Tag: Breakfast

Bravo, Luciano!

If you’ve paid attention to my Instagram feed in the side bar, you’ve noticed that I have a problem.  What started out as a “treat” one lazy Saturday morning has now be come an addiction.  At least one morning each weekend – sometimes Saturday, other times Sunday – I find myself driving to Sunflour Baking Company for a cheddar biscuit with bacon.  This weekend was no different, but I fear it’s getting worse.  Last week I also grabbed some Duck Rabbit Milk Stout cupcakes and a couple sandwiches while I was in there.  This has got to stop soon.  Otherwise, before I know it, I will be walking out with an entire case of Ham & Gruyere Croissants, all the while cramming yet another cheddar biscuit into my face.

Each week as I wait for my biscuit, I see this quote on the chalkboard style menu that hangs on the wall just inside the bakery door:

I think that’s lovely.  Don’t you? As much as I am an opera fan, I had never heard or seen this quote from Pavarotti before.  All I can say is – “Bravo, Luciano!  Bravo…

and I HAVE to stop coming here so often or otherwise I’m gonna start to look a little too much like you.”

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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Easy Like Sunday Mornin’

There’s just something about a lazy Sunday morning in a college town that I love.  The cool autumn morning air, no particular agenda for the day, good food and coffee in a quaint local eatery…oh how it makes me yearn for Oxford.

I’ve been in the Chapel Hill-Durham area all weekend for a workshop which ended too late last night to make the trek back to Charlotte. So I stayed the extra night.  The only thing I had to do today is to get home…but by not particular time. So, I decided to forego the alarm and the wake-up call (yes, it takes multiple trials to get me up in the morning), wake-up when my body decided it was time to wake up, take my sweet time getting packed up, and treat myself to a yummy breakfast here.

I spent about an hour here sipping on a Great Pumpkin Latte and leisurely munching on Lucas’ Cinnamon French Toast.

The french toast was out of this world, but ladies and gentlemen, can I just brag on this latte for a moment?  It was so beautiful and so delicious!  I could seriously have spent my entire Sunday curled up with it, in a cozy little nook, reading something equally delicious.  Let’s look at it again, shall we?

Don’t you want to just dive right in?   No…so that’s just me?  This is how lattes should be served.  I honestly don’t know why I was so enamored with this latte.  Maybe my urban existence just has me at Starbucks too often and I’ve grown too accustomed to the commonness of the paper cup, cardboard grip, and plastic lid.  Being served this latte just sent me into sensory overload – the FEEL of the warm mug big enough to require two hands, the SMELL of the pumpkin spice, the SIGHT of the creamy-caramel colored foam on the top that, of course, left me a foamy ‘stache after the first sip… I tell you, it was heaven!  Easy Sunday morning perfection…

After finishing my breakfast, I ventured next door to Flyleaf Books, a local independent book store.

I’m not sure I’ve shared with you before my affinity for indie book stores.  I seek them out whenever I travel and was thrilled that this one just happened to be next door to my breakfast.  I have yet to find one that I haven’t adored. (I love them all, but of course, none more than the mother of all indie book stores, Square Books in Oxford, MS.)  Much like the latte, they simultaneously set all my senses ablaze and make my soul let out a relaxed “Aahhhh…”  I love the dim lighting, the mismatched chairs, the somewhat dusty book smell, the boutique-style small quantities of the selections, and the overly-scarfed-thick-rimmed-funky-glasses-wearing clientele that tends to favor this type of bookstore to the big booksellers.  Even if I don’t buy anything, I have so much fun just wandering the stacks.

When ever possible I try to get my books from local, independent bookstores.  The benefits of shopping local aren’t just limited to produce shopping.  I noticed this hanging in the ladies room and couldn’t resist taking the shot.

Flyleaf is small, but it doesn’t disappoint.  My favorite part, however, were the staff’s hand written descriptions and “plugs” for books.  These were most prominently displayed on the “staff picks” table in the middle of the room, but were also scattered throughout the stacks in the rest of the store.  The handwritten notes just give it a “We-Don’t-Just-Work-Here-We-Actually-Read-This-Stuff” vibe.

A personal favorite…

My only disappointment was that I had to finish my latte and walk through here to get to the lovely bookstore…

It would have been so much better if Foster’s Market and Flyleaf Books would have joined forces, knocked down the wall that separates them, and let all the good food, great lattes, and lovely books mingle like God intended.

Here’s hoping your Sunday morning was just a good!

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Adventures in Sconing

Happy belated Easter to you all! I hope you were all blessed with as beautiful an Easter Day in your home towns as we were in Charlotte. Simply gorgeous!

