Blueberry Pancakes

I know, I know… this blog has been active for four-plus years and there are no pancake recipes! Seriously it’s a little embarrassing, which is why I’m excited to share this one today.

The truth is I’m a single gal so the idea of making a big breakfast fit for a family doesn’t normally occur to me. But this morning I woke up craving pancakes. Like, I HAD to have them. So I did, and they were delicious!

I worked with what I had on hand and wasn’t disappointed, even though that meant using unsweetened almond milk with a squeeze of lemon juice in place of milk, buttermilk or even yogurt that you traditionally find in pancakes. And the truth was – it didn’t make a difference!

Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes were perfect – fluffy interior with a nice crispy edges. They were hearty and sweet with fresh blueberries and an amazing maple syrup I’ve become obsessed with from Burton’s Maplewood Farm (if you’re in Chicago, they sometimes sell at Green City Market). I also included rolled oats, a trick I learned when helping with a Top Chef cooking event a few years ago.

This recipe makes enough for two, although as long as I’m telling the truth here, I’ll admit that I ate ‘em all.

Here’s the recipe:

Read more of this >>

Share

Exploding Egg & Veggie Breakfast Sandwich on Homemade Rosemary Focaccia

I’ve only been eating eggs for about two years and I’m still super picky about them. Growing up, eggs didn’t appeal to me, although neither did breakfast in general. I still can’t eat when I first get up and have to consciously remind myself to eat when I get to work or I’ll be hangry by 10:30.

Anyways, one of my recent favorite egg dishes is an egg sandwich on focaccia bread that I sometimes buy at the farmers’ market. It’s hot, fresh, and made using veggies and eggs found at the market that morning.

Flash forward to yesterday afternoon and another Chicago rainstorm. I decided to bake bread to pass the time and settled on rosemary focaccia bread using the olive oil dough recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and it was delicious (all you have to do is add fresh minced rosemary to the dough and bake on a cookie sheet at 425°F for 25 minutes). I’d already eaten about half of a loaf straight-up when I started thinking, I have got to find something else to do with this delicious bread. That was when I remembered the egg sandwich and got to work.

Between my CSA and a Saturday morning visit to Green City Market, I had a ton of veggies to choose from. I really just wanted a little bit of this and a little bit of that without it turning into something I’d have to eat everyday for the next week (you other single cooks out there know what I’m talking about), so that’s what I did! I used one piece of bacon, one fingerling potato, two mini bell peppers, two crimini mushrooms, 1 large leaf bok choy, and about half of a very small yellow squash.

I cooked up all those veggies in the bacon fat (I’m going through a bacon phase) and added a little salt and lemon juice, then removed half of the veggies to save for later – this recipe really made two servings.  All that was left was to add two eggs to the pan with the remaining veggies, scramble it all together until the eggs were cooked, and pile the mixture onto a piece of fresh rosemary focaccia sliced in half.

Simple. Delicious. No recipe required. Happy Sunday morning!

Share

Spring Frittata

For years now I’ve been making this frittata, or at least a version of it. I’m not much of a brunch person myself, but in those instances in which I need to whip up something delicious for a group, as I just did for Mother’s Day, this is one of my go-to recipes.

What I love most about making a frittata is, that unlike most other breakfast dishes, you’re not making it to order. It’s cooked in one big skillet (I love my cast iron skillet for this) mostly on the stove, then finished in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes. I serve it straight from the skillet – it’s so easy and practically makes enough to feed an army. There’s no need to be off to the side flipping pancakes or making individual omelettes when you could make this frittata instead.

And even better, it works perfectly with whatever great vegetables are in season. It’s still in the 40′s here in Chicago, so needless to say, our growing season hasn’t really kicked off yet. But I did find asparagus, shitake mushrooms, spinach and Spring onions at the farmers’ market, which made for a delicious combination in this frittata.

Here’s the recipe, which was adapted from Bon Appetit, but I find it best to use as a guide – substitute or swap out any of the ingredients for whatever you have on hand.

Read more of this >>

Share

Happy Holiday (Eating)!

Latkes

Latkes (aka Potato Pancakes)

Wow, I just can’t believe how quickly these last few weeks have flown by. In fact, this whole year has been a bit of a blur. I hope it’s been a good year for you. As for me, let’s just say I’m ending the year in a better place than where I started it and am looking forward to seeing what 2010 will bring.

However, with all the recent activity I’ve sadly neglected my beloved blog. The sad truth remains that it’s been ten days since my last blog post, the longest I’ve ever gone between posts since launching this site more than a year and a half ago. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. I have, just not quite as much as usual.

English Toffee and Tornado Cookies

English Toffee and Tornado Cookies

To recap some of my holiday cooking, let’s start with Hanukkah at my parent’s house. I brought the dessert: English toffee and tornado cookies, my family’s holiday favorite. At the house, I helped my mom make latkes from scratch. There’s no recipe here because we adjusted constantly as we went along, using up a small bag of russet potatoes, an onion, two eggs, a little matzo meal, and a large bottle of vegetable oil. Basically, grate the potatoes and onion (and then pulse a few times in a food processor), add the other ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and fry.

Latkes Latkes Latkes

I have wonderful memories of my mom making latkes when I was younger. Back then we hosted the family Hanukkah party and she would make latkes from scratch and making enough for everyone was practically a day-long project (for those of you not familiar, latkes are fried potato pancakes that can be made from shredded potatoes or from a box mix). The problem was that my dad, sister and I would eat the latkes almost as fast as my mom could make them, sneaking latkes every time she turned away. Eventually, my mom would get fed up and send us to go see a movie so she could finish frying in peace.

Latkes - pan frying Latkes

It’s been a long time since we made latkes, and my mom had the “brilliant” idea of deep-frying them, a technique she saw on the Today Show. Despite her good intentions, it turned out not to be the best idea. For starters, she forgot to tell me advance so I could bring my candy thermometer and/or mini deep fryer, so we had a difficult time regulating the temperature of the oil. Secondly, the few latkes we made were too fluffy and lacked the coveted crispy edge. After a few not-so-good attempts, I finally convinced my mom to return to our traditional method of shallow frying the latkes in a skillet, a job my sister happily took over.

Another big event I cooked for was my sister’s annual holiday brunch where she gets together with her high school friends for their traditional Hanukkah gift exchange. I cooked for them last year and apparently the girls liked the food so much that my sister volunteered me to cook for them again. It’s fun for me, I’ve known these girls almost my entire life and I enjoy the opportunity to catch up with them.

While I was thrilled they enjoyed last year’s meal of baked challah French toast and savory frittata so much (a few of them even made the French toast on their own), I was worried I wouldn’t find a way top it. These girls love brunch food, which is a meal I don’t often cook, so I stuck with the general concept of an egg and vegetable dish, along with something starchy, and instructed my sister to provide fresh fruit.

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

The starch was the easiest decision: Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls from my new favorite cookbook, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (see Caramelized Onion and Herb Dinner Rolls). I’m not going to post another recipe from the book because I think everyone should buy it, but I will say that these rolls were amazing with just the right proportion of dough to the sugary sweet topping that seeped its way all around the rolls.

The egg dish was a bit more challenging. I wanted something that could be prepared in advance so I wasn’t cooking to order, and had a nice presentation. Somehow, while searching the Internet for ideas, I came across a number of blogs with posts about Gale Gand’s torta rustica (here’s the post at Pastry Heaven that I based my torta off of), essentially an egg and vegetable layered casserole baked inside puff pastry.

Torta Rustica

Torta Rustica

I didn’t follow the recipe precisely, but did use it as a guide. The most significant changes were adding a layer of halved cherry tomatoes, sauteing shallots with fresh spinach, omitting the ham, and using fontina cheese in place on mozzarella. Although it was a little fussy, the torta succeeded as a delicious showstopper, and you can see that I had some fun decorating the top with a star using pastry scraps (it was a Hanukkah party, after all) but you could easily add whatever decoration you liked.

Marci's Brunch - sticky roll and torta rustica

Marci's Brunch: Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls and Torta Rustica

Those are just a few of the things I’ve been busy cooking these past two weeks and I promise to bring you new recipes soon.

Also, in January I’ll be taking part in the Ten in ’10 Challenge as a way to start eating and living a bit healthier. Not that I’ll be giving up sweets or obsessing about weight loss, but I do want to make more of an effort to eat better and get my butt moving, both challenges for me to do in the winter months. It’s not a New Years resolution (I don’t make those), but rather an idle thoughts whose time has come.

Share

Maple-Cinnamon Oatmeal with Blueberries

Maple-Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal

Maple-Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries

I’m not much of a breakfast person, probably because I’m not a morning person. I never have time to make myself pancakes, French toast or even simple scrambled eggs as I scurry out the door. In the summer I often grab a yogurt or granola bar to eat on-the-go, but in the winter I prefer a heartier breakfast, like this maple-cinnamon oatmeal made from steel cut oats, also known as Irish oats.

Oatmeal01

You must be thinking: steel cut oats, has she lost her mind? In case you’re not familiar with steel cut oats, they’re whole oat kernels that have been cut into small pieces by a “steel.” These oats are a great source of protein and fiber, and are known for helping improve cholesterol. However, they also take a relatively long time to cook (about a half hour), but I find the slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture worth the extra effort once or twice a week.

Oatmeal02 Oatmeal03 Oatmeal04

The trick is to make this oatmeal recipe in a big batch on the weekend or at night and it will last for four days. All you have to do is mix a cup of the cooked oats with a smidge of water and a half cup of frozen blueberries and microwave for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Quick and easy for a busy morning with very little cleanup.

Maple-Cinnamon Oatmeal with Blueberries

Maple-Cinnamon Oatmeal with Blueberries

Here’s the recipe:

Read more of this >>

Share

Blog Widget by LinkWithin