Savory Mushroom, Ham & Cheese Crêpes Topped w/ Eggs

Whenever my husband Kevin and I go to France, we make sure to have both savory and sweet crêpes, as they are very delicious.  Crêpes are a much thinner than pancakes, and tend to be quite larger.  You can put whatever you like in them; however, our favorite fillings are savory ham and cheese, and sweet creamy hazelnut spread, Nutella, and bananas.  Then, the crêpes are folded and eaten as a street food or seated at a table with a fork and a knife.

Here in Dallas, we cannot walk down the street and easily get a crêpe from a street vendor.  So, I make them at home.  These savory crêpes are Kevin’s favorite, especially with a couple of sunny side-up eggs on top.

SAVORY MUSHROOM, HAM, AND CHEESE CRÊPES TOPPED WITH EGGS

TRADITIONAL CRÊPES
Makes about 10 

1 3/4 cups AP Flour
4 tablespoons organic Butter
4 large organic Eggs
2 1/2 cups organic Milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Organic Vegetable Oil Spray – for cooking the crêpes

REST OF INGREDIENTS

20 slices Black Forest Ham – 2 slices per crêpe
20 slices Havarti Cheese* – 2 slices per crêpe
2 lbs Crimini Mushrooms – sliced
2 large Shallot – diced
6 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
8 tablespoons organic Butter
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10 large organic Eggs
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Fresh Herbs for garnish – optional (I used Thyme & Oregano)

*If you get a block of Havarti cheese instead of slices, get about 20 oz.  Leave the Havarti in the freezer for about 5 – 10 minutes, then grate the cheese.  Use about 2 oz for each crêpe.

Begin making the crêpe batter, as it needs to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.  Melt the butter, and allow it to cool slightly.  In a large bowl, add the flour and the salt.  Add the eggs one by one to the flour, while mixing the batter.  Then slowly add the milk, still mixing as you go.  Finally, add the melted butter, and mix to get a smooth batter.  Place the crêpe batter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour, as it thickens slightly.

In a large sauté pan on medium high heat, add 4 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Once the butter has melted, add the sliced mushrooms to the pan.  Sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, then add the diced shallots, and sauté until the onions and the mushrooms are caramelized.  Add the thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Stir in the seasoning, cook for another few minutes, then turn the heat off.

Take the ham, cheese, and eggs out of the refrigerator, and leave them on the counter to get to room temperature, while you make the crêpes.  This step helps the ham heat up faster, the cheese melt faster and smoother, and the eggs to cook more evenly.

If you have a crêpe pan, that’s great.  If you don’t, don’t worry.  You can use a griddle or a large shallow non-stick pan for your crêpes.  When you take the batter out of the refrigerator, check to see how thick it is.  If it is too thick, as in a little like pancake batter, then thin it out with a little milk, one teaspoon at a time.

Heat the pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Grease the pan with the vegetable oil spray to keep the crêpes from sticking.  Pour a small ladle-full of batter onto the pan.  If you have a crêpe spreader, use it to spread the batter around the pan evenly, creating a thin layer of batter.  If you do not have a spreader, you can either gently tilt the pan in a circular motion to get the batter distributed evenly all around the pan, or you may use the ladle to spread the batter, as you would pizza sauce.

Leave the crêpe to cook, until bubbles begin to form on the surface.  With a spatula, gently loosen the crêpe from the edge of the pan, then flip it over to cook on the other side.  Place 2 slices of ham onto one half of the crêpe.  Top the ham with a large spoonful of the mushrooms.  Spread the mushrooms around to cover both ham slices.  Cover the mushrooms with 2 slices or 2 oz of grated Havarti cheese.

Now that the crêpe is cooked on the bottom, flip the side without toppings over the side with the toppings.  Fold it onto itself, again, to form a triangle.  Place the crêpe on a plate.  Repeat the process.

In a large non-stick pan on medium high heat, add the rest of the butter and olive oil to the pan.  Once the butter has melted, fry your eggs to the desired doneness.  Salt and pepper your eggs before topping the crêpes with them.

In an individual size serving plate, place one or two ham, cheese, and mushroom crêpes.  Top each crêpe with a seasoned fried egg.  Garnish with fresh herbs, and enjoy.  Bon Appétit!!


Olive Oil Roasted Baby Eggplant w/ Red Pepper Salsa & Ricotta Cheese

I love fresh vegetarian dishes.  Last weekend, I went to the international grocery store, where I get most of my not so easy to find Lebanese ingredients.  I found the most beautiful baby eggplant that are often used in Lebanese cuisine, whether stuffed, fried, or roasted, and made into some wonderful dishes.  This time, I decided to make them into a lighter dish, something that can be part of a Mediterranean lunch or brunch … or even a side dish.

OLIVE OIL ROASTED BABY EGGPLANT WITH RED PEPPER SALSA AND RICOTTA CHEESE

10 baby Eggplant
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
15 oz whole milk Ricotta Cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

SALSA
2 Red Bell Peppers – fire or oven roasted
1/2 cup Cilantro – finely chopped
2 tablespoons Garlic – finely minced
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lemon – zested
Pinch Salt
Few fresh Black Pepper grinds

Begin by washing and drying the baby eggplant, red peppers, cilantro, and lemon.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the red peppers on a baking sheet and into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  While the peppers are roasting in the oven, start working on the eggplant.

On a clean cutting board, cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and place them in a large bowl.  (I remove part of the eggplant stem that might burn in the oven.  See pic above.)  Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Mix well.  Place the oiled eggplant cut side down on a baking sheet.

If the red peppers are done roasting, remove them, and place them in a bowl.  Cover them with plastic wrap for 10 minutes to keep the steam inside the bowl.  This will help remove the peel instantly.

Bring the oven temperature down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the eggplant in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Finely chop the cilantro and finely mince the garlic.  Place them in a small bowl with the zest of one lemon, a pinch of salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Remove the plastic wrap from covering the red peppers.  Peel and deseed the peppers.  Slice them into cubes, and place them into the bowl.  Stir the salsa to combine all the ingredients.

In another bowl, add the Ricotta cheese, and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

When the baby eggplant slices are out of the oven, serve them in small plates or in one large serving plate.  If you choose to serve them into individual sides, as I did, then place a few baby eggplant in one small dish.  Make a quenelle, or football shaped dollop, out of a large spoonful of Ricotta cheese, and place it in between the eggplant slices.  Drizzle one or two small spoonfuls of the red pepper salsa over the eggplant slices.  With the assertively zesty and fresh flavor of the salsa, the mild flavor and creaminess of the Ricotta works well to bring balance to this delicious side dish.

 


Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters are quite an easy brunch dish to make, whether just for family or for friends.  You may make them any way you like, using whatever you have in your refrigerator, as I do.  In this recipe, I use Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve White English Cheddar; it is my husband’s and my favorite cheddar cheese, and it is always in our refrigerator.  However, you may use Parmesan, Asiago, or even Pecorino Romano as your cheese of choice.  Also, instead of corn flour, you may use regular flour (this will make the fritter a bit more pancake-like), potato flour, chickpea flour … the list is practically endless.

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

7 green Zucchini
3 tablespoons Corn Flour
1 organic Egg
1 large Garlic clove – grated
1/2 cup grated aged white English Cheddar – Barber’s 1833
1/2 teaspoon Salt
10 grinds Black Pepper
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil or light Olive Oil

GARNISH

3 tablespoons Lebanese Labneh or Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley – finely chopped
3 grinds Black Pepper

Begin by washing and grating your zucchini using a box grater.  Squeeze all the moisture out of your shredded / grated zucchini, and place them in a bowl.  Add the corn flour, egg, grated garlic clove, grated aged Cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper.  Mix well, until all the ingredients are properly incorporated.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Form the zucchini mixture into patties, and very gently place them individually into the hot oil.  Do not crowd the pan, as you want the patties to caramelize and form a crust.  Also, be careful not to splatter yourself with the oil.  After they form a crust on one side, which can take 2 -3 minutes, gently turn them over, and allow them to caramelize until they reach the desired crispiness.