To celebrate this joyous day we joined some friends for an after church outdoor brunch. It was potluck. After last week’s potluck fiasco resulting in me showing up to a cookout with store-bought potato salad (gasp!), I knew I had to redeem myself. My foodie/cook reputation could be hanging in the balance…

So, I thought long and hard about what my contribution to this brunch would be and the answer was clear – SCONES!!  I ask you, what is more “spring brunchy” than SCONES?!?

Once again, I turned to The Foster’s Market Cookbook for inspiration.  More specifically, I chose to make Sara Foster’s Chocolate Chip Espresso Scones.

I got up early before church to whip these babies up.  Did I mention that I’ve never made scones before?  So they didn’t exactly “whip up”.  They were a little labor intensive.  Maybe that wasn’t a good idea when I’m trying to redeem myself from a major foodie faux pas!  I was nervous and in a rush after waking up 30 min later than intended.  So I don’t have a lot of pics because 1) I hadn’t had my requisite two cups of coffee (which is dangerous in and of itself) yet while I was making these and 2) these scones were stressing me out.

The recipe called for cutting the butter into the dry ingredients mix with a food processor.  I only have a mini-Cuisinart, not a full sized one.  So it took me several attempts to figure out how I was going to make this work in shifts.  Ultimately I cut little cubes of butter into the large bowl of dry ingredients then transfered it into the mini-Cuisinart for some pulsing in 3/4 cup shifts.  We got through it, but ultimately my kitchen looked like a flour bomb exploded in it.

Once cut and mixed, it was now time for me to add in the wet ingredients…buttermilk with espresso dissolved into it.  The Foster’s Market Cookbook maintains that it is the use of buttermilk, versus the typical heavy cream or half-and-half, yields a “lighter and flakier” scone.

The recipe called for this to be mixed in a large bowl, so I whipped out the largest bowl I have.  It apparently wasn’t large enough as I could really couldn’t stir the ingredients without sloshing it all over my already flour dusted countertop.  So…I dove in with my hands, trying my best to distribute the ingredients evenly.

So as I’m attempting to mix with my hands, thinking “This isn’t going well” to myself, and becoming increasingly aware that I’m running really late, I read the words “Do not overwork the dough” in the recipe. But that’s it.  No further indication of what action would result overworked dough.  Clearly, Sara’s target audience has prior biscuit making experience. I’ve said it before – I cook.  I don’t really bake.  Which, again, makes me think this wasn’t the best idea for today.  Don’t overwork the dough?!?  What does THAT look like?  How would I know?

I finally get frustrated trying to finish mixing the dough by hand in the bowl and just dump it out on the kitchen counter,

wash the espresso-buttermilk goo off my hands, and head back to the recipe.  Well, what do you know.  I was SUPPOSED to dump it out on the counter.  Maybe I have more “baker instincts” than I thought…

Confident in my new baker skills, I commenced rolling.  Gigantor chocolate chip cookie anyone?

Incidentally, the recipe makes two of those so that you end up with 12 total scones.  From here, it’s pretty easy.  You just cut it into six equal triangles, brush them in an egg wash, and bake them up.

The only problem now is, it’s 9:50 a.m. and I have to serve them at 12:30 p.m. – piping hot!  Will they be okay if I put them in the fridge for 3 hours before baking them?  Surely they will right?  That won’t mess up the baking chemistry will it?  AAAAHHHH….now I’m nervous again.  I should have asked somebody about this first.   I really don’t want to mess up my contribution to a friend’s potluck gathering for the second week in a row!

At this point I have no choice.  I’m pretty sure that it’s more “dangerous” to leave the raw sliced dough on greased  baking sheets sitting on my countertop.  So into the fridge they went.  And I rushed home from church an popped them into the oven before heading over to brunch…holding my breath along the way.

Well, they look like proper scones to me…

Okay, so we were 20 min late, but we showed up with fresh-from-the-oven, piping hot scones as everyone was sitting down on the lawn to eat.  Half of them were gone before I could get them to the buffet.

Rave reviews all around!  Comments from the peanut gallery went something like “Those are awesome!”  “These are fantastic!”  “Did you make these from scratch?”  I am redeemed…which has more than one meaning for me on this lovely Easter Sunday.

So, I think I can safely say that my foodie reputation in firmly in tact!

Cheers y’all!

Wine Girl

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Spanish Cooking Saturdays – Torrijas & Mosto

Ever wondered how to get a little red wine into your breakfast?


No? Is that just me?

Well, in case you HAVE ever wondered that and just don’t want to admit it, never fear. I have found the way!

