Paleolithic eating, or “Paleo” for short is all the rage these days. In a nutshell, the paleo diet consists of foods that only our most ancient ancestors would have eaten, like lean meats, fruits, nuts, and vegetables (this all prior to the advent of agrarian living). Conspicuously absent from a paleo diet are more “modern” foods such as dairy products, wheat, grains and legumes, and all forms of processed sugar. As someone who is pretty careful about my sugar intake and not particularly sensitive to wheat products (no gluten intolerance here) I’ve never given the paleo diet much of a thought, but if this recipe is any indication, then perhaps its worth a second look.
Breakfast + Brunch
Rye Flour….don't ask me why I have so much of it, but along with scarlet runner beans and dried chilies, I turned up a couple bags of the stuff when organizing my pantry a few weeks back. I'm sure there are lots of cool things to do with rye flour (please chime in if you happen to know what they are), but all I could think to do was to make some bread.
I came up with this cake the other day as a means of using up some nuts and yogurt I had laying about, and to have a little something special on-hand for our "morning after prom" gang. It turns out that the cake never survived the prom after party to be enjoyed as an accompaniment to morning coffee….oh well.
This delectable little treat has become a new addiction of mine. Driven by a need to rip through a bag of 5 avocados I bought at BJ's last week for the past few days I've been eating one of these tartines at both breakfast AND lunch.
I am a HUGE fan of avocados and eat them regularly either sliced on sandwiches, cubed and tossed into salads, or smashed into guacamole. This simple tartine was inspired by an Avocado Council commercial I've seen on the TV lately where a cute little cartoon avocado dances around the screen singing about ways it likes to be eaten (it's not as creepy as it sounds….. really). One of the ways "she" sang about was to be spread on a piece of toast at breakfast and while eating avocado for breakfast was not something I had ever considered before, I had a lot of them to get through in a very short time horizon so I was willing to try something new.
This fact highlights one of the challenges of buying avocados in bulk……they all seem to ripen at the exact same time and must be used within 1-2 days of being perfectly ripe before they dissolve into a bruised looking, pulpy mass. If only they would have the courtesy to ripen at a pace of one every other day all of our panic induced avocado binge eating could be avoided, but alas avocados aren't nearly that clever. Once they ripen you can toss them in the fridge to slow the over-ripening process and buy yourself a little more time, but the bottom line is that if you buy them in bulk you should have a pretty good plan in place for how you'll use them or you're likely to face tossing them in the trash in a few days.
Being relatively creative in the kitchen I figured "no worries, I'll come up with a least a few new things to do with these, and even if I can't I can always chuck them into a smoothie in the end rather than waste them". Turns out I didn't need that much creativity at all, I just needed this recipe to easily get me through my bulk purchase. Actually, I should'nt even call it a recipe because it is really more of a simple concept than anything. In fact, I'm not even going to write out a recipe for this dish because it's just not required. This dish is SO simple to make that the only real challenge you'll have is to make sure your avocado is perfectly ripe.
If you buy them frequently, then you know how disappointing it is to cut one open to find it is either still too hard and flavorless, or an over-ripe, brown-stringy mess. Over the years I've come to trust 2 tests that never fail me when checking the ripeness of my avocados before cutting. The first is to place it in the palm of my hand and gently squeeze with my palm and the whole length of my fingers (just using fingertips can bruise a ripe avocado); the flesh should give slightly and feel pleasantly soft, it should not collapse under the pressure and you should not feel a void between the skin and the flesh, if you do it is over-ripe, if it is still hard it's under-ripe. The 2nd test I use is to pick the little stem free from the end of the fruit (yes, avocados are fruits), it should be easily removed and the flesh underneath should be pale green. If you really have to dig to get it free the fruit is unripe, if it falls off very easily and the flesh underneath is brown and dry, it is over-ripe.
Once you have your perfectly ripened avocado toast up your favorite slice of bread, place 1/2 of the pitted and peeled avocado on the toast and smash it with a fork until the consistency of a chunky guacamole. Sprinkle with a crunchy salt (I use Maldon Sea Salt), some freshly ground black pepper (I used some Aleppo Pepper for the one you see here because I thought it would show more prominently in the photos….such a slave to food-fashion, am I), top with a chiffonade of fresh basil (or perhaps some cilantro leaves), and finish with a drizzle of your best, fruity EVOO.
Prepare to be blown away.
The buttery richness of the avocado paired with the peppery-herbal notes of the basil, the fruitiness of the EVOO, and the crunch of the toast and salt will make this a fast favorite go-to breakfast or lunch for you….I promise!
Cheers – Steve
How lucky am I today that I can tuck into a hot bowl of this amazing oatmeal while I gaze out my window at the SECOND blizzard we've had already this season. School was preemptively cancelled yesterday, so I knew I'd have some late-rising hungry mouths to feed today and planned ahead by getting a batch of this oatmeal prepped last night for an easy finish this morning.
As a Christmas gift, my Mom bought me a bag of True North Choco Granola which is made in Brattleboro Vermont where I grew up. Now I love a good pain au chocolat for breakfast as much as the next guy, but I have to tell you that I've always looked at chocolate breakfast cereals with a bit of disdain. No Cocoa Puffs or Count Chocula for me, thank you very much. So it was with more than a little hesitation that I tried the granola this past week, fully expecting that it would be too sweet to contemplate as a staple at breakfast, but rather might be put to better use as an ice cream topping or something.
As a child my favorite sandwich was peanut butter and banana….hands down. That's not so say that a PB&J (especially one heavy on the J) didn't make me smile too, but if I had my choice of the sweet component in the salty-sweet sandwiches of my youth, it was always banana.
To this day if I see a few perfectly ripe bananas sitting on the counter my first thought is not to eat it straight-up, blend it up in a smoothie, or craft it into a banana bread. No, my first thought is to slice it on a bias, nestle it into a deep layer of rich peanut butter spread onto some good old-fashioned white bread (don't judge me), and take a psychic trip back to grade school while eating my favorite sandwich with plenty of potato chips thank you very much.
Imagine my excitement when I found this recipe in the June issue of Cooking Light. It was the "Kid in the Kitchen" feature for the month, and as you all know, Oui, Chef is all about getting kids busy in the kitchen. We are all big fan's of quinoa here, but like Matisse Reid, the kid-chef who cooks this dish in the magazine, we've never made it for breakfast before, always opting for a more traditional oatmeal when we feel like a hot breakfast "cereal".
These little bites are a perfect, hot breakfast with which to start your day. They are basically individual frittatas, and as such can be custom made to suit all the picky mouths at your table. I used to make one large frittata over the weekend for cutting up and doling out as a grab and go breakfast option over the course of the week, but got tired of each of the kids squawking that there was some ingredient in them that they couldn't stand. Now, everyone fills their respective muffin cups with the ingredients that turn them on, we fill them all with plain scrambled eggs, et voila….everyone is happy!