Category Archives: Breakfast

Refrigerator Strawberry Vanilla Jam

When strawberries are in season and plentiful at the farmers market, one of my favorite (and easiest) projects is to make strawberry jam. Not to be confused with preserves – which involves a specific preserving process – jam can just be jarred and will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. I prefer to make my own jams because I find most store-bought versions to be too thick and too sweet, but one brand I do like is Bonne Maman, which is imported from France. I actually modeled my homemade jam after their preserves, which have the consistency and level of sweetness that I am looking for, and as a result my recipe uses 1/3 less sugar than most other recipes.

This recipe is relatively simple, but some attention is required during the active cooking process. The key to a successful jam is making sure you stir often so the sugars don’t burn on the bottom, and making sure not to overcook it. You want the jam to flow nicely when you spread it on bread, but not to be runny where it looks like a sauce. Testing the cooked jam on a cold plate will tell you what the consistency will be like once the jam cools.

This strawberry jam only uses five ingredients and can be made in less than 15 minutes, so you can make it whenever you run out. It also has lovely vanilla notes from the added vanilla seeds. Enjoy your jam session!

Refrigerator Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Yield: One 8-ounce jar

1 lb of fresh strawberries (washed, hulled, and sliced 1/4 thick) about 4 cups sliced.
2/3 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 two-inch piece of vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon of Fleur de Sel or flaky sea salt

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1. Place a small plate in the freezer. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, down the middle. Scrape the seeds out using a small paring knife.

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2. In a 12-inch copper or stainless steel pan, add the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and the seeds of the vanilla bean. Stir to combine.

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3. Set on a burner at high heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring often. After 5 minutes, your mixture should have this consistency.

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4. After about 9 minutes, remove the plate out of the freezer. At the 10 minute mark, test the jam’s consistency by placing a 1/2 teaspoon on the plate. It should be loose and not run down the plate. If it runs down the plate, cook for a couple more minutes, but don’t over cook. A good jam should not be too thick when refrigerated.

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5. Remove from heat and stir in the Fleur de Sel.

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6. Spoon into a clean 8-ounce mason jar. Cool for 10 minutes. Add the lid and place in the refrigerator to chill. The jam keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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Chicken and Mushroom Omurice

One of my favorite foreign films is Tampopo, a hilariously fun “ramen western.” The main storyline focuses on the quest to make the best ramen with bizarre food-related vignettes imbedded throughout the movie. One of my favorite scenes is when a vagabond sneaks into a restaurant kitchen and makes a perfectly cooked omurice (Japanese rice omelet) for a young boy. You can tell the vagabond was a skilled cook by the way he maneuvered the scrambled egg in a pan. Tampopo Omurice Clip. After watching that scene I wanted omurice so badly, I went into the kitchen made my own.

Although omurice originated in Japan, Koreans have adopted this breakfast dish and many Korean home cooks make the dish for their children. This rice omelet is so popular with Korean kids, in fact, there’s even a childhood song about it. So what is in omurice, you ask? The main ingredient is cooked rice, but the condiment that gives the rice a reddish hue is ketchup. I know the recipe sounds weird, but trust me, it’s pretty good and kids love it. My recipe has soy sauce to temper the tartness of the ketchup and sautéed shiitake mushrooms for more savory notes. You’ll get sweet, sour, salted and umami flavors in one bite. The trickiest part of this dish is making the perfectly football-shaped egg omelet, or you can fry the egg-like crepe and drape it over the rice instead. Either way it’s delicious! Enjoy!

Chicken and Mushroom Omurice

Serves 4

1 1/2 tablespoons of sunflower oil or other neutral oil (used in two steps)
1/4 cup of chopped onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup of chopped roasted red bell pepper
2 tablespoons of organic ketchup*
1 tablespoon of organic soy sauce*
2 teaspoons of Maggi or 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar
3 cups of cooked short-grain rice
6 ounces of chopped, marinated, and cooked chicken (recipe below)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of fresh cooked peas or frozen peas
Freshly grated black pepper
8 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1/2 cup of omurice sauce (recipe below)

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1. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Then add the chopped onion and sauté for about 2 minutes.

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2. Add the mushrooms and the garlic to the wok and sauté for 3 more minutes or until all the liquid is evaporated. Add the chopped red bell pepper and sauté for one more minute.

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3. Next, add the ketchup, soy sauce, Maggi, and brown sugar to the wok. Stir well. Cook the sauce until it starts to bubble.

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4. At the cooked rice. Stir to coat the sauce over the rice. Add the cooked chicken and stir well for about 1 minute.

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5. Finally, add the chopped green onions and peas and stir until they are evenly distributed into the rice mixture. Taste for seasoning to see if it needs salt or pepper. Turn off the heat and cover the rice to keep warm while making the omelet.