All you have to do is make Spanish Torrijas and a little Mosto to drizzle on them and that’ll get you about a bottle and a half…of red wine…for breakfast!  It goes a little something like this:

The night before you plan to eat this wine soaked breakfast go ahead and make the Mosto.  What is mosto, you ask?  According to Mario in my Spain…On the Road Again cookbook, it is a “term that refers to unfermented grape juice” (p. 28).  You basically take the following ingredients:

put them in a sauce pan and boil them down for about 15-20 min like so

until it reduces by 3/4.  According to Mario, it should get “thick and syrupy” by the time it has cooked down sufficiently.  My experience was not that it got to the consistency of say maple syrup, more like the consistency of cough syrup.  I recommend making it the night before so that will have plenty of time to cool down and get thicker and more syrupy before serving.  To say that it smells divine while cooking down is the understatement of the century.  (Would it be too much of a pun to say that with 3 cups of Spanish red wine, sugar, apple cider, and cinnamon the smell was intoxicating?) The only danger in making it the night before is that the Mosto will not survive the night…and by that I mean, it was all I could do not to pour it in a bowl and eat it with a spoon!

You’ll be pleased to know that I was somehow able to restrain myself and it was appropriately bottled and ready to be served the next morning when we made Torrijas for our friends H & C.

If you are not familiar with Torrijas, it’s basically the Spanish version of French toast.  Mario described it as “fried bread soaked in wine.”

Enough said.  Fried.  Bread.  Wine.  Sign me up.  I need no further convincing.

In the manner of French toast, you basically take some artisan bread and drench in the dry Spanish wine of your choice

then egg it

cook it in olive oil

drain it

sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar

pinch yourself to make sure you haven’t died and gone to heaven

drizzle it in your Mosto

and enjoy! (Sorry that’s not a great pic.  I was too preoccupied with wanting to eat it to bother with details like focusing when I took the shot!)

From our experience, it’s best served with a side of good friends and good conversation on a lovely Sunday morning!

And THAT, my friends, is how you get red wine in your breakfast!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe

On Sunday, Wine Girl and I were looking for a casual yet yummy breakfast. Usually at this hour, WG is making herself (somehow) even more beautiful, and I struggling vainly to look presentable, so that we can go to services. But on this morning, not so. We were out late Saturday night, showing out-of-town friends around town, and where else to show but bars and restaurants? More on that in a later post.

A good friend had introduced us to Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe (site may be offline), so our mouths were salivating even as we looked for a parking spot. Nope, none available in the lot. Not on the first block. or second. or third. Finally we park, and I test WG’s patience as I take pictures of some lovely trees. I especially enjoy light-dappled tree leaves, and while I was becoming more absorbed in my deciduous delight, other diners were passing us towards the restaurant.

Zada Jane's Corner Cafe

We walked toward the entrance, first hoping that there would be an open table in the outdoor patio area, then hoping that the wait wouldn’t be too long. In the event of a long wait, coupled with a fit of energy on our part, we could play shuffleboard or cornhole outside.

Cornhole at Zada Jane's

Happily there’s a spot for two at the bar, and we’re seated immediately. The surroundings take several moments to sink in. First, it’s the funky and eclectic decor (and staff), replete with albums ranging from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Hendrix to Southern Culture on the Skids. Oh, and a big chicken, too. The columns are covered with art from local artists, and Wine Girl delights over the mismatched coffee cups.

I’m feeling conventional, and I sampled the biscuit with bacon, egg, and cheese. That sounds like something fast food, but instead, I’m greeted with actual food!

Man-sized Biscuit

After our food comes, we break out the D90 and begin the ritual. Our server (who I think is also the owner) stops and asks:

(He) Taking pictures of your food?
(Us) We take pictures of all our food.
(He) That’s cool. Do you write or blog?
(Us) We blog.

Even now, I’m struck by the casual pretension — we blog — this is the first we’ve outed ourselves as bloggers in “real time”. An amiable chat ensued, and he recommended a few food blogs, including RoadFood.com. That’s right, gentle reader, ours is not the first food blog on the Internet. For a more established set of reviews, you should follow the Charlotte Food Snob.

Wine Girl orders the Amaretto French Toast with bacon and orange butter on the side. She declares madly: “French toast made on any other bread besides challah is just wrong!”
Challah French Toast
Now that’s breakfast!

Beer Guy

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I Heart Oatmeal…Now

My usual breakfast is a lovely little combo of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt (“yogret” as my niece would say), topped with 1/2 a cup of strawberries, and a tablespoon of sliced almonds with 2 slices of Canadian bacon on the side.  The Greek yogurt tends to have more protein than regular yogurt, so with that plus the Canadian bacon and sliced almonds I usually get enough protein to tide me over until lunch.  The strawberries are for sheer yummy deliciousness and to get in one of the recommended 5 daily servings of fruit and veggies.  I really enjoy this breakfast it would generally keep me satiated from ~7am to noon.  That is, until recently…

In addition to my usual daily workouts I’m now training for a Susan G. Komen 3-day walk.  That means that for about 3/5 weekdays I’m walking an extra 3-5 miles and on the weekends I’m now walking 6-8 miles.  The weekend distance will continue to grow as I get closer to my 3-Day walk in October, during which time I will walk 60 miles in 3 days.  So I guess I’m burning a lot more calories because, lately, the lovely yogurt and berries combo is just not cutting the mustard.  By 10am I am STARVING!  My stomach is NOTICEABLY  growling during my therapy sessions, and I have to remind myself that it would neither be professional, nor sanitary to sneak bites of the things I’m feeding to my dysphagia (swallowing) patients.