Remove the fritters from the oil, and place them on a plate lined with two or three paper towels.  This will keep your fritters from being too oily.  Allow them to sit for a minute or so, as you finely chop the Italian parsley.  Place the fritters in a serving plate, topping each fritter with a teaspoon of labneh or sour cream.  Sprinkle the chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper over them.  Serve and Enjoy!


Spanish Chorizo & Potato Hash Topped w/ Olive Oil Fried Eggs & Mediterranean Tomato Salsa

When it comes to chorizo, I love the Spanish variety above all else.  The flavor is amazing!  It is made of pork, smokey paprika, garlic, and herbs.  It can be spicy or sweet.  The texture is hard like a salami.  It is delicious as part of a charcuterie spread, in a rustic soup, as garnish on a creamy soup, on crostinis, or as part of a hash topped with extra virgin olive oil fried eggs.  I first had Spanish chorizo at a tapas bar in the north of Spain many years ago.  I haven’t stopped eating it since.

SPANISH CHORIZO AND POTATO HASH TOPPED WITH OLIVE OIL FRIED EGGS

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 yellow Onion
2 cloves Garlic
12 oz Spanish Chorizo
4 yukon gold Potatoes
1 tablespoon Rosemary
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

The EGGS
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 organic Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 grinds Black Pepper

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.  Dice and sauté the chorizo, until some of the fat is rendered.  With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked chorizo, and place it to the side.  Remove half the fat from the skillet.  Make sure not to dispose of it down the drain.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Finely chop and sauté the onion.  Meanwhile, dice the potatoes and finely chop the garlic and rosemary.  When the onions have become translucent, add the cooked chorizo , the potatoes, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper into the skillet.  Stir and allow the hash to sauté for a couple of minutes, then put the skillet in the oven for about 30 minutes.  While the hash is in the oven, begin making the Mediterranean tomato salsa.

MEDITERRANEAN TOMATO SALSA

3 tablespoon sweet Basil
1 tablespoon fresh Oregano
1/2 pint Cherry Tomatoes
1 Lemon – zested
1 clove Garlic
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Finely chiffonade the basil (slice it into long thin strips), finely chop the oregano, quarter the cherry tomatoes, finely mince or grate the garlic, and zest the lemon.  Place all the ingredients in a bowl with the salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.  Stir everything together, and leave the salsa in the refrigerator for the remainder of the time, until you need to plate your dish.  This allows all the flavors to meld together.

Once the potatoes are soft on the inside, yet caramelized on the outside, remove the hash from the oven, and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes, while you make the eggs.  In a nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat, then gently crack and add the eggs.  With a spoon, scoop some of the hot oil over the egg whites.  This will allow the whites to cook faster, thus keeping the yolks beautifully runny.  Once the whites are firm, turn the heat off and remove the eggs from the skillet, and place them onto a plate.

In a serving dish, plate the hash, then top it with one or two eggs, depending on what portions you are serving per person.  Gently top the eggs with the fresh Mediterranean tomato salsa.  Serve and ENJOY!


Spinach, Mushroom, Havarti & Egg Tarts w/ Gremolata

One Saturday morning, I decided to make breakfast for my family from what was already in the refrigerator.  I did not want to go to the store or the farmer’s market.  It was my lazy day to lounge about, while enjoying a hot cup of perfectly brewed organic Guatemalan coffee.  I decided to make them spinach and mushroom tarts, topped with a sunny side-up egg and gremolata for freshness.

