Flammekueche – Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon

Nestled on the border of France and Germany is a little area known as the Alsatian (All-Say-Shun) region. There, cultures have collided, blended, and meshed to create some of the most unique culinary experiences. One such specialty is the Flammekueche, also known as the Alsatian Pizza, or Tarte Flambée. A combination of baked flat dough topped with fresh cheese known as fromage blanc, bacon, and onions. All of this is baked to a crisp perfection.

The most underrated and underused topping in every pizzeria is the onion. The flavor potential of this glorious root can be either bold or a sublime succulent whisper, but it is usually taken for granted.

Known as flammekueche in Alsatian and flammkuchen in German, tarte flambée is pure and uncomplicated. Typically made on a piece of thin, rolled-out bread dough, it has only three or four other main ingredients: the sour cream, cheese, onion and the bacon.

But don’t let the few ingredients fool you because they’re wonderfully paired. The creamy, slightly sharp sour cream is tamed by the sweet onions and salty bacon.

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Flammekueche - Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon
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Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Caramelized Onions
Servings
Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Caramelized Onions
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. Cook potato, peel & mash. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat, sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Bacon / Cheese
  1. In skillet, sauté bacon until it is halfway to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces. Grate cheese.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into 4 ovals. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
  3. Add minced garlic to sour cream & spread over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over sour cream. Top all with grated cheese & a sprinkling of black pepper.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & slice.

Seeded Parsnip Sweet Braid

Parsnips, traditionally used in savory dishes, can bring a subtle sweet tenderness to your baked goods. Actually, when roasted or sautéed, their sugars caramelize richly and are well complemented by a variety of seasonings such as orange or lemon zest, ginger and cardamom.

All summer long we grate zucchini and fold it into our batter for a moist and delicious loaf. September rolls around and we switch to apple or pumpkin. When we don’t have those ingredients on hand, we can always rely on carrot or banana bread to satisfy our craving for what is basically cake in disguise.

Root vegetable desserts aren’t exactly a new concept. Incorporating vegetables such as beets, asparagus, sweet potatoes and parsnips … yes, parsnips! That root vegetable that probably only makes an appearance at your table, maybe once or twice a year is actually perfect for moist, cake-y breads etc.

Parsnips look a lot like carrots and can be grated on a box grater the same way. They even share carrot’s subtle sweetness, but parsnips have an earthier, more interesting flavor that pairs perfectly with warm baking spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. That makes it easy to change up the flavor of your sweet bread, taking it in a distinctly fall/winter direction.

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Seeded Parsnip Sweet Braid
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Parsnips
Glaze
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Parsnips
Glaze
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Instructions
Parsnip
  1. Peel & chop parsnip into chunks; place in a pot & cover with water. Bring to a boil & cook until parsnip is fork tender. Remove parsnip from water & measure out 3/4 cup & set aside to cool to lukewarm. Puree parsnip until smooth & measure out 3/4 cup. Allow to cool until lukewarm.
Bread
  1. In a bowl, combine yeast, lukewarm parsnip water & 1 tsp sugar. Allow to sit for about 3 minutes until frothy. Add 3/4 cup pureed parsnips & 2 Tbsp melted butter; combine.
  2. Whisk together, flour, remaining sugar, spices, salt & seeds. Add to the parsnip/yeast mixture & mix until a dough forms. The dough should be a little sticky, but still workable. If the dough seems too wet, add in another 1/4 cup flour at a time, just till it is not overly sticky.
  3. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough starts to look glossy & has an elastic quality to it. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel & place in a draft free place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. When dough has risen, place on a lightly floured work surface & roll the dough out into a rectangle roughly 12 x 16-inches. Cut the dough lengthwise into strips 3-inches wide with a pizza cutter or knife. You should have 4 strips.
  5. Transfer the strips to a parchment lined baking sheet a couple of inches apart. Pinch the 4 strands together at the top & start to braid.
  6. Take the left strand & move it over 2 strands (to the right) & under 1 strand back to the left. Switch to the other side: take the most right strand & lift it over 2 strands to the left & back under one strand to the right. Repeat, alternating from left side to right side until loaf is complete. Pinch ends together. Form the braid into a coil like a snail shell. The fuller, top of the braid should be the center, then keep wrapping around until you reach the end. Tuck the end under. It should be fairly snug. Cover with buttered plastic wrap & allow to sit in a warm, draft free place for about 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  8. Before placing braid in the oven, brush with melted butter. Bake for roughly 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar & lemon juice; beat until smooth. Adjust glaze to consistency you prefer. When braid has cooled, brush with glaze. Sprinkle with whole anise seeds & candied ginger if you wish.

Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs

Don’t think for a moment that cabbage doesn’t belong on pizza — it definitely does. When the days grow shorter, we start to crave heartier meals. Cabbage is good … meatballs are good … cabbage/meatball pizza is double good! Here’s a new spin on the classic pizza – topping a pizza crust base with meatballs, cabbage, spices & cheese.

People have been piling ‘stuff’ on dough, and then heating it up, for thousands of years. That includes the Chinese, who some believe gave Marco Polo scallion pancakes, leading to the theory that he introduced pizza to Italy.

Others point to the ancient Greeks, who covered their flatbreads with herbs, oil, and cheese. But no matter who is responsible for pizza, there is no denying that it has serious global appeal.

Cabbage is an unsung kitchen hero. It’s actually one of the most versatile veggies in your arsenal. If you’re just reserving it for slaws and salads, it’s time to broaden your horizons and discover some of the amazingly delicious things a simple head of cabbage can do.

While the dough is pretty critical, the toppings are just as important to get right. Specific toppings will come down to personal preference.

The duo of sautéed cabbage & meatballs makes for a hearty, satisfying topping perfectly suited for crisp autumn weather. 

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Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs
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Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Cabbage
Cheese
Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Cabbage
Cheese
Sauce
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. Cook potato, peel & mash. In a bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water. Allow to stand for about 3 minutes until foamy; add butter, salt, sour cream & potato & mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Cabbage
  1. In a large pot, place thinly sliced cabbage, water, sugar & salt. Cover & simmer for a few minutes until cabbage is soft & has reduced in volume. Place cabbage in a dish. Melt butter & oil in pot then add flour & cumin to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring so that there are no lumps as it thickens. Add cabbage to roux & cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from stove & stir in fresh dill & chives; set aside.
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Form into 28 balls & place on foil lined baking sheet that has been lightly greased. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until JUST cooked. do not OVERBAKE as they will bake some more when they are on the pizza.
Assembly
  1. Line a 9 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press out pizza dough over the bottom & up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle a bit of the smoked cheese on the crust, then place a layer of half the cabbage mixture & lightly drizzle with a small amount of tomato soup (sauce). Repeat again with cheese, cabbage & sauce. Roll cooked meatballs in remaining tomato sauce. Place meatballs, in rows on top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  2. Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden. Garnish with fresh dill, slice & serve.

Cinnamon Roll Rhubarb Bread

Rhubarb is the rebel of the vegetable world. It looks like celery, tastes like sour candy, its leaves are poisonous and unlike most spring and summer produce, its barely edible raw. With such a feisty personality, its no wonder some are intimidated to cook it.

More than any other fruit or vegetable, rhubarb to me is the sign of the changing season. It is the signal that summer is arriving in those ruby red or speckled green & pink stalks. I snap up what I can in the garden and when I see it at the supermarket. I take all I can and more, slicing and freezing the excess for rhubarb cravings that come in winter.

Year-round, I save rhubarb recipe ideas I hope to make once I get my hands on the first stalks of the season. No summer would be complete without cinnamon rhubarb bread …. still warm from the oven and the heavenly smell of cinnamon in the air!

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Cinnamon Roll Rhubarb Bread
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Ingredients
Rhubarb/Cinnamon Filling
Glaze - Optional
Servings
Ingredients
Rhubarb/Cinnamon Filling
Glaze - Optional
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Instructions
Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except vanilla & food color. Heat to medium high & stir occasionally until rhubarb begins to break down completely. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla & food coloring; allow to cool to room temperature.
Dough
  1. In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water & 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt & remaining sugar. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture, whisking together. Add flour mixture, combine then turn on a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
  3. Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a towel. Place in a draft-free place & allow to rise for about 20 minutes. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; set aside
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & press down to deflate it. Fold in the two opposite sides to meet in the middle, then fold in the remaining two sides to meet, so that you've formed the dough into a square. Press down to flatten it slightly, then cover loosely and let stand for 10 minutes
  5. With a floured rolling pin, rolling the dough to form a rectangle that's 12 by 22 inches. Make the corners as square as possible. If you're having trouble with the dough shrinking back, pause briefly before trying again.
  6. Spread rhubarb/cinnamon filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Now fold the two long sides of the dough in one at a time, so that the meet each other in the middle. Pinch them together gently to seal the seam. Gently roll over the surface with a rolling pin to flatten the folded dough to about 7 by 25 inches.
  7. Starting at the narrow end, roll up the dough, making a thick spiral. When you get to the end, brush a little egg wash on the loaf at the spot where the end will hit. Pinch the end a bit to seal it.
  8. Carefully & gently place the roll, seam side-down in the buttered pan. The roll of dough should nearly fill it. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap & place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 25-30 minutes, until almost doubled & about 2 inches above the top of the pan. Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks so that you have one rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven.
  9. Preheat to 350 F.
  10. Lightly brush remaining egg wash over loaf & bake for about 20 minutes. You may need to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil towards the end of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake until the loaf, when removed from the pan, sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Cool on a rack.
Glaze
  1. Make glaze by whisking together 2 Tbsp rhubarb filling, 1 cup powdered sugar, and enough lemon juice to make the glaze pourable (1-2 tbsp should do it). When bread has slightly cooled, drizzle with glaze if desired.