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6. Heat a 6-inch nonstick pan on medium heat. Add a 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add some beaten eggs to the pan, just enough to coat the entire pan (this will be about 2 eggs or 6 tablespoons)

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7. Now you have to work quickly. Once the eggs start to cook on the bottom, quickly tilt the pan away from. Start folding the egg using your wrist to create an omelet that resembles a football. You want the center to be runny.

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8. Place a mound of omurice rice mixture, the same size has the omelet, on a plate. Carefully placed the omelet on the mound of rice.

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9. Spoon some sauce on top of the omelet and sprinkle with some chopped green onions. Make 3 more omelets. Serve with Japanese pickles.

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Marinated Chicken for Omurice

2 chicken tenders (about 6-7 ounces), chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sake
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of organic cornstarch*
1 teaspoon of sunflower oil.

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let marinate for 20 minutes.

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2. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the marinated chicken in one layer. Leave undisturbed for about one minute.

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3. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 30 seconds.

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4. Quickly sauté for about 1 more minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside for the omurice recipe.

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Omurice Sauce

1/2 cups of organic ketchup*
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of mirin
1 teaspoon of organic soy sauce*
1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder

1. Place all the ingredients in a small nonreactive sauce pan. Stir well breaking up the brown sugar.

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2. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the sauce starts to bubble.

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3. Turn off heat and cover with a lid until ready to use.
*If at all possible, try to use organic corn-based or soy-based products. Most of the corn syrup, cornstarch, and soy products sold in the stores are GMO.

Apple Ricotta Fritters

Making donuts at home can be a major undertaking. There are so many steps involved: wake up early to make the dough, let it rise, roll it out, cut out circles, let them rise again, fry them (in lots of oil), and finally glaze them. I get tired just thinking about the whole process! Unless you have a large family, it’s a lot of work, especially when there are cheap donut shops everywhere. With that said, I’ve developed a shortcut for making donuts at home. Rather than make traditional donuts, I make yeast-free donut holes. There is no rise time with this dough and you don’t need to roll it out either. They are delicious and some of the easiest donuts you’ll ever make.

Here’s my recipe made into mini apple fritters. It is a baking powder-based dough, and the addition of ricotta gives these fritters a light and moist texture. All you need to do is scoop the dough right into the fryer, like hush puppies. I learned about ricotta fritters from Nancy Silverton (co-founder of Mozza and formerly owner of La Brea Bakery) when she visited my culinary school years ago. Unlike the cloyingly sweet and greasy apple fritters at your local donut shop, these are light, mildly sweet, and not oily. My son said they remind him of beignets.

The recipe is pretty easy to follow, but please make sure you prep the ricotta the night before. And as with all my recipes, please read the entire recipe before you start. Happy frying!

Apple Ricotta Fritters

Yield: about 2 dozen

1 tablespoon of butter
1 tart apple (pink lady, honey crisp or Granny Smith), medium-sized, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
21/2 tablespoons of sugar (divided)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Calvados* (optional)
3/8 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of sunflower oil
8 ounces of ricotta cheese (drained over a fine sieve or cheese cloth overnight)
1 cup of Sonora wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of organic corn syrup*
Coating
1/2 cup of organic confectioners sugar*
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

 
1. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter until melted. Add the apple, 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, pinch of salt, and Calvados. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the apples to be soft and the sauce to be thick, syrupy in consistency. Transfer the apple mixture to a bowl to cool.

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2. While the mixture is cooling, place the oil in a 1 quart heavy bottomed pan (copper or stainless steel ). Place a candy thermometer in the pan and bring the oil to 360°.

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3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk well.

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4.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. At the eggs, vanilla extract, and corn syrup. Using a fork, whisk the flour into the wet ingredients until just combined. Don’t over mix.

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5. Add the ricotta, breaking it up into pieces with your hands. Using a rubber spatula, fold it gently into the flour mixture. You will see chunks of ricotta pieces. Don’t over mix.

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6. Next, fold in the cooked apples until just combined.

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7. Using a 1 tablespoon-sized ice cream scoop, scoop 6 round balls into the hot oil. Do not get tempted to add more fritters or the oil temperature will drop and create an oily and soggy texture.

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8. Fry them for about 1 minute and 30 seconds on one side and the turn them over and fry them for 1 more minute. You’re looking for a deep golden color.

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9. Transfer fritters to a paper towel-lined colander and blot any excess oil.

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10. Return the oil to 360° and fry 6 more fritters. Repeat this process until all the fritters are done.

11. In a small bowl whisk together the confectioners sugar and cinnamon.

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12. Using a small sieve, dust the apple fritters with the powdered sugar mixture. Shake to coat evenly.

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13. As with most fried food, they are best eaten when warm, but surprisingly these apple fritters still taste great hours after they’ve been fried. Enjoy them with a hot cup of coffee.

