Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Sometimes winter needs a dose of bright, summer flavor to remind us that the ground will eventually thaw and longer, sunny days are on the horizon. I’m partial to making barbecue brisket sandwiches in January, muddling mint in my cocktails in February and sprinkling out of season (but readily available) berries on my yogurt in March. Call me a dreamer but sometimes I just want a hot dog and an ice cream cone for dinner. These blackberry cornmeal pancakes are the perfect antidote to summertime longing. Pockets of juicy blackberries nestled in a fluffy cornmeal pancake – these are not your run of the mill limp pancakes. The flour and cornmeal give the pancake a lovely, rich texture and bonus – these are super quick and easy to whip up. Make a batch and keep them in the fridge for a quick weekday breakfast!

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Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Yield: About 13 pancakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup ricotta

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus more for the skillet

3/4 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 cup blackberries

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine 3 tablespoons butter, milk, followed by the eggs. Stir in blackberries. Combine mixture with dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are incorporated.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into skillet for each pancake. Flip the pancakes when bubbles begin to appear all over top, about 2 minutes. Cook for another minute until golden on the other side. Keep pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.

Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

 

I never made it apple picking this fall. I know fall isn’t technically over yet, but let’s get real – it’s not happening. And even if it did, sweater-clad families lining the East Coast have already picked the trees clean.

Instead, I’ve lived vicariously through friends and relatives … on Facebook. Scrolling through pics of newly married couples in matching vests posing in a pumpkin patch moved me. Seeing photos of my rosy cheeked nieces and nephews in Ohio chomping down on apples while their parents tried to pull off the elusive family selfie was heart warming.  But what really piqued my interest even more than the apples themselves were the fresh doughnuts my sister-in-law raved about. Fresh, hot apple and maple doughnuts that crowds lined up for. She said the whole family fell silent in the car (not an easy feat with two kids under 5) while they each devoured their doughnuts. Eating doughnuts and apple picking (secondary to the doughnuts, come on) are on my fall bucket list for next year.

In the meantime, here’s a fall baking project for utilizing those glorious fresh picked (or grocery store) apples. Nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice infuse these scones with classic, delightful fall flavoring. Whole wheat flour and oats create a really nice texture and the maple icing is quite simply – on fleek.

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Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 pound cold butter, diced

3/4 cup chopped apple (I used half of a medium sized granny smith apple)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 egg, lightly beaten with a little water for egg wash

Maple glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp maple extract

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an electric mixer combine flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add to the flour and butter.  Mix until the dough just comes together.

Place the dough on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough about 1 inch thick. Using the bottom of a glass or small bowl, cut the dough into little circles and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the top of the scones with your egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Let the scones cool for about 5 minutes before topping with icing.

For the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, maple extract and milk. When the scones are done. Drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. You can sprinkle the top of the scones with a few oats.

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Scones

Summer is flying by, and everyone I know is scrambling to knock those bucket-list items off. Go to the beach, picnic at the park, swim at the pool, host a backyard barbecue and eat all the ice cream. (Items not featured on the bucket list that I have accomplished: get eaten alive by mosquitoes, receive a sunburn and sweat profusely at all times.) For me though, it’s all about enjoying and making the most out of that beautiful summer produce. Have I made enough pies? Have I eaten a more-than-healthy share of tomatoes? Has corn on the cob been featured as a side dish at every meal? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

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Strawberries are a summer staple in my fridge, so I decided to bake them into a delicious breakfast treat that is a true crowd-pleaser. These are perfect for a summer brunch. Check out the full recipe on sheknows.com!

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Banana Pancakes

Confession time. I seriously effed up a simple pancake recipe a couple weeks ago. I know, I know,  I am the flipping Fresh Princess – it’s shameful, really. The recipe was from a bloke named Jamie Oliver and had three simple ingredients – flour, milk, and an egg. And yet. They were flatter than a Bachelor contestant’s personality. Dense and flavorless. Bad pancakes are plain old sad. So what went wrong? Well, the recipe called for self-raising flour for one thing – what the heck is that? Apparently it’s a thing in the UK. Thanks to Google, I now know that “if you’re looking to replace selfraising flour in a UK recipe then you need to add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to every cup of all-purpose flour.” I’m sticking with Ina next time, sorry Jamie. Or Mark Bittman. His Everyday Pancake recipe is just as simple and quick as Jamie’s recipe, but it has the secret ingredient… baking powder! Add whatever fruit you love, a drizz of maple syrup and your Sunday morning just went from flat to fluffy in no time.

