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Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oat Brûlée

Wow. That name is a mouthful. I wasn’t sure what to call this. I’ve seen recipes for all kinds of brûléed things: oatmeal on the view from great island, rice pudding on baked bree, even savoury corn on tasty kitchen. I was excited to try my hand at brûléeing something other than custard. I wanted to make a healthier version of crème brûlée but honestly I don’t think this is that much healthier. It needs quite a lot of sugar on top in order to caramelize rather than burning. In a few spots you can see tiny black marks where the oats weren’t covered properly by the sugar and burned rather than caramelizing.

I learned through this process that there’s a simple way to minimize this effect and get a nicer sugar crust without using as much sugar: when your oats are ready and still hot spoon into ramekins, flatten with a spoon as much as possible, and let them sit for at least 30 minutes so they form a dry layer on top. The sugar is less likely to soak in liquid this way and you’ll get less char and more caramel. Also on that note, once you’ve sugared the tops move quickly to get them torched or broiled because the sugar will begin soaking in sugar very quickly.

creme brulee close up

I think I stewed my oats for about 40 minutes. I used 2.5 cups total of whole milk plus one whole cup of pumpkin puree, which resulted in really creamy and decadent tasting oats. I divided it into four ramekins for quite hearty servings. I think it would also divide nicely into six or even eight for a smaller component to go with the rest of brunch.

I tried to minimize the amount of sugar in the actual oats because there’s so much in the crust. There’s a total of 4 TBSP of brown sugar in the oats, plus about 1 TBSP of granulated sugar on top of each of my four ramekins. Bogdan said he would have liked more sugar in the oats. While the oats are cooking, taste and adjust to your preferences (keeping in mind that you don’t taste sweet as well when something is very hot). You can use less sugar on top as well just remember that anything not covered in sugar might just char.

I used a torch but you can also use your oven’s broiler setting. Moving quickly, slide your sugared ramekins (on a half sheet pan) under the broiler with the rack near the top but low enough that you can still see what’s happening. Don’t close the oven. Keep an eye on them because they’ll caramelize very quickly and can go from perfect to burnt in the blink of an eye.

Like I said above, I don’t think this is that much healthier than regular crème brûlée. I also don’t consider this a “healthified” version of crème brûlée. It’s a standalone recipe. A slightly more decadent take on a healthy breakfast or brunch.

creme brulee from above

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 200 grams dry steel cut oats
  • 2.5 cups / 585 ml whole milk, divided
  • 1 cup + / 235 ml + water
  • 1 cup / 250 grams pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 4 TBSP / 50 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 whole star anise pod (if you don’t have it it’s ok but if you do it really adds a nice flavour note)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 – 8 TBSP granulated sugar for tops

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Method

Heat a heavy bottomed pot on the stove on high heat. Once pot has heated up, add oats and keep them moving around to evenly toast them a bit and bring out a more nutty flavour.

Once they smell toasty and nutty or they’ve browned slightly, reduce heat to medium, pour over 2 cups / 470 ml milk and add the star anise if you’re using it.

Stew uncovered until the oats have absorbed a lot of the milk (about 15-20 minutes). Stir and scrape up anything sticking to the bottom every so often. Add 1 cup / 235 ml of water, the pumpkin puree, and the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stew again until the oats are fully cooked (about 15-20 more minutes – taste as you go to see). Again, stir and scrape every so often. A lot of the liquid will reduce during the next stew. Feel free to add more water if the oats get really thick.

When the oats are cooked, add the remaining milk and stir until incorporated (continuing to cook for a few more minutes if it doesn’t absorb).

Spoon out into 4, 6 or 8 oven safe ramekins. Wait about 30 minutes for a skin to form on the tops then (moving quickly so the sugar doesn’t absorb liquid) sprinkle about 1 TBSP granulated sugar on the top of the oatmeal then torch (do one by one).

Alternatively, if you’re using the broiler slide your sugared ramekins (on a half sheet pan) under the broiler with the rack near the top but low enough that you can still see what’s happening. Don’t close the oven. Keep an eye on them because they’ll caramelize very quickly and can go from perfect to burnt in the blink of an eye.

Serve with fruit or crème fraîche for a cool counterpoint.

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Alton Brown’s Perfect Omelette with Balkan Sheep’s Milk Feta

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I’m just going to warn you before we go any further that if you make this you won’t be able to eat regular omelettes anymore. The first time we tasted the Alton Brown perfect omelette over a year ago we were immediately struck by the intense flavours that come through when you don’t cook the s*** out of your eggs. They are sublime. They’re smooth and custardy in the middle, providing the perfect environment to melt a bit of cheese or sprinkle some chopped herbs…but not too much! You don’t want to take away from the beautiful decadent custardy flavour of the eggs, which is perfect with just a sprinkle of salt as well.

