Finding Thyme to Cook

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Archive for the category “brunch/breakfast”

sausage pancake sticks

Sometimes our neighborhood seems like it is straight out of the 50s and we have great neighbors.  We often see kids playing in the yards, riding skateboards, bikes, and scooters down the street, with parents close by keeping a watchful eye on everyone – we even have Block Parties!!  On our frequent walks, many neighbors stop to chat, pet the dog and see what is going on with our lives.  The Los Angeles area isn’t known for “Leave it to Beaver” neighborhoods, and we know how fortunate we are to live in one.  Our next door neighbors are probably at the top of our list.  They are kind, generous and always make time for everyone, including us.  Whether it’s helping us unload a 53″ TV into the house, providing us with the best Gumbo around courtesy of dad who is from New Orleans, or visiting on Sunday evenings with the twin girls – the youngest of their six kids.   I don’t know how they always have time for anyone, since the children are home-schooled and seem to be involved in every activity under the sun, including choirs, plays, church, music camps, sports, science camps . . . it’s amazing to me how they keep up with everything!!  They often go to Lake Arrowhead for family trips, and on one visit, they brought us back a gift from The Belgian Waffle Works in Lake Arrowhead.  I don’t think they know how much my husband loves waffles – it was the perfect gift.   For this recipe, I used it in place of the pancake mix.  When I saw the Pioneer Woman make these on TV, I knew I had to try them that weekend . . . which I did!!

Here is the recipe . . . it makes a lot (best suited for our next door neighbors), so I cut in half and still had leftovers!!

•    16 breakfast sausage links – cooked

•    3 cups pancake mix
•    1 cup yellow cornmeal
•    sprinkle of cinnamon
•    ½ teaspoon vanilla
•    1 large egg – slightly beaten
•    3 cups water
•    canola oil for frying
•    maple syrup – warmed
•    wooden chopsticks

Cook the sausages. . .

Waffle and Pancake Mix!!!

In a large bowl, combine pancake mix, cornmeal and cinnamon. 

Stir to combine.

Add eggs, vanilla and water (½ cup at a time), stirring as you go.  Batter should be thick but manageable to dip.

Heat some canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.

Insert chopsticks into cooked sausage links about 2/3 way through.

Dip the sausages into the batter and allow excess to drip off.

Carefully drop into oil (stick and all) and make sure they stay submerged.

You may have to hold them down carefully or use tongs.

When they are golden brown – about 3 minutes, remove and drain on paper towel.

Serve with warm maple syrup.

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Go Bananas – Banana Nut Bread!!!

Banana-Nut Bread

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

banananutbread11

I prefer unripe bananas.  Those that are bright yellow with no spots and a green hue to each end.  When I buy bananas that way, they last about one day and then it starts.  The inevitable warp speed ripening process of the banana.  If only other fruits would ripen that quickly.   So there you are, you have purchased five bananas, you’ve eaten one and the other four are suspect (at least for me).  So, I give them a couple of more days and then, like we all do when this occurs, we make banana bread.  This is a pretty basic recipe with no bells or whistles, but it does the job . . . turning those inedible bananas into something incredible!!!

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter – room temperature – plus extra for greasing
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas – coarsely mashed – about 1 ½ cups
  • 3 large eggs – lightly beaten
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for flouring)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (always optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and lightly flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

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In stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy – about two minutes.

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Add the mashed bananas and eggs and beat until smooth. Add buttermilk and beat on low until just combined.

In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and nuts.

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Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and beat just until combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy.

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Pour batter into prepared pan.

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Bake for 55-60 minutes until loaf is dark golden.

Let rest in pan for five minutes then turn out on wire rack and cool completely.

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Slice and serve!

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Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted a bit from Pioneer Woman

We all know that feeling when you’re working your way through a mall and all of a sudden you stop in your tracks. You take a whiff of that aroma and it brings you to Christmas morning when your mom finished up freshly baked cinnamon rolls.  Cinnabon does not play fair.  How do you ever resist those incredibly tender iced treasures?   It’s almost impossible.  I have never made cinnamon rolls, so I thought it might be a nice treat for Valentines Day (I know it’s been almost a month, but I forgot this post).  There are several recipes available, but this one actually looked the simplest (especially for a novice) and the cinnamon rolls turned out terrific.  There is also different types of yeast SAF Gold for sweet dough and SAF Red for other doughs.  Who knew?  My icing did not set as well as I would have liked, and it was more like a glaze, but it still was good.

