Posts Tagged ‘Breakfast’

I have always thought that pancakes were the most overrated breakfast food.  There’s nothing objectionable about them, but given the choice between those and other breakfast goodies – waffles, and omelets, and bagels with lox, pancakes just always have seemed boring to me.

I may be coming around though because these were delicious.  Something about the addition of cornmeal in these things made them taste amazing.  They don’t have that weird spongy texture that has always bugged me about pancakes.  They are heartier and have a much nicer flavor.  Complete with sweet, juicy blueberries straight from the farmers market, this made for a really yummy breakfast.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Recipe by Martha Stewart

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for griddle
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (1 pint) blueberries

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk, butter, and egg. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (mixture will be lumpy).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toss blueberries with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Brush griddle with melted butter. Spoon batter onto griddle 1/3 cup at a time. Sprinkle with sugared blueberries, about 2 tablespoons per pancake.

Cook until edges are set, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter and blueberries, adding more butter to griddle and keeping prepared pancakes warm on a baking sheet in the oven. Serve with maple syrup and fresh blueberries.

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I recently attempted an olive oil polenta cake that was a major fail.  I don’t know if the recipe was bad, if I missed a step, or if it was supposed to taste dry and bland.  So, I won’t be making that again.  What I will be making again is the syrup I drizzled on top.  I wanted to eat this stuff with a spoon.  It’s sweet and thick, and the bay leaf adds an herbal note that rounds it out and makes it interesting.  Drizzle it on cakes, pancakes and waffles, ice cream, or anything you can think of.   I bet it would be fantastic over some goat cheese too. 

Bay Infused Blood Orange Syrup
Recipe by me

5 Blood oranges
1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of honey

Segment the oranges, collecting as much of the juice as possible.  Squeeze out the membranes to gather up more juice.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and dissolve the sugar in it.  Add the honey, the orange segments and juice, and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf, and continue to simmer another 5-10 minutes, until it reaches desired consistency.  Drizzle over anything you like.  It will gel up a bit if it sits for too long, so to thin it out, just reheat with a couple drops of water.

Makes about 1 cup.

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Last weekend, we went to a housewarming party for friends.  It was a late night, filled with good food and lots of wine and rhubarb mojitos.  So, on Sunday morning when I woke up, I was quite happy I had a fridge full of good, local breakfast making supplies to help take the edge off.

The sausage comes from Fatted Calf in Napa, which can do no wrong.  The frittata I made with local eggs, leeks, garlic, parsley, and homemade ricotta.  Just warm up some olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute a finely sliced leek for a few minutes and add two cloves of minced garlic.  Beat up 4 eggs, a splash of cream, a bit of minced fresh herbs, and a 1/2 cup of ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper and pour over the leek mixture.  Keep it on the stove for a minute or two until the bottom sets up, then stick it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the eggs have cooked through.   Sprinkle a bit of parsley and you are good to go.

Even better when you’ve got slices of local blood oranges to go with it.

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Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make something luxurious for breakfast.  And what is more luxurious than saffron?

To make these, I just followed my standard scone recipe.  I left out the berries, and replaced it with the goodies scraped from a half a vanilla bean and the zest from one lemon. 

To make the glaze, juice half the lemon.  Add about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and a pinch of saffron.  Whisk together, adding water or lemon juice by the drop or sugar by the teaspoon, until you reach the desired consistency.  When the scones come out of the oven, place them on a rack to cool and frost with the glaze.  Enjoy with your honey.


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For my local dinner this week, I went for something simple – breakfast.  It really must be one of the easiest meals to do locally – eggs and bread really form the basis of most good breakfasts.  Eggs, butter, and cream from farms in Sonoma, baked with leeks and thyme from the farmer’s market, served with toasted Acme bread and bacon from Fatted Calf.  To wash it all down, a Bloody Mary made from Happy Girl Kitchen‘s Spicy Tomato Juice and Hangar One vodka from Alameda’s St. George’s Spirits.

The inspiration for the eggs comes from The Wednesday Chef, who blogged about this egg recipe which comes from Camino Restaurant, in Oakland (even my recipe is local this week!).  I tweaked it a little to avoid having leftover leeks and because I wanted two eggs, so I’m putting my variation here.  It was really, really good.  This might be my new favorite way to cook eggs.

Eggs Baked in Cream
Adapted from Camino
serves 2

1 tablespoon butter
1 really large leek or two smaller ones, sliced, light green and white parts only
2 sprigs thyme, leaves roughly chopped
4 large farm-fresh eggs
About 2 tablespoons half-and-half
Salt Coarsely ground black pepper

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the leek, a splash of water ,and a pinch of salt.  Cook until the leeks are soft, about 2 minutes.   Add the herbs and divide the mixture evenly between two 1 cup ramekins.

Crack 2 eggs into each ramekin on top of the leeks.  Add half-and-half to each so it just covers the egg.  Sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground pepper.

Cook until the white is set, 10 to 14 minutes.   Be careful because it won’t look cooked because of the cream on top.  But, at about 14 minutes, the yolks were just about 75% cooked through.  So, go a little less if you like your yolks yolky.

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If kindergarten teachers watched me in the kitchen, they’d probably give me a lecture about following directions.  I’m not very good at it.  To me, recipes are usually just suggestions or loose guidelines.

So, when I found this James Beard recipe for persimmon bread, the fact that he is practically the godfather of modern American cooking didn’t really stop me from deviating from the script.  Clearly, I have no shame.

Despite my wanton disregard for Mr. Beard’s recipe, the finished product was delicious.  My husband, however, said that he would have preferred the original.  If you are like me and get the shakes if you don’t find ways to consume as much ginger as possible, my version is right up your alley.  Otherwise, I imagine the original is pretty spectacular too.

If you’ve never tried persimmon, you are missing out.  The ripe Hachiya persimmon, which is used i this recipe, is essentially this fragrant orange pulp held together by a thin skin. 

 I just had to squeeze it slightly and it burst.  I just picked out the skin and membrane and no further preparation was needed.

Ginger Persimmon Bread
Adapted from James Beard, as found on David Lebovitz’s blog

Using the higher amount of sugar will produce a moister and, of course, sweeter bread.

1 3/4 cups sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cognac, bourbon, or whiskey
1 cup persimmon puree (from about 2 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2/3 cup minced candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 1 loaf pan and dust with flour, shaking out any excess.

Sift the first 6 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center then stir in the fresh ginger, butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree.  Mix gently, then add the candied ginger.  Stir until everything is combined and the ginger is evenly distributed.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The bread will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature, and should freeze well.

The bread was delicious.  Persimmons have a subtle spicy taste to them, so they worked well with the ginger, cognac, and other spices.  It was almost like a really gorgeous tasting fruit cake. 




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A dear friend came to visit last weekend.  After a long cross-country flight and a long night of sleep thwarted by jet lag, I thought she deserved to wake up to baked goods.

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s cheddar dill scone recipe, however, I wound up modifying the recipe from the strawberry scones I baked a few months ago.  Ina’s recipe (and many of the other scone recipes out there) all use eggs, whereas this one, which originated at Confessions of a Tart, does not.  That makes it so much easier to mix up the night before and can sit in the fridge overnight, waiting to be baked in the morning.  Perhaps dough containing eggs will do that too, but since I’ve had such good luck with this strawberry scone recipe, that I decided not to tempt fate.  I tweaked the basic recipe a little, adding extra cream to account for the loss of moisture from the berries and the addition of cheese, and upping the salt a bit.

Cheddar Dill Scones
Inspired by Confessions of a Tart and Ina Garten

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
1 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk
4 ounces grated cheddar
1/2 cup minced fresh dill

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add butter, using a pastry cutter or your fingers to evenly mix the butter into flour.  Stir in dill and cheddar; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once.  Gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients.  Be gentle so you don’t  overwork the dough.  Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky. 

Pat the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick.   At this point, I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge to bake in the morning.  But, either way, just before you bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover it in parchment.  Don’t skip this step or the cheese will drip out and burn on the pan.

Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them. 

 The scones will be quite rich, but very yummy.  A perfect breakfast to start off a day of wine tasting.

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It’s strawberry season in California and I have been obsessed.  I feel the urge to buy local strawberries whenever I see them at farmer’s markets and produce stands.  I bought so many this week that I couldn’t keep up with eating them them before they went bad.  And, when I realized more strawberries would be coming my way in my Eatwell box this week, I knew I had to do something.

I had flagged this scone recipe from Confessions of a Tart in my blog reader recently, as it looked so easy and so delicious.   I made the batter the night before and it really just took a few minutes.  The next morning, I baked it and yum, yum.  I definitely recommend it to satisfy your strawberry baked good fix.  Or any fruit baked good fix, really.

Strawberry Scones

1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
3 tablespoons sugar – I used vanilla sugar (threw a scraped out vanilla bean pod in a container of sugar, let it sit indefinitely)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk

1 tablespoon sugar (again, I used vanilla sugar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover it in parchment.  Don’t skip this step.  I did and wound up with burnt strawberry bits encrusted on my sheet.

If using larger fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces.  At least quartered, more if needed.  Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside.  Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough.  They’ll still be plenty prominent in your finished scones.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or your fingers to evenly mix the butter into flour.  Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once.  Gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients.  Be gentle so you don’t break up the berries and don’t overwork the dough.  Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky. 

Pat the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick.  If any berries peek out, push them into dough.  At this point, I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge to bake in the morning.  Scone dough can sit for a couple days in the fridge since it doesn’t have any eggs in it.  But if you want to power through and bake it right away, no need to refridgerate.

Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them.  (The sprinkling of sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking creates a simple, sparkly topping.


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This delicious little cake from Gourmet, via Epicurious, has been all the rage on the food blogs lately, it seems. It sounded so good, and I thought it would be a wonderful Christmas morning breakfast. Unfortunately, as I discovered earlier this fall, cranberries are in short supply out on the west coast. After checking at several stores, all of whom said that they stop carrying cranberries in November, I found a small, overpriced pint of them at the fabulous Ferry Building on Christmas Eve. They were $6, but I didn’t care. Cranberry vanilla coffee cake would be mine.

The recipe is easy and absolutely delicious. It’s not too sweet and it smells heavenly.
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 ounces)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
Note: I actually used an addition splash of milk…probably about 2 tablespoons worth. The batter seemed incredibly sticky and it just wasnt’ absorbing all the dry mixture. You may find you need to do the same. Also, while the recipe calls for a 9 by 2 cake pan, I think I will do this in a spring form pan the next time I make it. It would probably make the cake easier to remove.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment.
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife (reserve pod for another use if desired). Add sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl.
Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not purée).
Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.
Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Top with remaining batter and smooth top. This was the trickiest part because the batter is thick and hard to spread. I just dollopped it on in small spoonfuls all over the cranberries and gently spread the dollops together with a spoon.
Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble over top of cake.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up.

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