Feeding Frenzy

A professional gastronaut feeds the blogosphere with tales of his culinary adventures - sometimes on-the-job, sometimes just-for-the-hell-of-it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

What's For Breakfast (part two)

Feeding Frenzy In The Morning

Breakfast food cookery came slowly and of necessity to Feeding Frenzy. It wasn’t a specialty in the beginning. In fact, at first I didn’t think much about breakfast foods but the demand grew and over time we got pretty good at it. We had lots of regular breakfast business clients. Some of them continued to call literally years after Feeding Frenzy ceased operations as a catering company.

There were a few Feeding Frenzy dishes that found their way onto the Hot Dish menu: the olive oil carrot cake, the rice-and-cheese balls (actually called “bolinhos de arroz” and we served those at Brasil, too), the tomato soup, the hummous and, of course, Bob Dip. But probably the most useful Feeding Frenzy item to find a home at Hot Dish was the cream scone.

We sold a fair number of scones at Hot Dish, but mostly we used them as pacifiers. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the length of time that customers spent waiting (for seats, for orders) could be pretty awful. But a grumpy family could be placated with a plateful of free scones as if by magic.

We got this recipe from Bernard Clayton’s lovely book “Complete Book of Small Breads” (1998). The job of making Feeding Frenzy scones somehow always fell to Craig and he can make them in his sleep now. The instructions here are basically his – and clearer, I think, than the original. The addition of orange zest was a Hot Dish elaboration. I’m not sure who suggested it first but it was a brilliant idea, although these are pretty amazing without it as well.

My final admonition before diving in is this: don’t overcook the scones. Soft and even a little doughy is better. These are cakier than the scones you're probably used to.

Cream Scones

2 cups all-Purpose flour
½ cup cake flour (“Softasilk”)
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt (fine sea salt preferably)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons orange zest
8 ounces butter, unsalted, cut into cubes
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup milk, chilled
3/4 cup currants
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon cream, to glaze

Craig always does this in the food processor. The mixture must be done in quick, short bursts to keep the particles intact, not blended into a solid mass. You can also cutting the butter into the dry ingredients by hand (which is a neat trick involving two knives). Once you’ve done that, you can finish mixing the scones by hand or with a mixer. But these directions are for the food processor which makes the whole thing quite easy.

Measure the dry ingredients into the work bowl of the food processor. Pulse to blend.

Scatter butter cubes over the flour mixture. Pulse until it all has the consistency of bread crumbs.

Pour the liquids through the feeder tube while pulsing the processor. Stop immediately when the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. Immediately. Craig says “immediately” and he MEANS immediately. If you go past this point you'll have what our lovely friend Mara used to call "scookies".

Do not knead. Dough will be soft and moist. Place on floured work surface.

Spread the currants over the dough and work in by hand. Flatten the dough into a 1" thick sheet by hand or with a rolling pin.

Use a floured dough cutter to cut out the scones and place them onto a greased cookie sheet.

Brush with egg wash. Cover the scones on the cookie sheet with plastic wrap, making sure not to leave any scone-y surface exposed to air. Refrigerate them overnight (or at least two hours) to allow the dough to relax.

Remove plastic and re-apply egg wash.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

When they're done, which is to say golden on top and a little darker on the bottom, take them out of the oven and place them on a rack to cool. Scones are VERY FRAGILE when hot.

My favorite egg dish is a Tapas dish and is called Tortilla Espanola. It’s often served in the afternoon, but I love it for breakfast. Basically it’s a sort of potato frittata.

The ingredients are simple:

2 pounds of waxy potatoes such as Yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion
Olive oil
6 eggs
Salt to taste.

The instructions are tricky. Slice the potatoes into really thin coins – 1/16” thick. Use your mandoline if you have one.

The next step is to cook the potatoes. I usually sauté/fry them with the onion in olive oil until they’re golden brown. Recently, though, I read an old Spanish recipe that called for deep-frying the potatoes instead. Genius. That would be perfect. My potato coins would be uniformly brown and crisp.

If I did deep fry them, I’d sauté the onions separately and add them to the potatoes later (after the potatoes are fried, obviously).

Either way, drain the potatoes and onions well. You can reserve the olive oil. Let them cool a bit (but they don’t have to be cold for the next step).

In a bowl, beat the eggs with enough salt (somewhere between a teaspoon and a teaspoon and a half is right for me). Add the potatoes and onions and mix well.

Fire up a clean 8-or-9-inch frying pan (a heavy-bottomed one with rounded sides works best) with some of the reserved olive oil – enough to coat the pan. You want it fairly hot but not smoking.

Add the eggs and potatoes to the pan. It should sizzle – a lot. If it doesn’t sizzle this won’t work. Now that you’ve got the eggs in the pan, it’s almost as though you’re making an omelet. Shake the pan to keep the eggs from sticking. Keep the eggs moving and not sticking. You can run a rubber spatula (actually a high-temp silicone spatula) around the edges, lifting a bit. Do not STIR the eggs.

When the tortilla is golden brown on the first side, take it off the heat. Place a nice, big plate (with a larger diameter than the pan) on top of the frying pan and invert the contents onto the plate. The less-cooked side should be face down on the plate. Now add a little more olive oil if needed and slide the less-cooked side back into the pan, still face down. This can be a messy step. Be careful.

Cook that side until it's golden brown, too. Serve it warm. Serve it cold. Serve it room temperature. A little fresh ground pepper over it. Serve it any way you like but serve it to me, okay?

Torta 42nd Street

This is an invention of mine. It’s a rustic torta. I didn’t invent rustic tortas but I invented this one. What’s a rustic torta? It’s sort of like a composed quiche. VERY simple. Incredibly popular dish from Feeding Frenzy. I made it at a party recently and as usual it disappeared.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

3 Granny Smith or other tart baking apples – core, peel and slice them into 1/8” rings.

1 sweet onion. Peel and slice this into 1/8” rings as well.

½ pound or more of a crumbly gorgonzola cheese – preferably real Italian Gorgonzola Piccante, but we used to use domestic for business and people loved it anyway.

3 eggs, a cup of heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk these together in a bowl. Beat them until frothy.


Line a well-greased 9” tart or pie pan with puff pastry. I use store bought puff pastry. Don’t be a hero. Be like me. Use the store bought. I get mine at work. Good stuff. Leave it on the counter for a few minutes and it will be thawed enough to work with. When lining the pan, the edges of the pastry don’t have to be smooth or fluted or anything. With puff pastry, ragged edges look cool and handmade. By the way, the one in the photograph was made using a pie plate. I inevitably use a tart pan instead now. Much prettier.

Into the lined tart shell, layer half the apples, half the onion and then half the cheese. Repeat. It’s nice if you can do the layering in a pretty, tartlike way, but don’t sweat it. At the end of the layering process you should have a nice, tall mound.

Now, carefully and slowly, pour the egg mixture over and into the layered ingredients. Carefully and slowly because it's so easy for all the egg mixture to end up all over your counter. Let the egg mixture find all the cracks and crevices. If you need to, lift some of the top layer of filling up a little bit to allow it to distribute more evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and well-set – it can take 40 to 45 minutes, depending upon your oven.

I like this best at room temperature. Craig likes it best hot out of the oven.

The basic template (lined tart or pie pan filled with stuff and bound with beaten egg) can be used for almost anything to good effect. Use your imagination.

And don’t forget about breakfast. Most important meal of the day. Until lunchtime.


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