Bread-and-Breakfast Special

My Friday pizza routine took a turn last night, it became more of a Saturday morning pizza. It was another affirmation that pizza is good anytime, even with an egg on it.

Pizza with Baked Eggs, fresh out of oven

I’m calling this my Bread-and-Breakfast special because it’s ham and cheese on fabulous pizza crust with as many eggs piled on as you wish.

Of course, the saddest part of this was that it was so good, there was none left for breakfast today.  But that can be remedied, since our standby pizza dough recipe (here) makes 2 medium pizzas or 1 large. It also works well because of the prebake process I’ve built into it. With the crust partially baked ahead, it’s a matter of adding toppings and giving it a final bake.

In this case, I wanted a thicker crust rather than the thinner style I usually prefer.  One that would hold a bit of an indentation for each egg to rest in, and soak up some of that eggy goodness. Since this dough is made with instant yeast, it requires little kneading and it rises in a flash. It takes little extra time to roll or pat it into the pan, spread on a little olive oil and let it rise for an extra 15 minutes.

While that was happening, I organized my toppings and began to preheat the oven to 450°F.  For the first bake that sets the dough, I made indentations in it for the eggs, scattered on strips of Canadian bacon tossed with red pepper flakes, and let it bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until it began to color slightly.

For the final bake I spread the cheese blend across the crust, then dropped the eggs in place with a little salt and pepper and more cheese.  I sprinkled herbs across it all and drizzled on a bit more olive oil.  Into the oven it went for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese was bubbly,  egg whites were set, yolks runny, and the crust golden brown.

I learned the eggs continue to cook and set up once out of the oven.  The ham is a nice touch, but can be omitted for a simple cheese pizza. Or, swap it out with mushrooms, prosciutto, peppers, or whatever.

Ham & Cheese Pizza with Baked Eggs

Ingredients
1/2 recipe Pizza Dough
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 thin slices Canadian bacon, sliced into strips (optional)
½ cup shredded mozzarella or Muenster cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2-4 eggs
Sea salt and ground pepper
1/2 tsp herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, or fresh thyme
To finish: 2 green onions, sliced

Instructions

  1. Using fresh dough, roll out to fit a well-oiled medium pizza pan, brush lightly with olive oil. Let it rest 15 minutes while preparing other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 450° F.  Make an indentation in dough for each egg.  Scatter ham on top, and prebake the crust for 8-10 minutes, until set, firm and beginning to color slightly.
  3. If using prebaked crust proceed from here.
  4. Combine and sprinkle all but 1/4 cup cheese over crust. Drop eggs onto crust, sprinkle with salt and pepper and remaining cheese. Season all with herbs and drizzle more oil across the top. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly, egg whites are set, yolk are set but runny and crust is golden brown.  Let stand briefly, scatter with sliced green onions and slice.  Makes 1 medium pizza.

A question of quinoa

I hope we have gotten past quinoa’s trendy phase and can settle down and fully accept it for how great it really is—stellar nutritional virtues and all.  Judging from most market shelves, quinoa has definitely secured a presence and has moved from novelty to staple status.

We know quinoa is incredibly versatile; its slight nuttiness blends well with just about anything. I’ve gotten in the habit of cooking up a batch and incorporating it in meals during the week.  It works in a salad, maybe a grain bowl, part of a dinner, and even for breakfast.

Another personal motive is to hold back enough for my precious Quinoa Bars, an old favorite. I’m always glad to have them in the fridge. There will be times in the course of a week that I’ll be in a wild rush, and know I can reach in and grab one without missing a  beat.

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Quinoa Fruit Bars

The moisture from the pre-cooked quinoa seems to keep these bars moist but not soggy—they hold very well without drying out after a few days, and the slight nuttiness blends well with the oat flakes and dried fruits. This last time, I went for a combo of dates and dried cranberries then topped them with bits of sliced candied oranges stashed away from a Trader Joe’s offering.

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There’s still a lot of discussion about rinsing quinoa to remove a natural bitter coating from the seeds. I buy mine in bulk and have no idea whether this has been done. I usually forget to rinse, but as or yet have not noticed any pervasive off taste.

