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Posts from the ‘Breakfast’ Category

crêpes au chocolaté

As full as life is these days, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share a special treat that a MOM might like. Besides, I promised a mom I would.

I’ve shared another crêpe recipe with you previously (“plain,”  yet not-so-plain, and simply wonderful) – partly because of its versatility, savory or sweet, it remains our favorite.

Don’t misunderstand – today’s crêpe is no slouch! And it steps in to fill the cockles of a chocolate-lover’s heart…it  might even be the one to make a Mom or Grandma swoon….if you aim for that sort of thing.

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With a plateful of warm crêpes of chocolate, you’ll be faced with choices…What to pool inside? What to dribble over?

♥ A mixture of sour cream & crème fraîche, sweetened & flavored with vanilla, tucked inside (see below), and fresh berries toppled over…

 Or perhaps the yogurt of your choice, and then once again berries on top…

♥ Or even sliced bananas tucked inside and then a good dollop of cinnamon-scented whipped cream…and even an extra drizzle of chocolate…

 You might decide to roll them instead of folding them like hankies…

 You can dust the finished crêpes with either dark chocolate or confectioners sugar…or both…

For a dessert:

 Maybe you’d like to macerate your berries in melted raspberry sorbet first – you’ll know what to do with them from there…!

 You might like a softened vanilla ice-cream inside & a rich chocolate sauce dribbling over the edges of your hankies…

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NOTE:  Keep in mind that it’s best to prepare these at the very least one hour ahead of cooking. Two hours is better. Overnight, or a full day ahead, is great! This allows the flour molecules to become fully hydrated and the crêpes to become their tenderest.

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Chocolate Crêpes

Makes 12 – 8 to 9-inch crêpes

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Butter – 1 Tablespoon

Bittersweet Chocolate – 1½ ounces (40 g) – chopped

Milk – 1 cup (250 mL)

Large Eggs – 2 

Sugar – ¼ cup (55 g)

Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon

All-Purpose Flour – 1 cup (125 g)

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Into a small to medium saucepan place the butter, chocolate and milk and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat.

Using a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the vanilla and then the flour. Now beat in the chocolate milk mixture, slowly at first to eliminate lumps from forming. Pour the mixture into a pitcher or jug.  (If lumps are present, strain into the pitcher.)

Allow to sit for at least one hour. See NOTE above.

Check the consistency of your batter. It should be like a thin cream…add small amounts of milk, mixing thoroughly, until desired consistency is reached.

When it’s time to cook your crêpes, a non-stick skillet (8 – 10″) will work best. But any skillet of this size will work…they will just require a spraying or a buttering/oiling of the pan from time to time. Crêpes are better if they’re drier, but don’t let this stand in your way of a treat!

Heat the oven to 150°F (65°C) and place a plate inside. Place your skillet over medium high and allow it to come to temperature.

(Count on the first one or two crêpes being trials, just as in pancakes.)

Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll only need 1½ to a scant 3 Tablespoons of batter per crêpe. Once your pan has reached temperature, raise it off the heat and drop in the batter, tilting the pan in a circular motion so that it coats the bottom of the pan evenly. Any holes can be filled with a touch of additional batter. When the underside is cooked and the topside is mostly dried (only about 1 minute!) lift one edge with a butter knife, or a skinny spatula (or even your fingers) and flip it to finish the crêpe – 30 seconds or so.

Place them on the heated plate in the oven (covered with foil) as you prepare the others, or serve them as they come out of the pan, as you prefer.ChocolateCrepes-10

These crêpes will freeze well if prepared ahead. Simply place parchment paper or waxed paper squares between them, and then placed in a freezer bag. Allow them to come to room temperature and then gently reheat them in a warm oven. Then fill and prepare as you like.

