Shakshuka

Shakshuka has always been my favorite brunch choice whenever it’s available in any restaurant we dine in. Unfortunately, not many offer this on their menu, and not everyone makes a good one. One of the best Shakshuka I ever had was the one at Art Cafe in Nyack. We went there in the fall of 2014 when my sister was visiting us. It’s a cafe that serves traditional Israeli food.

This is the first time I have ever made it, and my family enjoyed this for our Sunday brunch.

In a large skillet, saute one medium-sized chopped onion in 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil until translucent. Add two minced garlic cloves and stir until fragrant. Add one red bell pepper that has been seeded and diced and cook over low heat until very soft, around 20 minutes. Carefully pour in one 28 oz can of whole tomatoes crushed by hand. Stir until it’s blended. Then add your spices: 1 tsp. Cumin, 1 tsp. sweet paprika, 1 tsp. Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp. Black pepper and a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity. Cook and simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.

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Carefully crack five eggs one at a time into the skillet over the tomatoes. Cover and cook until eggs are just set or cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.

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Serve hot with crusty bread and salad.

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Longanisa, Kale and Ricotta Quiche

I love to experiment with flavors and use Filipino ingredients in western cuisine. This is what makes cooking fun and exciting for me. I like to surprise my family with new and unfamiliar dishes, and being adventurous, they more than welcome anything I serve.

This was something I came up with for a weeknight dinner. We wanted something light, so I thought of making a quiche.

First, make your crust. You can do this ahead of time. In a bowl, place 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. Salt and 7 Tbsp. Unsalted cold butter cut into small cubes. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender until it resembles cornmeal. Then gradually add 3 tsp. Iced water and continue mixing until the dough comes together. Transfer dough onto a clean work surface and form into a disk. Place it on a sheet of cling wrap and refrigerate for about 1 – 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured board, roll your dough into an 11″ circle. Carefully roll them out on a 9″ fluted tart pan. Gently press the dough on the pan and the edges of its fluted side. Using a knife or a rolling pin, cut off excess pastry. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pastry and fill it with dried beans or rice. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large bowl, combine 7 eggs, 2/3 cup milk (I used skim), and 2 Tbsp. Grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt and 2 cups baby kale. Pour the egg mixture into the pre-baked pie shell.

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In a small bowl, place 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used skim ricotta), 4 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese, and mix until just incorporated. Spoon the mixture all over the pie shell. Dot about 3/4 cup of cherry tomatoes that has been sliced and about 1/2 cup of crumbled cooked longanisa all around the ricotta mixture. I used chicken longanisa patties, or you can take the meat out of the casing of any packaged longanisa of your choice. Place your pie pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 50 – 55 minutes. Note: you can wrap the edge of the pie with foil to prevent burning.

Cool slightly before cutting. The quiche can be served warm or at room temperature.

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Tomato and Lemon Herbed Ricotta Tart

Summer means tomato season. What better way to make use of your Jersey tomatoes than make it into a tart. This is what I served my family for brunch today. It’s a perfect meal for this hot and humid weekend we are having.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Get a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Take your puff pastry dough (I used store bought ones) and roll it into a rectangular shape on lightly floured surface. Transfer it onto your sheet pan. Lightly prick the pastry all over with a fork. Score the pastry about one inch from the edge taking care not to cut through the dough , this will create your rim. Brush your pastry all over with an egg wash (1 beaten egg plus 1 Tbsp. water). Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.

While pastry your pastry is baking, slice your tomatoes and place this on paper towels. Sprinkle with some salt to release some of its juices and prevent your tart form getting soggy. Cover with paper towels and let this sit for 15 minutes. I used different colored heirloom tomatoes, plum tomatoes and some mixed medley grape tomatoes.

In bowl combine one tub ricotta cheese, zest of one lemon, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 1/4 cup chopped basil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Once your pastry is done, take it out of the oven and cool slightly. Spread your ricotta cheese mixture evenly onto your puff pastry and arrange your sliced tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with some basil that has been chiffonade before serving.

