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Posts from the ‘breakfast’ Category

astoundingly delicious (and easy!) homemade bread


I know, food is a communal joy, a pleasure to be shared around the table with family and friends both new and old. But to each of you reading this, let me say that I wish for you just once to experience the moment of utter, profoundly selfish delight I felt this week while eating a slice of bread.

To backtrack: this was no ordinary bread. How I stumbled upon it was rather ordinary—I photocopied a few pages from a friend’s book, My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey. True, the titular claim sounded a bit far-fetched. But bread-making had been a distant goal of mine for some time so I decided to give it a try.

The Lahey method stressed full dependence on time, and I was in no rush. I mixed the dough. I waited the requisite 18 hours, then a bit more for good measure. I pulled the dough out of its bowl and into a dishcloth. I waited another two hours. I heated the oven, with an old Le Creuset pot in it, and when it reached 475 degrees I awkwardly dumped in the dough. Thirty minutes passed, and then the room began to smell like bread.


It was a wonderful—no glorious—aroma, the kind that draws you to the oven to peer inside. It was time to remove the lid and let the crust brown, and it was all I could do to fidget around the room for ten agonizing minutes, rearranging piles of mail and straightening the tablecloth. When I finally pulled it out I felt the sort of pride I’d previously associated only with my fifth grade reproduction of Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, or maybe my acceptance into college. In the recipe Lahey had specifically warned against cutting into the loaf right away, recommending an hour’s wait. An hour? An iron will (not in my arsenal) would be required.

I stood alone in the kitchen with my bread, the crust almost too hot to touch and the inside a soft, fragrant network of air pockets. The first bite was joy, pure and simple, the crispness of the exterior giving way to a moist and tangy center. I ate slice after slice, dipping them in olive oil sprinkled with salt. It was the kind of reverie you awake from to find, to your confusion, that the sun is still shining and half the loaf has vanished.

An hour or so later I lay immobile, the sheer volume of the bread I’d consumed weighing painfully with every breath. But Oh—it was delicious, worth every bite.


Jim Lahey’s No-Work, No-Knead Bread

The chemistry of this bread is fascinating–Mark Bittman describes it eloquently in a way even my meager science mind can grasp. The traditional recipe calls for 3 cups of bread flour, but I had great success substituting in one cup of whole wheat. I also found I consistently needed more than 1 1/3 cups of chilled water to create a moist enough dough.

2 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups chilled water

wheat bran (or cornmeal)

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add chilled water and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a cohesive–but very wet–dough. Set aside in a warm environment for 18-24 hours.

Lay out a clean dish towel (not terry, as it can shed) and sprinkle with wheat bran. Gather your dough (it should be doubled in size and dotted with bubbles) with well-floured hands and transfer it to the center of the towel, pulling in the edges of the dough towards the center to create a nicely-shaped round. Sprinkle the top of the dough with wheat bran and loosely cover with the edges of the towel. Set aside for 2 hours.

After 1 1/2 hours, heat your oven to 475 degrees with a large, lidded enamel or cast iron pot inside. When the oven is heated, remove the pot (careful–it’s very hot!) and coat it lightly with olive oil and flour, then transfer your dough from the towel to the pot. Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes, checking if the aroma begins to indicate burning. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is a dark brown. Remove from the oven and lift the bread from the pot with a wooden spatula, then set aside to cool for as long as you can resist.

roasted cauliflower with almonds, raisins and capers

I’m a list-maker by nature, and the end of the year brings with it unlimited list-making opportunities: books read, restaurants visited, James Bond movies watched in a single week (thank you instant Netflix!). The most rewarding list, however, is always my “year in recipes.” Nothing reminds me more vividly of the distinct settings of my year–New York, Columbia, home, the farm–than the things I cooked and ate, and each of the following recipes was a genuine favorite, made multiple times and either shared or joyfully hoarded. I hope that you enjoy this selection, and that it reminds you of the recipes and meals that make up your own.

Guilt-free cookies with coconut, banana, ground almonds and dark chocolate.

Spicy spaghetti with fennel, lemon, pancetta and parsley.

— A goat cheese tart with Greek yogurt, honey, berries and oats.

Orzo salad with feta, lemon, broccoli, asparagus, and sprouts.