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just another ‘ordinary’ breakfast in India

Last fall I introduced you to my friend Amit who grew up in Delhi, India. (See a wonderful rice and beans dish of his mother’s, Rajmah, that I posted at the time.) Amit, a man who loves all things associated with the kitchen, has inspired me in my own. Now borrowed from him are chai, rice and bean dishes, chutney, a couple salads and several curries that he brought to the US when he immigrated here. This is Amit’s father’s birthday month and in honor of that, I was asked if I could share a favorite dish of his Dad’s too. I told my good friend I’d be happy to.

Have you ever heard the expression that a person grows into the name he or she was given? It appears to be the case with Amit’s father, a gregarious man with a smile that lights up his entire face, and possibly the entire room. His name: Prakash Chandra Jain. Prakash means light, and Chandra – moon! Can you imagine being given such a name?! And then, having the privilege of growing into it?

Seen here with wife Anjana, at the wedding of their son Moni to his new bride, Richa.

~ ~ ~

Sri Prakash Chandra, since retired, had his career as an experimental physicist.  He’s always been an exacting man – both in his lab and in the kitchen where he loved to cook for his family. His interest in the culinary world was already well-evidenced by the time he was a young man in college where he took the lead in his dorm’s dining hall — purchasing the food, planning the recipes for the cooking staff and in general, managing the kitchen. Experimentation wasn’t restricted to his physics lab either – he’s been known to work and work on a recipe until he’s perfected it. And one of his favorite dishes is one that Amit and his family grew up eating on a typical (ever-delicious) Delhi morning.

Paranthas stuffed with cauliflower & spices

served with cumin raita and an out-of-this-world green chutney

Sounds complicated, no? Well, it’s not a bowl of instant oatmeal or a cereal bar grabbed on the way out the door (but who writes of that?)  It’s sit-down food, meant for moments to savor.

Cauliflower stuffing

  • 1 medium cauliflower, shredded (using a coarse grater)
  • Grated ginger root (using fine grater) – a piece about 1 x 1-inch
  • Cilantro: 2 to 3 Tablespoons, chopped (Amit’s family uses leaves only)
  • 2 teaspoon Garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional, but we like) – minced

(NOTE: Amit has also made this stuffing with purple potatoes, cooked & chopped finely, then prepared as in the directions for this stuffing. How very pretty that would be.)

Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger and sauté until just slightly brown. Add the cauliflower and spices. Cook uncovered over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes (or until tender).

Should you have any left over, this stuffing is delicious to eat as a side.

Green Chutney

fresh ginger – 1 inch x ½ inch piece

1 Tablespoon cumin seeds

15 – 20 leaves of fresh mint

2 whole bunches of fresh cilantro

2 cloves garlic

1½ salt  (Amit likes 2)

juice of 2 limes

1 jalapeño – ribs and seeds removed

¼ to ½ water (more like 3/8)

1 to 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt  (optional – I wanted to preserve the brilliant green color so didn’t add)

3 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut

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where do you look for sunshine?

When rain in Seattle or Portland makes national news, you know things are about as bad as they get here. Standing water on freeways, drains unable to keep pace with the deluge,  stretches of highway closed, even a few small towns along rivers evacuated. We get grey days, and mostly gentle (and occasionally incessant) rain here, but not monsoons that turn umbrellas inside out and flood boots with the rain that falls fast down our jackets.  I was hydroplaning down the freeway about 10 miles an hour below speed limit, heading toward a long (and long-overdue) coffee date with a dear friend. Carolyn had been out of town for more than a month and I’d missed her. I was thinking of her sunny self as I tried to see through the waterfall that was my windshield. I was thinking too about where it is we go looking for sunshine when our eyes and skin are hungry for it.

Carolyn and I sat drinking our large steamy cups of chai, catching up with the parts of each other’s lives we’d missed. And then, from beneath the table she brought out a canvas banana with a zipper along one side. “Bananagrams,” she said. “You’re going to love it!” She spilled the tiles onto the table, and we turned them over, letters face-down,  as she explained how the game is played. Carolyn was right of course, my friend knows me. From here on out, along with my camera, Bananagrams go where I go.