It’s really more of a technique or preparation method than a recipe per se. Bogdan is the one who makes them in our household and I’ve requested his expertise for this post. He’s made perfect omelettes in a variety of ways over time. Some of our favourite “recipes” include goat cheese & chive, gruyere & ham, and straight up crumbled sheep’s milk feta on its own. All taste amazing in a perfect omelette and if there’s one truth to be gleaned it’s that when it comes to omelettes, less is always more.

The weekend after we had our first perfect omelette we had a brunch date with friends. We had a fairly late start to the day and all our favourite brunch places had 45+ minute waits, so we went to a greasy spoon. Someone in our party ordered an omelette. Bogdan and I weren’t omelette people to begin with. We never would have ordered one and we never made them at home. I for one just didn’t like the intense jumbled flavours in a normal omelette. They were always so full of stuff and sometimes I felt like that stuff just didn’t go with the taste of egg. That was until we had a perfect omelette. It changed everything. We were believers. It became a fixture in our lives, taking up residence between sunny side up and eggs benny in our at home brunch repertoire.

So, after this monumental egg related paradigm shift, you can imagine we were really eager to see the (as yet totally foreign) real life restaurant omelette to compare. We waited with bated breath for what seemed like a really long time. When our server started bringing our breakfasts two at a time we watched for the omelette. When it arrived at the table we did everything not to gasp at the grotesque bloated, burned, and beyond overcooked rubber dome on the plate. As a general rule, I try to avoid any meal that’s all the same colour. Not only was this omelette all one shade of slightly browned egg, but it was dome shaped and filled to the brim with all sorts of things. As it turns out, this particular diner’s house specialty was baked omelettes that puffed up into an inexplicably sturdy dome shape.

Bogdan and I looked at each other and knew we had been ruined for omelettes forever. Thanks Alton Brown.

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So here are a few of the cardinal rules of making a perfect omelette

  1. A perfect omelette is taken off the heat way before it’s cooked because it continues to cook with the residual heat. If you remove it from the heat as soon as it solidifies, you’ve already overcooked it. Once you taste a perfect omelette you’ll understand that overcooking is the worst thing you can do to eggs.
  2. A perfect omelette isn’t filled to the brim. Less is always more. A little sprinkle of cheese, a few pinches of slivered ham, a dash of chopped chives. You don’t need anymore than that and believe me it will be flavourful. For this recipe we used maybe half an ounce (15 grams or about 1 TBSP) of feta.
  3. If you choose mediocre eggs you’ll get a mediocre omelette. There are other preparations using eggs that don’t necessarily need the best eggs but in this case, as with custard or hollandaise, the eggs are the star of the dish so you should really use cage free and ideally organic. Farmers market would be best. The yellower the yolk the better.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • Half an ounce (15 grams/ 1 TBSP) crumbled balkan sheep’s milk feta
  • Unlimited butter
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

Alton Brown’s Perfect Omelette with Balkan Sheep’s Milk Feta

  1. About 5-10 minutes before you start put your eggs in a bowl of warm water so they come to room temperature. Putting them in the pan cold could make them cook unevenly. Likewise, if your fillings are very cold they can also affect the cooking process so those should also be taken out in advance.
  2. Preheat a non-stick skillet (preferably 8 inches for 3 eggs according to Alton Brown and Antonia Lofaso) on medium heat. This step is really critical. Imagine your oven dial on a 1 – 10 scale, you want to aim for 6 – 6.5 Too hot and they’ll overcook, not hot enough you might have some difficulty sliding the finished omelette off the pan.
  3. Prepare everything you’ll need because the eggs will only be cooking for about a minute. You’ll need to set our your butter, cheese, herbs, meat, salt, a spatula and a plate. Depending how much stuff you need to prepare you might have to do this step before you preheat your pan. P1120365_Fotor
  4. Crack the eggs one at a time into an empty bowl. Lightly whisk until incorporated. Normally you would add a pinch of salt here but if you’re using really salt cheese (taste your feta before) it might not be necessary.
  5. Butter the pan. If the butter browns your pan is too hot. If it doesn’t sizzle at all it’s too cold. You want it just warm enough so that when you drop the eggs in they’ll lightly sizzle.
  6. When you’re ready, pour the eggs into the pan then act fast. Set a timer if you need to so the next
  7. Using a silicone spatula scrape up the egg in middle of the pan so the cooked underside mixes with the uncooked top. Then pick up the skillet and gently swirl the egg around the edges (not high along the edges just over the existing egg).
  8. Put your skillet back on the burner and use your spatula to gently scrape off the edges and let them fall as they will towards the omelette. By this point there should only be a thin layer of uncooked eggs in the centre of your pan.
  9. Sprinkle on your filling in the very centre, trying not to get any on the outer edge of your omelette. P1120367_Fotor
  10. Use your spatula to loosen the omelette around the edges.
  11. Tip the skillet towards you and fold the bottom 1/3 of the omelette (closest to you) inwards toward the centre of the omelette. Then turn the pan toward your plate and use your spatula to slide the omelette onto the plate folded side first, flipping the final 1/3 over as you do.
  12. Garnish with any herbs you’re using. Serve immediately. Seriously. There’s no time for decorum here. If you’re cooking for a group tell everyone to just eat their omelette as soon as they get it because waiting even 5 minutes will really impact the final product. These are particularly nice served with tomatoes or field greens in a light lemon vinaigrette. Perfect.

