Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

With Valentine’s Day coming up you may be on the lookout for the perfect date night.  Dinner is great and all, but if your date happens to run over to the next morning these cheddar stuffed breakfast sandwiches are definitely what you need to be making for your sweetie.

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

Look, I’m not suggesting you invite your date to stay the night just so you can effortlessly whip these up in the morning and look like a magical god/goddess who can do anything, but if you just happen to spend the night with them and make these in the morning they’re definitely going to appreciate you all the more.  And for those of you in long-term relationships and those who live together, never underestimate the power of a novel act of love.  Especially when it involves melty cheddar cheese.  You have to keep things interesting, and yes, I am suggesting you keep the spark alive with cheddar stuffed breakfast sandwiches.  I have my  priorities straight.

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

These are essentially a classic breakfast sandwich with a twist.  Based off the famous Juicy Lucy burger, we stuff the cheddar inside the breakfast sausage instead of melting it on top.  When you bite into it the cheese oozes out and honestly just makes me happy to be alive that I can enjoy little pleasures like these.  I stuffed these with sharp cheddar, but you could certainly stuff them with any cheese you like.  If you want them extra melty go for classic American cheese, but I found regular cheddar to be just fine.  I got pretty precise with the sausage measurements.  I didn’t want this to be too bulky so I experimented until I found the perfect amount for a thin layer on each side of the cheese, but with still enough bulk to keep the cheese in.  If while cooking you realize there’s a hole and cheese is oozing out, don’t worry, it will still be delicious!

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

As for the eggs, cook them any way you like, but I highly suggest a runny yolk.  It just adds that extra bit of moisture and richness that brings the sandwich over the top.  All together, the light toasted English muffin gives way to a rich yolk, sausage, melty cheddar, and a bit of green onion for freshness.  This, my friends, is a very special breakfast sandwich that is best shared with a very special person.

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches | Cravings & Crumbs

Cheddar Stuffed Breakfast Sandwiches
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Ingredients
  1. 120 g. breakfast sausage (4.25 oz. or a little more than ¼ lb)
  2. 24 g. cheddar cheese, sliced thinly or grated
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 2 english muffins
  5. 1 green onion, sliced
Instructions
  1. Divide sausage into four roughly equal portions and pat out into four patties the size of your english muffins. Add half the cheese to one patty, leaving a small border, then top with another patty. Press the edges gently to seal, then press either between your hands or between two sheets of plastic to make the whole patty even thinner and slightly larger in diameter than the english muffin. We do this because when we cook them the meat will contract and our patties will end up the same size as the muffins instead of smaller. Repeat with the other two patties and remaining cheese.
  2. Split the english muffins in half and toast lightly.
  3. Heat a small frying pan over medium high heat , spray lightly with nonstick spray, and add the patties. Cook, flipping halfway through, for about 8 minutes, until sausage is fully cooked.
  4. Remove the patties and place each on the bottom on the english muffins. Sprinkle each with green onions.
  5. Cook eggs how you like them, add to sandwiches and top with the english muffin tops.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

This Nduja flatbread is off the charts and honestly one of my proudest inventions.  It has everything I love in a dish – it’s crunchy, has cured meat, burrata, baby greens and lemon – check, check, and check.  Oh yeah, and it only takes about 20 minutes to make.  That means less time cooking and more time indulging and that’s the kind of math I can get behind.

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

Look, I know it’s only Sunday, but I’m bringing you this nduja flatbread early in the week so you have time to gather the ingredients for next week’s happy hour.  Or, uh, if you’re me, your Wednesday night single lady dinner with a big glass of wine and a fresh episode of Criminal Minds…  Specifically, you need to source the nduja.  This is not a dish you run to the store at 6 o’clock after work to make for dinner, unless I guess your local grocery is pretty fancy?  My barometer of whether ingredients are fancy is whether I can get them at Trader Joes or not.
Actually, Trader Joes did have nduja a few years ago before I really knew what it was.  I bought it once, didn’t realize its full potential, and once I realized how amazing nduja was it was gone!  I tried writing them emails telling them they should bring it back, but they acted like I was asking them to bring back their tofu edamame nuggets.  No thanks.

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

What’s nduja?  It’s a spicy spreadable sausage from the Calabrian region of Italy.  I know, spreadable sausage sounds pretty much like meat paste, which might turn you off, but here it is a very good thing.  Trust me.  Once we cook the flatbread it becomes a thin, but highly flavorful layer on top of the lavash and any worries you had while you were smearing the salami mixture on the flatbread will be gone.  The burrata is just the cherry on top of this perfect flatbread.