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Not long ago I’d visited a fellow-blogger  – Violets and Cardamom – and was struck by her pretty mango lassi.  It was lovely.

Today, I winged my own with several changes. Knowing the deliciousness of the pairing of mango, coconut, ginger, lime, cardamom and banana, it was a simple matter to drop them into a blender, whir them up, pour them out, and stick a straw into a glass of gleaming sunshine.

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German apple pancake

No food tradition in our family is longer-lived than the German apple pancake. So central a family holiday tradition, so beloved, for years it even served as the “secret password” between my daughters and me. We never needed to use it, but it was comforting knowing it was there. ; )

Every Christmas morning for our children’s lives our house would fill with the sweet perfume of cinnamon and nutmeg and caramelizing apples. Every Christmas morning, the girls’ eyes, and later on, the boy’s, would pop at the big puff of a pancake as it came from the oven. (It’s a bit of a wonderment really.) From the oven, I’d slip it onto a warm platter and then –  into the golden heart of it a steaming skillet-ful of glistening caramelized apples would tumble. I think it’s become impossible for any of us now to separate Christmas morning from the pancake.

As true as that is, we enjoy this special breakfast too much to relegate it to one morning a year. It manages to show up at birthday breakfast tables by request, and occasionally it appears just because  someone’s in need of a little extra lovin’ or an atta-boy or -girl! This year we’ll bring it the New Year’s table too. It’s how our family celebrates with breakfast.

So disappointed I forgot to include the cranberries for this one – it’s positively beautiful with them.

German Apple Pancake

serves 6 to 8 

the pancake:

  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour (3¾ oz. – 105 g.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1½ Tablespoons butter

the apples:

  • 1½ pounds apples (up to 2 pounds will work) – Granny Smith are a good choice
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (either new or freshly grated is best)
  • ½ cranberries (optional)

the sprinkling of snow:

  • powdered sugar

Place an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Into a blender (or food processor) break 3 eggs. Add milk and vanilla, and process for about 30 seconds. Add the flour, salt and sugar and process until lumps are gone, about 15 seconds. (Don’t overmix.) Allow to “bloom” – for flour to absorb the liquids completely – at least 15 minutes, and as long as overnight. Briefly mix again before pouring in the pan.

With oven at 500°F, melt 1½ Tablespoons butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat- cast iron works very well for this. When the butter has turned to foam, swirl it around the bottom of the pan, and slightly up the sides. Pour in the pancake batter and place the pan in the oven. Promptly lower the heat to 425°F. Cook for 10 minutes at this setting, and then lower the heat to 350°F and cook for about 15 minutes longer. (If during the initial stages of the baking, the center of the pancakes bubbles up and forms a little mountain, pierce it with a long handled fork. No worries if it doesn’t completely flatten though because the apples will take care of most of that.) Like magic, the sides of the pancake will rise up and form a bowl.  Read more

a Christmas bread – Panettone

I caught a little flack from family for sharing the caramel corn. Some thought (kiddingly I’m sure) that it ought to be “sacred,” a family secret, vaulted away. These are NOT stingy people! They’re tremendously generous. Their hearts are huge. But they did have serious qualms about my going public with Ruthie’s caramel corn.

And yet…I’m here to share. So while I’m at it (and already in questionable standing with the family)… here comes another recipe from our holiday house to yours.

This bread is so deliciously fragrant! It’s a soft loaf, delicately but surely flavored with anise, slightly sweet and full of colorful dried fruit. It’s the traditional loaf on Italian tables for Christmas and New Years and has been a tradition in our non-Italian family since I was a kid and our mom first learned to bake homemade bread.  You can eat it with just a creamy smear of sweet butter or – as we do – toasted, with its fragrance roused to life again. We’ll have it for breakfast along with our scrambled eggs and fresh-squeezed juice.