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It doesn’t get any more all-American than a stack of pancakes against a giant calendar backdrop.

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Everyday Pancakes 

From The New York Times

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more butter for cooking
  • Fruit of choice, I like bananas (optional)

Mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add in your dry ingredients and melted butter to the egg and milk mixture and mix until combined. Batter will be pretty thick and lumpy. Add more milk if you want to thin it out a bit. Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat. Melt some butter – about a teaspoon or two in your frying pan. Ladle in your batter and top with fruit if desired, cook for about 2-4 minutes a side until golden brown. Keep pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven. Top with maple syrup and fresh banana slices.

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Behind the scenes.

 

Blueberry Scones

Guys, I’m bored. I’ve lost my Sunday companion to books. Even the slightest noises – banging spoon loudly against bowl, talking on speakerphone or even discreetly vacuuming can prove to be disruptive to the student. So, I’m quietly trying to keep busy. I went to a spinning class this morning, whipped up eggs benedict, cleaned the sink and then hit a wall. It was only noon! That’s when blueberry scones popped into my brain. I went out to the store to get the ingredients, slaved away baking, aaaand it’s only 1:00 pm. Maybe I’ll hit the farmers market later for more inspiration (activity).

These scones are quite delicious and dare I say healthy? They’re made with whole wheat flour, just 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and some other questionably healthy ingredients…quiet down butter! They’re the perfect summer studying fuel. Antioxidant-rich blueberries (some even call them brain berries) and high-fiber whole wheat flour is just what the mind needs to ace that exam. Eat up, Oliver. This exam will be a piece of cake – or scone.

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Blueberry Scones

From Smitten Kitchen

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup blueberries
2/3 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon (or packet) sugar in the raw

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, mix flours, lemon zest, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add cold butter and mix into the flour mixture until mixture resembles a course meal. Stir in blueberries, then milk, mixing until large clumps form. Knead dough a bit, but not too much.

Place dough on a floured board and shape into a 1-inch tall disc. Cut into 8 to 10 wedges. Place wedges on a large parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush the tops of each with the egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until scones are golden brown on top.

Crepes

When I think of crepes, I don’t think of lunching at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, instead I think of my Bat Mitzvah. That’s right, I had a crepe station at my Bat Mitzvah. No gauche chicken nugget bar or candy table — crepes. My classy roots run deep. Side note: my Bat Mitzvah was an elegant brunchtastic affair in a garden setting. Now back to the crepes. This recipe is surprisingly simple and easy to make — all you need is a nonstick frying pan and a spatula. I decided to go savory and threw in some herbs to the batter and sautéed mushrooms and onions to put inside. Crepes are a great brunch alternative to pancakes or omelets. These will have you saying, “holy crepe, these are good!” all weekend long.

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Crepes

From The New York Times Magazine

3 eggs

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

pinch of salt

handful of chopped herbs (parsley, dill, mint)

Beat eggs and whisk in remaining ingredients. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add a ladleful of batter to the pan, just enough to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Cook until the edges start to brown, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook for about 10 seconds. Stack crepes on a plate and cover with a cloth towel to keep warm until serving.

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Sticky Buns

Sticky buns are one of my favorite breakfast pastries. What’s not to love? Ooey gooey brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon in a delectable bun form. This recipe is like baby babka bun’s floozy cousin – easy, sticky, and fun. Frozen puff pastry sheets make this recipe a cinch to throw together – perfect for a brunch or an impromptu weekend visit with friends. Next up on the bun bucket list: cinnamon buns. It’s going to be a fun winter.

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Sticky Buns

Recipe from Ina Garten. Yields 12 buns

12 tbs butter, at room temperaturephoto 4

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

For the filling:

2 tbs melted butter

2/3 cup light brown sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

1 cup raisons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick baking spray. In a mixer, combine 12 tablespoons butter with 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place a tablespoon of the butter/sugar mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup. Sprinkle pecans evenly on top of the butter/sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a cutting board and unfold puff pastry dough with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with melted butter. Sprinkle on 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup raisons. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the pastry up, finishing the roll seam side down. Cut the log into sixths. Place each piece, spiral side up, into each muffin cup. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry. Bake for 30 minutes or until the buns are golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then flip over onto a cooling rack. Spoon leftover filling and pecans onto buns with a spoon.

Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon

This recipe is not easy. Or quick. Or even remotely healthy. It is, however, incredibly decadent and delicious. And if you’re in need of a classy brunch fix, don’t bother waiting in line at the local overpriced joint, make this recipe instead. Full disclosure though, there was a lot of yelling and cursing involved during preparation… Poaching eggs is a delicate operation and making hollandaise sauce requires patience and attention. It is damn good though and well worth the anxiety. Friends, pour yourself a glass of champagne topped off with some fresh squeezed orange juice and get your butt in the kitchen, these eggs benedict aren’t going to make themselves!

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Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp water

6 tbsp butter

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

pinch of cayenne

pinch of salt

1 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp salt

4 eggs

water

2 English muffins

1 cup fresh spinach

olive oil

smoked salmon

fresh parsley

To make hollandaise sauce: Put the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly until light and frothy and slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Return to heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick. Add lemon juice and cayenne, taste and adjust seasoning.

To poach eggs: Bring an inch of water to a boil in a small skillet, add teaspoon of salt and vinegar, and lower the heat so it barely bubbles. Crack the eggs in a bowl and gently slip them into the water. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the white is set and the yolk has filmed over. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Assembly: Saute spinach in a  little olive oil until wilted. Toast English muffins. Top each muffin with a little spinach, a piece of smoked salmon, an egg, and a spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This recipe was not all sunshine and rainbows, as you can probably imagine. My beautiful silky hollandaise sauce started to separate at one point and I freaked out. After some quick googling, I read that placing an ice cube in the sauce and whisking furiously can often do the trick. And it worked!

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Huevos Rancheros

Huevos rancheros, a popular Mexican breakfast dish consisting of fried eggs served on corn tortillas with beans and fresh salsa, loosely translates to “heaven on a plate.” It’s a fiesta in your mouth and the perfect protein-rich breakfast to fuel your Sunday. I didn’t plan on making huevos this morning, but I just happened to have some extra corn tortillas, a can of black beans, some eggs and fresh tomatoes lying around, so I just went for it. Huevos happens to be one of my favorite breakfast treats of all time. I would pass up pancakes, omelettes, french toast or waffles any day for huevos. I still remember an epic huevos breakfast order at Mother’s Market and Kitchen in Laguna Woods, California. Sigh. This version definitely satisfies a huevos craving, and why not keep things interesting and serve these with tequila mimosas? Muy delicioso.

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Muy sabroso

Huevos Rancheros 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4  6-inch corn tortillas

4 eggs

1 can of black beans

cumin

chili powder

cayenne pepper

kosher salt

1 lime

cheddar cheese

olive oil

1 large tomato

1 red onion

1 jalapeño

cilantro (optional)

sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional)

sliced avocado (optional)

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add half a diced red onion. Saute unil soft and then add a can of rinsed black beans, a few shakes of cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder and a sprinkle of salt. Add about a 1/4 cup of water, lower heat and cover. Let the beans simmer for about 10 minutes. Mash them slightly with the back of a large spoon. Set aside. Dice your tomato, red onion and jalapeño. Place in a small bowl with the juice of one lime, a touch of olive oil, some salt and chopped cilantro. Set aside. In a small frying pan throw down a little olive oil and lightly brown your tortilla on both sides. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on one side and as it begins to melt, crack a single egg over the cheese. Season the egg with salt and pepper. When the egg white begins to set around the edges, flip the whole thing over and let in cook for about 2-3 minutes. Serve each tortilla with a side of beans, fresh tomato salsa, and a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Sliced avocado would be great too.

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heaven on a plate.

 

Spinach, Red Pepper and Feta Frittata

Frittata is one of those dishes that tastes great, presents beautifully and is a cinch to make. Kind of like creme brûlée or coq au vin. Frittata is lighter than quiche and just as tasty. You can use any combo of veggies and cheese like asparagus and cheddar, mushroom, onion and swiss or tomato, basil and mozzarella. Perfect for brunch, this dish pairs well with bottomless mimosas or bloody marys.

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Spinach, Red Pepper and Feta Frittata 

Based on this recipe from Williams-Sonoma

10 eggs

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red pepper, sliced thin

2 cups fresh spinach

1/2 cup feta cheese

salt and pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add red pepper and sauté for 8-10 minutes until soft. Meanwhile crack 10 eggs and whisk until frothy. Add feta and salt and pepper to taste. But don’t actually taste–salmonella alert.  Add spinach to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes until it is wilted. Add eggs and stir everything around lightly. Cook for about 5 minutes and then stick the pan straight under the broiler for a minute or two until it is golden brown on top.