So here is the latest “new and improved” version of Quinoa Fruit Bars. They are even easier to make and enjoy!

Quinoa Fruit Bars  

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, or half whole wheat or other flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp each allspice and dried ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup quick oats flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup agave or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked white quinoa
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit: chopped dates, dried cranberries, raisins, apricots or candied ginger

Garnish: 1 Tbsp Demerara or other coarse sugar or candied fruit garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8”x8″ pan with non-stick foil or spray with non-stick oil.
  2. In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt.  Mix in the oats. Add the dried fruit.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, then stir in yogurt, agave, vanilla, and cooked quinoa.
  4. With spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet just to incorporate.  Spread evenly into pan and sprinkle Demerara sugar over the top.
  5. Bake 30-35 minutes, until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top begins to brown.  Cool on rack and slice. Yield: 16-18 bars

Sunday Brunch with Croque Madames

Sunday brunch was on my mind, something easy… and different.  Friends would be stopping by for a quick bite before it got too hot, then we would head up to the Hill Country for a hike.

First, I considered croque monsieur, a fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwich on steroids.  In France it is frequently grilled in butter, then finished off with béchamel sauce and more cheese.

Since we would still be within breakfast range, I settled on its counterpart, the croque madame, which is further embellished with a fried egg.  Certainly not your standard breakfast fare, but I rationalized we would be getting plenty of exercise and would surely walk this off.  So if not now, when?crroque mad cut

I had a delicious loaf of mild Swedish rye which would work beautifully with the ham and Gruyere cheese. I passed on the idea of buttering and grilling the sandwiches—far too rich—instead it would go directly into the oven.  I started by toasting the bread slices, since the béchamel sauce could soften the bread into a soggy mess. There was little left to do but assemble the sandwiches and place them on a baking sheet, ready to finish once guests arrived.croque sand

Before popping the croque madames in the oven, I liberally spread the tops with béchamel sauce and added a healthy dusting of grated cheese.  When they were thoroughly heated, about 5 minutes, I ran them under the broiler until they were bubbly and toasted.

Meanwhile, I quickly fried the eggs then momentarily covered them with a lid, ready and waiting to crown the croque madames when removed from the oven.  Of course, there was plenty of fresh fruit and more peach chutney (see previous post).

Croque Madamecroque mad

Ingredients

  • 8 slices sandwich bread, ½” slices, crusts trimmed if hard (I used a mild Swedish rye)
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ lb Black Forest ham, thinly sliced
  • 12 oz grated Gruyere cheese, (3 cups), divided
  •  4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp butter, or more

Béchamel Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk, warmed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prepare sauce: In small saucepan melt butter, add flour, and stir for about 1 minute to cook the flour;  slowly add the milk, whisking to form a smooth thick sauce.  Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and remove from heat.   Stir in ½ cup of the grated Gruyere until melted.
  3. Lay out the bread slices on baking sheet lined with foil and toast bread on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  4. Spread one side of the bread with a light coating of Dijon. On 4 of the slices layer on equal slices of the ham, sprinkle with cheese, and top with the second slice of bread faced with Dijon. Spoon the béchamel sauce over the top, allowing some to drizzle down the sides and then sprinkle with more cheese.
  5. Bake until heated through, 5-10 minutes, and switch to broil. Run under the broiler to toast until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile heat medium size skillet to medium heat and add butter. When it is bubbling, drop in the eggs and fry according to preference. Remove sandwiches from broiler, top each with an egg and serve.  Serves 4.

How to Fry an Egg 

Place a skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of butter per egg,  and allow it to sizzle. Crack the egg into the pan and allow the white to cook until it becomes white and set.

Basted:  Spoon some of the butter/oil over the yolk to set it and change its color to a lighter pink shade.

Sunny Side Up:  When the egg white begins to set add a teaspoon of water to the pan, cover it with a lid to create enough steam to set and change the yolk to a lighter pink color.

Over Easy/Over Hard:  For over easy, when white begins to hold its shape, turn the egg over with a spatula and cook a minute longer.  For over hard, break the yolk before turning and allow the yolk to cook until well-done.