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.

Noodles!

When the three squabbling asians need quick and delicious fortification, we inevitably turn to NOODLES! In the three squabbling asians kitchen, two of us get very cranky when we are not fed.  You can guess as to which two.  We all love noodles and it’s ready in less than 20 min.  Yuan and I grew up in households where noodles were the go-to meal and keep noodles in our pantries at all times.  As Yuan says, “Having no noodles is like having no rice.” The horror.

Last weekend we all got together in Davis and had a full day of activity and cooking.  Sunday morning, I found duck broth, fresh spinach, roasted pork belly, and Bernie’s backyard Banty eggs in my fridge.  The duck broth was made from the carcass of the roast duck we bought to make duck dumplings.  No part of duck was wasted in our operation.  The spinach was picked fresh from a friend’s garden.  The roasted pork belly was leftover from a self-indulgent pork bun operation the day before.  I reheated the pork belly, sautéed spinach with ginger and boiled some noodles.  I made the broth by putting one small dallop of duck fat, a swirl of soy sauce and ground black pepper in the bottom of each bowl.  Then, right before the noodles were done, I filled the bowls halfway with a mixture of duck broth and boiling water to taste.  I rinsed the noodles and placed a portion in each bowl, then added the spinach, pork belly and fried banty egg on top.  Dericious!

In addition to our cooking projects, we enjoyed the beautiful spring weather by visiting the Davis farmer’s market where we picked up some yummy vegetables and a hunk of jowl bacon.

We also checked out Picnic Day at UC Davis where we watched dogs herd real sheep and wiener dogs run races. No, really, there were wiener dogs racing and/or wandering around in the “Doxie Derby” complete with an announcer, instant replays and custom graphics. Little Miss suffered a giggling fit watching the little dogs running around with their floppy ears and one wiener’s fight with his mortal enemy – orange traffic cone.

We spent an enjoyable and productive weekend in the “country” and kept the squabbling to a minimum.

Matsutake! Mushroom of My People

Every fall, the people of Japan eagerly await matsutake season and pay an absurd amount of money to consume this delectable and distinctively fragrant fungi. Here, the close North American cousin of the Japanese matsutake is tricholoma magnivelare and although it is not as popular as Japan’s tricholoma matsutake they are very similar in texture and smell. Oh, the sweet sweet matsutake aroma…

I hounded the mushroom vendor at the farmer’s market for almost two months in search of the cherished mushroom and finally purchased 4 small mushrooms for $30/lb. I excitedly told a friend about my great triumph in obtaining my precious matsutake to which he replied, “oh, I just went hiking on the coast and they were growing all over the place. I’ll take you if you want to go tomorrow morning.” I immediately forgot that I’ve been told my entire life never to pick your own mushrooms for fear of death, and got up at 7 a.m. (believe me, this is EARLY for me for a Saturday) to drive to go mushroom picking.

We went down a trail, then bushwacked into the woods a bit, and lo and behold! A MATSUTAKE! I couldn’t believe it! It smelled like the real thing, looked like the real thing, and was growing out of the ground! I squealed like a teenager at a Jonas Brothers concert and did a little happy jig. Jake taught me to look in the leaf litter for slight mounds near tan oak and huckleberry bushes, and the distinctive characteristics of the matsutake, like the shreddable stem, white color (some with brownish discoloration), and gills attached to the stem, which is covered by a partial veil. Then he showed me how to pry them from their leafy beds.

When I started the day, I made a personal goal to find at least one matsutake during the trip but once I started to recognize what to look for, they were everywhere!! Then I really hit the motherlode. I saw a small white button peeking out from beneath the fallen leaves and as I was uncovering it, I noticed that there was an half arc of them.

By the time we stopped for lunch in this awesome field, we had collected almost three bucketfuls of matsutake. On the way back to the trail, we stumbled upon a patch of chanterelles, including the prettiest chanterelle I have ever seen! I ate an all mushroom diet the next day, then spent about 24 hours worried about dying of renal failure due to some deadly mushroom I had just consumed, but remembered that I definitely know what matsutakes smelled like and really, nothing else smells like it. I’m also still alive.

Over the course of the last month, I have been experimenting with various mushroom recipes. Usually, you try to find ways to economically stretch out the precious fungus that you paid an arm and a leg for and you barely have enough to make the two matsutake classics, matsutake soup “dobinmushi” and matsutake rice. I made a matsutake dashi and steamed some rice with the broth, a splash of sake and soy sauce, and sliced matsutakes. The steam from the rice cooker filled my house with that wonderous pungent piney aroma.

I gave some to the local Japanese restaurant owner (who then gave us some complimentary treats!), I froze some for later, and made mushroom dashi which I keep in the freezer. I also made matsutake noodle soup, matsutake dumplings, matsutake egg custard (chawanmushi), and various chanterelle and matsutake omelettes, pastas, and sautees. The chanterelles were meaty with the most amazing buttery texture and the matsutakes infused everything with their wonderful matsutake fragrance. Highlights were a shellfish pasta with chanterelles and matsutakes, and this simple but savory matsutake butter saute with ginger and homegrown chives.

Thanks to Jake and mother nature for a matsutake adventure in deliciousness.

Benedict!

Not America’s most infamous traitor! Everyone’s favorite artery clogging, sinful breakfast item! Little Miss and Yuan came out to Davis for an experimental cooking weekend and as we sat around having our Sunday morning coffee, Bjorn said something about Benedict, Yuan declared that he wanted to work on his Hollandaise sauce, and I remembered I had an egg poaching pan. Good thing I had picked up some delectable Canadian bacon from the pig man at the farmer’s market the day before and my freezer just happened to contain English muffins (I love Costco). Half an hour later, to Bjorn’s delight, we were enjoying benedict! I definitely need to learn how to effectively use my egg poaching pan since every time (twice) I’ve used it, I overcook the yolk, but Yuan’s Hollandaise sauce was delicious!When Little Miss and I think of benedict, we always have to mention the benedict that defies all the usual pitfalls of breakfast buffets, the Orchids Sunday Brunch at the Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu – we HIGHLY recommend it. The crispy English muffin, the slice of salty pork product, the perfectly poached egg smothered in a creamy yellow deliciousness…all sitting in a warming pan on the buffet line. We don’t know how you do it Orchids, but it’s the stuff we dream about…

Momma Erickson’s Hollandaise Recipe

  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Heat very slowly, stirring constantly.
Salt to taste.
Optional: pepper or pinch of cayenne