Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bread and Breakfast

The summer before I moved to Boston, I lived for several months at Lyn and Larry's house on 13th Street. I was working at the local Barnes & Noble at the time, so came and went at unpredictable retail hours. Sometimes, I would go days at a time without having a chance to touch base with my hosts. But usually at least once on the weekend we were able to sit down on the back porch (with Chance at our feet) and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with coffee, fresh bread, and the New York Times. It was a lovely occasion to catch up and converse.
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
photo by Joy the Baker
So in honor of Lyn's birthday, my partner Hanna and I selected two of our favorite breakfast recipes. The first is a rich Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread that takes some time to prepare, but can rest overnight in the fridge for easy baking in the morning (just be sure to pull it out about an hour before baking, so that the dough can warm all the way through!). The second, Shakshuka, is actually an easy, hearty dish for any meal -- we often have it for dinner during the week -- but since it involves eggs and tomatoes, I figured it counted as a good brunch dish.

Happy Birthday Lyn! We're looking forward to having breakfast with you when we come to Michigan in a few weeks.

~Anna (and Hanna)

* * *
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
from Joy the Baker
adapted from HungryGirlPorVida

Makes: one 9x5x3-inch loaf

For the Dough:

2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 ounces unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned

In a large mixing bowl (I used just the bowl of my stand mixer) whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. The eggs will feel soupy and it'll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together. Keep stirring. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky. That's just right.

Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If you're using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. If you can't get the dough to 20-inches long... that's okay. Just roll it as large as the dough will go. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. It might seem like a lot of sugar. Seriously? Just go for it.

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You'll have six stacks of six squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it's right side up. Serve warm with coffee or tea.

I think this bread is best served the day it's made, but it can also we wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.

* * *
Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]
from smitten kitchen 
adapted from Saveur

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeƱos, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I was nervous and only used 2 Anaheims; I would go for 3 or 4 next time for a more moderate but still gentle kick)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

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 garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their 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.

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 shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy 50th from the Garretts!

Happy Birthday, Lyn!

You know that The Garrett Girls are not much of recipe people -- the only reason Shannon's ever in front of a stove is to get to the microwave -- that's why we find ourselves at your house on occasion for something yummy and exotic.

So here's our personal favorite recipe for Lyn:

1 Lyn, 1 Shannon, 1 Tracy
3 email accounts
2 cars (or less)
1 Skiles Tavern
Whatever cash or credit cards are available
Sprinkle liberal politics to taste

Step 1: Take Lyn, Shannon and Tracy and log them into their email accounts, and send the first round of emails to each other.

Step 2: Spend next 2 weeks (or until done) trading dates to find a time to get together.

Step 3: Set a date to meet at Skiles for pizza and beer.

Step 4: Put Lyn, Shannon and Tracy into 2 cars (or 1 car if Lyn decides to be all healthy and crap, and she walks downtown) and drive them to Skiles at appointed date and time.

Step 5: Order 1 nachos and 1 pizza (or 2), and 1 pitcher of beer (or several).

Step 6: Sprinkle with political headlines, and enjoy!

Happy 50th Lyn - and let's whip up a batch of this recipe soon!! Besos, Shannon and Tracy

Thursday, April 28, 2011


At least that's what our Mom and her siblings called it. Yes, this is an old family recipe.

We (my sisters and I) called it meat and noodle casserole. I could eat a whole bowl of the stuff. . . and no wonder, it was all FAT and SALT! But a classic 50s one dish convenience meal.

Meat and Noodle Casserole
1 lb ground chuck (the fatty stuff)
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb box of Elbow macaroni
1 can of Campbell's Tomato soup
Salt and pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil cook the macaroni until almost done. (later we would call this al dente). Drain, run under cold water and set aside.

Saute the meat in a large skillet. Just throw the whole hunk in and break it up with a wooden spoon, into about 1 inch pieces. Cook until there is just a little pink in the middle. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Saute the chopped onion in all the FAT left in the pan. (yum)

Then get a big Pyrex bowl. I think ours was burnt orange with a small white design. Throw in the onions, meat, macaroni, and add the tomato soup straight from the can. Mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper (because there's only has 1200mg of sodium in the soup).

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until it's heated through. The top will get a bit brown and crispy.

(be sure to take blood pressure medication and lipitor before bed)

Footnote: Once our Dad, the cook in the family, tried to make this with real food. Better pasta, leaner meat, fresh tomatoes, and herbs. I think there was some grated Parmesan on top. . . We didn't like very much.

