Breakfast 4/17/22

Coffee and pastries, steel-cut oatmeal

We decided to splash out on a nicer hotel for our vacation. A lot of the things to see and do here are free or cheap, and, quite honestly, we wanted to recapture the same experience we had with our hotel in Barcelona, so we figured it would be worth the extra money. So far, we have been proven out. This hotel has a ton of nice amenities, including turn-down service at night complete with little chocolates on the bed.

We both like to have a lazy Sunday morning, so instead of venturing out for breakfast, we ordered room service – a pot of coffee and a basket of pastried, and a bowl of oatmeal for my wife. The pastry basket had a pain au chocolat, almond croissant, raspberry muffin, and a scone. Room service just feels so decadent and old-time Hollywood movie-like. We could have ordered full breakfast, but I am usually satisfied with coffee and a pastry.

After breakfast, we took the Metro over to the National Mall and spent the afternoon wandering through the Museum of American History. We’d visited the museum on our previous trip to DC in 2009, and had been looking forward to seeing it again.

Breakfast 3/29/15

Beef brisket hash with fried egg, toast

This picture popped up in my Facebook memories today. Considering the time frame, I’m guessing the brisket (and probably the veg, as well) was left over from St. Patrick’s Day. I only vaguely remember making this, and probably would not have were it not for Facebook.

When I was growing up, my mother occasionally made “New England Boiled Dinner”, which was a corned beef brisket that she cooked in a pressure cooker, along with potatoes, carrots, turnip, and cabbage. I always hated it. It was bland and smelled funny. Also, my mother usually used the point cut of the brisket, which is just fatty and gross.

I rediscovered brisket on my own many years later. I neveer make “boiled dinner”, though. I like to do a slow braise, and have several different recipes I use as the mood strikes. One of my favorites has orange peel, tomatoes, whie wine, and spring onions. But I also make one that’s really just beef stock and ketchup, and it’s almost as good.

Like all stews and braises, braised brisket is better the next day, and even about a week after the fact, this was really good as a leftover, cut up and pan fried into hash and served with a fried egg.

Breakfast 4/5/20

Dutch Baby

During the pandemic, Dutch Babies became a popular thing for people to make, but we’ve been making and enjoying them for many years. We’ve tried a few different fillings, but our go-to is sauteed apples. We’ve also made a roasted strawberry filling that was outstanding. Have never tried any savory fillings.

The pancake itself is just popover batter poured into a cast-iron skillet with melted butter and put into a very hot oven to bake until the whole thing rises up. The one in this photo has just come out of the oven. Like popovers, sometimes you don’t get them to rise up properly, but this one was particularly magnificent.

Paczki 2/6/22

Paczki

For the sake of synchronicity, here are the paczki I bought this weekend. Two raspberry, one blueberry, and one glazed. No cream-filled this time.

I posted these on Facebook, and my friend Mig (who lives in Austria) said “Those are Krapfen!” The technical differences between krapfen, paczki, Berliners, and all the other jelly donuts that are made in Europe this time of year are very small. It’s sort of like how every middle eastern cuisine from Greece to India makes some kind of baklava.

My wife and I agree that the raspberry ones from Coffee Time are the best.

Paczki 2/9/20

Paczki, with and without cream filling

Speaking of Lenten doughnut treats, our favorite doughnut shop in Salem, Coffee Time, does paczki this time of year. Because the paczki are so popular, they start early and run past the end of Lent. These paczki come in several fillings, and with or without whipped cream. Weather permitting, I intend to have one for breakfast on Sunday morning.

Breakfast 1/30/22

Challah French Toast with bacon

The Northeast had a blizzard over the weekend, so we were obligated BY TRADITION to have French Toast for breakfast. The tradition, of course, stems from the long-standing habit of New Englanders to run out and stock up on milk, bread, and eggs just prior to a major snowstorm, since we all remember The Blizzard of 1978 like it was yesterday. Even if we didn’t remember it, the local media have no problem reminding us about it every time we get a snowstorm. Blogger friend Adam Gaffin, who runs Universal Hub, even has a French Toast Alert System that he trots out every time there’s a snowstorm, and this weekend’s stormwas an unprecedented 5- SLICE alert.

