Tag Archives: Crisps and Crumbles

Poutine for Breakfast! Park Brugge (Pittsburgh, PA)

July 2012

Usually if I’m on Bryant Street, in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh, I’m headed to one of my favorite brunch locations, e2. However, on this particular Saturday, my special one wanted to try something new, so we drove a little farther down the street to Park Brugge. For a small commercial zone, Bryant Street really does have quite the brunch offerings!

Park Brugge is the kid frère, so to speak, of Point Brugge, which I visited on a very grey fall morning in November. Both places aim to channel the atmosphere of “a vibrant little [European] bistro tucked away in a quiet, residential neighborhood…with an assortment of people of all ages eating, drinking, catching up with friends.” For a Belgian-inspired, neighborhood cafe, Park Brugge has surely missed its mark design wise. The overall look and feel teeters between college dormitory and generic diner (with minor exceptions in a few of the details such as the bar). However, the food hits the mark.

Bloody Mary for Him
Mimosa pour moi

Crab Beignets
Charred tomato remoulade

Fresh crab in a fluffy, savory donut. I recommend them!

Peach Cobbler Liege Waffles

This was one of those specials I ordered before the waitress had finished her sentence explaining them. The brown sugar streusel bits added a sweet crunch to the sweet peaches. The waffle texture was light on the inside with a crisp, sweet exterior, which made a great base for juicy peaches. Though you may not encounter this particular waffle pairing, waffles are a regular menu item at this Belgium-inspired bistro. They do channel their inspiration well when it comes to the waffle iron.

Poutine Omelette

The moral of this brunch tale is do not judge an omelette by its grey, messy covering because that mess of grey was a sausage gravy overtop a fluffy omelette filled with french fries, more gravy and cheese curd.

Potatoes Au Gratin

I’ve never seen potatoes au gratin served so compactly. It was as if a section cut of the earth had been delivered to the table. My special one has also started looking into being a hand model.

All in All

Behavioral assessments have confirmed, I am driven by aesthetics, so despite wanting to trade interior design plans for food, I would recommend Park Brugge for weekend brunching. The staff was enthusiastic and helpful, and the food makes it worth straying from other, well-loved favorites every now and then.

Food For Thought

When I make and serve brunch myself, I’m often in and out of the kitchen. It’s one of those moments in which I feel more like my mom, who hardly ever sat through an entire meal. However, when dining out, I naturally stay put, which enables the conversation to delve deeper than it might otherwise. On this occasion, my special one and I were trying out something new: brunch time debates! Both of us really enjoy challenging our beliefs while biting into sweet, crispy waffles, so if you’re interested in the same, here’s your food for thought:

Am I morally obligated to be charitable?

It may seem obvious at first, but if you say yes, your devil’s advocate, brunching partner should very quickly ask you how to quantify such an obligation? Should you be eating that brunch when you could nourish yourself with something far less extravagant. Should you be taking pictures of that brunch with an expensive camera? I’m not looking for any heated arguments in the comment section (because it’s not a platform conducive to a proper debate), but if you’re looking to spice up your morning meal, give this conversation a whirl and let me know how it goes.

Bon Appetit!

Fare Thee Well, Maraschino (Strawberry, Rhubarb, Cherry, Basil Crisp)

July 2011

Julia and I first connected around the benching table of the bread bakery where we both worked.  She was a seasoned pro, and I was the newcomer.  Fast forward about one year and a half, and I was answering job inquiry emails under my new boss’s name.  We were just about to close the search when I saw an email from Julia!  The “Director of Operations” very quickly responded to her, saying “he” found her resume to be very impressive, and if she was available, “he” wanted to interview her as soon as possible.  A few weeks later, Julia started her new position, and I revealed the real email writer.

Julia really added to the company dynamic, and due to her persistence on the maraschino side of the White Russian debate during one work happy hour, she was dubbed “Maraschino.”  Julia’s boyfriend had been accepted into grad school, so as she arranged one more fare thee well festivity, I had two key ingredients to incorporate into my send off:  fresh cherries (why punish her with maraschinos?!?) and bourbon in honor of her liquor of choice!

Strawberry, Rhubarb, Cherry, Basil Crisp!
Makes one 9×13 glass pan

Shortcrust Ingredients

2 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks organic unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
4 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons almond extract
1 Tablespoon water

Fruit Filling Ingredients

1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
5 stalks rhubarb (medium length) washed and cut into ½ inch chunks
Cherries, pitted and sliced

1 cup unsweetened, dried cherries
Fresh squeezed juice from one lemon

1 Tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Crumble Topping

1 cup whole wheat flour (St. Vincents)
1 cup oats
1 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 –inch pieces, keep chilled

Whipped Cream Ingredients

1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons local honey
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Bulleit bourbon

Directions:  Crust

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and blend well with a whisk.

Add the cold butter pieces and toss until they are lightly coated with the flour.

Use a pastry blender or fingers to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract and 1 Tablespoon water.   Use the pastry blender to distribute the liquids evenly.  The dough will look crumbly, but it should hold together if squeezed in your hand.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly, 2-3 times, just to finish bringing the dough together.

Form the dough into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator.  Press the dough into a greased 9”x13” rectangular glass pan.  Keep chilled until ready to use.

Directions:  Filling

In a large bowl, toss together the chopped fruit, dried fruit, brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and chopped basil until the fruit is evenly coated.

Spread the fruit in an even layer over the crust (do not press down).

Directions:  Crumble

Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.

Add the cold butter pieces.  Use a pastry blender to combine until the mixture looks like wet sand, and finally, it will form small clumps about the size of peas.

Use your fingers to break apart larger clumps and disperse the topping over the fruit layer.

Directions:  Bake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the topping is nicely browned, and the fruit is bubbling and soft.

Allow to cool only slightly.  Best served warm.

Directions:  Whipped Cream

Chill a medium-sized bowl in the freezer.

Combine all the ingredients in the chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form.

Transport to the party in high style.

Serve the fruit crisp in slices with dollops of whipped cream.

Best of luck “Maraschino” and Nial!  I wish you many a porch sit and moments of quiet, southern reflection.