Recipes and Article by Michael Vyskocil

Breakfast options abound for those who want to stay in or go out. We surveyed Carroll County looking for the sweet and the savory. Explore local businesses and their breakfasts worth bragging about. We are also revisiting some delicious recipes for those staying in so that you can make your own breakfasts worth bragging about.


Farm-to-Table breakfast options from Rare Opportunity Bakehouse. Photos by Nikola Tzenov


Breakfast from Westminster’s Farm-to-Table Bakehouse

Rare Opportunity Bakehouse

Ruth Thompson of Westminster’s Rare Opportunity Bakehouse considers herself a savory breakfast person. Fortunately, for Thompson and for those who want a savory breakfast, Rare Opportunity Bakehouse has a full complement of breakfast specialties designed to fuel your body for a full day of activity.

If you have a craving for quiche, you’ll want to sample Rare Opportunity’s deep-dish quiche. Each week, Rare Opportunity prepares a meat-based and vegetarian option. Meat-based quiches have featured applewood-smoked bacon and cheddar; vegetarian quiches have included spinach, artichokes and provolone.

In addition to the quiches, you’ll also enjoy the sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches featuring local sausage from Evermore Farm in Westminster. Scones also get savory additions of bacon and cheddar, and are served with a fried egg.

For a true savory indulgence, Rare Opportunity’s hand pies feature a buttery, flaky crust filled with meats and vegetables. The Tex-Mex version blends Evermore Farm ground beef, black beans, corn, green chiles, tomato and pepper jack cheese. The vegetarian Taste of India version blends curry-roasted carrots, spinach, caramelized onions, peas, golden raisins and pepper jack cheese.

For the ultimate cool-weather warmup, try one of Rare Opportunity’s sandwiches. The Turkey Bacon “Melty” lives up to its name with Boars Head shaved turkey, cherrywood-smoked bacon, Muenster cheese, arugula, mayonnaise and cranberry raspberry jam. The BAAT Sandwich is a sumptuous sandwich creation: Cherrywood smoked bacon, avocado, arugula, tomato, mayonnaise and peach jam offer a sweet-savory filling between two slices of whole grain bread.

“We make everything so that we have it ready for breakfast or lunch,” Thompson said. “We’re switching things up continually, and we use the products of the season.”

Fun Fact: In addition to visiting Rare Opportunity Bakehouse at its downtown Westminster location, you can also pick up their tasty treats at the Kenilworth Farmers Market in Towson; the Fresh Farm Market at Penn Quarter in Washington, D.C.; the Waverly Farmers Market and Fells Point Farmers Market in Baltimore; the Downtown Westminster Farmers Market in Westminster; the Silver Spring Farmers Market in Silver Spring and the Olney Farmers and Artists Market in Olney.

Rare Opportunity Bakehouse
172 E. Main St., Westminster  • 410-598-9409  •


There’s No Place Like Home’ in Westminster

JeannieBird Baking Company

Bernie Vogel, JeannieBird Baking Company
Photo by Nikola Tzenov

Just when you think you don’t have time to make a pit stop for breakfast during this busy holiday season, JeannieBird Baking Company offers another reason to start your day on a hearty note.

JeannieBird’s egg sandwiches are the best-selling item on the menu. They’re so popular, in fact, that on a typical Saturday morning — prior to the coronavirus pandemic — JeannieBird would sell between 180 and 200 egg sandwiches between 7 a.m. and noon.

“We like to think of ourselves as a restaurant that does things,” owner Bernie (who writes his name as Be.rnie) Vogel said. “Everything we make that’s going to be unique and special, that get that JeannieBird signature, is going to start in the bakery.” JeannieBird’s signature egg sandwich is served on yeast-raised sweet potato biscuits that are made several times a morning in the bakery.

According to Vogel, customers can look forward to “a new and improved egg sandwich” appearing this fall. “We’re sourcing our eggs from Whispering Breeze Farm in Taneytown and sausage from Rettland Farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.” Two sandwich variations — with and without sausage — are available and are served with a house-made aioli.

On the sweet side, Vogel said, JeannieBird makes about 40 different pastries each day. These pastries include the irresistible yeast-raised cinnamon rolls and butter horns, a buttery pastry made with dried currants, cinnamon and sugar. House-made Danish is crafted with the bakery’s laminated pastry.

Savory and sweet choices at JeannieBird Baking Company. Photos by Nikola Tzenov

If you’re craving a slice of quiche, you’ll find both a vegetarian and meat-based quiche among the offerings each week. Vogel noted that he’ll focus on Quiche Lorraine and versions featuring winter root vegetables for the season, with cheese bases that contain the classics such as Gruyere, Swiss and feta. This fall, flavor combinations included a vegetarian quiche with Candy Roaster squash with sage, roasted red pepper and feta as well as a meat-based version containing chorizo, chipotle, sun-dried tomato and Cotija cheese.

