Tag Archives: Coffee

The Quest for The Crispy Breakfast Potato

2 Apr

Looking at our past posts, I realized that we’ve neglected a very important meal – BREAKFAST!  With our busy lives, breakfast usually consists of a cup of coffee (or two) and maybe a Greek yogurt with jam or granola or nuts or a banana.  However, the weekends sometimes afford us the time to cook up something delicious.  Chris and I trade-off more than collaborate when it comes to breakfast.  Chris has perfected his hollandaise sauce, and he boiled the perfect 6 minute soft-boiled eggs.  I make the best, from scratch fluffy buttermilk pancakes ever, I like to experiment and elevate other dishes like huevos rancheros, and I have a love and obsession for baking muffins.

Starving and looking to fuel up for a big training run (I’m running a half marathon in May eek), I went to our kitchen and gathered what was left from the week.  Recently we decided to switch from our usual microwave meals from Trader Joes to more fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats from Whole Foods.  I had pushed Chris to do this for a while, and I think my fitness/running goals finally convinced him.  The sticker shock was a bit much at first, but we discovered that the quantities were larger and that the food we bought lasted us longer.  My first find in an adorable, tiny Whole Foods paper bag: 3 russet potatoes.

My other finds: eggs, ciabatta bread, low-fat cheese, a red onion, and a fresh tomato.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  That’s right! The perfect ingredients for Ciabatta Egg Sandwiches and Crispy Breakfast Potatoes!  I’ve tried to perfect my breakfast potato crisping skills for a while now, and this time would be no different.  I crossed my fingers, closed my eyes, and…oh shoot I should probably look before I start peeling and dicing.  In my usual fashion, I tried to only cut off the parts of the potato that were going bad and ended up nearly peeling everything (yea I’m kinda picky when it comes to brown spots).  I also rinsed the potatoes until they water ran clear and dried them off as best I could on some paper towels.  I read somewhere that if they’re too wet they’ll boil or steam and not crisp when you cook them.  I then diced the onion, tossed it in with the potatoes, and added oil, paprika, and Italian spices (too bad we don’t grow our own herbs – we want to, but we haven’t started this yet).

I decided to bake the potatoes in a jelly roll pan for 45 minutes at 475 degrees, stirring it every 15 minutes or so.  In the meantime, I started a fresh pot of water in our kettle to make our new favorite french press coffee and set the other ingredients aside.  About 10 minutes before the potatoes finished, I took out my silver dollar pancake pan and used it to make scrambled eggs fit for a sandwich.  I always beat my eggs with a bit of cream or milk and season them with basil, salt, and pepper.

Just as I finished the eggs, the timer went off for the potatoes (super proud of my timing this go in the kitchen).  When I pulled the potatoes out, they look golden and slightly crispy but certainly not crispy enough.  I stabbed one with a fork, cooled it, and took a bit.  Bleh totally bland too!  Rescue time.  I heated and seasoned a frying pan and then added the potatoes and some low-fat cheese.  Sure enough they started to crisp up perfectly and evening and the extra flavoring did the trick.

Last but not least, I toasted the ciabatta bread in the oven with the tomatoes and cheese on top, layered the egg sandwiches, and plated the potatoes.

I called Chris over, apologizing for the kitchen that looked more like a disaster zone, and we sat down to feast.  Oh wow, the potatoes were amazing.  This will go down as the day that I perfected the breakfast potato.  Chris couldn’t stop raving about the potatoes.  I think he would have been happy with just a whole plate of them.  The sandwiches were decent.  The eggs definitely could have been better, and the bread was a bit dry, but the tomatoes were a nice fruity touch.  Afterward, I had a few eggs and tomatoes left.

I put these suckers on top of a small plate of potatoes and heated them up for breakfast for us the next morning.  The flavors were great together.  Chris ate around his egg, devoured his potatoes and asked for more.  Big surprise :).

