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Good morning readers, cooks and diners.
Folks had breakfast on their minds this morning, as witnessed by the first four requests: Cracker Barrel cinnamon strudel French toast, monkey bread made with refrigerator biscuits, eggs Benedict casserole and a never-will-separate, foolproof Hollandaise sauce. The final one is not a breakfast recipe, but surely could be: scalloped potatoes cooked in heavy cream.
Chip Chapman asked the first question.
"I had breakfast at a local Cracker Barrel recently and fell in love with their cinnamon strudel French toast. Do you have any idea on a recipe for that? If you haven't tried it - trust me, it's wonderful."
A small circle of breakfast lovers had heard about one recipe and sampled another. "I had made monkey bread before, with frozen roll dough, but I heard of one made with refrigerated biscuits, quartered, with a sugar syrup poured over it," one of them said.
Her friend actually made a recipe for eggs Benedict casserole and promptly lost it. "It was printed somewhere, and the casserole included English muffins," she said. "It worked well, but the accompanying Hollandaise sauce separated, curdled. So I would like the eggs Benedict casserole but a different recipe for Hollandaise sauce that won't separate."
Mary Ann McInturff saw the request for Panera broccoli soup and thought of this one.
"I don't know how close this recipe is to Panera's, but it's definitely the best broccoli cheese soup recipe I've found. It does not get watery at the bottom of the bowl, as so many do. This comes from Cooking Light magazine, January 2002, with some minor tweaks of my own. This was originally low-fat everything, but I don't make it that way."
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic or dry minced garlic
2 tablespoons oil, butter or margarine
3 cups chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli florets or cut broccoli
2 1/2 cups whole milk or 2 percent milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces processed cheese (cubed Velveeta)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, sauté onion and garlic in about 2 tablespoons oil, butter or margarine until tender. Add broth and broccoli (frozen or thawed) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until broccoli is tender. Reduce heat to medium.
In a separate bowl combine milk and flour with a whisk until blended. Add to broccoli mixture and cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Add Velveeta cubes a few at a time, stirring until all cheese is melted. Serve hot.
Michele Winter Johnson has a recipe for brined duck. This recipe calls for cooking on a rotisserie, but Johnson also gives directions for preparing without a rotisserie. This recipe also works, she explained, with turkey breasts.
"The oranges, fresh ginger, cardamom, and cider infuse the duck with tremendous flavor, and the rotisserie method is the best way I found to render the fat from the duck, yet keep it wonderfully moist. I also use this recipe for turkey breasts."
To make brine
1 (64-ounce) bottle apple cider
1 (2-pound bag) brown sugar
1 1/3 cups kosher salt
6 oranges quartered
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole cardamom seeds, cracked
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, or 4 blend peppercorns, cracked
1 head garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, sliced
1 bag apple smoking chips
1 bag hickory smoking chips
1 6 to 7 pound whole duck
In a large stockpot, add apple cider, brown sugar and salt. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and add remaining brine ingredients. Add 2 cups ice cubes and cool completely.
To prepare duck
Rinse duck thoroughly and put in cooled brine. Place in the refrigerator and allow 26 to 48 hours for brine to flavor the bird.
Fold a large piece of foil in half, placing about 2 to 3 cups of chips inside, sprinkling with water or more cider. Fold down edges of foil to make a packet and place packet on grill before preheating to 325 degrees.
Lightly oil rotisserie grill rod. Insert prongs into duck and place on rod. Rub duck with oil. Once grill has reached 325 degrees and foil packets are nicely smoking, place spit rod on the grill in the rod holders and motor, and close grill. Check grill to maintain temperature, replacing foil packets every 30 minutes or so when you no longer see smoke. After 11/2 hours, check temperature of the bird. You want the thigh to be between 170 and 175 degrees. Once bird is done, remove from spit and cover lightly with foil. Let rest for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Variation: To smoke duck without a rotisserie, follow instructions except place a foil pan filled with water or cider on indirect heat, and put duck on oiled grill racks over the water pan on indirect heat. You also can use the beer can method, substituting cider for the beer (or use an upright bird roaster).
Up next is a versatile spinach dish. The sender is a longtime friend, Yeast of the Ridge. She wrote that "this is not a spinach soufflé, but it is very good and perhaps easier than a soufflé. It would work for breakfast, lunch and dinner."
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup whipping cream, half and half, or light cream
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
Lightly coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in spinach and mushrooms. Transfer to prepared dish. Top with cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings.