Monthly Archives: April 2012

French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

This post covers a lot of things, all of which revolve around what I ate for lunch today.

First, why I love weekdays off:

  1. I get to take Doc (the dog) for walks up and around Potrero hill and see how happy he is to trot down the sidewalk beside me.
  2. Relaxed oatmeal breakfasts with coffee and the Chronicle on my Kindle
  3. Multitasking laundry with baking, blog-reading, house cleaning and daydreaming.
  4. It doesn’t matter when I forget to brush my teeth until half way through the day.
  5. I can eat French toast for lunch.

That last one is the kicker. There are several things that I can only make for lunch when I’m at home. Smoothies have been my specialty of late but there was a time when I made French toast for lunch all the time. Why did I ever stop? True, French toast is something normal people eat for breakfast on weekends and may seem too fancy, complicated, or rich for an every-day lunch. My counterargument goes something like this: bread+egg+milk=French toast.

I know, I know. I’m glossing over all kinds of key components like (for some) sugar, butter and rivers of syrup. There is a time and place for that breakfast. For me, a simpler version is a perfect vehicle for fresh fruit at lunch time.

This is where the strawberries come in. I’m kind of a strawberry snob. I don’t think I could have turned out any other way after growing up in Southern California where dreamily fresh, delicious strawberries grew right down the road. I remember early summer as a time for gorging on half flats of strawberries from roadside stands. My mom knew the best places to buy them. We would pick some up on the way home from somewhere, rush to the kitchen and plunge berries into cold water before devouring as many as it took to decide whether or not they were the best strawberries we’d ever tasted. Sometimes they weren’t that great. Often enough, they were spectacularly sweet and luscious: not too soft but never crunchy and always tasting like summer.

I don’t know how we ate as many berries as we did. I know they went on cereal, ice cream, waffles, and salads. I think my brother and I mostly ate them whole and unaccompanied off of moist paper towels by the sink. My dad dipped strawberries in sour cream and brown sugar for dessert.

Yesterday I brought home this week’s CSA box and immediately dug the little container of strawberries out from underneath the greens. I ran cold water over one, bit into it and closed my eyes. I must have done the same with two or three more. Yum. This is what a strawberry is supposed to taste like.

This morning I had strawberries on my oatmeal. They melted into the hot bowl while I read the paper and drank my coffee – my day-off morning ritual. Afterwards, while walking Doc up and around the hill, I thought of French toast and knew I had to have it for lunch. There was goat cheese in the fridge…and strawberries.

French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 medium-sized strawberries, more or less
  • 1-2 oz. fresh chevre

Instructions

  1. Beat the egg and milk in a bowl.
  2. Add the nutmeg and vanilla, blending completely
  3. Pour the egg mixture into a flat pan or dish.
  4. Place both slices of bread in the dish, allowing one side of each slice absorb the liquid.
  5. Carefully flip bread slices after a few minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spread a little oil or butter in the skillet.
  7. When the bread has absorbed most or all of the egg mixture, place it on the skillet and cook until browned to your liking, then flip and cook the other side. (I like to cover my toast while the first side is cooking. This helps the middle cook more fully.)
  8. While the toast cooks, wash your strawberries in cool water (Simply placing them in a bowl full of water is the gentlest way). Cut out the green tops and slice the berries.
  9. When the toast is done, place one slice on a plate, cover with sliced strawberries and a couple dabs of chevre. Layer the second slice of bread on top of the first (trust me, this helps melt the cheese and warm up the berries). Top this slice with the rest of the berries and a few more smears of chevre.
  10. Sit down with your meal and relax.
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Sun Dried Tomato and Thyme Humus

Ah blog, how I’ve missed you. Between sailing 500 miles , starting a new job here, and gorging myself on veggies from my new Mariquita Farm CSA box this has been a very, very busy month. So busy, in fact, that it’s already time for another Vintage Recipe Swap! I know Christianna has been busy too. How she manages to keep all us swappers supplied with recipe inspiration while balancing the rest of her life I will never know.

My first CSA box: gorgeous lettuce, frisee, green garlic, French radishes and much, much more.

As crazy has things are these days, this swap was an easy one for me. Tomato pudding, you say? A condiment for meat? What a waste of a good pudding! The recipe Christianna supplied this month is tempting enough to try unaltered. Since it isn’t exactly tomato season, though, I’m stashing this dish away for a summer day when tomatoes make an appearance in my CSA box.

As odd as it seemed to use this dish as a condiment, I found myself taking the condiment route for my interpretation of “Tomato Pudding”. Ketchup, hot sauce, various vinegars, mustard, salsa…all those saucy spicy things we slather on our food are some of my favorite things to eat. I learned from my father to generously pepper and Tabasco my eggs. Lately, though, humus is undoubtedly my favorite topping, sauce, dressing, and spread. It’s multipurpose, healthy, and comes in enough variations to keep me entertained.

Spread Peace and serenity for lunch time.

I don’t know why it took me so long to start making my own humus, or to take the next step of cooking dried beans for that purpose. It’s not difficult and really doesn’t requite that much more time. Humus as become a staple of my busy work week lunches. I couldn’t dish out nearly as many sandwiches, salads, or dipping veggies as I do without it.

It isn't pretty but I pomise it's good.

I’ve made several humus and bean dip variations in the past couple months, playing with ingredients to get the optimum consistency and flavor. I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to make their own humus. Get creative with what you add and with how you use the finished product. I am completely addicted to humus + a splash of vinegar on a fresh green salad. My dad eats his humus on warm corn tortillas. My husband gobbles it with chips. I even stuffed wonton wrappers with one batch of homemade humus for some interesting ravioli.

I stuck with the tomato theme from the swapped pudding recipe. Sun dried tomatoes are so perfect with chickpeas. The thyme came from last weeks CSA box. My oh my to I love my CSA box. This is my first experience with community support agriculture and I am in love. Give me a box full of fantastic green stuff every week and I will eat it, no matter how much there is!

Sun Dried Tomato and Thyme Humus

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (from a jar, not dried)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or about 2.5 cups cooked)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • splash of water

Instructions

  1. Cook chickpeas - I use a pressure cooker: cover the chickpeas with water in the cooker, add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep the froth down, cook for 7-8 minutes, remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally.
  2. Drain cooked or canned chickpeas.
  3. Place all ingredients in a large bowl (if using a hand blender), a food processor, or a blender.
  4. Blend until the humus reaches desired consistency, adding more water if you'd like it thinner or less for thicker humus.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze for later use.
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Don’t forget, there are many other fantastic swappers out there!

 

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