chips & egg

chips & egg

This is kind of embarrassing, but I can’t deny (and you’ll know this if you’ve been reading for a while) that I will put a fried egg on almost anything. And when you think about it, French fries aren’t that different from hashbrowns, right?

I don’t usually bring leftover French fries home, but these were special fries. We had lunch at Nell Thorn last weekend, after spending a quiet Sunday morning in La Conner checking out some of the Art’s Alive exhibits. Thinking we’d be restrained and share an order (after downing some incredible oyster shooters), we asked for a single Nell burger with fries and a side salad. Unfortunately for our good intentions, the kitchen cut the burger neatly in half, put each on its own plate and filled in the space around it with fries. And these are Nell Thorn fries, done with local potatoes and herbs and served with spicy house-made ketchup. We ate far too many, then just had to take the rest home. And, of course, ate them for breakfast. What would you have done?

the curried egg

hidden egg

For those who have not had a large Rubbermaid container of leftover curried eggs to work through this week, and are therefore not completely burned out on them, here’s a recipe (I omitted to include it in my Easter brunch report, obviously a mistake).

Ideally, this should be done with freshly found Easter eggs, wet with dew, delivered to the kitchen by victorious children, anxious to get back out into the fray. The finished dish will be ready by the time all the hunting is done, assuming you’ve begun the prep beforehand.

If you have no children or Easter eggs available, however, you can boil eggs just for this purpose. You could even make them sometime other than Easter. I won’t tell. Continue reading

cottage cheese pancakes

cottage cheese pancakes

I’m not normally a huge pancake eater. They fill me up too fast and give me a sugar rush, and they take my focus away from important things like eggs and bacon. Jon likes pancakes – he can eat the always-amazing banana coconut cakes at the breakfast place down the hill, and live to tell the tale. I still feel a little faint when I remember the pancake plate at the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea – twice the size of the head of the person eating it! I can’t compete with that kind of pancake devotion. But there is a pancake that I will eat at any time: the cottage cheese (or ricotta) pancake.

cottage cheese pancakes

Like many cheesy items in our family’s repertoire, this comes from the original Vegetarian Epicure, published in 1972. It has many virtues: the recipe is simple to expand or reduce (we usually make a 1/3 or 1/2 recipe for the two of us), it’s very high protein and low-carb, unless you smother it in jam or syrup, and if you use cottage cheese, the curds melt and form little gooey pockets that are truly delightful. Continue reading

potato chips for breakfast


If you’re looking at the picture above, rubbing your eyes and thinking “why on earth does that look like a plate of potato chips with an egg on top?” then read on. What can I say, the Parsis made me do it. Or one particular Parsi cookbook author, anyway. For those who don’t know (as I did not), Parsis are Zoroastrian Persians who emigrated to India. Their cuisine has a great deal in common with Indian cooking, but retains certain unique qualities – including a serious attachment to potato chips.

I bought a copy of Niloufer Ichaporia King’s book My Bombay Kitchen some time ago, and was utterly delighted when I discovered the little drawing of the “Parsi food pyramid,” with the base layer consisting entirely of potato chips (the top two layers are ginger and garlic). These are my kind of people! According to King, potato “wafers” and eggs are both beloved of the Parsi people, and this recipe brings them together, along with cilantro and hot chiles, in a ridiculous, yet sublime, dish. We had it for breakfast, with cafe au lait, but it could be a quick supper with a bit of salad and a beer. Depending on your ability to pretend that potato chips are real food. Continue reading

Kansas City highlights

drink up

We spent a short, but enjoyable time in Kansas City. It was tough figuring out where to go, though, because while KC has a rapidly growing food scene of great variety, it is still a wonderful place to get hunks of meat, whether barbecued, fried or broiled. We managed to work in a fair blend – here are the three best restaurant meals that we had in town.


First stop, straight from the airport: Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ. This is the real thing, let me tell you: the restaurant is set up in a strip mall adjacent to a gas station – in fact, the gas station store is in the restaurant. You order from the vast blackboard menu up at the kitchen, then pick up your food and a drink at the cashier. Then all you have to do is find a seat, not so easy. We got ourselves some Boulevard Wheat in plastic Budweiser cups, then ended up at the bar by the window, which had a good view of the parking lot and plenty of paper towels.

ribs and pulled pork Continue reading

Korean pancake

Korean pancake

We make new recipes all the time around here (it’s sort of an illness, really), and they’re usually very successful. However, quite often we never make a particular recipe a second time – it’s not that we didn’t like it, it just didn’t trigger our “must add this to the repertoire” buttons. There’s a special something to a recipe that you make once, then immediately want to try again with variations – it just inserts itself into your brain and tastebuds as if it always belonged there.

Korean pancakes (or pa jun, or some variation thereof) have turned out to be just such a recipe. I discovered these on David’s blog a few weeks ago, tried making one as soon as possible, and was so smitten I’ve made them at least once a week since then – for some reason always for breakfast (I don’t know why, it just feels right – especially with a pot of smoky black tea). They really remind us of traditional Chinese pan-fried scallion breads, but much much easier to make. Continue reading

German apple pancake

German apple pancake

The box of Jonagold apples in our basement finally gave up the ghost (i.e. was dumped unceremoniously into the compost bin) but I did manage to pull out two survivors to make a German apple pancake. This is one of those recipes my family’s been making forever, out of the original Vegetarian Epicure – the one with all the butter and cream and marijuana references. It’s the same thing as “Dutch babies” – basically a big  popover, cooked in butter and served with hot cinnamony apple slices.

The batter is very quick to prepare: just 3/4 cup of milk, 3/4 cup white flour, 3 eggs and a bit of salt all whisked together, then poured into a hot cast iron skillet in which you’ve melted a tablespoon of butter. Pop the pan into a 450° oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° and leave it for another 10 minutes or so. It always comes out a little different, but it usually poofs up high along the edges while the center stays thin and custardy with a crisp edge. This one poofed very nicely:

fresh out of the oven Continue reading

Breakfast clafoutis

cranberry clafoutis
This recipe has an interesting (to me) backstory. Years back, I had come into possession of some random issues of Home & Garden magazine, which I mostly looked at for the photos of unattainably beautiful and enormous gardens. One of them, though – I believe the November 1992 issue – had a story about going out to pick fresh cranberries in Maine and bringing them home to make clafoutis for breakfast. The recipe seemed simple (minus the fresh-picked cranberries – not so common out here), so I tried it, and it became a solid staple in our breakfast repertoire. I barely noticed the author of the article.

Much later, my father was reading Jim Harrison’s remarkable book The Raw and the Cooked, and noticed that he was constantly singing the praises of someone named John Thorne, calling him the finest food writer in America. That’s interesting, we thought, we’ve never heard of him. So when I happened across one of his books (Pot on the Fire) I snapped it up, and I found his website and went through it. He is indeed an amazing food writer – I have since subscribed to his newsletter and bought my father every single one of his books. And I discovered that in one of his earlier books, there’s a recipe for a cranberry clafoutis. The very same one that we’ve been making all these years! So I am very happy to attribute this recipe, correctly, to John Thorne and his wife, Matt Lewis Thorne. I don’t remember if the Grand Marnier is my own idea or not. Probably not. Continue reading