Growing up Raymond

So little sister ( the one not yet 50!) recalls eating in our house to be quite the event...every dinner had to have a protein, a starch and a veggie. This meant fish, calves liver and brussels sprouts were NOT off limits! Yes, our father made his daughters eat calves liver. I can still see the little "things" sitting there on the plate...with the red part= blood. One of those childhood memories that still makes me shiver. On those nights we sat at the table FOREVER -so long it seemed that our parents left us....3 girls staring at their fish, lima beans ( I ate those for my sisters) brussels sprouts and/or calves liver....strangely enough shortly after our parents left the table we were miraculously done....don't look in the napkin shoved way down in the kitchen trash can!

I tend to be more of the baker than the chef of the family. I make great desserts/ treats.
So cheers to Lyn on this milestone year.

Cranberry - Banana Bread

Cooking spray
1 cup flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup fat free egg substitute
3 medium bananas - mashed
1/2 cup fresh cranberries chopped

Preheat oven 350 degrees - Coat 9x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray
Medium bowl combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt- set aside

In large bowl - beat sugar and oil with an electric mixer at medium speed until the sugar begins to dissolve - about 2 minutes

Beat the egg substitute, beat mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and remove beaters- stir in flour mixture and cranberries - keep everything moist

Pour batter into prepared pan - smooth top. Bake until brown about 45 minutes to 1 hour- I cover mine with tin foil at the end to prevent burning on the top.
Place on wire rack to cool - slice loaf into 12 3/4 inch slices
...for those of you weight watcher fans that is 5 points per slice

Monday, April 25, 2011


These papers, spread across my dining room table, connect me to Lyn and food. Two magazines, Cooking Light and Cook’s Illustrated, subscriptions we have happily shared for years; a summer’s enrollment in Groundswell Farm, a local CSA organic farm run by two local women (we ate huge quantities of kale and not that many heirloom tomatoes); a stapled catalog of Weight Watchers points that Lyn kindly ran off for me at a time when I couldn’t afford an online membership; a bunch of torn-out and scribbled recipes that have been stuffed in my cookbooks, including one labeled “Lyn’s Chili, Inauguration Night”; and all those recipes (21?)—I can hardly untangle Lyn’s from mine in my recipe box.

I have known Lyn for twelve years. The first year I celebrated a birthday with her I erroneously sent her a 40th birthday card (it was her 39th), and I addressed the card to “Lynn” (two n’s). She has pretty much lived in my neighborhood—pretty much with Larry—and in all that time we have shared food over countless holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, graduations, weddings, farewells and welcome-home’s. One summer we had a standing potluck picnic every Monday night, with some other neighborhood friends. Lyn and Larry and Mark and I share a meal most Sunday evenings, and this sometimes includes the exchange of soups that Lyn and I have prepared for the coming week.

This second photo—of me, my daughter Maggie, and Lyn—was taken at a farewell picnic for an exchange student who lived with our family in 2005. It was in our back yard and potluck. Our exchange student was vegetarian, but obviously hamburgers were available. A couple of years after this photo was taken, Maggie was struggling with some really difficult problems. For Christmas that year, she gave both me and Lyn a copy of this photo, and she said to me, “Whenever I look at this photo, I feel safe.” You can see that Lyn and I look watchful and worried enough to cover for Maggie, right? But I knew it wasn’t just that. It’s not a new idea, but a true one nonetheless, that when we feed people we are caring for more than bodies. I can’t say how thankful I am to have a friend who can share in the doing of that.

Here’s to many more decades of meals and caring together, Lyn. Happy 50th!

* * *

The following are two of our favorite picnic recipes.


1 cup uncooked orzo

½ cup thinly sliced green onions

½ cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

1 (19 oz.) can chickpease drained

3 Tbl. Fresh lemon juice

1 ½ Tbl. Extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbl. Cold water

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. bottled minced garlic

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine pasta, onions, cheese, dill, and chickpeas in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine. Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture. (4 servings, 1¼ cups)


1 package (20 oz.) Buitoni family size 3 cheese tortellini prepared according to package instructions

2 cups halved red grapes

1 cup (4 oz.) crumbled feta cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing (bottled or homemade)

¾ cup (or small jar) sliced roasted red peppers

½ cup thinly sliced salami

½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Combine prepared pasta, grapes, cheese, dressing, peppers, salami and bsil in medium bowl. Refrigerate for one hour.