Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

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Rhubarb Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping

June 22, 2013

My dad grows rhubarb in his garden and he’ll periodically bring me a bunch or two when it starts to get too large. I am always excited to receive it! Rhubarb is definitely under-appreciated as vegetables go, probably in part due to poor preparation. Raw rhubarb stalks are incredibly tart, and if they’re very thick, they can also be fibrous near the base. These factors are certainly challenges to work with, but if you peel the bases of the thickest stalks and temper the tartness with the right amount of sugar (but not too much!), rhubarb has an awesome fruity flavor that can really shine in a lot of different dishes.

As much as I love rhubarb fools, this time I was itching to try something different, something that didn’t involve cooking the rhubarb down. While I was browsing through back issues of Saveur online, I came across these muffins. Rhubarb in muffins? Definitely fit my criteria of something different! I was fairly surprised that the rhubarb is added to the muffin batter raw; it seemed like it wouldn’t lose its tartness and would stay too crunchy. But I figured they had tested the recipe and probably knew what they were talking about, so I added the rhubarb raw as written! And the recipe writers were correct: the rhubarb softened enough and turned sweet during baking, similar to blueberry muffins. Enough of the tartness remained to nicely complement the sweetness of the streusel topping. Overall a great success! Gave one to my dad as a thanks for the rhubarb and he said it looked and tasted like it was from a professional bakery. Thanks, Dad! :)

Rhubarb muffins with streusel topping

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Sticky Buns

January 9, 2013

One of my favorite special treats when I was a kid was going to the mall with my mom and splitting one of Cindy’s Cinnamon Rolls’ enormous sticky buns, all warm and gooey and topped with crunchy pecans. Eventually that mall closed down and there were no more Cindy’s franchises in the area. But then I grew up and realized I could bake for myself, so I now present you with the recipe I use. :)

The dough is the same basic sweet dough recipe from the ATK Family Baking Book used in both my cinnamon rolls and monkey bread, and the assembly is almost the same as the cinnamon rolls. Rather than baking the rolls and then adding frosting, the bottom of the pan is covered with the sticky bun topping and the rolls are turned out upside down after baking.

The topping can be made with either pecans or walnuts; I prefer pecans because there’s nothing better than nostalgic comfort food. These are also a favorite of one of my coworkers, so they make a relatively frequent appearance at my work. :) Enjoy!

Sticky buns

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Puffed Apple Pancake

December 18, 2012

The German apple pancake recipe in the ATK Family Baking Book is awesome, but it takes a little while to make because you have to sauté the apples before baking. We had a lot of apples that needed to be used before they started getting soft, but I wanted something faster than the ATK recipe to make for brunch during our friend’s weekend visit. So I was flipping through Bon Appetit’s Fast Easy Fresh cookbook and this recipe caught my eye. It doesn’t require the apples to be sautéed on top of the stove; they get pre-cooked for a few minutes in the oven before adding the batter.

I was very pleased with the way it turned out! Not exactly the same texture as the ATK recipe, but equally delicious. :) Unfortunately this isn’t the type of recipe that can be made ahead of time. It must be served as soon as it comes out of the oven: like a souffle, it starts collapsing as it cools. But it’s perfect for a weekend brunch dish when you have a little bit of extra time in the morning!

Puffed apple pancake

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Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyère

October 16, 2012

Strata is one of those amazing foods that somehow I only end up making about once a year. One of my absolute favorites, but it requires a bit more planning ahead that the usual breakfast food and an hour of baking time in the morning (not to mention it’s quite rich and heavy), so it’s best for a special occasion. In the past I’ve always brought along the ingredients to make it on the last day of the youth group winter weekend retreat, but sadly there was no retreat this past year. Using any occasion for an excuse, Boss’s Day seemed like a good enough reason. My manager is actually out of town this week, so my coworkers and I shared the strata this morning and all she got was a picture, haha!