I’ve suggested certain fruits to go inside, but really the choice is entirely yours. Mom used to make it with those candied fruits and peels (which, as a kid, I detested and had to go to a lot of trouble to pick out so I could get to the truly good stuff.) I’m saving you the trouble. Use whatever dried fruits you like…cherries, apricots, golden or dark raisins, cranberries or candied citrus rinds or softer nuts like walnuts or pecans. Traditionally, it’s one half raisins and one half other mixed fruits, but you can do all raisins if you like, or none at all. Be sure though not to skimp on the anise (neither the extract nor the seeds) because that’s where all the heady perfume comes from! Can you stand being adored? Then you will be so glad you made this bread!

Panettone – Christmas Bread

  • 2 Tablespoons yeast (or two packets)
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water (100-110°F)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon anise extract
  • 2 teaspoons crushed anise seed
  • 6 to 6½ cups all-purpose flour or bread flour  (total weight 30 ounces – or 1 pound, 14 ounces)
  • 2 cups dried fruit (1 cup golden or dark raisins plus 1 cup total of a variety – dried cherries, dried apricots, cranberries, dried pineapple, candied citrus rinds or soft nuts like walnuts or pecans)

My personal choice – 1 cup raisins (¾ golden, ¼ dark), and 1 cup equally divided between apricots, tart cherries and dried bing cherries. If I had on hand a bit of candied orange rind, I’d add it too, but I don’t always.

Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of lukewarm water. (Don’t exceed 115°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, the elbow is a good indicator of the right temp. It’s baby bathwater warm.) Set aside.

Place the butter, sugar and salt in a medium size bowl and pour boiling water over top. Stir to melt and dissolve, then set aside to cool. (Again, no warmer than luke warm.) Once it’s cooled, add the eggs, anise extract and crushed anise seeds. (You can use mortar and pestle to crush…they don’t need to be ground.) If you’ve got a stand mixer than can knead your bread for you, hooray! Transfer these wet ingredients to the bowl of your mixer.

Measure out 6 cups of flour. Have another ½ cup standing by in case you need it. Gradually add the flour to the liquid and knead with dough hook attachment for about 7 or 8 minutes (or longer if required to achieve proper consistency.) You’re looking for most of the dough to be pulled away from the sides of the bowl. When you press the dough with a finger, the dough bounces back at you. And when you lightly squeeze it between your fingers, it almost wants to stick but you’re able to ply your fingers from it without taking dough with. The surface is smooth and baby’s bottom soft.

Lightly butter the inside of a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, place inside the bowl, and roll around the sides of the bowl to very lightly coat with butter. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour. (My preferred place is inside a cold oven. I place another bowl inside the oven filled with hot water. It creates just the right environment, rising the dough but not too quickly. It should be doubled in about 1 hour.)

 While the dough is rising, place the raisins in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes and plump up a bit. Drain them in a collander and then place them on a clean towel, patting to dry.

Cut the fruits into approximately raisin-size pieces.  Mix all the fruits together.

Once dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap, and with your fist, deflate the mound. One gentle punch or two will do.

Lay the dough out fairly flat; pile the fruits on top. Roll the dough around the fruit and gently knead, incorporating the fruit. Gather into a rough ball, then tuck the sides of the dough under until you’ve again achieved a smooth, round ball. Place it back inside the bowl to rise as before, a second time. Allow to rise until double, about an hour or so. (This may take a bit longer with the heavy fruit now inside.)

Once doubled the 2nd time, split dough in two fairly equal pieces. Allow to rest for 5 minutes under a towel. 

Forming the Loaves:  The object is to stretch the top, tucking the sides down and to the bottom of the loaf. Do this with the dough held in both hands, thumbs more or less on top, your other fingers continually curving over the sides, tucking the sides down and under. If that’s something you don’t feel confident about, not to worry. However you make a round loaf will be good. Put each loaf onto its own baking sheet or into individual cake pans. (You’ll want to put them side by side in the oven. If you put them both on the same baking sheet, they could rise to meet each other and meld their sides together. That wouldn’t be a catastrophe but you’ll be happier if they don’t.)