Rolls

  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast or one envelope of active yeast
  • 4 cups all purpose flour (plus 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Icing

  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 – 1 cup milk

I used two disposable foil baking pans, but you can use a regular baking dish, or pie plates.

I sprayed with cooking spray, but you can grease them with butter.

Rolls – Mix milk, oil and sugar in large pot.

Heat over medium high to just below boiling (scald). Turn off heat and let cool for 45 minutes.

When mixture is lukewarm, sprinkle yeast over and let it sit for 1 minute.

Add 4 cups of flour and stir to blend everything.

Cover and let it rise for one hour.

After rising, add 1/2 cup flour, baking soda, baking power and salt.  Stir to combine.

Transfer to oiled bowl and cover and . . .

let it rise another hour.

You can put the dough in the refrigerator at this point for a couple of days, or you can prepare the rolls now.  If you keep in the refrigerator, check it to make sure it doesn’t overflow and if it does, punch it down.

Roll out dough to a thin rectangle (or as good as you can get).

Spread melted butter on surface.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle generously all over butter.

Start rolling from the opposite long end toward you, and keep a tight roll as you roll.  Pinch the seam at the end to seal.

Cut the ends off the roll and begin cutting the rolls about 1 to 1 1/2 inch.

Place them in the prepared pan close together.  At this point I covered them and put them in the refrigerator until the next morning.

In the morning, take the rolls out and let them come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

While baking, make icing by whisking confectioner’s sugar and milk until smooth and pourable, but still thick.

When the rolls are done, let them sit about 5 minutes before . . .

drizzling the icing generously on top.

30 delicious rolls

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Lighten Up – Eggs in a Nest

Lighten Up – Eggs in a Nest

Adapted from Cooking Light

I really have an issue when you order hashbrowns and when your plate arrives, and you look down and there they are . . . country potatoes.  Or call them what you want, home-fries, herbed potatoes, whatever, but are they truly hashbrowns?  I don’t understand how you put “hashbrowns” on a menu and serve anything other than shredded potatoes fried until they are golden brown and crispy.  I know some consider diced up seasoned potatoes sauteed in a bit of oil (aka country potatoes) hashbrowns, but I think the more astute will agree that hashbrowns should be shredded and fried and that’s it.  Now to this recipe which has hashbrowns (albeit frozen)!  You mix a few ingredients in one bowl, spread it in a baking dish, bake it, add a few eggs, bake a little more, cut into squares and you have a perfectly “square” meal, whether for breakfast or dinner, hitting all food groups.  Even turnips, which really isn’t a food group by itself, but anytime you can work a turnip into a recipe, it’s a good thing!!!!   This is just so easy and so good and the bonus – under 350 calories per serving. . . yes I said under 350 calories. 

  • 1 1/4 cups fat free plain Greek style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose
  • 1 ½ cups grated peeled turnip
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/3 cup butter – melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (30 ounce) package of frozen shredded hashbrowns-thawed (Ore-Ida)
  • cooking spray
  • 8 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine yogurt and flour, stirring well.

Add turnip, Gruyere cheese, butter, chives, salt, black pepper, nutmeg and potatoes to yogurt mixture.

Stir to combine well.

Spread evenly on a 13×9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

I halved the recipe in this post.

Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Remove from oven and with the back of a spoon, make 8 indentations on top of the potato mixture. Crack an egg in each indentation.

Return dish to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until egg whites are form and yolks barely move when touched.

Cut into 8 pieces and garnish with additional chopped chives and black pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

Doesn’t it looks like a little egg in a bird’s nest?

Serves 8 – 347 calories each

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Blueberry Pudding Cake

Blueberry Pudding Cake

Adapted from southernfood.com

In my mission to use my last two cups of blueberries, this recipe came to mind.  My friend at work told me about this recipe since we both love bluberries.  It is very easy to make (I made it after work one night and it only takes a few minutes to put together).  It can be rather sweet, so you could cut down on the sugar a bit, but why?  I know – I know pour a cup of boiling water on top and bake?  Seems strange, but trust me, it works.  After about 50 minutes, it magically transforms into layers of saucy blueberries, pudding type cake and a crispy sweet topping.  I actually think this is even better from the fridge the next day.

