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« A Valentine’s Day Dessert for Cooking Newbies | Main | Scallion Pancakes for Chinese New Year »

Brunch Recipes and Tips from Haydon Street Inn

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

A charming wine town where the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley converge, Healdsburg is only an hour and a half away from San Francisco, driving north over the Golden Gate Bridge. But it feels like another world – the perfect escape when you’re desperate to get away, but just don’t have time to go anywhere far.

Despite its proximity to San Francisco, Steve and I like to stay overnight at a B&B to savor the adventure. On a recent Friday, we took off north on a whim and found the Haydon Street Inn.

Ensconced in the lovely Queen Anne Victorian close to Healdsburg’s town square, we woke up Saturday morning to an exceptional breakfast that started with a smoothie shooter and a mini-scone. The second course was simply scrumptious Bourbon Fried Apples followed by stuffed French toast with perfect homemade bacon, smoked in the inn’s wood-fired pizza oven, on the side.

Our host, Keren Colsten said the cooking was done by her partner, John Harasty, who was for 12 years the executive chef at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.

Churchill Downs, John said, was not unlike working at a country club – the biggest challenge is keeping all the members happy. He was responsible for the seated dining areas which included everything from a sports bar to high-end dining. And it meant cooking for such celebrity guests as Ronald Regan, George Bush, Yule Brenner, Goldie Hawn, Ozzy Osbourne and others.

Cooking was John’s aspiration from childhood. “I talked about wanting to be a chef when I was five years old,” he recalls. A self-taught cook, he worked his way up in restaurants by learning from the chefs, trading extra hours freely for greater culinary knowledge.

John and Keren, who had experience in the hospitality industry, purchased the Haydon Street Inn in May 2006, to fulfill their dream of owning their own business and living in Sonoma County.

Having enjoyed John’s sumptuous breakfast, I knew he’d have great tips and recipes to share with our Special Fork family for brunch entertaining. And he did. Here’s some of his wisdom:

  • The secret to poaching perfect-shaped eggs: John makes Eggs Benedict for as many as 18 people every Sunday. With two eggs per serving, that’s 36 poached eggs! So he’s got this one down pat. Bring water to a boil, then turn down the heat so the water is still just barely moving – a low simmer. You want the water to be hot, but moving water will break up the eggs so poach in gentle heat.
  • Poaching eggs ahead: After poaching, transfer eggs to an ice water bath. You can hold the eggs for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. To rewarm, drain the water and put the eggs into hot water, allowing 5 to 7 minutes to reheat.
  • Making scones in advance: Make the scone dough, roll out and cut in 4-inch squares. Put the squares on a floured baking sheet and freeze. When frozen solid, transfer to a zip-top freezer bag. To bake, cut squares on the diagonal twice to make four triangles. Bake following recipe instructions. You may need a few more minutes. Or defrost in fridge overnight before baking.
  • Making muffins in advance: Pre-mix muffin batter and freeze in a zip-top plastic bag. To bake, thaw batter and snip off a corner of the bag. Squeeze batter into muffin tins. If you don’t use all the batter, fold over the cut tip several times and secure with a heavy-duty clip; refreeze. This works for cookie dough, as well.
  • About leavening for frozen dough: If freezing dough, increase leavening agent (baking powder or baking soda) by about one-third because this make-ahead process will retard rising somewhat. You’ll need to experiment with the proper amount for your recipe.

Here are two of the recipes for the brunch items we enjoyed at Haydon Street Inn.

Bourbon Fried Apples
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
5 Fuji Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, divided
2 ounces bourbon
Oil for deep frying
1 small flour tortilla, cut in small strips (1/8 inch wide)

  1. Melt butter in a skillet and add the apples. Sauté apples until no longer crunchy. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar. Add bourbon. Let the bourbon cook down for about two minutes before serving.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep fryer to 350°F or heat 1 or 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to 350°F. Add tortilla strips and fry until they are lightly browned. (Depending on the size of your saucepan, you may need to fry in batches.) Remove tortilla strips and cool in a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil. Toss with remaining tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. Use as a garnish to top apples.
Note: For the cinnamon sugar, simply mix sugar and cinnamon together, to taste – roughly 1 teaspoon cinnamon to 1 cup sugar.

Recipe by Chef John Harasty, Chef-owner, Haydon Street Inn

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Haydon Street Inn Cream Scones
Serves 8

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter
1/3 cup dried cranberries or diced dried apricots
Grated rind from 2 lemons (or oranges)
2 eggs, divided
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coarse white sugar or turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Slice the cold butter into 8 pieces and cut into flour mixture until pea-sized. Stir in the dried fruit and grated rind.
  4. In a small bowl, beat 1 of the eggs slightly with a fork. Stir in half and half and vanilla.
  5. Pour cream mixture all at once into the flour mixture, stirring with a fork to form a soft dough. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured pastry cloth or board and knead a few times until smooth. Flecks of butter should still be visible.
  7. Roll or pat dough into a rough rectangle about ¾-inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter or into wedges with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Separate and place onto the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Prepare an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush mixture over top of scones and sprinkle with coarse sugar or turbinado sugar.
  9. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the scones are puffed and golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Recipe by Chef John Harasty, Chef-owner, Haydon Street Inn

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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