Breakfast Casseroles from Around the World

For Chowhound. March 2018. 

You don’t need a plane ticket to enjoy food from different countries. Brighten your morning routine with these internationally inspired casserole dishes that can be made ahead. From Mexico to Nigeria, expand your breakfast culture knowledge one egg at a time.

Mexico: Huevos Rancheros

Meaning “rancher’s eggs” in Spanish, these are sunny-side up fried eggs served on lightly fried corn tortillas smothered in tomato-chilisauce, accompanied by refried beans and rice. Top with diced avocados, fresh cilantro, sour cream and salsa to make this hearty breakfast dish that will transport you to a hacienda in Mexico. Get our Huevos Rancheros recipe.

Israel: Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a staple found in the Middle East and North Africa. The name aptly means “all mixed up” as it is a blend of poached eggs, onions, bell peppers, minced meat (optional), and spicy tomato sauce flavored with smoked paprika and oregano. Melt feta cheese on top and serve the casserole with a hearty baguette or fresh warm pita bread. Get our Shakshuka recipe.

Spain: Tortilla Espanola

Fine Cooking

Found at cafes and bars across Spain and in many countries in South America, tortilla espanola can be eaten for breakfast, snack, or as tapas with a glass of wine. The vegetarian and gluten-free baked omelet is made by layering sliced potatoes with eggs, onions, and garlic. To serve, slice into pie size pieces at room temperature. Get the recipe.

Germany: Hoppel Poppel

Journal.hr

What better way to use leftovers than to toss them into a breakfast casserole? Hoppel poppel is a traditional breakfast/ supper casserole from Berlin which includes meat, potatoes, onions, and cheese, flavored with heavy cream, dill, salt, and pepper. Feel free to use whatever you have in the fridge—cooked meat, bacon, salami, or even hamburgers. Get the recipe.

Portugal: Bacalhau a Bras

Melepimenta

Travel to the Iberian Peninsula through Portuguese comfort food. Salted cod is the national dish of Portugal and it shows up at breakfast time too. Soak dried cod in cold water overnight and layer the casserole with fried shredded potatoes, onions, black olives, garlic, and beaten eggs. Get the recipe.

France: Oeufs au Plat Bressanne

Coley Cooks

Maybe you haven’t made it to the Alpine region of France yet, but you can still brag about your talents when it comes to French cooking. The countryside version of eggs benedict baked with runny eggs makes for great presentation. Fry pieces of toast in butter, add heavy cream seasoned with garlic, tarragon or chives, carefully top the eggs, and bake until the egg whites are firm. Get the recipe.

Pakistan: Khagina

Spice Spoon

Known as egg bhurji in India, tukhum-bonjam in Afghanistan, and khagina in Pakistan, the stovetop scrambled eggs are delightful if you like your breakfast spicy. Cook beaten eggs with onions, tomatoes, chilies, lentils, and turmeric. Serve with chapatti (flatbread) and cardamom-spiced chai. Get the recipe.

Italy: Frittata

Frittata meaning “fried” in Italian is a crustless quiche that is cooked in a cast iron skillet. You can use leftover ingredients, any combination of vegetables, cheese and meats—the possibilities are endless. The key to making a good frittata is beating the eggs vigorously to allow for air to incorporate, and cooking them very slowly on stove top and in the oven. Get our Kale and Roasted Red Pepper Frittata recipe.

Iraq: Makhlama Lahm

This one-pot dish will satisfy the meateater in you. Saute ground lamb with onions, tomatoes, parsley, yellow curry powder, and red chili flakes, then top with soft-baked eggs. The Iraqi breakfast dish dates to the 10th century! Get the recipe.

Nigeria: Egg Stew

Nigerian Food TV

Nigerian egg stew is a staple breakfast at every home in Nigeria, especially on the weekends. Blend red bell peppers and tomatoes to make a sauce, and season with garlic and scotch bonnet for heat. For proteins, add eggs, corned beef, and fish. Serve with boiled yam, potatoes, or chunky plantains. Get the recipe.

This Philly Restaurant will Turn You Into a Vegan

huffpost taste

As more people turn to veganism, there is a growing demand for restaurant menus to include plant-based foods beyond raw salads and smoothies. In Jenkintown, a neighborhood of Philadelphia’s suburbs, a 16-seat enterprise has become the city’s new favorite vegan spot. Flora Vegan Restaurant was the vision of four high-school friends, Dan Brightcliffe and Patrick Durision (now 25), who shared a passion for food. Together they grew up working at family-run restaurants (Leila’s Bistro and Forcella both also in Jenkintown), and with the help of their former employers, decided to start a small neighborhood establishment that caters to a niche clientele. Except the head chef, none of them are trained culinary professionals but have learned basic techniques by working in the kitchen of fellow owners’ Jose Vargas and Jennifer Brennan’s other establishments Leila’s Bistro and Forcella through school and college. They wanted to create a place that was intimate like a family living room, located in a small urban neighborhood, used locally sourced ingredients, and serving healthy dishes.

Brightcliffe and Durison, with the help of Vargas and Brennan were able to accomplish this in December 2014. The tiny space is hardly noticeable from the street. Once inside, it looks like a contemporary loft with a refined palate. White napkins are placed alongside mason jar glasses, while painting of vegetables gives diners a subtle suggestion of whats to come. A wooden bar acts like a chef’s table, where you may end up chatting with one of the owners.

What distinguishes Flora from other vegan restaurants is originality and flavors. Unlike other places that substitute tofu and gluten to make imitation meats, Flora retains ingredients in their original form. The dishes are inspired from all around the world, and adapted to vegan personalities. They also try to source food from local areas, including their own gardens. In fact, many of the people who come here are not necessarily vegans, but hooked on Flora’s promise to deliver a healthy, nutritious and fresh meal in a romantic restaurant setting.

Menu changes with the season and offers three and four course options. We start off with couple of salads that are pleasing visually and to taste. Sliced carrots delicately spiced with Moroccan seasoning, puree of chickpeas and garnish of homemade pickled radishes and parsley leaves come together in a symphony of flavors. As expected, the dish is light, healthy and delicious.

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Thinly sliced roasted beet with clementines, blood oranges and kumquats, drizzled with a crunchy pistachio vinaigrette are a clear evidence that cheese is not always essential to a well rounded salad. This plate is too pretty to eat, but we managed to clean off every morsel.

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One of my favorite dishes was the roasted brussels sprouts with a tangy onion marmalade, and wafer thin crackers made out of rolled out and fried sushi rice. The brussels are cooked to perfection – soft with a crisp bite. It takes a creative genius to bring together such varied combinations, and Chef Max Hosey is just that.

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A vegetarian Thai coconut curry with peppers, okra, potatoes, rice and peanuts, is fragrant with herbs and spices, as it should be when freshly prepared. It is the perfect comfort dish on a chilly March evening in Philly.

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We continue this culinary journey around the world with a twist on Mexican tamales. This one is stuffed with mashed lentils and served with a salsa verde sauce. The chipotle kicks in at every bite making this the spiciest dish on the menu.

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For dessert we head to New Orleans. I can never refuse fresh warm beignets with melted chocolate. I peek into the tiny kitchen to see if they are actually being made to order and yes, powdered sugar is drizzled on top as they make their way to my table. As soon as I finish the treat, I want to order another one.

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It was a refreshing change to eat food that tastes fresh, original and true to its flavors. Add to that stunning presentations and we have the perfect vegan restaurant. I ask the chef to share his recipe so vegans and non vegans everywhere could get a flavor of his art.

Flora Restaurant seats just 16, so reservations are recommended. Dinner is served Tuesday-Saturday 5-9 p.m. Menu 3-course $35, 4-course $40. BYOB. Cash and check only. Find Flora at 307 Old York Road in Jenkintown; phone: (215) 779-7945.

Vegan Pepper Pot Recipe

Ingredients

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper
2 poblano peppers
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 pint hen of the woods mushrooms
4 allspice seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 dried ancho pepper
3 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 cup white wine
1 pint vegetable stock
1 14-oz can coconut milk
1 large carrot, chopped quarter inch
1 cup okra, whole
1 sweet potato
1 yellow plantain

Toast spices in oven for 3 minutes at 350F, then grind together using a mortal and pestle or spice grinder. Roast peppers over open flame until charred. Then steam them by covering with foil and leaving at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Remove cover, peel off the skin with your hands and chop the pulp coarsely.

In a large pan, heat oil on medium. Caramelize onions and mushrooms till light brown. Add shallots and cook for 1 more minute. Then add the ground spices, peppers, garlic, ginger, and tomato paste and cook for 5 more minutes. Slowly add the white wine, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes until the spices absorb. Strain the sauce, reserving the liquid in another pan.

Boil carrots, okra, sweet potatoes and plantains in a pot, drain water and add the vegetables to the sauce mix. Stir well and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Vegan and Appetizing?

khabarcover-allthatjazz

Many Americans who see veganism as downright unappetizing may be in for a surprise to learn of the richly flavorful Indian vegan dishes.

Exotic aromas and finger-licking flavor may not be the first associations that come to mind when most people think of vegan food. But forays into Indian cuisine, especially through a cookbook like Anupy Singla’s Vegan Indian Cooking, will have many actually hankering for this healthy diet option.

The momentum towards healthy eating is undeniable and rising. Veganism, where the primary source of food includes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products, but no dairy, is on the cutting edge of this momentum. The benefits of such a diet—lower LDL cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes—are no longer debatable. Vegans also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower cancer rates, and fewer deaths from ischemic heart disease.

But with an increasing shift towards vegetarianism and veganism, people are also searching for creative options that don’t sacrifice taste. That’s where the spice of Indian cuisine saves the day. Not only does it add oomph to the natural foods, but it also furthers the emphasis on health that is so much a part of veganism. The health benefits of the spices found in South Asian cuisine combine well with the health benefits of vegan foods. Considerable research has been done on the health aspects of turmeric, cumin, and coriander. They act as natural supplements that help with digestion, and prevent swelling, high cholesterol, and cancer.

