Bacon Cheddar Scones

June 1, 2014 § 2 Comments

After baking this scones a few years ago, bacon lover that I am, I had intended to make a savory one with bacon and cheese (because really, you can’t go wrong with bacon and cheese).

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Months dragged into years, lo and behold, I finally got around to make it! I never forgot, mind you. It’s just that time flies so fast and when I tried to look for my scones post, I was horrified at how long that was already. Where did the years go?

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Anyway, I saw this new recipe (below) and decided that this was a good time to make some scones. I am incidentally going on a road trip tomorrow and these babies are going with me.

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What You’ll Need:

For the scones:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
  • 8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp. water

What You’ll Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200° C.
  2. In the bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine. Add the cubes of butter and using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.crumbly-butter-flour-mixture
  3. Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.
  4. Mix in the bacon and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture. Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated. If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.dough
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk. Slice the dough into 8 to 10 wedges.scone-pieces
  6. In a small bowl combine the egg and water and whisk together. Brush each wedge lightly with the egg wash.
  7. Transfer the scones to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Savoring Ronda

May 25, 2014 § 4 Comments

Andalusia is undeniably one of Spain’s most diverse, stunning, and enthralling region.  I knew that.  Yet it didn’t prepare me for Ronda.

rock-outcrop

This city in Malaga sits on a plateau of a massive rock outcrop, creating a dramatic terrain and a seriously picturesque vista.

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However, its charm extends to more than just the landscape;

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the cuisine, linked to a deep history, was a revelation, a real delight with more than a handful of fine restaurants and tapas bar to indulge in.

One of the most enjoyable ways to understand Andalusian food is to follow the crowds into a typical bar and try their tapas,

taperia

savored with a glass of vino tinto. Did you know that the region produces the best wines in Spain?

vino-tinto

And the ham!  The Iberico ham from Jabugo in Huelga is known to be (and I can attest to that) Spain’s best ham.

Tapas at Doña Pepa

Ten days in Morocco have induced (in us) an immense appetite for pork and where else do we go? Into a restaurant that has this on display.

Jamon

Restaurante de Doña Pepa, right around the Plaza del Socorro, called out to us.

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We entered and never left—our server, Javier, never gave us a chance. With his help, we ordered and devoured plate after plate of lovely Andalusian dishes (mostly pork oriented).

Jamon-Iberico

Our first Andalusian meal may not have been a bar hopping experience,

Dona-Pepa-tapasClockwise: Montadito, Crullentito de chorizo, Croquettas, Cochifrito, Flamenquin, Gambas ala Rodena

but every plate that came out spelled happiness, cravings satisfied and more. Then after all that, Javier delighted us with a sampling of a plateful of desserts,

plateful-of-dessert

ending a long day of traveling with happy spirits despite the gloomy weather.

The Breakfast at Hotel Colon

Waking up to breakfast of sublimely simple tostada con tomate y aceite (toast with crushed tomato and olive oil) is almost haunting.  With just a pinch of salt, the sweetness of both tomatoes and olive oil marries into something magical. This seemingly simple, bland breakfast transforms into a delectably complex feast in the mouth.  Haunting, I tell ya… haunting!

hotel-colonView from the balcony of the room.

The family run, centrally located Hotel Colon seemed to be a go-to of the locals.

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Halfway through breakfast, the coffee shop filled up quickly with people tucked in their favorite corner, browsing through the daily, leisurely enjoying their coffee and breakfast.

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Good coffee and wondrous pastries draw crowds into this unpretentious eatery the whole day.

Rabo de Toro and Bullfighting

Ronda is where modern bullfighting began but because it is tucked away in the mountains, bullfighting season in this city is intermittent.

bullring

But that does not stop its people from celebrating the sport. It is known as the home to bullfight after all. Many establishments in this town serve superb Rabo de Toro (tail of the bull)—an Andalusian medieval dish using tails of corrida-slaughtered bulls.

rabo-de-toroRabo de Toro

Restaurante Pedro Romero, opposite the bullring, is where you want to have your first taste of the celebrated oxtail stew.

partridge-patePartridge Pate

secreto-ibericoIberian pork in basil oil and capers

Turning out classic rondeño dishes, this restaurant, named after the legendary bullfighter from the Romero family, was a fine prelude to a profusion of Andalusian meals to come.

