Avocado Toast

I love things that are indescribable, like the taste of an avocado or the smell of a gardenia.
— Barbra Streisand

Avocado

It's officially summer.  And to top it off the weather must have heard the news as well because it finally turned into sunshine today.  Honestly I wasn't sure if it was going to happen.  I'm glad. It means good things all around.  Good vibes, healthy feelings, picnics, summer concerts, bathing suits, swimming, and maybe if you're like me library visits for summer reads.

 When I was a kid I lived between the pool and the library.  The summer reading program was more than an encouragement it was my earnings for the summer.  Two panes of glass stood between myself and the prizes that I would earn for reading 10 books.  Everything from free pizza and ice cream coupons, to new books, pencils, notebooks,etc.  The cache they had tucked away  inside the sliding doors of prizes was enormous for a 10 year old.  I don't know how they got the prizes?

Donations?

Freebies?

 All I know was it became my lifelong summer goal to win everything. {I'm not competitive, I promise.😉}

It's funny, it was a challenge for most kids to earn one prize.

Not me.

 Read 10 books and get a prize?  More like read 100 books and get 10 prizes. {Okay maybe I compete a little.🤣}

I was there every week sometimes twice a week collecting prizes.

 I knew the librarians personally and they never questioned my honesty of reading the books.  You had to fill out a slip with the title and authors of all of the books and then you would pick your prize.  It was so simple.  I confess I was and still  a readaholic. I may have to start the 12 step program soon for book nerds.

I am sure that for others, getting through 10 books took them all summer, but for me it was like someone was sitting around giving me free money.  Maybe that's why I like writing now?

 Reading and writing go hand in hand.

 I don't get free pizza now, but wouldn't that be nice?

 Instead I have learned to share. Share my recipes, my ideas, my dreams, my world.

Once a reader always a reader no matter if you like paperbacks, electronic, audio, or whatever form you choose reading opens worlds.

 Cookbooks are included in this list  and they are what helped me learn the odds and ends of cooking.  

Yeah,  there is youtube and all kinds of videos on how to do everything in the kitchen and don't get me wrong, I use them. Alot. You can't be a food blogger and not use them.

 I watch videos, but I still always go back to books.  I'm sure it's age related and what I grew up with but libraries and books will always hold wonderful memories for me. How about you?

I hope wherever you are you have a chance to visit a library this summer.  Maybe it will have to be a virtual library but either way books can open your world.

 After all Avocado Toasts probably became popular from some guy with his thick glasses and cup of coffee wanting to eat breakfast  simply and slowly all while reading his favorite novel that started with I once had a farm in Africa...

 I don't really know, but it might be the start of a great story don't you think?  I'll let you know when the book comes out...😉😉.

 Until then eat Avocado Toast🥑, drink coffee☕️ and Read a book in the sunshine, cause it's summer, and it's a good idea.

Ingredients

  • 1 Slice Bread
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of cumin seeds
  • Pinch of nigella seeds*
  • PInch of Garlic Powder
  • Crushed pepper(optional for a little kick)
  • Butter
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Instructions

Step 1

Heat a small pot of water in order to poach egg.  You can add a little  white vinegar to the water to make the poaching easier if you prefer. Crack an egg into a separate dish and once water temperature reaches 110 degrees or starts to bubble slightly then stir water around into a small whirlpool and in center of whirlpool slide egg from dish into pot.  Allow to cook for 3 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon.

Step 2

While egg is cooking toast bread and then when done butter and add pinch of garlic powder on top of butter.  Cut avocado in half ,save avocado pit in other half do not remove, slice Avocado and remove from skin this is easily done with a spoon.

Step 3

Place egg on Toast and avocado slices surrounding.  Top Avocado and Egg with Salt, Cumin seeds, Nigella seeds and optional crushed pepper.

Eat and enjoy...with a good book and a great cup of coffee.

TIPS

  • Nigella Seeds (aka black caraway) tastes like a combination of onion, black pepper and oregano (purchase above) You will love it!
  • Always Store Avocado leftover halves with the pit inside to keep longer
  • How to tell if an avocado is ripe:
  • Ripen avocados: Place in a paper bag and let sit on counter for 2- 5 days, to ripen even faster add an apple or a kiwi or two which gives off a gas that helps ripen
  • The egg poaching set from OXO works like magic, if you want a little extra help.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal with Caramelized Pecans

There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.
— Ron Swanson

Pumpkin Oatmeal with Caramelized Pecans

Pumpkin everything!  It has been a wild ride October and now November!  Nothing screams fall or end of autumn like pumpkins.  I have been seeing pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake bars (Thanks Starbucks) and  decided to catch a ride on the hay wagon before it passed by.  

I am in the pumpkin love world as most of you are although there are a few of you haters who I am thinking are a teeny weeny itsy bitsy bit jealous, I am sure.  The ones whom I know are actually not true pumpkin haters in the real sense of the word, they just don't understand the whole cinnamon in dessert thing, aaah I am speaking to you my Frenchie friends.

