Posts tagged Breakfast
Monday, November 8, 2010

brown butter maple pumpkin bread

brown butter pumpkin bread

I am in dire need of a weekend morning butler. Specifically for the duties of coffee and coffee cake. It would greatly improve my mornings. Andrew, I hope you’re reading this, in case, um, you need Hannukah gift ideas, a morning butler would be amazing!

A typical weekend morning in our household goes a little like this. Around seven o’clock, my body decides that it no longer wants to be asleep. Nevermind that I very much want to be asleep and my brain is quite content being in close contact with a pillow. But my body, well, it has other plans. My body decides that it wants to be up and about, getting ahead with the day, going to the farmer’s market, picking up groceries, figuring out the Sunday supper menu.

pumpkin puree

But what my body doesn’t realize fully is that until it ingests about 2 cups of coffee, it, along with my brain, is amazingly, utterly useless. The tricky part is actually making coffee before you’ve fully woken up. This rather simple task of measuring out water, coffee, pouring the water into the machine, and pressing the “brew” button – is challenging for my uncaffeinated brain. I should do like Andrew does and just force myself to sleep a little longer, but I just wind up tossing and turning. And so I get up early and run errands before Andrew wakes up.

Continue reading brown butter maple pumpkin bread.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

bourbon banana bread with maple sugar

boozy maple sugar banana bread

Ok, so I felt kind of bad on Thursday throwing a salad your way as we were about get served with some serious rain, and by we, I mean those of us in New York and whoever else is dealing with less than June-like weather. A few of you wrote comments about bad weather elsewhere and my sunny thoughts go out to you. For the last few days I felt like I threw something totally ill-timed your way. Suggesting something you clearly cannot enjoy right away, it really isn’t fair, now is it?

Since we’re on the subject of not fair, what also isn’t fair is that for my birthday, which was nearly two months ago, I bought a stunning dress. A dress that made me look past the ridiculous price tag as it whispered sweet nothings into my ear. Oh it was something all right – pretty in an effortless sort of way, which is, as you know, the best kind out there. It was white with beautiful light and dark blue stripes. And I couldn’t wait to wear it. But some sad family news spoiled my party mood so I canceled it, and then, coupled with my grandmother’s passing and now the stress fractures from running, the dress’ outing has been delayed indefinitely (much like my posting of certain recipes!) and now the dress hangs wistfully in my closet awaiting the day when I wear something other than running shoes on my feet. Because you know, party dresses and running shoes are so hot right now.

the culpritsoooh the batter

So, I am posting something I should have posted over a month ago, but as things go around here, I’m very easily distracted. I see a shiny new recipe and whoosh – there goes my attention. Which means, that I hide these recipes from you much longer than I need to. And so I’m sorry, I’m trying to change my ways and do better. And I’m trying to turn our unfair rainy situation around for our own benefit.

I bet there’s not a reader out there who’s not made banana bread. In fact, it’s one of those things that people start out baking. It’s so ubiquitous and sits in every cook’s repertoire, like a little black dress. These quick breads are easy, you need two bowls to mix it and in minutes you have batter. What makes this perfect right about now is that it’s the perfect thing to bake when the weather is not cooperating. In fact, I think it’s the perfect rainy day thing to bake.

Banana bread fills your house with a smell that can only be described as heavenly. I could eat the whole loaf in one sitting, but we’re not going to get into that here. That’s between me and some elastic waist pants. What I want to tell you though is how I managed to make something kind of everyday and pedestrian, albeit comforting, into something rather sophisticated and dare I say, sexy?

mixing the dry ingredientsdelicately mixing

I’ve written about adding bourbon to my banana bread before, so that’s nothing new. And I’ve done the cranberry bit, so that’s old too. But I raised it up a notch this time around using maple sugar in place of regular white sugar, and that my friends, flipped my banana bread-baking world upside down. Because the hints of caramel and that earthy aftertaste you have with maple syrup shows up in this banana bread. I can’t quite sum up what maple sugar does to the banana bread, but trust me – it is good. So good, in fact, that I can’t quite put it into words. I can say this much, while it won’t bring back the sunshine and it won’t make everything better, it might make you appreciate staying in and baking, filling your house with a comforting smell. And afterward, you can sit back on your couch, a cup of tea at your side, a slice of banana bread on your plate while rain pours outside. And you know something crazy – you might not even mind it that much.

Continue reading bourbon banana bread with maple sugar.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

pepita granola with coconut oil and dried cherries

Pepita Granola

Oh I am so tricky with granola, I don’t even know where to begin. Granola is one of those foods that you know you should like because everyone likes it and because it sounds like something that you should like because it has oats and some fruit and overall it’s kind of good for you. And if you like the parts separately, shouldn’t you like the sum of them? Apparently, not if you are me.

pouring the honey

For years, I’ve struggled with my secret granola loathing. Years. I felt pressured to like it because everyone around me did. But I found it either too greasy, or too sweet, or to clumpy or too tough. And sometimes, it would be awfully chewy and it would stick to my upper teeth, which would then cause a wrestling match between my tongue and the pieces that lodged themselves there – and inevitably the pieces would win, and I’d give up. I tried various brands of granola, from the mainstream, to the new and small-batch made, and found nothing that was truly exemplary.

