Breakfast on the Beach

DSC_7086 IMG_1231 DSC_7083This past summer on the Vineyard, I was fortunate to be invited to a couple of breakfasts on the beach. Each featured delightful and delectable offerings of food and fellowship. French toast and scrambled eggs cooked on grills, fresh fruit and freshly, baked that morning, scones, tomato pies, potatoes cooked various ways and artichoke strata are just a few of the samplings offered on those sun drenched mornings.With the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, grills being fired up and the sweet, salty air surrounding us, I would say this was a near perfect way to begin a day.

The perk to all of the above was having your beach chair already set up, your suntan lotion handily available, and the sun and surf ready to be enjoyed. The breakfast easily eases into afternoon. This is another All of This! moments with friends gathered around in chairs, our tables being our laps or towels, and nature providing the most beautiful entertainment venue possible.

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Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato Strata

Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 1 large)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 jar sun dried tomatoes (4 oz)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1 3/4 cups  milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 (1-pound) loaf white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
Cooking spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided

Preparation

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in artichoke hearts, tomatoes and garlic; cook for 8 minutes or until artichoke hearts begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in herbes de Provence. Cool 10 minutes.
2. Combine milk, black pepper, salt, and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and bread; toss gently to combine. Stir in artichoke mixture, and let stand for 20 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375°.
4. Spoon half of bread mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half of goat cheese, and top with remaining bread mixture. Sprinkle remaining half of goat cheese over top. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

The Spirit of Giving?

We all know that special time of year when people are feeling oh so generous. The spirit of giving is evident all around….at the office, the schools and most especially, found in plastic bags on everyone’s door knob, when they are returning from having just spread their own special cheer.

You know the season, right? Zucchini season!!! When it grows, it really grows. All sizes too, whatever your heart desires. What to do with these gifts of the season you ask?

Zucchini Bread. A good recipe can be found online, or in any church or junior league cookbook worth its reading. I bake and freeze small and large loaves for year round enjoyment. They make nice hostess gifts in a pinch, unless your hostess also has her freezer stocked from all of those generous gifts of bounty.

My “go to” zucchini recipe is fritters. They are delicious, and can be eaten as a side dish with most entrees. They are also a great appetizer, that I like to serve with basil mayonnaise.                                                                                                                Though the zucchini rush is summertime, this nice little veggie is the gift that keeps giving all year long.

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Zucchini Fritters

2 medium zucchini
2 Tablespoons grated onion
2 eggs
6 to 8 Tablespoons flour
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon pepper
butter & vegetable oil

Grate the zucchini and onion in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Heat 1/2 Tbl. butter and 1/2 Tbl. oil in the pan. Use medium to medium high heat. When the oil and butter are hot, drop heaping spoonfuls of batter in the pan.   Cook about 2 minutes on each side until browned. Continue to add oil and butter to the pan when needed, as remaining fritters are cooked.

Basil Mayonnaise 

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine  the basil, 1/4 cup of the mayonnaise, lemon juice and several grinds of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the basil is finely chopped. Add the remaining mayonnaise and lemon zest and process again.

Store in a tightly covered bowl in refrigerator. It will keep for up to 3 days.