  • 2 cups (or more) blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup boiling water

Put blueberries in 8 x 8 baking dish (or similar). Stir in lemon juice

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and 3/4 cup sugar.

Thoroughly blend egg, melted butter, vanilla and milk and whisk into flour mixture.

Pour/spread on top of blueberries.

Mix sugar and cornstarch and . . .

sprinkle over batter.

Pour boiling water evenly over the top.

Trust me, it may look weird but it works.

and bake 45-50 minutes.

Serve warm or room temperature.

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Cinnamon-Sugar Blueberry Cake

Cinnamon-Sugar Blueberry Cake

Adapted from Cooks Country

Last week I had a lemon surplus, and this week a plethora of blueberries.  I had been wanting to try this cake for awhile.  It won second place in the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off baked by a 15 year old girl who called it Blueberry Boy Bait because of the magical and captivating powers it had on teenage boys!!!  Well, it pretty much has the same effect on both genders.  This is really easy to make and you can use frozen blueberries – just don’t thaw them.  I increased the blueberries from the original recipe and also increased the topping.  The batter is pretty thick and I used an offset spatula to get it spread evenly in the pan. It’s a perfect snack cake with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon, or a nice addition to your brunch table.  Even though the recipe says it keeps for 3 days, it was perfect on day 1 and the topping had a nice crunch, but after the first day, the topping does not stay crunchy, however it is still tasty.

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter – softened
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup blueberries (if you use frozen, do not defrost)

Topping

  • 3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together.

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy,

about two minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl

Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated.

Beat in half of milk.

Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture.

Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour.

Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries.

Spread batter into prepared pan.

Scatter blueberries over top of batter.

Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and . . .

sprinkle over batter.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up).

Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

(I think this cake is better eaten the day it’s baked, although you store it in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

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Pancetta and Gruyere Breakfast Casserole

Pancetta and Gruyere Breakfast Casserole

I am a sucker for brunch food. . . especially stratas and casseroles.  Those you prepare the night before and in the morning, as soon as you start brewing the coffee, pop it in the oven for an hour, and voila, you are a magician!!!   I used to save these type of recipes for guests, but lately, I halve the recipes and prepare them on a Saturday night so we have a special Sunday breakfast.  Leftovers for lunch the next day is pretty special as well.  I have my favorite strata recipe, but this is certainly running a close second.  Caramelizing the onions gives this casserole a sweetness which is a perfect balance to the pancetta.

  • 1 1/4 cup loosely packed day old challah – cut into 3/4 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion – thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ pound pancetta – diced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese – about 4 ounces

Place challah in a greased 8 inch square baking dish.

Dice pancetta and grate cheese.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add onions, salt and sugar.

Saute until the onions are caramelized to a medium golden brown – about 15 minutes.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium heat and saute the pancetta

until almost all the fat is rendered and it begins to crisp – about 10 minutes.

Remove to paper towels to drain.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, dry mustard and nutmeg and thyme.

Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle pancetta over challah. . .

layer with onion. . .

sprinkle grated Gruyere . . .

pour egg mixture evenly all over.

Press down gently so all the bread cubes are soaked.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and take casserole out of the refrigerator while oven is preheating.

Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are bubbling and the top begins to brown.

Serves 6

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Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Adapted from Martha Stewart

As promised, here is my next attempt to make a dent into my lemon trove.  Yesterday, I think I must have had 25 lemons and it’s just too cold and rainy for lemonade, even in Southern California.  A few nights ago was Lemon Cream Pasta with Chicken and now — Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake.  When I was making the streusel, it seemed like there was too much when I sprinkled it over the batter.  However, after it came out of the oven and we cut into it, it is a perfect amount and a delicious topping.   I am now down to a reasonable amount of lemons, although I may make some lemon curd for crepes later this week.

Streusel

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

Cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter – room temperature – plus more for pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (4-6 lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain yogurt

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

Make the streusel – mix together flour, brown sugar and salt.

Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour mixture until small to medium clumps form.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the cake – Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9 inch angel food cake pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Beat butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest with a mixer on medium until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes.

With mixer running, add eggs one at a time and then vanilla.

Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt.

Spoon batter evenly into cake pan.

Sprinkle with streusel topping evenly on top of batter.

