#Breakfast

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A nice warm omelette with ham, and Swiss cheese just at its melting point so that it still has the stringiness as you bring a fork to your mouth. I mix a pinch of herbs de provance into the mixture and then sprinkle a pinch on top as a garnish.

I usually get the deli ham at Cherry Valley Market and have the clerk  slice it in the thick side. Slicing it thick makes it much easier  to pan fry. As a personal point of reference, I also like the cheese sliced thicker.

In a mixing bowl I combine two eggs, herbs, and small-diced ham. I whisk these together with a splash of milk. Then I pour this into a non stick pan over low heat and cover. As this firms up I place a slice of the Swiss cheese along half and the using a thin non stick spatula I fold the omelette over and hold the pan off the stove but still over the burner. This gets the cheese melting without over cooking the omelette.

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Mini French Toasts

I think I’ve mentioned that the Cherry Valley market near me sells this fantastic Italian bread, two loaves for a dollar fifty. A bargain I dont often pass up especially on Fridays when I often make pasta. What’s pasta without a loaf of garlic bread… But that’s a story for another day. Today I’m focusing on what to do with the left over loaf. And that’s where a lazy Saturday morning comes in handy when I make these mini french toast from the loaf left out to harden a little.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Four one inch slices of left over Italian loaf
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • A splash of amaretto
  • Cinnamon sugar

 

Start by warming up your skillet. In a large shallow bowl beat the egg and milk together. Whisk in a slash of amaretto. Soak the slices of bread in the egg mixture and place them on the skillet. It only take a few minutes to brown each side. When they are done transfer them to the plate, lightly butter them and dust with cinnamon sugar.

 

Enjoy with your morning coffee and croissants.

mini french toasts

Pork Shoulder Kapusniak

The snow keeps piling up outside and there’s nothing like a nice warm bowl of soup. Traditional comfort food for warming you up after a day of shoveling. Well, this soup is a modification of my friend’s grandmother’s Polish Kapusniak. It’s a hearty soup traditionally made with pork spare ribs and sauerkraut. I make mine with less expensive chunks of pork shoulder and non pickled sauerkraut (as known as cabbage). I like to get the pork shoulder chunks with a good percentage of fat to meat, but if the pork you get is a bit on the lean side, you can add a few rashers of bacon. So…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage shredded
  • 3 large carrots cut in chunks
  • 2 rings of celery cut in chunks
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 large Long Island potatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 quarts of water

In a large dutch oven braise the pork over a medium heat. Once a good deal of fat has been rendered, deglaze with a little water. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for a few minutes. Add the cabbage and the potatoes. Start pouring in the water and turning down the heat to low. Add the tomato paste, paprika, salt and pepper.

Let the soup cook on the low heat for two hours. This gives all the ingredients time to meld, and starches from the potatoes ill help to thicken the soup. Ladle this into nice big bowls, and serve with fresh pumpernickel bread. Then watch the snow outside.

kapsuniak

Smoked Pork Pea Soup

I’m often asked by friends of mine “what the heel do you do with those”, when I’m out scouring ingredients from the market. This happened most recently when a friend of mine and I were shopping over at Cherry Valley market. While perusing the meat section I happened to find some rather meaty smoked pork neck bones. “What the hell do you do with those” she asked.
“Well”, I said “soup! You can throw just about anything into a soup”.
It’s true. I think that smoked pork adds a good deal of heartiness to what would otherwise be a bland pea soup. And with the snow falling in sheet around here, a hot bowl of pea soup with fresh buttered bread is certainly called for.
Here’s what you’ll need:

  •  2 ½ pounds of smoke pork neck bones
  •  1 lb bag of split green peas
  •  2 carrots diced
  •  2 ribs of celery diced
  •  1 large onion diced
  •  Salt

Firstly, boil the pork bones until the meat falls neatly off the bones. Shred the meat and discard the bones. In a large soup pot combine the meat and diced carrots, celery and onion, along with the one pound bag of green split peas. Add eight to ten cups of water and salt, then bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook another hour and a half, stirring occasionally.
Once the soup thickens up, it’s ready to be ladled out and served up with plenty of bread and butter. Now enjoy by the window and watch the snow.

smoked_pork_neck_bones

Simple Salmon Croquettes

A can of salmon, some bread crumbs, and a little oil make for a simple dinner croquettes. These are also good to serve cold the next day. Remember, use home made bread crumbs, or Japanese panko breadcrumbs when possible because most commercial bread crumb companies put way too much sodium in their crumbs! And you don’t need that extra salt. Another alternative to commercial bread crumbs, pick up a bag of crumbs from your local bakery.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can salmon, drained and flaked
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium bowl, mix together the salmon, egg, celery, green onion, dill, and garlic powder. Form the mixture into golf ball sized balls, and roll in bread crumbs to coat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Flatten the balls slightly, and fry for about 10 minutes, turning as needed, until golden brown. Serve with a fine Ale.