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Soft Scrambled Eggs Over Toast

Breakfast is undeniably my favorite meal of the day. You can do many things to make this meal as fancy or rustic as you want. But I usually make something that not only will satisfy our stomach but also be a feast for our eyes as well.

These scrambled eggs are inspired by Buvette’s steamed eggs on toast. Buvette is one of the many places I still have yet to visit in NYC. The only thing that’s stopping me from going is that it’s really a small and compact place, to begin with, and it’s usually busy and crowded all the time. I wouldn’t really be comfortable under these conditions with covid still around us.

These are not that hard to make, you just need some patience. This recipe is for one serving. To make beat 3 eggs in a bowl with 2 Tablespoons of milk or cream (optional). Get a non-stick pan and pour your beaten eggs into the cold pan, add 1 Tablespoon of butter. Set this over medium to low heat. Stir with a silicone spatula until eggs are starting to set. Continue stirring until soft curd forms, you need to do these on and off the heat. It’s important to note that you need to remove your pan before you reach your desired doneness as the eggs will continue from the pan’s residual heat. Also, this will ensure that your eggs will be moist and silky.

To serve, pour your eggs over 2 slices of thick-cut toasted sourdough bread. Top with salami or whatever cold cuts you have. You may add a dollop of creme fraiche if you wish.

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One Pan Egg Toast

I am always on the look out for new and exciting breakfast options. This recipe is an upgraded version of your typical eggs and toast combo. I discovered this while watching food vlogs on Youtube. This apparently also went viral and several food vloggers have featured this on their site with step by step instructions.

What’s neat about this is you only need a pan to make this breakfast, hence the name of the dish.

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To make start by beating two eggs in a bowl. Then dip a slice of sandwich bread that is cut in half on the eggs and set this aside. Take a pan and place it on medium heat, add a about 2 tablespoons butter and pour your beaten eggs on it. Then before it’s set place your sliced piece of bread (with the side dipped on egg facing up) on top of the egg making sure that there is about a centimeter gap in between the slices. Once the egg is fully set carefully flip your eggs over. Fold the eggs hanging on the all sides towards the center creating a neat package. Then lay a couple of ham slices on one side and cheese on the other. Fold the two pieces of bread together creating a sandwich. Continue frying until bread is golden brown and crisp on both sides. You may need to add more butter for this step.

Remove from pan and serve immediately. It’s best eaten piping hot.

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Roasted Vine Tomatoes

I have vivid memories of having grilled tomatoes on the side for breakfast in the 70’s when we would dine in hotels or some fancy restaurant. Even at a young age my tastebuds was intrigued by the taste of this warm and succulent fruit that has been grilled.

It’s been awhile since I have had these and I wanted to have something to go with my eggs other than a salad. So here is what I made.

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Preheat your oven to 350F

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Wash and pat dry your tomatoes careful not to pull it out of the vine. Arrange your tomatoes on a tray or sheet pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the skin has cracked and the tomatoes has softened. Cooking time depends on the size of your tomatoes.

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You can serve it as a side for eggs or any main course or add to pasta or even eat it plain.

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Smørrebrød

I discovered the Danish bakery Ole & Steen February 2019. They just opened their first store location in Union Square January of that same year. Upon a friend’s recommendation (who is Danish by the way) I bought their traditional Carrot Rye Bread. She said it’s best eaten just with good quality butter and no need to toast it.
I followed her advise but I also looked for other ways to serve it. This is where I learned about the Danish open faced sandwich, Smørrebrød.

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Believe it or not I love bread more than rice which is unusual me being Asian. I am really into bread may it be sweet or savory. I am used to eating sandwiches for lunch back home, and I remember people would always comment on my choice and preference. So I was fascinated when I saw pictures of the Dane’s contribution to the world of gastronomy. They are too pretty to eat and almost look like an art form. This got my creative juices working overtime and this flavor combination is what I came up with. It may not be as authentic because I read that there are rules and ways to make it.

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I made three kinds: the first is good quality butter and quartered hard boiled egg with thinly sliced radishes sprinkled with micro greens.