Babies on the other hand have got it all.  They are allowed to eat mush for breakfast, lunch,and dinner.  Now however even us adults can have our mush with a little nutty texture and call it amped up breakfast cereal.😉

 Don't think of it as dessert for breakfast  either cause I would hate for any of you to have that whole guilt thing. 😉 Instead think of the healthy squash and oats you will be eating with a dash of nuts for protein.  This is morning comfort at it's best.  Warm, Sweet,  and Nutty. If you add in to your breakfast leisure a steaming cup of coffee, a fireplace, and a book by your side, you may not want to leave your home.  Can you say Hygge?

 It can be for a special Sunday morning but truly if you prepare just a little ahead you can eat it for that workday morning breakfast.  And now when your coworkers ask did you eat breakfast, you can honestly say yes!  In fact it was laden with

fiber and potassium, 

and pumped up with beta carotene and iron. 💪 You can thank me later😉

Until you do here is the recipe below to get you thinking about your weekly breakfast!

pumpkin oatmeal spices.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oatmeal cooked per containers instructions (preferably steel-cut)

 

  • 15 oz can puree pumpkin (no additives)
  • 2 cups  (16 0z ) mascarpone cheese 
  • 1  1/14 cup confectioner's sugar (aka powdered sugar)
  • 1 1/2  tsp pumpkin pie spice; see tips below

 

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • pinch of kosher salt or maldon sea salt
  • milk (optional)

Make Ahead

Pumpkin Blend:

Blend pumpkin puree, mascarpone cheese, pumpkin pie spice and confectioner's sugar in a bowl until thick and creamy. Place covered in refrigerator until ready to use the next day. 

Caramelized Pecans

Melt 1/4 cup sugar in a flat pan stirring as it begins to melt.  As it takes on a golden color add pecans and salt.  Stir all of the nuts in the sugar and remove from heat.  Allow to cool and then chop up to preferred size or leave whole and break by hand.  Place in container until breakfast time.

 

Step 1:

Make Oatmeal per instructions on container.  When Oats have finished and is still warm add pumpkin blend and top with nuts and milk if using.

Eat and enjoy!  Breakfast at it's best!

 

Tips:

  • Trader Joe's has a great deal on Mascarpone if you have one in your area
  • The pumpkin blend will last in the fridge for at least 2 days and the nuts even longer.
  • Homemade Pumpkin PIe Spice is so easy and so much better fresh!  Here is what you need to blend:
  •  1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  •  2 tsp ground ginger
  •  1/2 tsp ground cloves
  •  1/2 tsp ground allspice
  •  1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  •  1  1/2 star anise ground
  •  1/4 tsp ground cardamom

 

 

Thomas Keller's Brioche

All sorrows are less with bread.
— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

It started with the pan & a trip to San Francisco.🌉

 Thanks to a tip from a favorite blogger 101cookbooks  on where to go to find a few special finds for the kitchen.  I am not talking your everyday williams&sonoma or sur la table not that I don't love those as well but this place is unique, vintage, old and just down right a find.  

I had something else when I read about this shop specifically a vinegar pot with the perfect spout, still hunting for that (another story for another day) but nonetheless I was rewarded on my treasure hunt to this beautiful brioche pan.

I say Hunt because that is what you have to do at Cookin' it is a treasure for cooks looking to find that perfect something.  Yelp reviews were all over the board on this place and it was unique to say the least.  The owner was gone in Paris I believe shopping for more finds, although not sure how she could honestly fit anything else in the place but to each his own.  And better for those of us not visiting France on a yearly visit.

 The man who read the paper and glanced up as I asked questions occasionally seemed to also know the shop like the back of his hand.  It would have made for a great mystery novel.  Shopper enters store and finds a body under stacks of Le creuset pots that have not moved in about 10 years or something along those lines.  I have been binge watching Hercules Poirot way to often.

- I digress.

So after about two hours of scouring,

I found the pan,

and another pan 

and well way too much to discuss in one blog.

Deciding upon the brioche pan didn't take long but the real question was how do I make brioche?

I have never made it before.  I have a friend who loves it and a husband who says "aah, it's okay" when I flaunt my discovery at him later that day.  It seemed like a challenge for the baker in the kitchen and I wanted to be that or maybe I just wanted to use the gorgeous mold and say I DID IT.  Either way, it's done and frozen and will be coming back into something else again soon. 

Bread Pudding?

Croutons?

French toast?

I think the list will continue onward but until that happens I leave you with the perfect Brioche recipe from Thomas Keller's Book Bouchon.  

You can't go wrong and I should know it was my first attempt:) Score!

 

Tips:

  • Start this dough the day before you want to make it, as it so needs to rest
  • Use a thermometer to test the bread you want the inside to be 190 degrees
  • If getting too golden on top lightly cover with foil until done baking.
  • Spray a little water in the oven to get that perfect golden crust.
thomas keller's-brioche3.jpg

Recipe from Thomas Keller's book Bouchon

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup water (110-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • One 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
  • 10 1/2 ounces (2 cups) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 20 tablespoons (10 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature, plus butter for the pan

Step 1

Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Set aside.