Salmon Cartoon

Sea Bass Stew

Its that time of year… winter is a great time to cook warm hearty soups. This one is quick and easy. Also Cherry Valley Market has been having Italian loaves on sale for $1.29 for a pair on Fridays.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 lb sea bass filets, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup of fresh chopped tomato (about 1 medium sized tomato)
  • 1 cup of chopped onions
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 8 oz of clam juice
  • 1/2 cup Duck Walk white wine
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • Touch of dry oregano, Tabasco, thyme, pepper
  • Salt

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté 4 minutes. Add parsley and stir 2 minutes. Add tomato and tomato paste, and gently cook for 10 minutes or so.

Add clam juice, dry white wine, and fish and simmer until fish is cooked through, less than 10 minutes. Add seasoning. Salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with toasted Italian bread.

bluefish bikini

Red Clam Chowder with a kick

Clam chowder is a wonderful dish this time of year. When the weather turns cold and blustery, there’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup. And with the added kick of minced jalapeno and Texas Pete’s hot sauce, this soup will open up those sinuses!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 5 drops Texas Pete, or other hot pepper sauce

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, place the vegetable oil, onion, carrots and celery. Slowly cook and stir 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Mix in the bacon, potato, clam juice, tomatoes, tomato sauce, white pepper, seasoning salt, parsley, marjoram, garlic powder, thyme, mustard, Cajun seasoning and hot pepper sauce. Reduce heat and simmer until the potato is tender, about 20 minutes.

Mix in the clams and cook approximately 5 minutes more. Serve with oyster crackers.roasted-tomato-soup

 

Sweet Glazed Sweet Potatos

A little maple syrup goes a long way. Especially since Best Yet market has a 37 cents a pound sweet potato sale! I think I feel a side dish coming on. Please Please Please, support ‘real’ agriculture and purchase only real maple syrup, not the chemical concoction called breakfast syrup…. One, because its healthier and more natural, and secondly, because the chemical one often turns too runny when cooking with it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2   pounds sweet potatoes (4 to 6 medium)
  • 1/3  cup pure maple syrup
  • 2  tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  cup cranberries

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1- to 1-1/2-inch chunks. In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and pepper; add sweet potatoes and cranberries. Toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 3-quart baking dish, spreading mixture evenly.

Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are glazed and tender, stirring twice. Makes 8 servings.

As an added option, you can topped with chopped pecans.

sweet sweet potatos

Creamy Tomato Soup

Best Yet Market out here by me has a sale on its canned tomatoes, one dollar per can, and a great price on basil at the same time. So, a little chill in the air and a thought springs to mind. The market often has a nice variety of rolls, and I could really use a nice bowl of warm soup, with a warm buttered roll… yeah, I think I have a recipe for this.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 1lb cans of diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1 large Spanish onion chopped
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until tender. Mix in tomatoes and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken broth, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 15 minutes.

Grab your immersion blender and blend the mixture till smooth. Reduce heat to low, and gradually mix in the heavy cream. Pour soup through a strainer before serving. Garnish each serving with a sprig of basil. Toss that roll in the microwave for a second or two, butter it up, and sit down for lunch.

toamtosoup01

Spicy Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoe Soup

Its that time of year… pumpkin pickin’ time! Pumpkins populate “punkin’” patches and make spooky faces from door steps and window sills around Halloween, but Sugar Pie pumpkins are the sweet and mellow ones used for cooking—not scary, and 100% tasty. And unlike their jack-o’-lantern brethren, they are thin-skinned for easy peeling. The sugar pumpkin is a small 3 to 8 pound range squash that has a wide range of cooking applications, but in this recipie… that firey jack-o-latern will meet his spicy match.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin
  • 4 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

In a mortar or spice grinder, grind coriander, cumin, oregano, fennel, red pepper, salt and peppercorns into a coarse powder. Blend in garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil to form a paste.

Wash pumpkin, and cut into 2-inch wide wedges, scraping away seeds. Peel potatoes and cut each potato lengthwise into 6 wedges. Smear the pumpkin and the potatoes with the spice paste and place in a baking dish.

Roast in preheated oven 30 to 40 minutes, until tender and just beginning to blacken at the thinnest points.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, cook the onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent.

Chop pumpkin and potatoes into smaller chunks and add this with the chicken broth into the pot. Using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. Be sure to scrape the roasted spice paste off the baking dish and include it in the puree. It may be necessary to deglaze the dish with a little chicken broth.

Heat this thoroughly and then serve with toasted french bread slices. Make this vegan friendly by using a flavorful vegetable stock.

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