15 minutes before you expect the loaves to be ready for baking, place a rack 1/3 up from the bottom of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Brush the loaves gently with melted butter using a pastry brush.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes. If they begin to brown too much, lay a large paper grocery bag over the top toward the end. (Don’t worry, it won’t catch fire.) Or use aluminum foil if you’re leery.

Remove loaves from oven; cool completely on a rack before cutting. This bread keeps well for days, if wrapped tightly. Or bake ahead and freeze (double-bagged) for weeks or longer. Be sure to bring out before the holiday!

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Tomorrow, continuing to be inspired by our travels to the southwest,

I’ll share yet another recipe with corn as the centerpiece

and some more photos from our trip.

biscotti – two ways

Biscotti are rustically charming Italian twice-baked cookies. Dough is first formed into a long roll and baked, then cut on the diagonal and baked a second time to dry them. They’re a delicious, even politely meant-to-be-dunkable treat. In Italy, biscotti are dunked into coffee and enjoyed for breakfast. In the evenings, after one of their famously-long and leisurely dinners, biscotti might be dipped into wine (especially vin santo.)  In that sense, they’re a sort of chewable, meltable, endlessly-adaptable delivery system for the beverage being enjoyed alongside.  Biscotti have made their way stateside, though some of them are highly sweetened and fancified and bear little resemblance to their Italian ancestor. I’ll offer the more traditional sort here.

What we love about biscotti

they’re positively delicious when, bite-by-bite, they’re softened in coffee

they fall into the “treat” category without being overly sweet

even after weeks (if they last that long) they’re as good as ever

they make someone a sweet little present

they look so cute in a jar

I sent out sample packages of two versions for a vote. The results were close, but the lemon-aniseed version narrowly beat out the orange-walnut among testers. This was a very limited sample so I wouldn’t read much into it if I were you. They’re each good, and each has a following, but my husband and I come down on the side of the Grand Marnier-walnut. With fans in each camp though, I thought it only fair to let you decide for yourselves. (I’d start with the walnut – but you already knew that.) Post a vote if you like! And if you find a way of pairing your biscotti up with a favorite beverage or frozen dessert, I’d love to hear your discoveries.

Grand Marnier Walnut Biscotti

  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier (or substitute a brandy or Cognac of your choosing – see NOTE)
  • zest of 1 orange – about 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting your board)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

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Crepes

When I was a newly-married, very young and inexperienced cook, I decided to make crêpes for my mother’s birthday. Bold move!  I’m not sure if I’d ever even eaten a crêpe before, but I’d surely seen them, and knew I’d adore them if given the chance. So I turned to Julia Childs (one of only three cookbooks I had at the time.) Her fully-detailed recipe and the accompanying illustrations gave me all the assurance I needed. The next day, voila! savory chicken crêpes for dinner! And they were a huge hit, talked about for years in our family! I’m thinking that the memory of those crêpes far exceeded their deliciousness, but that’s what happens when the telling of anything gets all wrapped up with love.

There was nothing wrong with that crêpe recipe, in fact it was good, but I’ve found one better.  Chef Alice Waters, after spending years in Paris, once thought of opening her own crêperie. Friends prevailed on her though and eventually she opened Chez Panisse, the now-famous restaurant in Berkeley, instead. Still, her long-time love of crêpes is evident in every tender bite of these delicate little pancakes.  You’ll taste it, I promise.

Here I’ve filled them with whole-milk yogurt (or substitute sour cream) and ladled on strawberries, sweetened and bathed in Grand Marnier. We have a couple family birthdays this weekend and this will be a treat worthy of the occasion. Breakfast or dessert? Must we choose?

(The batter is best made a day in advance. Julia advised the same.)