SPINACH, MUSHROOM, HAVARTI, AND EGG TARTS WITH GREMOLATA

4 Ramekins
2 tablespoons organic Butter
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic – minced
1 large Shallot sliced
6 large Crimini Mushrooms
5 small sweet Peppers
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme – finely chopped
2 cups baby Spinach
4 tablespoons Heavy Cream
6 oz Havarti Cheese – grated
pinch Red Chili Flakes
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large enough sauté pan, melt the butter and heat the olive oil on medium high heat.  Add the sliced shallots and minced garlic, and sauté them until they are translucent, making sure not to burn the garlic.  Add the pepper.  Slice the mushrooms and sweet peppers, and add them to the sauté pan.  Allow them to cook for a few minutes, then add the finely chopped thyme, salt, and red chili flakes.  Sauté them for another few minutes, then remove them from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  On a clean cutting board, run your knife through the spinach, and place an equal amount in each of the four ramekins.  Top the spinach with the mushroom, shallot, and pepper mixture.  Add a tablespoon of heavy cream to every ramekin.  Grate the Havarti cheese, and top the ramekins with the cheese.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

While the spinach and mushroom tarts are in the oven, make the gremolata.  After which, you can make the eggs.

GREMOLATA

3 tablespoons flat leaf Parsley – finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh Oregano – finely chopped
1 Lemon – zested
1 clove Garlic
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

After finely chopping the parsley and oregano, place them in a bowl.  Grate the garlic clove, and place it with the herbs.  Add the lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Mix well, and leave to the side as you make the eggs.

EGGS

1 tablespoon organic Butter
4 organic Eggs
Pinch of Salt
4 grinds of Black Pepper

You may make the all the eggs at one time or individually.  I have chosen to make all four of them at the same time in a large non-stick sauté pan.  Melt the butter over medium high heat, then add the eggs to the pan.  Let the eggs cook until all the whites are firm.  Salt and pepper the eggs.  Place each egg on top of each of the ramekins.  Gently spoon a little of the gremolata over the egg.  Serve and enjoy.


Mini Vanilla Pancakes w/ Macerated Raspberries & Mascarpone Cream

These mini vanilla pancakes with macerated raspberries and mascarpone cream are a very delicious way of starting or ending a brunch.  You can also make them as something slightly different form the usual pancakes and syrup.  My family loves them.  You may want to start with the macerated raspberries, as they will be macerating in the refrigerator for about an hour.

MACERATED RASPBERRIES

12 ounces Raspberries
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
1/2 Lemon juiced

Place the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl.  With a fork, gently mash the raspberries, and mix all the ingredients together.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  When the macerated raspberries have been in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, start on your pancakes.

MINI VANILLA PANCAKES

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
2 tablespoons Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 cup organic heavy Cream
1 cup organic Milk
2 organic large Eggs
2 tablespoons organic Butter melted
2 tablespoons pure Vanilla Extract

Begin by whisking or sifting (for a smoother batter) the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, add the cream, milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla, and whisk them until they are homogenized.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just enough to combine and form the pancake batter.  Do not over work the batter.  It is ok to have some lumps.

You may use oil or butter for cooking your pancakes.  Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat, and lightly oil or butter it.  With a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop, ladle a spoonful of the batter onto the griddle or skillet.  When you see bubbles forming on the top, gently check to see, if the bottom is golden brown.  If so, flip the pancake, and allow it to cook for another couple of minutes for the top to brown.  Place all the golden brown pancakes on a serving dish.  If you are not going to serve the pancakes soon, cover them to keep them from drying out.

MASCARPONE CREAM

8 ounces Mascarpone Cheese – at room temperature
1 pint heavy whipping Cream
1/2 cup powdered Sugar
2 tablespoons pure Vanilla Extract

Make sure your mascarpone cheese is at room temperature, and that the heavy whipping cream is very cold.  In a stand mixer, place the mascarpone, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and whisk them on high, until you form stiff peaks.  If you do not have a stand mixer, use a bowl and a hand mixer.  You can always whisk the ingredients by hand, but it takes a very long time, and it is very tiring; so, I do not recommend it.  If you are not going to serve the pancakes immediately, cover the freshly whipped mascarpone cream with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator, until you are ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve the pancakes, you can either plate them, add the macerated raspberries, and top them with the mascarpone cream; or, you can have your family and guests do it themselves.

