Breakfast Custards

IMG_0874Don’t we live in a beautiful place? We feel particularly grateful lately. The sun is out, the plum tree is in bloom, and the chickens are finally laying! We’re flush with eggs! Here we suddenly find ourselves in the sweet season of plenty. (We’re helped this time, by circumstances – our Heyday Egg subscription has overlapped with this onset of eggs from our own chickens.) Custards, puddings, pasta, and yes, even brioche have been happening in our kitchen lately.

Here’s a recipe that’s one of our favorites. Served to a neighbor recently, she labeled it “fancy,” but really it’s extremely simple. This custard is quick to make up, allows you enough time to shower while it’s baking in the oven, and, in our household, is child approved 100% of the time. We began with the recipe in The Breakfast Book and adapted it to our own taste. Hope that you enjoy it too! Here’s wishing you many eggs and a happy spring time!

Breakfast Custard

For four

1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. cream
4 eggs
2 tbls. maple syrup
dash of salt
unsalted butter, room temperature (for preparing ramekins)

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare four 1/2 c. ramekins by buttering the insides generously with your fingers. Set a tea pot of water on to boil.
  2. In a large measuring cup, whisk milk, cream, eggs, maple syrup, and salt together. (Or, alternatively, pulse with the immersion blender a few times.)
  3. Pour egg mixture into the buttered ramekins. Place ramekins in a 9 x 9 glass pan.
  4. Fill pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Serve in ramekin or unmolded onto plate.

first blue eggNotes:

  • This recipe easily reduces for two eaters (or even one.)
  • Adjust maple to your own taste. Maybe you like it sweeter?
  • Want to try a savory custard? (It’s a great way to sneak veggies past a sneaky eater, but you didn’t hear that from me.)
  • Of course, this is much better with a little Hitchcock bacon sprinkled on top.
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Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker

We were suspicious that our plum tree would not bear fruit this year, so last year I made enough plum jam to get us through two seasons. So when I was surprised by another bumper crop of plums, I had to think of a way to use them up. This recipe for blueberry butter inspired me to try to work up a plum butter.

When I was in college, I once had the great idea to make apple butter for cheap Christmas presents. It was a disaster. I had to move out of that apartment to avoid the splattery mess that I had made. Scarred from that experience, I was naturally intrigued by the idea of making fruit butters in a slow cooker instead of on the stovetop. There’s a lot of interesting suggestions out there, but I couldn’t find one for plum butter. I looked around, read a few different sources, and decided to come up with my own recipe. Using advice from Stocking Up on the processing part, I feel happy enough with the results that I’ll probably never make plum jam again. My plum butter is thick and spunky. I have been enjoying it on toast alone or mixed with fromage blanc.

Makes 4 cups of plum butter.

about 3 1/2 pounds of plums
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Wash plums, cut into halves, and pit. My plums were rather small. If you have large ones, you might want to quarter them, but I don’t think that it will matter in the end.
  2. Place the sugar and plums in your slow cooker. Stir. Leave this mixture to cook for 16 hours. Stir whenever you think of it. I began my butter about 7pm. I stirred it a few times and then left it unattended overnight.
  3. Add vanilla. Based on advice in Stocking Up, flavorings for fruit butters should be added at the end. Cinnamon might be a nice pairing here, but I decided mine was potent enough without it.
  4. Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes. For canning advice, go here.
  5. Remove jars to a flat rack to cool.

Recipe update (7/13):
I made this recipe this year with beautiful, juicy yellow plums. Because they were so wet, I found that cracking the crockpot lid open was essential. Lay a wooden spoon across one side to create a little vent for the moisture to escape. I also found that it took almost exactly 24 hours to cook down. I stirred often towards the end of the time. The plums were clingstone, so the pits were a little more difficult to deal with. I skimmed them out after it had cooked down a bit and wound up putting it through the food mill. I did this and let it cook for about an hour more. This was a lot more fussier than the original recipe, but had great results. Many thanks to all the commentors below who shared their experiments. 

Spring Salad with Radishes and Scapes

Due to a household miscommunication, we seem to have a lot of radishes growing in the garden. (“Wait, I thought you loved radishes!”) Now, it’s time to figure out what to do with this enthusiastic crop. Our French Breakfast radishes are zesty and beautiful – a great addition to any salad. I’m also intrigued to try radishes in less traditional ways, including this recipe which uses them as a topping for risotto.

head of lettuce
handful of sugar snap peas
3 garlic scapes
5-6 radishes

1 tsp. lemon zest
1 sprig fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 clove garlic

2 tbls. lemon juice
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
2 tbls. water
scant 1/4 c. olive oil

  1. Wash, trim, and chop lettuce. Thinly slice peas. Trim and grate the radishes. Mince garlic scapes.
  2. On your cutting board, mound zest, oregano, salt, and garlic clove. With a chef’s knife, chop ingredients together. Mash with the side of your knife periodically and continue chopping. This should result in a nice paste. (You can also use a mortar and pestle.)
  3. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, water, and oil. Whisk in paste. (I like to do this in a glass jar. You can store your vinaigrette in here and easily shake it up later if it needs to be mixed again.
  4. When ready to serve, toss veggies and vinaigrette together.

