Breakfast and brunch, breakfast on the go, disappointing meals, sea dog brewing

Breakfast at Sea Dog Brewing

You’re supposed to feed a cold, right? When I woke up this past Sunday with a full blown case of a head cold, I wanted nothing more than a huge, lumberjack man sized breakfast. But, that’s not quite what I got. Trouble is, we had to catch breakfast out near the mall in South Portland and, well, the options for an a.m. meal are woefully lacking (Why is there not a diner out there? Can someone explain that?). There’s IHOP, Cracker Barrel, Friendly’s, Tim Horton’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Burger King and Sea Dog Brewing. Neither the Missus or I will step foot into a Cracker Barrel for personal reasons and I’d take a Denny’s over IHOP any day.  I wanted something with a little more sustenance than any of the other fast food places could offer, so we were left with Sea Dog.

Sigh.

I loved Eggspectations when it lived in the space that now houses Sea Dog. Sure, it was a chain, but it always tasted like it wasn’t and their endless list of Benedicts appealed to the Hollandiase sauce whore in me. With Sea Dog, well—it truly only came down to there being nothing else as we killed time waiting for the Sprint store to open.

The Missus ordered the Breakfast Bruschetta, a combination of ‘sauteed mushrooms and flavorful arugula on a grilled crostone, topped with two poached eggs and truffle hollandaise.’ Now, we don’t expect much when it says ‘truffle hollandaise,’ we’re not talking about the deft hand of Steven Corey or Sam Hayward in the kitchen at Sea Dog. We’re realistic. However, one would expect some semblance of truffles to be present, at least in the form of a strong (hell, even mild) mushroom flavor. The hollandaise was cloyingly lemon flavored and, beyond that, it was reminiscent of those instant Knorr packets you can pick up at Hannaford.

I ordered the ‘Homemade Corned Beef Hash,’ which was described on the menu as “It’s our specialty – Corned beef hash and root vegetables with two poached eggs, toast and homefries.”  Where do I begin? With the fact that their interpretation of root vegetables consists of some onion slices and less than a dozen shriveled half moons of carrot seemingly tossed in after the fact or the fact that this is supposed to be their specialty?  The corned beef was a unseasoned pile of dried cubes, the only moisture coming from the oil it was heated with. There was no crust from being heated on the grill, there was no herbs or black pepper. There was no flavor. Do you see the splash of red across the eggs? That’s Frank’s Red Hot which was a necessary element to bring any bit of flavor to everything you see on the plate. If I had thought of it, I would have even added some to the toast because my sourdough was, not surprisingly, lacking in sour. It was, however, slathered in a good half stick of butter, which does wonders for my shiny coat.

If their bare minimum attention to the quality of their breakfast, which they serve daily, is any indication, the only draw to actually darken the door of Sea Dog Brewing may be for a pint and their multiple big screen TV’s in the bar area. Just eat before hand.

Sea Dog Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

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37 cooks, Breakfast and brunch, Teet's Food Store, The Teet's Challenge

Eggs Hussarde

37 Cooks recently got hooked up with Teet’s Food Store in Ville Platte, Louisiana–a specialty smoked meats store– for a group project posting.  They were contacted by Luke Deville about working together and coming up with recipes utilizing the following:
Smoked Sausage (an endless list of options were given)
Smoked Tasso
Smoked Ponce

Teet’s was beyond generous with their donations to the group (I’d easily say that they sent out over $1,000 in samples to a group of crazy cooks scattered around the country) and I think we collectively did them proud.

I have tried my sausage and tasso and I loved them both. The tasso was used in the first two days and was thoroughly enjoyed. I would definitely recommend checking out their website and purchasing a link or two (or, if you’re feeling particularly ballsy–go for the Ponce).

This is the first recipe that I made utilizing Teet’s Tasso.

Eggs Hussarde for 2
by Shannon T.
adapted from Eggs Hussarde recipe in Saveur Magazine online

I will simply say that this is the best version of Eggs Benedict (and most simple Hollandaise sauce) I’ve ever made. I even finished off the Missus’ plate.

11 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 egg yolks*
Generous pinch of Slap Ya Mama HOT seasoning
White distilled vinegar
2 eggs plus egg whites separated from above listed yolks*
1 Tablespoon of cream/milk/half and half
2 English muffins, split and lightly toasted
12 1⁄4″- thick slices Teet’s Smoked Pure Pork Tasso
1 medium tomato, cored and cut into 4 thick slices

Heat 1 tablespoon of  butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat; strain through a sieve. Set the divinity sauce aside.

Pour water into a medium saucepan to a depth of about 2 inches. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. In a metal bowl, whisk the lemon juice, yolks, and 2 tablespoons water together until frothy. Place the bowl over the simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is pale yellow and thickened. Remove the bowl from the heat and slowly drizzle in the remaining melted butter in a thin stream, whisking constantly, to form a thick Hollandaise sauce. Whisk in SYM seasoning and salt. Cover to keep the sauce warm.

Set an oven rack 4″ from the broiler; preheat. Put the muffin halves on a baking sheet, cut side up. Arrange 3 slices of tasso on each, drizzle with the divinity sauce, and top each with a tomato slice. Broil until the tomatoes are bubbly.

In a bowl, mix together the whole eggs and egg whites with the dairy of your choice. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat.  When the butter is melted, add the egg mixture and immediately begin stirring with a heat proof spatula until the desired consistency is reached. Divide the muffin halves between the plates, top each with one quarter of the scrambled eggs, and spoon the Hollandaise over the top.

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bacon, bacon and corn griddle cakes, Breakfast and brunch, brunch everyday, fun things with bacon, lazy sundays

Sunday Morning Griddle Cakes

Sunday is, without question, my favorite day of the week. It is a predominantly lazy day in our house, with a mild dose of productivity (there is usually laundry and a bit of cleaning to do, which then turns into mindless tv watching sometime after 2pm). But, what truly makes it my favorite is the fact that it’s the one day off a week that The Missus and I have together. I cherish it. Depending on our moods, and our disposable income, we switch back and forth between going out to our usual haunts for brunch and me cooking up an indulgent meal at home. This week we stayed in and I cooked up a savory stack of pancakes that I came across on Pinterest. (Can we just acknowledge that Pinterest is going to make us all ridiculously fat? Because it is.)

Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes
from Recipe Girl

8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
warm maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the bacon mixture for topping the griddle cakes upon serving- and set it aside.

2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil, just until moistened. Stir in the bacon mixture, corn and cheese. The mixture will be thick. If you’d like the griddle cakes to be slightly thinner than those pictured, add a little more milk to thin out the batter.

3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping 1/4-cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until it is golden brown- 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter.

4. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon/onion and a good dose of warm maple syrup.

I used buttermilk in place of the regular milk and some Dinosaur BBQ ‘Foreplay‘ spice mix instead of the cayenne. The cakes were wonderfully fluffy and filling, with sizable chunks of smokey Black Forest Bacon and sweet corn. I used Pineland Farms Salsa Jack cheese, which added a wee bit more flavor to the mix than the Monterey Jack that was called for. While I was dubious of the maple syrup that the recipe called for, but the balance of sweet and savory flavors definitely worked here. They were, dare I say, even better than the griddle cakes I had at Farmhouse Tap and Grill.

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artemesia cafe, Breakfast and brunch, brunch in Portland, ME, neighborhood gems

Artemisia Cafe

There aren’t many “off the beaten path” or “hidden gems” in Portland. So much of our dining scene exists between Commercial and Cumberland, in the main sections of town. But, there are a few unassuming places–like Ohno! Cafe and Caiola’s–that are tucked away in cute little neighborhoods. Artemisia Cafe, located on Pleasant Street, is one of those gems and I’m lucky to call it my neighborhood spot.

During the week, Tuesday through Friday, they’re only open for a quick window of time (11am-2pm) where they serve up a variety of soups, sandwiches and salads, with a daily special written on the large chalkboard that occupies nearly the entirety of the back wall.

The space is well loved and homey, with throw pillows in the booths for a little extra, comfortable cushion. There’s a small bar and waiting area, but during the week the restaurant is relatively quiet. Come the weekend, though, expect a 20+ minute wait for a table.

Their brunch, for me, ranks up there with Schulte and Herr and Caiola’s. Again, since it’s right in our neighborhood, it’s hard to resist popping over on a lazy Sunday morning.

They’re opened longer hours on the weekend (9am-2pm), thankfully. The brunch menu is no longer than most places in town and they offer the usual eggs and bacon, french toast, four different types of Eggs Benedict, Huevos Rancheros, fruit bowls and, my favorite, Biscuits with Sausage Gravy.

How good are those biscuits (pictured above)? Even my mom, ever the picky eater, loved them the last time she visited and my sister, who joined her, hounded me until I went over and asked them for the recipe for their gravy. Out of respect for the restaurant, I won’t post it here, but I will say that it’s not your typical sausage and gravy mix. Think of it more like a bechamel, thickened with a variety of cheeses and large chunks of Italian sausage. And the chef definitely doesn’t skimp on the amount of sausage, either, which some places do. Ladle that goodness over two house made flaky biscuits and you have yourself a breakfast of champions or just a really good cure for a horrible hangover. Oh, and just to make it even better, they throw in two eggs(your choice) and a side of home fries. All for just $9.50.