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

So this weekend let all take a moment to just sit and enjoy this.  Have a glass of wine and relax for once in your hectic week.  I would say invite over some friends, but once you taste this flatbread I’m not so sure you’ll want to share!

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread | Cravings & Crumbs

Nduja and Burrata Flatbread
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ c. nduja
  2. 3 oil-packed calabrian chile or ¼ t. red pepper flakes
  3. 1 T. tomato paste
  4. 2 T. red wine vinegar
  5. 3 T. olive oil
  6. Salt & pepper
  7. Lavash bread
  8. 1 small ball burrata (about 4 oz.)
  9. 1 c. baby spinach
  10. ¼ lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Chop the chiles finely, if using, and mix in a small bowl with the nduja, tomato paste, vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread the nduja mixture thinly onto the lavash bread, leaving about an inch wide border. Place on a baking tray and bake for 5-7 minutes, until the lavash is crispy and golden brown. When you first pull it out of the oven, the middle of the lavash will still be a bit soft, but as it cools it will become crisp throughout.
  4. Tear the burrata into small chunks and distribute across the flatbread. Season with salt and pepper. Top with spinach and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Notes
  1. Nduja can be found at Whole Foods and other gourmet grocery stores. I've also found it at Cost Plus World Market. A good nationally available brand is La Quercia. Their nduja can also be ordered online from Murray's Cheese, Zingermans, and sometimes Amazon.
  2. If you can't find nduja a good substitute would be sobrasada, which East Bay locals can find at the Spanish Table in Berkeley.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

I’m at that point in the year when vegetables just don’t sound good to me.  Sure, I want to eat tons of vegetables, my body is asking me to eat vegetables, but when I walk through the produce aisle at the store nothing calls out to me or gets me excited.  Except mushrooms.  Mushrooms and broccoli are my saving grace in winter.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

I’ve been cooking them all sorts of ways, but recently I was thumbing through Joshua McFadden’s new book, Six Seasons, and as I was flipping through the pages the heavens parted, birds started chirping, and there they were, these gremolata mushrooms.  Good ‘ol mushrooms.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Sure, I felt a little lame that in a book with so many inspiring recipes for often overlooked vegetables (think celery root, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnips) I went straight for the familiar.  What I’ve found about McFadden’s recipes is that even with ingredients that you’ve cooked before, he presents them to you in a whole new light.  In this dish we start by sauteeing mushrooms with garlic and olive oil.  Simple, basic.  Then we cover them with briny capers, lemon zest and juice, more garlic, and a ton of parsley.  The gremolata totally transforms the mushrooms by brightening them up and adding interest.  For me, the secret ingredient is the lemon zest.  Using zest is kind of a cheffy trick that makes a huge impact, but as a home cook I often forget about it.  Here, it really makes the dish.  

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Last, but not least, I added pasta and a ton of parmesan because its winter and I need to plump myself up to stay warm!  Adding pasta rounds out the dish and turns it into a full meal.  Next time you’re craving a satisfying meatless meal, or just want a freakin’ delicious mushroom pasta recipe, look no further!

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta | Cravings & Crumbs

Gremolata Mushroom Pasta
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 T olive oil + a little more
  2. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  4. 1 T capers, chopped
  5. Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  6. ½ c. flat leaf parsley
  7. Salt and pepper
  8. 1 lb mushrooms (crimini or fancier, whatever you feel like)
  9. ½ lb cavatappi or other similar pasta
  10. Grated parmesan
Instructions
  1. Add capers, lemon zest and juice to a small bowl.
  2. Heat 3 T olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, but not browned at all, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour the hot garlic oil into the bowl with the lemon and capers. Add ¾ of the parsley, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Chop the mushrooms into large pieces. Heat a little more olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use the flat side of a large knife to whack/smash remaining garlic cloves. Add the garlic and mushrooms to the frying pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and crispy on the edges, 12-15 mins, adding more oil as needed.
  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but don’t rinse.
  6. Add pasta, mushrooms, and gremolata and stir to combine.Top with remaining parsley and as much parmesan as you want.
Adapted from Joshua McFadden
Adapted from Joshua McFadden
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

Last week I shared the most amazing fried chicken with savory cornmeal waffles, the week before that was ginger miso skirt steak, so now we’re reining it all back in with this delicious and healthy endive salad.  After spending months thinking about this salad from the September issue of Bon Appetit and then this little salad from Deb Perelman, I knew it was time to make my own version.  The endive salads were calling to me!

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

I started by taking my favorite parts of both salads – the blue cheese from the BA recipe and the irregularly shaped hand torn croutons from Smitten Kitchen.  I made the croutons by pulling the insides from a thick slice of bread, making sure they were all about the size of half a walnut (er, a half of the walnut halves?  A quarter nut?  You know what I’m saying.)  Tearing instead of cutting the croutons gives them a lighter texture so that they almost shatter when you bite into them.

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

I came up with the vinaigrette simply because fig and sherry vinegar are ingredients I always want to use more of and they just sounded good together.  And surprise, they were!  The vinaigrette is a little sweet and a little tart, with complexity from the vinegar and shallots.  If you don’t have a bottle of sherry vinegar, you should probably go get one.  Not just for this recipe!  Sherry vinegar is my go-to splash of acid when I’m sauteing vegetables, it’s really good on roasted chicken and onions, and the tiniest splash at the end of cooking somehow brightens up and transforms french onion soup into the best ever.

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette | Cravings & Crumbs

My favorite part of this salad?  Ok, besides the cheese…  My favorite part is the texture.  The endive is incredibly crisp and refreshing, the croutons and walnuts provide two volumes of crunch, the cheese, nestled between the leaves, is creamy and salty, coating the tongue, and the blood orange is juicy and bright.  Most days spinach, arugula, and mixed greens will do, but for a truly interesting and textural winter salad I’ll stick with endive.

Start by whisking together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread walnuts and breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and breadcrumbs are toasted. Remove and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Remove any bruised outer leaves from the endive and discard. Chop into about 1” sections and separate the leaves into a salad bowl. Slice the stem and bottom ends from the blood orange, then slice the peel and pith off in sections from top to bottom, following the curvature of the fruit. Holding the skinned orange in your hand, use a paring knife to carefully cut in between the segment walls to remove the segments and add to the salad. If you want, squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane into a small cup - this is the chef’s treat! Dice or crumble blue cheese. Roughly chop walnuts. Add cheese, walnuts, and breadcrumbs to the salad. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss.

Endive Salad with Sherry-Fig Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb endive
  2. 1 blood orange
  3. ⅓ c. raw walnut halves
  4. ½ c. hand torn breadcrumbs
  5. 2 oz. blue cheese
  6. Olive oil
  7. Salt
Vinaigrette
  1. 1¼ t. fig preserves
  2. 1 T sherry vinegar
  3. 2 T olive oil
  4. 1¼ t. finely minced shallots
  5. ½ t. dijon mustard
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Start by whisking together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread walnuts and breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Remove any bruised outer leaves from the endive and discard. Chop into about 1” sections and separate the leaves into a salad bowl.
  4. Slice the stem and bottom ends from the blood orange, then slice the peel and pith off in sections from top to bottom, following the curvature of the fruit. Holding the skinned orange in your hand, use a paring knife to carefully cut in between the segment walls to remove the segments and add to the salad. If you want, squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane into a small cup - this is the chef’s treat!
  5. Dice or crumble blue cheese. Roughly chop walnuts. Add cheese, walnuts, and breadcrumbs to the salad. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Chive Waffles with Maple Creme Fraiche

Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Chive Waffles with Maple Creme Fraiche | Cravings & Crumbs

A year ago I put this blog live.  I had no idea what I was doing (still barely do) – all I knew was that I had been thinking about a food blog for long enough that I needed to just do it.  2017 threw me for a loop, but luckily this little blog kept me motivated and my mind occupied, making it the most personally gratifying year despite the hardships.  I spent almost every weekend dreaming up recipes, testing, and photographing them.  I took a photography class and upgraded my camera.  Best of all, I ate so much good food with the people closest to me and honestly, that’s really the point of it for me.  

Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Chive Waffles with Maple Creme Fraiche | Cravings & Crumbs

The only reason I know how to cook is because my dad cooked a meal from scratch seven days a week.  The other day my mom asked my brother and I why we like to cook and the answer was simple.  The only time we went to restaurants was when we were travelling, so if I wanted anything different I had to figure out how to make it myself.  If I had an idea they would help me find a recipe, shop for the ingredients, and cook it.  My mindset was fixed early that good food was easy to make and more gratifying than going out.  My brother agreed, cooking is just what we did as a family.  It’s fun for us and cooking together has become a treat as we’ve gone off and formed our own styles.  

Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Chive Waffles with Maple Creme Fraiche | Cravings & Crumbs

So, with my family life revolving around cooking, it was a no brainer that for my one-year anniversary I wanted to collaborate on a dish with my brother.  See, he’s a professional chef and knows everything from soul food to vegan eats.  We’re constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and telling each other about the new recipes we come up with.  

Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Chive Waffles with Maple Creme Fraiche | Cravings & Crumbs

There’s one recipe of his that I am always so happy when he makes and that’s his fried chicken.  His recipe is pretty classic – if there’s one dish that doesn’t need to be reinvented it’s fried chicken.  He starts with a buttermilk brine for flavor and to tenderize the meat.  Then he dredges the chicken in well seasoned flour, making sure to press the meat all around so that the coating is thick and crunchy.

Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Chive Waffles with Maple Creme Fraiche | Cravings & Crumbs

Where we threw our spin on this was in the accompaniments.  When I asked my brother to make fried chicken with me he suggested pairing it with savory waffles and a maple creme fraiche.  That was all I needed to hear!  My only suggestion was that we make the waffles yeasted because I love the depth of flavor and texture you get out of letting the batter rest overnight.  With a little bit of cornmeal in the batter, we end up with a waffle that’s crispy on the outside, light and very moist on the inside.  

Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Chive Waffles with Maple Creme Fraiche | Cravings & Crumbs

Each component is so complexly flavored that they can stand on their own, but all together the flavor combination is incredible.  The chicken is crunchy, salty, juicy, with a touch of spice.  The waffles are crisp, yet tender, with a deep flavor from the overnight rest, chives and black pepper.  Finally, the maple creme fraiche is sweet and cooling with a slight tang.  All together, this is quite a bit of work, but making them with a partner makes easy work.  I’m sure even those who don’t like to cook much will be willing to help out if this is their reward.

Here’s to cooking new dishes and eating more good food with those that we love in the new year!

Dustin's Fried Chicken with Maple Creme Fraiche
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in half lengthwise
  2. 2 c. buttermilk
  3. 1 t. fresh thyme, finely chopped
  4. 1 T. Tony Cachere’s original creole seasoning
  5. 2 T. Crystal hot sauce
  6. Neutral oil for frying
  7. 4 c. all-purpose flour
  8. 4 T. kosher salt
  9. 2 T. black pepper
  10. 2 t. cayenne pepper
  11. 7.5 oz. creme fraiche
  12. ½ c. maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Mix the buttermilk, thyme, creole seasoning, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add chicken, turning to coat and allow to marinate at least 30 minutes, and up to one day. The longer you marinate, the juicier and more tender the chicken will be, but don’t let it go beyond a day or else the texture will start to go downhill.
  2. Begin heating oil to 375° F in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. The amount of oil will depend on your pot, but you want the oil to come up the sides at least 2”.
  3. Stir together creme fraiche and maple syrup in a bowl and set aside.
  4. In another large bowl combine the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the flour. Don’t worry about letting any excess marinade drip off - we want the extra marinade drips in the flour to help build crunchy pieces. Stir and smoosh the chicken around in the flour to completely coat all the pieces and let sit for about 10 mins to help the flour adhere to the chicken.
  5. Once oil is at 375° F, drop in 2-3 pieces of chicken. (When you drop in the chicken the oil should cool down to around 350° F.) Fry for about 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Serve with overnight cornmeal and chive waffles, a drizzle of maple creme fraiche, and extra hot sauce if desired.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
Overnight Cornmeal and Chive Waffles
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ t. active dry yeast
  2. ½ c. warm water
  3. ½ c. unsalted butter, melted
  4. 2 c. milk, lukewarm
  5. 3 c. all-purpose flour
  6. ½ c. cornmeal
  7. 1 ½ t. granulated sugar
  8. 1 t. kosher salt
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. ½ t. baking soda
  11. 4 ½ t. minced chives
  12. 1 t. freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Pour warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes, in which time the yeast should begin to foam.
  2. Add the melted butter, milk, flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt and whisk thoroughly until the batter is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit out at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours. Make sure the bowl is at least double the size of the batter as it will grow quite a bit.
  3. When you’re ready to make your waffles begin by preheating your waffle iron. The temperature that you preheat it to will depend in your iron, but I set mine to medium-high.
  4. Add eggs and baking soda to the batter and either whisk well of use an immersion blender to make sure everything is completely smooth and combined. Add chives and pepper and stir with a spoon.
  5. Cook according to the directions for your waffle maker, or however you normally make waffles. For me, this meant I put my waffle iron on medium high and cooked with a light spray of nonstick spray until the waffles were very well browned, 4-5 mins. This yielded a crispy waffle, so cook for less time if you prefer a softer waffle.
Notes
  1. A tip for the milk - you don’t want it hot, just warm enough that it won’t shock the butter when you mix them together. I did this by microwaving the milk in 30 second intervals until it was slightly warm to the touch.
  2. Makes 10-12 4”x5” waffle squares in my belgian waffle maker.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Ginger Miso Skirt Steak with Brussels Sprout Slaw

Ginger Miso Steak with Brussels Sprout Slaw | Cravings & Crumbs

I don’t know about you guys, but I am fall flavor-ed out.  Sure, the sage, apple cider, cinnamon, and multiple batches of pumpkin bread were fun at first.  But after a while the flavors become monotonous, one dish blending into another on the Thanksgiving plate.  What I really wanted after that big feast was 1) beef, because after three days of Thanksgiving leftovers I don’t want another bite of poultry, and 2) something relatively healthy and preferably packed with veggies that haven’t seen any butter or cream.  Enter, this ginger miso skirt steak with a brussels sprout slaw.

Ginger Miso Steak with Brussels Sprout Slaw | Cravings & Crumbs

The steak is literally packed with flavor!  We start with miso and soy sauce for umami.  Red miso is more intense than yellow or white miso – we need the miso to be intense enough to stand up to the steak and the rest of our seasonings.  Then we grate a bunch of fresh ginger and garlic with some toasted sesame oil to pump up the flavor even more.  Lastly we add a big squirt of sriracha for some heat and a little honey for sweetness.

Ginger Miso Steak with Brussels Sprout Slaw | Cravings & Crumbs

The slaw is crunchy and fresh and a perfect complement to the steak.  If you’ve never had shredded Brussels sprouts, you’re missing out.  They have all the good qualities that cabbage has, but they have a lower water content which means that they won’t release a lot of water and dilute your dressing and they’ll stay crunchy longer!  

Ginger Miso Steak with Brussels Sprout Slaw | Cravings & Crumbs

Pro tip: if you have any leftovers or you can’t go a meal without carbs they’re really delicious chopped up in a taco!

Ginger Miso Steak with Brussels Sprout Slaw
Serves 4
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Steak
  1. 1 lb skirt steak, cut into 4 portions
  2. ⅓ c. light soy sauce
  3. 2 ½ T. red miso paste
  4. 1 T. toasted sesame oil
  5. 1 T. honey
  6. 1 T. sriracha
  7. 3 T. water
  8. 1 T. fresh ginger, grated
  9. 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  10. peanut or other neutral oil to cook
Slaw
  1. 1 lb brussels sprouts (4 c. shredded)
  2. 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  3. 1 medium carrot, shaved into ribbons
  4. 1 avocado, diced
  5. 1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  6. ¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  7. ½ c. cilantro, chopped
  8. 2 T. light soy sauce
  9. 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  10. 2 t. lime juice
  11. 1 t. honey
  12. 1 t. fresh ginger, minced
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add marinade and steak to a zip-top bag and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  2. In a large bowl add the shredded brussels sprouts, tomatoes, carrot, avocado, pepper, onion, and cilantro and toss to combine.
  3. In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the slaw dressing.
  4. Remove steak from marinade and pat mostly dry with paper towels.
  5. Heat a grill pan (or a real grill!) over high heat. Add 1-2 T oil to pan and add steak pieces in a single layer. Allow to sear without moving for 3-5 minutes per side for medium rare to medium.
  6. Remove to a plate and allow to rest for 5-10 mins.
  7. While steak is resting toss the slaw with the vinaigrette.
  8. Slice steak thinly against the grain and serve with slaw.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

The Best Garlic Bread

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

Garlic bread.  You might be wondering why we even need a recipe for garlic bread.  Mix garlic with butter, spread it on bread, bake it.  Done.  Well, despite being so straightforward I often get well accomplished home cooks asking me how to make it.  Heck, I treat myself to it so rarely that I often question myself when I make it.  So I made my ideal version of garlic bread and wrote everything out so that next time I want to make the best garlic bread ever I can just look back at this recipe!

