Bentleys Cafe in Tuckahoe – Breakfast Review

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I arrived 20 minutes early to meet my friend, Janet, for breakfast on a pouring rainy Saturday morning in Tuckahoe at Bentley’s Café.
Sitting in a back booth, I was greeted by Dawn Mullen, from Yonkers, my waitress. With her bright smile and blonde hair, she was a little bit of sunshine on really dismal day. I sat quietly sipping the most delicious coffee, really smooth and not a bit bitter, waiting for Janet to arrive, just observing everything around me.

Bentley’s Café gave me that small hometown feel the minute I stepped in the door. There are booths, tables and stools at a counter, with a nostalgic décor. The place reminded me of my own Queens neighborhood soda shop that we used to get egg creams and ice cream sodas. (After browsing the menu, I can confirm they do indeed sell egg creams, ice cream sodas and milk shakes.) At one point, Dawn and the staff behind the counter were having a good laugh together, which is always a good sign. No one wants an unhappy person serving them. As customers started coming in, I noticed Dawn was bringing them there beverages before they even asked for it, obviously regulars, who greeted her like a friend.

After Janet arrived and settled in, her first comments were the same sentiments as mine about feeling nostalgic. We ordered a Swiss, bacon and onion omelet with home fries, one slice of rye and one slice of whole wheat toast. Janet and I ordered buttermilk pancakes. Dawn suggested the blueberry pancakes and we ordered one of each. The omelet was cooked perfectly, the onions were sautéed and the cheese was evenly melted throughout the omelet with delectable home fries on the side. Our pancakes were full of flavor as well as the fresh blueberry pancake.
We were offered coffee refills no less than 3 times. I had to switch to decaf from drinking too much coffee but it was too good to pass up. The cost for breakfast was $22.25, without tip which I felt was more than reasonable.

Bentley’s Café sadly had no real butter, or real maple syrup, but they more than made up for it by being a comfortable, cozy café with good old fashioned home cooking served complete with a smile.

Where do you go to breakfast? Please share the name and town of your favorite breakfast spot in the comment section.

Bentley’s Cafe, 111 Lake Avenue, Tuckahoe, NY 10707
(914) 961-9641

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Mont Olympos Diner – Breakfast Review

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I received a great Christmas present this year, an automatic car starter. My old car starter, my husband, thought it was a great gift for him and me. The first appointment that he could schedule for installation after the holidays was the first Sunday in February.

Mela was gracious enough to drive me to PC Richards on Central Avenue in Yonkers, for my appointment and then take me out to breakfast while my car was being worked on. Since I began writing these breakfast reviews for Patch, Mela and I have really enjoyed discovering new places to eat breakfast. Little was discovered on my computer for breakfast in Central Avenue, Yonkers searches. I know there are places out there that possibly are not listed on the internet.
I remembered seeing a diner on top of a hill driving south on Central Avenue. Turns out the Mont (that is the correct spelling) Olympos Diner was literally right before PC Richards.

The parking lot at 9:30 am was pretty filled up already. This is always a good sign. Right off the bat, our waiter, Carlos Ramirez, from Yonkers, was on the ball. We were served good strong coffee and water without having to request it.
There was no Splenda, but Carlos got it ASAP and not just one or two, but about eight packets. Not being stingy on the Splenda says a lot. Another plus was we were offered more coffee no less than four times.

We ordered the Florentine egg white omelet with home fries and toast, a Belgian waffle with a side of bacon. With arms full of dishes Carlos realized he forgot my rye toast. Sometimes you finish your meal and then get the forgotten item, not with Carlos; we had it in a jiffy. As Goldilocks says, the bacon was perfect, light and crispy, but not too hard, just right. The waffle was tasty and cooked just right. Get the picture. Real butter was served and I have the photo to prove it.
The syrup served in those little square containers, Mommas Cabin Syrup, contained as the first ingredient, corn syrup and the second ingredient, high fructose corn syrup. We requested maple syrup and offered to pay extra, but none the less, they don’t have any other syrup. Unfortunately, once you’ve had real maple syrup, it’s hard to go back.

Moving on; when ordering the omelet we specifically asked if the spinach was fresh and we were told yes and it is steamed. But Mela and I had our doubts about this. The spinach in the omelet was soft but didn’t have the color or texture of fresh spinach but that of frozen spinach. The Feta cheese wasn’t overbearing and of good quality. Overall the omelet was good and the combination really served our taste buds.

Lastly were the home fries. On this item, Mela and I agreed to disagree. She likes her potatoes seasoning free, and I like some onions, peppers and some seasoning added. But we both agreed that the season-less home fries tasted fresh and had just the right crunchy topping.

At $22.82, without tip, our breakfast was the most economical so far. Who would have guessed that I could find a really good place for breakfast in Yonkers the old fashioned way, my memory and without using the computer!

Mont Olympos Diner, 1 Fort Hill Road, Yonkers, NY 10710
(914) 961-4677, http://www.montolymposdiner.com

Somebody’s Mom Breakfast

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My latest venture over the last 6 months has been as a freelance food writer for “Patch”, an online local newspaper for the Westchester area. Most recently, I’ve delved into writing restaurant breakfast reviews. If you’re a breakfast lover like me, you can surely appreciate that this is the kind of job you can really sink your teeth into!

I hosted a breakfast at my house for a group of friends over the holidays. I usually serve a frittata, quiche, strata or another vegetable egg dish along with fresh bagels. I was feeling a little more creative, so I decided to mix things up a little by baking a French toast dish. I was inspired by my friend, JoEllen, who made this dish last year and gave me the recipe. Naturally, I made it right away, but felt hers tasted better. Unable to find JoEllen’s recipe under all my holiday gifts and wrapping paper, I turned to the magical Internet to search for French toast recipes. Well, if you have about three hours to scan pages and pages of recipes, this is the way to go……I just don’t have the patience. On the first page of my search was a Paula Deen recipe for overnight French toast. That worked for me; I had all of the ingredients except for corn syrup. I printed the recipe, and then began to do what I love…… improvise with what I already had in my pantry.

And that’s how I came up with the breakfast menu: Oven French toast, home fries, cream cheese crescent rolls, cherries and raspberries. A plate of some homemade cookies added just the right note to this combination of foods.

Crescent rolls are very versatile and can be filled with almost anything and still taste delicious. My kids made bacon, cheddar, and cream cheese crescents on Christmas morning, giving me the bright idea to make them for my breakfast guests.

In preparation for this gathering, I made extra baked potatoes for dinner the night before. The next morning I cubed about five leftover baked potatoes, gathered together 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 small onion, and 1 sweet Italian green pepper. I quickly chopped and then sautéed everything to make home fries. A little paprika, salt, and pepper and the home fries were done. Just before serving, I broiled the top of the potatoes to make them extra brown and crispy.

Lastly, the oven baked French Toast that I prepared in no way resembled the picture from the recipe, but I was determined to serve it anyway. I can’t justify throwing out good food. While it wasn’t exactly a good-looking dish, but it was a darn delicious one! Two of my friends asked to bring a piece home.

So what’s cooking for breakfast at your home?

EASTER PIE

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4 cups flour (all purpose)
4 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
8 tablespoons margarine, chilled and cut into small pieces
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten (separated into 3 and 1)
2 to 4 tablespoons water (if needed)

13 eggs, (separated into 12 and 1)
2 cups basket cheese or whole milk ricotta
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
1 / 2 pound provolone cheese, diced
1 / 2 pound Genova salami, diced
1 / 2 cup Romano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon milk

1. In a large bowl sift flour and sugar together. Cut in margarine and butter with a pastry cutter or fork. Blend until mixture is crumbly. Stir in 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg until just mixed. (If dough is too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to bring the dough together, if needed.) Mold into a ball and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
2. Oven 375 degrees.
3. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Divide the dough into 2 parts. One a little larger than the other. Roll out the larger part on a floured board or table. Fold the dough into a square to lift it off the table and transfer it to the baking dish. Gently, unfold the dough to fit the bottom and partway up the sides of the baking dish.
4. In another bowl, stir together the 12 eggs, slightly beatened, with the ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, salami, Romano cheese, and parsley. Pour into the bottom crust of the baking dish.
5. Roll out the remaining dough to form the top crust. Gently press the top dough to meet the edges and seal well.
6. Mix 1 egg yolk with milk and brush top of dough before putting into oven.
7. Bake 50 minutes or until the crust is golden. After baking let it settle for 20 minutes or longer before slicing.
8. ENJOY – This is no pie this is a meal!