Pepita Granola

But about a year ago, a friend gave me some granola for the holidays and I thought it was delicious. I intended to ask her for a recipe, but kind of never got around to it. I sort of mentally dog-eared it in my head and in my typical way, just forgot.

Pepita Granola

But recently, I’ve been trying to banish the cookie and embrace the healthy. And in my attempts in doing so, I’ve been eating a lot of plain yogurt. Now, I am one of those people who actually loves the taste of plain yogurt (don’t judge me) and won’t eat its flavored cousin, but even yogurt, in all its glory, unadorned by anything, gets a bit dull. And so, in trying to come up with creative yogurt toppings, the idea of granola popped into my head.

Pepita Granola

This recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, which in turn got it from Gourmet, which in turn got it from Calle Ocho, a restaurant in New York. What can I say other than this granola recipe is a keeper? Other than a few tweaks I made based on my personal taste preferences, this is a great recipe to have – it’s not too sweet, not overly oily and if you keep your batch in the freezer, it’ll stay crispy indefinitely. At room temperature, it just gets soft, even in an airtight container.

Pepita Granola

And now I can join the legions of people who actually do like granola because I do as well. And because I am making it, I can add my favorite ingredients, like various dried berries, and make the sum of the parts precisely what I want it to be – plain yogurt, you’ve never tasted better!

**UPDATE 11/24/13: Since many years have passed since I’ve started to make my own granola, I changed up quite a few things and tweaked the recipe for you here. I now make my granola with extra-virgin coconut oil. I can’t stress enough its nutritional properties and it goes so perfectly with the coconut flakes. More importantly, I’ve scaled back sugar considerably. I like granola, but 90% of the time, it’s candy masquerading as healthy breakfast food. In playing around with sugar amounts, I found that decreasing sugar didn’t affect the quality of the granola, but its less sweet taste made it far more exciting to eat. Also, I gave up on using lots of different dried fruit because I much more prefer a pop of tart dried cherries than other fruit and it keeps my pantry less cluttered. (Also, cutting dried apricots is a PITA.) Finally, I added a little nutmeg and scaled up salt (but not by much) because with a proper amount of salt, this granola tastes much better than with just a pinch. In cooking, salt is a great highlighter of flavor – and using just the right amount not only brings a balance to the dish but also creates complexity.

Continue reading pepita granola with coconut oil and dried cherries.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

pumpkin ricotta pancakes

pumpkin ricotta pancakes

Where did we leave off? Oh, that’s right, I was telling you about my love affair with ricotta. I wasn’t kidding you know because I was in this predicament, you see. I was craving pumpkins, but not just regular buttermilk pancakes, no sir. Regular pancakes were not going to do. I wanted lighter, fluffier, delicate pancakes. Pancakes that would almost dissolve upon hitting my tongue. Which, of course, meant adding some ricotta. See, how clever I am in making sure my current obsession makes an appearance.

pumpkin ricotta pancakes

Of course, I had to make it more complicated, or what fun would it be? When I think of ricotta pancakes, I usually think of lemon ricotta pancakes. And the ones I wrote about awhile back were stunning and decadent. And yet, in the middle of November, days before Thanksgiving, I had pumpkin on my mind. Pumpkin ricotta pancakes – why not? But that meant I had to create a recipe from various sources because I searched far and wide and while I found pumpkin pancakes and lemon ricotta pancakes, there were no pumpkin ricotta ones anywhere.

grade b, baby!!

Plus, I think this is all very à propos, because something tells me that after this Thursday some of you might have some leftover pumpkin and you might want to figure out a way to use it. And besides, who doesn’t love pancakes the day after Thanksgiving?

pumpkin ricotta pancakes

If you can spend the day in your pajamas lounging around, what better way to start it than with a plate of these?

Continue reading pumpkin ricotta pancakes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

pumpkin bread with cranberries

i could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting...

If I told you I’ve been waiting half a year to bake pumpkin bread, would you think me pathetic? Entire two seasons passed and not a week went by that I didn’t think of pumpkin bread and how delicious the house will smell when it’s baking in the oven. Of course, pumpkin/cinnamon/clove scents aren’t quite summery, so I had to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Until the days got shorter, nights grew longer and there was a distinct chill in the air. I would eat my berry crumbles and they would make me weak in my knees, but I was committing baked-good adultery – and thinking, longingly of the pumpkin bread.