Bake until golden brown – about 55 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Transfer pan to wire rack set over baking sheet and let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around edge of pan and remove outer ring.  Let cool on rack for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around center tube and slide cake off and let cool completely on rack.

Make glaze – whisk lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

After cake cools, pour glaze on top letting it drip down sides.

Let glaze set before slicing.  Or if you’re impatient like we are, don’t!!!

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Bacon Sage Potato Pancakes

Bacon Sage Potato Pancakes

Adapted from Sunny Anderson – Food Network

In addition to the stuffed mushrooms, this is the other “sunny” spot in my Christmas Eve debacle (besides the fist sized shrimp cocktail)!!!  The only issue I had with the pancakes, is they are a bit labor intensive (especially when you are preparing several other appetizers) and I did want to fry them right before quests arrived, so it was a balancing act.  I may take the advice of other “mavens from latkes” and cook them ahead of time and crisp them up right before serving.  These were great the next day after 15 minutes in the oven.  The addition of bacon and sage is a welcome change to traditional latkes.

  • 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying

In a large cast iron (or heavy skillet) over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Discard bacon fat.

In food processor (fitted with large grater attachment), push potato, onion and garlic through grater.

Place mixture onto cheesecloth (triple ply) and wring out excess liquid over sink.

You really need to do this well. I didn’t do it good enough the first time and

ended up having to squeeze each pancake before frying.

Place mixture into large bowl.

Mix in eggs, sage, flour, cooked bacon, salt and pepper.

Fill skillet with 1/4 inch of oil and heat until it ripples. Once the oil is heated, form potato cakes (squeeze to remove any lingering excess water) into 3 inch diameter and carefully add to pan. Continue forming pancakes and placing them in skillet. Cook until crisp and nicely browned, pressing down to flatten – about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Keep warm in 275 degree oven while cooking remaining pancakes.

Serve with creme fraiche.

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Bacon-Leek Quiche

Bacon-Leek Quiche

Adapted from Julia Child


I have always had trouble turning out a perfectly baked quiche, which I always prepared in a pie plate according to recipes I would follow.  The middle was never cooked enough. If I added baking time, the sides were rubbery. I then came across this recipe from Food and Wine which is one of Julia Child’s favorite quiche recipe and it uses a 10″ tart pan. The first time I tried it, the quiche came out perfectly cooked. When I am pressed for time, I use this crust from Surfas, a wonderful restaurant supply store where we live, that has incredible gourmet products. In the freezer section, they have pie/tart crusts that are perfectly rolled out and all you have to do is put it on the tart pan. You can get many of their products on line at Culinary District.  What can be easier for a mid week special meal. Serve with a green salad with your favorite vinaigrette and nice glass of wine, and you are transported to Paris for the evening.

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (cold and cubed)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 1 pound bacon – thick sliced – diced
  • 3 large leeks – white and pale green – thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme – chopped
  • 8 ounces Gruyere – shredded
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half and heavy cream combined
  • salt and pepper

Makes two 10″ quiches – halve the recipe for one, like I did here.

This includes the recipe for the crust from Julia Child, however, since I was in a hurry (and still haven’t mastered pie/tart crust), I used a specialty ready made flaky crust from Surfas, which tastes incredible.

Put flour and salt in a large bowl and combine. Add butter and cut with pastry cutter until it is the size of small peas. Add egg yolk and 1/4 cup ice water and mix until moistened. Turn pastry out onto floured surface and knead 2-3 times. Pat into 2 disks and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out one disk to 12 inch round and put into 10″ tart pan with removable bottom. Repeat with remaining pastry.

Trim excess and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Line tart shells with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, until dry.

Remove foil and beans/pie weights and bake another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t brown too much. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Oops, I can’t even get it right when I use a ready made crust. I forgot to bake it the last 10 minutes, but the end product was OK, just not as flaky as it could have been.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until brown and crisp – about 10 minutes.

Drain bacon leaving about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in pan.

Add leeks and thyme to skillet and season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat,

stirring until leeks are soft, about five minutes.

Transfer to bowl to cool.

Stir in bacon and cheese.

In a bowl whisk egg, egg yolks and heavy cream and season with salt and pepper.

Divide bacon/leek mixture into tart shells.

Pour custard into tart shells and

bake for 30 minutes, rotating baking sheet half way.

Transfer to rack and let cool 15 minutes. Remove ring

and serve.

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