Eggs…

June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Is it foe or is it friend?  The great egg debate persists.  They say eggs are bad for the heart and have been the subject of criticism and scrutiny for the last few decades.

EggsCredit:  J Sprague DIDer Lesson 4 Supplies

A more recent probe though suggests that this versatile food, the ultimate fast food, has moved from health hazard to dietary recommendation.  No food has had more high and lows for over a decade than the common egg. It is blamed as the culprit for heart disease and strokes, they now say that, yes it does increase cholesterol levels but studies also show that an egg a day for healthy men and women is unlikely to have any real change in heart disease and stroke risk.

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I happen to enjoy, no make that—love eggs—who doesn’t?  It ranks close if not equal to butter on my list.  It is an essential staple that saved many a hard-pressed, lackadaisical night.  But on the flip side, it also is muse to many ingenious dishes.

Baked Eggs with Rosemary, Garlic and Parmesan

(A recipe from the Food Channel)

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You Will Need:

  • ¼ teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • Toasted bread

What You Do:

  1. Preheat broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
  2. Combine garlic, herbs, & Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Carefully crack 2 eggs into small bowls, making sure that the yolk is intact.
  4. Place 2 individual ramekins on a baking sheet.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and ½ teaspoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
  6. Quickly pour 2 eggs into each ramekin and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Place back under the broiler for 5-6 minutes or until white of the eggs are almost cooked.  The eggs will continue to cook after it is taken out of the oven.
  8. Cool for a minute and serve hot with toasted bread.

I had this for lunch, but it can be a great kick-start to the day.  If fresh herbs are a problem, dried herbs work well too.  Reduce them to at least half the amount and you will also get wonderful results.

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My take on this persisting debate:  Eggs are an important source of high quality protein, it is packed with essential nutrients, and a good source of omega 3.  The highest source of protein is in the yolk, they say.  I say the highest source of flavor is in the yolk.  So missing out on the yolk means missing out on the best benefits this tiny piece of heaven has to offer.  And besides, egg whites are really meant for macaroons, yes?

*  Source:  http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Egg_Yolk.html

Are You a Morning Person?

September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Me, I am not.  Snooze is my best friend.  Funny that the sound of the alarm does not exactly wake me up but rather does the opposite.  It’s in the mindset, some say, but I don’t know…

I, however, love breakfast and no matter how late I wake up, I hardly skip it.  On weekdays, I usually have something simple like jam and butter on bread, granola with either milk or yogurt or just yogurt and some fruit – anything that is fast and easy because I’m always late.

Now, breakfast on weekends is a different story.  It usually is more special, grander, prepared with more love and attention.  Eggs are usually reserved for the weekend and I am, at the moment, enchanted with Paprika on eggs.  Not any kind of paprika, mind you.

Although a staple in my spice rack, Paprika was only meant to add color to chicken, stews, potatoes… until Pimentón de la Vera came into my life, that is.  Smoked Paprika from the Tietar River valley in La Vera, Spain changed my concept of Paprika forever.  It is the precious spice used in Spanish chorizo distinctly known for its amazing smoky flavor and aroma.

I am loving it in anything and everything, but most especially on eggs.  They come in 3 variants – dulce (sweet and mild), agridulce (bittersweet and med hot), and picante (hot).  The slightly sweet smokiness of my favorite variant, dulce, perks up the flavor of the eggs.  Makes me excited to wake up in the morning… hmmm, maybe I should try making this on weekdays? 

Credits:  Papers by Simply Kelly Designs

Baked Eggs with Pimentón de la Vera

What You’ll Need

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. unsalted butter
  • Pimenton de la Vera (dulce or picante)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

What You Do

  1. Preheat broiler for 5 minutes and place oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
  2. Crack eggs without breaking the yolks on a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Place cream and butter on a ramekin dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  4. Quickly pour the eggs into the ramekin dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the a few dashes of pimentón.
  5. Return under the broiler for 5-6 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked.  The eggs will continue to cook after taken out of the oven.
  6. Cool for a minute and serve hot with toasted bread.

French Toast

April 16, 2012 § 5 Comments

I read somewhere that when you have old bread, make French toast.

