Thursday, May 31, 2012

savory stuffed french toast

Hold on to you pants, everybody. I just made SAVORY Stuffed French Toast.

I could've sworn my brother planted the idea of non-sweet French toast into my head, but he denies involvement. I don't know why... it's totally brilliant. Wherever the idea came from, I don't know why I didn't realize it sooner. French toast is basically eggs and bread. We automatically think of it as a sweet breakfast food... syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, powdered sugar. But with a base of bread dipped in eggs... the possibilities are not limited to cloying sugary applications. 

I have decided not to make this a recipe post. Mainly because recipes should be more of inspirations than formulas (unless you are baking, of course... then it's all mathy and science). This post is here to plant the idea of savory French toast into your head and let your imagination run wild. 

I will tell you about my version so you get the basics. I started with an unsliced loaf of crusty bread... this particular loaf was studded with roasted garlic, but any wide loaf of bread would work. I cut it into thick slices.... about 1.5" each. I used a paring knife the cut into one side of the bread and created a pocket in the middle of the bread (see photo).

I made a filling by sauteing finely chopped mushrooms, garlic and shallots in olive oil, then stirring in arugula until it wilted. I let this cool then stirred it into some ricotta cheese. I stirred in Parmesan cheese and salt to season. I carefully spooned this mixture into the bread slice pockets.

I then set the bread slices into eggs whisked with a bit of buttermilk and salt and let them soak for about 30 seconds per side, then cooked in a skillet with olive oil and butter until nicely browned on both sides. This was sooooooo delicious. And fun!

So. What kind of savory French toast would you make? Would you stuff it? What with? Would you top it? what with? You could dip your favorite grilled cheese combo into eggs! I would guess any kind of quiche flavors or savory bread puddings would work well. Casseroles, even! I am so excited by this concept... I want to know what you all can come up with! Please share!! And try this at home. You do not have to be a professional (I certainly am not).

Related posts from the archives:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

goat cheese stuffed lamb balls with spinach cumin pesto

This is the part of spring when out farmer's markets, gardens, CSAs and grocery stores have a plethora of leafy greens.... spinach, kale, chard, etc. How to use these in interesting ways? Pestos are always great for this... I take a lot of creative liberty with the idea of pesto (see: walnut ricotta pesto; pistachio arugula pesto; jalapeno peanut pesto; corn bacon pesto; pepita pesto), but greens do pesto best. Not to mention how pretty green pestos are. 

In this recipe, I also use greens, spinach, in the meatballs. I'm not trying to be all sneaky and trick you into eating vegetables. I think the spinach adds some moisture, color and freshness to the lamb. Over all this dish screams "spring!" You can simply eat the balls dipped in the pesto. You could also put them in a pita or on a salad. 

Lamb Meatballs filled with Goat Cheese, Mint and Honey
Filling:-4 oz. goat cheese
-12 mint leaves, minced
-2 teaspoons honey
Meatballs:-1 lb. ground lamb
-2 cups fresh spinach, chopped fine (about 1 cup after chopped)
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 shallot, minced
-1 egg
-salt and pepper 
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Make the filling by combining all 3 ingredients in a bowl. Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a seperate bowl until well-combined. Make ping pong-ball size balls with the meat mixture, then flatten into a thick disc. Put a pinch of the goat cheese mixture in the middle of the disc and gently gather the sides up around the cheese to seal and reform into a ball. Repeat until you run out of meat mixture. Place balls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, turning the balls halfway through cooking. Serve with warm with spinach cumin pesto.

Spinach Cumin Pesto
- 4 handfuls of fresh spinach
-2 or 3 mint leaves
-2 cloves garlic
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1 teaspoon coriander
-6 oz. plain Greek yogurt 
Pulse everything but the yogurt in a food processor until well-chopped. Add yogurt and puree. 

Year of the Balls posts:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

black bean balls with avocado buttermilk dipping sauce


I've been eating out a lot lately. I am not complaining... but my body is. Too much rich food makes for a higher blood pressure and overall crummy feeling.  I've been wanting to make some black bean balls for awhile, and I figured they'd be a good antidote to all the fat and meat that was coursing through my veins and making me move slow. 

And they did the trick! Nutritious and quick to make. And yummy! And the dipping sauce? Oh man. This is going to be my new go-to salad dressing. It's so simple and so so flavorful and creamy, and the fat it does have comes from avocado, so it's better for you than cream or mayo-based dressings. And lookit how pretty it is!

Southwestern Black Bean Balls

-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 cup corn
-1 cup refried black beans
-1 cup salsa, drained of excess liquid
-2 eggs
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
-a few big handfuls of tortilla chips (I used ones with flax seed and soy for even more nutrients!), mhizzed up in the food processor (about 1.5 to 2 cups total crumbs)

Mash the black beans with a potato masher until they are mostly mashed, but still chunky. Add the corn, refried beans and salsa and mix well. Beat the cumin and cayenne with the eggs and add to the bean mixture, stirring until incorporated. Add the chip crumbs, 1 cup at a time, stirring, until combined. Add more chips if necessary... mixture will be sticky.  Cover and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to give the crumbs a chance to absorb moisture and the mixture will firm up a bit more. 