We tend to use challah or brioche for French toast, if we can get it. Supermarkets around here have wised up and make challah when the weather threatens, some stores even making it in square loaf pans without the braiding, to make better French toast slices. The loaf we were able to get in the pre-storm frenzy was braided. Texas Toast bread will do in a pinch, as well.

My wife used a method she was on a recent America’s Test Kitchen segment where you pour the custard into a sheet pan, dip the slices there, and then bake the whole pan, flipping once, and finishing in the broiler. It worked pretty well. You can see that the final product doesn’t have some of the color variation you usually see on French toast slices, but it did brown under the broiler nicely, and wasn’t too mushy on the inside.

Our town got about 14 inches of snow, which is a decent amount but not a record-breaker. Boston itself got just shy of 24 inches, which was a record. No word on how many loaves of French toast were consumed, but it was probably a wicked lot.

Breakfast 1/15/22

Blueberry scone with lemon curd

We had an excess of lemons in the fridge, so my wife made a batch of lemon curd. It only used up two lemons, but that’s two less than we had before, and lemon curd is freaking delicious, so it’s a win-win.

You gotta have something to go WITH the lemon curd, obviously, so she made a pound cake and a batch of blueberry scones. The blueberry scones were excellent, just the thing to have with my Saturday morning mug of coffee and a dollop of lemon curd. I wasn’t a fan of the pound cake; we agreed that the recipe wasn’t great. Another time, maybe a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie would be better, sice they really highlight the lemon curd.

I ended up having the scones for breakfast three days in a row. Scones are a nice, easy thing to make first thing in the morning when you want something freshly baked for breakfast. Unfortunately, there are a lot of terrible scones out there, but this recipe had a bit more loft than most.

Breakfast 12/31/21

Cinnamon French Toast. scrambled eggs, bacon

Breakfast on New Year’s Eve Day was at a longtime Salem diner stalwart, Dottie & Ray’s. Plenty of places to get a good diner breakfast in this town, which suits us just fine. This place changed hands a year or so ago, so for those of you who remember it as a less-than-stellar experience in the past, you might give it a try now.

It’s not fancy, to be sure. But I think fancy sometimes overpowers what should be a straightforward meal. When we go to breakfast, I am often torn between getting something sweet, like pancakes or French toast, and something protein-heavy like bacon and eggs. And too often if you order one of those “hungry man” type entrees that have both, there is too much on the plate to make much of a dent in. So this was just about the right speed for me – three not-too-thick slices of cinnamon swirl bread, a couple of eggs, and a couple of slices of bacon. I ate it all and had plenty of room for our NYE feast that evening.

Brunch 8/22/21

“French Toast Pancakes”

The idea of this “French Toast pancake”, as far as I could get from the explanation of the server, is that they make a regular pancake, then dip it in custard and re-cook it in a high-sided skillet. I don’t know if the idea is flawed or just the execution, but I do know that it wasn’t anywhere near as good as it looked on the plate. It was heavy and dense, and I could barely eat one. The fresh fruit was great, though.

We’d gone to this local restaurant because it’s got a reputation for Sunday brunch. Like a couple of other “upscale” places we’ve tried in Salem, though, it’s reach exceeds its grasp. We do love to go out to breakfast on the weekends, but we haven’t been back to this place since this visit in August of 2021.

Breakfast 12/26/21

Scrambled eggs, pulled pork, home fries, biscuit

For the last 10 years or so, one of our Christmas traditions has been to go out for dinner and a movie. Our movie choice for this year, though, only had a 7:00 p.m. screening available, so we skipped a proper dinner out in favor of movie snacks. That turned out to be a bad choice, because the movie theater was mostly out of all their concessions, so after the movie I suggested we go out to breakfast the next morning.

This is the Cowboy Plate from the Ugly Mug Diner in our town. Having only eaten a bag of Reece’s Pieces for “dinner” the night before, I was rather hungry and wanted to make sure breakfast was protein-centric. I only ate a couple of bites of the home fries; I am not a big fan of home fries in the first place, and it the second place they were cold on the plate. But the eggs and the delicious pulled pork were just the ticket, and I walked away quite happy and full. You can request cinnamon butter with the biscuit, which is grilled, but I stuck to one little container of strawberry jam between the two halves. Can’t completely leave out something sweet.