But, not only is the food wonderful, the service is too. There’s a blonde waitress (please forgive me for forgetting her name at the moment) who is ever present in the dining room and always on her game, even on the days when she seems to be the only one and waist deep in the weeds. She’s nice, cheerful and always engaging. Basically, she’s the embodiment of everything I could ask for in a server. We’ve had her as our waitress nearly every time we’ve gone in and she has been all of that and more. I’ve never seen her flinch or lose her cool when dealing with a loud, probably still intoxicated, table or a family of four whose children have decided to finger paint with the maple syrup. She definitely makes our time their much more enjoyable and kudos to for being one of my favorite servers in Portland.

So, when you’re looking for a spot to pop out to brunch this weekend, consider forgoing the usual haunts and take a trip to my neighborhood and stop in to Artemesia Cafe and, for the love of God, someone try the Sausage and Biscuits.

Artemisia Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Breakfast and brunch, German food in Portland Maine, Schulte and Herr Portland Maine

Sunday at Schulte and Herr

The Bollard’s Dan Zarin nailed it in his final paragraph, when he said:

Until now, I hadn’t realized that the Portland restaurant scene was lacking a German breakfast-and-lunch café, but it turns out that’s precisely what was missing.

Schulte and Herr is the most pleasant surprise to hit Portland in quite some time. While many have long since pined for better Chinese food, more authentic Mexican and less expensive Greek food (this is the Missus’ personal wish), there was never a peep over the near void of hearty Eastern European fare (You can get some killer Perogis at Bogusha’s Polish Deli on Stevens). Now, with our first visit to Schulte and Herr, I can’t imagine Portland without it.

We were there for their first official Sunday Brunch (they’ve opted to close on Mondays instead) and nearly every seat was full when we were seated. Five mintues later, there would be people waiting. The space is small and understated, I think I had expected something more akin to other loud, garish German restaurants I had visited. I understood, when our food arrived, the room could be so subtle because the food would leave such an impact.

The Missus, who spent a couple of years in boarding school in Germany, took one look at the menu and said, “This is what I ate everyday for two years.” She was happy the moment her eyes hit the page. You also have to remember that her family is Lithuanian, which has a similar ‘meat and potatoes’ culture. She’s joked with her family that if you were to cut into any of them, sour cream would pour out. This is the food of her people.

No dish on the menu connected that together more than the special of pickled makerel with potato salad and beet sauce.

In Lithuanian culture, pickled herring is a staple of Kūčios. It was also the most glaring thing missing when we celebrated our first together last Christmas. Having never had pickled fish, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. But the first bite eliminated any fear and I eagerly flaked off greedy sections and devoured it with their wonderful beet sauce. The fish was neither too briny nor too fishy. The meat of the fish was just bright enough to cut through the richness from the naturally oily mackerel. An appreciated side of hearty German styled (obviously) potato salad made this is a generously portioned appetizer. That heaping plate was only $6 and more than worth every penny.

The Missus ordered the Bergmannkiez, a plate of various cured and smoked meats, cheeses, jam, bread and fruit. The cheeses were the only un-German elements of the meal, one a triple creme brie(I’m guessing Delice de Bourgogne from France) and the Italian Piave Vecchio, similar to the Hartkase or ‘hard cheese.’ But, in defense of the choices, these are both wonderful, contrasting cheeses that paired beautifully with the various smoked and cured ham and sausages on the plate(we both greatly enjoyed the peppered and smoked sausage). Also, Portland doesn’t really offer much in the way of German cheeses outside of Limburger or Cambozola, so you can’t really fault them. Not only were the meats and cheeses wonderful, but the homemade bread it was served with was even better. It was hearty and homey, and if they offered it, I would buy rye bread from them every week. I’m a sucker for a good rye bread with caraway and there’s is the best that I’ve had outside of Boston.

But, as much as I swooned over the offerings that the Missus had in front of her, I was even more enamored with my choice of potato pancakes and house cured lox. This was actually another first for me as I am not one to order smoked or cured salmon instead of something with meat, but Dawn had raved on about it so much that I knew it shouldn’t be missed. And it wasn’t and I was so glad I took her recommendation. Like some of the best salmon I’ve had at Miyake, the dilly lox melted on the tongue under a slight dab of horseradish sauce. The pancakes were beautifully pan fried patties, crunchy on the outside and creamy inside, and added a bit of heartiness to the lightness of the salmon. Paired with cornichons, capers and radishes, every element of texture seemed to be represented and every bite was a different combination of elements. And every single one was greatly enjoyed.

With nearly everything made on site, and where dishes seemed pressed to reach above $10 a plate, Schulte and Herr is easily one of the best new restaurants in town, where people always seem to be calling for ‘more bang for my buck.’ The portions are generous, preparation simple and, most importantly, the food is good. Really, really good.

Schulte & Herr on Urbanspoon

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