French Scrambled Eggs with Homemade Gravlax

Scrambled Eggs with Dill and Gravlax

I have too much time on my hands.

(Either that, or I’m finally making time and following my culinary instincts — and taste buds — or treating myself right.)

Take homemade gravlax, for instance. It requires a 72 hour process of curing and flipping the salmon and seasonings every 12 hours. Totally worth the effort… especially when it comes to making breakfast.

Homemade Gravlax 2

Generally, I’m not a breakfast eater (I know, I know…), but I woke up hungry and in the mood for scrambled eggs — not just any scrambled eggs — Julia Child’s scrambled eggs.

(That’s what I get for reading The Art of French Cooking for fun last winter.)

There’s something about the simplicity of French-inspired scrambled eggs, gently beaten and coaxed into creamy curds with a lil’ butter and some patient attention, combined with long-awaited peace and quiet — and the first crop of irises gracing our dining room table.

Breakfast of Champions

Today my soul wanted… needed… breakfast. Simple. Sublime. Sexy.

My dill plant provided the perfect touch of color and flavor to accentuate the undertones of the gravlax and the creaminess of the eggs (nirvana) — plus a lil’ French press coffee and freshly-squeezed orange juice never hurt.

Yup, definitely worth the effort!

Homemade Gravlax

For a gravlax how-to please refer to this recipe by love & olive oil — which they subsequently credited to Saveur — and whose directions and comments were very helpful, FYI. Good stuff either way! Just be sure to rinse the gravlax thoroughly to remove the salt. (I omitted the usual salt — and pepper — from my eggs to be sure, and they were divine “bite by bite.”)

For a scrambled egg tutorial dang near close to Julia’s, click here. Do your research, people, then please your tastebuds, xo!

Have you made a special breakfast or meal for you lately?

Enjoying nurturing moi (and hopefully you…), 

~ Kim

P.S. You deserve it!

Easiest Homemade Gluten Free Crackers on the Planet

Gluten Free Crackers

Midwinter is a monochromatic marvel to me — sort of a Trojan horse time of year when Spring is concealed beneath the earth’s muted shades of tan and brown, waiting to pack a wallop.

That’s how I feel about these crackers, too.

At first glance they appear as benign as January’s palette, but don’t let ’em fool you. They’re the perfect example of “more than meets the eye.” I like surprises and these surprisingly tasty lil’ crackers are my go-to snack, speaking of which…

GF Crax ready to bake

Generally I’m not a snack-y person, but winter seems to ignite my appetite. (Why is that? Something to do with storing energy for shivering?) Anyway, a few crackers with a swipe of tapenade or a smear of hummus appeases random cravings quite nicely.

In a previous post, I extolled the virtues of Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers and I love ’em to pieces. These days I make them gluten-free. Bonus points for being quick’n’easy — thirty minutes from start to finish. And, there’s nothing like a warm cracker fresh out of the oven to soothe the savage beast in your stomach.

GF Crax

Gluten Free Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
(adapted from this recipe — thanks, Erin!)

1-1/2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)

1/2 c. hazelnut flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 tsp. sea salt*

2/3 c. warm water

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder for dusting, if desired

*Note: The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt, but saltiness is subjective and it depends on what you’re going to dip, dunk, or dollop with later. Season to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly oil two large baking sheets.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. Measure oil and water into a liquid measuring cup and gradually add to dry ingredients. (Depending on the humidity, you may not use all of the liquid.) Stir with a fork until mixture comes together. Divide dough in two.

4. Pat each portion of dough as thinly as possible onto prepared baking sheets. (Use your hands — it’s fun!) Slice into cracker shapes with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.

5. Dust with garlic powder, if desired. (I do one batch “with” and one without.)

6. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges begin to brown and the crackers look “set.” (They’ll crisp up as they cool.) Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

7. Store in a zip-top bag or airtight container between snack attacks.

GF crax w Tapenade v

Does winter change your eating habits? Do tell.

Enjoying Spring in disguise,

~ Kim

Premeditated Pasta

Ravioli with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

The other day I was craving ravioli.  Toothy, substantial ravioli.

Out came the rolling pin, flour, olive oil, eggs, and salt.  The camera?  I glanced at it from across the kitchen counter but didn’t feel compelled to record a step-by-step.  When my hands are communing with the most basic of ingredients, it borders on spiritual.  (And if you hadn’t already gathered, my lil’ ol’ blog ain’t Martha Stewart, but I’ll give you some good ideas.)

Earlier, I roasted a small stash of veggies.  When I pulled them from the oven, their heat-altered beauty was breathtaking.  Garlic glowing like topaz.  Cherry tomatoes with garden-fresh goodness in every wrinkle.  Mushrooms in hues echoing their earthy origins.

Out came a Chianti bottle and a rustic-looking bowl.

(That’s about as Italian as my props get.)

As I snapped away, a rapturous aroma propelled my menu “plan” in ten different directions.  To chop or not to chop?  (Apologies to Shakespeare…)  Tomato sauce or filling?  Garlic-y Alfredo sauce?  Mushroom and tomato sauce?

The plus side of photographing dinner-in-progress is that it generates more ideas, which intoxicate me as much as aromas.

Maybe even more.

Ravioli art

Pasta Its Whats For Dinner

Once everything cooled down (including my inflammatory food imagination), I opted to make the filling out of freshly-made ricotta (another near-spiritual experience without photographic evidence), basil, oregano, half the garlic, an egg, a good amount of grated Parmesan, and one mushroom slice per pasta packet.

By the way, ravioli “rectangles” taste just as good as square ones.

