Shower Brunch

Shower

The brunch spread we put together for Little Miss’s bridal shower included a breakfast casserole, a corn and cheddar quiche, assorted pastries from La Farine Boulangerie, bacon (because you cannot have brunch without bacon) and a fresh summer fruit salad.

The breakfast casserole is a recipe I picked up from one the local ladies I worked with in Hawai’i. She brought it to a party and I could not stop eating it. After I got the recipe, I was a bit horrified to find out what was in it, but like any good casserole, it contains cream of mushroom soup and it is seriously delicious.

Breakfast Casserole 

  • 16 oz package of ground pork breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 10 oz box defrosted frozen spinach, chopped, squeezed dry
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 10 3/4 oz milk (use soup can to measure)
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1 bag (32 oz) frozen bag tater tots

Follow directions to bake tater tots. Remove from oven and adjust oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, brown sausage. Drain and set aside. Using the same large skillet, drain out excess oil from sausage saving 1-2 tsp and sauté onions and spinach (you can also include sliced fresh mushrooms) on medium heat for 5 min. Turn off heat and add back drained sausage. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat eggs, mix in soup, milk and half of the shredded cheddar cheese. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, even spread tater tots to cover bottom of pan. Spread a layer of the sausage, onion and spinach mixture over the tater tots. Pour the egg mixture over tater tots and sausage mixture.

Bake for 45 min. in 350 degree oven. Remove from oven, sprinkle remainder of cheese over the top of the casserole and bake for an additional 5-10 min until cheese is melted. Eat right away or at room temperature.

Corn and Cheddar Quiche
Recipe courtesy of my fabulous cohost Erin

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp thyme
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 pie crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine eggs, flour, pepper, nutmeg, thyme and 1/3 of corn in a food processor. Blend until corn is finely chopped.

Pour into large bowl and add half & half and melted butter. Whisk to combine. Add remaining corn and grated cheddar cheese.

Prepare pie crust and place in pie pan. Pour mixture into crust. Bake until filling is set and golden, about 50 min. Serve warm.

Thanksgiving Newbies

In addition to our staples, we always try out new recipes for Thanksgiving.  This year, Little Miss made a bacon cheddar sweet potato casserole recipe from her mom and Bjorn made a butternut squash bisque from a recipe published in the New York Times.

Bacon Cheddar Sweet Potato Casserole
From Little Miss:

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • salt and pepper

Even though the amounts above are from the original recipe, Little Miss’s mom says, “I just go by the HMDYL method.  How much bacon? How much do you like?  How much cheese? How much do you like? etc.”

Cook and mash sweet potatoes (however many you want).  I like to bake them, then peel after they’ve cooled slightly, but you can also peel and cube them first and either boil or steam them.  While those are cooking, cut bacon into 1/2″ pieces and saute until crispy.  How much?  However much you think you want, plus two.

Mix copious amounts of butter and grated cheddar cheese into the mashed potatoes – I like sharp cheddar, but it works with any kind.  Mix in bacon. Salt and pepper to taste – remember, they’re potatoes, and can handle lots of seasoning.  Butter an appropriately-sized baking dish, then plop in the bacony cheesy potato mix.  Top with a little extra grated cheese if you want.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so, or until cheese is melty and the top is starting to get brown.  While they are baking, get a prescription for Lipitor, because you will probably eat more than you should.

Butternut Squash Bisque
(Modified from recipe published in the New York Times by Sam Sifton on October 26, 2011 and adapted from Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium-size butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1⁄2-inch cubes
  • 1⁄2 cup thinly sliced fennel
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 2/3 cup tomato juice
  • 6 cups lobster stock, shrimp stock, clam stock or fish stock
  • 1 pod star anise (we skipped this)
  • 6 pods green cardamom (we also skipped this)
  • 1⁄2 cup tarragon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/8 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter until it foams. Add the squash, fennel, ginger and garlic and cook slowly until soft, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, then cook for 5 or 6 minutes to incorporate.