Buckwheat Crêpes

(makes about 4 cups of batter, enough for 30 crêpes)

In a small saucepan, warm the following:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 4 Tbl. (half stick) butter

Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and cool.

In a bowl, measure and stir together:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat

Make a well in the flour and with a wooden spoon, stir in

  • 1 Tbl. vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs

Stir until the batter is smooth and free of all lumps. Then, beginning with just a spoonful at a time, add the milk and butter mixture, incorporating fully with each additional spoonful. About half way through the process, you’ll be able to add the remainder all at once; whisk to blend thoroughly. (If you have any lumps remaining, put the batter through a strainer.) Finally, whisk in:

  • 1/2 cup beer

Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator one hour before frying.

With a moistened cloth or paper towel dipped in vegetable oil, lightly grease a 6- to 8-inch fry pan (with shallow, sloping sides). Put the pan over medium heat. Using a small ladle or large spoon, pour in about 2 tablespoons of batter. Tilt and rotate the pan quickly,  spreading the batter out to cover the bottom of the pan evenly. Cook until brown, just a minute or two. Lifting one corner of the crêpe with a very thin spatula or a butter knife, pick the crêpe up with your fingers and flip it over. Cook briefly on the other side, no more than a minute. (As with other pancakes, you can consider your first two or three to be trials. I should add that the buckwheat will continually drift to the bottom of your bowl, so give the batter a stir each time you ladle new batter out.) You can stack the crêpes on a plate as you go, covering with a tea towel. Just before serving, spoon in the desired filling, fold crêpes in fourths like little handkerchiefs, and put them in a hot oven for just a few minutes. Then spoon on the topping of your choice and dust with a sprinkling of sugar.

These are also tasty with good jam or marmalade folded inside, topped with either  sour cream (that’s been thinned with a bit with cream), or crème frâiche, then dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

For Savory crêpes: These crêpes are equally delicious as a main course when filled with a savory filling. (Think mushrooms, crab, chicken, vegetables, cheese, etc etc etc.! If I get any specific requests, I’ll be happy to share!)

(The crêpe recipe alone comes from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food)

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A slower, lemony breakfast

On a Saturday or Sunday morning, it’s such a delight to slow down the pace a little. Putzing a bit in the kitchen, and then savoring an extra cup of coffee or tea, with a plate of  tender, lofty, lemony cakes is one sure way to do it. Maybe a game of Scrabble with your honey, and you’re home free. Not all (and maybe not many) will want to go the extra step of making their own ricotta, but I promise, it’s only slightly more complicated than boiling milk. If you want to give it a try, I’ve included some instructions that you can access by clicking on the “CONTINUED…” link below. But using a good quality store-bought ricotta will do just fine. The photos here show these cakes virtually unadorned, and they’re simply, delicately delicious that way. (A pat of soft butter, a good squeeze of lemon, a dusting of powdered sugar. A fork.) But you can also serve them with a Blueberry Sauce (recipe below) or a berry syrup, or (can we possibly wait?) heaping spoons of slightly sweetened and sliced Oregon strawberries (I’m sorry – they’re simply the best on earth.) I enjoy maple syrup, but it’s not what I’d put with these. They’re much better complimented by fruit. You’ll see.

 

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

  • 9 ounces of ricotta cheese (1 cup + 2 Tbl.)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. fine salt
  • Extra fresh lemon for serving, or fresh fruit or berry syrup of your choice

Get ready: Turn your oven to 200°F and put your breakfast plates in to keep warm. Turn your griddle on to medium high. Then just before ladling out the batter for your cakes, brush the griddle with a little bit of neutral oil (such as canola or grapeseed.)

The batter: Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a medium-size bowl, and the whites into a small one. Whisk the whites until frothy. (It’s not necessary to form peaks of them, but do get them white and full of air.) Mix the egg yolks with the ricotta cheese, milk, lemon juice and vanilla extract. In a separate small bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the lemon zest. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until just blended. (Don’t over-mix or your tender little cakes will turn tough and mean.) Then gently fold in the frothy whites until blended.

