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Anyone who knows me well knows I have an unabashed love for tennis. Not so much playing it (I suffered the humiliation of being the worst player in a summer tennis class when I was 12 and never recovered), but watching it. I’m not actually sure how this love even came about. But I know I used to set my alarm for 6 am (in the days before DVR) so I could watch Pete Sampras play Wimbledon.

So what better way to watch Wimbledon 2012 than with scones, strawberry jam, and deviled eggs? (Not sure that last one is super traditional, but give me a break — another test recipe for Andrew’s party!). I’m just glad we had something to mitigate the heartbreak over Andy Murray losing. And I am extra convinced I was rooting for the right person after the speeches. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll win at least one major” from the guy who has 17 is not exactly what I call sportsmanlike. Andy, your day will come.

But I digress.

These scones, in fact, mark my first foray into gluten-free baking. It seemed a shame to bake scones if everyone couldn’t partake, so I bought some Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour, some almond flour, and set off to find a good-looking gluten-free scone recipe. This, plus strawberry jam, after the jump!

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I’m moving in a month, so I did an assessment of my pantry today. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not some kind of grifter / nomad just because I’m pretty much constantly moving. So to focus on the positive: I never find 8 year-old cans in the back of my pantry! As is my ritual by now, I’ll spend the next few weeks trying to use up cans and dried goods to lighten my load. But this time, like an actual adult, I have hired movers. Huzzah!

Granola actually wasn’t part of my pantry-clearing plan, but my neighborhood grocery store stopped carrying the crunchy Ezekiel cereal I like, so it hit me that I had some nuts and oats at home. Instead of dropping $10 on gourmet granola, I decided to make some myself.

I haven’t made granola in ages — but it is one of those awesomely satisfying things to make, in part because it’s most often bought. I felt the same way about making biscotti, and bagels. Even if they’re not perfect, they’re yours. I discovered in my days of granola-making that adding nut butter is key to getting clusters. In a stroke of luck, I also had half of a jar of almond butter from Trader Joe’s that is way too thin and oily on its own, but perfect for binding together some oats. Once you make granola a couple of times you realize how flexible it is, too. Get creative! My recipe after the jump.

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The name of this is somewhat deceiving – I imagine a coffee cake to have a light crumb, some kind of brown sugar topping, and to distinctly be….cake-like. But this Martha (yes, I refer to her as Martha – is there really any Martha besides Stewart?) coffee cake, a yeast dough studded with lots of citrus zest and filled with cream cheese, is really much more of a modified cinnamon bun recipe. The dough is quite similar and the swirl (though in one large and strangely shaped piece instead of separate pieces) evokes buns.

Unfortunately the recipe isn’t online officially, but another industrious blogger copied the full recipe from Martha’s book The New Classics (or whatever issue of the magazine it appeared in). See the recipe and instructions here. I reduced the amount of poppy seeds by about half (it just seemed like overkill) and skipped the egg wash (hence my end product is not as shiny) but otherwise I followed the recipe completely. It was a huge hit at the brunch party I took it to, and I have to say, quite tasty (given how much work it was to make, I was glad of that). Thanks Martha!

I would say this is a good recipe for New Year’s Day, but who am I kidding? You won’t be making this hungover. Perhaps it will do on January 2?

 

Usually, all you have to say is “browned butter” and I’m game. But browned butter muffins swirled with leftover cranberry sauce? Even better than you can imagine. Gemma’s cranberry sauce (more of a relish, really) had the advantage of including lots of fresh ginger, thus making these muffins a perfect storm of bright cranberry, spicy ginger, and nutty browned butter and pecans.

The only adjustment I made to this Serious Eats recipe was to include about 1/2 cup of chopped, toasted pecans to the mix, stirred in at the last minute. Of course I couldn’t resist topping with a lovely pecan half either, but that’s more for aesthetics than anything. Beware the directions in this recipe — they don’t actually tell you when to add the salt, so don’t forget! I reduced the salt to about 3/4 t. because 1 t. seemed a bit much for only 12 muffins. Mine weren’t any worse for the wear, either.

If you have some useless, jellied cranberry sauce just languishing in your fridge (I bet you do!), then this is the perfect recipe for you. And if you don’t, it’s almost worth making cranberry sauce just for this purpose. If your sauce is more traditional and lacking in fresh ginger or other strong flavors, I might add some orange zest to give these a bit of extra zing.

 

It’s always a dilemma for me at breakfast or brunch: sweet or savory? This weekend I did a bit of both, albeit not on the same morning. Saturday I took an early morning trip to the Borough Hall farmer’s market to pick up some challah and eggs for french toast. When I saw the bright red, tiny strawberries and the colorful rhubarb stalks, I knew what I had to do. Strawberry. Rhubarb. Compote.

