Tuesday, April 27, 2010


There are two new things going on around here. The first is the consumption of way too much cinnamon sugar. I like it with pancakes and bacon. Dash likes it on oatmeal or whole wheat bread. And Bella likes to pour it directly into her mouth without any vehicle.  
The other new thing is reading. Bella is staying up way too late cruising through chapter books. I love that she is reading but she is not getting enough sleep. I got Bella's crabby and tired butt out of bed yesterday morning with the promise of Bread Pudding French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar. This is the easiest thing in the world to make if you have any fresh or frozen bread pudding. 

I'm freezing all sorts of odds and ends lately. A little bit of leftover lamb ragu mixed with a cube of frozen pesto makes a great pasta sauce. Frozen parmesan rinds and nubs of ginger can flavor carrot soup. I'm trying to extend the life of our food. I'm so sick of throwing things out. And since I made nine batches of bread pudding over the past few months,  I have all sorts of odd-sized leftover pieces in my freezer. I threw a bag of bread pudding scraps into the fridge to thaw overnight. In the morning, I sliced them in half so that the batter (eggs, milk, vanilla, orange juice) could soak through to the middle of each slice.

I tried to take pictures of Dash and Bella eating bread pudding french toast but Bella looked at me like I was crazy and said. "Why are you photographing the french toast. EAT IT!" So I put down the camera and ate my breakfast. Before we left for school she gave me a little photo styling advice: use a nice pitcher, choose some cool fabric, and add lots of cinnamon sugar AND maple syrup. Done.

"And mama, just so you know, I don't like it when you use the aperture setting on your camera because it makes things look blurry."
"So you don't like shallow depth of field?" I asked.
"Not so much." she said.

Too bad. I'm addicted to the f/1.4 lens. She is just going to have to deal.

serves 2-4

You can use stale bread for this recipe but you'll need to make more batter. The bread pudding is already filled with batter so it will soak up less this second time around.

for cinnamon sugar:
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup ground cinnamon

for french toast
6-8 slices of bread pudding (mine were about 2"x4"), thawed if frozen and sliced in half the long way
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
pinch of salt 

Mix sugar and cinnamon well. Place bread pudding slices in a single layer in a large casserole dish or sheet pan with edges. Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, orange juice, and salt. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Let the bread soak up the batter for a few minutes. Flip the slices over so they can soak up some more liquid. Heat a non-stick or cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add a large chunk of butter and let it melt and start to brown. Sprinkle the tops of the bread with a little cinnamon sugar and place them sugar-side down on the buttered skillet. Check after a minute or so. When they're nicely browned on one side, sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on the raw sides and then flip over and cook the other side until brown. Don't cook on high heat because the outside will be done before the inside. Plus you don't want to burn the sugar. Serve immediately with butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon sugar. If it's for dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Dash and Bella is up to number 20 14! Please vote if you haven't already. Scroll down to Phyllis Grant and click the "I like this" button (if you like my blog). Thank you! Here's the link:

Monday, April 19, 2010


Dash and Bella crave very different kinds of food. Dash spoons salad dressing right into his mouth, gnaws on fennel fronds, sucks down anchovy fillets (just like his mama), and eats any kind of egg you offer him.
 Bella, on the other hand, is happiest when cracked out on sugar.
She came up with a recipe the other day that went like this:

- roll a ball of chocolate chip cookie dough in chocolate shavings
- coat the ball with caramel sauce
- roll the ball in sugar
- bake for a bit

She tried the recipe. It was a SUGAR EXPLOSION and she ate every burnt scrap.

But I've noticed a change in Bella. I haven't heard these words in a while (usually followed by a very dramatic gag): "Eww, those vegetables make me want to BARF!" Now she will eat most vegetables when they're in the form of a tart, soup, gratin, or salad. But she needs TOPPINGS (just like her mama). We've been thinly slicing cippolini onions, green garlic, or shallots and frying them in olive oil. We call them "crispies" and we sprinkle them on everything. The remaining oil can be used all week for salad dressings or marinades. These are the cippolini crispies that we put on our asparagus and potato soup.
Over the past month we've been making an asparagus and potato gratin two ways. Bella LOVES both versions. The simple one is just potato slices drizzled with olive oil and salt, topped with peeled asparagus, bread crumbs, and cheese. Dash and Bella insisted on layering the potato slices one at a time. A lovely process to watch the two of them do, but not necessary. You can just dump in the slices and smooth them out. After it's cooked, you can pop it out of the tart pan and slice it up like a pizza.

The other version is a bit more fancy-pants. You mix the potato slices with egg, cream, and crispy green garlic. Then you top it with peeled asparagus, more crunchy green garlic, balsamic-marinated green garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan, and pecorino.
To prep for the gratin, Dash snipped the ends off of the asparagus.
We went all out and made green garlic AND cippolini onion crispies. Dash used the onions to scratch his back.
My husband said this was one of the best things I've ever made. He had consumed only 3 glasses of wine so I think he can be trusted.
For even  more asparagus inspiration, go over to Yummy Supper for a tasty (I've tried it!) Spring Vegetable Tart and an Asparagus/Lemon Risotto. And Crumpets and Cakes has a lovely Asparagus and Potato Tart. Work it, you Bay Area food bloggers.