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*Calvados is an apple brandy. You can find it in most large grocery stores.

*If at all possible, try to use organic corn-based products. Most of the corn syrup and cornstarch sold in the stores are GMO.

Walnut Pesto Rice Bowl

Now that the New Year is here, one of resolutions on many people’s lists is to eat healthier. Here is a vegetarian brunch dish that is easy to assemble. The inspiration behind this dish comes from the sorrel pesto rice bowl from Sqirl Cafe and Bakery in Los Angeles. Their unique and delicious rice bowl is made with organic brown rice, sorrel pesto, picked radishes, preserved Meyer lemons, sheep’s feta, hot sauce and a poached egg. This dish is so popular that people will wait in line for well over an hour to order it and, on the weekends, it is almost impossible find an open table at the restaurant. To avoid the long wait in the lines, I decided to create my own version.

My pesto bowl is made with a walnut pesto recipe. I prefer walnuts over pine nuts because they have a better flavor and nutritional value. I also added lemon zest and lemon juice to mimic the sorrel flavor for this recipe. I’m not big fan of feta so I used goat cheese in mine, but you can use feta instead if you prefer. This recipe only make two bowls, but you can always double the recipe if you want to feed a family. Here is to healthy start for the New Year! Enjoy!

Walnut Pesto Bowl

Serving Size: 2

3 tablespoons of chopped yellow bell pepper, small dice
3 teaspoons of white vinegar, divided
2 small red radishes, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt
2 farm fresh eggs
1/4 cup of walnut pesto, plus extra for serving (recipe below)
2 1/2 cups of cooked organic brown rice (short grain)
1 ounce of goat cheese, crumbled
2 basil leaves, julienned for plating
Jalapeño hot sauce for serving, optional
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

1. In a medium pot, bring 5 cups of water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the diced yellow bell pepper, 2 teaspoons of white vinegar, and a pinch of Kosher salt. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove as much of the liquid as possible, squeezing the liquid from the bell peppers. Set aside.

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3. In another small bowl, add the thinly sliced red radishes, lemon juice and a pinch of Kosher salt. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove as much of the liquid as possible, squeezing the liquid from the radishes. Set aside.

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4. Once the pot of water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Crack the eggs one at a time into the water. Make sure you leave enough space in between the two eggs so they don’t cook together. Poach for about 2 minutes or until the egg sets but the center is still soft and runny. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.

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5. Add the cooked brown rice to a medium bowl, making sure it’s hot. (If not, heat in the microwave with a damp paper towel over it.) Add the walnut pesto and mix to combine.

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6. Divide the pesto rice into two bowls. Garnish with the radishes, crumbled goat cheese, chopped quick pickled yellow peppers and top with the poached eggs. Sprinkle some chopped basil, sea salt and freshly grated black pepper. Add a little extra pesto or jalapeño sauce, if using. Serve immediately.

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Walnut Pesto

1 1/2 cups of organic basil leaves
1/4 cup of toasted walnut, chopped
1 garlic clove (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
2 tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)

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1) In a blender or food processor, add the basil, walnuts, garlic, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of oil in a blender. Pulse a few times. You made need to use a rubber spatula to push down the basil leaves.

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2) Keep the lid on but remove the plastic cap. Turn on the blender (or food processor) and slowly add the remainder of the oil in a slow stream. Blend until the pesto is smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed.

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3) Transfer to a bowl. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.

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Pumpkin Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks

As we close in on Thanksgiving, here is a simple muffin recipe that is perfect for the holiday. Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or showing up as a guest, these can be whipped up in no time and will definitely be a crowd favorite with the kids and adults alike. In fact, I find myself making some sort of muffin recipe at least once a week because my kids love them so much. The muffins themselves are just mildly sweet, but the chocolate makes up for it!

As with any recipe, it is important to use the best ingredients, as your recipe is only as good as the ingredients you start with. As long as you have everything on hand, the active prep time should be less than 20 minutes. The muffins also bake in less than 20 minutes. If you prefer, you can substitute the total amount of spices listed in the recipe below with 1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice, which you should have no trouble finding in the spice section of your supermarket during the holiday season. Happy baking!

Pumpkin Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Yield: 12 muffins

1 ½ cups of whole grain flour (like Sonora wheat) or unbleached AP flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ginger
1/8 teaspoon of cloves
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ cup of organic sugar
½ cup neutral oil (sunflower or coconut oil)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
8 ounces of organic pumpkin puree (homemade or store-bought)
5 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped into ½”pieces (52% cacao)
Crystal or turbinado sugar for topping

1. Preheat Oven to 400°. Line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.

2. In a medium bowl add all the dry ingredients (the first 8 ingredients). Whisk and set aside.

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3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the sugar and oil. Set on medium speed until completely blended.

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4. Add the eggs, one at a time until just blended.

