Cinnamon Ginger Crumpet French Toast

I love nothing more on a weekend morning than sleeping in and creating an amazing breakfast. Who doesn’t? Sometimes I’m in the mood for a savory meal – say, an omelet or scrambled eggs with sage breakfast sausage and buttered toast. Other times I just want to indulge my sweet tooth and experiment with pancakes or french toast. My favorite pancake experiment to date is cocoa pancakes stuffed with ricotta and orange marmalade (a post for another day!). My french toast needed a boost, however. The choice of bread is pivotal. I’ve tried making french toast with the Pepperidge Farm soft oatmeal bread I use for sandwiches sometimes, and that just never satisfies me. The bread needs to be fuller-bodied, denser, more flavorful, and more absorbable.

Then I had an “ah-ha” moment. Crumpets. That’s it!

I remember these gems from my six weeks studying abroad in England at Oxford University. This breakfast bread is sponge-like, with holes perfect for absorbing a spiced egg and milk mixture. I was also inspired by Jamie Oliver’s recipe for savory eggy crumpets. Trader Joe’s sells plain and cinnamon flavored crumpets. I recommend buying the cinnamon ones, but if you have a favorite crumpet brand, then by all means use those!

Crumpet French Toast
Crumpet French Toast

Cinnamon Ginger Crumpet French Toast (for two, or one if you’re really hungry)

  • 4 plain or cinnamon crumpets
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of milk (approximately…better to start with less milk than too much)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • butter for cooking

1. Crack two eggs into a bowl and add the three tablespoons of milk. See if this is enough milk for your mixture. Remember, you can always add more, but subtracting is near impossible when cooking. Beat the eggs and milk together with a whisk or a fork until combined.

2. Now it’s time to add your spices. I unabashedly shake the spices into my egg mixture, to be honest. Who wants bland french toast? No one. The answer is no one. My measurements up above are, again, approximations. If you like more spice, then please add more!

3. Mix the spices in with the eggs and milk until just combined. You don’t want egg whites separating, but you also don’t want an over-beaten mixture.

4. Warm up your pan while you soak the crumpets. Take one crumpet at a time and submerge it in your egg/milk/spice mixture. Make sure that both sides get covered. Leave it to soak for about 1 minute. Crumpets will absorb more quickly than you realize.

5. Butter the portion of the pan where the crumpet will be placed. Place the soaked crumpet in the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the side is browned to your liking. Butter the pan again when you flip the crumpet over and cook for the same amount of time.

6. Repeat the process for the rest of the crumpets.

I added maple syrup and fresh raspberries to my plate for a refreshing finish. Let me know if you have ever used crumpets this way or if you have another favorite french toast bread. Happy experimenting!

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

A few nights ago, all I felt like eating was a peanut butter cup. Chocolate and peanut butter create one of the most satisfying flavor combinations ever to hit your taste buds, so on a quiet, final project-filled evening, I needed something right away. Did I feel like running to the corner market and buying Reese’s peanut butter cups? Not a chance. Boston was cold and rainy, and I was in my pajamas. That’s when the lightbulb when off in my head.

I hopped over to my little kitchen and looked in the cabinet. I spotted chocolate chips, a jar of peanut butter, and the paper baking cups you use for cupcakes and muffins. Bingo!

In just 30 minutes, this is what I created:

Homemade peanut butter cup
Homemade peanut butter cup

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of peanut butter
  • paper baking cups (used for cupcakes and muffins)

Note: Use as many chocolate chips and as much peanut butter as needed to create the number of peanut butter cups you desire. To create two peanut butter cups, I used about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and two tablespoons of peanut butter

1. Put chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl (I used a small pyrex glass mixing bowl), and microwave for about 30-45 seconds, or until chocolate chips are melted. More chocolate chips means more microwaving time. It’s okay to check every 20-30 seconds to see how much more time is needed. The chocolate is the perfect consistency when it falls in a nice drizzle from your spoon but still coats the spoon. You do not want soupy chocolate!

2. Take a baking cup and spoon enough melted chocolate to cover the bottom and a little of the sides. This is the foundation of your peanut butter cup.

3. Take 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and place that on top of your chocolate. Spread the peanut butter out so that you create a circle, but make sure there is a ring of chocolate left on the outer edge. This will ensure that your peanut butter cup doesn’t turn into a chocolate peanut butter sandwich!

