An “Occasional Blog” about the latest recipes being tested in the Hummingbird Inn kitchen. These recipes are being tested to see if they’re suitable to show up as an option on the daily breakfast menu. Some of these tests are successful, and others are not. Take a journey with Chef Eric and see what’s cookin’
I’m often asked where I get my recipes from and besides creating my own, I also have found some on the internet, in actual hardbound cookbooks, and my friends who also enjoy cooking.
This weeks’ TKT recipe comes from a guest whom, like most guests who stay at Hummingbird Inn, end up in the “Friend Category”. I selected this recipe this week because it seemed like the perfect dish to make while winter still drags on with its chilly grasp. And as many of you who know me, I hate the cold and so a hearty “stick-to-your-ribs” breakfast seems like the perfect thing.
The dish calls for mild sausage so I selected some country sausage from the local Amish Market here in Easton. It’s flavorful and has a mild “kick” to it so not too spicy to overpower the other flavor in the dish. Additional flavors to this dish come from some fresh thyme, minced garlic and a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper. I will admit that I did increase the amount of garlic and it ended up balancing really well with the country sausage.
All of that goodness is then mixed with some slow cooked grits and freshly grated cheddar cheese. Rather than baking a large amount in a baking dish and then cutting into portions as called for, I decided to try something different that would not only look good when served, but it should make it easy to scale for a smaller number of servings. So I went with a ceramic “crock” to give it a little more country look/feel as well and it worked out perfectly. It’s easy to scale and serve and looks good, too.
I really enjoyed how this dish came out. It’s packed with flavor and is a perfect dish this time of year. Ok, actually it will be good pretty much any time of year, I will definitely be adding this to the HI Breakfast Menu selection.
As for changes to the recipe? While I think it’s great as it is, as with most dishes it’s always fun to do variations. I’m thinking about perhaps a mixture of cheeses, or maybe swap out the sausage with some sweet potato for a vegetarian version. It also could be good with the option of topping with a poached egg. I think this will be a fun dish to explore and experiment with!
A special thanks for my guests for sharing this recipe with me. I’ll be looking forward to making it for you during your next stay!
This week I went back though my ever-growing list of Test Kitchen Tuesday recipes yet to make it into the kitchen to find something egg based – but more interesting – to make. After considering a number of potential recipes, I landed upon one that consists of some of my favorite ingredients including zucchini, cheese and of course, BACON! A Zucchini and Bacon Casserole.
As the name depicts, the recipe is a full blown casserole which is fine, however a lot of times making one of these means you have a larger group you’re looking to feed otherwise you end up with a lot of leftovers. My neighbors and friends actually don’t mind that I end up with leftovers, but I like making something that is a bit more flexible in terms of servings. Yes, you can scale down recipes to make smaller amounts, but I still wanted to do something that was not only easily scaled, but would also be a little more elevated in the final product.
So, with a few “Chef Eric” modifications I’ve changed this dish from a “casserole” into an “individual soufflé” now to be called the Individual Zucchini & Bacon Soufflé.
The secret to making a soufflé is whipping the egg whites and yolks so they are super light, frothy and thus will rise when baked. While this may sound like a lot of work, there are some secrets to simplifying this task and still ending up with the lightness and “rise” of a traditional soufflé.
The ingredients that I chose to include in this dish are cubed day-old sourdough bread, fresh zucchini, crispy homemade bacon bits, finely grated Parmesan cheese and several flavor seasonings including Dijon mustard. I think I would also opt to add either some sliced spring onion or leeks to bump up the flavor a bit more. I’m sure there are many other items you could include like diced tomato, bell pepper or perhaps even some butternut squash! The possibilities are practically endless.
To be honest, I also was considering making a vegetarian version and eliminating the bacon, but that would have a bigger impact on the overall flavor and “crunchiness” of the dish. I achieve both of these flavor characteristics by sauteing the zucchini and sourdough bread in a little of the reserved bacon fat after the bacon bits are made. The bacon flavor then permeates throughout the dish and gives the sourdough bread cubes a delicious bacon-toasted crunchy texture that I thought worked really well during the best part of TKT: The Taste Test!
