Tag Archives | breakfast

dutch puff pancake

yumivore dutch puff pancake (2)

Dutch Puff Pancake
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a medium cast-iron pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter (ensure that it doesn’t brown) and set aside. In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar. Blend until smooth and foamy, about 1 minute. Pour the batter into your skillet; bake until the pancake is fluffy like a soufflé and lightly brown,roughly 20 minutes. Serve immediately while hot. Don’t expect any leftovers.

yumivore dutch puff pancake (3)

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fresh from the coop and garden

When friends asked if I could take care of their edible garden and backyard chicken coop while they were away on a trip, I jumped at the chance. Of course I was happy to help them out, and it was also a chance to see what it’s like to take care of home raised hens. The best part to look forward to, garden-picked vegetables and the freshest eggs you could hope for.

As my friends explained how to care for the hens, they also clarified the difference between fertilized versus unfertilized chicken eggs. Hens lay eggs, regardless if they mated with a rooster, so essentially the eggs we eat are unfertilized. This assured me that the eggs I would be collecting wouldn’t surprise me and hatch into chickens.

By around my third visit to the chicken coop, the hens had seemed to recognize my voice from far away and gladly greeted me each time I would stop in to feed them or clean their water. In Israel, I had spent time caring for chickens while visiting family who live on and are members of a farming community. That hen house was much larger though, and it was harder to get to know individual chickens in that particular setting compared to this one.

A main perk of course to having a backyard hen house and edible garden is the bounty of fresh produce you have on hand. The tomatoes, green peppers and cucumbers ripened a little bit each day over the time I visited, and were eventually ready for picking. The garden contributed to a few small salads and the vegetables were even added to omelets or egg sandwiches. The challenge on some days was figuring out how to consume all the eggs or what dish to prepare!

As a guest, caring for the chickens and tending the garden was relatively easy and enjoyable. Undoubtedly the hardest part to having a home-based coop and garden is getting it started. If you’re considering starting your own garden, there’s a lot of accessible information online. There’s also a growing number of online sites devoted to caring for chickens. In fact, over the past several years there has been a growing trend to raise chickens at home.

Egg dishes are often easy to prepare, versatile, and can be whipped into a tasty meal. My favorite meal of the day, brunch, which spans pancakes, waffles, soufflés, quiche and beyond often highlights eggs. If you are going to have home-raised hens, The Fresh Egg Cookbook will probably also be a good investment, and checkout this round-up of great egg-based recipes:
Yumivore | Shakshouka
Barefoot Contessa | Fines Herbes Omelet
101 Cookbooks | Egg Salad Sandwich
OMG! Yummy | Fast and Flavorful Frittatas
Chow and Chatter | Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes
Simply Recipes | Brunch Recipes
The Kitchen | 10 Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes With Eggs

To learn more about starting your own chicken coop or find a virtual egg stand:
Home Raised Eggs
My Pet Chicken
For interesting facts about eggs visit:
Anatomy Of An Egg
10 Fantastic Facts About Eggs
41 Things You Didn’t Know About Chicken Eggs

Got recipes and tips? Share your favorite eggsellent recipes to whip up!

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breakfast in the carmel forest

Nestled on Mount Carmel, amidst a backdrop of a pine forest, rests a splendid spa which peers out to the Mediterranean Sea. At the gateway to the resort, standing outside, it’s possible to catch a hint of the salty sea air mixed with the fragrance of fresh pine. It’s a scent that is both invigorating yet soothing to the soul, and the spa commits to even more pampering of the soul once you venture inside. If breakfast in the Carmel Forest sounds enchanting, the feast of food that’s presented for breakfast proves to be just as magical. Breakfast in Israel, and especially here, is both a sweet and savory epicurean experience, and an opportunity that should not be missed.

The morning buffet at the Carmel Forest Spa overwhelms the eyes. It presents a rich bounty of options and an incredible assortment of cheeses, yogurts, labaneh (a strained yogurt popular in Israel and the Middle East), bright fruits, colorful salads, cured fish platters, olives and pickles, halva (a sweet confection made from tahini or sesame paste), fresh juices, a variety of oven baked breads, jams, spreads, cereals and pastries, and the smorgasbord doesn’t stop there.

The delicacies from the buffet accompany a main egg dish, prepared in any manner that you may desire, and of course is served immediately hot from the kitchen to your plate. Espresso beverages or a wide assortment of hot teas are on hand as is cucumber or lemon infused water that is fresh and cleansing. Diners, often clad in comfortable white droopy robes and soft slippers, parade around the dining hall enjoying the abundance of food options before settling down to a leisurely meal and escape from the toils of everyday obligations.

