Poached Egg Over a Smoked Salmon Quesadilla

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Maine smoked salmon, whipped cream cheese, St. Andre triple cream, fresh dill, diced onion, capers (if I had them!) a squeeze of lemon and black pepper go into a flour tortilla, folded and heated in a dry non-stick pan until golden. Top with a poached egg, lemon and black pepper and you have yourself an amazing breakfast, lunch or light dinner! IMG_9664IMG_9666IMG_9670

Almond Florentines filled with Gingerbread Cookie Butter

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Almond Florentines filled with Gingerbread Cookie Butter

I love to make almond florentines and sandwich two cookies together with Nutella! But I saw this unusual “cookie butter” at Trader Joe’s and thought I’d try it with this cookie. It has the consistency of smooth peanut butter, a little firmer, and the taste of gingerbread. It’s really delicious! In this cookie, I think the filling was masked by the flavor of the florentine alone. But between two sugar cookies it would have been perfect. For this cookie, I think I’ll stick with Nutella or a homemade buttercream! The cookie recipe is in my cookbook :)

My twist on homemade Girl Scout Samoas!


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I started with a classic macaroon recipe and a sugar cookie recipe. I made sure the sugar cookie dough was very cold so that I could cut thin slices as the base for my cookie. Then I topped the cookie with a macaroon, flattened it and then using a melon baller, I removed the center. I baked them 80% of the way, then filled the center with caramel (this time I cheated and didn’t make my own, I used the caramel dip that we find in the produce section of the supermarket) and finished baking until they were light golden brown. I melted dipping chocolate, dipped the cookie bottom into chocolate and let it set up. Then with my homemade ganache, I drizzled the top. Voila! Not bad at all!

 

iPhone photo disclaimer, NOT my Canon :)

Foodporn Alert: Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes with Maple Mascarpone Glaze!


How does that sound? How about how does that look? They’re a fun twist on the ordinary, which you may know is what I’m all about. Still simple, but with a creative twist.

Just use your favorite pancake recipe as the base. Then mix a stick of melted butter with about 3/4 cup dark brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and mix well. Set aside to cool. Mix your pancake batter. Now mix your glaze. I used mascarpone instead of cream cheese, a healthy dose of pure maple syrup and powdered sugar and whisked until I ended up with a nice pourable consistency.

You’ll need to make sure the consistency of the brown sugar mixture is pourable but still thick and grainy, as you’ll want it to hold its shape when you swirl it onto the pancake.

Pour your pancake batter onto a hot griddle and just when you see the first sign of bubbles in the batter, squeeze the sugar mixture into the batter, starting in the center, working around toward the outside in a concentric circle. Then when the pancake is golden on the bottom, just flip. Lower the heat to low/simmer and cook on the swirl side for a couple minutes. Then flip back over, turn off the heat and let sit for about 30 seconds while the caramelized sugar sets up.

To serve, pile the pancakes on a plate, drizzle the maple cream glaze around the pancake in the same pattern and serve with a side of maple syrup, though you may not need it.

Tastes like a cross between a pancake and cinnamon bun! Enjoy!

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Cheese Blintz Souffle with Berry Coulis


 

A favorite of any of my guests, family and friends! It’s a layered version of a cheese filled blintz, served with mango puree, blackberry coulis, rhubarb puree and raspberry coulis! How’s that for foodporn? In The Art of Breakfast!

Chocolate Almond Coconut Toffee…careful, it’s addictive!


For those of you who have me figured out, you realize I’m all about the images. I try not to get too wordy in my posts. I like to let the photos speak for themselves. But this post has a story to it, one that has to be told in its long version to be appreciated.

I started with this toffee recipe back before I bought a bed and breakfast in Maine in 2004. It fact, made it several times, successfully. So when we bought the inn, I thought I’d make it as my thing, to put in the candy dishes in the rooms every day. It would become my signature candy, no commercial candies for me, it had to be homemade. So one day I got out my trusty candy thermometer (the same one I used before when making the toffee) along with the other ingredients and started making toffee.

Let me first preface the rest of the story by saying DO NOT MAKE TOFFEE AT CHECK-IN TIME. Repeat, DO NOT MAKE TOFFEE AT CHECK-IN TIME. My kitchen was open to the guest entrance (which I loved) so in walk some guests to check in. I’m standing over my pot of melted butter and sugar in its light golden stage of yumminess. I tell my guests that I’ll just leave the mixture on low while I give them the tour and show them to their room. They even offer to wait until I’m done (maybe they had more sense than I did given that I was using a candy thermometer- pretty serious stuff). But NO, DON’T WORRY, THE CARAMEL IS STILL IN THE VERY EARLY STAGES AND NOT EVEN READING 200 YET (it needed to reach 290)…so off we go. You can see where this is going. After a few minutes upstairs I begin to smell smoke. I run downstairs to the kitchen and the caramel in the pan is as BLACK as ASPHALT and smoking the house up. Thankfully the smoke alarms didn’t go off (my guess is that because Summer in Maine is gorgeous we leave all windows open almost all Spring/Summer/and part of Fall. I ran outside with the pan so that it could continue to smoke OUTSIDE and not INSIDE. Baking  is supposed to make the inn smell good, right? The rest of the checkins that day heard my “don’t assume the smell of burned food will be what’s to come in the morning, please!!!!” and they all laughed.
Over the next year I attempted to make toffee again, promising NEVER to leave the pan unattended again. I followed the recipe exactly. Removed the mixture from the heat when the thermometer read 290. But it still looked too pale to be done. But I followed the recipe. After a handful of attempts and trashed toffee, I bought a new thermometer. This time, a fancy digital thermometer.