As for the cherry tomatoes, I tossed ’em on top.  (Cherry tomatoes — self-explanatory.)  After a drizzle of olive oil, some additional Parmesan, and a grind of the peppermill, dinner was served.

Well… photographed (quickly) and served.

I don’t mind taking pictures as long as dinner’s still hot when I eat it.

Has food photography changed the way you cook — or eat?

Enjoying premeditated pasta,

~ Kimby

Grandma’s Cardamom Bread (Bohemian Braided Bread)

Grandma's Cardamom Bread (Bohemian Braided Bread)

Sometimes you revisit the past to move forward in the present, only to discover the past has changed. (!)

This post was originally entitled “My First Guest Post” and it was linked to a blog that apparently no longer exists.  (No worries.  I totally understand… “stuff happens.”)  Following are excerpts from the original post, along with Grandma’s Cardamom Bread recipe.

One of the things I love about blogging is that it’s like having the world’s cookbook at your fingertips.  You can find a recipe for anything, anytime, anywhere!

Coincidentally (or not), cardamom isn’t so easy to find, especially in the middle of Oklahoma.  After I finally located some, I promptly made a batch of Kheer that I’d been wanting to try…

As well as my Grandma’s Cardamom Bread (Bohemian Braided Bread) — a recipe from my past, in more ways than one!

Grandma’s Cardamom Bread (Bohemian Braided Bread)

1/4 c. warm water

1 pkg. yeast

1/2 c. milk, scalded & cooled

6 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 c. butter, softened

2-1/2 to 3 c. flour (more or less), divided

1 tsp. cardamom

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. mace

1/2 c. raisins (I use regular & golden raisins)

Powdered sugar icing

Maraschino cherries & whole blanched almonds, for garnish

Dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand until foamy.

Combine milk, sugar, and salt.  Stir in yeast mixture.

Add egg and butter; mix well with a wooden spoon.

Add enough flour (in two additions) to form a soft dough.  Use only enough flour as needed and “don’t be afraid of a sticky dough,” per Grandma.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until it springs back and forms a smooth ball.

Place dough in a buttered bowl, then turn “buttered side up.”  Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled; punch down.

Allow to rise until doubled a second time; punch down again.

Sprinkle dough with mace, cardamom and raisins; knead in until combined.

Divide dough into 4 equal parts.  Shape 3 parts into 14″ long ropes and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Braid loosely to form one large braid; pinch ends to seal.

Divide remaining dough into 3 parts; shape into 12″ long ropes.  Braid them and place smaller braid on top of larger one; pinch ends together.  Cover; let rise in a warm place until double.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Bake 40 to 60 minutes until golden and “hollow sounding” when thumped.  Transfer from baking sheet to a wire rack.

Drizzle powdered sugar icing over the loaf while it’s warm; garnish with maraschino cherries and whole blanched almonds.

Cool completely before slicing.

Grandma's Cardamom Bread

Enjoying the flavor of friendship — past and present,

~ Kim

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast with Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Ever notice how breakfast tastes better on a weekend morning?

I’m not much of a breakfast-eater during the week (unless it comes in a mug), but on Saturday mornings I’m in the mood for something decadent — not your ordinary breakfast fare.

The solution to my craving was Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast.

Filled with ripe strawberries, sweetened mascarpone and cream cheeses, and a hint of spice, it elevated plain ol’ French Toast into something extraordinary.  Plus, it was quick to make.

Unless, of course, your local grocer happens to be out of Mascarpone cheese… in which case, you start the night before.

(Feel free to skip ahead to the French Toast recipe if you have Mascarpone on hand!)

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

(Adapted from two tarts’ recipe on Tasty Kitchen)

1 c. heavy cream

1/4 t. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Whisk together cream and confectioners’ sugar in a double boiler over simmering (not boiling) water.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until it reaches 180° F.  Add lemon juice and stir 5 minutes more; remove from heat.

Set top part of double boiler on a pot holder; let stand undisturbed for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl; line sieve with cheesecloth.  (In a pinch, use a coffee filter — same principle.)

Slowly pour the cream mixture into the sieve; let stand 20 minutes or until cool enough to refrigerate.  Wrap sieve (bowl and all) in plastic wrap; chill overnight.

In the morning, scrape the fresh Mascarpone cheese from the filter (it doesn’t stick) and discard the liquid in the bowl.

Prepare to be amazed…

I’ll never lack for Mascarpone cheese again.  Or stuffed French Toast…

Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast

6 slices French bread, approximately 2″ wide each

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 oz. Mascarpone cheese, softened (homemade or store-bought)

1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for serving

1 pint ripe strawberries (reserve some for garnish)

1 c. milk

3 eggs

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

Create a “pocket” in each slice of bread by slicing through the middle without cutting through the crust; set aside.

Mix together softened cheeses and confectioners’ sugar until well blended.

Rinse and hull strawberries; pat dry.  Slice berries into 1/4″ slices.

Spread a generous portion of cheese mixture in each French bread “pocket.”  Layer with sliced strawberries; set aside.

In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, spices, and salt.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter on a griddle over medium heat.

Meanwhile, dip each stuffed French toast into egg batter, covering both sides; drain slightly.

Fry three pieces at a time.  When underside is golden brown, flip over and fry until golden on both sides.  Keep warm in a 250 oven until remaining pieces are cooked.  (Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to griddle before frying the rest.)

Serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar; garnish with whole strawberries.

Weekend French Toast

This weekend, treat your family (or yourself) to breakfast — you’ll be glad you did!

Enjoying a slice of Stuffed French Toast (okay, two…),

~ Kimby