Chicken & Leek Calzones

Like their Italian cousin pizza, calzones originated in Naples, Italy during the 18th century. The calzone’s original purpose was to serve as a ‘walk around pizza‘ that were not meant to be eaten with utensils. This Italian style turnover is created by folding a pizza in half. When correctly prepared, the calzone’s outer crust is baked to crispy perfection while the inside filling contains a warm, gooey blend of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses along side an assortment of hearty meats and vegetables. The crust of calzones, traditionally made with yeast, olive oil, water, flour, and salt, makes them extremely portable. Calzones, are always baked.  The original calzones of Naples, were most likely much smaller than the modern calzones seen in North American restaurants today, because the pizzas created in 18th century Italy were for a single person to enjoy.

Calzones are similar to stromboli and the two are sometimes confused. Unlike calzones, which are always stuffed and folded into a crescent shape, a stromboli is typically rolled and folded into a cylinder. Both are pizza derivatives. They utilize the same ingredients to achieve different versions of a sealed, portable meal. Calzones are traditionally stuffed with cheese, tomatoes, and marinara. But much like the pizza, any sort of toppings can be added inside the calzone.

Today, I wanted to put a bit of a different spin on the calzone idea. I’m making a potato/leek yeast dough, filling them with chicken & mushrooms & adding a bit of pizazz to the shape. What’s old is new again!

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Chicken & Leek Calzones
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Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
Leeks
  1. Rinse & slice leek. In a skillet, place oil, sliced leek, sage leaves, garlic, salt & pepper. When the garlic is fragrant & the leek is tender, turn off heat & transfer to a dish to cool.
Dough
  1. In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water; allow to stand for a few minutes until frothy. In a large bowl, combine butter, salt, sour cream, cooked, mashed potato & 1/2 of the leek mixture. Beat together well.
  2. When yeast is ready, add it to the wet mixture. Mix in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is blended, turn onto a lightly buttered work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough ball in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. While dough is rising prepare filling.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon to a cooked but not real crisp stage. Transfer to a paper towel, reserving bacon drippings to sauté mushrooms in. When mushrooms have cooked & released most of their moisture, remove from heat.
  2. In a bowl, combine remaining other half of cooked leek mixture, bacon, cooked chicken (or turkey), & mushrooms. Add Ranch dressing & salt to taste. Set aside.
Assembly & Baking
  1. On a lightly greased work surface, divide risen dough into 8 balls. Roll each ball into an OVAL shape, about 7 x 6-inch size. Divide filling into 8 portions. On each oval, place a portion of the filling in a straight line on the middle of the dough.
  2. Keep one side free & cut the other side of the dough into thin strips using a knife. Fold the uncut side over the filling first, then continue rolling over the cut side.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper & place the 'calzones' on it, curving them into a C shape. (Place the side with the 'strips' curving to the outside). Brush calzones lightly with egg wash; cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise for about 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Bake calzones for 40 minutes until a golden brown. Serve hot or room temperature.

Peach Melba Bread

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 44 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us. At the time of her passing a friend said to me, ‘your mother is always with you’. At the time, I didn’t quite understand what she had meant but as the years have passed it has come clear to me.

We are fortunate to still have Brion’s mother, Dolores, in reasonable health. It is with loving thoughts we celebrate her today for her loving and kind ways. Even though covid hasn’t allowed us to spend time with Dolores, to still be able to hear her voice on the phone is precious.

I wanted to post this article today that I had saved from many years ago. It certainly clarifies the meaning of my friends comment.

Your mother is always with you * She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick, the fragrance of life itself * She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well, she’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day * She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning * Your mother lives inside your laughter * She’s the place you came from, your first home, she’s the map you follow with every step you take * She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you * Not time, not space … not even death.

On this Mother’s Day, I would also like to acknowledge my sisters, Loretta, Marilyn & Rita, who give so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

I thought this nice sweet bread would be fitting for a Mother’s Day brunch.

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Peach Melba Sweet Bread
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Sweet Dough
Egg Wash
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Sweet Dough
Egg Wash
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Instructions
  1. In a small dish, place lukewarm milk, 1 Tbsp sugar & yeast. Allow to sit 3-5 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, eggs & 2 Tbsp sugar. Add flour & mix until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap & a towel. Allow to rise in a draft free place for about an hour.
  3. NOTE: Be sure to roll out and shape the dough on parchment paper for easier transferring. Generously dust parchment paper with flour, add the dough. Add more flour to the top of the dough.
  4. Gently roll out the dough into a rectangle about 16x10” in size, adding more flour as needed so the dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin. The dough will be slightly sticky.
  5. Spread dough with a thin layer of peach preserves. Using a piping bag, pipe seedless raspberry preserves on top. Fold dough over, from the short end, in half.
  6. Starting about an inch down from the fold, make 6 slices. Twist each slice then roll dough into a loaf starting with the uncut folded end, rolling towards you.
  7. Transfer bread with parchment paper to a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Whisk together egg and water, carefully brush top of bread. Allow bread to rise 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top of the bread is golden.
Recipe Notes
  • You notice this bread does not have a lot of sweetener in the dough because of the fact you are using jam or preserves for the filling. For something special, I used a St Dalfour product that uses only grape, dates & pineapple concentrate to sweeten the jam. It was definitely not oversweet so it comes down to personal taste.

Blueberry Lemon Poke ‘Bread’

The ‘poke cake‘ is an advertising invention of the late 1970s, when Jell-O created it to increase sluggish sales. The Jell-O salads of the ‘50s and ‘60s were outmoded and on the wane so this was a way to bring it back. These cakes were colorful and easy to make. A fork, chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon is used to poke deep holes all over the top of the baked cake. Next, it is topped with a colorful Jell-O syrup, which trickles into the cake looking like brightly colored streamers.

But, like all successful desserts, even the poke cake has undergone numerous reinterpretations over time. Starting from the base no longer cooked only in vanilla flavor but also made with coconut, lemon, chocolate, with fruit & yogurt, arriving at the holes that are filled in other choices such as chocolate, cream, jams, etc. etc.

Although it would seem like poke cakes are a phenomenon born in corporate American kitchens, drenching cake in flavorful liquids is not new, or an entirely an American creation. England’s sticky toffee pudding, a single layer date cake, is poked all over while still warm from the oven with a fork or skewer and drenched in sticky butterscotch sauce. Genoise, the classic French sponge cake, is almost always soaked in sugar syrups spiked with liqueur, not just for flavor, but to keep the cake fresh and prevent it from drying out. Pastel de tres leches, or ‘three-milks cake’, is a beloved Latin American classic. Made from sponge cake soaked in a milky syrup combining evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. All three called for this hole-poking action long before the 1970’s.

Of course, getting back to my German heritage, brings to mind a German butter cake or butter kuchen. This classic yeasted cake (actually more like bread), seems to be very closely aligned with the poke cake idea. After the dough has risen and been rolled out, deep impressions are made for the filling to nestle in. I think some blueberries and lemon curd will work nicely here.

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Blueberry Lemon Poke 'Bread'
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Dough
Glaze
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Dough
Glaze
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Instructions
Dough
  1. In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
Assembly & Bake
  1. Line a 15" X 10"-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Place dough on paper & press out evenly in pan. Make about 20 deep impressions in dough with your fingertips. Fill each one with a spoonful of lemon curd & top with a couple of large blueberries. Allow cake to rise 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Bake bread/cake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients. Remove from oven: cool for just a few minutes then drizzle with glaze. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Cut into 15 serving pieces.

Savory Sweet Potato Toast w/ Avocado & Poached Egg

Its hard to believe its already Easter Sunday. In North America, many of us like to enjoy or host an Easter brunch. Traditional favorites very often include glazed baked ham, quiche, frittata & French toast casseroles. Of course, there are the classic hard boiled eggs that have been dyed & decorated for the occasion. Many countries make their own signature Easter breads ands buns. The one thing that I always loved about Easter was it signified the coming of ‘Spring’ in our part of the world. Plants were coming to life in the garden, the birds were singing their cheery, little tunes & the stores were filled with beautiful pastel colored Easter ‘things’.

I wanted to come up with something unique for our Easter brunch this year. French toast is always good but I was thinking more along the savory line. Sweet potatoes seem to be one of those polarizing food items, people either love or hate. For most part, I think its the memory of the overly sweet casserole most of us remember from our childhoods. But have you ever thought about using them in a savory context?

I had seen an idea using grated sweet potato patties with avocado and poached eggs. The temptation to kick it up a notch and make a savory sweet potato ‘toast’ for a base become a wonderful Easter brunch for Brion & I.

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Savory Sweet Potato Toast w/ Avocado & Poached Egg
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Savory Sweet Potato Bread
Servings
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Savory Sweet Potato Bread
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Instructions
Bread
  1. Pierce sweet potato several times, and wrap in a paper towel. Microwave the wrapped potato 4 - 6 minutes, or until it is soft to the touch & cooked through. Remove from oven, cool slightly, peel & mash. Measure correct amount needed for bread & reserve the rest for another use.
  2. In a small bowl, combine water, milk, sugar & yeast . Allow to sit until yeast is frothy.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour & salt.
  4. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, butter, black pepper, cumin, coriander, thyme & sage. Taste & adjust seasonings if desired. Add yeast & flour mixtures. Combine well but don't overmix.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface & knead until dough is smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, & set in a draft free place until doubled in bulk.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a flat work surface lightly dusted with flour. Leave to rest about 10 minutes. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Flatten, shape into a loaf & set inside of pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap & set aside to rise.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 F. When dough is about an inch over the top of pan, place in oven & bake about 45 minutes, rotating pan about half way through baking time. Remove from oven & allow to cool completely before slicing. It is a good idea to make bread the day before you want to serve it.
Additional Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place cherry tomatoes in an oven proof dish. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil & roast for about 15 minutes.
  2. Cut avocados in half & peel off skin. Lay one half of the avocado, cut side down, & slice the avocado thinly. Fan out avocado slices so that they form a long line with the slices overlapping each other. Starting from one end, curl avocado slices toward center. Continue curling the avocado slices until you have a 'rose'. Repeat with remaining 3 halves.
  3. Heat a griddle to 350 F. Slice sweet potato bread to your desired thickness. Lightly butter bread slices on both sides. When grill is heated, grill bread on both sides. Place on serving plates, cover & keep warm.
  4. Bring some water to a boil then poach the eggs for about 2 minutes. Drain.
  5. Top grilled savory bread with avocado roses, poached eggs & roasted cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.
Recipe Notes
  • This dough is very soft so it is a bit tricky to work with. I would imagine if you prefer it to be firmer you could you less yeast. 
  • When working with it , I used a buttered spatula.

Hot Cross Cream Cheese Braid

Hot Cross Buns, the sweet roll with a mythical history, are an Easter classic. This simple piece of spiced bread decorated with a cross, while not an extravagant treat, is a global food tradition. Given their long running history, it is no wonder there are so many fables surrounding their origin. From warding off evil spirits to cementing friendships, the stories of hot cross buns can be documented back to 6th century Greece.

While hot cross buns are now sold and enjoyed throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone. Brion & I are extremely fond of these little gems, so every year I enjoy to come up with a new version but still not straying away from the original iconic bun (or bread) taste.

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Hot Cross Cream Cheese Braid
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Instructions
Marinate Fruit
  1. In a bowl with a lid, marinate prepared dried fruit in your choice of alcohol or orange juice overnight or at least 30 minutes.
Sweet Dough
  1. In a bowl, combine yeast, lukewarm milk & 1 Tbsp sugar; allow to sit until frothy.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom & ginger.
  3. In a larger bowl, melt butter slightly; add remaining sugar, beaten egg, vanilla, a portion of the marinated fruit & frothy yeast mixture. Combine then add flour mixture & continue mixing to combine all ingredients.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 15 minutes. If necessary, add a bit more flour. Shape into a ball; place in a greased bowl, turn over once or twice to coat the dough with oil. Cover, let rise until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla & any excess rum drained off fruit until smooth.
Assembly & Baking
  1. On a lightly floured work surface or parchment paper, roll the dough into a 12 x 14-inch rectangle, ensure an even thickness of 1/4 inch.
  2. Along one long side of the dough make parallel, 4-inch long cuts that are 1-inch apart (like piano keys), with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Repeat on opposite side, making sure to line up these cuts with those you have already made on the other side.
  3. Spoon all but 1/4 cup cream cheese filling down the center of the rectangle. (Reserve the 1/4 cup of the cream cheese for making crosses on baked braid). Leaving 1-inch on the top & bottom unfilled. Smooth cream cheese mixture then top with remaining marinated fruit.
  4. Begin folding the cut side strips of dough in pairs over the filling at an angle, alternating left, then right, as if you were braiding, until you reach the other end. Tuck the ends underneath the braid.
  5. Transfer to a baking sheet; cover with a loose plastic wrap & a towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Just before placing braid in the oven, make the egg wash & lightly brush over the top of the braid.
  6. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown. Check after 15 minutes; if the braid is starting to brown to fast, float a piece of foil, shiny side down, over it. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly.
Decorating
  1. Place 1/4 cup cream cheese mixture in a small piping bag that has been fitted with a small round tip. Make crosses on braid.
Recipe Notes
  • If you would prefer, mix all the marinated fruit right into the dough instead of putting some in the filling.
  • If you would rather not decorate with some crosses on top, use all cream cheese in the filling, your choice.

Raised Potato Doughnuts w/ Blackberry Glaze

Today, March 28th, our family honors the birth date of my mother. Over 40 years has gone by since her passing and she still is a never ending song in my heart …. sometimes I may forget the words but I always remember the tune. As children we think we are invincible, that nothing can harm us. Innocence is bliss and makes our childhood carefree and happy as it should be. Little do we know of the worry we cause our mothers as soon as we step out of the door.

I grew up in a time when we would sit down to supper with the entire family and relate our adventures of the day. So much has changed since then and I feel so fortunate to have experienced a time when life was much gentler.

As I’ve mentioned many times on the blog, my mother was an amazing ‘baker’. Although, my siblings & I just took her cooking and baking skills for granted then, I realize now just how amazing they were. If she ever had any ‘failures’, I sure can’t remember them. Yeast goods were her forte. She baked bread every week and there was always something special with one little piece of that dough such as a pan of cinnamon rolls etc.

I recall some raised potato doughnuts that my Dad called ‘spudnuts’. Potato bread or doughnuts are supposedly a creative way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. The truth of the matter is, it is the secret ingredient to incredible tasting, light & airy potato bread.

Spudnut Shops were North American, 1950’s franchised stores selling doughnuts made with potato flour called Spudnuts. The original recipe is based on a folk recipe that traces back to Germany. I’m presuming Germany calls them ‘fastnacht‘.

To make a long story short, when my mother made these potato doughnuts, they were to die for! So here’s my version of the taste of a memory.

BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES OF OUR DEAR MOTHER!

Print Recipe
Raised Potato Doughnuts w/ Blackberry Glaze
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Servings
Ingredients
Dough
Blackberry Glaze
Servings
Ingredients
Dough
Blackberry Glaze
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a small bowl, combine lukewarm milk, & 2 Tbsp of the sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in the yeast & allow to sit until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, eggs, salt & butter. When yeast mixture is proofed, add to potato mixture, combining well.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour & remaining sugar. Combine with wet mixture until dough forms a ball. Knead on a work surface for about 10 minutes then place in a greased bowl.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap & a towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Lightly butter a 12-hole doughnut pan; set aside.
  5. Punch down the dough & cut into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a strip long enough to fit around each doughnut hole mold. Lay them in the molds & pinch the ends together so the dough rounds are more or less even.
  6. Cover the tray with plastic wrap & a towel & allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake doughnuts for about 20-25 minutes. The bottom should only be slightly browned while the top is still pale as they will be a bit chewier then.
Blackberry Glaze
  1. While doughnuts are baking, place blackberries in a food processor & puree ; strain. Place in a small bowl & add lemon juice, vanilla & sifted powdered sugar. Combine until fully incorporated & no lumps remain.
Glazing
  1. When baked doughnuts a still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over them & allow glazed doughnuts to set about 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • I wanted to give my little doughnuts a bit of a fancier look today so I baked them in mini Bundt pans. Same great flavor wearing a new look!