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

The first step to the best garlic bread is to start with good bread.  I like to grab a loaf of ciabatta because once you’re done baking it the edges get a nice crunch to them, but because of the large holes in the bread’s structure is stays soft in the middle.  The second secret is to let the garlic infuse into the butter for at least 30 minutes, but preferably longer to maximize and evenly distribute the garlicky-ness.

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

The final step is baking.  We start the garlic bread at a pretty standard heat to melt the butter and toast the bottom slightly, but the trick is to finish it off with the broiler so you can get exactly the amount of crispiness that you want.  Not only does it speed up the process, but it ensures that the inside of the bread doesn’t dry out too much.

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

Listen, it’s hard to go wrong with garlic bread unless you burn it to a crisp, but this is just my method to maximize the best parts.  So use whatever bread you prefer and add any extra seasonings that you like.  I guarantee there won’t be any leftovers!  There never are when it comes to garlic bread…

The Best Garlic Bread | Cravings & Crumbs

And if you’re looking for a good recipe to serve with this garlic bread, hop on over to my everyday meatballs and sauce recipe.  The sauce is cooked with a cup of red wine, so it’s a great excuse to crack open a bottle and have a glass with dinner.

The Best Garlic Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 loaf ciabatta or french bread
  2. 1 stick salted butter, softened
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 T. chopped fresh parsley (or 2 t. dried)
  5. ½ t. garlic powder
  6. ¼ t. dried basil
Instructions
  1. Mix butter, garlic, parsley, garlic powder, and basil in a small bowl. Allow flavors to marry for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 weeks (in the refrigerator).
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Cut bread in half lengthwise and spread both halves evenly with garlic butter. Lay bread, cut side up on a baking tray. Bake 10-12 mins to melt the butter, then broil briefly to crispy and brown the bread to your liking. Do not walk away!! Stay right near the oven and check every 30 seconds or so, as it will only take a minute or two.
  4. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch pieces.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Everyday Meatballs and Sauce

Everyday Meatballs and Sauce | Cravings & Crumbs After suffering through the final late-October heat wave of summer, we finally have a fall chill in the air and it has me dreaming of comfort food!  Aside from a perfectly roast chicken there’s nothing more comforting to me than a big bowl of tender meatballs in tomato sauce.  It wasn’t always that way though.  As a kid I was pretty indifferent to meatballs.  I liked them, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to request them.  No, like most things, I started liking them best once I made them for myself and got to research and tweak the recipe to get them exactly how I wanted. Everyday Meatballs and Sauce | Cravings & Crumbs It was a meatball starter at a local restaurant that spurred my current meatball obsession.  Made with high quality ingredients and cooked in a wood burning oven they were amazing!  And so I started trying to figure out how to get as close as possible to those meatballs at home, but I also wanted them to be something that was easy and accessible to make so it would be realistic even for a weeknight.  That meant no wood burning oven, no deep frying, and no veal.  Although many recipes use veal and surely it would make the meatballs softer, including veal in my go-to recipe would mean making a stop at a specialty market which just isn’t going to happen as often as I want to eat meatballs.  Everything in this recipe can be picked up at any old grocery store. Everyday Meatballs and Sauce | Cravings & Crumbs The other thing I did to make this recipe more accessible was to cook them in the oven instead of on the stovetop.  Frying meatballs in a pan is messy and you always have to do them in batches.  By switching to the oven we can cook all our meatballs at once, which frees us up to tend to our sauce, cook the spaghetti, or make the side salad.    Everyday Meatballs and Sauce | Cravings & Crumbs You don’t have to have them with spaghetti though!  (I’ll wait for the Italians to finish rolling their eyes at me…if they’re still even reading!  They already have their own recipe for meatballs.)  My favorite way to eat these is with homemade sauce and a bunch of crusty bread to soak it all up with.   Don’t be intimidated by the homemade sauce.  It doesn’t have to be some sort of all day marathon cooking session to get a good homemade sauce.  I take a cue from Marcella Hazan and just simmer canned tomatoes for about 45 minutes.  I add garlic, onion, and oregano, as well as some red wine to give the sauce more complexity.  Once you make sauce this way you may never buy a jarred sauce again.  I always come back to this method because the sauce tastes brighter and fresher and isn’t as sweet as the premade stuff.  Oh yeah, and while we’re at it, let’s just make our own garlic bread.  My standard recipe for that will be coming next!