Local Restaurants Featuring Local Food

Did I say two new restaurants specializing in locally-sourced ingredients? Make that three. Go on over to the blog of Tristan Baurick (BI’s trusty reporter who specializes in locally-sourced news) to read about our ever-expanding eating out options.

Yet another local food dining spot

And do make it down to dine at Hitchcock. My succinct review: just absolutely wonderful. I’d love to hear your comments.

Local Whatnot, Links, and News

Lots of news in the Sound Food newsletter today.

  • Check out my article on making stock out of what you might normally throw on the compost pile. Also included is Ryan’s chicken stock recipe. This is the first in a series that shows you how to get the most for your money out of your farmers’ market purchases.
  • Two new restaurants in Winslow is exciting enough, but two that specialize in sourcing ingredients locally? Too good to be true! Hurry on down to Hitchcock or Arbutus and report back.
  • A community planting event will be held at City Hall on Monday at 10:30AM.

KCAA published a great reference list of all of the markets in Kitsap County.

All One Family Farm, a local farm that delivers great organic fruit to different locations in the summer, published their delivery schedule. Visit their website to sign up for their new mailing list.

And don’t forget to check the Persephone Farms website often. In addition to news and recipes, their The Season blog is updated frequently and shows a fun insight into farm life.

Get the most from your gruel

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I apologize.  Mostly we have just been eating out of the freezer or making some of our winter standbys, which we posted last winter.  I’ve been very thankful for the canned peaches and pears that I put away in the summer (and vow to can twice as many peaches next year.)  I’ve been making a lot of yogurt smoothies from my frozen berries and frozen veggies have mostly gone into quiches, which serve as a good dinner and leftover lunch.

My lack of formal cooking might also have something to do with the dark winter nights but is probably more owed to the fact that I now have a slight addiction to waffles.  Really, I’ll eat them for any meal. I’ve been freezing them in stacks in a freezer bag and reheating them in the toaster oven – it works quite well.

When I’m not eating waffles, I find that oatmeal is a great winter breakfast. I like steel cut (or Irish) oats the best, because they really give you something to chew. However, they take so long to cook that I never seem to have time in the morning.  Nourishing Traditions, a book that I got from the library, solved my problem.

Soaking oats over night is not only convenient but can give you a nutritional advantage. When oats, or any grain soak over night with a little bit of dairy, you can feel confident that you’re getting the most out of your grain.

All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc.. ..and block their absorption.. .. Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid.

Also,

During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

People throughout history and cultures have traditionally soaked and fermented their grains, and scientists are now finding that the action of fermenting allows for increased absorption of vitamins (especially B).

So, if it’s healthier and easier, why not soak your oats over night? Here’s how:

1 cup cracked oats
1 cup warm water
2 tbls. dairy with helpful cultures (yogurt, buttermilk, or whey)

1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water, additional

  1. The night before-
    Mix oats with 1 cup warm water and dairy. Mix, cover, and leave on the counter for at least 7 hours (and up to 24).
  2. In the morning-
    Bring 1 cup of water to boil. (A teapot works well.) Stir this and your salt into the soaked oats mixture.
  3. Bring to a simmer on medium. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 5-10 minutes, until your oats are the consistency you like.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in any of those good things that you like: nuts, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup.

Notes: The book goes on to comment about granola and other breakfast grains. Apparently exposure to dry heat, as in the making of granola, strips valuable nutrients from the grain. That’s unfortunate. She says, “For a new generation of hardy children, we must return to the breakfast cereals of our ancestors – soaked gruels and porridges.” Granola is out. Eat your gruel, kids.

Mid-Summer Improvements

Chard frog says: "Eat local."

We are excited to share some improvements to Small Potatoes!

We now have an index of Seasonal Recipes.  Loosely organized according to season, it can help you find the various recipes and tips we’ve posted.

Also new is our Bookshelf page.  We are of the opinion that one can never have too many books. We’ve narrowed it down, though, to the titles which we continue to go back to time and again. As we’re constantly learning, we’ve also updated our About Us page.

We hope these improvements will make it easier for you to find great ways to eat locally.  As always, thanks for being part of our journey!