Delicata squash
  • 3 small pears or 2 large pears
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • kosher salt

I put my soup kettle on a low medium with the olive oil. I added the diced onions and dried thyme, letting them slowly cook until transparent.

Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped up the squash, reserving the seeds. It made about 2 cups of chopped up squash, perhaps a little bit over.  Adding the squash to the pot, I stirred and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes. While they cooked, I peeled and chopped up the pears and added them to the pot and let it cook a couple more minutes before tossing in the wine and the broth. I turned up the heat so it began to simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes.

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While the soup was cooking, I rinsed the seeds in water and cleaned away the stringy pulp. Pushing the pulp against the strainer mesh helped in cleaning it away. I then heated a cast iron skillet in a dry pan with no oil to a notch above medium. I tossed the seeds in and toasted them with some kosher salt until toasty brown, stirring frequently so they did not burn. These I set aside for garnish.

I let the soup cook until the squash was tender and puréed with an immersion blender. Serving with a few squash seeds on top, it was a delicious soup. The flavor of the wine comes through without overpowering the soup. The sweetness of the pears and the squash make it lush and slightly sweet. It is a light and refreshing soup. This makes six servings.

 

Roasted Radishes and Carrots with Lemon Dill Sauce

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I had far too many radishes from the food bank, so I decided to try roasting them. As you can see they are huge radishes so are relatively mild.

I scrubbed them with a wire brush because the dirt was ground in. It took a lot of work to clean them, but it was worth it. I cut them into halves or quarters depending on their size. I wanted to get them all about 1.5 inches or so. I peeled and cut the carrots to the same size.

This is about eight radishes and 4 carrots cleaned and cut to size.

Preheat oven to 450°. I use paella pan for roasting vegetables. You can use a cookie sheet, bar pan, anything that is on the shallow side. I tossed the radishes and carrots in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. I roasted them until they began to caramelize.

To make the sauce, I heated 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP of flour in a sauce pan, stirring over medium low heat for about four minutes until the flour is completely cooked, but not browned. I then added 1 cup of milk. I had low fat milk on hand, so that’s what I used. I stirred until smooth, adding the zest and juice from one lemon and a bit of dill weed. I used a bit more dill weed than I intended because the bag slipped. It was still delicious.

The contrast between the piquant radishes and the sweet carrots with the creamy sauce was delicious. This made four servings.

 

 

Chop Salad

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This is a simple salad that is fast, easy, crunchy and delicious.

Strain a can of chickpeas and rinse in cold water. Let drip dry a bit before tossing in a bowl.

Chop up the following veggies to add:

  • Dice 1/4 red onion
  • Slice 2 radishes
  • Chop one celery stalk
  • Chop one Carrot
  • Chop some fresh cilantro

Mix together 1 TBSP of seasoned rice vinegar with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. The usual ration of vinegar is 1 to 4 to emulsify, but I like it a bit more vinegary. I do it about one to one, then add some salt and pepper.

It’s better the next day. Makes two servings.

 

Pear, Brie, and Hazelnut Yufka

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This was the fruit and cheese course in the six course Christmas dinner yesterday, a collaboration between my best friend and me. We had a lot of pears so it made sense to use them. I remembered this extraordinary Brie she had at Thanksgiving which I thought would make a great accompaniment. Googling for pear and brie recipes brought up lots of for a tart of crostini. With everything else, it made sense to go for something lighter, with less bread, a naan or pita, perhaps. Then I remembered a recipe in the fabulous Soframiz cookbook I reviewed earlier this year for Yufka, a flatbread that is a tiny bit richer than pita, light and delicate, but not a pastry.  It really worked perfectly.

Yufka Dough:

  • 1 2/3 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Mix the salt and flour in a bowl, make a well and add the water and olive oil. Mix with your fingers until well blended. Then knead for a good three minutes. I counted to 180 kneading. Lightly brush with olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest 4 hours or more. I let it rest overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, divide into 2 oz portions. I used a scale. I expected it to come out to 6 pieces, but it came out to 7. Bonus! Roll it out as thin as you can, use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. It should be thinner than a tortilla and about 8 inches round.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium high. Do not grease. Cook on one side until it bubbles, then flip and cook on the other. About 2 minutes each side. These are partially cooked yufka that finish cooking whenever you do what you do with them.

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The Pear, Brie, and Hazelnut Yufka

  • Pears
  • Brie
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Thyme
  • Toasted Hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 400°. Slice three pears and 12 oz of brie. Lay the yufka on a baking sheet, lay down the layer of pears, add the brie, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle dried thyme over it. Put it in the oven to bake, just until the cheese browns very lightly.

Meanwhile, toast a cup of chopped hazelnuts in a dry pan.

Place each yufka on a plate, sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve warm.

This was so delicious, rich and flavorful without being overly rich. Makes 6.

 

Pear Quick Bread with Buckwheat Honey, Apricots & Pecans

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I had three pears that were so ripe that eating them would have been a mess, so I peeled and mashed them with a fork and decided to try making a pear-based quick bread. I decided the molasses that I usually use for quick bread would overpower the pears and decided to use buckwheat honey instead. I also thought dried cranberries would not work well and opted for dried apricots, a milder flavor.  This takes no special equipment other than a bread pan.

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed pears
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped small)
  • 1.3 cup chopped pecan

Preheat to 300°

First cream 1/2 cup of butter with 1 cup of sugar. I use a whisk, but if you have a mixer, use it. I used room temperature butter, but you can take cold butter, cut it into pieces and then cream it with the whisk. Once the sugar and butter is light and creamy, fluffy even if you have the energy, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking them into the batter.

In a bowl, mix the mashed pears and buckwheat honey together. If you don’t have buckwheat honey, use regular honey, but use a little less. Buckwheat honey is not as sweet tasting.

In another bowl, mix the flour and spices.

Add the pear mixture and the flour mixture about 1/3 at a time, so you blend thoroughly, first the pears, then the flour, pears, flour, pears, and flour.

Finally gently fold in the pecans and the dried apricots.

Pour the batter in the greased bread pan and bake for about 90 minutes. Test with a knife after an hour or so and see if it comes out dry. My bread pan is one of those very thick insulated ones, so I need 90 minutes, but a thin bread pan will cook faster.

Scrambled Eggs with Rocket, Peppers and Onions

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This was a delicious breakfast scramble and so easy.

I heated my cast iron skillet to medium, melting about 1 TBSP of butter, tilting the pan to make sure it was all coated with butter. I had a bag of those mini bell peppers in all colors.  I chopped up about 2 TBSP of red onion, added it to the pan and let it cook. Then I chopped up 2 TBSP of red and yellow peppers and added it to the onions. I cooked until tender. I lowered the heat to low, so I could slow scramble.

While they were cooking, I cracked 3 eggs, added 1 TBSP of water, and blended with a fork. I also grabbed about 1/2 of fresh rocket (arugula) and chopped it up.

After the heat was lowered, I added the eggs and began stirring, stirring, stirring, stirring. Slow scrambling makes super creamy eggs, but they do require a lot of stirring. As soon as the eggs started to solidify, I added the rocket. I did not want it to overcook, so it went in last. I kept stirring until the eggs were done. I then added some salt and pepper to taste. Remember, never add salt to scrambled eggs until they are cooked or they will break.

This was a delicious and hearty breakfast. I like the peppery zest of the rocket.