Then on Sunday it was an eggy kind of morning (not sure how a morning qualifies as “eggy”, but just trust me. maybe it was the fact that I’d been at Epic Prom the night before and wanted something hearty…don’t worry, Prom round-up to come). I decided on a scramble, and threw in half a tomato and a handful of spinach from my fridge, a little crumbled goat cheese, and topped it with a little windowsill basil. Wholegrain toast from Bread Alone and it was the perfect crunchy foil to the soft eggs. Both delicious breakfast options, both pretty darn simple and fresh. God I love the weekends.

(recipes after the jump)

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Have you ever had Shakshuka? I haven’t, but I’ve heard tell of it in the food blogosphere. Apparently it’s a Lebanese dish of spicy tomato sauce with poached eggs, that you serve with pita bread. Here’s an Italian take, because I have a big pot of basil growing in my window sill right now and had to use some so it didn’t bolt (I love that term), plus I had some goat cheese in the fridge. Don’t let this intimidate you, it was incredibly easy. If you’re motivated enough to make an omelette on the weekends, try this instead. It’s the same amount of work for a much bigger reward. This was, if I may say so myself, hella good.

Recipe after the jump.

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I wouldn’t imagine from-scratch biscotti are one of the more popular baked goods in America. In fact, even “from scratch” biscotti at coffee shops and bakeries seem strangely manufactured, too perfectly shaped, too similar, and all pretty boring. But few treats are as well-suited to a coffee dunking, and given my intense coffee addiction, it’s surprising I’ve never tried to make these before.

I found a recipe on epicurious for chocolate-orange biscotti that sounded pretty delicious, and I had everything on hand already except for the chocolate. The crispness of these homemade biscotti is superior to any I’ve had before — crunchy but not hard, delicious with or without being dunked…that I think I would use this recipe as a base and sub out any number of flavor combinations. You could use dried cherries, almonds, and a little vanilla extract for a less dessert-like variation. Or walnuts instead of pecans, white chocolate chunks, pretty much anything. The dough is very simple to make. The only issue I had is that I think my oven runs hot (it definitely has hot spots) and so the bottom of my biscotti after the first bake was a bit darker than I would have liked, but miraculously there’s no burnt flavor to them at all. Just keep an eye on those suckers and you’ll be fine!

Here’s the recipe, which I made without modification: Chocolate-Orange Biscotti

I hadn’t heard of monkey bread until I stumbled across a recipe online recently. If you haven’t heard of monkey bread either, I’ll describe it for you, but first a warning: once you know what this is, it will get inside your brain until you get up at the crack of dawn and spend 2 1/2 hours on a weekend making it. Be forewarned.

OK so it’s these balls of dough, essentially cinnamon bun dough, dipped in melted butter (you could stop right there) and rolled around in brown sugar and cinnamon, stacked together in a pan, baked, and drizzled with a confectioner’s sugar glaze. Because the dough is in little balls, the loaf or whatever you want to call it just pulls apart and you get these gooey, perfectly bite-sized pieces. You can also be in denial about how many of said dough balls you’ve consumed (it must be less than a whole cinnamon bun, right?) HOW GOOD DOES THAT SOUND RIGHT NOW??

I’ve never made cinnamon buns before, but I do have a deep fondness for Cinnabon (and a healthy amount of shame over it). I am fairly new to yeast breads / doughs, but I loved this making this dough. It’s pillowy and gooey and when it rises it just fluffs up like a yeasty cloud. I mean, it’s a pain to work with because it’s pretty sticky, but believe me when I say that you will have no memory of the hardship when you take a bite of the completed masterpiece of monkey bread. I didn’t have a bundt pan, so I just did this in a 9″ round springform pan. You just need something deep enough — these suckers rise a lot.

Here’s a link to the recipe that I used. Make it now!

eggsandwich

An egg sandwich is one of the world’s most perfect foods. I even have a soft spot for deli egg sandwiches with American cheese (shhhhh, don’t tell anyone!). But if you’re in for a more artisan breakfast, I’d suggest this route.

I took a thick slice of ciabatta bread and cut it in half, then toasted both sides. I put a little bit of goat cheese on the bottom layer, then a slice of prosciutto, then a small handful of arugula, drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar. I topped it with a fried egg (still a little soft in the yolk but nice and crispy around the edges – the trick is cooking at very high heat) and salt & pepper. This is my new favorite weekend breakfast sandwich. With Brian out of town, I may even have another one for dinner!

eggsandeaten

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Having fresh ricotta in the fridge demands ricotta dishes. For a sweet, fancy Sunday breakfast, I decided to make crepes stuffed with sweetened ricotta and topped with stewed berries.

I used farmer’s market strawberries and some frozen blueberries, although you could use any berries, frozen or fresh. I didn’t have any powdered sugar on hand, but that would of course be the best finishing touch on top! The recipes below really make enough to serve 4 people, so reduce or increase as necessary.

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