So, I am searching for a yummy, healthy, breakfast that’s gonna have a little more “stick-to-it-ness” (yes, I made that up) than my typical breakfast.  You’ve noticed in my blog roll and by a couple of my posts that I am a fan of Kath Eats Real Food.  It’s a blog that began as a twenty-something girl’s weight loss journey and through her journey decided that she wanted to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  It’s all about healthy living.  Kath, the author, is a HUGE fan of oatmeal and makes more variations of it that I would have ever thought possible.

I have never eaten oatmeal.  It looks like a gray, lumpy, pile of mush.  I will admit, though, that smelling someone cooking up a cinnamony bowl of it would pique my curiosity but then I’d take a look at it and think “Nope.  Just can’t do it.”  But since I’m trying new things and oatmeal is generally regarded as a heart-healthy, relatively low calorie, protein-rich breakfast…and I am on the lookout for such a breakfast…I thought, “Why not.  Let’s give it a shot.”  If I’m going to do this, it’s got to be yummy.  So I went to the Oatmeal Master…Kath.  She has a video on how to make her Kath Classic Oatmeal on her site followed by recipes for numerous variations.

And, what do ya know… I liked it!  So much so that I looked down at my bowl and realized that, while perusing my favorite blogs over breakfast (second breakfast, actually since I was starving after walking 8 mi this a.m.), I had inadvertently eaten my Kath Classic Oatmeal into the shape of a heart.

(Side note – Kath’s video recipe leaves out salt, but both her written recipe on the site and the instructions on the back of the Quaker Old Fashioned Oats container call for a little salt.  The salt is needed and I’m definitely going to add it next time.)

The moral of this story – Trying new things won’t kill ya, and you might even like what you try!  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to many more oatmeal adventures!

Wine Girl

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Beach Brunch for the Fam

So I mentioned that my best breakfast ever was the one the Beer Guy and I had our first morning at The Farmhouse Inn during our Wine Country 10th Anniversary Trip last year.  It was this Oat Griddle Cakes topped with strawberries, homemade whipped cream, candied walnuts, maple syrup, and the best bacon I’ve ever had.

Well, maple syrup was available, but the griddle cakes were so yummy and flavorful with all the other toppings that I just never got around to adding the syrup.

About 3 weeks after our return the Beer Guy’s brother and his wife made the trek from Memphis to Charlotte for a visit with us.  I decided to try and recreate it for our guests.  Through diligent internet searching I found this Rachel Ray recipe for Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes.  You’ll notice that the recipe calls for raisins, which makes perfect sense if you are aiming for pancakes that taste like oatmeal cookies.  I like raisins, but since my original breakfast did not have raisins and I was aiming for a recreation, I just didn’t add those into the batter.

Now, please do not fool yourselves into thinking that I attempted homemade whipped cream to top this deliciousness like The Farmhouse.  I am secure enough to admit that I did not and Cool Whip worked just fine.  I did, however, sort of whip up my own recipe for candied walnuts.  I didn’t really measure things out. Basically, I melted a couple tablespoons of butter, stirred in about a tablespoon of brown sugar, added cinnamon until it looked right, poured that over about a cup of walnuts, stirred to coat, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet, then popped them in the toaster oven for a couple minutes.

Not half bad for a makeshift candied walnuts on the fly.

Breakfast was so well received by our guests, that I decided to make it for my own family last year while on our annual beach vacation.  We were there over Father’s Day and I thought it would be a nice way to treat the dad’s in our family.  So I garnered a little help for my, then 3 yo, niece…

and whipped it up again.  (Please excuse the “bed head” on each of us.)

Once again, it got rave reviews.  So, I’m not sure, then, why I was surprised that when planning for this year’s trip my sister posted this comment on my Facebook wall – “I know you are planning to make those banana waffle things again this year.”  (In case you haven’t checked out the recipe, there are mashed bananas in the batter.)

Um, well.  I hadn’t planned on it, but I guess I am now… So I gathered the ingredients, packed my handy dandy Cuisinart Griddler (love this thing, but that’s another post), and whipped it up yet again.  This time I enlisted the BG’s services as the official griddle cake flipper.

Have griddle, will travel.

Not a bad recreation, huh?


Wine Girl

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