Griddle: Spoon out the batter onto your greased griddle.  It’s best for these if you keep the size small – say, around 3 inches diameter. You may find it works best if you spoon out a little and spread it slightly so that it’s not too very thick. (Around 1/4″ inch or so.) That way, they’ll be golden brown outside and cooked fully inside. Do a test run of several cakes to see if you’re happy, and then go to town! Like all pancakes, they’re of course best straight from the griddle, but you can keep a stack of them warm in your oven under a towel for a short time without harm.

Serve: As I mentioned above, they’re perfectly flavored to my taste with just a little more lemon juice, some melting butter and a dusting of powdered sugar. But the Blueberry Lemon Sauce here is a very nice accompaniment too! Come summer though, these cakes will lose top-billing to the strawberries that will gorgeously smother them.

for a printer-friendly version of the pancakes, click here

Spree’s Lemony Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (I love the little ones for this)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 T. water
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 t. lemon zest

Put the water, lemon juice and sugar into a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the frozen blueberries and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Add fresh blueberries and lemon zest and simmer for about another 3 minutes. Serve warm.

for a printer-friendly version of the blueberry sauce, click here

To make your own ricotta cheese, please click on the “read more” link below…

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A Fruity, Nutty Kind of Granola

I mentioned in an earlier post that we have two granolas we enjoy for breakfast. But this is the one full of memories and sweet associations.  This is the one we have a history with. It’s a rainy morning and I have a new batch baking now. The aromas floating through the kitchen take me back years and plop me down at an old wooden table, with its slightly creaky top – a table that was once “Yaya’s” and around which her four hungry boys gathered to be fed. (The third of these would one day be our Dad.) Many years later, it was the round, creaky table where my girls and I ate our meals and grew up together. Often our breakfasts would include small bowlfuls of creamy-smooth yogurt on which this crunchy granola was toppled, theirs with an extra shimmer of drizzled honey. We’d eat, planning our days, sometimes practicing spelling, finishing math or editing essays, chattering or giggling with mouths still full. There was a lot of happy around that table.

My daughters have the same honeyed aromas filling their kitchens these days, and new memories are forming in other cute little heads. In fact, today three little girls eat around that very same creaky-topped table, ambered and dented with years of living.

Even after all this time, my husband and I love when a fresh batch of granola is pulled, all crackly hot, from the oven. We can barely wait for it to cool. I suppose by now it’s obvious, this is the granola we favor.

Spree’s Golden Granola

Preheat oven to 300°F.  Into an ample-sized glass or metal cake pan, scoop the following:

  • 3 cups rolled oats (the slow-cooking, old-fashioned sort)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded (see NOTE)
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds (or hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened raw wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed (optional)
  • To the above ingredients stir in
  • 1/2 cup honey (or real maple syrup, or 1/4 cup of each)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Stir to combine well, and then add
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

Pop the pan into your oven and plan on cooking for about an hour (though it may be to your liking in less), stirring every 15 minutes or thereabouts to toast it evenly.  When it’s the kind of crunchy that suits you, remove and cool.  Once cooled, add a total of

  • 1 cup or so of dried fruits

My favorites: 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped raisin-size (I have a strong preference for Trader Joe’s apricots, full of tangy flavor); 1/4 cup dried cranberries; and 1/4 cup or more of raisins.  But I also like dried cherries or blueberries in place of one or two of the others. Make it as fruity as you like.  Like all good granolas, it’s nice on yogurt with fresh fruit, or in a bowl with milk, or out of the hand for a quick little munch.

NOTE: The coconut you’ll see featured here is from Bob’s Red Mill – these ribbons of coconut look pretty, toast up beautifully, and put a distinct bite of coconut in your mouth.

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for a printer version of this recipe, click here.

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