They are very delicious!


Blue Cheese, Tomato & Thyme Tarts

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made these tarts for a brunch my husband and I hosted last weekend.  They are some of my favorite tarts to make and to serve during a fun gathering.  They go best with an arugula salad, tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. To be featured in my next post.

BLUE CHEESE, TOMATO, AND THYME TARTS
Makes 15 – 20 tarts

1 sheet Puff Pastry (preferably Dufour brand)
6 – 8 oz Blue Cheese
2 Shallots
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
15 – 20 grinds Black Pepper

Thaw the puff pastry according to the package instructions.

Begin by slicing the shallots and cherry tomatoes, and placing them in a bowl with the salt.  Allow them to soften by sitting at room temperature for about 15 minutes.  In the meantime, sprinkle a little flour on a clean surface, and roll out the puff pastry.  With a round cookie cutter, cut out individual round tarts.  You may want to prick each tart with a fork to keep the pastry from rising in the oven.  I, however, don’t prick them, as I like the way they look when they rise.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

After you crumble the blue cheese, place about a teaspoon of it on each tart, followed by a couple of tomatoes, a few shallots, some fresh thyme, freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place the tarts on parchment paper and into the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.  When they are done, take them out of the oven and allow them to sit, until they reach room temperature.  Plate them and serve them with whatever you would like, preferably an arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  ENJOY!


Bacon, Potato & Mushroom Hash w/ Sunny Side Up Eggs

My husband and I hosted about eight of our friends for brunch this Saturday.  It was wonderful!  The food was delicious, the mimosas were free flowing, and the conversation was engaging.  I made a hash with butter fried eggs on top, blue cheese, tomato, and thyme tarts, arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, and mini vanilla pancakes with macerated raspberries and mascarpone cream.  I will post the recipes to all these delicious dishes; however, this posting will be about the hash and eggs.

BACON, POTATO, AND MUSHROOM HASH WITH SUNNY SIDE UP EGGS

THE POTATOES:

2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 tablespoons Organic Butter – melted
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tablespoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Piment d’Espelette
1/2 teaspoon fresh Oregano
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme

Start by making the potatoes, as they take the longest to cook.  Cut the potatoes into small cubes, and place in a large bowl; pat them dry with a paper towel, before adding the rest of the ingredients.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add the olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, onion powder, piment d’espelette, oregano, and thyme to the bowl.  Mix well, then place the potatoes on a baking sheet and in the oven for about 30 minutes.  Do not crowd the potatoes.  I used two different baking sheets to get the potatoes to get crispy on the outside.  Take the potatoes out of the oven, and leave to the side for a few minutes.  You may now combine them onto one baking sheet, as I did in the picture above (to maximize space).  Keep the oven on for the bacon.

THE BACON & MUSHROOMS

12 Crimini Mushrooms
2 Shallots
4 tablespoons Organic Butter
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
12 slices Maple Bacon – thick slices

Begin by placing the bacon slices on a rack that is placed on a baking sheet to capture all the grease.  Place the bacon in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.  Take the bacon out of the oven and allow it to rest for a few minutes.  Take all the bacon fat that is collected in the baking sheet, and place it in a container to go in the refrigerator.  If you choose to cook with it, then go ahead.  I, however, do not like to use it.  I leave it in the refrigerator until it hardens, then I toss it in the trash, as the grease should NEVER be thrown into the sink.

