Not lean, grilled protein

I HAVE been reluctant to write posts these past few months. Partly because it seems like there is no real way to put to words the meals, the feelings, the people that I have been sharing life with these days. Partly because I have been feeling shy.

But tonight, a cold rainy night in Philadelphia, the urge to record a delicious is strong.

I am supposed to be out celebrating Tiana’s last day of work but unfortunately care plans and rain conspired against my ambitions. So it was over to Breakfastquest’s for dinner and work. Recently I have been introduced (by Joe, for reasons completely unrelated to food) to Nigella Lawson. So here BQ and I were tip-tap-typing away and we looked at each other and realized that we needed something sweet, something warm, something incredibly divine and aromatic.

Duly inspired by this,  we tore up some old challah bread, caramelized some sugar, whisked in some milk, poured our tipple of choice (Frangelico) into the pan, and then slipped the whole beautiful mess into the oven.

20 minutes, one burned finger, and a dab of whipped cream later, we had done ourselves good.

And it was just enough.

Enjoy, and be inspired!

– D

Here, again, is the “tricksy” Nigella Lawson*:



*Thanks to PKosh for the support/word choice!

Full Complement

Bread Alone, NY: “We think by feeling. What is there to know?”

I HAVE been sadly remiss in joining in the documentation of The Great American Breakfast Quest. I certainly have had my fair share of amazing breakfasts in the past several months, but have not been faithful to my quester status. A shame, I say, a shame….

But no longer….

So, to re-enter the fray I will tell the tale of a breakfast brunch. There is something so special about brunch: lazy weekend days, taking our wakings slow, and tantalizing the tastebuds. For my mom, a woman who has eaten the same breakfast everyday for as along as I can remember, brunches are most definitely a treat.

We (my sister Claire, my mother, and I) decided that this year we would celebrate my mom’s birthday in upstate NY. Claire has recently moved into her first apartment in the tiny town of Red Hook and it was on a rainy Saturday that we all converged and headed out to the next town over, Rhinebeck. After some debate we chose Bread Alone over another equally tempting option (Another Fork in the Road).

The decor is a warm red and there are nice, solid wooden tables lining the walls. This is a place for fall afternoon cups of endless coffee and rainy day brunches. The heat had been unbearable the day before but the gray morning brought the wet cool of late summer showers–making the enjoyment of the brunch that more possible.

We all opted for pots of tea.  The tea was blended in the small town of Millerton by a family owned tea shop Harney and Sons. I had the simple breakfast of over-easy eggs, toast, and morning potatoes. The toast was a chewy dense whole grain smeared with fresh creamy butter and the morning potatoes has been fried with rosemary and red and yellow bell peppers to add some sweetness and earthy muskiness to your standard homefry. The eggs were done perfectly with the yolk spilling out from the thin white skin in a cascade of deep orange-y yellow. My mom had the Toad in the Hole–perhaps the more fun way of eating over-easy eggs. Claire chose the special omelette of the day: fresh scallions with melted brie. The scallions were sauteed just enough to sweeten them but not enough to take away their sharp, fresh, green bite. Claire’s boyfriend ordered the Bread Basket–a selection of muffins, scones, croissants, and toast from the bakery. The Bread Basket is an option I would love to see on more menus–there is something delighful about having a whole basket of bread, pastry, and butter presented to you.

We sat for a couple of hours lingering over our pots of tea, stories of the past several months, and snatching bites from each others plates. The wait-staff was patient and let us be.

When the last sweet crumbs of blueberry muffin and lick of butter had been consumed, Claire and I gave our mother her presents and sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday.

Then it was time to push back our chairs, give a big sigh of contentment and head out into the watery light of mid-morning.

So, if you are ever in Rhinebeck, NY and are hankering after simple, well-done breakfasts, turn your feet to Bread Alone.

Quest on, quest on.



Donuts at Larchwood: Welcome to Twin Peaks

SPECIAL Agent Dale Cooper is a special man. Not only does he possess the top-notch–creme de la creme, if you will–intelligence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s finest but he also has the brave soul of a man willing to cross into the land of dreams, demons, and giants to save the lives of those preyed on by a mysterious murderer. The main character of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks loves good coffee, good pie, breakfast and most importantly: Donuts. Fortunately for him, so do the local deputies and sheriff. The local law enforcement is housed in an appropriately wood paneled office where Lucy, the faithful and oddly competent secretary, keeps all of the deputies in donuts, artfully laying them out on the conference table (where they do in fact cover the table) each morning.

Watching enough episodes of Twin Peaks will convince anyone that clearly the only way to consume donuts is by first buying about four dozen of them and then lining them up on the closest thing to a conference table that one has around –stacked two high and arranged in neat rows (a mirror of Lucy’s own careful donut presentation). So that is what we, the residents of Larchwood Ave, did this past Sunday. In the early Sunday morning we set out on our donut expedition. We decided to avoid the large monstrosity that is Dunkin Donuts and opted instead for a small coffee and donut shop on 43rd and Chestnut called Pure Donuts. We trooped in and stared at the cases of donuts. For the first time in my adult life there was no agony involved in choice. Four of this, five of that, three of the strange looking ones in the corner with the blue sprinkles. We laughed as we chose more and more. Soon we had filled up three white pastry boxes at which point we departed, the fatty sweet scent of three dozen donuts following in our wake.

Returning home, we placed the donuts on the table, brewed a large pot of coffee, and dug in. Check out this website and you will have an idea of what was arranged upon our dinning room table (what I really would like to know is what sort of class you would have to take to get to list donuts. Just saying…).

Gathered around the table with Twin Peaks playing in the background, we dug in with the gusto of the hungriest deputies in Twin Peaks. Delicious fried sugar dough filled our mouths and was washed down with the bitter darkness of the first cup of morning coffee. I think, in retrospect, it was that first bite that was the best. We each continued on through that first donut and began on our second and thirds. It was somewhere around the middle of that second donut we were all feeling a little worse for the donut. But how often do you get to live the dream of a table full of donuts?

I thought I would never want to eat another donut, but the stomach stretching, sugar-high pain has since passed and in the recording of our donut feast I really think that I could go for another…

Live on Breakfast Questers!