I really enjoyed this new breakfast dish and it actually comes together pretty quickly. Best of all, it can made for 1 order or several orders without being overly time consuming or complicated. Also, I’ve got a number of these individual quiche dishes that have been hiding in the back of the cabinet unused. Now I have a delicious use and I definitely will be adding this to the guest menu very soon!
Hello all! I’m happy to post another rendition of “Test Kitchen Tuesday” and this time, it’s a spin on another international dish. This time, we are presenting a Swiss dish call Rösti (pronounced RAW-sti) which is more commonly a side dish vs. a full breakfast entree basically made from just potatoes that is shaped into a burger-like patty and then fried in a fat (oil, butter, etc.). In order to make a version work as an entree, I’ve added some grated Gruyere cheese, bacon, spring onion and a little bit of garlic and seasonings.
The mixture is then pan fried in a bit of olive oil, reserved bacon fat and a little butter. Yes, that’s right – oil, fat AND butter. You know that guilty pleasure side of you is thinking “yes, please.”
I made a few versions of this where I basically tried to find the best preparation method. I made one fresh after putting the dish together and that one was good, but I found it to a) not hold up well when being cooked, and b) the flavor was a bit bland. Another patty I wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled overnight and a third patty was wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen then defrosted and cooked. The verdict is that the overnight chilled version was significantly better! Not only did it hold together while being cooked, but the flavors seemed to be more developed.
Here’s a picture of the inside of the Rösti after being cooked:
After it’s pan friend, it’s then topped with the green parts of a spring onion and some freshly shaved Gruyere cheese. It was really good, but I think there’s even further room for improvement. I will probably bump up the seasonings a bit and then once cooked, I would top it with either a fried or poached egg and then then some chopped spring onion and grated cheese. OK, and perhaps a little more bacon 🙂
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to get back into the “Test Kitchen” and I have a number of test recipes to start trying out. So I was happy to be able to get to do the first recipe in awhile – a strata made of french bread, bacon, cheese, and egg base.
I was happy with the results overall. I think it might benefit from a few adjustments in terms of the spices to bump up the flavor a bit. I was also thinking that maybe a little spring onion and/or leeks might be nice as well.
So I think as is it could be ready to go, but I may do one more round with these adjustments and see which comes out better. This will certainly be making an appearance on a Hummingbird Inn menu very soon. It’d be a nice, hearty fall/winter dish for sure!
This week I had a really fun challenge for the latest rendition of TKT. I needed to come up with a couple of dishes that someone with a sensitivity to Nightshades could eat. Some of you may be thinking “Hmmm… Nightshades. Sounds kind of familiar, but what exactly are Nightshades?” Well nightshades are commonly known as the “potato family” and the “tomato family” which actually is a large part of the group of foods that make up the nightshade list, but it goes beyond that to include eggplant, peppers and a number of spices as well
Oh – and to make the challenge even MORE fun, the menu items also need to address someone else’s restriction of “dairy-free”.
I actually do enjoy these types of challenges because it allows me to get creative and hopefully come up with something that will wow the guests – even the other guests who have no special dietary requirements.
So after doing a bit of research, I came up with a couple of ideas and decided to try them both out this week. So here’s what was cookin’ for TKT this week:
The first idea was to go with something that didn’t have any vegetables at all. I thought some kind of carbohydrate based dish like pancakes or french toast would be good. But there’s that added twist of “dairy-free” and many recipes for these type of dishes have a little milk or cream in them. But it is possible to make appropriate substitutions, but the trick is doing that without sacrificing flavors as well as expected textures and appearance. I know. That’s a tall order, right?
I managed to create a really yummy pancake batter that has no milk and I used vegan butter which is dairy-free. While nobody on the guest this this weekend is opposed to eggs, it could be “egg-free” as well if needed. Along with some other substitutions, I substituted lite brown sugar for the regular white granulated sugar which gave the pancakes a little more of a “nutty/sweet” flavor and it goes really well with the maple syrup.
They came out lite, fluffy and full of flavor to the point where I don’t think anyone would tell the difference between these and regular pancakes. Done!