Gather the cooked bacon, then dice it into smallish cubes, and put them in a sauté pan on medium to medium high heat.  Since most of the fat was rendered in the oven, you will not get much while sautéing it.  This step is just to make the bacon crispy.  Take the crispy bacon bits out of the pan, and place them onto a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up the residual fat.  If there is a lot of fat in the pan, you may remove it or keep it.  If you choose to keep it, do not use the butter for this step.  I did not get much bacon fat, so I used the butter.

In that same sauté pan, melt the butter.  Finely dice the shallots, then add them to the pan.  Clean and chop the mushrooms, then add them to the caramelized shallots.  Sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, then add the salt, pepper, and thyme.  Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

In the same sauté pan, add some or all the roasted potatoes, depending on the size of your pan, and allow the flavors to develop by sautéing the bacon, mushrooms, shallots, and potatoes on low heat for a few minutes.  For the eggs …

THE EGGS

3 – 4 tablespoons Organic Butter
10 large Organic Eggs
3 tablespoons Chives – finely chopped
1 teaspoon Sea Salt – to taste
16 grinds freshly ground Black Pepper

In a non-stick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat for every 3 eggs you will be cooking.  Cook the eggs, until the whites are white and hard and no longer translucent.  The yolk must still be runny; unless, you prefer otherwise.  You may salt and pepper the eggs in the pan, or after you plate them.

For the plating, scoop some of the hash onto a plating dish.  Gently add one or two of your cooked sunny side up eggs on top of the hash.  If you did not season the eggs, lightly salt and pepper them.  Then garnish with the desired amount of finely chopped chives on top of the eggs for a gentle onion flavor.  Repeat for however many guests you have.  Serve and ENJOY!


Oven Baked Egg, Potato & Shallot Frittata

What I love most about weekend brunches is the uninterrupted and relaxed time I get to spend at the brunch table with my family and friends.  An unlimited supply of organic Guatemalan coffee, fresh orange juice mimosas, and a healthy spread of breakfast foods.  All that takes some time to make.  When a lazy Saturday comes by, and I don’t want to put in the effort to make a huge spread, I defer to an easy, but delicious oven baked frittata.

OVEN BAKED EGG, POTATO, AND SHALLOT FRITTATA

POTATO AND SHALLOT HASH

3 Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 Shallots
2 tablespoons organic Butter
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Piment D’Espelette – you may use Cayenne or Paprika instead
1 tablespoon organic Butter to grease baking dish

THE FRITTATA

8 large organic Eggs
3 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped
2 tablespoons Feta Cheese
1 tablespoon Heavy Cream or Half & Half
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Piment D’Espelette – you may use Cayenne or Paprika instead
1 cup grated Havarti Cheese

ON THE SIDE (OPTIONAL)

Uncured Hard Salami (no nitrates or nitrites)
Whole Wheat English Muffins – toasted and buttered

Begin the potato and shallot hash by thinly dicing the potatoes. In a large enough sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat, and add the diced potatoes. Allow the potatoes to caramelize and brown, then turn the heat down and cover them; let them steam for about 7 minutes, or until they are mostly tender. Thinly slice the shallots, and add them to the sauté pan with the potatoes. Add the salt, pepper, piment d’espelette, and fresh thyme to the pan. Cook the mixture for another few minutes, until both the shallots and potatoes are completely tender, then transfer to a greased oven safe dish.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, crack 8 eggs, and add the Feta cheese, salt, pepper, piment d’espelette, cream, and finely chopped parsley. Whisk well, then add the egg mixture to the potato hash in the greased baking dish. Top the egg and potato mixture with the Havarti cheese. Place the baking dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until you achieve the desired frittata consistency.

Meanwhile, place the salami in a sauté pan over medium high heat for about 2 or so minutes on each side. This will allow all the fat to melt, and will make the salami slightly crispy. Place the cooked salami on a paper towel, so the excess grease can be absorbed. I am not a fan of having a greasy piece of meat. Toast the English muffins and butter them. Remove the frittata from the oven, and allow to rest for a couple of minutes, before you cut it into individual sizes and plate it.  Sprinkle a little of the chopped Italian parsley on the frittata slices.  Plate the salami and English muffins. Serve and ENJOY!