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Also, for anyone who wants this process from the source, check out Alton Brown’s Good Eats Season 7 Episode 3 “The Egg Files VI: Zen and the Art of Omelet Maintenance“.

 

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Egg Salad with Oil Cured Black Olives

I find it really hard to eat breakfast but I’m realizing lately that I need to make it more of a priority. What better way to convince myself to eat than to make breakfast really flavourful and nutritious. There’s nothing like eggs and black olives. Also, if you’re gluten free, this would also go well on a brown rice cracker or as a salad. Likewise, for a paleo or whole30 version (maybe served stuffed in tomatoes or even eggs themselves) see this recipe for homemade olive oil mayonnaise.

Black olives in brine also work just as well (if not better).

Ingredients

2 boiled eggs
1/2 TBSP mayonnaise
8 oil cured black olives
1 roma tomato
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup mixed greens of your choice
fresh cracked black pepper
pinch of salt
1 slice of toasted whole grain bread

 

Method

Boil eggs to medium – about 4-5 minutes boiling. While they’re boiling you can do the rest of the prep work: 1) toast the bread 2) remove the pits from the olives then finely dice them 3) thinly slice the tomato.
When the eggs are ready, peel and put them in a bowl then use a fork to roughly chop them and combine with the olives, mayonnaise and a pinch of salt.
Lay greens on toast, then tomato, and finally the egg.
Crack some fresh pepper on top.

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Pancetta & Chive Devilled Eggs with Olive Oil Mayonnaise

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These stuffed eggs are surprisingly quick & easy to make and they taste absolutely amazing. When made with this olive oil mayonnaise, they’re also paleo and whole30 approved.

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paleo devilled eggs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12

Serving Size: 2

Calories per serving: 140

paleo devilled eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs (boiled medium-well and halved lengthwise)
  • 1/4 cup pancetta, cooked crispy
  • 2 TBSP olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP chives diced
  • 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
  • S&P to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring salted water to boil, add eggs, an boil for approximately 4 minutes
  2. Remove eggs from heat and place in ice bath for a few minutes to cool
  3. Remove pancetta from heat and drain on paper towel save the grease for other uses
  4. Remove eggs from ice bath, peel, and slice in half lengthwise
  5. Use a spoon to scoop out yolks and place them in a bowl
  6. Add the mayo, mustard, pancetta, and half the chives to the yolks and mix until well combined
  7. Season with S&P to taste
  8. Garnish with remaining chives and serve

Notes

None

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bacon, Egg, & Broccoli Muffins

Around week 2 of our Whole30 Bogdan and I started getting really sick of eating plain old eggs every morning. We were also getting even more sick of having to make plain old eggs every morning. So one afternoon I made these egg muffins so I wouldn’t have to worry about breakfast the next morning. I separated my eggs and beat my whites to stiff peaks in order to make a light and fluffy muffin but honestly, on a cost-benefit basis it really doesn’t add much. Just be aware that the yield here is for 26 mini muffins but if you don’t separate your eggs it may be much less. You can multiply the calories per muffin by 26 then divide by however many muffins you make. Just for the math inept.

Enjoy!

paleo bacon, egg, and broccoli muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 26

Serving Size: 1

Calories per serving: 35

paleo bacon, egg, and broccoli muffins

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup broccoli cut into tiny florets
  • 1/2 cup paleo bacon, diced and cooked until crispy
  • 1 TBSP dill, diced finely
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 TBSP ghee (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Cook diced bacon on medium heat until crispy
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  4. Grease your mini muffin pan with ghee or alternatively use mini muffin pan liners
  5. Spoon mixture into pan
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until set
  7. Allow to cool and pop out of pan
  8. Will keep at least a week in the fridge

Notes

Mini muffin pan Mini muffin liners (optional)

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