Wanna celebrate Easter with a luscious slice of pie that just happens to be of Italian origin? Hope so, because I bet you’re gonna love this delicacy for Easter or any holiday! Easter Pie is a heavy dish, great for brunch or early dinner, but not the best choice for a late night snack. Men seem to love it even more than women and you get only one guess as to why – yep, because of the meat inside! Women like it because it’s a one dish wonder…..translation: easy clean up. Plus, there’s no frying involved. I just adore this pie. It’s unlike the routine dishes I prepare all the time, and friends and family love it because it is different, tasty and interesting.

This recipe is made in many different ways in the US just as you’ll find this to be true in the many regions of Italy, home of the Easter Pie. I have been researching the different ways this recipe is prepared. Everyone who makes it has their own way of doing it and their own set of extra added ingredients. Every time I make it I change it by adding different meats or just use one meat in the pie, depending on my mood. Some people make Easter bread with similar ingredients instead of the pie. No matter how you make, just make it.

I’ve made this pie just a few times in the past. Never a problem, the process went smoothly. For this posting, everything went wrong with the dough. It kept crumbling. I got it together and it fell apart. I was ready to throw it out the window, except for two reasons. I spent a few bucks on the ingredients from an Italian deli, plus I planned on bringing it to dinner at a friend’s house. When nothing goes right, don’t give up the fight! Improvise, improvise and improvise some more. I was finally able to lay a solid piece of dough on the bottom of the pan. I achieved this small miracle not by rolling it out, but by picking up the crumbling pieces and patting them down until the entire bottom and half way up the sides were covered. The top layer was a completely different challenge. No way was I able to roll out one sheet to cover the pie. I had no choice but to make a patchwork quilt of dough, layering the pieces on top and hoping for the best. Just when I thought I was home free, I never heard the buzz of the kitchen timer go off – dead batteries anyone? So, I ended up cooking the pie for an extra 15 minutes. Thank goodness I had an instinct that it was taking way too long to cook, much more than 50 minutes. Guess what, it was. All in all the pie survived these setbacks and the end result was, surprisingly, great! It all worked out in the end or so it seemed for today. Signing off for now or until the next cooking disaster for this mom!

BUTTERMILK PECAN MUFFINS

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¼ cup butter, softened
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 ½ cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups flour

¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans

1. Oven 350 degrees.
2. Grease well a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper cup cake liners.
3. In a bowl beat butter, sugar, buttermilk, egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl sift flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the bowl, mixing thoroughly. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
4. In a small bowl mix the ½ teaspoon cinnamon with the brown sugar and pecans.
5. Fill muffin cups ½ way up with batter. Spoon some sugar pecan mixture, and repeat with a little more batter to make up ¾ filling the muffin cup. Sprinkle top with the sugar pecan mixture.
6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 8 to 12 large muffins. Can be frozen after baking.
7. ENJOY! – Sunday morning never smelled so good!…..

Buttermilk is such a great addition when baking muffins and cakes. Buttermilk is usually sold in quart containers only. This is 4 cups. It would be very rare if you use the whole container when baking this recipe. Even when I double or triple this recipe I have leftover buttermilk. That is when I start baking buttermilk biscuits or buttermilk bread. For me it is fun to figure out how to use up the leftover buttermilk. I usually start searching through my very large recipe collection. I have dozens of books and loose paper recipes.

For my Japanese readers, I understand in Japan buttermilk is not common. I found an American company that sells powdered buttermilk packets and I have sent them to my friends in Japan. Also if you check your substitute charts in your cookbooks you may find a way to make buttermilk from adding lemon juice to regular milk. Then you let it sit for a few minutes before using. I have used this method in a pinch when needed, but truthfully I would run out to the store to buy the buttermilk.

I have substituted walnuts for pecans if I have no pecans in the house. My daughter, Marisa, says I am a nut because I always need to have a large supply of pecans, walnuts and almonds in the house, just in case I need them. If heaven forbid I run out of nuts, I have to go the store and buy some immediately. It drives my kids crazy. I put nuts in everything. When you love to cook and bake like I do, you have to have a fully stocked kitchen. So, I replenish all my baking supplies whenever I notice something is running low.

This recipe was originally called Noreen’s muffins because of course, my friend, Noreen gave me the recipe. Noreen lived next door to us in our old neighborhood. Noreen was very pretty, very fit and trim. Noreen never really baked; she lifted weights for fun. However, one day she was watching a television show that showed how to make strawberry buttermilk muffins and she made them. She gave me the recipe. I changed it to cinnamon pecan muffins. That was probably the first and last time Noreen baked. Fast forward 18 years later, Noreen is still pretty and still fit and trim. She didn’t even remember giving me the recipe for the muffins. I did try to make the muffins with the strawberries but they didn’t seem to come out right for me. That’s when I started to experiment with, what else, nuts.

Experiment with recipes; don’t be afraid to change something. Cooking should be fun and interesting. The greatest mistakes I have made have turned into some of my greatest triumphs. Unfortunately, I don’t always remember what I did wrong!

SPINACH STRATA


1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
6 eggs
1 package fresh spinach, washed, chopped, squeezed dry or
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 2/3 cups half and half
½ small onion, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup white wine
8 slices of stale hard Italian or French bread
salt and pepper

1. In a greased 8 or 9 inch square baking pan, arrange 4 slice of the hard stale Italian/French bread in a single layer. Spread the 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices of the bread in baking dish and then spread the other 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices outside the dish. Set aside.
2. In a 10-inch frying pan add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place on top of the stove under a low flame. Sauté onions, garlic and tomatoes until tender. Add spinach. Cook everything until hot, stirring well. Set aside in a bowl.
3. Meanwhile add wine to pan. Increase heat to medium-high; simmer until reduced to ¼ cup, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a bowl whisk eggs then add the wine, while continually whisking, add the half and half and dash in some salt and pepper
5. Top the 4 slices of buttered bread with spinach mixture and then top with half of the grated cheese. Arrange remaining 4 bread slices in a single layer over the cheese and repeat the layer of spinach and cheese.
6. Pour the egg mixture evenly over everything and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.
7. Oven 350 degrees. Remove dish from refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.
8. ENJOY – Good enough to gain weight for!

I have a problem with throwing food out. This of course is my parents’ fault. They were the generation of The Great Depression in America during the 1930’s. Believe me when I say I heard all the stories. To this day, my mom still drinks black coffee because of the shortage of sugar back then. I bought a book for my mom a long time ago called “Grandma Remembers” with empty spaces for her to fill in information. I wanted to have some written history of our family. She never wrote any information down in the blank areas where the questions were listed in the book. During my visits to mom, I would ask a few questions from the book and write in her answers myself to make it easier. Sample questions were: “What was your favorite toy when you were small?” “What was your favorite meal for dinner?” “What did you get for Christmas?” My mom gave me the same answer to every question I asked. “I didn’t have a toy, we were poor”. “We were poor, and I ate whatever my mother gave me”. “We didn’t get Christmas presents; we were poor”. Because she was poor, it sounded like she had no life. Here was this book of memories for me to pass on to my children and generations to come, and every question was answered with “We were poor.” Mom and I laughed so hard together at her answers when we read them back. The reason I am telling you this story is that my mom was poor (I know you got that by now), and it was a sin to waste food since there was a time when there wasn’t any food to waste. She brought me up with those values; don’t throw out food.

