Working from home has its benefits and one of them is being able to plan a breakfast meeting in your own backyard.
Last week I held an editor’s meeting in the great outdoors. No sterile company conference room or institutional cafeteria for us.
Since we’re a new company, the purpose of this meeting was for everyone to meet each other and share notes on how best to get started with the work at hand. Everyone learned from each other and I believe the seeds of friendship were sowed amid laughter and free flowing conversation that lasted more than two hours.
That’s right, a two-hour meeting that was productive and fun. I like to think the food (see below) and music (Beatles) had something to do with that.
Here’s the menu:
Vegetable and Cheese Strata
Fresh fruit bowl
Lemon/Cranberry Scones (OK, I bought these. No recipe here) with butter and strawberry jam.
Fresh Iced Tea
Vegetable and Cheese Strata (Recipe from the Feb. 1991 edition of Gourmet Magazine):
- Ingredients/Shopping List:
- Onion (1 1/2 cups, chopped)
- Scallions (1 cup, chopped)
- Mushrooms (3/4 pound)
- Olive oil (3 tbsp.)
- Red bell pepper (2, about 2 cups, cut into thin strips)
- Green bell pepper (2, about 2 cups, cut into thin strips)
- Italian bread (About 1 loaf; enough to measure 9 cups, cut into 1-inch cubes)
- Extra-sharp cheddar cheese (10 oz or 2 1/2 cups, grated)
- Parmesan cheese (1 cup, grated)
- Large Eggs (12)
- Milk (3 1/2 cups)
- Dijon-mustard (3 tbsp.)
- Tabasco (6 or 7 dashes or to taste)
What I did:
Cook the onion, scallion and mushrooms in oil over low heat, stirring until the onion is softened.
Add bell peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over moderate heat, stirring for 10-15 minutes or until liquid evaporates and peppers are tender.
Arrange half of the bread cubes in a buttered shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish.
Spread half of vegetable mixture over bread cubes and sprinkle half the cheddar and half the parmesan cheese on top.
Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheese layer.
Top with remaining vegetables and then the remaining cheese.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the tabasco, and salt and pepper. Then pour this evenly over the strata.
Chill the strata covered, overnight.
Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking it in the middle of a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until it is puffed, golden and cooked through.
This recipe serves 8.
Find more recipes in the Food section.
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(Above: This is the bold flavor of gingerbread in one of the lightest pancakes you’ll ever eat.)
A friend on a skiing trip in Vermont raved about some gingerbread pancakes she ate at a restaurant up there. I emailed the place to see if they’d be willing to share the recipe with the RootsLiving community. But alas, they wouldn’t give it up.
So I did some searching and found this recipe in a cookbook I was given for Christmas this year: “Comfort Food: Warm and Homey, Rich and Hearty.” I made them for dinner tonight and found them to be very light, fluffy and brimming with gingerbread flavor.
By: Mark Micheli
- All Purpose Flour (1 1/4 cups)
- Baking Powder (1 tsp.)
- Baking Soda (1/2 tsp.)
- Kosher Salt (1/2 tsp.) (I’m sure if you don’t have Kosher, regular salt will do.)
- Ground Cinnamon (1 tsp.)
- Ground Ginger (3/4 tsp.)
- Ground Cloves (1/8 tsp.)
- Large Eggs (2)
- Dark Brown Sugar (1/4 cup, firmly packed) (regular sugar works fine too)
- Unsulfured Light Molasses (2 tbsp.) (optional)
- Unsalted Butter (2 tbsp, melted, plus more for serving)
- Brewed Coffee (1/4 cup, at room temperature)
- Canola Oil (enough for cooking)
- Pure Maple Syrup (For serving. I didn’t have pure maple syrup so I used Aunt Jemima Original. I know, sacrilege!)
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Step 2 In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
- Step 3 In another bowl whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, molasses, the 2 tablespoons of melted butter, coffee, and 1/2 cup of water.
- Step 4 Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined. Don’t overwork it.
- Step 5 Get a frying pan hot enough so that water flicked on it will sizzle and skitter across the surface.
- Step 6 Brush a light coating of the oil over the pan and then pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto it. Cook pancake until bubbles form on the surface (about 2 min.). And then flip it over until the bottom is golden brown (about 30 seconds to 1 min.)
- Step 7 Transfer pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
- Step 8 Serve hot and with plenty of butter and syrup.
(Above: This light, fluffy bread with chocolate chips takes several hours to make because the dough needs to rise twice.)
This is great with a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. It’s not too sweet. The recipe comes from “The Italian Baker” cookbook, by Carol Field.
I’ve made this several times before but this time it tasted better than ever. The texture was light and more like soft Italian bread. In the past, it’s had more of a cake consistency. I think the difference was sifting the flour (actually I don’t own a flour sifter and instead push the flour through a fine sieve with a butter knife) and using a food processor (instead of working it all by hand).
In the past I’ve spread cream cheese over each slice but this time I splurged and used Mascarpone. I’ll never use anything else or make it any other way.
This recipe makes two round loaves.
Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread)
This takes several hours to make because the dough needs to rise twice.
By: Mark Micheli
- 1 package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp, warm water
- 4 1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour (sifted or pushed through a fine sieve with a butter knife)
- 1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp, sugar
- 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp of salt
- 1 1/4 cups of warm water
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp butter, at room temperature, cut up into four pieces
- 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
- Step 1 Stir the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar into 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp of warm water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy (about 10 min.)
- Step 2 Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Process with several pulses to mix well.
- Step 3 Stir 1 1/4 cups of cold water and the egg yolk into the dissolved yeast.
- Step 4 Put the pieces of butter ontop of the dry ingredients in the food processor.
- Step 5 With the food processor running, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube as quickly as the flour can absorb it and process it until the dough gathers into a ball.
- Step 6 Process for another 40-45 seconds, pouring the chocolate chips through the feed tube during the last 10 seconds.
- Step 7 If necessary, knead dough a little more on a floured surface until it is velvety, elastic, and moist.
- Step 8 First Rise: Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled (about 2 hours).
- Step 9 Second Rise: Punch the dough down and cut it in half on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into a round or oval loaf and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour).
- Step 10 Heat the oven to 450 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake 30 minutes longer.
- Step 11 Cool completely on a rack before slicing. Spread Mascarpone cheese on a slice and enjoy. Makes a good dessert or breakfast treat.