Category Archives: breakfast

Around the World in Eight Courses: Egypt, on the Way to the Suez Canal and India

We’ve come round the bend and into the Mediterranean Sea.shakshouka  We’re stopping in Alexandria, Egypt, on our way  through the canal to India.  We’ve been traveling by steamer all night, and are in need of a hearty late breakfast/early lunch meal that includes both lots of veggies and some protein, but not a heavy protein.  The answer is shakshouka.

The word comes either from the Berber word chakchouka, which means vegetable stew, or from the Hebrew leshakshek, which means shake.  Its origin is somewhat disputed; some think it is originally an Israeli dish, others insist its origin is Tunisia, and some of those think that it originated with Tunisian Jews.  Whatever the origin, it is highly popular throughout Mediterranean Africa, especially in Egypt. The upshot throughout the region is that it is sort of a shaken mixture.  That defines it quite well.

In any case, it is a mixture of fragrant spices, and  is served with an egg poached in the vegetable stew and cut-up pitas, to soak up the juices and the egg yolk.

And it is really tasty.  Here’s the recipe:



1/4 cup olive oil
3 Anaheim chiles (or 4 or 5, if you like it spicy) stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, top trimmed off and roasted*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes with juice, crushed
1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving


*Roasted garlic: preheat the oven to 350.  Slice off the top of the garlic head, drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over the exposed cloves; leave the head otherwise intact.  Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes; remove from oven, cool until warm but safe to touch.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic (squeeze the garlic from the skins), cumin, paprika, and fennel, and stir to mix well and heat throughout, about 2 more minutes.

Crush the tomatoes in a bowl by hand and add with the liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water; reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Thanks to Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen for the foundation of this recipe, with which I started, but then altered just a bit after trying several varieties.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

E posted a photo on her Pinterest page suggesting that Meyer lemon marmalade is one of her favorite things, even as she spread a wonderful Trader Joe’s rendition of orange marmalade on her rosemary-olive-oil bread from Thom’s.  Given that whatever E thinks is a “favorite thing” ought to be made a reality, I decided to make a batch of the jelled gold for her.  Not a marmalade fan myself, I needed to learn how marmalade is made, and I discovered how simple it is.

So off to market I go, ISO ripe Meyer lemons.  The good news is that I knew just where to find them–at John and Ethel Stoner’s little stand in the middle of our local jewel, the Lancaster Central Market.

The Meyer lemon, in case you’re not familiar with it, is rounder than a true lemon. The skin is fragrant and thin, colored a deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe. Meyer lemons have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common supermarket lemon varieties.  The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China in garden pots as an ornamental tree. It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in San Francisco at the end of the 1990s, and even more so when Martha Stewart began featuring them in her recipes.

Citrus marmalades are basically reductions of the fruit, water, and sugar, cooked slowly until the sugars begin to caramelize.  Orange marmalade has been a staple of British and American breakfasts for generations, certainly around here.  So the idea of Meyer lemon marmalade seemed like such a natural for us, given E’s sudden “pinterest” in the stuff and my constant desire to please her with surprising cooking choices.

Ergo Meyer lemon marmalade.  Sweet, tart, and tasty, it’s wonderful on English muffins and any good artisan bread you can imagine.

Here’s my take:

Meyer Lemon Marmalade


6 Meyer lemons (about 1 1/2 pounds)

4 cups water

4 cups sugar


Quarter the lemons and separate the seeds (save the seeds!).  Remove the ends and slice the lemons as thinly as possible, and reslice any larger bits of lemon rind to small pieces. Place all the lemon seeds in a cheesecloth bag and tie off the ends.  Combine the lemon slices, the seed bag, and water in a large non-reactive pot, stir to mix well, cover and allow to stand at room temperature for 24 hours.  (I used an enamel-coated cast-iron pot–Le Creuset–but you could also use a stainless-steel pot.  I actually have a favorite stainless-steel pot I will use in the future,ikea a $15.00 gem from Ikea. It holds five quarts, and has quart- and liter- markings etched ON THE INSIDE OF THE POT:  BRILLIANT! This feature will work you your amazing advantage for this recipe, as you will see).

After the lemons have rested in the water for 24 hours, remove the seed bag and bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer slowly until the mixture is reduced to 4 cups (or 1 quart!  See why the inside-the-pot etchings on the Ikea pot are so terrific for this recipe?).  Add the sugar to the lemons, stir well to dissolve the sugar, and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam that develops, for 15-20 minutes, until a teaspoonful of the marmalade dropped on a cold plate gels (you can skip this test if you wish, it really works).