For the next dish, I wanted to do something egg based and since everyone that will be staying here is fine eating eggs, that made things a bit easier. I wanted something that would be really flavorful and hearty and ended up with a delicious Sausage and Spinach Breakfast Casserole. I am using a sage based sausage with some sweet onions sauteed in avocado oil and added a good amount of fresh baby spinach. It is then slowly baked in a medium-hot oven to allow all the flavors to come together and the casserole to puff up.
I personally really enjoyed this dish and while it’s not a complex recipe, it doesn’t always have to be to be good. It just needs a good combination of flavors and this accomplishes that well while keeping within the dietary requirements. Boom! <mic drop>
I didn’t quite make into the Test Kitchen this Tuesday but only because I had a house full of guests. So that is a GOOD thing, but I didn’t want the entire week to go by without something new to try and possible add to the menu collection so this week it’s Test Kitchen Friday. I know – that title isn’t as good so I’ll have to work on that…
With this weekend being Easter, I thought I should try to make something that would give a little “nod” to the holiday. I thought about maybe doing colored Easter Eggs but I think those are more interesting/fun to make vs. eat. Then then there’s Easter Bunnies but trying to make anything in the shape of an Easter Bunny might be beyond my artistic skills a bit. OK – so if not bunnies, what else is “Bunny Related” and food. Well, what do bunnies like to eat? Carrots! OK – but the idea of a Carrot Omelette just didn’t sound all that enticing. So what else can one do with carrots? I know – CARROT CAKE! Again, not quite the expected breakfast item and, while as some of you know I do enjoy doing the unexpected, that didn’t seem to fit either. Yet, with a few modifications and taking ingredients found in carrot cake and mixing them into some pancakes – which are do have the word “CAKE” in them – it seemed like the right way to go.
Well, according to a couple of people who just happened to be sitting in the Guest Parlor today when I was in the Test Kitchen and got dragged into being Taste Testers, the agreed that the Carrot Cake Pancakes are a hit! I poured a little warm maple syrup over them and then made a little whipped cream cheese “frosting” with some powdered sugar and vanilla and it tastes really good! They really do have the flavor of carrot cake though perhaps not quite as sweet, but they are fluffy and the nuts add a nice taste and texture to them. Oh, and who doesn’t like cream cheese frosting/!?
Along with the Carrot Cake Pancakes, I may have another “Easter Food” surprise I may spring on my guests this weekend, but we’ll see how the timing goes. Guests this weekend will at least get offered the Carrot Cake Pancakes! I think these might be OK to offer on the menu even when it’s not Easter? They’re just too good to only have once a year!
This strata combines all sorts of delicious ingredients including soft croutons made from English Muffins, Amish breakfast sausage, sweet dried cranberries and green onion. This is then all soaked overnight in an egg custard with some sour cream. Hungry yet? Well there’s more – cuz the entire dish is then topped with freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese before it is then twice baked to make a gooey, crispy crust.
I think this came out well, but it could use a little “bump” in base flavors. I did like the flavor combination of the sausage with the sweetness of the cranberries – almost like a breakfast Thanksgiving stuffing. I think this would go over well with guests and plan on putting on the menu soon.\
This light, healthy dish is made with a homemade pizza crust and then topped with fresh baby spinach, sliced grape tomatoes and a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese. I also added some mini pepperoni slices but I would replace that with either bacon and/or a selection of veggies (mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.). This is then finally topped with an egg and baked. It was really delicious and this healthy dish is super low in calorie (under 300 calories!) as well as light and flavorful and with the egg, does seem and taste more like a breakfast dish.
The recipe says a single serving is 2 pizza’s, but I think that’s a lot. But one of these may not be totally enough and would only have one egg which I also think is not enough. So I’m going to make the pizza crust a little larger so that I can put 2 eggs but not the same as 2 full crusts. Should be the right serving size. Also, I may offer a few topping options when it finally hits the menu. So it’s not quite ready for the Guest Menu, but one more round in the Test Kitchen should do it.
I did a little impromptu Test Kitchen today to try remaking the breakfast pizza as a little large single pizza capable of holding 2 eggs. It WORKED! So I’m going to actually try it out with guests checking in this week. Hopefully they will enjoy it as much as I do!