Add the vermouth and cognac to deglaze the first pan, and reduce the liquids until the pan is almost dry. Add the tomato juice and reduce it by half, approximately 3 minutes. Add the stock, anise and cardamom (we did not have anise or cardamom so we skipped it) and simmer until reduced by roughly half, about 30 minutes.

When the bisque has reduced, remove from heat and stir in the tarragon. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then strain bisque through a fine-meshed sieve or chinois. Season with salt, lime juice and cayenne. Serve immediately with a crisp bacon bits or in our case, homemade croutons.

Serves 4-6

Duck Mac N’ Cheese

Today, Yuan smoked a duck and I made bacon macaroni and cheese.  Then, Yuan had the genius idea to put them together.  The result was a 900+ calorie, 70+ grams of fat, artery clogging bowl of awesomeness.

Yuan brushed Mr. Duck with a glaze concocted with salt, pepper, honey, lemon juice, chili powder and a bit of Chinese five spice powder and used a fork to poke some holes in the skin.  He built a medium fire of coals and applewood chips on one side of the weber grill, then placed Mr. Duck on the opposite side.  Then he put the lid on, with the open vent over the duck, and smoke Mr. Duck for about 3 hours.  We added more coal and chips once during the process and Yuan periodically basted the duck with juices collecting in his “cavity.”  The entire block and both of us smelled like ducky bacon and Mr. Duck turned out tender and amazingly delicious.

After a recommendation that the Tipsy Pig had the best mac ‘n’ cheese in San Francisco, I decided to try out this recipe.  I soon realized why this particular take on the beloved classic was so tasty – namely, four different kinds of cheese, bacon fat, butter, and a quart of heavy whipping cream.  I halved the sauce recipe and used slightly less pasta.  The recipe pushed for ditalini pasta, but it was the only kind at the store that was NOT on sale.  So we opted for the classic elbow macaroni instead.  This mac ‘n’ cheese was very addictive.  I had two bowls…then I put duck on top of it and ate some more.

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Tasty Trio:  Asian Pear & Arugula wrapped in Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper & Herb Goat Cheese Toast, Watermelon Tartare with Feta & Mint

Goat Brie – The End.

On Christmas Eve, three months after I first began this molding-cheese-in-my-fridge endeavor, I finally did it. I ate my goat brie. Yes, loyal readers, I have eaten my home-molded cheese and have survived to tell the tale. In fact, it was even delicious! Best goat brie ever! My cheese had a creamy complexity of flavors and seemed to reveal new flavorful facets as you ate it. Basically, it tasted like really yummy brie with a slight hint of tangy goat.

Originally, we were told that the cheese had to ripen for about 4 weeks but after Heather tried hers, she suggested we ripen longer. For the first month, I was a diligent, perhaps even an obsessed cheese mother – worrying about the cheese, mentioning the progress to anyone who would listen, changing the damp paper towels in the little ripening house, and flipping the cheeses every other day. I reveled in their moldiness, watching as my little log and half moon turned grey, white, and covered in super fuzzy shroud of mold. I carefully patted the fuzziness down, forming the distinctive brie skin. Then, I forgot about it. It sat in the butter shelf of my fridge, a minor annoyance every time I went to get a stick of butter. Thankfully, allowing something to mold in your fridge for three months and forgetting about it did not lead to any food decay that would render cheese inedible. It probably helped. The cheese was on the harder side of brie which I attribute to fridge ripening, and I’d like to experiment with winter basement ripening in the future to see if it would result in a softer brie. I’d also like to make bigger cheeses so I can slather it onto baguette slices with reckless abandon instead of carefully placing each precious cheese slice on a cracker and making sure to enjoy every bite. Should the opportunity arise to make artisanal cheese at home, I recommend it. The whole process probably only took about 3 hours of active preparation time. I found it to be a fun adventure with an element of danger (maybe just in my head) and I got to eat it in the end. Win!