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Roll into ping pong ball-sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the balls once halfway through cooking. Serve hot with Avocado buttermilk dipping sauce, or on a salad.

Avocado Buttermilk Dressing/Dipping Sauce

-1 Avocado, cubed
-1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
-Handful of cilantro
-1.5 cups buttermilk
-salt to taste

Put the avocado, garlic and cilantro in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add teh buttermilk and puree. Taste and add salt. Serve.

Year of the Balls posts:

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

poutine with bacon jalapeno gravy

Poutine. I love to say it. I love to eat it. What's not to love? French Fries. Gravy. Cheese. GOD BLESS CANADA.

Ever since I tried making beer fries, thanks to the recipe from my pals Evan and Stacy, I knew I had to use my new fry-making powers for poutine. I don't make gravy very often (for shame!), so I wasn't sure what kind to make. At some point the random (and brilliant!!) idea to make a bacon broth got into my brain. At the time I fancied myself a genius. Upon further research I think the idea was originally planted by the Momofuko cookbook, in which David Chang shares his recipe for bacon broth for ramen.  

So I am not the first one to think of bacon broth. Of course I'm not! With a bit of google-fu, I came across Ideas In Food's Bacon broth recipe which had jalapenos in it. This got me excited, because the flavors of bacon and jalapeno on fries is a total win. It would also make me feel better about using a cheese other than cheese curds, which are hard to come by. I wanted to use a fresh, young cheese, because cheese curds are like fresh little baby cheeses! Since I was using jalapeno, I went with a Mexican cheese, Cojita. Queso Fresco would work well, also.

That's right. I took a Canadian Dish and gave it Mexican flavors. AMERICA SANDWICH.

Bacon Jalapeno Beer Fries Poutine 
Bacon Jalapeno Broth 
-1/2 lb. bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
-1 small onion, sliced
-3 garlic cloves, smashed
-1 shallot, sliced
-2 fresh jalapenos, sliced
-8 cups water
Cook the bacon slowly. Once it's not-quite to the crisp stage, add the onions, garlic, shallot and jalapenos. Cook until everything is soft and just starting to brown. Add the water and lower the heat. SImmer lightly for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool to room temperature and strain. Discard the solids. Chill until the fat floats on the top. Strain off fat. Store in the fridge.

Beer Fries 
-2 lbs. russet potatoes, cut into fries
-2 12 oz. beers (use one you like... the taste is noticeable in the finished product)
-olive oil and salt
Soak the fries in the beer for about 20 minutes. drain and shake to dry. Toss the fries with olive oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown delicious.
THE Gravy 
-2 Tablespoons bacon grease or butter
-3 Tablepoons flour
-2 cups bacon jalapeno broth
-salt to taste
Cook bacon grease and flour together until it becomes a brownish pasty roux. Add the broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let simmer for just a couple minutes until it reaches your desired thickness. Serve over beer fries and top with crumbled Cojita cheese and chopped fresh jalapeno. 

Related Posts from the archives:

Thursday, May 03, 2012

wedge salad with chili lime ranch and crab

The other night I was invited to "media preview" dinner at Truffles restaurant to introduce their new Chef, Brandon Benack. I accepted even though I don't write a review blog because I really loved what former chef John Griffiths had done there and was just plain curious how things would change. Benack's dishes are great... well-thought out, playful and tasty.  

The second course of of the 7-course tasting menu was interesting... wedge salad. The wedge salad has a reputation, I find, among food enthusiasts to be boring, tasteless, antiquated, etc. This mostly has to do with the lettuce... iceberg lettuce, I find, is one of the first foods people shun when they start to fancy themselves as having more sophisticated palettes. At least it was for me. The stuff doesn't have much at all in the way of flavor or nutritional value. It's doomed to be the ubiquitous ranch-drenched chain steakhouse afterthought lettuce. 

I've come around to wedge salad, however. My favorite gastropub, Bleeding Deacon (now closed... wahhhhh), had a fantastic wedge salad. And the one served at this Truffles dinner was also great. Serving Iceberg as a wedge lets it's main attribute, crispness, be showcased. That's all the iceberg is there for... to be a crisp, refreshing base for some good toppings. Chef Benack's version had a cayenne ranch and lump crab meat. I was inspired to make my own, very similar to the Truffles version. Did I mention grated eggs? I have seen eggs treated this way several times and it always tickles me. What a fun way to serve hard-boiled eggs on a salad! It's fun to say, too... grated eggs... (See also: Shaved Eggs.)

Wedge Salad with Low-Fat Chili-Lime Ranch

-6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
-8 oz. carton buttermilk
-juice from half a lime
-2 garlic cloves
-1 or 2 small green chilis, chopped fine
-salt and pepper to taste

Salad (makes 4 wedge salads)
-1 head lettuce cut into 4 wedges
-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
-1 cup lump crab meat
-2 hard boiled eggs, grated or chopped fine
-1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
-salt & pepper to taste

Put all of the dressing ingredients into a container that has a tight-sealing lid. Shake shake shake.
Divide all of the salad ingredients onto 4 plates. Pour dressing over salads. Serve with a knife and fork.

Similar posts from the archives: