Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Breakfast.... at HOME!

Spend Time With Your Family and Cook Ahead!

I've spent the year talking about where to go eat... so I thought I would use this blog to tell you to stay home and cook.

Merry Christmas.

A Christmas tradition at my house for as long as I can remember, is a Christmas morning brunch for all to enjoy, while those who decided to sleep in finally dragged themselves out of bed.

The main dish is prepared ahead and simply baked off, and the grits would go together in 10 minutes. When it was all hot, it could stay on the counter for hours next to a pot of hot coffee and cold orange juice. It just wouldn't be Christmas without it.

Unfortunatly, only 3 people on this earth have the recipe I am speaking of, so I scoured the trades for another that I though would be as good, and found the recipes below from author Tracey Koch. They are listed below... and look delish.

Enjoy a wonderful holiday... I'll see you right here in 2007.


Cinnamon Streusel Breakfast Bread Pudding with Warm Maple Syrup

Serves 6.

1 stick butter, melted
1 loaf French bread (cut into 1 1/2-inch slices)
4 large eggs
1 cup granulatedsugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 cups whole or low-fat milk
2 tbls. vanilla
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional
2 tbls. ground cinnamon
Warm Butter Maple Syrup (recipe follows)

Warm Butter Maple Syrup
4 tbls. butter
1 cup maple syrup

1. Place the butter in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 30 to 40 seconds or until melted.
2. Add the maple syrup to the melted butter and heat another 20 to 30 seconds or until the mixture is heated through.

1. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy.
3. Slowly add in the granulated sugar, salt, milk and vanilla and continue to whisk until all is incorporated.
4. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon.
5. Arrange half of the French bread slices in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. (The bread should fit very close together, touching, but not overlapping.) Then brush the bread with 3 more tablespoons of melted butter.
6. Slowly pour half of the egg mixture evenly over the bread, making sure to coat each piece. Then sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top.
7. Repeat the steps ending with the streusel topping. Allow bread pudding to sit at least 2 hours or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.
8. To bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the bread pudding from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
9. Bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean and bread pudding is puffed and browned. Serve warm with Warm Butter Maple Syrup.
Kitchen helpers: Kids will be eager to help in buttering the bread slices and the pan, whisking the egg mixture and combining the streusel topping.

Sausage and Cheese Baked Grits

Serves 6.

1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
4 cups water
1 cup grits
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbl. butter
1/4 cup milk
3 ozs. cream cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1. In a large skillet, sauté the bulk sausage until browned well. Drain and set aside.
2. Bring water to a rolling boil and add salt.
3. Stir in grits and allow them to come back to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer until all of the water is gone, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
5. Remove from heat and add in the butter, milk, cream cheese and 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese. Mix until all of the cheese is melted.
6. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
7. Fold the sausage into the cheese grits mixture and pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and cover. Place casserole into the refrigerator until ready to bake. (This dish can be made one day in advance.)
8. To bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove cover and continue to bake 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Kitchen helpers: Kids will be able to help in grating cheese, measuring the ingredients and mixing everything together.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Give New York For Christmas

It's Never Too Late To Send A Little NYC Cheer

Christmas is upon us. The tree at Rockefeller Plaza is glowing, skaters are skating and shoppers are frantic. Chestnuts are roasting on streetside carts… and folks like you and I are working to get that final gift or two off of our list.

Each year I make it a point to try and use local fare in my gift giving. When I was in Chicago, it was Garrett’s Popcorn. In Los Angeles, it was Dupar’s Pies. In Baton Rouge, it was boudin balls from Tony’s.

Now that I fancy myself a New Yorker, I have been researching my gift-giving options. In a city that offers so many amazing culinary treats, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites… just in time for Christmas! If you need that one last special gift, click on the websites below. If not, keep this list handy next time you need that special something that says, “I live in New York, and you don’t”.

Merry Christmas everyone.

The Gift of Crazy-Good Chocolate
Jacques Torres Chocolate

As much as I love Lindt, Godiva, M & M’s… Jaques Torres just does it for me. His hot chocolate is the most decadent stuff I have ever tasted, but when I can’t get it I opt for his chocolate covered cherrios. Two (2) NYC locations including a post in Dumbo.

I Need My Bagels
H & H Bagels
Know a special someone who once lived in the Village, but now lives in Iowa? How about sending them a bag of warm, crusty bagels? As popular as H & H is locally, they claim to ship thousands of bagels across the country daily. I’ll have mine with some schmear.

Send It All

It may be one of the best kitchen/foodshops in the world, and it seems I hit them every year when I get stuck on what the hell to get someone.
The champion of gifts is the “Zabars is New York” box, which includes… ready?.... Zabar's Nova, kosher salami, pastrami, Zabar's deli mustard, Jewish rye bread, plain and scallion cream cheese, Zabar's chocolate babka, Lazzaroni Amaretti di Saronno cookies, a Lindt raspberry-filled chocolate bar, DiCamillo biscotti, Pernigotti moon and star Italian chocolates, Zabar's cinnamon rugelach, Betsy's Place chocolate chip cookies, New York cheddar cheese biscuits, assorted fresh-baked New York bagels, Le Trouvillais sables fruit cookies, a Zabar's coffee mug and a pound of Zabar's Blend ground coffee. You’ll be a stud.

Send A Weiner
Schaller & Weber
Few places on earth warm my heart like Schaller & Weber, and I’ll tell you why. Homemade black forest hams, snap skin hot dogs, amazing salami, perfect brats and maybe the best selection of German mustard in NYC. A visit to this Upper East Side landmark is a joy, but when I can’t get there, I order online.

Now Thatsa Pie!
Little Pie Company

When people think of NY pies, the usually think pizza, and not apple. But at this gem of a spot, real New Yorker know that the best pies in the city spring from these ovens. All of their pies are simply delicious… but make no mistake, the Sour Cream Apple Walnut is truly one of the best pies you’ll ever taste.

What A Friend We Have In Cheeses

Murray’s Cheese
There was a time when ordering cheese mail order meant pecan logs and smoked gouda.
Thanks to establishments like Murray’s, New York’s most famous cheese purveyors, you can order nearly anything under the sun, and all of the goodies that go with.

Spread Love

If you haven’t been to Sarabeth’s Central Park South restaurant, you’ve missed something special… warm breads with the city’s best jam.
Her signature Cloudberry is now an Aquavit favorite, but I still opt for her Peach-Apricot and Cherry-Plum, which are as good as they sound. Oh yea, her Budapest Bundt Cake is also

Moby Drinks Tea
I’m not sure what I like better… having tea at Teany in the East Village, or walking around the neighborhood when I am finished. Even though I fancy myself a coffee guy, the Earl Grey Crème is fantastic stuff, and you can now ship it to your favorite ex-New Yorker, and then brag about having lunch at Inoteca next door.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spotlight on L.A. : Mario Travels West!

"Mozza" Collaboration Produces LA's Best Pizza, Period.

It was just a matter of time the look, feel and taste of a trendy NYC restaurant landed in Los Angeles… and low and behold, it’s arrived.

Sure, Nancy Silverton is well known for her stellar Campanile, but why did it take this long for partners Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich to make their way west?

Whatever the reason, it has been worth the wait.

Mozza is truly a slice of heaven… and believe it or not, Nancy and Mario have reinvented the pizza.

Walking into Mozza, I immediately likened the room to something you might discover in the Grenwich Village area of New York. The lights are reminiscent of Mario’s OTTO, and the room painted boldly.

NOTE: For those of you wanting to experience Mozza soon, walk away from the computer now and call for a reservation… you’re gonna need it.

The menu at Mozza also reminds you of OTTO, except the dishes are wonderfully different. There are no pasta dishes at Mozza (the Osteria opens in a few months) but the menu is loaded with antipasti, insalate, sliced cured meats, bruschette, panini… and of course… incredible pizza.

Antipasti is far from normal at Mozza, with selections that range from crispy, delectable Fried Squash Bottoms with Ricotta… to more tradidtional Roasted Beets with Hazelnuts. Salad dishes are appealing, but with the delicious meats including Coppa, Lardo (made from the back of the pig and is prepared by first cutting the meat and treating the individual pieces with salt and spices such as cinnamon) and Proscuitto, as well as White Bean Bruschette… well, you need a bigger stomach.

As good as all this stuff is, the pizza is the star. One pizza is individual sized (cut into 4 nice sized pieces) but if you don’t order several and share, you’ll miss the boat.

At the top of the list you’ll find a simple tomato, olive oil and oregano version… and then it gets fantastic. Fennel sausage, panna and red onion…. Littleneck clams, garlic, oregano and cheese….Lambs quarters with cacao di roma…. Long cooked broccoli, caciocavallo and pepperocini…. Lardo, rosemary and olive oil… spicy salami, mozzarella and chilis…. and the list goes on and on.

I wish I could liken this pizza to another, but honestly it isn’t quite like anything I have ever had. The toppings are well seasoned and perfect.. and the tomato sauce sweetened unmistakably by San Marzano tomatoes… but the crust is magnificent. Imagine a two layered thin and crispy/chewy pastry dough. Not to tough… and just the right balance of flavor to hold what’s on top. It’s unique… and downright delicious.
I am giddy that Mozza has opened to such acclaim, and even happier that I’ll have a taste of NYC while on business here in LA… I only wish they’d open one on the Upper West Side!

Enjoy Mozza. It’s a gem of a spot that will certainly become a LA mainstay.