— Baked brunch oatmeal with bananas, berries, vanilla and almonds.

— Hearty meatballs with breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley and egg.

— A refreshing ice cream with cream cheese and handfuls of fresh mint.

— A perfect bread pudding with toasted bread, vanilla, raisins and pecans.

— And lastly, a personal favorite from our Christmas Day lunch:

Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds, Raisins and Capers

1 large (or 2-3 small) heads of cauliflower

olive oil

large handful almonds, chopped

1/2 cup raisins, red or golden

1/4 cup capers

salt and pepper

red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the cauliflower heads into florets, then toss in a bowl with several glugs of olive oil. Add the chopped almonds, raisins, capers and salt and pepper to taste, and continue to toss until everything is nicely mixed and coated with oil. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with pepper flakes, then roast in the oven until the almonds are toasted and the florets begin to brown, tossing occasionally. Serve as a side, warm or cool.

best bran pancakes

I’m a bit of a morning person. Let me put it another way: the annoying family member clattering pans in the kitchen at 6:15? That’s me. The college suitemate looking unbearably perky from a jog as you staggered to the bathroom at 8 a.m. on a Monday? Me again. I know, morning people can be obnoxious.

The thing is, mornings are the only time I can really count on being in the kitchen alone. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than getting up early to sit at the kitchen table drinking tea, flipping through a magazine or reading the back of a cereal box. Getting up and going has never really been my thing, but leisurely mornings are like a gateway to the day, a cultivated pleasure. The water boiling, the stacks of articles to browse absently, the birds (or wild turkeys) chirping… I laugh at myself only because I take the ritual of mornings completely seriously.

And then there’s breakfast. I’ve trained myself to the point where skipping breakfast is physically impossible—not just because I might pass out at 11 a.m., but because my first waking thought is to wonder what I’m going to eat. For years I was a committed cereal devotee, pouring identical bowls of Grape Nuts, Wheatabix, or Shredded Wheat for months at a time (can you tell my parents never let me have Lucky Charms?). Here at the farm, however, the question of straight goat milk (in my case a no, or optimistically a “not yet”) pushed me to be much more creative with my breakfasts. I tried Irish oats with honey, toasted almonds, and raisins, and I did go through a phase of fresh goat cheese on toast with plum jam. Finally, though, I settled on pancakes. Having never made them from scratch (I fell for Bisquick when I ate 11 biscuity pancakes at a friend’s 9th birthday) I had lots of pantry-based experimenting to do—oats, flaxseed meal, bananas—but when I found a scrunched-up bag of wheat bran on one of our shelves I reached the end of my search. They were the perfect combination of fluffy and biscuity, and with some goat milk thrown in and a fried farm egg on top, I didn’t even feel too bad about leaving my cereal days behind.


Best Bran Pancakes

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup wheat bran (I use Bob’s Red Mill, which is easy to find at most markets)

Pinch baking soda

Pinch salt

1 egg

1 scant Tbsp oil

½ cup milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then beat in the egg and oil. Add milk little by little to reach your desired thickness of batter—I like mine fairly thick, but play with the viscosity until you find your perfect amount. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high and spoon batter into the pan when hot—check for bubbling around the edges before you flip, and the rest you already know!

frittata with asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms and chard

For one reason or another, I’ve always liked Thursday. You could say it’s my Friday—when I was in grade school I relished having the maximum number of weekend nights ahead of me, and in college Thursday was a weekend night since I managed to avoid ever having Friday class (that’s right, all eight semesters). It’s safe to say I’m primed to look forward to Thursdays now, but at Love Apple I can add another check to the pros column: Farm Dinner.

I’ve mentioned Farm Dinner before, but really it deserves its own paragraph. Every Thursday between 7 and 7:30 p.m. a rag-taggle group of farm dwellers, apprentices, and the odd visitor or ten assembles on the patio, everyone bearing food from the kitchen and glasses of wine. There’s a fire roaring in the pit and children dashing across the lawn adjacent, and the tables sport red-checkered cloths and settings for 30. Sometime around 8 p.m., just as people start eying the food and Cynthia begins to rise from her chair for the anticipated announcement, the Shivs are sighted walking down the driveway. Catherine and Shiv are our closest neighbors, and they are always preceded by a small child on a skateboard and bring the most delicious curry I have ever tasted (their British accents also lend a certain dignity to the conversational games that follow every meal).