Everyday Meatballs and Sauce
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For the meatballs
  1. 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  2. ¼ c. milk
  3. ¼ c. minced yellow onion
  4. 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  5. ¼ c. chopped parsley
  6. ½ t. dried oregano
  7. ½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
  8. 1 t. ground black pepper
  9. 2 t. kosher salt
  10. 1 lb ground beef
  11. 1 lb mild italian sausage
  12. 2 eggs
For the sauce
  1. 2 - 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  2. 4 T. butter
  3. 7 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 c. earthy red wine (such as merlot or cabernet sauvignon)
  5. ½ yellow onion, sliced through the root end
  6. 1 t. kosher salt
  7. 1 t. dried oregano
To make the sauce
  1. In a saucepot over medium low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and slightly softened. You don’t want the garlic to brown, just to infuse the butter with its flavor.
  2. Add the tomatoes, wine, onion, salt, and oregano. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.
To make the meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Add the panko and milk to a large bowl and allow to soak for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and mix everything together. This ensures all the flavors get mixed evenly throughout without overworking the meat.
  3. Add the meat and eggs to the panko mixture and gently mix with your hands or a spoon. You don’t want to work the meat too much or your meatballs will end up dense.
  4. Roll into balls a little larger than a golf ball, about 2 tablespoons. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray and place the balls in rows, spacing them about 1 inch apart. If the meat has come up to room temperature by this point I suggest refrigerating them while the oven preheats, but it’s not necessary.
  5. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake for 20-30 mins, depending on size. An instant read thermometer inserted into the middle of a meatball should read 165° F.
  6. At this point you can briefly simmer the meatballs in the sauce, or you can serve them as is with sauce on top (and lots of parmesan, obviously!)
Notes
  1. The meatball mixture can be made up to a day ahead or frozen. I like to freeze half the mixture in a quart size ziploc pressed flat so that it will defrost quickly.
  2. You can also cook the meatballs in advance and rewarm them in the tomato sauce, as I did when I made them for this post.
  3. You can make the meatballs larger or smaller based on your preference, just be sure to adjust the cooking time. You want them fully cooked through, but not dried out.
  4. This recipe makes about 32 meatballs.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

 

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic VinaigretteHere we go with another recipe from the Gjelina cookbook.  Last time we made a decadent mushroom toast that was so ridiculously delicious and comforting and would satisfy any meat eater.  (Gotta like mushrooms though, that’s a requirement).  This time I figured I would go for something much lighter.  I’ve been eating a lot of spinach salads for lunch and wanted some new flavor combinations to keep it interesting.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

Flipping through the pages of the cookbook was so inspiring that I had a list of recipes to try before I was even halfway through.  A constant goal of mine is to find new ways to cook and enjoy more vegetables and Gjelina is the perfect cookbook for that since vegetables are their main focus.  I actually checked this cookbook out from the library years ago when it first came out and wrote it off for all the subrecipes and complexity included in the recipes.  This time around I was more in a mindset to pick and choose where to spend my effort.  The recipes are so great that even if you don’t make every single thing from scratch or find each obscure/gourmet ingredient it will still end up so much better than your average recipe.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

What originally drew me to this recipe was the beautiful picture and the contrast between the deep green of the spinach and the golden brown of the croutons.  Remember what I was just saying about choosing where to spend your effort?  Well in this recipe don’t skip the homemade croutons!  Not only is there nothing better than homemade croutons, but I love how thinly they’re sliced.  They end up crispy, but still somewhat delicate.

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette
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For the vinaigrette
  1. 3 T red wine vinegar
  2. 1T lemon juice
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2T shallots, minced
  5. 1T honey
  6. ½ c olive oil
  7. 1t Dijon mustard
  8. Salt and pepper
For the salad
  1. Day old bread
  2. Olive oil
  3. Seasonings
  4. Baby spinach
  5. Golden raisins
  6. Goat cheese
  7. Kalamata olives
  8. Castelvetrano olives
Instructions
  1. Combine the shallots and garlic with the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl or jar and let macerate 5-10 minutes. Then add the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients and stir or shake to combine.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice bread very thinly, about ¼” and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and any other seasonings you like (garlic powder and dried basil would be a nice place to start). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Assemble salad by adding the spinach and golden raisins to a large bowl. Slice the olives in half and add to the bowl. Crumble the goat cheese on top. Break the croutons into bite sized pieces and add. Finally, toss with the vinaigrette, 1 T at a time until you reach your desired level of coating.
Notes
  1. I don’t have any measurements here because in a salad it’s all to your taste. Add a little of this and that, it really doesn’t matter as long as the main ingredient is the spinach.
Adapted from Gjelina
Adapted from Gjelina
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/