I was away for Easter break.  We hopped around the nearby islands, feasted on wonderful food but for the most part, it was lounging at the beach or on a hammock near our cottage with a good book… a perfect getaway from the busy schedule.  A much needed rest, truth to  tell.  I hope yours was as restful as mine.

So I come home and there it was on the fridge, pitifully staring back at me.  “French Toast time”, my thought balloon goes.  Not that I wait for bread to go stale but days old bread make a lovely French Toast.  I like mine a bit crisp on the edges but still soft and creamy in the middle.  The trick is let the bread soak for a minute or 2 and cook it with a fair amount of hot oil.  Adding sugar to the mixture will crisp up those edges.

I like using thickly sliced loaf breads.  I am currently loving the Premium Bread from BreadTalk but baguette or Jipan’s Monroe bread works well too.

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life, Burg’s French Toast is by far, the best French Toast I had ever made.  So addictive I have become, I find every opportunity to make them.  Served hot with butter and Maple syrup – what a way to start the day.

On occasion, I’d sub the maple with fruit jams.  Equally as heavenly.

Scones and Backaches

September 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

A few months ago, I hurt my back that rendered me useless for a few days.  “Move around”, a friend suggested.  Good advice except that with my tiny studio loaded with all sorts of junk I couldn’t really move around much.  I had this crazy idea to bake – crazy because I could hardly stand up, much less bend.  I did it anyway as I had longed to make some scones with the dried mangoes and candied ginger I purchased a while back.  The scone recipe I learned from a high school friend, now a chef.  It produced scones that are crusty on the outside but light and soft (almost creamy) on the inside.

Quite a versatile piece of cake, bread, biscuit or whatever you might want to compare it with.  While some like it with tea as a snack or dessert, I prefer it with coffee for my breakfast.  Whichever way you have it, there are endless combination you can do with a basic scone recipe, truth be told.  I once combined dried cranberries and chocolate chips.  I have in mind to try it with bacon and cheese for a savory treat someday.

Mango and ginger however, is the best combination I’ve made so far.  Sweet, slightly sour from the mango, hot and spicy from the ginger – a wonderful union, I must say.  Great scones aside, it actually alleviated that nasty ache.

Mango and Ginger Mini Scones

What you need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup dried mangoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, cut into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚ C
  2. Mix all dry ingredients.
  3. Add the heavy cream to get a soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly.
  5. Flatten dough to ½-inch thick.
  6. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with some sugar.
  7. Cut into wedges and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and crusty.

Breakfast

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

I remember dreading breakfast when I was growing up.  My mom would wake up each morning, prepare our breakfast and make us finish our bowl of oatmeal every single school day till I graduated from grade school.  “The oatmeal”, she said, “will keep us full till recess”.   Albeit not lacking in creativity because aside from the usual oatmeal with milk and sugar, we’d have Choco flavored oatmeal or at times the dreaded oatmeal combined with eggs, my palate however needed more than these variations to stir up some excitement in this department.

When I was old enough to make my breakfast, I stayed away from oatmeal for a very long time.  Unwittingly though, it got  me started on this breakfast obsession and had me come full circle with me eventually loving oatmeal.

My mom was right about breakfast but more than it being the most important meal of the day (I soon found out), I now love the comfort that breakfast food brings.  Time permitting; breakfast is a daily affair that I dare not miss.  My morning picks are usually

yogurt (Greek-style preferably), eggs and bacon,

French toast is a favorite too, sometimes it’s just toast, jam and a lot of butter,

and yes, most days it’s oatmeal done many ways.

Although breakfast is my comfort food, I hardly have time to slave away in the morning to make breakfasts more special – except on Saturdays, when I’d occasionally make pancakes with bacon or breakfast sausages on the side.

That makes breakfast out of home always a thrill as I get to experience new takes on all-time favorites or new flavors and dishes altogether.  Some breakfast jaunts that I had on recent trips that serves as inspiration for that day in the kitchen.

Eggs Benedict are always a favorite simply because I love eggs and bacon.  And well, this is really just a more sophisticated way of having your eggs and bacon don’t you think?

Sometimes I’d go for a fancy scramble, eggs being the top choice most of the time.

I like trying variations of something I’m very familiar with such as this pancake.  Dutch pancakes is a cross between a regular pancake and a crêpe.

Or if I feel like something local, these would be my top choices.

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