What exactly are conversational games? you may be wondering, as I did on my first day when I heard circulating accounts of farm Thursdays. Once everyone is settled with their food the bios portion begins, with those who are new to the table giving a two-minute run-through of their life and/or relationship to the farm. Next come the questions, which go around the table campfire style and range from the cheapest thing you bought and loved (my Bond Girl prom dress) to whose voice you would choose to read your eulogy (I said Lincoln, but in retrospect Barack Obama) to what your roller derby name would be (“Little Bo Streak”). Every once in a while the odd serious question will pop up (“What is the greatest act of love you have ever experienced?”) and everyone will roll their eyes but answer it very admirably.

I think what I really love about Farm Dinner (other than the grown-up icebreakers) is that it’s about something I’ve never been particularly good at: sharing. You share your time and attention. You share your stories. You share food. When I cooked Thursday nights in college it was just for myself, but here it’s a sort of offering, not just from me but from the farm—in this week’s case, from the chickens, the overburdened zucchini plants, and the towering chard. Making food is something I’ve always loved, and here it’s something that’s loved in return. Well, if not loved, at least appreciated—if only for the fact that I used 60 eggs in one go.

Frittata with Asparagus, Zucchini, Mushrooms and Chard

We have a LOT of eggs, so I aimed for a high egg count and didn’t add much else. Feel free to experiment, and the overall size of the dish can also easily be altered.

30 eggs (or thereabouts)

2 medium zucchinis

6 small potatoes

good handful of asparagus

several handfuls mushrooms

4-5 large chard leaves

salt and pepper

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat well, seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice the zucchini into rounds and saute in olive oil until lightly browned; meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft and slice when cooked through. Arrange the potato slices on the bottom of a large baking dish and layer the sauteed zucchini on top. Chop the asparagus and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and layer on the zucchini, then shred the chard for the final layer. Pour the beaten eggs over the veggies (they should be almost entirely covered) and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour, or until nicely browned.

irish oats with fried egg and salt

I’ve been on the farm for a week now, and there have been many exciting developments. I sowed my first seeds. I learned how to make vanilla apricot jam. I woke up to see a mouse clinging to the wall above my bed. And then, perhaps most exciting of all, at our weekly farm apprentices’ meeting I was designated chicken foreman.

Before you get too congratulatory, let me be clear: this wasn’t really a job anyone wanted. There are 62 chickens on the farm, and since we take turns collecting the eggs every afternoon the responsibilities of chicken foreman are generally limited to coercing someone into closing the coop after dark. Clambering blindly up the pasture at night where 62 chickens romp (and poop, prolifically) by day is not particularly fun, and when you reach the coop there is only a downhill slide (through the poop) to look forward to. Being a proponent of conflict avoidance by nature, I anticipate many dark nights of coop closing.

On the bright side, 62 chickens means 55 eggs a day, and if there’s one thing I never tire of eating it’s eggs. More specifically, fried eggs. Over the years I’ve come up with various ways to enjoy them–on toast spread with avocado, with pasta, alongside sautéed chard—but my absolute favorite invention is a fried egg on Irish oats. (As of now I’m still fairly certain it’s my invention, if only because everyone I tell about it recoils with what I interpret as skepticism). As simple as it is there’s something wonderfully satisfying about stirring the whole mess together, a perfect mix of hearty oats, creamy yolk, and crispy fried edges. I could eat it every day, and as chicken foreman I just might.

Irish Oats with Fried Egg and Salt

As with many things I enjoy, the key to making this delicious is salt. I like to sprinkle it over the egg while it’s frying, and I usually add a little extra when it’s all mixed together.

1/2 cup Irish oats

1 egg

olive oil


Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and stir in the oats. Return to boiling before lowering the heat and simmering uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. While the oats are cooking add a generous amount of olive oil to a small pan and fry your egg, turning off the heat when the yolk is still runny but the edges have crisped nicely. When the oatmeal is thick and done pour it into a bowl. Top with your egg, sprinkle with salt, and mash everything together. You should end up with a bowl of creamy-looking oats flecked with bits of crispy egg.

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