Fancy Mushroom Toasts

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

I have a sort of foodie friend in the office I work in.  We chat about recipes we’ve tried, new ingredients we found, what we’re going to cook over the weekend, cookbooks, pretty much anything food related.  I love finding people who love to cook because talking to them gets me excited about new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients that I might not have been familiar with or known about before.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

A few weeks ago he came into the office on Monday morning talking about a meal he had at Gjelina over the weekend.  He led with the dessert heavenly butterscotch pots de creme then he moved on to the mushroom toast.  I have no idea what else he ate there because we couldn’t move past the mushrooms.  Oh my god, the mushroom toast.  The chef says he can’t take these off the menu because the customers will revolt.  They’re that good.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Like any obsessive home cook, he had already bought the cookbook and was ready to try to recreate them at home.  I wouldn’t have thought much more about these mushroom toasts except to ask for a follow-up the next week.  But the next week he hadn’t made them.  The week after that he bought a mixture of fancy mushrooms at the farmer’s market, but was stymied by the homemade creme fraiche, which had to be cultured at exactly 78° F…  Three weeks I waited for the report on the mushrooms toasts!  And in the meantime I found myself reading blog posts of people who had recreated them and scrolling through instagram shots from the restaurant just to see what they looked like in their natural habitat.  Yeah, I know I have problems.

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

Eventually i had to take matters into my own hands.  A quick trip to my local produce market to pick up mushrooms and good bread and a jaunt over to Trader Joe’s for reasonably priced creme fraiche and I was ready!  I was out of garlic confit, although I have a recipe for my version right over here, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  I quickly infused some garlic in oil, used that to toast the breads.  You can toast them in the toaster, but for this recipe it’s much better on the stovetop (or grill, as the original recipe calls for) because the outside will be incredibly crunchy, but the inside of the slices will still be moist and springy.  A quick saute of the mushrooms, reduction of some white wine and shallots, and the addition of some creme fraiche and I was eating the best lunch I could ask for!

Fancy Mushroom Toast | Cravings & Crumbs

The recipe notes say that the chef enjoys a big slab of mushroom toast with an earthy glass of red wine for dinner and I must say he’s on to something.  Normally you might match the wine to whatever type of wine you used in the dish, but here the earthy meatiness of the mushrooms is perfect with red.  This is a decadent and delicious vegetarian appetizer or main course that I would be more than happy to eat again and again.

So here it is, a doable version of the original.  Although homemade garlic confit and homemade buttermilk creme fraiche would undoubtedly be amazing with this recipe, if they’re holding you back from making this recipe then don’t do them!  If you do want to go the extra mile, you can find the original recipe in full here.

Fancy Mushroom Toasts
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Ingredients
  1. ⅓ c. olive oil
  2. 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  3. 2-4 slices good bread (depending on size)
  4. ½ lb mushrooms (see notes)
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 2 T minced shallots
  7. 1 T butter (optional)
  8. ½ c. dry white wine
  9. 1T fresh thyme
  10. ½ c. creme fraiche
  11. 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Add the olive oil and garlic slices to a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook until garlic slices are beginning to brown on the edges, then remove with a slotted spoon and save for later. Remove oil from heat.
  2. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of garlic oil on both sides of the bread. Heat a frying pan over medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the bread in a single layer. Cook until the bread is crispy and browned on the first side, then flip and cook the second side in the same manner. Remove the toasts to a plate.
  3. Separate or chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. This will mean different things based on which mushrooms you have so use your best judgment of what size mushroom chunks will fit nicely on your toast. Turn the heat under the frying pan to medium high and add 3 T of the garlic olive oil to the frying pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until seared and well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms, add the shallots and the butter if the pan seems like it needs more moisture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the wine, thyme, and reserved garlic slices and continue to cook until reduced by half.
  4. Stir in the creme fraiche and cook until thickened slightly, 1-2 mins. Stir in the parsley, taste and season again with salt and pepper, then spoon the mushrooms evenly over your toasts.
Notes
  1. Although these are fancy mushroom toasts, you should feel free to use any mushrooms that you have access to or can afford. I really know nothing about fancy mushrooms so I picked these based on looks and price and ended up with oyster and brown clamshell. The original recipe suggests a mix of nameko, hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, or matsutake. However, the mushrooms share the spotlight with the sauce and toast and as I was eating these I thought they would be just as delicious with regular old sliced crimini.
Adapted from Gjelina
Adapted from Gjelina
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/