This recipe was created because I had some leftover Italian bread, cooked spinach and cheese that I needed to use soon. Since I didn’t want to throw out these leftovers, I started pouring through my cookbooks and recipes for ideas. My collection is big and diversified. Thank goodness I have a great memory, and I remembered that one of my Italian cookbooks had a dish called strata which reminded me of a quiche-like dish. The combination I used for this recipe was the yellow eggs, green spinach and red tomatoes, and this made a delicious colorful dish. I prepared the dish and let it sit overnight for dinner the next evening. The reaction from my family was, at first, very unhappy to have eggs for dinner, especially since there was no meat in this recipe. This was a double whammy as far as the guys were concerned. But believe it or not, my husband loved it and my daughter, too. I am a huge vegetable fan, so I loved it also.

This is a great dish and a great way to use your leftovers and then no food is wasted. There are people who never waste food and never forget when their mother was poor.

Corn Cheddar Muffins

Corn Cheddar Muffins

  • Servings: 18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/8 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten

1. Oven 375 degrees.
2. Line muffin pans with paper cup liners.
3. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients together, flour, cornmeal,
sugar and baking soda.
4. Add eggs, sour cream and melted butter. Stir with a wooden spoon
until mixed well. Add cheddar cheese last. Mix again.
5. Spoon into paper liners. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly golden
6. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen. Serve warm or after completely cooled. Freeze in a ziploc bag immediately for serving at another time.
7. Optional recipe – Use the following ingredients and follow steps one to six.
2 boxes of 8 ounce corn muffin mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup sour cream and 1 stick of
butter, melted.
8. I may be corny, but I make a great muffin!


In the past, I had a recipe for Buttermilk Corn Muffins, but these corn cheddar muffins are made differently altogether. Both recipes are moist and tasty. The muffins can be altered to your own taste. I grew up on corn bread and corn muffins. The best and easiest corn muffins are the ones that usually sell at three packages for $1.00. You can’t beat that price. I always keep the packages in my house. There is nothing like waking up on a cold morning (in my house it is cold!) and having a warm oven on with the smell of corn muffins throughout the house. I try to make the mix the night before because if the muffin mix sits for a while, the muffins come out fluffy and lighter. Most homemade corn muffin recipes are dry and tasteless. If you do try a recipe from a cookbook, try to alter the recipe by adding a little bit more sugar and possibly a bit more shortening (butter, margarine or oil), as this may help the dryness and add to the flavor.

Whenever I make cornbread or muffins, I remember my Uncle Johnny. I grew up in a two-family house. My mom, dad, my grandmother (my father’s mother), my brother and I lived upstairs. My mother’s sister, Aunt Martha, Uncle Johnny and their three daughters lived downstairs. I had a very happy and special childhood living with all this extended family under one roof. We had all the holidays at our house filled with family and friends. In our back yard was a round gazebo covered with grapevines, with a table and wooden benches built inside. All of us would eat our dinner together in the gazebo during the summer. This house and attached special yard was located in the middle of Queens, New York, on a busy street. We had the Long Island railroad and three factories on this little city block. I never realized I lived in the middle of factory workers and rumbling trains every 10 minutes. I knew my family and life was good. That was back in 1968 and this is now. When dad passed away, mom and my aunt sold the house. My cousins, brother and I moved away. Mom lived alone, and my aunt and uncle had an apartment. I tried to recapture that extended family from my childhood by inviting everyone to my home for the holidays. For a few years we were all together, and it was as I remembered. My children had all the benefits of being surrounded by the whole family. As time went by, my aunt passed away, and then my uncle was alone. He would come for a visit and have lunch with my mother and another uncle. I always sent him home with some cornbread. Uncle Johnny loved it. It was just a small thing for me to do; to bake something for someone to take home. When Uncle Johnny went into a nursing home, I wanted to take some cornbread to him, but food was not allowed. I regret not taking it to him any way; some rules are made to be broken for the right reason. After that he passed away.

I still have my brother and cousins. They have their families and children and grandchildren. But I will always miss my house, my extended family and the times we had together.
It’s not where you live, it’s who you live with that makes a house a happy home!

Don’t forget the ones in your life that are getting older. A little bit goes a long way, so take time today to “bake someone happy” and you’ll be happy too!