Author and cooking instructor Singla, whose previous bestseller, The Indian Slow Cooker, was named a Top 10 Cookbook of 2011 by the Atlantic, makes a strong case of eating “real food” in her latest book. She believes that as Indians we need to go back to our roots and show appreciation for our old ways. A fast-paced modern lifestyle has led families to eat fast food and prepackaged products. Even households that cook Indian at home may opt for pre-assembled masala packets that have high salt content and frozen naan made with white flour and preservatives.

Singla’s book has 100 recipes for vegetables, lentils, and breads using alternatives to processed foods and dairy. For example, Singla recommends using grapeseed oil for cooking instead of the usual vegetable oil or ghee we are so familiar with. Grapeseed oil has a high smoking point but is much healthier. Organic tofu is used instead of paneer to make some of the popular Indian dishes, like Matar Paneer. There are instructions to make homemade soy yogurt. If you are allergic to gluten or have celiac disease, you can still eat bread made with chick pea or corn flour following the easy directions. The recipe for dosa, a South Indian favorite, incorporates brown rice, which has fewer calories and more whole grains.

Singla recommends cooking in crock pots or slow cookers, as opposed to pressure cookers. Slow cooking breaks down the essential oils of the spices and enables you to get richer flavors from the dish. If you are wondering if dry lentils can be cooked in a slow cooker, the answer is yes. It takes about 6-10 hours but you can leave them in the crock pot when you go to work and they’re ready just in time for dinner. Cooking in crock pots allows busy moms to still be able to prepare healthy meals without spending too much time on the stove. The book contains several recipes using a slow cooker for delicious dishes such as rasam, lentil stew, and paneer biryani.

A great time-saving tip is writing out a weekly menu for your household and creating shopping lists accordingly. The introduction section of Vegan Indian Cooking talks about how to prepare basic ingredients (such as stock, tofu, spices) ahead of time and organize your spices in a masala box.

While it may not be practical to go vegan 100% of the time, Singla urges us to step back and reassess how we eat. If we cut down on meat and eat more fresh foods, we are likely to feel healthier and more energetic, as well as notice a change in existing health issues. When eating fewer animal products but more fiber, you will feel fuller with less food, which in turn will make you feel better. Our bodies crave nutrition and our minds control what we eat, so we need to take charge and make better choices.

Sucheta Rawal is a business consultant and writer. She blogs about exploring the world and learning about different cultures through food and community service at www.goeatgive.com.

Recipe:
South Indian Crêpes (Dosas) 

YIELD: 3½ CUPS (830 ML) OF BATTER MAKES ABOUT 24 MEDIUM-SIZED DOSAS
Ingredients: 
1 cup (190 g) brown basmati rice, cleaned and washed
¼ cup (48 g) whole black lentils with skin (sabut urad dal), cleaned and washed
2 tablespoons split gram (chana dal)
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided
1½ cups (356 mL) water
Oil, for pan frying, set aside in a small bowl
½ large onion, peeled and halved (for prepping the pan)

1. In a large bowl, soak the rice in ample water.
2. In a separate bowl, soak the black lentils, split gram, and fenugreek.
3. Add ½ teaspoon salt to each bowl. Place each bowl in a warm area (I like to keep them in a warm oven that’s turned off) with a loose lid and soak overnight.
4. In the morning, drain and reserve the water.
5. Grind the lentils and rice together in a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix. Add up to 1½ cups (356 mL) of water as you go. (You can use the reserved soaking water.)
6. Let the batter sit for 6 to 7 hours in a slightly warm place (again, such as a warm oven that’s been turned off) to ferment slightly.
7. Heat a griddle over medium-high heat. Put 1 teaspoon of oil in the pan and spread it out with a paper towel or dish towel.
8. Once the pan is hot, stick a fork into the uncut, rounded part of the onion. Holding the fork handle, rub the cut half of the onion back and forth across your pan. The combination of heat, onion juices, and oil will help prevent your dosa from sticking. I learned this from a South Indian family friend, Parvati Auntie, and it truly makes all the difference in the world. Keep the onion with the inserted fork handy to use again between dosas.
9. Keep a tiny bowl of oil on the side with a spoon, you’ll use it later.
10. Now, finally on to the cooking! Ladle about ¼ cup (59 mL) of batter into the middle of the hot, prepped pan. With the back of your ladle, slowly make clockwise motions from the middle to the outer edge of the pan until the batter becomes thin and crêpe-like.
11. With a small spoon, pour a thin stream of oil in a circle around the batter.
12. Let the dosa cook until it is slightly browned and pulls away from the pan slightly. Flip and cook the other side. Once it is browned, serve immediately layered with spiced jeera or lemon potatoes, coconut chutney, and a side of sambhar.