The reduced wine, Gruyère cheese, and shallots give this breakfast dish a slightly more sophisticated flavor than the typical combination of pork products (bacon, sausage, ham) with eggs and American or cheddar cheese (although strata made with sausage and cheddar is also excellent). I prefer savory breakfast foods to sweet ones, and I love complex combinations of flavors, so you can imagine that this would easily make it into my top ten list. :)

This recipe, from the ATK Family Baking Book, has been my standby strata recipe for several years. While it initially looks like a lot of steps that will take a long time, you can get the bread in the oven right away to start drying out, prep the rest of the ingredients, and do everything but the final assembly during that 30-40 minutes. Weighting the strata down before baking is an important step that you don’t want to skip; it helps to eliminate dry pockets in the bread. The recipe can easily be doubled to feed a large group: assemble in a 13-by-9-inch pan and increase the baking time to 60-70 minutes.

Breakfast strata with spinach and gruyere

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Butter-Toasted Oatmeal with Sticky Apple Topping

January 21, 2012

Last weekend it was far too cold to make our way to the public market (where our usual Saturday breakfast fare comes in the form of breakfast tacos from La Placita), and oatmeal sounded like it would hit the spot. This recipe in my Gourmet Today cookbook caught my eye since we still had some apples left over that we had picked in the late fall (and which were started to get a bit soft), and I had plenty of time that morning to cook the steel-cut oats.

Steel-cut oats are whole oats that have been cut crosswise into a few pieces after processing, whereas more commonly found rolled oats are steamed and then flattened into flakes. They can take up to 40 minutes to completely cook, compared to about 5 minutes for rolled oats, so this is definitely a weekend or day-off breakfast! The extra time to cook is totally worth it, however. Steel-cut oats have a chewy texture which is never gloppy, and toasting them slightly brings out their nutty flavor. The hot apple topping adds a perfect amount of sweetness, making this a wonderfully warming and satisfying breakfast. Any leftovers can be kept up to 3 days and reheated in the microwave.

Oatmeal with apple topping

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Monkey Bread

October 12, 2011

Monkey bread, for those unfamiliar with the term, sounds like a novelty food for children, but despite the unsophisticated name, it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike! It is made by separating dough into many pieces, and reassembling the pieces in a Bundt pan so that when unmolded, the pieces can be easily torn off and eaten. There has been much speculation about where the name “monkey bread” came from, whether because it resembles the bark of a monkey puzzle tree, or if pulling it apart and eating it with the hands resembles the way a monkey eats. I have come across both savory and sweet versions, but my favorite kind is that with cinnamon and sugar, tasting just like fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon buns. This recipe for monkey bread, from the ATK Family Baking Book, uses the same dough as the the recipe I use for my cinnamon rolls, so the flavor is very similar.

The most important thing about monkey bread is to serve it warm so that it’s easy to pull apart, and I timed making it ahead of time so that I’d be taking out out of the oven a few minutes before I left for work. It was a huge hit with my coworkers – I didn’t come home with any leftovers!

Monkey bread

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Frittata Bites with Chard, Sausage, and Feta

August 8, 2011

With the rest of the chard left over from my CSA box, I made a second frittata very different from the summer vegetable frittata last week! When I found this recipe last year (in the June 2010 issue of Bon Appetit magazine), I made it as an appetizer to take to a church group meeting and everyone thought it was delicious. So I’ve been looking forward to more chard again this summer so I could try it again! I love the flavor combination of the greens with the mildly spicy sausage and the tangy feta cheese. It holds together very well as a finger food and would make a terrific passed appetizer at a dinner party.

Rather than being cooked in an ovenproof skillet on the stovetop initially and then transferred to the broiler to finish, this is baked entirely in the oven in a square pan, making it much thicker than a typical frittata. However, that means that it takes a bit longer to make because it has to bake for about 45 minutes, so you do have to plan ahead. The results are totally worth the time though!

Sausage and chard frittata bites

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