Sunday, April 24, 2011

Toast with Dijon Mustard Avocado and Smoked Salmon

This year spring seems to be hiding from us.  I know from the grumblings on Facebook it snowed this week in Vermont.  Which means a happy sign of spring for me was being in New York City on a sunny cloudless day when it was snowing at home.  In previous years April vacation in New York City has meant we spent the entire week in shorts.  This year we were jubilant to shed our winter coats.  Instead of spending hours in Central Park playing in the amazing playgrounds we went on the subway to the many science museums we can get into for free with our Echo membership.  Everyone's favorite was the MTA museum (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) in Brooklyn which we went to with my cousin Steffi, her husband Ran and her 23 month old son Idan.

The boys happily pretended to drive buses, tried out the seats in every style of subway car and explored all the exhibits.  They even put up with my cousin and I telling them which styles of buses and subway cars were from our childhood.  It appears that Sebastian is even old enough to hold on to the old, subway strap, so long as he does not require his feet to touch the ground.

Sebastian dangling from an old subway strap

MTA Museum with their second cousin Idan, at the subway exhibit

This trip was also different because while we did attend 2 Passover seders, I did not have to cook for either of them.  This marks the first time since Sebastian was born that I have not been slaving in the kitchen to prepare a feast, what that works to hide the missing flour and leavening.  At the second seder Sebastian was happily eating his dessert when he said, "These can't be kosher for Passover!"  If one of my children appreaciates the matzo slight of hand involved in Passover baking I am doing something right.  For the record,  all the desserts served were kosher for passover.

To continue the ease of not hosting a seder there is the breakfast I had several times while away.  You may notice it is not suitable for anyone who is keeping kosher for Passover, which I only adhere to during the seders.  If you are sticking to matzo right now, this would be a great way to appreciate bread when Passover is over.  I am not going to call this a recipe, as it is not anywhere as precise as a recipe implies.  It came about because I read a recipe for toast with mustard mayonaise last summer on Food 52 and vowed to try it, as soon as I remembered.  I remembered the recipe but not the details and forgot about the mayonnaise.  Maybe I will still try the original, however this one will still be a permanent part of my diet.  I was all set to eat the toast I spread with butter, dijon mustard and avocado.  I was all set to eat it as is, and would have quite happily; then Lewis pulled lox out of the fridge to top a bagel.  The result being that any time I do not have a ripe avocado and resort to cream cheese with smoked salmon something will be missing, for this combination was more complex, creamier, more balanced then the cream cheese alone will ever be.

Toast with Dijon Mustard, Avocado and Smoked Salmon

1 slice whole grain bread well toasted
butter to spread on the hot toast
good dijon mustard to taste, I used about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp (my current favorite is Maille Dijon Mustard)
1/2 a ripe avocado
Enough smoked salmon to cover the bread

Toast the bread well and spread it with butter.  Spread a thin layer of dijon mustard to taste on top of the bread and then mash half a ripe avocado on top of the butter and dijon mustard.  Top with smoked salmon and eat.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baked Apple Puff

In case it is not obvious enough let me make a confession.  I am a recipe junkie, always looking for new things to cook and new ways to play in the kitchen.  So last year I happily signed up to help test recipes for The Whole Family Cookbook by Michelle Stern.  I was rewarded by discovering many delicious recipes and having fun playing with new recipes.  The only hard part was not adapting them without trying them first.  I almost never cook a recipe exactly as written, even the first time.  However many of the recipes I tested have appeared often at my table (although now I have tweaked them, it's what I do) so I was excited to see what was in the finished cookbook.

The cookbook is set up to make it easy for you to have your child help in the kitchen.  The recipe steps are color coded to identify which ones are appropriate for your child to help with based on age. Michelle also offers some insightful guidance to getting your children to eat healthy for the long term.  Including some advice on dessert that I love.

Julian mixing the apple puff batter

When I received the actual cookbook one of the first recipes I tried was her Baked Apple Puff.  An oven baked puff pancake has been a family favorite breakfast item for years, so I was excited to try a version that included fruit.  While it was good straight out of the oven I also loved this version at room temperature as a dessert.  After several hours the ingredients have a chance to mellow and soften and the puff itself becomes almost custard like in consistency.  This time of year this recipe has the added benefit of using up some of the eggs our hens are laying every day.  I still love this version hot for breakfast, although then I prefer it without the cinnamon and sugar on top (I told you I can't help adapting in the kitchen).

Baked Apple Puff
reprinted with permission from The Whole Family Cookbook by Michelle Stern

5 Tbsp butter, divided
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour  [I used 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/4 cup white flour]
2 small crisp apples, organic if possible (go for fuji if you prefer a slightly sweeter apple , or granny smith if you enjoy a tart flavor) [I was making this in Vermont in the winter, so I used Empire apples]

Preheat oven to 450°

Melt 2 tablespoon butter in the microwave or in a saucepan.

In a medium sized bowl, crack the eggs.

Beat the eggs lightly and then add the melted butter.

Measure milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, salt and flour, and then add to the eggs.

Mix all of the ingredients until the batter is well blended.

If you have one use an apple peeler/corer/slicer to peel, core and slice your apples.  If not, use a vegetable peeler to peel the apples.

Cut out the cores and slice the apples thinly.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 10" ovenproof skillet.  Add the sliced apples and cook until they are golden brown, 5-10 minutes. (If you'd like you can add a dash or two if ground cinnamon).

Put on oven mitts and take the skillet off the heat.  Pour the batter over the apples.

Measure 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and stir together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the batter.

Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 15-25 until gently browned and puffed.  (Do not open the oven during the first 15 minutes of the cooking process, or the puff will deflate!)

Put on oven mitts, remove the skillet from the oven, and immediately place an oven mitt over the handle, so that you won't accidentally burn your hand.

Cut the puff into wedges and serve immediately. [Alternatively you can allow the puff to cool and serve it as a dessert at room temperature]