Step 2

Sift together the flours, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute at low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Slowly add the dissolved yeast and continue beating at low speed for 5 minutes. Stop the machine, scrape any dough off the hook, and beat for another 5 minutes.

Step 3

Add about one-quarter of the butter cubes at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, beat for 10 minutes more.

Step 4

Place the dough in a large floured owl and cover with plastic wrap. set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Step 5

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface and gently work the air bubbles out by folding the dough over several times while lightly pressing down on it.  Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

NEXT DAY

Step 6

The dough is now ready to shape. Generously butter your brioche pans or if you don't have one a 8 1/2-by-4 1/2 inch loaf pans.

Step 7

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, divide the dough in half and shape it into two rectangles that fit into the pan or shape to fit in your brioche pans.  Check out this video on how to shape the head for brioche pans. Place the dough in the pans.

Step 8

Let the dough rise uncovered in a warm place until it is about 1/2 inch thick above the top of the pans, about 3 hours.

Step 9

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

Step 10

Bake the brioche in the center of the oven until it is well browned on top and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 35- 40 minutes.  Mine took closer to an hour as I did not divide the dough but remember just use the thermometer to check the temp inside. Remove the brioche from the oven and immediately turn out onto a wire rack.

Step 11

If serving immediately, let the breads cool for 10 minutes, then slice.

If serving within a few hours, wrap the hot bread in aluminum foil and set aside at room temperature until ready to use. To freeze wrap the hot bread in foil and promptly freeze. The bread can be frozen for up to 1 month; when ready to use, reheat (without thawing and still wrapped in foil) in a 250 degree oven until heated through about 20-25 minutes.

Happy Baking & Bon Appètit!

 

Chai Spice and Crystalized Ginger Oatmeal

I love sleep because it’s like a time machine to breakfast.
— Bill Murray

Oatmeal and Fall go together for me like chips and dip strawberries and nutella.  It breaks the boundaries of breakfast however when you eat oatmeal  plain.  It is just not meant to be.  

A few years back I was hanging out in Portland with my guy and we went out to breakfast at a cute little place that served chai tea oatmeal.  Did I fancy it?  Oh yeah.  In fact so much that I began experimenting on how to add it to my repertoire for breakfast.  It sounded easy just chai tea bags and oats right? Wrong.  

The chai tea bags were good but not what I was looking for in my oatmeal flavor.  Subtly can be good in many things however rich steel cut oats beg for flavor.  Steel cut oats have the texture going for them and the healthy fiber thing but it has to taste fantastic as well.  Then there is the process of cooking those steel cut babies.  40 minutes...even I lingering in my pajamas in the morning drinking my coffee don't have that kind of time for breakfast.  Okay maybe some days I do😉 but if so then I just want to eat pancakes.😋

Can't be healthy every day.😜

Had to find a way to make oatmeal faster and with that chai flavor that popped.  So I decided I needed...

  • overnight cooking
  • fresh chai spices
  • a little sweetener 
  • a bit of chewy crunch

and the chai spice oats with crystallized ginger was born.

  •  As a side note this has been tested backpacking🎒🌲 and got a vote of yum👍 from even non-oatmeal lovers. Woohoo!🎉

Time to get down to the nitty gritty how to cook and add the stuff.  What do you make for breakfast?  Is it healthy and fast?  Unusual and different?  Do you prefer savory or sweet in the morning?  How about while backpacking?  What do you make for breakfast?

 Fill me in on the details in a comment below!

Crystallized Ginger from Trader Joe's

Ingredients:

Serves: 2

 

 

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger sliced or diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 cups water depending on your method of choice below
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground chai spices- You can make your own or get it here  
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup or more if you like it sweeter
  • walnut or almond pieces (optional)
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup warm milk 

Instructions:

 

Step 1

If using a rice cooker the night before fill one cup of steel cut oats and place in bowl rinsing oats once or twice and then fill with 1 1/4 cups of water. Set timer for when rice will be done in morning and setting to porridge.  Don't forget to turn it on!

If using a small crock pot use 1 cup oats to 2 cups water and turn on before going to bed and let cook overnight. (You can find these small crock pots at Goodwill for very cheap)

If cooking in a pot in the morning buy Quick cooking steel cut oats that will cook in 5-7 minutes.

Step 2

Slice crystallized ginger and prep 2 teaspoons of ground chai spice the night before.

Add warm milk, chai spices, and dash of salt to cooked oats. Stir.

Top with crystallized ginger, maple syrup and nuts of choice.

Enjoy with your favorite cup of Dark Roast Coffee!

Tips

  • To cut the crystallized ginger spray oil onto knife before slicing in order to keep the knife from sticking to the ginger
  • Set your coffee and rice cooker on a timer for the same time the night before and you will have breakfast at exactly the hour you want!
  • No Trader Joe's watch this video on how to crystallize your own ginger.