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5. Add the vanilla and pumpkin puree mix until smooth.

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6. On the lowest speed setting, slowly add the dry ingredients until just blended.

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7. Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chunks in until evenly distribute. Don’t over mix.

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8. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop into the liners.

9. Using a teaspoon, sprinkle the crystal sugar on each section of the muffin batter.

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10. Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the muffins.

11. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes; remove and then transfer to cooling rack.

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12. Enjoy them warm with a cup of milk or coffee.

Breakfast Strata

 

Many Americans have their go-to potluck recipe and it’s usually some type of casserole dish that can feed a large group. Growing up in a Korean household, casseroles were foreign to me.  I made my first casserole in 7th grade after purchasing a used Sunset cookbook at a garage sale for 25¢, which I read from cover to cover. The first casserole dish I made was Chicken Casserole with frozen vegetables, cream of mushroom soup, and bread crumbs.  I made it and thought I cooked it incorrectly because it didn’t taste very good.  I tried other casserole recipes, but everything was a disappointment until I came across a strata recipe.  This one was different from the rest, layered with bread, cheese and an egg custard. It was essentially a savory bread pudding.  It was so good that this became my favorite casserole recipe.  Years later, I added my own spin to it by including different ingredients like bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, green onion, Swiss chard, etc.

Here is a great one to serve during the Holidays for a family brunch. It has my favorite breakfast ingredients: eggs, turkey sausage, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese.  It’s a one-pot breakfast. You can even assemble the ingredients the night before and place it in the refrigerator, then pop it in the oven the next morning and viola, breakfast is served.

Breakfast Strata

Serving Size: 6-8

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon of onion

Olive oil

½ an onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

6 ounces of turkey sausage (casing removed, rolled into ½” balls)

4 ounces of sliced cremini mushrooms

8 ounces of fresh baby spinach

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

2 cups of low-fat milk

5 extra-large eggs

1 tablespoon of Mailie Dijon mustard

6 ounces of grated Comte (Gruyere or Mild White Cheddar)

2 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano

10 ounces of day old country white, cubed

6 basil leaves, chopped

  1. Heat a large skillet to medium. Add 2 tbs. of olive oil and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 30 more seconds. Add the turkey sausage, mushrooms, a pinch of salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.  Sauté until golden brown. Remove the sausage and mushroom mixture from pan and set aside.
  1. Add spinach to the same pan and sauté until wilted. Remove liquid. Add the spinach to the mushroom mixture.
  1. In a large bowl whisk eggs. Add milk, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper. Whisk until combined. Set aside.
  1. Mix the Comte and Parmigiano a small bowl. Set Aside.
  1. Begin the layering process. Add 1/3 of the bread on the bottom of the casserole dish. Add ½ of the sausage mixture and 1/3 of the cheese mixture, evenly spreading over the bread. Repeat and top with bread mixture. Save the last 1/3 of cheese mixture and basil leaves.
  1. Pour the liquid mixture over the layered ingredients. Press down to absorb. Add the remaining cheese mixture and basil leaves. Cover with aluminum foil. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  1. Add the strata with aluminum foil in the oven for 30 minutes.
  1. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Remove the foil. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on the cooling rack. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Cut and serve with a side salad.

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So’s Special

This is my spin on a famous breakfast dish called Joe’s Special, which I first had at Original Joe’s Restaurant in San Francisco. The dish consists of scrambled eggs, ground chuck, garlic and spinach. It is delicious, and I would get it with mushrooms added and a side of crusty bread. Also, I’m told that many home cooks in SF make this dish because it is relatively easy to whip up.

I really love Joe’s Special, but I wanted a lighter and healthier version. So I replaced the ground chuck with ground turkey, replaced the eggs with tofu, and instead of serving it with crusty bread, I serve it with steamed Jasmine rice. I also added a little oyster sauce for some umami flavor. Essentially I took an Italian-American dish and made it Asian-American. This version has become one of my family favorites.

So’s Special

4 Servings

1 Tablespoon sunflower oil or olive oil

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

8 ounces of organic ground turkey

8 ounces of fresh heirloom spinach (blanched, squeezed dry in cheesecloth, and chopped)

4 ounces organic firm tofu (squeezed dry in a cheesecloth)

1 Tablespoon of premium oyster sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

¼ cup of freshly grated Parmigianino-Reggiano

2 cups of steamed jasmine rice

Garlic-chili sauce (optional)

  1. Heat oil in a wok or 12″ skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add ground turkey and cook on medium-high heat until all the liquid evaporates, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and cook for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add the tofu and the oyster sauce cook mixture is slightly dry, about 7 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add a pinch red pepper flakes.
  8. Spoon over steamed Jasmine rice.
  9. Serve with garlic-chili sauce.

For the Original Joe’s Special recipe, click this link.