In the meantime, prepare six 1/2-pint jars for canning:   wash and rinse the jars, lids, and rings, set them in a large pot of water and bring to a boil; allow the jars to simmer at a slow boil for 30 minutes, then turn the fire off under the pot.

When the marmalade is ready, ladle hot marmalade into the hot jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim, wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel, and seal the jars with the hot lids and rings.  Set the jars back into the hot water, bring to a boil, cover the pot and boil the jars for five minutes.  Using jar tongs, transfer the jars to a wire rack and allow the marmalade to cool completely. Check to ensure that the lids have popped and the jars have sealed.  If any jars haven’t popped, refrigerate them and use immediately.  The sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark place for 1 year.

Next batch I’ll make will include 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary.

Just sayin’.

Fresh Fig and Almond Breakfast Cake

So what do you do with fresh figs?  The Lancaster Central Market was literally bursting with fresh fruit, and the figs at Meck’s produce stand were big and beautiful, and hard to resist.P1000898  A while back I made a wonderful chicken dish topped with a beautiful braised fig sauce, and it was as good as it sounds, but this time, E. was craving something sweet.  So to the Internet we cruised and read through numerous cake, pudding, and tart recipes until we stumbled upon one that tickled both our fancies.  And considering that it was a rainy Saturday afternoon with nothing (incredibly!) on the schedule, E. went into a frenzy of baking, making desserts, desserts, desserts!  Out to the garden for a large bunch of rhubarb (her rhubarb crisp is the stuff of legend!), and away she went.  The result, among other things, was this excellent breakfast coffee cake, which dazzled and didn’t make it past nine on Sunday morning.  She made it in a spring form pan, but the original recipe was shown in a cast-iron skillet.  I think the next time we make it I will try it that way.  It took longer than recommended to firm up in the springform pan, so I think the skillet is probably the way to go.  Try this one yourself–do it both ways and see which way you like it better–and report back.  Can’t think of a better way to kill a fig.

Fresh Fig and Almond Breakfast Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder

tsp baking soda

tsp salt

tsp ground cardamom

cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cups buttermilk

cup unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

tsp almond extract (pure)

10 figs (fresh, depending on the size, sliced in half)

cup sliced almonds

3 tbsps turbinado (or granulated sugar for topping)



Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 10-inch cast iron skillet.  You can also use a 10-inch cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and sugar. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and butter.  Whisk in the vanilla and almond extract.

Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined and no lumps remain.  Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Top batter with fresh figs, gently pressing the figs part-way into the batter.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and then sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve.

Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days


From Joy Wilson,

Dessert for Breakfast–but Healthy!

Slow-Cooker Apple-Cinnamon Steel-cut OatmealP1100560

What a surprise I had this morning!  The house was infused with the deep, rich aroma of baking apples and cinnamon–you’d think we were baking an apple crisp.

Apple crisp?  First thing on a Sunday morning?  Scandalous.  Outrageous.  Unheard of.

But yummy, and way healthy, too!

My partner and muse conjured up a breakfast that I think I could eat every single day.  Sweet and fruity, tasty and stick-to-the-ribs.  But so healthy  that your body would think it was getting something that didn’t taste good.

Ah, to fool Mother Nature!

The Holy Grail of cooking is to make food that is so tasty that you want more and more, but at the same time is good for you.  Not too many things fit that bill.  This one does.  You really need to do this one.  The really interesting part is just how simple it is.  Ten minutes before bed, and in the morning, voila!  Hot and sweet and tasty and healthy, all in the same cup.

Do it for yourself.  Do it for your family.  Do it because, even if you can’t cook a lick, you can do this one.

Make it.  Today.


2 apples, peeled and cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups fat-free milk (or substitute non-dairy alternative–like almond milk)

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats

2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup

1 1/2  tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoons ground flax seed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Optional toppings:  chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk, butter, dried fruit–whatever suits you


Coat the inside of a 4-quart slow-cooker with cooking spray.  Add all ingredients (except optional garnishes).  Stir, cover, and cook on low for approximately 7 hours.  Serve in 3/4-cup servings with optional toppings, if desired.  Store leftovers in the fridge, and it freezes beautifully.

To reheat single serving, portion into microwaveable bowls, add 1/3 cup skim milk or almond milk, and microwave 1 minute, stir well, cook another minute, or until hot.

Oh yes, and it’s only 4 Weight-Watchers Points Plus points per 3/4-cup serving.

This recipe comes to you courtesy of Monica Matheny, from  her terrific blog, The Yummy Life (  Check it out!  Lots of good, healthy recipes.

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