*All photos in this post are courtesy of Chris’ new IPad 3

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Chocolate, Good. Espresso, Good. Chocolate Stout Espresso Cupcakes, Amazing!

21 Feb

As Chris mentioned in our post about our lamb dish, we went for a short, 10-mile day hike in O’Neill Regional Park earlier in the day.  I’m not sure what it is about hiking, but it always leaves Chris and I craving beer and comfort food.  While the hike served as inspiration for what to cook, Food52 provided guidance and recipes.  Since starting this blog, I stumbled upon the website Food52, and fell in love with the modern look, pristine photos, and unique recipes.  Within an hour of arriving home with the groceries, I began to throw together our dessert: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes.  While the recipe calls for Guinness, Chris suggested getting a more boutique stout.  He ran off to grab the stout, while I found the mint and ginger (ingredients for other items on the list this week).  When I found him, he had a bottle of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in our basket.

I started by boiling the water to make espresso from the powder we had on hand (for camping).  Thinking that I was super smart, I skipped the step of warming the stout and mixed together the hot espresso and cold stout.  I then added the butter, only to discover that the liquid was no longer hot enough to melt the 1/2 cup block.  I transferred everything to a microwave safe bowl and heated it up to ease the melting process, melted a second 1/2 cup block of butter (yes there’s that much butter in cupcakes!), and poured it in with the stout and espresso.

Next, I added the dark, unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla, stirring it all into a nice chocolate liquid to coat the flour and dry ingredients.  I found it curious that this recipe called for melting the butter, while others suggest cutting the butter with sugar.  At this point, I imagined that this cupcake wouldn’t be as light and fluffy as others.

Chris mixed together the dry ingredients while I diligently stirred the chocolate base.  He also blended the eggs and sour cream together into a nice cream mixture.  I then grabbed the hand mixer, and put it on low in the egg and cream mixture while Chris alternated between the chocolate liquid and dry ingredients.  I instructed him to wait until just a second after the last big of dry ingredient disappeared into the mixture before adding more.  We made the perfect team 🙂

We put the cupcakes in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, rotating them half way through, and they came out just perfectly.  While they were baking I made the powdered sugar, espresso, chocolate glaze.  I accidentally added 1-2 extra tablespoons of water (it’s quite thick and difficult to mix), but overall this was a happy mistake.  The recipe instructs you to dip the cupcakes (and not ice them) in the glaze.  I jumped the gun and tried to do this right away, but failed miserably.  See the cupcakes are still pretty delicate when warm and the glaze is a bit heavy, and when you dip a warm cupcake in the glaze the top of the cupcake falls off into the glaze.  Chris took this opportunity to nab the broken cupcake top and sample my finished product.  He claimed that they were delicious, but I still had work to do.

I took a break, let the cupcakes cool, and then tried again.  This time, it worked.  I dipped each cupcake in the glaze, spooned a bit extra on top if there were gaps or holes, and then placed them on cookie sheets to catch any drips.  We also chose to use my silicone cupcake liners for half of the treats (I only have 12).  While these weren’t great for holding on to the cupcakes while dipping, I actually really liked the look and feel of them.  Note: Plan to make a little more glaze than the recipe recommends.  While I usually have more than enough frosting, I was left with 8 unglazed cupcakes.  We had just picked up some fresh whole bean coffee, so we topped each cupcake off with one bean in the middle.  They weren’t the prettiest cupcakes in the world, but they smelled fantastic.

After our feast of lamb, mash, and chard, I sampled a long-awaited chocolate stout cupcake.  Heavenly!  The texture was certainly different from that of my past cupcakes, but in a beyond delicious way.  The glaze was perfectly sweet, and the roasted bean on top was a pleasant crunch as I devoured the treat.  I usually find myself seeking professional cupcake tasters to finish off the batch that I tire of after 2-3, but this time I’m feeling a bit greedy.  You might just have to steal them from me to get a taste.

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