The spa is a place to relax and leave reality behind, though my camera on this trip somehow overlooked this suggestions. I am grateful though that I had a rare opportunity to venture deep into the galley of the kitchen where active sous-chefs and station chefs were busy slicing, dicing, mixing, sautéing and preparing tantalizing dishes. The kitchen is impressive, and the Executive Chef with his Sous Chef run a tight ship. Despite my rather adventure-seeking camera, I did find time to curl up with a good book and just relax, be pampered and rejuvenate. Without doubt, I am eager to head back to the Carmel Forest for more of all of the above.

A moment of spa zen or at least an Israeli-style breakfast can be recreated at home.

The Menu
– An egg dish. Try something different such as an herb omelet, or even a tofu scramble.
– Selection of cheese. I recommend a salty feta or Bulgarian cheese, along with labneh.
– Israeli chopped salad. To prepare, dice ripe tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, toss with a squeeze of fresh lemon, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add red peepers, onions or parsley as options.
– Hearty breads. Preferably select breads that were baked at home or bought fresh from the bakery.
– Salty and sweet compliments. A side of olives for the eggs and cheese. Jams and butters for the bread.
– Pastries. Chocolate babka is a good choice; a sweet yeast cake, similar to a brioche.
– Beverages. Fresh squeezed juice and frothy coffee or hot tea.

For a spa ambiance, and not required but fun to do, slip into your favorite comfortable robe before sitting down to your meal. Have clean, refreshing scents on your table with either candles or flowers, and flasks filled with ice-water and cucumber, or lemon slices inside. Israeli style breakfasts can easily be made to accommodate vegan or gluten-free diets, and being that it’s based on natural ingredients such as fresh vegetables, pure dairy, whole grains and fresh fruits it’s a diet that most everyone can enjoy. I admit I enjoy my morning meal most when someone else is preparing it, but breakfast for dinner is a meal I’ll be happy to make and equally happy to eat. B’tayavon!

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Shakshouka is a meal that sounds as fun and pleasing to the ear as it is to taste. It’s a dish I grew up with, is widely popular on breakfast menus throughout Israel and can be found throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Though not similar in flavors, you might compare its popularity to Eggs Benedict or Huevos Rancheros served here in the United States. The dish came up in conversation with food bloggers recently, so I’m happy to serve it up as well.

Hearty, spicy tomato sauce with cooked eggs, I easily enjoy shakshouka any time of day; for breakfast, lunch or dinner and it’s a great dish to serve for brunch. Originally of Tunisian origin, shakshouka (also written as shakshuka, chakchouka and referred to as menemen in Turkey) means “a mixture” and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a mixture of tomatoes, onions and spices with poached eggs. Beyond those traditional ingredients, there are a number of different ingredients to add to this delicious egg dish. Here’s how I usually make mine:

Olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons)
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced small (you can substitute with a green or yellow Bell pepper or omit altogether)
2-4 garlic cloves, chopped (more or less, depending on your preference)
4-5 tomatoes diced (I prefer vine ripened tomatoes)
Tomato purée or paste (optional)
Ground cumin
Ground turmeric
Paprika (I use fresh ground paprika, recommended if available; hot or sweet based on preference )
4-6 eggs
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

To make the sauce, sauté the onions, add the peppers (adding chili peppers for heat is an option as well). Add the garlic, then spices and the tomato purée (used to thicken the sauce, and is optional), followed by the tomatoes. Mix over low heat and adjust the seasoning. Crack the eggs on top (placing each individually around the pan). Cook until the eggs set. Top with fresh chopped parsley or mint if available.

Bread is a must-have with shakshouka to sop up the sauce and balance the heat of the spicy-paprika tomatoes. I often serve it at home with warm pita, but in Israel (and if you’re visiting) order it with a side of fresh baked multi-grain bread. I also enjoy it with a side of labneh or laban which is a strained yogurt, also popular throughout the Levant. I love topping labneh with olive oil and za’atar a Middle Eastern spice mixture.

Since most of my recipes are in “a little of this, some of that” quantities, and meant to serve as inspiration, you can find more exact ingredients and measurements on Yummly. My friend Karen is also whipping up shakshuka, visit Globetrotter Diaries for a taste. While I recommend making it fresh and serving right away, you can make the sauce a few days ahead then heat and serve with the eggs.

Shakshouka is a hearty, flavorful, zesty meal that allows you to travel to the Middle East with your taste buds. It’s a favorite of mine, hope you enjoy it as well!

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