-You can make this tart in a round or rectangular tart pan. I used a 9" round.
-You can keep this very simple by just slicing potatoes, coating them with a bit of olive oil and lots of salt, spreading them in the pan, topping them with peeled asparagus/bread crumbs/cheese, and baking until cooked through and browned. Or, check out this version with a few more ingredients and steps.
- Instead of green garlic (or in addition to) you can use cippolini onions, baby onions, leeks, or shallots.
 serves 2-4 
-olive oil or butter for greasing tart pan
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-3 stalks green garlic, roots removed and most of the soft green part trimmed off
-1/3 cup heavy cream
-1 egg
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-a few turns of pepper
-8 medium-sized potatoes (don't use Idaho, yukon gold work really well), peeled and placed in a bowl of water until ready to slice 
-14-18 spears of asparagus, ends trimmed off and peeled up to the base of the tip
-1/2 cup bread crumbs
-1/4 cup pecorino cheese
-1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease tart pan or baking dish with olive oil or butter.

In a small bowl, pour balsamic vinegar over 1/3 of the sliced green garlic. Set aside until you assemble the tart.

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil for a minute. Add sliced green garlic. They will cook really fast. With a slotted spoon, remove them when they are crispy and brown (not black) and place on a paper towel. Set aside the green garlic oil to cool.

Whisk together the egg, cream, 2 tablespoons of the cooled garlic oil, 1/2 the crispy green garlic, salt, and pepper. Slice the potatoes paper thin and place in a mixing bowl. Pour egg mixture over the sliced potatoes. Use your hands to evenly coat all the potato slices. Spread coated potato slices in the bottom of the greased tart pan. Place the asparagus on top of the potatoes in any pattern you like. If you have the stalks alternating directions then people are more likely to get an asparagus tip in their slice, but you don't have to slice this tart in the conventional way.

Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and both grated cheeses. Finally, sprinkle on the remaining crispy green garlic. Strain the green garlic that's been soaking in the balsamic and sprinkle them over the gratin. Save the vinegar for salad dressing (if it's not too bitter).
Bake until potatoes are fully cooked. Undercooked potatoes do not taste good. Check the gratin after an hour, but it could take up to an hour and a half depending on the potatoes. Test the potatoes by pressing a the tip of a knife into the middle of the gratin. If there's any resistance, the potatoes aren't done. If the asparagus and toppings start to brown too much you can cover the gratin with tin foil until the potatoes are done.

Serve warm with a salad. You can make some salad dressing with the leftover green garlic oil and balsamic vinegar.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


My amazing friend Margi showed up at my house yesterday with a pound of coffee and 3 BEAUTIFUL goose eggs.

Bella won't eat them. Big eggs freak her out. But Dash squealed with delight when he saw them. He kept saying that he wanted them for "beckfast now" even though it was dinnertime. We decided that out of all the different eggs we've been eating, the goose eggs look the most like dragon eggs. Dash's life is dragon-centric these days with all kinds of roaring and blowing fire. Most of all he loves to show people his "dragon" (Godzilla?) holding his precious "egg" (a rock?).
We've had fun looking at the goose eggs and fondling them, but now it's time to cook them up. Dash suggested fried. I was thinking poached over frisée lardon salad. Or maybe mixed with cream and chives and then scrambled? Anyone have any experience with goose eggs or have a favorite recipe? Send ideas in quickly before Dash eats them all up.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


No recipes this holiday weekend. I'm just reacting to some comments from Dash that led me to believe he needs a little lesson on where things come from. Not THAT kind of lesson. Just the chicken and egg kind.

"Momma, is that CHICKEN growing on our back porch?" (Nope. Daffodils.)

"Are those dragon eggs in the fridge?" (I wanted to lie and say yes. But I just couldn't.)

"If I eat a duck egg the duck will climb out." (A sort of runny version of the duck will come out. Yes.) 

So we went to the market to buy chicken, duck, and quail eggs.
Quail eggs are delicate, beautiful, and speckled and they look just like candy. Sadly, half of them were broken by the time we got home. The duck eggs, on the other hand, were hard to break even when we tried.
We shook the eggs. We smelled them. We even lined them up on a plate for Dash's stuffed monkey. And we talked a lot about what would have become of them is they had been incubated just a bit longer.
And then we fried up one of each and ate them with lots of brown butter and parsley. We were surprised to find that all three tasted quite similar. And now Dash no longer assumes the egg on his plate is from a chicken. "Mama, is this be from a chicken, or a chocolate quail, or a duck, or a DRAGON? RARRRRRR!!!"