4. Spoon more melted chocolate on top to cover the peanut butter and fill in the edges.

5. Repeat the process for as many peanut butter cups as you would like to make.

6. Refrigerate the peanut cups for 30 minutes or until set. Take them out and enjoy!

Some recipes put confectioners sugar into the peanut butter to make it more like the consistency of a traditional Reese cup. To me, regular peanut butter works just as well, and you use less sugar!

Mushroom, Cipollini Onion, Asiago Cheese, and Crispy Prosciutto Quiche

After cooking the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving, what do I want to do? Experiment in the kitchen and make something new! Sometimes I make the most lasting memories in the kitchen from trying something completely different. Every time I think about that one night I attempted to make blueberry cottage cheese pancakes…oh goodness, I can’t stop laughing. What a mess in my skillet. However, failing in the kitchen is a wonderful, beautiful thing because you learn so much from making the mistake(s). You either have to eat that mess you made, or you throw it out in disgust and resort to grilled cheese for dinner (which has happened before!). I will not pretend that I am a “perfect” chef, so I will share my experiments with you, telling you what really works and what needs improvement.

I made quiche with my friend and her family recently. It came out quite well, with bacon, marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onion, and gruyere cheese. I wanted to recreate it in my little studio kitchen with the ingredients I had on hand. That’s the fabulous thing about quiche – you can put practically any combination of meats and vegetables in it!

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Quiche (with mushrooms, cipollini onions, asiago cheese, and crispy prosciutto)

  • 1 frozen pie crust
  • 4 eggs (3 for inside the quiche, 1 for the egg wash on the pie crust)
  • 1 cup of milk (you can add heavy cream, but I used 1% milk and it worked perfectly)
  • 1 cup of asiago cheese, grated (you can use any kind of cheese you wish, like gruyere or cheddar)
  • 5 medium sized baby portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cipollini onions (you can use 1 small onion or a few shallots instead)
  • 4 slices of prosciutto, diced
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chopped fresh parsley to taste

1. Thaw the frozen pie crust and pre-bake according to the package’s instructions. Before you put the pie crust in the oven, crack and beat one egg in a bowl and brush some of the egg onto the crust. This will prevent the quiche crust from getting soggy. Note: I tried using Trader Joes’s frozen pie crust. The crust tasted fine, but the texture turned out far more crumbly than I expected. Pillsbury is always a safe bet, and I may use that next time. If you have the time and the recipe to make your own pie crust, by all means, use that! 

2. While the pre-baked pie crust cools, prepare the ingredients for the filling and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take a cheese grater and grate about a cup of asiago cheese. Shredding your own cheese has its perks. I heard once that packaged shredded cheese can have preservatives that allow it to stay intact and not stick to the other pieces of cheese. While that cheese still melts just fine, hand shredding your cheese will allow it to melt even better.

3. Chop your mushrooms and onion and saute in a pan with a little olive oil until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have released and soaked up their water (about 5-10 minutes). You can add seasoning here (I used salt, pepper, and garlic powder), or wait until you mix everything together.

4. Put the mushrooms and onions in a bowl to cool. Chop your prosciutto into small pieces (the size is up to you, but I cut slices about an inch long and a half inch wide). Saute the prosciutto pieces in a pan for about 2-4 minutes until the meat is fragrant and crispy. Transfer that to a bowl.

5. Next, crack three eggs into your mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of milk and beat the mixture until the eggs are fully incorporated with the milk.

6. Add the sautéed mushrooms, onions, and prosciutto. Add 1/2 cup of the asiago cheese and mix.

7. If you haven’t added any seasoning yet, do so now. I also added a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley here for some color and fresh herb flavor.

8. Pour the egg mixture into your pie pan with the pre-baked crust. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of asiago cheese and sprinkle over the top.

9. Put the quiche in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes (the deeper the pan, the longer it will need to cook). Insert a toothpick into the middle of the quiche to test for doneness – if it’s clean, it’s good to go. Note: I do not own a special pie pan or quiche pan, so instead I used a square pyrex pan on hand. A traditional pie or quiche pan is less deep and will only need to cook for about 20 minutes. 

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The filling came out so well! Next time I will use a different pie crust that won’t crumble so much on me. What are your favorite fillings for quiche? I can’t wait to experiment with this recipe more.