Mna’eesh Bi Za’atar – Breakfast Wild Thyme & Olive Oil Flat Bread

Mna’eesh bi za’atar make up a very important and essential part of a Lebanese breakfast.  In Lebanon, most people buy them from their local bakery, as they are made fresh daily.  When I was a kid, I remember that on the weekends, some people send their kids (as I was sent a few times) or go themselves and take their own za’atar mixture to their local bakery.  They have the baker use his dough and their za’atar to make the mna’eesh.

In the US, it is not easy to find already made mna’eesh, so most Lebanese tend to make them at home.  One of my favorite things about visiting my parents are my mom’s freshly made mna’eesh that she bakes very early, every morning of my visit.   She gets up around 5:30 am to begin the process.  When she starts baking her addictive mna’eesh between 6:30 and 7:00 am, the intoxicating aroma fills the house and seeps into my room, gently awakening me.  They always smell so good!  Why is everything tied to our mothers so amazing?  I guess, it just is …

THE DOUGH

3 cups all purpose Flour – plus a little extra for dusting
1 teaspoon coarse Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus a little extra for finished dough
1 – 1 1/2 cups warm Water – depending on humidity
1 pkg rapid rise Instant Yeast – about 2 1/4 oz

*You may use regular active dry yeast, but you will have to proof the yeast in the warm water and sugar before you add it to the flour, salt, and olive oil.  I like using rapid rise, because it is much easier and takes less time for the dough to rise.

Combine the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a stand mixer, and turn it on low.  Add the extra virgin olive oil, and slowly add in the warm water.  Start with a cup; should you require more, add a little drizzle at a time.  If your dough is too moist, add more flour.  Turn the stand mixer to medium low and keep kneading the dough for about 5 – 8 minutes, until it is smooth and pulls away from the bowl.

On a clean board, sprinkle some flour and transfer the dough to the floured board.  Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Drizzle a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil to coat the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave it a warm place to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half.

MNA’EESH BI ZA’ATAR – WILD THYME AND OLIVE OIL FLAT BREAD

1/2 cup green Za’atar – preferably Lebanese za’atar
1 tablespoon Sumac
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt (optional)
Previously prepared Dough

Allow me to begin by stating that this will be the easy way to make mna’eesh.  Instead of taking the time to make them beautifully round, as tradition dictates, I am going to make one large rectangle; after which, I will cut said rectangle into individually sized small squares / rectangles.

Now that the dough has risen, very lightly oil a sheet tray, and gently spread the dough with your fingers to cover the full surface of the sheet tray.  In a small bowl, mix the za’atar, sumac, grapeseed oil, and extra virgin olive oil together.  Taste the za’atar mixture to make sure that it is seasoned well.  If you are making your za’atar mixture fully from scratch, you will need to add salt and sesame seeds.  I, however, get my za’atar imported from Lebanon for the most part, or Jordan, if the Lebanese variety is unavailable.

Scoop the za’atar and oil mixture onto the dough, and spread it all over.  Allow the za’atar covered dough to sit for about 5 – 10 minutes, as you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the man’ouchi (singular for mna’eesh) or za’atar flat bread in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until you achieve the desired crust color and texture.

Now that your man’ouchi is out of the oven, cut it into individual squares using a knife or a pizza cutter.  Plate the mna’eesh and serve them with a plate of freshly cut tomatoes, white onions, cucumbers, fresh mint, and olives.  I always make some Earl Grey with my mna’eesh; they go so well together.  But when I visit my parents, my dad always has Ayran on hand that he has made himself.  Ayran is a cold plain yogurt drink with salt that is thinned out with some water.  It is the drink of choice for most, when having this breakfast … Unless you have some freshly picked tomatoes.  A tall cold glass of freshly juiced tomatoes goes even better with the mna’eesh.  Whichever you decide on, ENJOY!