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The second is cream cheese with bottled Spanish sardines topped with arugula. The last is slices of avocado and smoke salmon garnished with radish and creme fraiche.

Don’t be deceived by the size and portion of the sandwich, it’s very filling that one is more than enough for me.

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Frittata

This dish is one of the easiest thing to put together if you are having company at the last minute. It’s also a favorite brunch offering because you can make it way ahead of time and can be served hot or room temperature. I think of this as a crustless quiche. Making a good frittata all depends on the stuff you add to it. It’s so versatile that you can be as adventurous and creative in the ingredients that you use. I have made several kinds some with meat others without. For this recipe I just gathered all the things I love for breakfast: turkey bacon, asparagus, mushrooms, cheese and eggs.

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Whisk together in a bowl 6-8 eggs, 2 T. milk and salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a pan, fry your turkey bacon (about 4 slices cut up)in a little oil until browned. Then add about a cup of sliced asparagus and 1/2 cup baby portabella mushrooms (you can use white). Saute until vegetables are crisp tender. Add a handful of Baby Kale (you can add more if you want) and continue cooking until kale leaves are just wilted which will only take a few seconds. Then pour in your eggs and make sure to let it slide underneath all your meat and veggies. You can do this by gently lifting edges of your frittata mixture. Sprinkle about 1 cup of grated cheese (I used a mixture of white cheddar and havarti). Lower your heat, cover and cook until the tops is a bit set. Then finish cooking under the broiler until the tops are golden brown. This will only take a few minutes so make sure to watch it.

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Take it out of oven and make sure to use mitts. Let it cool a bit before slicing. Serve with a side salad and toast.

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Egg Salad with Cucumber and Dill

Egg Salad is somewhat our go to lunch when I want something quick and easy to prepare. It’s no fuss and I have all the ingredients most of the time at home, which are eggs and mayonnaise. To make it extra special, I added fresh dill and diced cucumbers. I already created a blog post on this before. This is an updated recipe, where I served it in brioche buns. It makes for a fun presentation and would be great for brunch or afternoon tea.

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To make, place 5 hard boiled eggs in a small bowl. Roughly chop with a knife or even a fork. Then add 1/4 cup diced persian cucumber and 3-4 Tbsp. kewpie mayonnaise. Using this Japanese brand of mayo makes all the difference, I find it unnecessary to use salt and pepper whenever I use this for my egg salad. Blend in 1 Tbsp. chopped dill.

Take a brioche roll and make a slit on top. Place several lettuce leaf before piling on your egg salad. You can sprinkle more dill if you want before serving.

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Souffle Pancake

I just love Asian desserts, they don’t only taste great but are so instagram worthy as well. Soufflé pancake is just one example. This craze started in Japan and has quickly spread to the west. They are thick pancakes but light and fluffy on the inside. They are different from regular pancakes because of how they are prepared, instead whisking all ingredients together, the eggs are separated and the whites are whipped and folded into the batter. This makes the pancake puff up and at the same time wobbly, the way it’s supposed to be.

The batter is easy to prepare, it’s cooking it that is a bit tricky.

This recipe is for one serving.

You will need two eggs, separate the egg yolks from the white. In a bowl, place the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Add 1/4 cup milk and sift 1/4 cup cake flour and 1/2 tsp. baking powder on to it. Whisk again until well blended.

In another bowl, whip the eggs whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the 2 Tbsp. sugar while whipping your whites.

Take half of the egg whites and mix it in the eggyolk batter, you don’t need to be careful when doing this. Mix until no streaks are visible. Then place the remaining half of the egg whites and carefully fold it into the batter.

Take a deep enough non-stick pan and place it on stove over low heat. Add a pat of butter and let it melt. Wipe excess butter with paper towel making sure grease just coats bottom of pan. Using a small ladle, pour batter into three mounds. Then add another layer on top of the mounds you created until you have added three scoops per pancake. Cover the pan with a fitted lid and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and carefully flip over each pancake, cover and continue cooking again for another 5 minutes. Make sure that your heat is set at a very low temperature.

When done, place pancakes on a platter. Serve with fruits, whipped cream and some powdered sugar.

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