Vogel said he believes Carroll Countians love their mix of savory and sweet items for breakfast. “People come in and get a box of cinnamon buns or an assortment of pastries. When I look at the ‘racehorses’ in the savory camp, it’s certainly the egg sandwiches, but we also do a bacon, cheddar and scallion scone, which is our No. 1 selling pastry.”

Reflecting on the legacy that JeannieBird Baking Company has cultivated in the Westminster community, Vogel summed it up with an oft-quoted line from The Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home.”

“I like to describe my relationship with Westminster in a Dickens-esque way: They’ve been here for us in the best of times and the worst of times. When we needed them most, they’ve all taken one step forward and surrounded us so that we couldn’t fall,” he said. “I’m grateful, and I’m very fortunate because we’re still the JeannieBird, and Jeannie [Vogel’s wife, who died in 2016] is with us each and every day. The people of this community supported her, and they support me and the wonderful people we have working here.”

JeannieBird Baking Company
42 W. Main St., Westminster  • 443-201-8538  •


Tastes of France in Sykesville

French Twist Cafe

With a mission to introduce customers to gourmet coffee and authentic French cuisine, the French Twist Café deliciously accomplishes both of its goals. Owner Hélène Taylor takes pride in delivering extraordinary bites and beverages at this downtown Sykesville coffee shop with a French flair. Those in the know can attest to Taylor’s menu of sweet crêpes and savory crêpes, known as galettes.

Taylor — whose family moved to the United States in 1996 from France, where she was born and raised — said that she’s worked to offer some flavorful crêpe options for customers. “Since Americans love to eat eggs for breakfast, we have a few crêpes like La Française with ham, eggs and Swiss cheese. The Canadian (La Canadienne) has been the most popular since we first opened,” she said. This savory crêpe combines an egg, crispy bacon, cheddar cheese and maple syrup.

Taylor explains that galettes are traditionally made from buckwheat flour. Her savory crêpes, made from buckwheat batter, are gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free, she said.

If you want to experience the tastes of autumn in a crêpe, the Crêpe d’Automne, or fall crêpe, fits the bill. This sweet crêpe features either fresh Granny Smith apples or homemade applesauce — featuring fresh Gala apples — topped with a homemade caramel sauce.

Canadian Crepe and Waffle, top, Hot Chocolate and Croissant. Photos by Nikola Tzenov

To complement the French Twist’s delicious fare, a bevy of coffee beverages provide just what you need to warm up a cold winter day. In addition to the café au lait and cappuccino, you can also request flavored steamers and the Chocolat Chaud, a hot chocolate made from real chocolate.

Reiterating the flavors of fall, the White Pumpkin Mocha is a new drink offering this season, Taylor said. With its balance of pumpkin sauce and silky white chocolate mocha, this drink is one to sip, savor and repeat.

The recipes used to create the menu items, she said, are inspired by traditional French cooking and others such as the La Parisienne crêpe — with its blue cheese, walnuts, cranberries, fresh baby spinach and pesto — are original creations born from experimentation.

Taylor said that being a part of the downtown Sykesville community — which features diverse women-owned businesses — provides a great opportunity to share in the small-business love. “It’s nice to be able to work where I am raising my children,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to serve the community, and I can’t imagine being anyplace else.”

Fun Fact: Savor the flavors of the Old Line State in La Marylandaise, a savory crêpe featuring Maryland blue crabmeat, Old Bay Seasoning, mayonnaise, egg, parsley and scallions.

French Twist Café
732 Oklahoma Ave., Sykesville  • 443-920-3151  •

Hearty breakfasts at Olde Town Restaurant & Bakery. Photos by Nikola Tzenov


Hosts for a Hearty Breakfast in Mount Airy

Olde Town Restaurant & Bakery

If you ask a Mount Airy local where you can fuel up with a homestyle breakfast, you’ll likely hear about Olde Town Restaurant & Bakery.

Savory items on the menu include the chicken and biscuits, which feature hand-battered chicken cutlets served with homemade biscuits and honey sriracha sauce. The sweet potato hash blends roasted sweet potatoes with peppers, onions and candied pecans — all topped with two eggs.

One Olde Town fan favorite is the country chicken sandwich. Hand-battered chicken breasts are fried until they’re golden brown. They’re served on Texas toast, smothered in homemade sausage gravy and topped with an egg, cooked any style you’d like, and cheddar cheese.

Marylanders love their crabs, and Olde Town doesn’t disappoint diners with its Chesapeake Benedict. This Maryland version of the classic eggs Benedict features two poached eggs and crabcakes set atop a house-made English muffin. Topped with hollandaise and Old Bay Seasoning, the Chesapeake Benedict gives you something to savor with every bite.

Frittatas, the open-faced Italian versions of omelets, are also an Olde Town specialty that contain country ham, spinach and feta cheese.

For those who want to indulge in a stack of pancakes or French toast, you’ll find several sweet specialties on the breakfast menu. Kevin Costin, who has owned Olde Town Restaurant & Bakery for 1½ years, said that the Bananas Foster French Toast is such a crowd pleaser. “With its fresh flambé, it’s something special for the morning,” he noted.

Olde Town, which has been serving the community since the 1940s, holds its own legacy of breakfast specialties, which Costin said were handed down from Olde Town’s previous owner. When asked what he thought brings people back to Olde Town time and time again, Costin said, “We make everything in house fresh. Those who have reviewed us say, ‘The food is great, but the prices are better and the portions are big.’ I also think it’s the staff who work here. They’ve been around for a while. They know our regulars and what they want. It’s always nice to be welcomed by name when you walk into a place.”

Fun Fact: Doughnut delights are now at Olde Town Restaurant & Bakery. Visit on the weekends and treat yourself to Krumpe’s Do-Nuts, a Hagerstown, Maryland, doughnut legend.

Olde Town Restaurant & Bakery
206 S. Main St., Mount Airy  • 301-703-8143  •


Irish Oatmeal With Warm Winter Compote

Photo by Tara Hope Cofiell

2 cups Irish oatmeal (such as McCann’s)
8 cups water
Warm Winter Compote for serving

  1. In a medium saucepan, soak oatmeal in water overnight. When ready to serve, place saucepan over medium heat. Cook oatmeal for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide oatmeal among serving bowls. Top with about ⅓ cup Warm Winter Compote and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Warm Winter Compote

2 cups fresh apple cider
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cardamom
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into eight wedges
2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into eight wedge
2 cups fresh cranberries
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

  1. In a medium skillet, combine apple cider, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes.
  2. Add apple and pear wedges; stir to coat with syrup. Add cranberries; simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until fruit is tender, about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove vanilla bean with a slotted spoon. Stir in orange juice and serve warm. Makes about 6 cups.



French Toast with Cranberry Syrup

Photo by Tara Hope Cofiell

6 large eggs
Zest of 3 oranges
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Unsaturated vegetable oil,
for frying
1 loaf of fresh brioche bread (or other white bread such as challah or good French bread)
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnishing
Reserved cranberry syrup from Homemade Cranberry Sauce (recipe follows)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, zest, orange juice, milk, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  2. Lightly oil 2 large nonstick skillets. Place skillets over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside; line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
  3. Cut the bread into ¾-inch-thick slices. Dip the slices into the egg mixture, making sure to coat the slices. Transfer the soaked bread slices to a baking sheet and allow bread to soak up egg mixture, about 2 minutes.
  4. Fry coated bread slices for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Transfer cooked French toast to the paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly, then place on second, clean baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve. Serve French toast warm, dusted with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Cranberry Sauce

1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries,
washed well and patted dry
1-1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

  1. Combine cranberries, orange juice and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until cranberries begin to pop, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. To serve with French toast (above), drain syrup from whole cranberries and drizzle syrup over French toast. Makes about 3 cups.



Brunch Ham and Egg Casserole

Photo by Tara Hope Cofiell

For a variation use roasted turkey meat instead of ham.

6 large eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked ham, cubed
8 slices white bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
Nonstick cooking spray, for baking pan
1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese

  1. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add ham and bread cubes.
  2. Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour casserole mixture into dish, cover dish with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Before baking, remove pan from refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove dish from oven and sprinkle the top of the casserole with cheddar cheese. Return dish to oven and bake until the cheese is melted and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.



Grapefruit-Orange Mimosas

Photo by Tara Hope Cofiell

6 ruby red grapefruits
6 navel oranges
½ bottle champagne, chilled
Whole slices of ruby red grapefruits, for garnish

  1. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of grapefruits and oranges. Cut away the peel and pith from the top to the bottom of the fruit.
  2. Holding the peeled fruit over a bowl (to catch the juices), use a sharp paring knife to remove the fruit segments from the inner membranes. Transfer fruit segments to a bowl and squeeze membranes over fruit segments to extract any remaining juice before discarding membranes.
  3. Before serving, drain fruit segments from juice. Reserve juice in a measuring cup. Divide fruit segments and reserved fruit juice evenly among six cocktail glasses. Pour champagne over fruit slices in each glass and garnish the rim of each glass with a grapefruit slice. Makes 6 servings.