Category Archives: Recipes

Holiday Do-Ahead Breakfast

Here are two recipes we always make for Christmas morning breakfast, but they’re great any time you have guests staying overnight and don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking for them in the morning. New Year’s Day, for instance. Both recipes are made the day before and refrigerated, then popped in a preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until done. Easy! The Baked Apple French Toast recipe comes from the Churchtown Inn Bed and Breakfast, where we stayed many years ago. We had it there, loved it, bought their cookbook, and have been making it every year since. We usually prepare two dishes like this, so there are some leftovers for the next day. The Breakfast Omelette is a recipe of Ann’s, not sure where it came from originally.

bakedapplefrenchtoast

BAKED APPLE FRENCH TOAST
9 by 13 inch non-stick or glass baking dish
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
3 Granny Smith apples, sliced thin
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
French or italian bread, sliced 3/4 inch thick, enough to fill pan in one layer. Cut large slices, if any, in half.
Cinnamon as garnish

In a medium saucepan cook sugar, butter and syrup until it forms a thick liquid. Pour into greased baking dish, spreading out with the back of a large spoon before it cools. Spread apple slices in a tight single layer over this. Place bread slices over apples in a tight layer to fill pan.

Whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla and pour evenly over bread. Add cinnamon sprinkles as garnish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes, then separate around each bread slice with a spatula and serve with real maple syrup as topping.

breakfastomelette

BREAKFAST OMELETTE
9 by 13 inch non-stick or glass baking dish
1 pound bacon (optional)
French or Italian bread, sliced 3/4 inches thick, or broken into small pieces, enough to tightly fill pan
18 eggs
1 cup milk
sliced or grated cheddar cheese, enough to spread over bread, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Fill bottom of greased baking dish with a tight layer of bread. Fry, drain and crumble bacon, if using, spreading that in a layer over bread. Place cheese in a layer over that.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk together. Season to taste. Pour evenly over dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until egg at center is set and cooked. Allow to cool a few minutes, then separate portions with a spatula and serve.

More Christmas Cookies

rollingdough

We’re at Ellen’s sister Ann’s house for Christmas, making decorated Butter Cookies, something we usually do the afternoon of Christmas Eve. I’ll put the recipe below. Ann made the dough earlier, and chilled it in the refrigerator in several batches. Here she’s rolling one out on the floured counter.

cuttingshapes

Ann cuts the shapes, and Ellen transfers them with a metal spatula to cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

paintingcookies

When a sheet is full, each person gets to paint on the colors and add sprinkles. Here Ellen and Zach are working on some. The paint is egg yolk with food coloring: red, green and yellow. (Blue doesn’t work well with this method.) The sprinkles are added by dipping one forefinger in uncolored egg white, then in the sprinkles, then on the cookies.

decoratedcookies

Here’s Ellen’s finished tray. The cookies are baked after decorating in this case. The colors hold up well as long as you don’t burn them. The taste is not as sweet as the more common sugar cookies or gingerbread, but they have a nice lemony flavor that goes well with tea or cider. Here’s the recipe, from Ellen and Ann’s mom:

CHRISTMAS BUTTER COOKIES

Cream together:
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

Add 3 teaspoons lemon extract

Sift together and add:

2 and 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Chill dough in refrigerator or freezer until stiff. Roll out very thin on floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Paint with egg glaze and decorate with candies. Bake at 425 degrees for about 6 minutes, until firm and just barely beginning to brown at edges.

Egg Glaze: In each of three bowls mix 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon water and about 1/2 teaspoon food coloring, red yellow and green. Put egg whites in a fourth bowl as a transfer medium for candies, which go in a fifth bowl. Inexpensive watercolor brushes are best for painting.

Ann says, “Make two batches, or you won’t have enough!”

Holiday cooking begins!

cranberryrelish

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and this evening we began the preparations by making one of my favorite family recipes, Cranberry Relish. Actually, the title of this post is misleading, as it requires no actual cooking, just fine chopping in a food processor. Unlike cooked cranberry sauce or jelly, our recipe retains all the tart, fresh flavor of the cranberries, blended with fresh orange, apple, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. The recipe, which I posted last year is HERE. And now is the time to make it, the flavor improves after a few days in the refrigerator. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out on the best complement to a holiday feast!

German Potato Salad

germanpotatosalad

Ellen has her Italian family recipes, and I have some German ones from my family as well. In fact I put together a collection of them years ago that everyone in the family uses from time to time. Unfortunately, quite a few of the dinner recipes involve meat, so I don’t make them anymore, but we have adapted a few. Here’s a recipe from my grandmother, Harriet Klein (born over 100 years ago in Germany, now passed on) exactly as she gave it to me. Then I’ll describe the way I’ve modified it for our vegetarian household.

GERMAN POTATO SALAD

2 pounds small red-skinned or white potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 of a small onion, minced very fine
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
3 slices bacon, well fried and crumbled
2 teaspoons bacon fat

Boil potatoes for 20 minutes, or until just starting to soften, but not mushy. A knife should be able to pierce the center without effort. Peel while warm and slice into a large bowl. Add salt and oil and mix gently. Add onion, vinegar and sugar, mix well. Add bacon and bacon fat and mix. Can be served hot or cold.

Okay, here’s how I’ve modified it. First, I’ve been using small yellow potatoes, the Oregon Gold variety, that come in fingerling or new potato size. I cut these in half before boiling, and they’re ready in about 10 minutes. I cut each half in half again, and they’re small enough. I don’t remove the skin, which is thin and tastes good.

Instead of vegetable oil I use olive oil. I leave out the bacon, of course (with regret), and add a little more vinegar and salt to compensate. It still tastes quite good, though not as good as with bacon. If you only know the kind of potato salad made with mayonnaise, this is a great alternative, and probably a little healthier (without the bacon).

Med’s Italian Zucchini

medsitalianzucchini

Ellen’s Italian Mom isn’t with us any longer, but one way she lives on in the family is through her recipes. Mary Rose, known affectionately as Med, gave us this one. I’m not a big fan of zucchini as a rule, but I like it this way.

MED’S ITALIAN ZUCCHINI

2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium Italian green peppers, chopped
2 celery stalks sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, 1/2-inch slices, quartered
4 tablespoons olive oil

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste

zucchinichopped

Heat olive oil in a large pot and saute onions, peppers and celery until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and zucchini and saute a few more minutes.

saute

Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until zucchini is tender. Adjust seasonings as needed.

simmer

Serve over rice or pasta. Can be topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or just more freshly ground pepper, as shown at the top. Makes 3 to 4 servings.