So it had been a while before I decided to try making toffee again. But now that I have a new thermometer, I was confident. But this time I had just been given a gift of a box of See’s Peanut Brittle, I think it was just before the holidays, and we happened to have a little snow on the ground. If you haven’t tasted See’s brittle, GO ONLINE and BUY IT NOW, it’s just amazing. Or maybe you shouldn’t because you could become addicted and be in my predicament of trying to create it at home…So the primary difference between brittle and toffee is baking soda and/or cream of tartar, it some how changes the texture just slightly.

I get all of my ingredients out, new candy thermometer and I decide to make brittle. I follow the recipe (except I used too small a saucepan but couldn’t have imagined that would matter)…WRONG. Candy making tip: DO NOT ASSUME WHEN MAKING CANDY. Repeat: DO NOT ASSUME WHEN MAKING CANDY. When it comes time to add the baking soda at just the precise moment, I add it and am prepared to stir quickly as the recipe reads, but I wasn’t prepared for a big VOLCANIC ERUPTION from my 3 quart saucepan. Fortunately my kitchen door was only 15 feet from the stove, I ran with the erupting saucepan outside and leaned over the porch rail JUST IN TIME for the blobby bubbly brown mess to pour over the edge of the pan and plop onto the beautiful WHITE SNOW. This brown blobby mess hardened in the once white snow immediately, AT OUR INN’S FRONT ENTRANCE, looking like someone had a bad case of the stomach flu (oh dear what if our guests thought it was from my breakfast?) My husband tried to remove the hardened candy from the snow but it wasn’t as easy as he thought. So he covered the mess up with more snow. Out of sight, out of mind…so the blobby mess sat beneath a winter’s worth of snow. By spring there was no sign of it. That was my FIRST and LAST attempt at making brittle.

So YEARS LATER after we sold our inn…I decide to get the almonds out of the pantry and right away my husband knew where I was going with this. He said “uh oh”, but right away I said “no, you know what, I’m making my original toffee and I’m NOT going to rely on the thermometer. I know what color it should be.” And that’s exactly what I did. I used both thermometers just to verify what I thought all along, that my eye knew what would be right. The thermometers gave an inaccurate reading. And many chefs do things the same way, by touch, taste, appearance, smell, using the senses. MY TOFFEE TURNED OUT PERFECTLY DELICIOUS WITH JUST THE RIGHT TEXTURE.

SO HERE’S THE RECIPE with my coconut twist:

3 cups whole raw almonds (you can buy them already roasted but I prefer to roast my own)
2 cups shredded coconut
2 sticks butter
1 tablespoon water
1 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons corn syrup
1. roast almonds and coconut on sheet pan in oven on 300 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool.
2. chop the nuts in a processor – stopping halfway to reserve about half the mixture leaving some larger pieces, then continue to pulse into small pieces.
3. put butter in 3 quart saucepan (we’re not adding baking soda so this size is adequate!) and add the water, corn syrup and sugar and heat to melt over medium heat.
4. Once melted, bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring with heatproof spatula occasionally for about 10 minutes (here is where the recipe calls for heating to 290 degrees) but I say heat it until it JUST gets to the right color of toffee (camel brown) and then remove from heat.
5. immediately add the large chop nuts and half of the small chop nuts and quickly fold to combine. The mixture will harden quickly.
6. spread onto parchment lined sheet pan with an offset spatula or heatproof spatula to the desired thickness.
7. top with 2 cups of chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet but you can use milk chocolate or a combination), let sit for a couple minutes, then spread the melting chips over the toffee.
8. top the melted chocolate with the remaining finely chopped nuts and let sit at least a few hours at room temperature. When completely set, break into pieces and store in an airtight container. Freezes beautifully!

This recipe is in my Cookbook, The Art of Breakfast (which includes baked goods, chocolates, etc!)

Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cake with Vanilla Cream and Rhubarb Sauce


Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cake with Vanilla Cream, Rhubarb Sauce and Fresh Strawberries (from The Art of Breakfast)

This was one of the most surprising and requested recipes we served at the inn, probably because of its simplicity and the health benefits of oats. It was surprising as many people who don’t typically like oatmeal really enjoyed this because of its cake-like texture. I even kept pre-printed cards with the inn’s logo and recipe at the checkout desk in anticipation of the request! Give it a try: you just might convert some oatmeal naysayers like I did.

½  cup canola or vegetable oil
½ cup walnut oil (if not available, use a total of 1 cup vegetable oil)
1¼ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
1¼ cups half and half
6 cups thick cut rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
Combine the oils, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla, salt, milk and half and half in a mixer and beat until well combined. Add the oats and mix thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 glass baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dish from refrigerator and allow to sit while oven is heating.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, until lightly brown on top. Cut into squares, place in shallow bowl, and top with a good amount of the Vanilla Cream, a nice drizzle of the Rhubarb Sauce and garnish with some fresh sliced strawberries.

This freezes and rewarms in the microwave beautifully. Kids will love it for a healthier breakfast!

Vanilla Cream

Heat 2 cups milk with 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon sugar in microwave or on stovetop until warm.

Rhubarb Sauce

Makes about 2 ½ cups

4 cups chopped fresh rhubarb ½ cup water
½ cup granulated sugar

Cook the rhubarb, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate until ready to use. Warm in the microwave before serving. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 4 weeks.