The can of pumpkin puree that has found itself in our cupboards somehow (don’t look at me, I didn’t buy it) had to be used for something glorious and celebratory of my favorite season. I had a few ideas for it, but pumpkin bread was the first and foremost project. I’ll be making KS’s favorite pumpkin treat soon enough – this time, I just had to be selfish.

that spatula had the time of her life

If you haven’t figured this out by now, I’m a huge fan of something tart in my otherwise sweet baked goods. A little bright pop of cranberry, in my opinion, brightens up pumpkin or banana bread and punches up their smoky, caramel flavors. And if you are wondering how on earth I managed to find cranberries before Thanksgiving season, I am going to let you in on a little secret. I buy a few bags of fresh cranberries every November and then I stick them in the freezer – and believe it or not, those bags last for months and months – allowing me always to have fresh cranberries on hand. I’ve even managed to make fresh cranberry sauce in April once!

i couldn't resist with the frozen cranberries again so perfectly warm and fragrant

As with many types of baked bread like this, you can pretty much add a combination or all of the spices listed below. I didn’t have allspice on hand this time, so I skipped it and the results weren’t too shabby. And some people dislike cloves so they skip it altogether. When I make this next time, I’ll most likely omit the walnuts – I decided to try them this time, but I am just not a nuts-in-my-banana-or-pumpkin-bread kinda girl. The recipe was inspired by Elise, yet again, who posted her pumpkin muffin recipe and since I was lacking those little paper cup things you pour muffin batter in, I decided to do a solid loaf instead.

green egg, no ham

Oh and before I forget, this has nothing to do with pumpkin bread, but everything to do with green eggs. Apparently, there is such a thing as a green egg and no, it’s not rotten and it’s perfectly good for consumption! At last Saturday’s farmer’s market, the young man who sells me eggs, as well as pasture-raised meat (and the most heavenly chorizo I’ve had to date!), opened up an egg carton to check for cracks and breaks and informed me with glee that there was a green egg in my carton. A green egg, I asked? Can I eat it? Is it rotten? Was Dr. Seuss onto something? Yes, no, and yes, were the farmer’s responses, after which he explained to me that a green egg is produced by some special hens and the egg doesn’t look white, per se, it looks rather a bit blue-green. Some folks even think them more nutritious and so request only green eggs from the farmer. I couldn’t wait to try our first green egg so we soft-boiled it and shared it that very morning. It was delicious – and unless I’m imagining things, tasted a bit more eggy – the yolk seemed a bit more orange and almost buttery in flavor. And so you have it, green egg sans ham – delicious and something new! And while I’m sorry to have rambled thus about something that has nothing to do with pumpkin bread (unless you count the two eggs that went into the batter) – I wanted to tell you about it nonetheless and if you know anything about green eggs, let me know – I’d love to learn!

Continue reading pumpkin bread with cranberries.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

apple and yogurt cake

i love apple  baked anything... no really, i do!

Sally Albright: But I’d like the pie heated and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it’s real; if it’s out of the can then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally Albright: No, I want the pie, but then not heated.

And this, my friends, is how I often will order food. First off there’s the complete reinvention of the recipe, which undoubtedly annoys both the waiter and the chef. And then adding insult to injury, the instructions I give are so unclear that the waiter will have to ask me the second time to repeat what I said. And this happens over and over to me.

Since I’ve completely switched gears from summer into fall, I’m done with the summer fruit (berry crumbles – I’ll see you later); I’ve been thinking apples, apples, apples. It donned on me two weeks ago that Rosh Hashana was right around the corner and an apple dessert would be in order. But what? The apple pie, as much as I love it, would be the expected apple treat, but my heart longed for something new, something different. I attribute this fickle mind of mine to living in New York. We get so spoiled here, and develop the attention span of a goldfish – four seconds and we forget the “traditional” or we get tired of it. Like spoiled children we look to new, shiny recipes like the new, shiny toys of our childhood. And those of us with food blogs take the cake (pardon the pun) for our demand of the new, shiny recipes. The recipe we haven’t yet written about, the recipe with stunning new photos, the recipe with a new take. This is where I found myself at the beginning of last week. Apple pie? Apple eh…

my cake's got cellulite a view from the top

Enter ever-so-creative Deb with her apple yogurt cake from her new, shiny book “The New Spanish Table”. Deb, I’ve been given a cook-book buying moratorium by KS, so I will have to mooch off of you and other bloggers with sexier cook books. The cake in Deb’s pictures looked stunning, as usual, but as soon as I saw the words like “licorice” and “anise” and “Sambucca”, I paused, for while there are folks out there whose taste buds have morphed to like the dreaded substances above, mine have never adjusted and I don’t foresee that changing. Say the words “pastis” and “pernod” and you’ll see me recoil in horror.

So I took Sambucca out and added Calvados instead. I also mixed my own lemon yogurt by combining plain yogurt with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. The only time-consuming task was finely chopping the apples. But the rest of the process was a snap. And I think that in the future, I’ll play with yogurt flavors and various liqueurs. I just might, as a sick joke on my self, try it with Sambucca one day, but honestly, I don’t see myself enjoying it. I’ve experimented plenty in that flavor department and all I could find in the end was a taste that deeply displeased my palate. The appliness of this cake (why no, appliness is not an actual word, I just made it up – so?) pleased me and KS – making it a perfectly timed treat for Rosh Hashana, now a week behind us. Sigh – time flies so fast.

shana tovah! minced

So Sally Albright or not, I like things just the way I like them. Even if I have to repeat my order a few more times, so long as I get a cake I like!

Continue reading apple and yogurt cake.