More Starters for the Day-Come & Taste!

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

What do I mean by, “Come & Taste?” I will be cooking away this Saturday at NOON in Severna Park Homestead Gardens. Learn all about the world of sustainable and local food and sample the Apple Brats and Sweet Potato Hash. The sustainable life is a huge topic and it’s very important.

Our fall time of year is perfect for items for the Sweet Potato Hash and Mountain Climber Breakfast. Sweet potatoes, yams, onions, apples, bacon, eggs, pork sausage, chiles, cheese and pears are abundantly available from farmers markets or a local farm in the Chesapeake region. Make the most of these goodies with the recipes below.


  • Apples, Brats and Sweet Potato Hash 
  • Coconut Chai
  • Mountain Climber Breakfast 

 Apples, Brats and Sweet Potato Hash

Serves 6

Nothing beats a meal this time of year more than a heavenly hash combining the gems of the fall harvest. If you want it for breakfast, top with a local cage-free fried egg.

The photo to the right shows a handy new item Traders Joes now carries. If you’re like me, you don’t eat slabs of bacon with a meal, but want a small amount to flavor foods. That’s where this product comes in. You can use a portion-chop it as you like for flavoring. Save the remainder in the freezer.

  • 3 garnet yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 slices nitrate free apple smoked bacon
  • 2 links bratwurst sausage, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1 large onion, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tart apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3/4 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced

Heat a pot of water (enough to cover sweet potatoes)and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and boil gently about 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.  When hot, add the bacon and when the bacon has started to get crispy and brown, add the bratwurst and onions and saute until the onions are very soft and aromatic. Add the sweet potatoes and apples; saute for 4 minutes. Stir in the roasted red peppers and sage and saute until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and starting to become crispy, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the scallion greens and whole fresh sage leaves.

Mountain Climber Breakfast

Here’s how this morning feast comes together:

Consult with your local pork farmer at this time of year, when apples abound, the natural tendency is to combine them with ground pork and spices. Sausage is a very popular item for customers and the farmer makes use of the majority of the animal. Shirred eggs are simply slow stirred scrambled eggs with a dad of chilled butter thrown in a few times-it depends on the number of eggs you are cooking. This gradual addition of butter makes the eggs extremely creamy.

  • Fresh pork and local apple sausage
  • Grilled Chile Rellenos-from blog post:Fiesta From the Grill-August 2
  • Rosemary Shirred Eggs
  • Fresh Fruit

Coconut Chai Tea

Serves 4

There’s no doubt about some folks adore Chai tea. This snazzy version uses the healthy milk of the coconut. It’s a real winner.

  • 2 teaspoons of loose, unperfumed black tea
  • 1 or 1 and a half stick of 1’’ cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 2-3 sticks of cloves
  • 2 pods of green Cardamom, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Fresh ginger root, 1-inch long
  • 2 pinches freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups of water
  • 16 ounce can coconut milk
  • honey or sugar to taste for sweetening
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Crush the cinnamon, black peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms and fennel seeds in a mortar. Leave it sealed in a container for a few hours or overnight to mature.

Peel the ginger and crush it in the mortar.

Put water in a pan, add the above mixture of spices, nutmeg powder, crushed ginger to it and bring to boil. Cover the pan and simmer for few minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the spices infuse their flavor for 4 minutes.

Add tea leaves and coconut milk to the pan and bring again to boil. Watch carefully to ensure chai does not boil over by reducing heat quickly just before it does. Simmer the blend for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain it into serving cups. If you want iced chai, let cool to room temperature and pour over glass filled with ice. Top with fresh mint leaves. Add your preferred sweetener, if desired.